Archive for October 16th, 2013

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by Allan Fish

(USA 1980 219m) DVD1

In principle, everything can be done

p  Johann Carelli  d  Michael Cimino  Michael Cimino  ph  Vilmos Zsigmond  ed  Tom Rolf, William Reynolds, Lisa Fruchtman, Gerald Greenberg  m  David Mansfield  art  Tambi Larsen, Spencer Deverill, Maurice Fowler  cos  Allen Highfill

Kris Kristofferson (James Averill), Isabelle Huppert (Ella Watson), Christopher Walken (Nathan D.Champion), John Hurt (Billy Irvine), Sam Waterston (Frank Canton), Brad Dourif (Mr Eggleston), Joseph Cotten (Rev.Doctor), Jeff Bridges (John L.Bridges), Geoffrey Lewis, Richard Masur, Mickey Rourke, Willem Dafoe, Elizabeth McGovern,

Among a host of monumental films that bombed at the box office, stretching back to Intolerance through La Fin du Monde and Cleopatra, Heaven’s Gate surely still holds pride of place.  Even now the very term ‘a Heaven’s Gate’ is synonymous for financial debacles in the movie industry.  For here was a director, Michael Cimino, fresh from the almost universal praise allotted to his The Deer Hunter, given carte blanche to make whatever film he liked by a studio – United Artists – that would come to regret it.  For all the endless vitriol and critical mutilation (one recalls Pauline Kael sharpening her poison quill with “it was easy to see what to cut, but when I tried afterward to think of what to keep, my mind went blank”), Cimino’s film deserves placing altogether higher in the eyes of posterity.  To these eyes, it’s a far better film than The Deer Hunter, for all that film’s merits.


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© 2013 by James Clark


 Taking the measure of a Coens’ film (Miller’s Crossing [1990]) right after immersion in a film by Wong Kar Wai (and closely following brushes with Terrence Malick, Quentin Tarantino, Nicolas Refn, Kim Nguyen and Lars von Trier) induces a sense of the former effort having a somewhat stand-offish comportment to its revelations. Blood Simple (1984), their first, would be quite unique in soaking up the surreal features of Malick’s Badlands (1973), so redolent of that contrarian and intimate reservoir, Kiss Me Deadly, and so struck by a masterwork of Surrealist filmmaking, namely, Robert Bresson’s, Mouchette. This link would also be introducing eventuation very conversant with solitary consciousness. As thus pitched, the initial and solitary inspiration (from Malick) impinges upon an enterprise having chosen a brotherhood duality of discernment.

    The Surrealist enthusiasm of the freshmen brothers comes unstuck in the course of their subsequent extremity, Raising Arizona (1987), a film far more stridently absurdist than effectively inhabiting the prospect of attaining to the intimacy of the surreal. After that slightly bilious romp, they turned to what was eventually to become Miller’s Crossing (during development tentatively referred to as “The Big Head”). In trying to right their ship of discovery along lines of blue-chip investigation, they came up empty at the preparatory stage (a case of twofold writer’s block). Hence they shifted to a study of another collection of perverse irritants (Barton Fink [1991 release date]—the writing of which they managed to whip off in three weeks—no blocks in that area—with an icing of David Lynch’s surreal, Eraserhead.) And then they returned to their attempt to find a cogent tuning for Miller’s Crossing. How did they do? (more…)

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