Directed by William Friedkin
Screenplay by William Peter Blatty, based upon his novel
Starring Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller, Linda Blair, Max Von Sydow, Lee J. Cob and Jack MacGowran
Confession is an appropriate place to start this entry, given the heavily Catholic tone of The Exorcist, so here goes: I’ve seen The Exorcist before.
See, when I started this Project – The Also Ran’s – I had the idea I’d use it to see Best Picture nominees I’d not seen before as a way to force new viewing experiences on myself. Given I’d already seen many of the Best Pictures, that made the Best Picture Project as much about revisiting films as it was about discovery. By definition then, The Also Rans was explicitly meant to be about discovery because it excluded movies I’d already seen. Moreover, it would also give me a unique look at the workings of prior generations, in that by looking at what lost, I might find something very instructive.
But while this is my aim, here I am throwing the rule away and using this project as an excuse to re-visit The Exorcist. Why? Because it’s my Project, so it’s my rules to break. Also, because with The Exorcist, any viewing will be a discovery.
A week or so ago I was on the toilet reading an interview with Ti West in Filmmaker Magazine – the toilet is where I do all of my significant magazine reading, and I suspect I’m not alone in this – and was surprised to discover a filmmaker I’d never heard of on the cover of a magazine I had heard of. Feeling myself to be something of a movie connoisseur and like I’m generally plugged in to what’s happening in cinema, I was amazed how I’d overlooked this particular director, given his relative level of success, and also quite a bit shocked.
That I didn’t know who he was, though, is somewhat beside the point I want to make. My point revolves around some discussion in the interview of one of West’s earlier films, The House of the Devil, which intrigued me to the extent that I wanted to see it. Unfortunately, my local video store is basically a hollow shell of what it once was, and perusing the contents of the Redbox online, I could see there was no copy of this film for rent anywhere within the boxes within fifty miles of my house – not that I’d ever go that far to rent it – so I was basically sitting on a thirst for a film that my rental options could not quench. Continue reading
Directed by Fred Zinnemann
Starring Paul Schofield, Leo McKern, John Hurt, Wendy Hiller, Robert Shaw and Orson Wells
Written by Robert Bolt, from his play of the same name
I struggled a little bit with A Man For All Seasons. It wasn’t that the movie was bad, and I thought it didn’t deserve to win best picture. Or that the performances were bad, or the writing was boring, because none of that was true. Rather, I struggled because A Man For All Seasons happens to be one of those films that, despite winning Best Picture, falls into the category of ‘doesn’t invoke passion from me.’ Perhaps if I were a Brit, or overly religious and cared about the reformation of the church in England, I’d have some way into the film, but I don’t. Instead, it’s just another of those movies that I saw that, despite finding nothing I could really fault about it, I also couldn’t find anything to trumpet about it. Continue reading