I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Midnight Cowboy, 1969

Rated R 


HATED IT. Once again, I find myself in the minority (according to imdb.com, rottentomatoes.com, and two people I’ve talked to) in not liking/appreciating this cult classic. It just isn’t my type of movie, and if you know me, you’ll probably know why. Basically, I’d gladly watch “Tom Jones”, my least favorite movie before this one, a few more times before this one.

Call me naïve, but I didn’t know what the title was referring to but I soon found out that a “midnight cowboy” is code for male hustler. Jon Voight, a newcomer to the screen, plays Joe Buck who leaves his small town in Texas to move to the big city (NYC) because if there’s anything he’s good at, it’s pleasing the ladies. “I ain’t a for-real cowboy, but I’m one hell of a stud!” – Joe Buck. (Turns out, he’s about as naïve as I am.)

In the city, Buck meets “Ratso” Rizzo (played by award-nominated Dustin Hoffman), a drifter and a cripple who befriends him and agrees to help him find “work” and even lets him stay at his apartment. It’s evident Rizzo has fallen on hard times and staying warm and eating are hard things to do in the dropping temperatures of NY. I’m sure that’s what leads to Rizzo’s getting sick (although I don’t know from what exactly), and near the end of the film, Buck declares he’s had enough of the city anyways, so he’s going to do everything he can to make enough money for bus tickets to sunny Florida. In a touching scene at the end, Rizzo dies on their way to Florida, leaving both of their dreams unfulfilled: Buck’s successful life in New York City and Rizzo’s life of paradise in Miami. That’s the basic rundown of the plot, but I’ve obviously left out all of the scenes involving sex and drugs.

The film is daring and quite scandalous and is the only Best Picture winner with an original X-rating. It was initially released as an X-rated movie for its language, nudity, rape, sex, homosexual references, and drug references). It was downgraded to an R-rating two years later. Obviously, this movie is a product of its time: the swinging ‘60s, sexual revolution, drug craze, etc. Keeping all that in mind, critics and audiences still thought it was a bit shocking but realistic and significant enough to be award the top honor. Juxtapose this film with the film made the year before (“Oliver!”) or even a decade earlier (“Ben-Hur”) and you’ll see that we have a wide array of Best Picture-winning films, which makes this blog challenge so interesting to me.

I recently asked my mom (who’s in her early 60s) if she’d seen this film. Her first response: “Yeah, I loved it!”. After I picked my jaw off the floor (and reminded myself to keep in mind “the times”), I then proceeded to remind her about the film’s plot and content. Needless to say, she doesn’t want to watch it again. For me, this is a prime example of remembering the memory/experience and not the situation/movie because I’m pretty positive that it’s not her cup of tea anymore. What made a lasting impression on her though were Dustin’s performance (which was pretty good) and the soundtrack. The film’s signature song (which is played to death in my opinion), is “Everybody’s Talkin’”.

The film is also so full of flashbacks, flash forwards, and “what if?” hallucinations that I found it annoying; the cinematography was nauseating. I also noticed the main characters were sweaty, and not in that way, but in a “will someone from Make-up hand him a blotting sheet please!” way, but I guess it all adds to the realness and grittiness of it all.

This film’s competition was: “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” which is also very popular and one I want to see, “Hello Dolly!” which I enjoyed, starring my faves Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthau, “Anne of the Thousand Days”, and “Z”, both of which I’ve never heard of or seen.

MEMORABLE SCENE:

I didn’t know that one of the most famous movie lines came from this film… While crossing the street, Dustin Hoffman’s character nearly gets run over by a cab. He hits the hood of the cab and yells, “Hey! I’m walkin’ here!” I’ve seen that clip before and heard it referenced in other shows but never knew its origin. There’s a discrepancy whether or not that line was improvised. Hoffman “brags” that he improvised that line in order not to ruin the take when the cab came out of nowhere. But a producer claims it was written in and edited to look like an ad-lib.

 
 
LESSONS LEARNED:

I’m a bit of a prude when it comes to movies. (But that’s ok with me).

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