Friday, July 08, 2005

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Just watched this 1974 gem. At first I was like, what the hell is Scorsese doing? It seemed so all over the place and meandering but, when someone (Alice in this case) is searching for themselves that kind of happens, doesn't it? The audience has to find the film's rhythm. And not vice versa. No market testing obviously.

It's beautifully observational and authentic. The waterfight between mother and son for example. You see modern movies trying to capture this 'sweet familial love' dynamic all the time but it's always in some totally phony sequence like "let's lipsynch to oldies in our pajamas!" You know? Anyway great stuff. Gorgeous cuts, too. Love that 70s editing style --Whatever happened to Marcia Lucas anyway? She edited three crucial 70s pics and then... zip. Hollywood. I guess Marcia doesn't live there anymore.

12 comments:

Nick Davis said...

I saw this years and years ago, and then just re-watched it pretty recently. I really like it a lot, too. You're absolutely right about the observational feel: I love all the mother/son scenes, like the exasperating car trip, and that damn joke he won't stop telling to everyone. "She went to shit and the hogs ate her" is a pretty memorable line. Not sure what I think about that opening Technicolor sequence, though.

Ellen Burstyn sure is great. How anyone forced themselves to choose among Burstyn, Diahann Carroll, Faye Dunaway, and Gena Rowlands in 1974 is beyond me. (I haven't seen Valerie Perrine in Lenny.) That's looking more and more to me like the best year that category ever had. By leaps and bounds the best of that decade, anyway.

Anonymous said...

This is off topic a little, but following on from Nick's train of thought, I got to thinking... I'd suggest 1995 as the strongest Best Actress year in recent memory.

Sarandon, Shue, Stone, Streep and Thompson were all terrific. A shame that it really came down to the fact that Sarandon "was due", although one certainly couldn't say her performance wasn't worthy. (Though I personally would have picked out Shue with Streep a close second.)

The strength of that year increases when you realise who they DIDN'T nominate: Nicole Kidman in To Die For (still her best work?), Jennifer Jason Leigh in Georgia, Annette Bening in The American President, Toni Collette in Muriel's Wedding, Kathy Bates in Dolores Claiborne...

Rob

Anonymous said...

Julianne Moore in SAFE!

Anonymous said...

Doh! Yes, Julianne in Safe! (I sense a stern ticking off from Nathaniel is on its way!)

Rob

Nick Davis said...

Now that Julianne Moore has been safely installed in her proper company, I'm with Rob on the strength of '95... even though I think Thompson was at least as deserving for Carrington and is the obvious weak link in the bunch (even though she was quite fine).

Still not sure '95 trumps '96, though: Blethyn, Keaton, McDormand, Scott Thomas, and Watson, with Courtney Love, Gwyneth Paltrow (Emma), Debbie Reynolds, Nicole Kidman (The Portrait of a Lady, which I think is her best work), Meryl Streep (Marvin's Room), and Laura Dern (Citizen Ruth) getting strong buzz on the sidelines. Okay, and Madonna. To say nothing of deserving no-chancers like Kate Winslet in Jude, Maggie Cheung in Irma Vep, and Heather Matarazzo in Welcome to the Dollhouse.

Sad that the 1994 and 1997, the before-and-after years to this great double-header, were such clunkers for leading ladies.

Kambei said...

I think that Emma Thompson's work was certainly deserving. The final (spoiler) final scene with Hugh Grant and her break down is one of the greatest scenes in cinema in the past 10 years--and i'm not being hyperbolic.

NATHANIEL R said...

ack. 94. Nick you kill me. That was a dreadful best actress year. Although the Academy only makes such years worse by ignoring the great stuff in the non-traditional styles.

the nominees shoulda included:
JULIETTE LEWIS -Natural Born Killers (totally inspired. I challenge anyone who doesn't think so to a duel to the death. JL will be doing the fighting on my behalf)
WINONA RYDER -Reality Bites (deserved the nom but they chose the uninspired Oscar bait performance instead of the actually resonant one)

Nick Davis said...

Y'all, Nathaniel must not have been kidding when he said he was sick. Cuz obviously, in addition to the brilliant Juliette and the never-better Winona, that '94 Oscar lineup should've included Julianne Moore for Vanya on 42nd Street. Okay, maybe you were considering her supporting. But I think she swings either way.

Also, the Heavenly Creatures gals. And Linda Fiorentino absolutely should have qualified. Oscar is always a little dizzy, but sometimes he's plain dumb.

I probably woulda voted for Juliette or Julianne.

Anonymous said...

While Linda Fiorentino would have been nominated no doubt she was unfortunately inelligable because The Last Seduction aired on TV first.

I'm surprised that Meg Ryan didn't get nominated that year for When A Man Loves A Woman - totally Oscar bait role and actually a pretty fine performance.

From 1994, my favourite female performances were:

Toni Collette - Muriel's Wedding
Linda Fiorentino - The Last Seduction
Heather Langenkarp - Wes Craven's New Nightmare
Natalie Portman - The Professional
Kate Winslet - Heavenly Creatures

with Melanie Lynsky (HC), Juliette Lewis (NBK), Meg Ryan (WAMLAW) and Kerry Fox (Shallow Grave) on the sidelines.

I know two of my 5 are ineligable (Collette's movie was released a year later in the US than it was here and Fiorentino for the reasons above) and Langenkarp is a very personal choice, but I loved her and thought she was great.

Surprised nobody mentioned Portman for her debut role. Sensational stuff.

Can I throw some more names into the 1995 cannon?

Julie Delpy - Before Sunrise
Gong Li - Shanghai Triad

and the most horribly dismissed performance... ALICIA SILVERSTONE IN CLUELESS!

ShameShameShame

-Glenn

NATHANIEL R said...

crazy. the more names get thrown out the more 1995 does look like an "all-time great" year

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to throw out, from 94, Jodie Foster in Nell. A grossly underrated performance, says me. Could be right up there with her work in Silence of the Lambs, although the film itself is vastly inferior.

NATHANIEL R said...

I also think Jodie as Nell is underrated. It's an easy performance to make fun of. But that doesn't make it a bad performance.