Tag Archives: 1976 movies

All the President’s Men (1976) Review

Orlando-Goldman

All the President's Men

Time:  119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Robert Redford as Bob Woodward
Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein
Jack Warden as Harry M. Rosenfeld
Martin Balsam as Howard Simons
Hal Holbrook as “Deep Throat”
Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee
Director: Alan J. Pakula

During the 1972 elections, two reporters’ investigation sheds light on the controversial Watergate scandal that compels President Richard Nixon to resign from his post..

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I’ve always known All the President’s Men as being “the one movie about Watergate”, and I remembered holding off on watching it because it was long, it was from the 70s and I didn’t know if I would be as into it despite the acclaim. However I did watch it, and was surprised at how good it was on pretty much every front.

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All the President’s Men is about the journalistic approach to the story, with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in pursuit of the news story. The layers of the story are peeled back as the film goes on, revealing the truths about the Watergate Scandal. The writing is great and it really was key to the movie working. It is definitely a slow burn, so you do need to know that going in, but thankfully I found the story very compelling to follow. The scope of this story is large, and the script deserves a lot of credit for making this complex and dry tale accessible and easy to follow for audiences. At the same time, it approaches the subject matter without needlessly adding subplots or other aspects to spice up the movie. It almost plays like a detective story at times more so than a journalism story, and manages to mix dry fact with intrigue perfectly, making sure that we are engaged and never lose the plot. It really lets the audience feel like they’re putting together the pieces along with Woodward and Bernstein. The constant stream of information can occasionally be a little much, but the fact that it is quite accurate to true events and you can understand most of it is impressive. It is a procedural for sure, but probably one of the best procedural films ever. It does feel authentic in both the discoveries made as well as the journalistic process, and I like the amount of detail in what is said and what is shown on screen. For example, you get to see the way that Woodward and Bernstein play out how they try to get certain pieces of information, and how they interact with the people they are questioning; very well done and fascinating to watch. Every scene truly means something and has a reason for being there, despite the long runtime. A lot of the movie is dialogue and its great, especially with the deliveries from the cast. It keeps your attention for the entire runtime and each conversation is right to the point. The film is also surprisingly thrilling to watch at times, despite it being a movie about journalism. If there’s a criticism I have with the movie, it’s that the ending is a little too abrupt, that’s it though.

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The acting from everyone is also great, but it’s the two leads who drive the story and stand out the most. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman are incredible and invested in their roles of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and share great chemistry together. You get completely wrapped up in their motivations and they feel very natural in their parts, never overselling it. The supporting cast including Jack Warden, Jason Robards and Hal Holbrook also do work well in their parts.

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The movie is directed by Alan J. Pakula, and his work here is great, covering this story as effectively as possible with lots of visual and audio details in every scene. The cinematography conveys the scope and size of the story, with everything from landscape shots to shots of a simple phone call looking really good. The editing is quite efficient and gets you wrapped up in the story even with all the details being thrown at you. Pakula’s direction also does well as helping you feel the paranoia that the main characters feel as the story continues.

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All the President’s Men is an astonishingly well made film, efficiently directed, greatly performed by its cast, and with a fantastic script which makes what could’ve been a boring and dull movie, into an engaging and intriguing experience. Even though most of us already know what happens at the end, it was still compelling to watch this whole story play out. For sure one of the best movies about journalism.

Taxi Driver (1976) Review

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence
Cast:
Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle
Jodie Foster as Iris “Easy” Steensma
Cybill Shepherd as Betsy
Harvey Keitel as Charles “Sport” Rain/”Matthew”
Albert Brooks as Tom
Leonard Harris as Charles Palantine
Peter Boyle as “Wizard”
Director: Martin Scorsese

Taxi driver Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is an ex-Marine and Vietnam War veteran living in New York City. As he suffers from insomnia, he spends his time working as a taxi driver at night, watching porn movies at seedy cinemas during the day, or thinking about how the world, New York in particular, has deteriorated into a cesspool. In nearly every phase of his life, he remains a complete outsider, failing to make emotional contact with anyone. He’s a loner who has strong opinions about what is right and wrong with mankind. For him, the one bright spot in New York humanity is Betsy (Cybil Shepherd), a worker on the presidential nomination campaign of Senator Charles Palantine. He becomes obsessed with her. After an incident with her, he believes he has to do whatever he needs to make the world a better place in his opinion. One of his priorities is to be the savior for Iris (Jodie Foster), a twelve-year-old runaway and prostitute who he believes wants out of the profession and under the thumb of her pimp and lover Sport (Harvey Keitel).

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Martin Scorsese at this point in his career had shown himself to be quite a good director, after his first two movies with him starting off, he then progressed a lot more to deliver some very good films with Mean Streets and Alice Doesn’t Live Here. After those movies however came Martin Scorsese’s first masterpiece with Taxi Driver. Over 4 decades later it’s still an absolute classic and absolutely holds up.

Paul Schrader’s script for Taxi Driver is fantastic, with some great dialogue and overall is just really well constructed. The movie is just under a couple hours long, I guess it slowed down in parts, but I was invested throughout the entire runtime. The thing that really drives the movie is the main character, and his journey and descent; it’s much more of a character driven sort of movie than a plot focussed one. The lead character of Travis Bickle is one of the most fascinating protagonists I’ve seen in a movie. One of the things that make him so compelling especially with discussions of the movie is that everyone has their own thoughts about him. Some see him as a flawed anti-hero that is trying his best to do the right thing, others see him as an unstable psychopath and a time bomb waiting to go off. Taxi Driver puts you really inside his head and it really is seen through his perspective, and it made me uncomfortable being stuck there, so I think it did it’s job. The movie is definitely not necessarily endorsing his actions, even if there’s not active character saying that they are wrong. It’s a cautionary tale about violence, and thematically it really was ahead of its time, it’s still quite relevant today even. The most recent viewing was the 3rd time I saw it, and there are plenty of details that I picked up on repeat viewings. This film can be seen in many different ways, especially the final scenes. The ending definitely leaves room for many different interpretations, as this is definitely a movie with an unreliable narrator.

Robert De Niro is at his best here, embodying the character of Travis Bickle completely. He does well at being very deranged and unstable in an effectively subtle way. The narration throughout the movie could’ve just been exposition and an easy way for audiences to hear his thoughts, but it really works here as it’s like we’re trapped in his head with him, as this dialogue is what he’s writing in his diary. No matter what Bickle does, you can’t stop watching him. Personally I think it’s best for you to go into the movie and decide for yourself what you think of him. A fantastic performance and character. The supporting cast don’t get a ton of screentime, but they nonetheless do add quite a lot to the movie. Jodie Foster here is in one of her early roles as the underage prostitute that Travis eventually comes across, and she is really good. Other actors like Cybil Shepherd, Albert Brooks and Harvey Keitel also do great in their parts. Even Martin Scorsese is effectively unsettling (intentionally) in a one scene role, as a very disturbed passenger that Travis Bickle encounters during his job.

It’s no surprise that Martin Scorsese’s direction is fantastic, his work here on this movie is timeless. It’s got such a great look throughout but it really shines during the night time moments, I really can’t get over the use of colour. Scorsese perfectly captures New York City, really giving it a dirty feel throughout the movie. Throughout the movie you really get this feeling of disconnection and loneliness, just like how Travis Bickle is feeling throughout. Overall this movie has been really well put together. The score by Bernard Hermann (which is also worth noting is his final score) is great, ranging from calm and jazzy to intense and screeching, and had a bit of a sleezy tone that fits perfectly with the film.

Taxi Driver is a fantastic movie and still holds up extremely well today. Martin Scorsese’s direction is pretty much perfect, Paul Schrader’s screenplay is very well written and constructed, and Robert De Niro is absolutely outstanding here. There’s honestly not much more that I can say that hasn’t been said already, hence why this review isn’t longer or more in depth. Much of the gratness must be experienced for yourself. Absolute essential viewing.

Carrie (1976) Review

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Carrie
Time: 98 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence
Cast:
Sissy Spacek as Carrie White
Piper Laurie as Margaret White
Amy Irving as Sue Snell
William Katt as Tommy Ross
Betty Buckley as Miss Collins
Nancy Allen as Chris Hargensen
John Travolta as Billy Nolan
Director: Brian De Palma

The story of Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), a girl brought up, almost in isolation, by her psychotically religious mother Margaret (Piper Laurie). After an embarrassing incident in the showers causes her fellow pupils to tease Carrie ruthlessly, her teacher Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) disciplines them severely. Determined to have revenge, the other students hatch a plot against Carrie, which turns horribly wrong when Carrie’s strange mental powers are unleashed during the school prom.

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Carrie is based on the Stephen King book of the same name and is often called a horror classic today. Despite this, I don’t understand why everybody loves this film so much. Although I understand why is would be revolutionary in the 70s I don’t really think it’s a great movie today. There are good aspects, the acting by Sissy Spacek and the climax are well done. However I just wasn’t invested in the story that much and I didn’t find any of it scary.

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I have read the Stephen King book and I liked it, however I found most of the film version of Carrie to be quite boring and uninteresting. Scenes go on longer than they needed to and I wasn’t very invested in the story. This is surprising as I read the book and enjoyed it very much, so I don’t know why the scenes weren’t that interesting. The film is 1 hour 30 minutes so I don’t know why I found the film to be slow at times. I also didn’t personally find anything scary about the movie, though maybe it’s because of how dated it is. The last 20 minutes however are the best part of the film and after seeing it, I can understand why that part would be famous. However I don’t think it’s effective enough for the whole movie to be given all this credit.

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Sissy Spacek is great in her role, I really bought her as a girl who really didn’t fit in with other people and school and received abuse from her mother. Apart from her however, a lot of the acting was quite over the top. I don’t really understand why Piper Laurie was nominated for an Oscar. I didn’t find her performance that scary, she is so over the top that it was kind of hilarious (she actually thought she was filming a dark comedy, and I think that explains a lot). I can buy her being insane but there was never a moment where I was scared of her. In a lot of Stephen Kings books there are one dimensional bullies and Carrie is no exception. These bullies were flat characters with no real depth, they just hate Carrie. I found them to be so generic and I wonder how many people can actually take them seriously. To the film’s credit, the actors look like they are having fun playing them. The rest of the cast is serviceable, they aren’t great but they aren’t bad either.

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The cinematography is normal for the most part, nothing really special. However there were times when some of the shots aren’t that well done. There is a dance scene which spins around two people dancing and it goes on for like a minute and it gets quite nauseating. For the most part however, the main focus is on the story, and not on the style.

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If you are a horror fan and you haven’t seen Carrie, I still think it’s worth watching to make up your own mind about the overall film. To me the film was quite dated with some over the top performances and a plot which didn’t keep me engaged all the way through. Still, it’s not bad, it has some good parts (the best being Spacek’s performance) but I don’t see why this film today is so critically acclaimed and I don’t think it’s a horror classic, or a film that holds up very well. Not a bad movie overall, but definitely dated.

So what do you think about Carrie? Do you think it still holds up today or are you like me and think that this film is quite dated and not as effective now? Comment below and let me know what you think.