Well, that was absolutely nothing like what I expected. Here’s what I expected: a complex and realistic character study of three women with a complicated friendship. Like, I dunno, Interiors crossed with Frances Ha. Here’s what the film is: a fever dream of shifting and merging identities, sometimes violently, always awkwardly, and often disturbingly. I was fascinated.
Apparently the idea for the film came to Altman in a dream, which I totally believe, because this is very unlike any of the other Altman films I’ve seen. Sissy Spacek is a shy, wet-behind-the-ears young girl who gets a job at a spa and quickly idolizes a confident and chatty Shelley Duvall who shows her the ropes. But Duvall’s confidence is somewhat misplaced, as becomes painfully obvious when she has lunch over at the doctor’s building and thinks she’s flirting wildly with everyone when they’re really ignoring her completely. Spacek is enthralled, though, follows Duvall everywhere, and quickly manages to become her roommate. Then they meet the third woman, a nearly silent Janice Rule, the very pregnant wife of Duvall’s landlord who spends all her time painting bizarre primitive art on every concrete surface she can find.
Rocky has been one of my most notable blind spots for a long time – one of the few Best Picture winners I hadn’t seen, and also the last holdout in the Flickchart Global Top 100. I’m not a big fan of boxing movies (even ones that people tell me are not really about boxing), so I avoided it for a long time. I knew someone would assign it to me in this challenge, and sure enough!
Unlike Gordon’s other film Animal House, which confirmed my unenthusiastic preconceptions, I actually ended up enjoying Rocky much more than I anticipated. I still didn’t really care for the boxing scenes very much, but there are really only two of them, one at the very beginning and one at the very end. And I can appreciate sports movies in general if they’re more about the indomitable human spirit than if they’re about the sport itself, or about ego.
There have been several movies in this challenge that I didn’t expect to like and surprised me quite a bit. This was not one of them. After I loved The Blues Brothers so much, I thought maybe my pre-conceptions of Animal House might be way off, and the team of Landis and Belushi might hit again, but I’m sorry, this kind of juvenile frat humor is not remotely my thing.
The Dean is intent on getting the troublesome Delta Tau Chi fraternity expelled wholesale, but they retaliate with even more bad behavior and pranks against upstanding frat man Neidermeyer and eventually the whole homecoming parade.
What a strange movie.
An entomologist studying insects in the desert finds that he’s missed the last bus home and asks if there’s a place to stay in a nearby village. There is: with a woman who lives in a hole in a sand dune. She feeds him and gives him a bed in her small house, but he discovers her working all night digging sand and sending it up to the surface with pulleys. Soon he also discovers that the villagers have no intention of ever pulling him up again either, and in fact intend him to become husband to this woman and help her dig sand for them to sell.
This is one of the few films I hadn’t heard of at all going into this challenge, even more surprising as it’s an older film, and a noir to boot! The trick is it’s British noir, and I’m not as familiar with that as I should be, so thank you for pointing me in this direction, Grant.
A rather complicated plot setup lands bright young Phillip Davidson in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, and when he gets out twelve years later, he’s no longer bright and young, but bitter and seeking revenge. A lot of the film is quieter than you’d expect, with Phillip spending time alone on a beached boat in a remote part of England and forming a tentative relationship with an abused barmaid in between trying to find the men responsible for his unjust imprisonment.