Thursday, 19 August 2010

Visualize Like It's 1975 Again

Memory is a strange process and believing we highly regard something but not recollecting the exact reasoning or fine details behind these thoughts can make one reconsider their emotions. Do we not remember because of the ol' tinted glasses, has our taste changed or is it merely plain brain fade?

With this in mind, I recently rewatched the seminal One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which I hadn't screened for a fair few years and yet I do remember ranking it highly and it tingling my cinema senses. Furthermore, I recall watching a local stage version starring my university housemate not long after but other than a few iconic scenes, I had forgotten what (and why) this Jack Nicholson vehicle had satisfied my mind - was it really that great or had my tastes altered?

No, it was the fading memory afterall (although I can't really blame old age just yet), as this repeat viewing brought back all the incredible layers - within the characters, the many themes, entertaining dialogue and film as a whole. So here we are - the memorable performances, rich ensemble, Milos Forman's precise direction - and the oh-so-many possible interpretations from one of the greatest allegories made for the silver screen.

However minor, most art provides some encouraging aspect - whether it be a moment or scene, a little humour (intentional or not), the visuals, sound, a performance demonstrating potential and so on - there is usually something kind to state but opposedly the large majority of cinema will of course have (often several) flaws and perhaps we should therefore remind ourselves occasionally to cherish these rare gems. Do we take the likes of One Flew and other coined Classics for granted? Whilst we don't all agree on the specific films or orders, there is surely a reason why the same titles continue to pop up and overlap in greatest ever lists.

Having recently grown fond of the American grade system, I pointlessly reflected and summised that approximately eight to ten films in the past decade would receive the magical grade A. 1975 was the year (US release dates) which gave us One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and many other classics, and for me, five or six A grade pieces of cinema. For the record, this was the most recent top ten I produced:

01 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
02 Jaws
03 Nashville
04 Dog Day Afternoon
05 Monty Python and the Holy Grail
06 The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
07 Barry Lyndon
08 Shampoo
09 Picnic at Hanging Rock
10 The Mirror

Other titles bubbling under include The Sunshine Boys, Emmanuelle, The Man Who Would Be King, Woody Allen's Love and Death, Truffaut's The Story of Adele H, The Wrong Move, Farewell My Lovely and Salo.
One major unseen title which could make an impact is the Italian picture, Amarcord - unfortunately Roma (1972) remains the only Seventies Fellini to cross my path. Are there any additional 1975 films to appreciate?

There are the usual dilemmas with such lists. I would probably rank Shampoo a place or two higher and would especially like to rewatch Tarkovsky's The Mirror (still in it's DVD wrapper) - due to Soviet politics, the film was not actually released in the United States 'til 1983 but that time lag is pure silliness so i'm calling it '75. Furthermore, I would definately rank Nashville higher than Jaws, which remains a landmark film but upon repeat viewings and advanced technology, is impossible to enjoy in quite the same manner and inevitably it's field of tension has somewhat dwindled. Altman's opus could well be my numero uno but for now, crazy Jack et all are fresh and sitting well in the mind.


  1. I've only seen Nashville and Cukooo from 75, and I prefer Nashville, but I should give Cukoo another try! Interesting post!

  2. What a stunning Best Picture lineup was 1975, the Oscars should be ashamed to look at that year and then nominate things like The Blind Side and Ray.
    You MUST watch Amarcord.
    With that said off the top of my head I'd say 1975 also had The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Passenger and Dersu Uzala.

    I think my top 3 would be:
    1) Nashville
    2) Salo
    3) Barry Lyndon

  3. 1975 did see a lot of excellent cinema releases! Wow. I agree with Jose's addition with The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

    One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is an amazing film. Once viewed it never leaves you.

  4. Knowing your performance reviews Joe, i'd definitely recommend Dog Day Afternoon and Shampoo.

    I finally saw The Blind Side last week Jose, how did this even get nominated?! I shall watch Amarcord and keep meaning to see The Passenger, as it's often on cable TV.

    Yes, i've only ever seen a couple of scenes from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, shame on me Wild Celtic!

  5. Release dates are kinda subjective, so depending on whether you consider them 1975 films or not I'd definitely note Antonioni's The Passenger and Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman (probably the most audacious film of the year)

  6. Thanks Robert, I value your film knowledge.

    Other than your pieces for The Film Experience, do you write anywhere else on cinema?