Resurrected 1970s Cinema: Sorcerer

“Sorcerer” is the movie that derailed the career of the Oscar winning director of “The French Connection” and “The Exorcist” William Friedkin. It is a remake of the French film classic “The Wages Of Fear” but it bombed upon it’s initial release in 1977 and received mostly negative reviews when it opened a couple of weeks after “Star Wars”.

It has been pointed out by more than a few people, including Friedkin himself, that after the unprecedented success of “Star Wars” the movie industry was never the same and the zeitgeist had changed almost literally overnight. A dark, downbeat, existential thriller such as “Sorcerer” was just out of step with the times. The “New Hollywood” of the 1970s was now over and the blockbuster era had swept in like a hurricane and the economics and the aesthetics of Hollywood was now changed forever. You could almost say it started earlier than that with the huge success of “Jaws” a couple of years before and hinted at earlier that year in March, 1977 when “Rocky” beat “All The President’s Men”, “Network” and “Taxi Driver” for the best picture Oscar of 1976. While “Rocky” is a great movie it certainly is more a crowd pleaser than the other three films are and it was precursor of things to come.

“Sorcerer” is now gaining belated critical acclaim and many consider it a lost masterpiece of 1970s American cinema. Friedkin himself calls it his personal favorite of all his films because it came the closest to his vision of what he wanted it to be. After suing the two studios who owned the rights, because the film was in a legal limbo over who actually owned it, the film has now been digitally restored and is going to be released next week on Blu-ray as well as being shown at repertory cinemas around the country and world.

Hollywood Insider: Postcards From The Edge

The 1990 film Postcards From The Edge starring Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine and Dennis Quaid is based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Carrie Fisher, who also wrote the screenplay. Well directed by Mike Nichols it is about actress Suzanne Vale (Streep) who has substance abuse problems, relationship issues and a frictional relationship with her mother (MacLaine) who is an aging, famous actress herself. It is a drama, comedy, and Hollywood satire all in one and Streep knocks it out of the park with MacLaine more than holding her own in this funny and well written movie.

Austrian Crime: Revanche

The 2008 Austrian film Revanche, written and directed by Götz Spielmann, is a wonderful nourish crime thriller that was nominated for best foreign film at the 2009 Academy Awards. It is a love story between an Austrian ex-con and a Ukrainian prostitute that get involved in a bank robbery. The story has an inevitability about it up to a certain point and then it goes into a very different and unpredictable direction. Johannes Krisch as Alex the ex-con and Irina Potapenko as the prostitute are both excellent in the film.

1980s Femme Fatale: Black Widow

I have always liked the 1987 crime thriller “Black Widow” starring two of my favorite actresses of the period – Debra Winger and Theresa Russell with supporting roles from Dennis Hopper and Nicol Williamson. Directed by Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces) in a low key style much more reminiscent of the 1970s than the era it was made in, while not a masterpiece, it is very entertaining and is well worth watching. Plus it is that rarity: a crime film with two female leads.