Sunday, 31 July 2011
Navel Gazing Gold
The Day of the Locust is a sprawling epic about pre war Hollywood and the cruelties of life chasing the tinsel town dream. Homer Simpson, repressed accountant and Todd Hawking, ambitious production designer, find themselves falling for the same wannabe starlet/prostitute in this occasionally rambling film but as the darkness unfurls in their lives the film shows it's teeth and it culminates in one of the most crazed, psychotic finales I've ever seen. Karen Black, Burgess Meredith, Donald Sutherland & William Atherton put in sterling performances that counterpoint it's occasional lack of focus and have the necessary chops to handle the climax.
Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard is probably the classic critique of Hollywood life from the black and white era and rightly bagged a crapload of Oscars on release. Just in case you haven't seen it yet it's about a penniless screenwriter hack who rolls up into a faded, delusional, former movie queen's decrepit mansion and lands himself a plum job rewriting her lengthy film treatment. As you'd expect from Wilder the script crackles and the film is beautiful but it's the performances of Gloria Swanson and William Holden that dominate this rich, darkly cynical tale from the early age of Hollywood.