Men Behaving Badly, Women Acting Greatly
Running at SIFF Cinema Uptown from November 9–11, the "Men Behaving Badly" mini-fest involves a quartet of beloved '70s films, each presented on a freshly restored digital print and "featuring troubled men dealing with tumultuous circumstances as best they can," says SIFF. It's a nice wide net, capable of snagging virtually every movie ever made, from Birth of a Nation to The Dark Knight Rises, and SIFF has narrowed it down to a good, strong, aesthetically harmonious four.
Hard Times (1975)
The directorial debut of Walter "The Warriors" Hill stars Charles Bronson as a bare-knuckle boxer slugging his way through the Depression in New Orleans, and James Coburn as his well-meaning but down-on-his-luck promoter. I've never seen it, but Roger Ebert calls it "a powerful, brutal film containing a definitive Charles Bronson performance."
Five Easy Pieces (1970)
Bob Rafaelson directs Jack Nicholson to one of his best performances in this spare, gritty, and wry drama about a prodigal son of privilege chasing vague romance as an oil worker before being called home for a reckoning with his dying father. What you'll remember most: the great supporting performance by the late Karen Black, who creates a weird '70s sexpot like no other.
The Last Detail (1973)
Another Jack Nicholson joint, this one directed by Hal Ashby (fresh off Harold and Maude), and following the last free hours of a young midshipman (Randy Quaid) en route to a military prison under the supervision of Officer Nicholson, who's determined to show the kid a good time. Another spare, gritty, wry drama packed with lived-in performances, powered by a script by Robert Towne, which reportedly featured more than 300 F-bombs in the opening scene alone.
The Last Picture Show (1971)
A poetic black-and-white portrait of 1950s Texas idleness set to a Hank Williams soundtrack, Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show remains a miracle of American filmmaking. Not only does it improve upon its source material (Larry McMurtry's acclaimed novel), the film draws career-best performances from every member of its vast cast. While the men (Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms, Ben Johnson) behave badly, the women act brilliantly; it's hard to think of another film so dense with rich female performances. Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, Cybill Shepard, and the late, great Eileen Brennan all do work that will take your breath away. If you've never seen The Last Picture Show, you must.
Men Behaving Badly runs Nov 9–11 at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave N. Full info at siff.net.