The Long Goodbye

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Raymond Chandler is one of the most iconic mystery writers the world has ever witnessed. His prose is so vivid in documenting the landscape and hallucinating atmosphere of Los Angeles  that you felt as if  you were living under the California sun. His hardboiled, no nonsense detective Philip Marlowe has become the quintessential for aspiring mystery writers to craft their own PI’s from. Marlowe is a wise cracking, top shelf liquor drinking independent that represented what every man wanted to be. Having been portrayed by Humphrey Bogart and Dick Powell, Marlowe had continued to carry this “man’s man” image, that is, until Robert Altman came along.

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Robert Altman famously said that Chandler felt Marlowe was at his core a loser, except he turned him into a false winner. Altman, being the genre bender and revisionist that he was, turned Marlowe into a laid back, chain smoking satire on PIs. That and updating the setting from 1940s LA to the early 1970s counterculture hangover, The Long Goodbye was nonetheless a treat to see.

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The Plot

  • Marlowe is approached by his friend Terry Lennox and is asked to give him a ride to Tijuana because he and his wife Sylvia are getting separated.
  • Marlowe arrives back and is approach by two detectives who said that Lennox killed his wife. Marlowe refuses to believe it but is released from captivity after the station receives word that Terry committed suicide.
  • Marlowe then is hired by a woman named Elieen Wade to find her husband Roger. His search leads him to a detox center where Roger is being extorted for money.
  • Once Roger is home,  Marlowe is ambushed by gangster Marty Augustine who says Terry was running down to Tijuana to traffic money for him.
  • At the boiling point of the film, it is an accumulation of revelations that contain collusion, double crossing and set ups that make the mystery genre so attractive.

What I Liked

  • Elliot Gould was a perfect casting choice to play an alternative take on Phillip Marlowe. He carried himself like a mope to the point where we can see he isn’t the casa nova that Bogart portrayed Marlowe as, yet carried a sense of confidence that only a laid back, west coast 1970s PI could have. Additionally, his cracking and witty remarks made me feel as if this film was an honest parody.
  • I really enjoyed watching the architecture throughout the film, especially at the wade house. A nice beach side home to conduct investigations for murder and missing persons doesn’t sound as bad as it seems.

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What I Disliked

  • As much as I loved the reinterpretation of Chandler’s novel, I would have like to see the film share more qualities with the book, particularly with the plot. As someone who looks at detective films as a journey to get lost in as opposed to finding answers, this film felt a little too watered down (though most adaptions of Chandler’s novel are).
  • With that being said, it’s a little bit of a conflict to say that because that is what Altman was trying to achieve. We watered down Marlowe to the extent of a casual man who does investigates the same way he lives. It was simpler, reflecting a “less is more philosophy.” So while I may be dissatisfied with it, I accept it.

Should You See It?

  • This is an old school movie  that I feel everyone can enjoy. It humorous enough during the slow paced scenes and give an eccentric view at the city of Los Angeles. I highly recommend it.

The Revenant

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The Plot

  • Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, the leader of a group of hunters who get ambushed by the Native Americans.
  • A handful of them escape, including Glass’s son, and begin a survival exploration on foot back to their home front.
  • While scouting out the land the next morning, Glass is brutally attacked by a bear, in which he kills before the bear takes his life. He is unable to move or speak, leaving him to be viewed as dead weight by another hunter in the pact, John Fitzgerald.
  • When the group splits up momentarily, Fitzgerald plans to kill Glass. Glass’s son, however, knows this plan and tries to stop him, but Fitzgerald kills him in the process.
  • Glass witness this. The remaining two hours of the film is Glass recovering from his injuries and traveling to track down Fitzgerald to get his revenge.

What I Liked

  • The cinematography was outstanding. Emmanuel Lubezki used only natural lighting while filming this picture. It felt as if he was capturing the eighth wonder of the world into a single camera lens that absorbed the audience in a breath taking fashion.
  • Tom Hardy did a fine job in the role of John Fitzgerald. He displayed enough emotion for a convincing performance, while still acting ferocious that brought tension to the screen.

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What I Disliked

  • The film felt pretentious to me. The director,  Alejandro González Iñárritu, is a fine filmmaker. Getting his start in Mexico, he directed three films known as the “Death Trilogy” which includes a personal favorite of mine, Amos Perros.
  • These films were made on a low budget and explored challenges in narrative, complex characters, and originality in story. Since then, he went to make Birdman, which even though it was a big production, still stayed true to his craft and auteur-style of filmmaking.
  • The Revenant, in my opinion, was Alejandro trying to top himself from last year. He lost sight of his complexity that made him so distinguishable. This movie provided little plot, no complexity to the characters and just felt like he was out to make an inspirational film of applause that turned out flat.
  • Also, I believe DiCaprio didn’t deserve an Oscar for this role. Yes, writhing in pain for two and a half hours takes talent. But for God’s sake, he either lied in a hole or was carried by his crew members for nearly a third of the film. There’s other performances he should have won for other than this. This picture below accurately reflects my mentality.

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Should You See It?

  • Looking back, I could have gone with or  without seeing this movie. I’m glad I saw it because I’m able to analyze it as such, but there is no way I would watch it again. If you’re someone who has a short attention span, don’t see it. You may be at wonders by the geography of the land, but it only last for so long.
  • If you are someone like me that enjoys a very developed plot, than I wouldn’t recommend it. Although it does have some intense and bloody scenes like the video below.

Basic Instinct

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Michael Douglas had quite the string of success that sprung in the late 80s and extended all the way through the 90s. He was someone that could be play the blue collar everyman in one film and portray the white collar elite in his next film. In Basic Instinct, he takes on a static role as detective Nick Curran, who progressively loses sight of his own intentions and allegiance to his colleagues.

The Plot

  • Nick Curran is investigating the murder of a former rock star, who was stabbed to death with an ice pick in the middle of sexual intercourse.
  • The investigation leads them to their main culprit, Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone).
  • As Nick comes dives deeper into the investigation, and deeper into Catherine’s cerebral mastermind, he finds himself infatuated with her, leading him to be blinded by the facts and not being able to decide who’s innocent and who’s guilty.

What I Liked

  • Sharon Stone gave such a seductive performance that captivated me the moment she spoke. I felt as if I wanted her to lie to me. I didn’t want to know the truth about her, because he mystery was part of her sex appeal.
  • Alfred Hitchcock’s influence is prevalent. Between the score and experimental camera angles to create suspense, along with the beautiful yet deadly blonde, it was a decent modern approach to capturing Hitchcock’s style of filmmaking.

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What I Didn’t Like

  • The ending. I won’t spoil it, but you’ll be disappointed. The whole film felt like a it was taking you into a house of mirrors. You get lost because you can’t decipher what path you must follow to escape, yet your intrigued by the dizziness. And then one mirror breaks and you see through the illusion.

Should You See It

  • If you’re in the mood for an erotic thriller that also provides a decent plot similar to that of Alfred Hitchcock or author Lawrence Block, then I recommend it. If you are someone, however, that doesn’t have patience for exploitation of overly sexualized performances, then perhaps it isn’t for you, but don’t be afraid to give it some of your time.

*Before you check out the film, look at some of these memes that reference the film. images.jpeg

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