Summer of ’81
The dialectic between the two characters aptly captures the internal schisms of the 1970s western left, but von Trotta never reduces the women or their relationship to an intellectual exercise. This is a film of ideas with a wounded human heart.
Go-motion itself was but a small part of the films it was deployed in, used to complement other techniques and props. It makes sense that such puppets would be deployed as a special effect in fantasy films that flirt with the macabre, go-motion becoming a sort of necromancy itself.
The brilliance of Modern Romance lies in how Brooks, as the film’s co-writer, conflates the comedic and horrific implications of its romantic premise until they are indistinguishable from one another. The film is funny because it’s kind of disturbing, not despite that fact.
Francine is holding on for dear life as her nuclear family falls into disarray with a cheating porno theater-owning husband, a fetishistic teenage son who gains local notoriety for stomping on feet, and a rebellious daughter with an unplanned pregnancy. Francine is unloved, ignored, and routinely humiliated.
The Fox and the Hound belongs to what has been unofficially deemed the Dark Ages of the studio, those 18 years that commenced shortly after Disney’s death and proved, with some exceptions, generally less popular, either critically or financially.
Made at the height-to-date of the New York crisis of violence, it responds with a story steeped in simplistic moralism and frank bloodlust. It is black and white and red all over, like the front page of the New York Post, that eternal foot soldier in the culture war.
The sweltering love affair at the center of Body Heat is one of both bodily and economic exchange. Each person, it turns out, wants something more from the other than meets the eye: not just a mistress but a loaded one; not just a boyfriend but a patsy.
You can feel the sense of chaos in the cacophonous trains festooned with graffiti, bulbous fonts and enigmatic emblems and cartoonish signatures. Kirchheimer distills the essence of the city into 45 minutes of trains trundling along, piebald in paint; the film is a beguiling sequence of 16mm images.
Cinematically it is neither here nor there, sandwiched between agreed-upon renaissances. There were marvels, there were duds, there were mediocrities, like any year... Yet we discovered 1981 feels as much like a turning point as it does a middling cinematic interzone.