26 September 2007

god help bobby and helen

so it's been a little while since the calitexican has found the time to sit and blog. she has to say that she misses it quite a bit. so since she's been gone, she has seen two movies worth blogging about. heat (1995, mann) and panic in needle park (1971, schatzberg). it has been a few days, but she will attempt her best to get on with the post.

so heat is a part of her on going "gangster" movie marathon. this time, de niro and pacino are in the same movie. wow. but with only something like 5 minutes shared airtime. she thought heat was strangely told in the beginning, the viewer is placed right into the thick of things, which leads to some feeling of being lost while the story is whirring past you. if you don't pay attention, you will be left behind. she does think this story telling style is on purpose for this movie, whereas others, such as the bourne movies, also use this technique, but since their story is inherently less interesting and complex, it just seems contrived.

she's not going to go into the plot, not that she ever does, but she will mention two things. one, it is definitely worth seeing for the themes, actors (shout out to president david palmer!!) and writing. two, the directing is pretty incredible. there's one scene in particular where pacino's character, vincent, is looking for de niro's gang. the camera is focused on vincent, his forehead itself seems to take up 2/3rds of the height of the screen. the shot is wide and split screen, shout out to old school cop movies she thinks. behind him is police headquarters from where he is making the phone call. the headquarters are bright and tan w/ blues and are crystal clear, showing an interesting perspective due to the rails on the ceiling leading the eye into the background. vincent is making several phone calls to track down the gang, and being the "best" detective there is, he believes he knows where they are. but this gang is not going to be taken down by anyone, not even vincent. so one by one, the gang takes care of itself, protecting their own, and each time the camera goes back to that wide shot of pacino, he is the only thing that stays clear. the background starts to get fuzzy with the first phone call, and proceeds to become just an abstract mixture of tans and blues as he hangs up the last call. ironic thing is, of course, he did know where they were, he just underestimated them just slipping through his fingers.

so the CTs faithful readers know that she loves mean streets. (by the way, de niro is just as hot as he was in mean streets, albeit much older and sophisticated...) and in looking for pictures for her post today she got out-geeked. turns out, this very week, mean streets premiered 34 years ago. wow. wow.

so she took about an hour break after watching heat and then moved on to panic in needle park. faithful readers also know she loves the young pacino in kind of an obsessive way. well, this movie solidified something she has been suspecting for a long time. pacino was a much better actor in the 1970s (and maybe early 80s) than he is currently. he's not as hungry anymore and now just seems to be "PACINO" in every role. this will include yelling and generally raising his voice or slamming his fist to get attention. yes, she thinks so even in carlito's way, however, perhaps he was trying to return to his pre-"PACINO" roots in donnie brasco by being a pathetic old mobster with a gambling problem.

back to panic in needle park. she contends this movie is a political one in how it immediately starts off with details of an abortion and then maybe 10 minutes later goes into the depths of heroin addiction, prostitution, racism, sexism and small time petty junkie thefts. pacino shows quite a range, thanks to the screenwriters didion and dunne. they wrote without pity or judgment, something the calitexican regards as the ultimate goal in story telling, well, with a story as dark as this one at least.

again, wont really go into the plot here except for one brief mention one of her favorite scenes. the junkie that used to be helen is expecting a visit from mom and mom's friends. pacino's bobby convinces her to go to get "bread" (meaning money, although they probably could have used actual bread since the CT suspects they don't really eat that much food). junkie helen is resistant, but loves bobby so much that she can't separate her mind from his. so in order to get ready for her midwestern visitors she puts in a ridiculous white ribbon in her hair. it's totally what a junkie thinks that "good" girls look like, but of course, the junkie gets it COMPLETELY wrong, ultimately proving what a true junkie she really is.

also, how wrong is it for junkies in love to have a puppy?

this movie also had, in the CT's humble and extremely modest opinion, one of the BEST endings in movie history. watch it. you will not be disappointed.

and, for those of you trivia buffs, you may know that this is one of pacino's first movies. this was the movie coppola used to convince the paramount execs that pacino should be michael corleone. and in fact, the CT remarked that she could see bits of the "that's-my-family-not-me-kay" michael in this movie. this was the movie that marty bergman saw and was convinced that pacino was serpico. that is a bit of a stretch for the CT to believe, but hey, to each their own. (bergman was also the dude that made pacino tony montana too...)

oh, one last thing. the CT loves wes anderson and rushmore. she recognized some things in heat that rushmore blatently stole. as she's mentioned before, the CT is becoming quite the film geek.

until next time... she's off to the right coast and plans on making some movies while she's out there...

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