Coppola's _The Conversation_

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

Roger Barfing (Shakey Mo Collier), Monday, 7 May 2012 16:25 (2 years ago) Permalink

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

tylerw, Monday, 7 May 2012 16:39 (2 years 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 (2 years 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 (2 years 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 (2 years 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 (2 years 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 (2 years 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 (2 years 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 (2 years 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 (2 years ago) Permalink

also..

piscesx, Monday, 7 May 2012 23:24 (2 years 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 (2 years ago) Permalink

this film is pretty hard to love IMO

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 01:14 (2 years ago) Permalink

'blow up' is much better IMO

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 22:23 (2 years 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 (2 years 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 (2 years ago) Permalink

idg what's "hard to love" about it

Roger Barfing (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 22:43 (2 years 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 (2 years ago) Permalink

Chinatown obviously

Roger Barfing (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 22:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

Dumb and Dumber

bark ruffalo (latebloomer), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 22:47 (2 years ago) Permalink

Half serious about that one

bark ruffalo (latebloomer), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 22:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

Parallax View?

cinco de extra mayo (loves laboured breathing), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 22:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

Definitely^

bark ruffalo (latebloomer), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 22:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

The Long Good Friday

Leslie Mann: Boner Machine (C. Grisso/McCain), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 23:08 (2 years ago) Permalink

Night Moves

10. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Tom Cruise (contenderizer), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 23:36 (2 years ago) Permalink

Easy Rider
Electra Glide In Blue

(matched set)

10. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Tom Cruise (contenderizer), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 23:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

Shallow Grave

improvised explosive advice (WmC), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 23:41 (2 years ago) Permalink

Weekend, of course, both film proper and end credits. It's more a matter of mood and gesture, but I find the last shot of Miller's Crossing strangely nihilistic...I think, I don't know; it's one of my favourite endings ever, but I'm not sure what feelings it conveys.

After relinquishing whatever privacy and anonymity he still possessed, Harry Caul has now lost control of this thread.

clemenza, Tuesday, 8 May 2012 23:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

4 months pass...

wowwwwwwwww

Irwin Dante's Towering Inferno (WmC), Monday, 10 September 2012 02:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

Never seen it before?

Ned Raggett, Monday, 10 September 2012 03:38 (2 years 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 (2 years ago) Permalink

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

Ned Raggett, Monday, 10 September 2012 03:52 (2 years 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 (2 years 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 (2 years ago) Permalink

Five Easy Pieces?

aerosmith suck because their corporate rock that sucks (Myonga Vön Bontee), Monday, 10 September 2012 08:14 (2 years 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 (2 years 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 (10 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 (10 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 (10 months ago) Permalink

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

Treeship, Monday, 4 November 2013 14:43 (10 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 (10 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 (10 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 (10 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 (10 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 (10 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 (10 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 (10 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 (10 months ago) Permalink

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

clemenza, Tuesday, 5 November 2013 03:02 (10 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 (10 months ago) Permalink


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