Coppola's _The Conversation_

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oh those mass-culture audiences!

N_RQ, Friday, 16 September 2005 09:02 (8 years ago) Permalink

I was hellah shocked when I showed it to my students and they found it dull and slow.

Michael Bay did more harm than he'll ever know.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 16 September 2005 12:58 (8 years ago) Permalink

oh for god's sake, coppola is better in corman mode than antoioni mode. it's not michael bay's fault that 'the conversation' is a bit dull.

N_RQ, Friday, 16 September 2005 12:59 (8 years ago) Permalink

if a shot = an idea, the more shots you have the cleverer your film is.

N_RQ, Friday, 16 September 2005 13:06 (8 years ago) Permalink

Are you trying to say that The Conversation isn't clever (which is WRONG), or are you just poking @ Ned's Michael Bay shoutout (which shd probably be a shout-out to Tony Scott, if you're going to disparage anyone for contributing to short-attention spans, or phear of sexually inadequate middle-aged men, or boobies).

David R. (popshots75`), Friday, 16 September 2005 13:13 (8 years ago) Permalink

'the conversation' is more interesting as lonely-guy film than film of ideas. i think the slowness is just frank aiming for 'serious auteur' art-movieness.

N_RQ, Friday, 16 September 2005 13:15 (8 years ago) Permalink

which shd probably be a shout-out to Tony Scott

Hmm, true. Less a shout out than a beery fart, likely enough.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 16 September 2005 13:16 (8 years ago) Permalink

Or, you know, to milk everything possible out of Caul's burgeoning paranoia while establishing some sense of quotidian inertial verite. (Or boobies.)

(xpost)

David R. (popshots75`), Friday, 16 September 2005 13:17 (8 years ago) Permalink

DePalma improved on it with Blow Out.

It's pretty good but no classic; haven't seen it in awhile, but the church confession scene particularly annoyed me. SEE, HE'S FULL OF INARTICULATE GUILT.

I prefer Tucker: The Man and His Dream.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Friday, 16 September 2005 13:38 (8 years ago) Permalink

theoretically i prefer 'tucker' but OH NO NO NO NO.

N_RQ, Friday, 16 September 2005 13:41 (8 years ago) Permalink

cutty (mcutt), Friday, 16 September 2005 13:42 (8 years ago) Permalink

3 years pass...

watching enemy of the state--solid fuckin flick, holds up well

rip dom passantino 3/5/09 never forget (max), Sunday, 7 June 2009 22:47 (4 years ago) Permalink

8 months pass...

i think the slowness is just frank aiming for 'serious auteur' art-movieness.

This is a deeply irritating statement, but never mind.

Freedom, Thursday, 11 February 2010 12:06 (4 years ago) Permalink

ive probably mellowed in the intervening seven years (dats a pretty typical ilx thing to say, c. 2003), but it's not my favourite failure-of-communication movie. probably should give it another go, since i haven't seen it since ooh 1998.

watching enemy of the state--solid fuckin flick, holds up well

― rip dom passantino 3/5/09 never forget (max), Sunday, June 7, 2009 11:47 PM (8 months ago) Bookmark

^^^ also kind of an ilx thing to say. don't really agree with this tho.

V-E-R-Y (history mayne), Thursday, 11 February 2010 12:08 (4 years ago) Permalink

best eugene hackman movie

chris nibbs (cozen), Thursday, 11 February 2010 12:10 (4 years ago) Permalink

yeah. great haskell wexler opening shot.

V-E-R-Y (history mayne), Thursday, 11 February 2010 12:14 (4 years ago) Permalink

remember this as wonderful, kind of afraid to go back to be honest. lotta films like that from the student days, though.

strongohulkingtonsghost, Thursday, 11 February 2010 12:15 (4 years ago) Permalink

i still prefer 'blow up' but maybe it's because im a londoner.

V-E-R-Y (history mayne), Thursday, 11 February 2010 12:17 (4 years ago) Permalink

kingston-upon-thames is in london right?

V-E-R-Y (history mayne), Thursday, 11 February 2010 12:17 (4 years ago) Permalink

blow-up has way more hotter chicks that's for sure!

da Wesley CRUSHER (latebloomer), Thursday, 11 February 2010 17:01 (4 years ago) Permalink

2 months pass...

huh I guess I should see this eh

I won't vote for you unless you acknowledge my magic pony (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 13 April 2010 17:23 (4 years ago) Permalink

blow-up has way more hotter chicks that's for sure!
this is true, but young teri garr in the conversation ain't bad.
love Harrison Ford in this. He shoud be more like this in other movies.

tylerw, Tuesday, 13 April 2010 18:16 (4 years ago) Permalink

yes!

fuckin' lame, bros (latebloomer), Wednesday, 14 April 2010 09:51 (4 years ago) Permalink

he is in the movie star bizness, no characters plz

kind of shrill and very self-righteous (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 14 April 2010 11:41 (4 years ago) Permalink

1 year passes...

very ILX of everyone above to be so allergic to something "deep."

anyway, aside from all that, i think what will stick with me from this movie is yes the editing but also some lovely moments--that strange slow swooping movement the camera makes (i think) three times as Hackman gives that monologue to the blond woman in the green dress. and him riding the subway alone with the recurrent musical theme.

ryan, Thursday, 2 June 2011 05:43 (2 years ago) Permalink

this flick owns

in no way more ancient than fucking space (latebloomer), Thursday, 2 June 2011 05:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

11 months pass...

Seeing it (again) tonight as part of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. I was baffled too...Coppola? No, don't think so, and Harry Caul's a devout Catholic. It's David Shire, the composer, who'll be talking and performing afterwards.

clemenza, Sunday, 6 May 2012 12:05 (1 year ago) Permalink

Well, I guess the score is quite central to it, but yeah, a tad tenuous.

Freedom, Monday, 7 May 2012 10:45 (1 year ago) Permalink

He was great--lots of stories, and he sat and played The Conversation's main theme. Didn't even clue into the fact he was Talia Shire's husband, nor did I realize that he did the piano work on Zodiac (hired because Fincher had The Conversation in mind), and that it's him playing overtop that amazing overhead Library-of-Congress shot in All the President's Men.

clemenza, Monday, 7 May 2012 11:23 (1 year ago) Permalink

interesting stuff here from an interview with Terri Garr http://www.avclub.com/articles/teri-garr,2390/

piscesx, Monday, 7 May 2012 11:39 (1 year ago) Permalink

man, that's a great interview. thanks, piscesx.

10. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Tom Cruise (contenderizer), Monday, 7 May 2012 15:16 (1 year ago) Permalink

They're showing this at a beer theater in Portland in the next few weeks. Should be good.

Choad of Choad Hall (kingfish), Monday, 7 May 2012 15:26 (1 year ago) Permalink

weird, just watched this for the first time a couple weeks ago

Roger Barfing (Shakey Mo Collier), Monday, 7 May 2012 16:25 (1 year ago) Permalink

like it? i think it's kind of the perfect 70s movie.

tylerw, Monday, 7 May 2012 16:39 (1 year ago) Permalink

yeah def dug it. It does encapsulate a lot of different 70s tropes in a great way

Roger Barfing (Shakey Mo Collier), Monday, 7 May 2012 16:43 (1 year ago) Permalink

One thing I learned last night that surprised me was that Hackman played all his saxophone parts himself. Coppola would be after him to go over lines, and he'd be off in a corner practising B-flat scales.

I'm tempted to say that nobody has ever so completely disappeared into a role as Hackman does here, but thinking about it, Hackman's impish humour does surface in some of his banter with Allen Garfield.

clemenza, Monday, 7 May 2012 17:02 (1 year ago) Permalink

Can't prove a thing, nor does it matter, but David Shire's score is to my ears deeply indebted to Emahoy Tsege-Maryam Guèbrou:

poxen, Monday, 7 May 2012 17:12 (1 year ago) Permalink

I can hear some similarity--that's before '74, I assume? He said his main inspiration was a late-night DJ he used to listen to who'd accompany himself on piano underneath his patter. I asked him in the Q&A if there was any Scott Joplin influence, because I always thought I heard some of The Sting theme in there (which would have been a year earlier). He gave one of those polite "Maybe"s that really meant "Not at all," and now that I've relistened, I see what he means--they're not really similar at all.

clemenza, Monday, 7 May 2012 20:10 (1 year ago) Permalink

haw, it'd be pretty wild if shire was listening to that in 1974 (though i see what you mean).

tylerw, Monday, 7 May 2012 20:13 (1 year ago) Permalink

i'd say "strikingly similar", before "deeply indebted", if i didn't know better (and i don't)

10. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Tom Cruise (contenderizer), Monday, 7 May 2012 20:25 (1 year ago) Permalink

Check the rest of that album out, it's uncanny! And Guebrou wasn't unknown in the early 70s. "Strikingly similar" for sure. I guess saying "indebted" suggests plagiarism, which isn't what I meant.

poxen, Monday, 7 May 2012 20:45 (1 year ago) Permalink

i do want to hear the rest of the album now, as that one minute snippet is great

10. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Tom Cruise (contenderizer), Monday, 7 May 2012 20:47 (1 year ago) Permalink

also..

piscesx, Monday, 7 May 2012 23:24 (1 year ago) Permalink

weird, just watched this for the first time a couple weeks ago

snap, put it on telly as a late movie last Sunday and stayed up to watch it

┗|∵|┓ (sic), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 00:29 (1 year ago) Permalink

this film is pretty hard to love IMO

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 01:14 (1 year ago) Permalink

'blow up' is much better IMO

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 22:23 (1 year ago) Permalink

i dunno, hard to love? maybe i'm a pushover, but you put gene hackman, paul cazale, frederic forrest, teri garr, cindy williams and harrison ford in a movie together, i'm going to love it.

tylerw, Tuesday, 8 May 2012 22:32 (1 year ago) Permalink

This is perhaps my favorite nihilistic "you got played" ending next to "The Killing."

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 8 May 2012 22:41 (1 year ago) Permalink

idg what's "hard to love" about it

Roger Barfing (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 22:43 (1 year ago) Permalink

There's a thread topic: great nihilistic endings. Those two for sure, Straight Time, White Heat, Reservoir Dogs, so many others.

clemenza, Tuesday, 8 May 2012 22:44 (1 year ago) Permalink

Nope, it was always on the list, decided to watch it tonight. I'm giving up the NFL and Sundays are going to be for fillum.

Irwin Dante's Towering Inferno (WmC), Monday, 10 September 2012 03:51 (1 year ago) Permalink

You made a fine choice. So what leapt out at you most?

Ned Raggett, Monday, 10 September 2012 03:52 (1 year ago) Permalink

The score, the static shots, the tightness of the editing, but mainly Hackman's performance. Great all-around.

Irwin Dante's Towering Inferno (WmC), Monday, 10 September 2012 03:56 (1 year ago) Permalink

45.

Re: great nihilistic endings. Morocco has a good one, I'd argue -- it's not properly romantic at all.

Michael Daddino, Monday, 10 September 2012 03:56 (1 year ago) Permalink

Five Easy Pieces?

aerosmith suck because their corporate rock that sucks (Myonga Vön Bontee), Monday, 10 September 2012 08:14 (1 year ago) Permalink

I mean, abracadabra, Harry, show and tell--I'm number two, so I have to try harder.

clemenza, Monday, 10 September 2012 11:08 (1 year ago) Permalink

1 year passes...

after rating this film 55/100, one Theo Panayides:

Due to the outcry this rating has caused (I'm not kidding) I've decided not to try and explain myself at any length, since (a) it'd take ages to rebut all the arguments and (b) it's already been over a week since I saw it (for the second time, first viewing being about 8 years ago). Suffice to say the score is brilliant and the lengthy middle section where Harry brings the gang to his office/studio is a very impressive piece of staging - though also very obviously a set-piece, something distinct from the rest of the movie, designed for Coppola to Show His Mastery. But the hero is a very thin conceit (a one-dimensional control freak), playing his sax in conjunction with the solo is a pretty maudlin detail, the ending is so much cruder and snarkier than e.g. the one in REMAINS OF THE DAY (a similar tale of repression), Harry's "I can't let it happen again" is so clumsy it takes you right out of his dilemma (though the clumsiness makes some sense, given the sting in the tail), the Catholic guilt is so shallow and tacked-on it's almost insulting, the dream sequence sucks big-time, and I've never understood how the crucial line gets a different inflection at the end when we've heard it being spoken over and over. Am I missing something?...

http://my.primehome.com/theodorospa/oldies04.htm#convers

eclectic husbandry (Dr Morbius), Monday, 4 November 2013 07:27 (5 months ago) Permalink

Haven't read this--should be fun.

At the most basic level:

and I've never understood how the crucial line gets a different inflection at the end when we've heard it being spoken over and over.

Because all the while we've been hearing it as Harry hears it--only at the end do we hear it as it actually is.

clemenza, Monday, 4 November 2013 12:58 (5 months ago) Permalink

Thought there was more--that's the whole thing.

But the hero is a very thin conceit (a one-dimensional control freak)

Travis Bickle, Scottie Ferguson, maybe even Charles Foster Kane (the control freak part, anyway)--you could simplify lots of characters this way.

clemenza, Monday, 4 November 2013 14:10 (5 months ago) Permalink

it also doesn't fully fit hackman's character.

Treeship, Monday, 4 November 2013 14:43 (5 months ago) Permalink

after rating this film 55/100

How dare he!

midnight outdoor nude frolic up north goes south (Eric H.), Monday, 4 November 2013 14:47 (5 months ago) Permalink

I'm a control freak myself. At least two dimensions, though--occasionally I throw in a third one just to confuse people.

clemenza, Monday, 4 November 2013 14:52 (5 months ago) Permalink

I don't find those three characters you brought up one-dimensional -- esp Scottie, you've gotta be kidding.

only at the end do we hear it as it actually is

This is on a level with "I meant Vader KILLED THE PART OF YOUR FATHER that was a Jedi" bullshit.

eclectic husbandry (Dr Morbius), Monday, 4 November 2013 15:32 (5 months ago) Permalink

I don't find Harry any more or less one-dimensional than Scottie. (I'm fibbing, of course--I find Harry much more interesting.)

clemenza, Monday, 4 November 2013 15:57 (5 months ago) Permalink

How is rendering something subjectively through the ears of an excessively paranoid guy "bullshit." I mean, we could argue about this forever--you're taking subjective responses to a film and treating them like fact. Some people love The Conversation, some people love Vertigo. That's just the way it is.

clemenza, Monday, 4 November 2013 16:00 (5 months ago) Permalink

changing the emphasis of the line, especially in such a technoworld-set film, is a cheat to me.

eclectic husbandry (Dr Morbius), Monday, 4 November 2013 16:15 (5 months ago) Permalink

I know what you're saying, and way back when I first saw the film, I think it bothered me too--think I even mentioned as much on an ungraduate paper. (I'll check tonight.) But I think it's a perfectly valid interpretation to say that through the whole film, where we're always looking at the conversation through Harry's eyes and ears, as he's hunched over his editing table, that we're hearing what he wants to hear (an expression of his guilt, a desire to save someone, lots of reasons). When he sees Williams and Forrest at the end, it's like he snaps out of his paranoia and hears the conversation as it is, for the first time. You may not agree, but I think that's a valid way to look at it. I mean, I don't think it was accidental or sloppy on Coppola's part--I'm sure he was aware the two recordings are different.

clemenza, Monday, 4 November 2013 16:26 (5 months ago) Permalink

Clemenza at 19, 1980:

"A point should be raised about the transformation of emphasis from 'He'd kiss us..." to 'He'd kill us..." It is not the same recording--we have not misinterpreted like Harry. It is two distinct recordings, the change occurring because the first time we're hearing it through Harry's ears--a neat, if slightly unfair, trick by Coppola on the audience."

The paper (also on Save the Tiger, The Long Goodbye, and Mean Streets) was written for a guy who went on to make loads and loads of money producing Stripes, Ghostbusters, and other Ivan Reitman films. He gave me a checkmark there--very, very proud.

I actually wrote a second paper on (just) The Conversation three years later:

"Nowhere in The Conversation is Coppola's distrust of language better explicated, than in the transformation from 'he'd kill us if he had the chance' to 'he'd kill us if he had the chance'."

Haven't a clue what I meant by "distrust of language" (Coppola?), and I didn't know how to punctuate, either, so I'll just take a pass there.

It almost seems silly to play The Conversation and Vertigo off against each other, as they've got so much in common. (Someone once wrote that those two plus Petulia make up the great San Francisco trilogy of alienation or paranoia or something like that.) Harry and Scotty are both plagued by guilt over recent work-related deaths, they're both implicated in plots they don't understand until it's too late, both are exceptionally austere films by directors with great popular successes nearby, etc., etc.

clemenza, Tuesday, 5 November 2013 03:01 (5 months ago) Permalink

Ahem--"kill us" way up top. The transformation wasn't quite that drastic.

clemenza, Tuesday, 5 November 2013 03:02 (5 months ago) Permalink

the great San Francisco trilogy of alienation or paranoia or something like that

I don't see Philip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers in this trilogy.

eclectic husbandry (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 5 November 2013 04:24 (5 months ago) Permalink

Knock off The Conversation. That'll make room.

midnight outdoor nude frolic up north goes south (Eric H.), Tuesday, 5 November 2013 04:47 (5 months ago) Permalink

The paranoia and the locale, yes, but it's too funny. (Though Allen Garfield really makes me laugh in The Conversation.)

clemenza, Tuesday, 5 November 2013 12:18 (5 months ago) Permalink

Have to watch Petulia again to see that. It's been seven years or so.

The Conversation is circles to me, the recordings, the shots, scenes, the equipment, the thoughts... which always reminded me of the song The Windmills of Your Mind and The Thomas Crown Affair and explains why I am left wanting to watch The Thomas Crown Affair after The Conversation.

*tera, Tuesday, 5 November 2013 20:46 (5 months ago) Permalink

c'mon dude, alienation and paranoia are funny, you've heard the Watergate tapes.

not as funny as the "Windmills of Your Mind" lyrics tho.

eclectic husbandry (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 5 November 2013 20:58 (5 months ago) Permalink


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