Category Archives: 1977

HEART OF GLASS

Werner Herzog’s peculiar, haunted film is a strangely intriguing portrait of a small village suffering a mini-apocalypse. The factory where the village creates its custom-made ruby glass has caught fire. The glass-maker is dead, so who knows the recipe? As the film opens, the town seer (Josef Bierblicher) looks into the vast crashing waves upon the mountains and foresees the disaster which is about to strike. Soon, the villagers descend into despair, hopelessness, madness and the murderous need for a scapegoat. There is superstition, mysticism and the powerful need to believe. Herzog (“Stroszek,” “Aquirre, the Wrath of God”) is known for his belief in the voodoo of locations, but this time seems to have dabbled in some “voodoo” of his own: he hypnotized most of the cast so they would give the most “honest” performances they could. The results are beautiful, eerie and quite haunting; a unique and original effort.

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SUSPIRIA

Dario Argento’s horror masterpiece, the first of what he referred to as his “Three Mothers” Trilogy, is as beautiful as it is haunting. The story of an American ballet student (Jessica Harper) who travels to Germany to attend a prestigious Academy, the film has hidden depths which are soon uncovered. I won’t reveal what’s really going on here, but it is profoundly disturbing. This is quite literally the most gorgeous treatment of ugly imagery ever committed to celluloid, with Argento’s camera (manned by cinematographer Luciano Tovoli) nimbly gliding through Giuseppe Bassan’s astonishing set design. Additionally, Argento and Tovoli paint each frame in bright, lurid greens, blues and reds, making every shot a remarkable one. Argento tells his story in set-piece after bloody set-piece, beginning with what Entertainment Weekly called “the most vicious murder scene ever filmed” (I won’t spoil it, but it comes on early and is a shocker). All scored to a haunting, synthesized soundtrack by Argento and his band The Goblins, this is one of the most effective horror films ever made. Not to be missed! NOTE: An R-rated, 92-minute version exists in America. Argento followed this film with two more: “Inferno” (1980) and “The Mother of Tears” (2007).

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ANNIE HALL

Woody Allen’s breakthrough is a smart, very funny and ultimately bittersweet romantic comedy for the ages. Allen stars as Alvy Singer, a neurotic, Jewish New York stand-up comedian who recounts his on-again/off-again relationship with the title character, a neurotic WASP (Diane Keaton) he meats playing tennis. The film chronicles the best and worst of times in their romance, and contains some of the funniest moments of any Allen film. The film is a showcase for Allen’s brand of humor – quick, witty one-liners – but often includes some truly brilliant moments of invention (whether it be standing on line for a movie and trying to one-up an obnoxious would-be intellectual with his own supposed specialties, or a funny little animated scene which Alvy connects as a metaphor for his relationship). Look for Christopher Walken in an early role as Annie’s truly creepy brother – with a death wish.

 

NOTE: The film deservedly won four Oscars, including Best Picture and Original Screenplay.

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