This 35mm screening is part of an Edgar Wright Presents season. Details here.
An Ivy League graduate who became a successful director of commercials, Michael Cimino secured world fame for the expansive The Deer Hunter and enduring notoriety for the epic western Heaven's Gate. But his big break came in 1973 after co-writing two screenplays, the off-beat sci-fi Silent Running and Magnum Force, a sequel to Dirty Harry. His next script was not only acquired by Clint Eastwood as a vehicle for himself but also persuaded the star to let him direct it.
Inspired by Captain Lightfoot, a 1955 Douglas Sirk picture about 19th-century Irish highwaymen, it's a knowing, fast-moving combination of road movie and heist thriller, a bromance as we'd now call it, with homoerotic and homophobic undertones. It's set entirely in the beautiful, thinly populated "big sky country" of Idaho and Montana. On the soundtrack there's twanging country music by Dee Barton, who wrote the score for Eastwood's Play Misty for Me and High Plains Drifter.
Clint Eastwood plays Thunderbolt, a criminal hiding out as a country parson who meets Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges), a cheerful drifter half his age, while escaping from two old associates (a brutal George Kennedy and a dim Geoffrey Lewis) pursuing him to recover stolen loot. After chases and threats, male bonding and acrimony, the two pairs join forces for a carefully planned bank robbery in which Lightfoot dresses in drag to fool a guard. Gradually an initially light-hearted movie becomes dark, seriously violent, heavily ironic and finally tragic. Familiar character actors from the early 70s appear briefly along the road (Dub Taylor, the revivalist preacher in The Wild Bunch; Bill McKinney, the redneck rapist in Deliverance; Burton Gilliam, the racist, farting foreman in Blazing Saddles). Kennedy and Lewis are memorably unpredictable heavies.
But, above all, the film turns on the Eastwood-Bridges relationship. Eastwood confidently draws on his tender, vulnerable side. After his adult debut in The Last Picture Show (1971), Bridges continues to refine and define his role as the optimistic small-town all-American boy, retaining a cheerful, bewildered innocence even as he grows older. In Thunderbolt and Lightfoot he won his second Oscar nomination and was still working out painful variations on this similar character when he won an Oscar as the grizzled country singer in Crazy Heart in 2010.
Here is Edgar Wright's take on the movie
No2: Velvet Goldmine (Haynes, 1998): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm
This 35mm screening is part of the 'Women's Contribution to Film' season at the Prince Charles. You can find all the details here.
Time Out review:
This witty, evocative re-creation of the heady days of glam rock is loosely structured on the lines of a Citizen Kane-style flashback narrative, with a journalist (Christian Bale) sent back from New York to Britain to investigate, ten years on, the disappearance of Bowie-like star Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) after an on-stage assassination is revealed to have been a publicity stunt. Partly a film à clef which retranslates real-life events and personalities into a dazzling fiction, partly an unsentimental celebration of an era of (potential) pan-sexual liberation (complete with unexpected but fitting tribute to Oscar Wilde), and partly a typically Todd Haynesian study of transgression, identity and the gulf between private and public image, it's superbly shot, edited and performed, and exhilaratingly inventive throughout.
Here are the opening credits.