Hellfire Video Club: New Hollywood
For this month’s film recommendations, Hellfire video club are heading to the warm, humanist comforts of the 1970’s American New Wave movement.
“New Hollywood” was a brief decade (1969–77?) when the big studio producers, having lost lots of money on dud films, turned to young bucks and film school graduates to provide them with films that appealed to a new younger audience. A slew of interesting humanist dramas and genre films spewed fourth, until frigging nerds Speilberg and Lucas made “Jaws” and “Star Wars| respectively — and the blockbuster cycle began… thanks for nothing guys!
Arthur Penn, 1975, USA.
A beautiful, meandering film. The always-great Gene Hackman stars as a down-on-his-luck private investigator charged with finding the runaway daughter of an actress. He spends most of the film rudderlessly wandering, meeting strange characters and discovering more about himself. slow, poignant and deeply compelling, this must have been an influence on the vibe of recent PTA film “inherent vice”. Director Arthur Penn made a few other New Hollywood killers — including the seminal “Bonnie & Clyde”
John Huston, 1972, USA.
Legendary American film maker John Huston started his movie-directing career in 1941 and was still kicking out the jams in the 1970’s — deffo check out his “Man who would be king” and “wise blood” from later in the decade. “Fat city” is exactly the sort of cracked-americana we love. The also-always-great Stacey Keech stars as a punch-drunk ageing boxer trying one last stab at the industry. Essentially this is a kitchen sink drama, transposed to dive bars and boxing gyms. Flawed characters make poor choices and we, the viewer, must sit with them and show them love and understanding. Beautiful, empathetic filmmaking by a master.
McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Robert Altman, 1971, USA.
We love Robert Altman, and would emplore you to watch every film he made in the 1970’s if you haven’t seen them (we screened the spooky AF “Images” at The Cube around a decade ago). He pioneered a naturalistic tone, with dual hallmarks of a strong ensemble cast and very cool sound design which meant it feels as though you can hear many different conversations happening simultaneously but still pick out the finer plot details. Always funny, sad and full of heart — we could have selected any of his films really, but have opted for this revisionist western gem. It follows Warren Beatty as he transforms a small mining pioneer village into a thriving township with the aid of a forceful charisma, an emotionally-damaged prostitute, and rumours that he is a feared gunslinger. Same words for all these selections: Beautiful… poignant… etc etc. Watch it if you haven’t already!
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