Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32. No. 25. October 9, 1969
Pick of the Bunch
Pick of the Bunch
MY colleague has dealt ably and at some length with many new releases. The task here, however, is to look at some of the year's films in perspective. It is with some reluctance I list a top grouping, as this year so far has Failed to produce any one outstanding film. Instead there are a number of films which are hard to sort out, all of which have strong virtues, mostly for different reasons. Also, as this column has been at pains to point out, Wellington is New Zealand's best place for delayed films. Thus into these considerations a good many worthy but as yet unreleased films must be excluded Among these, incredibly, is one which I was forced to exclude last year for the same reason, Albert Finney's Charlie Bubbles, which is still one of the best British films ever made.
I have selected seven films as being the best of the year's bunch so far, though only hall of these may survive, thus being branded with that phrase "staying power". I have also included others which are entertainments of the moment, made to be perishable and all the more enjoyable for it. Thus, in order of release:
Rosemary's Baby (Paramount). One of the two on this list which will probably be on everyone's. Polish-born Polanski has proved his film-making abilities, all that is needed is for him to utilise them to the highest degree of proficiency. Luckily, at the moment, he has the best of both worlds: commercial and critical success. Polanski's future seems set for one like Hitchcock's, where artistic statement is weaved into a thriller plot. Let's hope that Polanski's success does not allow him to follow the Master down to path to ruin and acceptance of substandard projects which make him a victim of the very machine of which he was so much the master. Rosemary's Baby is Polanski's culmination of technical expertise; I only hope his imagination can keep up with it.
Reflections in a Golden Eye (Warner-Seven Arts): Alter it finally got here and was coarsely digested it can still be wondered how Huston made a film which consisted mainly of freak characters, yet none in isolation beyond reason. Marlon Brando heads the list as a latent homosexual army officer who is impotent with his wife (Liz Taylor) who is having it off with the next door neighbour officer (Brian Keith) who likes it because he can't have it with his wife (Julie Harris) because she's insane and has some sort of Strange relationship with an effete Filipino houseboy. The object of Brando's adulation is a young soldier who gets his satisfaction from riding bareback on Liz's stallion and spends his nights at Liz's bedside unbeknown to her. You might think this to be one big sick joke, but it comes over strong and that's enough.
Petulia (Warner-Seven Arts): Richard Lester's first American film in which one is conscious yet again that this is a Lester film and no one else's. He is one of those few whose direction we enjoy more than the film itself (and whose direction is better than the film). In this case Lester has moved beyond his more superficial British nieces to something more substantial about his homeland, Perhaps seldom have we seen such emotional coldness presented on the screen, or where the middle class is leading us if we don't get out and stop it.
Joanna (20th Century-Fox): One of those flippant entertainments to be enjoyed for
its own sake. While others preferred The Touchables (20th-Fox again) I Found Mike Sarne's first feature enjoyable, clever and witty with a brilliant debut by Genevieve Waite and some excellent supporting work from Donald Sutherland. Good music score by Rod McKuen.
Hour of the Wolf (United Artists): An annual honour for the King of the Art Film who consistently turns out cinematic prove that no matter what you see, say or think Ingemar Bergman is there until someone can get up and knock him down, an unenviable task. The other on this list which will be on everyone else's.
Secret Ceremony (Universal): If I had to choose the best of the bunch it would be this one. In terms of originality it is hardly a masterpiece, but it will do until we see more of Joseph Losey's work made in between this and his previous film shown in Wellington (The Servant, 1965). The sort of film which everyone denounces as a big have, yet is begrudgingly admired.
Romeo and Juliet (Paramount): It took a while to get here but the wait was worth it, which is to say we shouldn't have to. Franco Zeffirelli and his young cast have done wonders with this Shakespearean romance and made it the sort of film which can introduce mum to what's going on. As for the purists, they can have Shakespeare and I'll stick to cinema.