I don't think I've ever actually seen a movie during which people, in the middle of a crowd, screamed. The Witch did that. The Witch made people scream and gasp so loud the whole room heard and it did other things too: it told an engrossing, intelligent story. There are minor "complaints" I may have that keep it from being 10/10 (the shots don't carry the film as much as the writing,) but really this is a horror film that could easily make a top ten list. It's just good fun (and the ending is great... don't bash the ending... people are bashing the ending but I don't know why... it's really a perfect ending...)
The premise is simple, provided you live within the mindset of an early 19th century aristocrat (there lies the comedy): a Russian Lieutenant, in the midst of battle against the Germans, saves the German Commander's daughter from being raped by his own troops, only to rape her in her room later in the night after she has taken a sleeping potion. This is only implied, but the rest of the film will consist of the Russian Lieutenant making strange and semi-obvious attempts to somehow right his own wrong, as The Marquise struggles to understand and deal with her seemingly random pregnancy.
I can only imagine that, to Eric Rohmer, this story must have represented the absurdity of the times, and he makes no attempt to sugar coat it or even explain it to the audience. From the incredibly polite beginning battle sequence to the awkward incestuous displays of affection, you are forced to accept what seems to you to be ridiculous circumstances... Then comes the reaction to her pregnancy: a long scene in which you simultaneously connect with, feel, and understand her pain, while giggling at the wild opinions and questions that ensue. To us, her pain is real, but her life seems fake, even though it has been real at one point.
It helps that the film is played straight and acted beautifully. As always, Rohmer has a perfect eye, and many others have pointed out Nestor Almendros's cinematography, which enlightens the already hypnotic imagery. I suggest you check it out if this all sounds good to you. I hope I didn't offend anyone, but this film is so strange I feel it has to be talked about.
This will certainly be on a list of Woody's most underrated movies in ten years time if the bad reception it gets doesn't slow down, and I hope that people will take the time to realize just what this movie is because I think they'd really have a good time watching it.
Fortunately, "itself" is absolutely beautiful. P.T. Anderson has mastered that Jacques Tati style wide angle and mixes it in with his earlier Boogie Nights fluidity for a confusing and awesome new style. He's done this before, of course, (The Master) but this time is pretty different. You'll notice it the moment that beautiful first shot appears. While I'm at it, I should mention the cinematography. There are colors in this film that I never thought I'd see again.
From a story telling perspective, Inherent Vice almost seems like a Terrence Malick movie at some points. The narrator comes in and out like hypnosis and there's this air of evil always lurking behind all that beauty. There's love too, and the ultimate message, if you can call it that, falls within the great rule of pop: it's best when it's bittersweet.
In many ways this film is as cheesy as the old Superman films. It's just cheesy in a modern way. It uses all the modern conventions to their logical conclusion: non-linear story, grittiness, "realism," the damsel in distress has been replaced with a supposedly strong female lead despite the fact that she still actively plays the old role... What's there to hate? I'm serious. I don't understand why people don't like this movie. Then again, I never understood why people didn't like Starship Troopers. These films know what they are, but don't care, and that's something I'll always love. The fact that they do what their meant to do (action) so well is just lovely icing on the top.
The Americanization of Emily is not content to stop at anti-war. It moves on and on, sometimes so quick it may be a little jarring at first or seem a little preachy, and maybe it is, but, for all it's flaws (the love song is eerily similar to Spartacus's love theme), this film could easily enter a top ten list. I don't want to hype it up too much, though. I may only like it because I agree. I also don't want to neglect director Arthur Hiller's great contribution (keep an eye out for the 3 minute take in the hotel room.) If you're a Chayefsky fan (which should be just about everyone), however, or if you enjoy the absolute mastery of craft exhibited by Hollywod during its Golden Age, you'll love this film. I highly suggest it. I really do.
(Possible spoilers??, this explains only the set up and the beginning of the film)
The film centers around a case that is way too clear: A woman buys a gun, follows her husband until she finds him cheating on her, and then shoots all 6 bullets in their direction, hitting the husband in the chest and wounding him. The film decides to choose this case as a backdrop for a discussion on sexism, and while that was clearly a problem in the 50s, it is of no importance to this case. The lawyers spend their time bickering over whether or not the man was having an affair, but neither seem to realize that adultery is no grounds for murder, nor is it even a crime in America. Any good writer would have realized that the details of this case weren't ambiguous enough for a discussion on sexism, and would have changed certain details, but alas, they did not and we spend our time watching Hepburn make a mountain out of a molehill and Tracy make Mount Everest out of Hepburn's mountain.
I give this film a 4 because there is some good dialogue in between the badly-done plot and it is a decently tight script. I read the rest of the story on wikipedia and it doesn't seem to get much better. I don't suggest watching this unless getting back at men is such a fantasy of yours that you are willing to forgive the unbelievable aspects of this story.
I registered just to warn people what they were gonna get. I figured I was in for a tight war flick with some imparted knowledge by a master. Instead, I found myself in the midst of a lecture that seemed to get more and more sure of itself as it got crazier and crazier... that's what crazy people do you know.
I find that the only way to enjoy this film is to view it as a dark satirical piece akin to Taxi Driver or Apocalypse Now, but even that is hard to believe.