The Killing (1956)
Grade: A | 1st Viewing
We already reviewed this movie on this week’s podcast, but since I did not watch much this week outside of theatrical releases I thought I would include some additional thoughts. While I agree with most that The Killing is an excellent achievement, but does not quite match the best films in Kubrick’s oeuvre. You can see the emergence of his bleak outlook towards humanity especially in the final moments of the film. However, as I said on the podcast, this movie feels like a more sympathetic Kubrick than I had previously seen.
There is the Jay C. Flippen character who seems to have genuine compassion, potentially even love for his good friend played by Sterling Hayden. Kubrick seems to revere their relationship and have great sympathy for Flippen’s unrequited love. There is also the great Timothy Carey scene where his character is a generally kind person, but has to resort to racial epithets in order to prevent another character from getting involved with their heist scheme. The cinematography is also beautiful, which makes this film a must.
Straw Dogs (1971)
Grade: A | 1st Viewing
I am seeing Rod Lurie’s re-make today, but beforehand I thought I should see Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 original. Already I can predict what some of the major differences between the two will be considering what filmmakers are comfortable portraying today versus the general rawness of the 1970s. There are two particular scenes that are absolutely devastating in Sam Peckinpah’s that I doubt would be as gritty if portrayed today. The first is a brutal rape scene that is played out in a few long takes with only brief cuts away for psychological effect. Peckinpah inserts some Freud as he shows the victim imagining her husband while cutting away to the actual footage of her husband alone in a field. The whole scene is one of the most painful to watch that I have ever experienced.
Then there is the actual siege of Trencher’s Farm where Dustin Hoffman makes the transition from passive-aggressive American to all-out vigilante. The bleakness of the scene is present throughout because as an audience we are fully aware of what the man he is trying to defend has done. However, just like Hoffman’s character, we know that the violence is about a lot more than the man hidden in his farmhouse and there is sympathy for his character as a result.