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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Last Resort For Burnout Nick


They Warned Us: Don't Expect Too Much (2011)

College students team with dissolute director Nicholas Ray to make what he hopes will be a comeback movie. That's thrust of this documentary that plays like three-act narrative. Will Nick pull himself together enough to mine coherence out of 8/16/35mm hodgepodge? He'd spend years trying, vision clouded by alcohol and drugs to which he was firmly addicted. How did he last even for two years' contract with Harpur College, located in upper state New York? Permissive times these were, kids more into "finding themselves" than getting educated (has there been change as to that?). So many come across as crybabies: Ray directs one who weeps as he shaves off an unsightly beard, this after Southern "rednecks" gave him grief for hippie-look and trappings. I was really into this (watched twice) for being in college at same time Nick was pulling his time at Harpur. Not sure if I would have bought into the commune set-up he devised; the guy comes off like a cult leader dispensing tough love and "killer weed" to spoiled brattage that should have been hauled home by Mom/Dad and put to real work. A lot of what Nick spouts makes no sense; he was really trading on a tragically spent rep by this time. At one point, he tells kids that he did indeed write and direct Rebel Without A Cause, to which one not unreasonably replies, Then what are you doing here, man?

3 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

I remember a story once along the lines of, Ray had an idea for a two-hander drama, black and white, and the other person said, so make it, and Ray said, but you can't fall back to that sort of thing after making... 55 DAYS AT PEKING! No, but you can fall out of the industry entirely. I don't love Steven Soderbergh's work, on the whole, but I certainly admire that he feels he can make what he feels like making, on whatever scale, and isn't stuck topping Ocean's Thirteen by aiming for Batman or Transformers. Same for Scorsese making documentaries when he feels like it, rather than be stuck in a gilded cage "above" such things.

7:35 AM  
Blogger Stinky Fitzwizzle said...

If Nick Ray had told me way back when that he had directed "Rebel Without a Cause", I would have replied, "Well, this turkey is bound to be better than that."

1:13 AM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

Remember the Hollywood axiom: "You are only as good as your last picture."

Never mind that Griffith's THE BIRTH OF A NATION was seen by over four times the population of America in first release in The United States alone his last picture, "THE STRUGGLE" tanked.

That is why Ray said he could not fall back on that sort of thing after 55 DAYS AT PEKING.

Alfred Hitchhike, of course, proved that idea wrong when he filmed PSYCHO in black and white using television methods. The important thing was to do a picture that resonated with the public thus making money.

8:36 AM  

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