Network, the movie

Until Saturday evening, I had never seen the movie “Network” that won four Oscars in 1976.  Turner Classic Movies is probably my favorite TV channel in the US and, as usual, leading up to Oscar Sunday, TCM is showing 31 Days of Oscar…..in alphabetical order!

I don’t know how I missed this movie.  I was recently out of Graduate School, wanted to stay in the Bay Area where jobs were scarce and was probably working around the clock to make ends meet.  I remember the iconic line “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore”.  I also remember that Peter Finch, who starred in the movie and won the Oscar for Best Actor, died before he could pick up his Oscar.  The belief is that his heart was already weak and some of the long impassioned speeches compromised his heart even more and he died of a heart attack months after the release of the movie.

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What was stunning to me as I watched Saturday evening, was how prescient the movie was.  Although supposed to be a “outrageous satire”(Leonard Maltin) , it predicted the news as entertainment and the hero worship of men who express their anger on TV and therefore relate and identify with the supposed mass majority of the American public. The movie opened forty-one years ago and predicted the rise of Donald Trump: a figure that TV made.

In a review that the great Roger Ebert wrote in 1976, he said “we may doubt that a Howard Beale could get on the air, but we have no doubt the idea would be discussed as the movie suggests. And then Chayefsky and the director, Sidney Lumet, edge the backstage network material over into satire, too–but subtly, so that in the final late-night meeting where the executives decide what to do about Howard Beale, we have entered the madhouse without noticing.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the madhouse.

This is indeed a great movie.  I encourage you to read the Ebert review then think about the rise of Donald Trump.

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-network-1976

Don’t forget to watch the Oscars this coming Sunday 4pm PST and 7pm EST.  There’s always something memorable even if you have to slog through a lot of commercials and boring speeches to get there.

This will be my last post for awhile.  On Thursday morning, I will be having total hip replacement surgery on my right hip.  I’m told that the process has advanced so much that  I could go home the same day.  I asked to spend one night in the hospital.  I have to learn Physical Therapy and be disciplined about doing it three times a day.  My goal and reward is, if everything goes well as is predicted, I have a return flight to Paris on May 2nd.  I miss Paris terribly.  It is something I will hold in front of me as the undisciplined part of me tries to talk me out of doing PT.

A bientôt,

Sara

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La La Land

I’ve always been a fan of escapism: TV, movies, books, it doesn’t matter.  But there is something about going out to the Big Screen that does the trick without making you feel groggy  or hung over.

So while in the midst of my surgery anxieties on Tuesday, I took myself off to see La La Land by Damien Chazelle.  Since this isn’t Paris, I had to choose very carefully the theatre and the roads and availability of parking.  Without too much trouble, I arrived at BayStreet 16 AMC Theatres in Emeryville to see one of the Oscar contenders: La La Land

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As the film started to roll, the screen announced that La La Land was filmed in panavision and therefore Cinemascope, in very large letters, filled the whole screen.  The curtains pulled back just like in my youth.  Coincidently, I saw Mr. Chazelle chatting with  Ben Mankiewicz on TCM classic movies channel last night.  Ben said “You filmed this film all over Los Angeles, yet you’ve tried to make it look like it was filmed on a backlot.  All the old films from the backlot days tried to make it look real”  Mr. Chazelle said he was aiming for something in between: magical!!!

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The two men were introducing The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (go see it asap if you haven’t already seen it.  Go see it again if you have!!!) Mr. Chazelle agreed that this film was one of the biggest influences on La La Land.  I think he said he has seen it 17 times.  That’s close to my record of Singin’ In the Rain.  So even though, I’d seen Umbrellas of Cherbourg, I watched it to see the influences.  I liked it so much better this time around.

 

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I digress.  La La Land pays homage to Singin’ in the Rain (in the beginning and throughout the movie).  Boy and Girl meet the first time while in cars and immediately piss each other off.  Boy runs into girl again and almost knocks her over.  Finally boy and girl meet a third time and the attraction begins.  Neither Emma Stone or Ryan Gosling have great singing voices but that’s part of it’s charm as in Umbrellas of Cherbourg.  On the other hand,, they do seem to be very good dancers and I would have loved to have seen more of them dancing.  Listen to the two of them sing “City of Stars”.  Ryan Gosling is playing the piano and he is GOOD, very good!!!

The story is age old: trying to make it in Hollywood, the ups, the downs.  Everything about the movie is charming: the actors, the singing and dancing, the ordinariness of the characters played by the two stars and, as in many Gene Kelly movies, there is a fantasy number that is beautifully produced and executed.  I want to tell you the ending but you must go find out yourself.

Rotten Tomatoes calls La La Land Chazelle’s love letter to a by-gone era.  Yes! A wonderful era full of singing and dancing and the opportunity to escape and forget the present with it’s anxieties and powerlessness.  It worked for me!!!

A bientôt,

Sara