The Night Porter (1974)

nightporter

Jules: Is there such a thing as essential human nature, or can we turn ourselves into whatever we think we ought to be, whenever and wherever it suits us? And if we can, are we still human?

David: Dirk Bogarde and Charlotte Rampling must decide whether or not they are each literally to die for. Meanwhile a technical anomaly causes the Overlooked team to narrate the film with the second and third acts switched out of order. Hilarity doesn’t quite ensue but perhaps an enhanced perspective is enabled on the movie’s themes of crime, passion, pragmatics and lots of baggage.

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Excalibur (1981)

excalibur

David: The legendary expounding of how, when your best friend steals your girlfriend, literally everything turns to excrement. As the hapless players unfold this tragedy, supernatural mentor Merlin is to be found meddling with ruthless benevolence in the affairs of men. But with a pained, fatherly expression he watches as time and again they hold the prize of a golden age in their hands, and drop it.

Jules: Not only an impossible love-triangle, but an impossible political romance unfolds in this robust and sinewy retelling of the ancient, troubadour-filtered tale of a God-given head of state who both physically and metaphysically unifies his island kingdom. The myth of the benevolent dictator finds its apotheosis in the overwhelmingly decent, occasionally-befuddled character of Arthur, whose innocence both makes and unmakes his dynasty.
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Play Misty For Me (1971)

playmisty

Jules: Like many first-time directors, Clint Eastwood turned to thriller/horror, via this story about the intersection of fame and obsession. The film is more interesting for the fact that the fame is moderate, and the obsession is feminine. Jessica Walter’s anti-heroine somehow seems objectionable more for her actions than her sentiments in this rare example of a genre film dealing thoughtfully with uncontainable female mental dysfunction.

David: A great popcorn-munching, psycho-watching, knife-wielding suburban thriller that precedes and outclasses the bunny boiling Fatal Attraction – ’cause look, back in the day, who drove women crazier, Clint or Michael Douglas? There’s interesting debate to be had on whether it’s feminist, misogynist or just… from the 70s. Clint tries to do the right thing by minorities and the apposite gender as well as the local artisans, interior decorators and haberdashers of Carmel By the Sea, the pacific hamlet which in a later decade he would rule as Mayor.

Warning: May contain traces of impromptu and poorly thought out advice for dealing with stalker behaviour.

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Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

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Jules: It seems Kubrick’s last film (excluding conspiracy theories, or Spielberg public relations) disappointed, riled, puzzled, or otherwise stymied almost everyone who saw it upon first release. A publicity campaign that teased a salacious treatment of the hottest Hollywood couple at the time didn’t altogether help. But has the passage of time, and the rumors that surround the film, suggested a re-reading? Is it a cynical, last gesture of a cool-minded technician? A plodding attempt by a blocked artist to reconnect with fading emotions? A final confession by a regretful propagandist? Or the closest thing to a love story Kubrick could make?

David: A film that punctuates the lives of both its stars and and its director, marking the end of Kubrick’s life and the end of Tom and Nicole’s marriage. Is this about too much honesty or too much mendacity? Intimations of infidelity send Tom on a walking tour of a hitherto undiscovered hell populated by lost women, to ends and threats obscure.

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