Tag Archives: Warren Beatty

American New Wave: McCabe and Mrs. Miller (AKA: Yes, yes I did two Altman films in two weeks. Deal with it. He deserves it.)

hero_eb19991114reviews08911140301arEdited and Updated 2016

Released only one year after Robert Altman’s first masterpiece, MASH, this sly, revisionist Western is the rare film whose intentions and affect are captured fully in its opening credits.  Fore-grounded, we have an image of a decrepit, hunched over, and phony looking enigma of a man riding slowly into an equally decrepit and hunched-over town. It is nothing short of a stunningly snarky and caustic wry mockery of the Western archetype hero riding into town to save the day. Only he isn’t there to “save the day” here. He, McCabe (Warren Beatty), simply wants to make a name for himself, and he does so by running a brothel, but only once he’s saved by a woman who initially couldn’t care less about him, the down-to-earth Mrs. Miller (Julie Christie) who somehow manages to maintain an unreachable magisterial mystery about her. And that’s the film in a nutshell: decrepit, deadened, and down-trodden yet still somehow attaining a sort of energetic sense of positively alert human feeling. In this sense, it is the quintessential New Wave film. Continue reading

American New Wave: Bonnie and Clyde

Perhaps the most infamous “classic” American film ever released, Bonnie and Clyde was not just an important film but a signifier of something more important occurring in and around its release, a seismic shift in American filmmaking. 1967 is often considered a watershed year for American film with Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night, and The Graduate tackling difficult issues of race, class, gender, and age in ways American cinema hadn’t before. But while those films vary in quality (from kind-of terrible to merely good, unfortunately) and revolutionary status, none stand taller today than Bonnie and Clyde, director Arthur Penn’s explosive examination of Depression era American culture, and implicitly, the culture of the late ’60s in America struggling with social unrest. The film was one of the first to signal a New Wave of American Cinema, films which not only tackled more difficult subject matters but were more subversive in the way they tackled them and borrowed and expanded upon filmmaking tactics prominent during late ’50s and early ’60s European cinema. As such, it remains perhaps the earliest gasp of a fruitful future fifteen years of cinema which would redefine the nature of going to the movies.
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