recent for me, I mean. These were all first-viewings for me. In reverse order:
Dog Day Afternoon - Sidney Lumet
Pretty good, but filmed with all the visual flair of a Lifetime Original Movie. (I had that thought while watching and then immediately felt really bad, since Lumet just died.) The script felt like it wanted to be a play and not a movie. I saw Before the Devil Knows You're Dead when it came out and I liked it better than I liked this.
Alien - Ridley Scott
Holy shit. Dog Day Afternoon was a movie starring real people based on real events that took place on planet Earth, and yet somehow the characters and situations in Alien seem more real to me -- except maybe for the parts near the end when the menace has evolved into a dude in a monster suit, posing and staring.
The movie takes a very weird turn in the final act. Ripley, who throughout the film has not been sexualized in any way, is suddenly in her underwear with the crack of her ass hanging out all over the place, hiding in a closet while a disgusting, dripping phallus protrudes from the creature that is menacing her. I don't really know what to say about that. Was the whole movie about sexual terror, and I was too dopey to pick up on it until the very end? I guess so. I think I read once that HR Geiger's initial designs for the aliens were rejected on the grounds that they were too explicitly genital.
The Conversation - Francis Ford Coppola
I'm probably overreacting, but my initial response was that this is the best movie I've ever seen.
An Education - Lone Scherfig
It's like a film just sprung up around a young girl, as the world's way of recognizing how beautiful and charming she is. I love everyone's accents and everyone's clothes and Alfred Molina.
The Godfather, Part II - Francis Ford Coppola
Okay so I realize that both Godfathers have been apostheosized into Important Film Heaven, but actually this movie is boring as shit and borderline unwatchable and Coppola didn't give a fuck about the Godfather and neither do I. Pacino's performance is interesting to watch as the guy who is trying to be the Noble Criminal that his father was but inwardly just seething at every moment, and it's fun listening to DeNiro doing Brando but otherwise there is just nothing going on here. Thematically and visually it is an absolute fucking bore. What is this movie about! Who cares! Comparing this movie to The Conversation is a textbook demonstration of the kind of work an artist does on a project he's passionate about versus what he does to pay the bills.