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It seemed a bit dark in '77, but today it may even cheer you up! It takes
least a half-hour to understand what's going on in this movie so here's a
The guy with the hat and goatee (Carroll) is a song-writer/playboy and son of a millionaire. Watch him because he wants to sleep with most of the women in the movie. The crazy woman in the taxi is married to... is that really Harvey Keitel? Yes. You'll never believe it! He is the employee of the millionaire who is, incidentally, Uncle Jessie from the Dukes of Hazard.
If I were Carroll I would have gone for Sissy Spacek, who likes to clean house topless throughout the movie. But he still makes enough tracks to be considered a hero of the sexual revolution.
The music throughout the movie sounds a little like Dan Hill, but it gets you in a good 70's mood so that you can enjoy the atmosphere this movie creates. Look for Sissy Spacek's pants that match the wallpaper and definitely check out Harvey Keitel's pipe!
"Welcome To LA" is a dated film involving ten characters whose only
shared trait seems to be loneliness. The movie plays like a moody tone
poem, and there are no comedic, dramatic, or action-filled sequences...
just a bunch of urban sun-bums looking lost and hopelessly mellow.
Keith Carradine redefines the term "slacker" for the Me Generation, as he wanders around LA with a soul patch having intercourse with a score of women while never once changing his expression. He's supposedly an artist, with troubles in his romantic life and familial relationships, but he is so centered, so serene, so placid, that he comes off more as a Buddhist monk or Jedi Knight.
He has occasional flashbacks to his former lover played by Diahnne Abbott, and I have to believe that no man would ever forget this woman. In her wordless seconds of screen time here, just like her tiny roles in "Taxi Driver" and "New York, New York," you can see that this is one of the most gorgeous, sexual women ever to walk the Earth... she's got the jungle in her, and this is the type of woman men kill other men to be with. She was my favorite part of the movie.
Between stories involving the grating Geraldine Chaplin and the sexy Sally Kellerman we keep cutting back to Richard Baskin as a singer/songwriter recording his album in a studio. These songs and the montages cut around them- which were presumably meant to be the heart of the film- are rendered unlistenable by the foul, nails-on-blackboard voice of Baskin. The fact that this man was ever allowed behind a microphone is a crime against the eardrum. Instead of the soulful, contemplative center of the story, we get a talentless drone warbling clichéd lyrics while the leads bemoan their fate. Nothing makes the heart ache like sunshine.
The only other bright spot is Sissy Spacek, a woman of unbelievable beauty and depth, who effortlessly steals the show whenever she's on screen. Ms. Spacek can be a naive little girl one minute, an intellectual adult the next, and a lusty sexpot only seconds later. If you love her like I do check out "Violets Are Blue" in which she plays a woman so irresistible you cannot help but fall in love.
"Welcome To LA" is supposed to show the isolation and loneliness that exists even in the hedonistic, superficial world of La-La Land... the trouble is we wind up with a movie that confirms our worst beliefs about the place: These characters have no right to be this bummed... it's shallow, narcissistic self-pity. But it makes for a great late-night movie.
You can't help but compare it to the other big L.A. Statement Movies--Altman's SHORT CUTS, and P.T. Anderson's MAGNOLIA. I like Rudolph's way better than either of those: it's gentler, humbler, more observant, truer. Limiting himself to a dozen or so L.A. habitues, Rudolph starts with one funny, correct move: no movie people. The dances of disconnection, attempted connection, failed connection, and--stunning!--connection accomplished are as tender and as finely, thinly observed as Rudolph has ever pulled off. So many beautiful moments here: the best comes when Keith Carradine, as a dupe of his sleepy-stud character from NASHVILLE, breaks up a romance to go on a healing mission with a half-crazy housewife (Geraldine Chaplin). When his philandering with her rescues her marriage during a tense phone call in his apartment, Carradine's face spreads with gladness and relief. The rightness and the unexpectedness of the moment is fantastic. Even more than the goofy, enjoyably romantic CHOOSE ME, this is the one where Rudolph got it all right. And no other movie captures L.A.'s peculiar loneliness like this one: he doesn't hype anything or play to the tourist mentality--something that could not always be said for his mentor, and the movie's producer, Robert Altman.
This film, Alan Rudolph's first and BEST (along with Choose Me 7 years
later) had gotten a bum rap. Some people hate the music of Richard Baskin
or think the variety of characters are a pretentious and boring lot. I
think just the opposite! Harvey Keitel was never more amusing and pathetic.
Sissy Spacek is a doll (in probably her easiest role) and brighter than
some would think. Geraldine Chaplin is finally put to good use. Keith
Carradine seemed to relax more after his Nashville experience and is very
subtle. Sally Kellerman at her most beautiful and hungry. Viveca Lindfors
creates a memorable "older" woman and John Considine is hilarious. Denver
Pyle supplies stability.
After a while the music grows on you, when you finally actually hear what he's saying. Needless to say, I'm a big Altman fan, and once in a while Rudolph hits the mark as well. A 9 out of 10. Best performance = Sally Kellerman. Worth a visit as L.A. is explored and exposed in a new light!
I saw this movie late at night. I was sitting in front of the TV with
headphones on because my girlfriend was already sleeping. Although I
had to sit in a rather uncomfortable position in front of the TV and it
was already 2.00 in the morning I was fascinated from the beginning and
completely forgot about being tired and just wanted to enjoy the
atmosphere of the film.
I loved this movie, maybe because I have a fascination for California and LA myself. I don't have much else to say which hasn't been posted in the other comments but the I never have read so different opinions on any movie. There seem to be a great amount of people who love it (like me) and some who think its the worst film of all time. It reminds me of the way people talk about LA itself.
They way this film polarizes makes it an outstanding piece of art, definitely worth seeing - like the city itself.
As I said - one of my favourites - cant wait to see it again on TV.
i am in love with this film and i cannot explain why.
my uncle thinks i'm a nutcase for loving this film so much. but i can't help it.
People diss the music. I love it. The ambiance. The swingin' seventies. Sissy Spacek. Sally Kellermen, so vulnerable yet strangely sexy. Keith. This film endeared me to Keith Carradine, whom I now see precious little of.
Such a great character... sure, a little pretentiously boho, but the poor guy has a father that can't express his love...
The Greta Garbo scene with Geraldine Chaplin. Classic. The slow act of leaning onto the pool table; her tortured, self-absorbed, self-pitying character, intriguing, passive aggressive, unable to express herself, caught in a loveless relationship with a young Harvey Keitel, who was great in this flick. Slimy. The way he talks to Spacek about taking the relationship far beyond your average man/ woman relationship. Wow.
Nice tempo, too. A bit languid. The film is more about atmosphere than fast tempo plot. The bits with Carol Barber chugging back "steamboat", watching Eric Wood play his songs, sinking into the background, while his dad's young girlfriend (who takes pictures of corners - classic) eyes him; intrigued.
Swingin' sex, corny yet endearing music ("Livin' in a city of one night stands, sleepin' next to pity and it's crazy"), and Keith Carradine with a love patch. What more could you want?
A film that is easy to hate, in many respects, but I just can't do it. It's a guilty pleasure. A guilty, delightful pleasure.
When Karen Hood (Geraldine Chaplin) tells Carroll Barber (Keith Carradine)
"I love Greta Garbo," he responds with the slightly cryptic "Yeah, she's
nice when you're by yourself."
Profound, but too offhand to be a predictable rejoinder. It's very striking, one of the most original of the film.
Especially do you get the flavour of the upper-middle-class world-weary young disappointed in Baskin's lyric:
"At first I loved your sweet complexion, your tawny cheeks and lip confections--they photographed you for your style.
your body held me for a while; you could disguise with such beguile
now lying her remembering it better than it used to be is loneliness, but it doesn't really matter now, I never really loved you much, I guess."
That's from the title song.
From "The Best Temptation of all" there is "there's so many bodies and scenes...so many faces and feelings...dreams...wet tasting dreams
when those silky infatuations come, enticin' me...invitin' me..excitin' me.."
The world of "bodies and pleasures" that was Michel Foucault's vision of the future of sexuality in the first volume of THE HISTORY OF SEXUALITY was being lived out in L.A. in particular before he even wrote that it would come to this.
At a Malibu party where Carroll and his wealthy father Carl (marvelously played by Denver Pyle) confront each other, Carl's mistress Nona (Lauren Hutton) spends some stylized, posturing time with Carroll up the stairs overlooking the stylized party, the kind of party in stark white stylized modern LA houses where being comfortable must be impossible, and being controlled is an impossible necessity; and he says to her "Do you really care about that old man?" She says, knowing it won't do to say anything "less," "He sure seems to care a lot about me."
Earlier, before Carroll sees Susan (Viveca Lindfors) for the first time since his return, she says on the telephone "don't you want to see me?" and he says "I've seen you." As the older woman, somewhat desperately clinging to an unshared wish, she says "I've seen you too. I liked it."
To the love-and/or sex-starved real estate salesgirl Anne Goode (Sally Kellerman), Susan says, when she makes the arrangements for Carroll's apartment, "I pictured you plump and tiny with curly black hair--AGGRESSIVE. And here you are--soft and blonde and pretty." Anne, always trying to hard to please: "And here you are so beautiful."
Kellerman drives Carradine to his new Silverlake digs.
She says "this is Hollywood. I just love it. I don't know a thing about it, but I love it...(long pause)....does that sound like a line?...I didn't mean it to..I guess everything sounds like a line these days...Shameless, aren't I?...what are you thinking?....
Carradine: "About your shame."
"People deceive themselves here, don't you think? Yes. And that's how they fall in love. And then, when everything is over, it's the other person that gets deceived. Am I right? Yeah. Van Nuys Boulevard...(long pause)..I don't need to be loved by anyone...I don't mind waiting...it's how you wait that's important, anyway..I think.. but everyone gets deceived...don't they..."
These are the opening lines of the film, which Chaplin intones in a cab going through L.A., riding all over it as she does every day, all dressed up in fur and pearl earrings and hat all for herself's own formality in the anonymity of a taxi ride.
I knew a number of people like this in 1976 and 1977. They were over-sophisticated and living in the strange limbo between the volatile, but vital 60's and the beginning of the carnage and sterization that began to open its fully tarnished flower with the Reagan era and has escalated to the deafening roar we have only 24 years later.
Bars were full of people who weren't on cellphones all the time.
They weren't ever on cell phones--even the ones you can still see.
Despite a fabulous cast led by Alan Rudolph regular Keith Carradine, this
vacant, flat movie with virtually no plot is easy to classify as a lesser
"Nashville" set on the West Coast. I mean, what are the major happenings,
Denver Pyle makes Harvey Keitel a partner? Uh . . . that was about it,
there's a party.
So, why the heck do I like this so much? I've seen it maybe 30 times, even though it's unavailable on any media, at the moment, at least, and every time I watch it all the way through to the last shot of Carridine looking sideways at the camera. I saw it when it first came out, and it stayed in my mind for decades until it started to show up on the movie channels. I can't explain it, the music is nice (particularly "One Night Stands" and "Welcome to L.A."), but the conversation isn't particularly clever (compare "Choose Me" for example). I can't really defend the film, how could I? There's no message, no plot, no outstanding performances to champion . . . I don't know, I just enjoy watching it. Beats me.
This film has a users' rating of precisely the mean average between the lowest of "1" and the highest of "10" -- "5.5." Put me at the very top. Charting the interaction among the sizable cast of characters would look like one of those illustrations of the structure of a molecule or chemical compound. Everybody interacts with multiple others, often in different relationships, and occasionally with the knowledge of, say, the other's spouse or significant other, usually not. Keith Caradine's character certainly knows well his father, and his father's prime business right-hand man, played by Harvey Keitel - but neither of these is aware of his romantic interaction with Dad's girl friend or Harvey's wife. Keith has a lot on his hands in this film, between all of the women interested in him, and his music. Sissy Spacek cleans for him (topless yet, and is one of the few females with whom he is platonic); Sally Kellerman is interested in Keith, and Sally's husband is interested in Sissy (oh, and Harvey is interested in Sally)... and on, and on. Thoroughly fascinating film, with Altman's fingerprints all over it, and (in my opinion, to the contrary of some others) great music. An interesting romp, and the Carradine character is so strange, he completes the full circle away from "normal" so that he almost gets back there, and becomes someone with whom you can empathize.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm glad I'm not the only one who hated the soundtrack. That bad, huh?
Uhm, yep. It's such awful, over the top pre-Michael Bolton^ drivel,
making it hard to sit this one out. I just found out that this guy's
name is Richard Baskin and he is quite a well-known and respected
artist... I can only judge him on what I saw and heard here - as I just
The rest of the film is a rather dull and soapy (intended to be deeply quirky, I'm sure) couple of days in the L.A. life of prodigal son Carroll Barber (and a few others, among whom I discovered good old Uncle Jesse from 'The dukes of Hazzard'), played by a confident Carradine with a pre-grunge^ goatee. Some dialogues and incidents are okay and interesting, but some others are just awful in offering a slice of life no one wants to taste. Perhaps it was made with the best of intentions, but 'Welcome to L.A.' comes off as an unceremonious exercise in omphaloskepsis (had to look that one up myself).
The most fun I had was (once again) with Sissy Spacek, vacuuming (almost completely) nude in 'paradise'. 3 out of 10.
^ This film seems to be dubiously prophetic in some ways... -edit- correction: Michael Bolotin was at it in '75 already.
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