Monday, July 18, 2011

Welcome to my breakdown

Looking at some famous movie-breakdowns and engaging in some general acting-out on this steamy Monday in the south.

I have helpfully catalogued some of my favorite nervous breakdowns in films.

Comments welcome, and feel free to link your own personal favorite personality-disintegrations on celluloid!


All alcoholics love this scene ... did he drink or not? Is a phantom bottle of bourbon as damaging as a real one?

Aside: I just love how Stephen King works in references to Maine in everything he does.


I have written about Roman Polanski's Repulsion before, and how great it is, despite my various "issues" with it (see link).

Here we see that Catherine Deneuve has totally lost her shit, and is afraid of a drippy faucet. As a result, big male hands start coming out of the walls... JESUS H CHRIST! If you are a woman, do not watch this at night, alone at home. (triggers and so on)


Unfortunately, embedding is disabled for this clip (as well as all of the others) of Charles Foster Kane's famous flip-out when Susan finally departs... but check those famous mirrors at 3:27... everybody stole from Orson Welles. I know most of the lines of the movie by heart.


In John Ford's The Searchers, Nietzsche's idea that in hunting monsters we must take care not to become monsters ourselves, is given a very good once-over. Although most Hollywood Westerns of the day were morally righteous and fairly unambiguous, this one sure isn't, and consequently didn't make a lot of money at the time. No one wanted to see John Wayne freak out, even in his controlled, macho fashion. It was UNBECOMING. And it is therefore vindication that the movie is now a classic. John Wayne's hyper-masculine cowboys (and impersonal characterizations) have not dated as well as his heartfelt, complex and true performance in the role of Ethan... which BTW, is also the name of one of John Wayne's sons.

Things to look for: 1) Racist or not, when they zoom in on young Lucy's face (19-20 seconds in) and she looks terrified and screams? I have never seen the fear of rape communicated so clearly and realistically in a film. (I realize it is supposed to be much worse than garden-variety rape by white men, but I still think the whole scene is primal.) As a young woman, it scared me to death. 2) Natalie Wood's sister Lana plays young Natalie as a girl, which accounts for the strong resemblance. 3) Notice the first part of this clip closely matches up with Mary McDonnell's childhood trauma in "Dances With Wolves"--wherein she is instructed to run away when the house is attacked by Pawnee. 4) Also notice at 2:33, the similarity to Luke Skywalker's home being destroyed; the scene is almost exactly the same. Both #3 and #4 are deliberate homages to the film. 5) Scene @ 4:45-- me and Mr Daisy sometimes say, "Put an Amen to it!"--when the situation requires. 6) When John Wayne desecrates the Indian corpse? (7:30) Viewers suddenly realize this isn't the John Wayne we're accustomed to.

It also shows us that he is becoming (or has become) the monster Nietzsche warned us about. A strongly subversive film, for its day.


I can't pick just one scene in The Conversation... so I hereby offer the trailer. If you have never seen this amazing movie, you need to rent it ASAP. Gene Hackman's finest hour, Coppola's mesmerizing genius; this is movie-making at its most wonderful. Hackman perfectly embodies an emotionally-repressed surveillance expert with a guilty Catholic conscience. Too great for words, and more pertinent than ever, in our cameras-everywhere age.

Stuff to look for: 1) Harrison Ford at 2:12; he has maybe 3 lines in the whole movie. 2) Teri Garr's scene was cut for first release, then put back in for DVD. As much as I love Teri Garr, the film is much stronger without her scene. Harry is a loner, and it is far more effective to think of him as not having a girlfriend, or anything approximating one. His infatuation with Cindy Williams also makes more sense if he is alone.


And the all-time greatest: "Here is someone who stood up."

I know ALL of the lines of Taxi Driver by heart. Every one. I enjoy injecting them into various conversations without people knowing who/what I am quoting.

But every now and then, someone says, "Travis!"

Nothing much to say about Travis... you either understand him or you don't.

Today's blog post title comes courtesy of Alice Cooper.


Blue Heron said...

Days of Wine and Roses, The Turning Point, Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?

JoJo said...

The Shining is one of my fave movies ever. I always list it as one of my fave comedies b/c Jack is so unhinged from the beginning of the movie and his performance is so over the top that I can't stop laughing, esp when he's talking to Wendy on the staircase. "Wendy? baby? light of my life..." I think I'll take a pass on the Polanski clip, being a woman, alone at home at night and all. ;)

Stay cool!!!

Ann O'Dyne said...

generally I avoid scary movies, but I did see Repulsion in the 1960s and recall she had a dead rabbit in her handbag when she opened it at the supermarket.

My favourite breakdown is the adorable Joan Cusack jilted bride of In And Out.
also Albert Brooks drunken wail in Broadcast News deserved a Oscar nomination.

re TaxiDriver and young Miss Jodie Foster - nobody ever raves about her bravura performance in The Little Girl Who Lived Down The Lane (maybe the title is too long to bother with) a brilliant scary film.