Thursday, November 10, 2016

Netflix Queue*: "The Conversation," starring Gene Hackman

Three thoughts about "The Conversation" just as soon as I rip my apartment apart in a fruitless search for the wiretap....

1: Francis Ford Coppola sandwiched this movie between "The Godfather" and "The Godfather Part II." That's an astonishing run of movie artistry. And it's a reminder that Hollywood used to make movies for, you know, adults: There's some sex here, but it's not fun. There are no explosions, on-screen at least. It's about the quietest thriller you'll ever see. If you're not a cinephile, and if you're relatively young, it's possible you haven't heard of it. Go ahead. Give it a try.

2: The movie is well-known for its contemplation of the surveillance society that Americans were only then becoming dimly aware that we lived in. (Spying? That stuff's for Russians!) On second viewing — I last saw it about 15 years ago — what strikes me is how much the movie is about perception, and how having the different pieces of a puzzle very much affects what you think the puzzle might look like when whole. If I were to create a mini movie marathon, I'd package it together with "Rashomon" and Christopher Nolan's "Memento."

3: The score, featuring piano compositions by David Shire, is simply gorgeous. Here's summing it up beautifully: "As Harry Caul is a stoic, taciturn character, Coppola understood that much of his underlying repression and sadness fell into the hands of the music. What the film ends up with, and it works like gangbusters, is a central character who refuses to say much of anything about his own personal life, but a score that tells you everything anyway."

Bonus thought: Two days after Donald Trump was elected president, darn tootin' I was in the mood for a paranoid thriller.

Bonus Bonus: Tie for funniest unintentionally funny scene: Gene Hackman being followed by a mime. Gene Hackman pretending to play the saxaphone.

* Ok, actually Amazon Prime this time.

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