Last Tango in Paris (1972)


David: Fifty Shades of Grey meets The Wrestler – or is it King Kong? A 48 year old Marlon Brando roams Paris like a rogue silverback. Apparently mourning the recent and mysterious suicide of his wife, he’s roughing up everyone and everything in his path. So indiscriminate and pointless are his outbursts of fury that he evokes his own incarnation as Johnny in the The Wild One. He’s rebelling against whatever you’ve got. Brando’s formidable yet pathetically unstrategic rampage is sweetened only by interludes of semi-consensual sex with ingenue Maria Schneider. The anonymity of their tryst is retained as long as possible, the bare rented apartment where they meet a cocoon against a detritus-ridden world and Brando’s broken life. The infamous butter scene is a minor scandal and not even the final stage of debasement Brando’s character needs to bring Schneider’s to before deciding she has the right stuff and might be his ticket out of existential hell.

Jules: If films are the means by which we collectively countenance the uncomfortable truths of what we are, and how that seems to override who we are, this film is both trauma and therapy. What is the relationship between desire, word, and action, and our collective sense of right and wrong? Last Tango ponders these questions (among others) and – crucially – acts upon them, in ways that sometimes seem lost to today’s cinema.

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Play Misty For Me (1971)


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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