Monday, 5 April 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 201

334 - The Magnificent Ambersons - 2 stars
Apart from Citizen Kane, every Orson Welles film seems to come with a story of troubled production and a final cut that was overseen by the studio and not the director.
This particular film lost 40 minutes and had a happier ending tacked on. Unlike Touch of Evil however, Welles's original vision is no longer available, the original footage destroyed.
As a result this critique on the laziness of inherited wealth against those who achieve through industry feels rather disjointed (flat in parts, then rushed in others).
The critique is personified by the battle between the young and spoilt George Amberson and Eugene Morgan (played by Mercury Theater regular Joseph Cotton), focusing on their relationships (George with Lucy, Morgan's daughter, and Eugene with George's mother) and the impact that Eugene's invention of the automobile will have on them and society.

65 - Harold And Maude - 4 stars
For a long time I had only heard of this film in a quote in There's Something About Mary where Cameron Diaz remarks that "Harold And Maude is one of the greatest love stories of our time".
A few years ago I presented a film course on cult movies and while I did mention it, I didn't focus on it because I'd never seen it but now I have it would certainly have qualified on several criteria: non-commercial/mainstream plot, box office failure, great soundtrack.
I was immediately taken with this film from Harold's first attempted suicide. They slowly become more elaborate as the film goes on (from hanging and shooting to immolation and seppuka), and they are very funny, Harold uses them to deter potential girlfriends his mum is trying to set him up with. It then makes it more tragic when you learn of the reason why Harold does these suicide creations.
He is a young boy obsessed with death and it takes a woman who is near death and has a giant piece of art in the shape of a vagina to help him discover his zest for life.
The relationship between Harold and Maude is the real heart of the film and feels completely genuine, and is one of the greatest love stories of our time, albeit a rather unconventional one.
It also has an adorable soundtrack by Cat Stevens.
Must just say that my favourite moment in the film is when Harold slowly turns to look directly at the camera following one of his suicide attempts, hilarious.
Oh, and if you've ever seen Life Aquatic. Remember the bald accountant guy? That's Harold all grown up.

Days remaining - 164 Films remaining - 215

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