Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Small Bites: The Last Picture Show, Cold Weather, Weekend

The Last Picture Show
Peter Bogdanovich’s film, The Last Picture Show, is the perfect example of a universally revered film that I just did not connect with. While I like the way Bogdanovich establishes what life is like in the small town of Anarene, Texas in the 1950s, the coming-of-age aspects, which makes up the majority of the plot, was just not that interesting. Part of the problem was that I did not like many of the characters in the film. As a result I could care less about the paths that Sonny (Timothy Bottoms) and Duane’s (Jeff Bridges) life takes over the course of the film. The same can be said for Cybil Sheperd’s flirtatious character Jacy, who becomes increasingly more annoying as the film progresses. Instead of watching Jacy slowly turning into a lightweight version for her mother, Lois (Ellen Burstyn), I wish the film had just spent more time focusing on her mother instead. The most interesting aspect of the film was how Bodganovich documents the unhappy marriages that Lois and Ruth (Cloris Leachman) find themselves in. I found it interesting that, in a teen coming of age story, the most fascinating characters were the older experienced women in town. Though the film is well shot, with several nods to 50’s era cinema, overall I found The Last Picture Show to be very disappointing.

Cold Weather 
Cold Weather is an interesting, and at times frustrating film, that offers a unique approach to the mystery genre. Directed by Aaron Katz, the film centers around Doug (Cris Lankenau), who lives with his sister, Gail (Trieste Kelly Dunn), while working a dead-end job at an ice factory. A former student of forensic science, and avid Sherlock Holmes enthusiast, Doug finds himself engulfed in a mystery when his ex-girlfriend, Rachel (Robyn Rikoon), disappears while in town for business. The way Katz frames the mystery works well for the way Doug and Gail go about trying to solve it. Cold Weather works best when Katz focuses on Doug and Gail getting deeper and deeper into the mystery. The film has several humorous moments that help to break up the mundane task that often come with solving a crime (e.g. stakeouts, research, etc). The element of Cold Weather that will frustrate many is the fact that it takes the film so long to get to the mystery. The first half of the film cares mainly about establishing the relationships and interactions of the main characters. While this tactic works well in a film like The InnKeepers, it is rather problematic as the characters in Cold Weather are not as interesting as Katz thinks they are. The introduction of the mystery is what really saves the film and makes it rather enjoyable overall. I will not spoil the ending of the film, but I will say that while some will hate it, I found it fit perfectly with the overall tone of the film.

On the surface Weekend is just like any other romantic drama, two individuals, Russell (Tom Gullen) and Glen (Chris New), meet and have one passionate night together. Unbeknownst to them, what starts off as a harmless night of fun turns into something deeper. However, what really causes this film to standout is director Andrew Haigh’s script. Weekend is a film whose charm is subtle, but it ultimately stays with you well after the film ends. The progressing of Russell and Glen’s relationship always feel natural, even when they are just hanging out, or getting high and having sex. The conversations in the film often drift between comical and heavy topics, but at no point does the audience feel as if they are watching something staged. Although the protagonist in the film are gay, the issues and complications that they have, and are, experiencing with love and relationships are universal. While the structure of the film may remind some of Before Sunset, Weekend is its own unique film that provides a frank and engaging look at the ups and downs of love.


  1. I am one of those who did not love the end to Cold Weather, I have to say. Think it's a very skilful film and the depiction of the brother/sister relationship is amazingly realistic - unlike some more mainstream offerings - but I wish it could have found a better concluding point to finish on.

  2. I completely understand where you are coming from about not liking a character spoiling a movie for you. The same thing happens to me sometimes. For what it's worth: that didn't happen to me with Last Picture Show, though. I liked it quite a bit.

  3. I keep hearing so many great things about Weekend. I really gotta check that out.

  4. @Film Intel – The conclusion of the mystery, and I would even argue the stuff that causes them to go on the quest in the first place, never seem to be that important to begin with. The reason I liked the ending is because it leaves the lingering question of whether or not they have done the right thing? I cannot help but wonder if a certain key characters told them the truth or if the siblings were dubbed into doing something illegal.

    @Chip Lary – I knew I would most likely be in the minority in regards to The Last Picture Show. It is a film that many passionately love.

    @Dave – I would say Weekend is worth a watch a least, especially if you like films that have a loose structure. I found the film did a good job of avoiding the usual tropes that are often found in romance films.

  5. I've found that I like The Last Picture Show more every time I watch it. If you rewatch it at some point, pay some attention to Sam the Lion. I think he's the real lynchpin of the piece.

    On Cold Weather, yeah, I didn't care for the beginning much at all. Your comparison to The Innkeepers is a really good one - the character work is just so much better the The Innkeepers that the beginning part is just as enjoyable, whereas the beginning of Cold Weather is pretty weak. That said, every second Trieste Kelly Dunn is on screen is fantastic. I can't wait to see her in more stuff.

  6. All right, speaking as someone who named Cold Weather his #1 film of the year and keeps getting into arguments about the end (in fact, Film Intel have I discussed this a couple times before), I will say this...

    The film takes so long to get to the mystery specifically because - I think - it's primarily about the re-kindling of the sibling relationship and the mystery element is simply what ignites that re-kindling. That's what the final shot represents, that smile on her face, the realization that they're finally, truly brother and sister again.

  7. @Jandy - I will have to really focus in on Sam the Lion the next time I view the film. I understand he was the moral center but I never got the sense he had that much impact on the town until the last act. I will need to re-watch.

    @Nick - The interesting thing is that I thought the sibling relationship was pretty much re-kindled after the first act. I loved their interaction throughout but I never really felt that their relationship was that fractured to begin with.

  8. CS, I'm not sure I did either the first time I watched it. That's why I liked it more on rewatch. I just love Sam's monologue when he takes the boys fishing.


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