Saturday, August 8, 2009

#75 The Last Picture Show 1968

This was a very interesting movie. It's one of those film that, by the stills, seems like nothing special. This is because The Last Picture Show is a film that is wonderful because of the combination of good acting, good writing, and great directing. The movie is about the happenings among the residents of a small Texas town. It focuses on teenagers and those they interact with. Like most films about teenagers, at the beginning, everyone is basically happy, having fun and looking towards the future. Then things starts to unravel as some are led astray.
I really liked the direction (Peter Bogdanivich). He often used close ups of characters' faces to express emotion. His close ups did more than a couple pages of dialogue. The close ups in the sex scenes, interestingly, were the best. There obviously was little dialogue in these scenes and Bogdanvich's focusing on the characters rather than the appeal of sex was perfectly done, as it actually added to the film and the character development.
There was one scene in particular that intrigued me. It was a scene by a riverbank with Sonny (Timothy Bottoms) and Sam (Ben Johnson). Sonny and Sam are sitting by the lake. We see a shot of the landscape, and we appreciate the desolation of the scene which mirrors the desolation of the people in the film, but the shot is basically just a shot. Then, Sam tells Sonny about the significance of the lake, about the times he spent there with the love of his life. After he tells the story, there is another shot of the lake. And, with the second shot, the lake actually seemed to mean more to me. The second shot actually emits a greater importance than the first shot had. I don't know how Bigdanovich did it, but it was brilliant.

Great use of Ode to a Grecian Urn's "Beauty is truth, truth beauty/that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know" to start off the events of the film. Over all, there was great character development, although more often than not, the people in this town seemed to digress. It seems obvious that the awkward moments and rites of passage of being a teenager haven't changed int he past half century. Great performances from Timothy Bottoms and Cloris Leachman. A special treat to see young Jeff Bridges, Randy Quaid, and Cybill Shephard and younger Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, and Eileen Brennan.

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