I saw five movies for the first time last week:
"Zabriskie Point" (1970)--Michaelangelo Antonioni film that tried to exploit the divisions of American society of the late 1960's and 1970. Film opens with a campus discussion of why whites can't be revolutionaries, then moves to a setup purposefully reminiscent of Kent State. One of many demonstrators is picked up by the police and this exchange occurs. Policeman filling out a form, to demonstrator: "What are you?"--Demonstrator: "I'm a professor of social history"--Policeman--"That's too long; I'll put clerk". Whole film is on this level of subtlety, and it gets old Fast. There is one commercial for a housing development that's amusingly overdone, but it's only three minutes long. The desert scene of couples making love is interesting, as is the fiery climax and the plane/car boy meets girl sequence. Overall, barely worth the watch.
"The Phantom of the Opera" (1962)--Hammer film dramatizing the Gaston Leroux novel. The setting is moved to London. Films' opening 20 minutes are fine, Herbert Lom is an excellent Phantom, and Heather Sears is very convincing as a victim. But Sears is Not remotely convincing as an opera diva-in-waiting, director Terence Fisher botches the staging of the Phantom's unmasking, and the ending is hurried and doesn't make sense. Despite scattered scares, Lesser Hammer effort at best.
"War and Peace" (1956)--King Vidor's attempt at the Leo Tolstoy novel suffers from too many adaptors (seven, including the screenwriter), too much material is left out, and Henry Fonda's Midwestern accent. Still, the performances of Audrey Hepburn as Natasha, and to a lesser degree, the overly philosophical Pierre of Henry Fonda hold the film together and make the film worth watching.
"Tommy" (1975)--Ken Russell version of The Who's rock opera about a boy who is deaf, dumb, and blind as a result of a trauma is full of vivid imagery (Three--Tina Turner in a red dress, standing, vibrating from the ankles up; The Church of Marilyn Monroe, with a statue of her pose in "The Seven Year Itch" (1955), where she stands over a subway grating and her dress billows up; Ann-Margret, all in white, in an all white room) the music is memorable (Elton John's "Pinball Wizard", etc), fine performances (Ann-Margret, Tina Turner's unforgettable role as "The Acid Queen). Recommended.
"The Music Lovers" (1971)--Ken Russell's biopic of Tchaikovsky has memorable imagery (Tchaikovsky dragging his dying mother out of a hot bath; cannons firing and blowing the heads off Tchaikovsky's friends and acquaintances, to the tune of "The 1812 Overture", etc.). Film's worth a watch.
Least Favorite--"Zabriskie Point" (1970).