One of the best things about films–both good and bad–is that they inspire us to inquire. We ask while watching them: Did it really have to happen that way? Or maybe: What’s with the lighting in that scene? How does so-and-so get out of that scrape? We’re always exploring this universe. There always are questions that come up during the course of a picture.
Recently, I began to wonder if the ones I’m asking while watching certain flicks are the same as those being posed by other viewers. Perhaps we’re all thinking similarly … or perhaps not. In that interrogative light, here are my latest musings, as unattached to each other as they may be:
Does anybody really like the character George Berger in Milos Forman’s film version of Hair?
Which is more disturbing: The discovery in David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia that Gasim, the man T.E. Lawrence saved from death in the desert, has murdered another man, or Michael Corleone’s lie to his wife Kay in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather about killing his sister’s husband?
Would Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus be a heckuva lot better without Alex North’s excruciatingly bombastic score?
What would have happened in Kenji Mizoguchi’s The Life of Oharu if the eponymous character had rejected the advances of her suitor at the beginning of the film?
Where did Antoine Doinel go at the end of Francois Truffaut’s The 400 Blows? How about Kevin at the end of Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits?
Couldn’t Louis Mazzini just have gone back into the prison to retrieve his memoirs at the conclusion of Robert Hamer’s Kind Hearts and Coronets?
I’m just wondering. How about you?
If I had a dime for every movie that finishes up with some sort of awful song at the end, I’d be rich.
When did this trend in cinema start? It seems like every picture nowadays has some kind of rock tune playing over the final credits – and usually, they’re not that memorable. Once in a while, you get something along the lines of George Harrison’s “Dream Away,” which concluded Time Bandits. But it’s usually a noisy, guitar-heavy sound blast with screaming vocals. Not my cup of tea.
I like when filmmakers take the time to end their movies in interesting ways. A song can be appropriate, such as Simon & Garfunkel singing the “The Sound of Silence” in the remaining images of The Graduate. That ditty provided insight into the ways the main characters were feeling: lost and hopeful at the same time. I don’t see that kind of commentary, however, in most of the melodies ending films. And that should change. Directors can easily find songs that are germane. They don’t have to be just filler.
I don’t like watching filler onscreen. The credits can be just as much a part of a film as the dialogue; they can add something integral. Why can’t an ending song do the same?
Mundane melodies be damned. Let’s have topical tunes close more pictures … and more attention paid to these cinematic parts. A good, relevant ditty can keep fannies in the seats throughout the end of a movie. It would keep me in my place, for sure.
And that’s nothing to sneeze at. Or scream at, for that matter.
How much longer do you think we’ll wait for Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote to come to fruition?
This project has been in the works for a long, long time, and there’s scarce information available on progress, though IMDB shows that John Hurt has been cast as Quixote. That’s interesting news; Hurt is a terrific actor who’d be great in this role. I’ve been disappointed with Gilliam’s recent directorial efforts, but this project – should it ever get off the ground – could be an intriguing one.
Or it could be The Brothers Grimm. Yecch.
Gilliam’s a great talent, though his directing career has been mixed, to say the least. Still, he has a distinct look and style, which worked wonderfully in flicks such as Time Bandits. Hopefully, if his new Quixote movie ever comes to fruition, it will resemble his older work more than his later efforts.
I must have faith.
I’m still sad about the fact that Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen flopped when it debuted about 25 years ago.
I’m sadder, however, that it seems to be overlooked when people talk about overlooked classics. They might mention Gilliam’s other great film, Time Bandits, but Munchausen? Pshaw! That one flies under the radar of the everything else flying under the radar.
It’s too bad, too, because Munchausen is a terrific movie. There’s hilarious, Monty Pythonesque comedy. Rollicking adventure. Fine (for the most part) acting. A lovely score. And gorgeous art direction, exemplified by a brilliant set piece involving Robin Williams as a truly loony King of the Moon whose head detaches from his body in search of metaphysical pleasures.
That’s wild stuff. And I love it. If you like Time Bandits (which I do as well) and haven’t seen Munchausen, I encourage you to do so. It’s hardly shown on TV for some reason, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find. Plus, you can play “Spot the Famous Actor/Actress” while watching it, so that should provide added value. Enjoy.
Sometimes I read my colleague Setter’s movie reviews and think: “This dude’s truly Mr. Overanalysis.”
But his last post on film scores made me wonder if I take movie music for granted. It’s so ingrained in our cinema lexicon that we almost start when watching a flick without it.
I look at a score as a flavor enhancer–like salt or pepper. A bit too much, and a movie’s unpalatable. Too little, and it feels like you’re missing something.
Just the right amount, however, and you’ve got a tasty meal. And it could be one you never thought you’d like.
The following is a short list of unsung films that are bolstered greatly by their sumptuous scores…and wouldn’t have been first choice for my cinema viewing otherwise. (Order not included.)
Far from the Madding Crowd
Odd Man Out
The Devil and Daniel Webster
I Know Where I’m Going!
A Matter of Life and Death/Stairway to Heaven