I’ve seen Deliverance a few times. The first time was probably 20 or more years ago on VHS, the next time was likely a few years later, probably on hotel HBO, and the most recent time was likely in the last 10 years on standard DVD. It’s one of my all time favorites and I was looking forward to it and was glad to have Lynne, a first time viewer, join me. Lewis(Burt Reynolds), Ed(Jon Voight), Bobby(Ned Beatty), and Drew(Ronny Cox), are four Atlanta businessmen who decide to take a weekend white water rafting trip. Due to construction projects, the river is about to be unalterably changed, so they view this as their last chance to experience unspoiled nature. The first day, though not without its snags, is basically what they expected, but a sequence of events leaves one of them dead, one sexually assaulted, one maimed, and the other a murderer. All right, the maimed one kills someone too, but it’s a little more clearly justified. In any case, civilization does battle with the elements and, though civilization emerges victorious, it does so with permanent scars. I remember when I saw this before thinking that the characters seemed to break down into archetypes and this notion stayed with me. Lewis is the primitive man, Drew is civilized man, Bobby, though his own archetype of privileged snob, is essentially catalyst for the action, and Ed is everyman. That is, he is the audience surrogate. He has fewer preconceived notions and has to decide how to react. He’s fallible and unsure, even at the end, if his actions are justified. I found this film just as riveting as ever. Say what you will about the 2011 version of him(and I could say plenty), it’s very exciting to see Jon Voight emerging in this period as a true talent. His work in this one is vastly different but equally compelling as Joe Buck in Midnight Cowboy, not to mention his work in Catch 22(despite my misgivings about that film I thought he was very good in it). Burt Reynolds is perhaps the best he ever was, before or since. Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox, essentially unknowns at the time, distinguish themselves as well. It’s a fascinating story and beautifully shot. Having never seen it on the big screen, it was great seeing the Bluray disc in sharp definition as big as I’ve ever seen it and in proper proportion. Anything I say beyond this feels superfluous. It’s a great film.
It had been a long time since I’d seen Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex(But Were Afraid To Ask). Again, probably many years ago on VHS. Don’t know that I’ve seen it since. I think I was first drawn to Woody Allen after he’d passed his silly period and had entered into more serious work. I think I was more drawn to Manhattan, enjoyed Annie Hall, but thought that it was a little overrated, and thought those that complained that they missed his early funny work were a bit misguided. I don’t think my attitude’s changed much over the years, though I should probably give Annie Hall another chance(I should say there are parts of it I loved and have quoted over the years), and like some of his more overtly funny films that hint at his emerging maturity. This one isn’t quite there but is a lot of fun, if a bit uneven. Thanks to Lynne for joining me for this one as well. This is ostensibly an adaptation of the popular sex advice book of the same name, but is essentially just an excuse to comically riff on sexual themes as well as an excuse for Allen to lampoon a number of styles, from the chamber period film to Fellini to science fiction horror(among others). One of the funniest is a sequence that has Dr. Doug Ross(Gene Wilder), coincidentally(?) the name of George Clooney's character on ER, falling in love with a sheep, though puzzlingly, this is included as a lesson on sodomy rather than bestiality. Not so puzzlingly I suppose. As I said before, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the structure, but it appears to be purposefully so. Clooney clearly has a place in his heart for silly humor and this is a good example, not only of this category, but as a great cultural marker with regard to the acceptable boundaries of humor as they evolved through this period. There are future endeavours that are perhaps more consistent, but this one serves as a good example of the progression.