The creators of The Music Snobs present SNOBS ON FILM, the podcast where movies and television are discussed and reviewed with care—and debated without caution. Get ready for a non-Hollywood ending.
STRANGE LOVE: Dog Day Afternoon
Have you ever had one of those days?
One of those days where you just wanna hang out with your boys, rob a bank, pay for a loved one’s operation, maybe get out of the country for awhile….. and it all goes to hell?
A more serious version of what was just described occurred on August 22, 1972 in Brooklyn, New York. The bank robbery—and the combination of surreal events and real life drama that surrounded it—was the topic of a LIFE magazine article which was in turn the basis for Sidney Lumet’s 1975 crime drama Dog Day Afternoon.
The movie centers on our two bank robbers: Sonny and Sal.
Al Pacino plays Sonny—a neurotic Vietnam vet whose impulsiveness and frenetic energy gives every scene a unique form of tension.
John Cazale is Sal—the sidekick who seems to be boiling right beneath the surface of his outward personality. Early in the film you kinda get the sense that Sal could shoot everyone—including Sonny and himself—at any moment.
Dog Day Afternoon has a visceral appeal. Desperation comes off the screen in waves. The chaotic tone of the movie makes it seem unscripted, comically real, and frightening. Just like life.
STRANGE LOVE: Black Narcissus
So it’s 1947 and… something’s in the air.
Written and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, Black Narcissus outwardly uses breathtaking sets and cinematography to hint at the inner conflicts of a host of characters.
A company of Anglican nuns are attempting to set up a colonial school and hospital in what used to be the palace-home of a general’s harem. Tensions begin to mount once the nuns experience strange illnesses and are overcome by unfamiliar—and perhaps illicit—emotions.
The incessant wind becomes a metaphor for what seems unexplainable and unstoppable. This combination of setting and circumstance brings about a mood of strange love in multiple corners of the story.
And when tragedy strikes, the result is a head-on collision between madness and erotic awakening that—very literally—sends one character over the edge…
STRANGE LOVE: Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Woman goes to Spain. Woman brings her friend to Spain. Women meet man. Man propositions women. Women fly off with man. And you can guess the rest… Or can you?
One of the many good things about Woody Allen’s 2008 film Vicky Cristina Barcelona is its ability to take interesting turns that feel less like “plot twists” and more like “plot spirals.” It's a story that begins with one person’s sexual interest in another—or more to the point: two others—then grows and spreads into something different… while never losing focus of its center.
Allen's film centers around the conventional Vicky, the unconventional desires of Cristina, and the artist Juan Antonio, who becomes a point of infatuation and/or love for them both. Added into the mix is Penélope Cruz’s volatile and passionate María Elena, who is Juan Antonio’s ex-wife and forever-romance.
What follows is an intricate but somehow very organic and easy to follow tale of sensuality, inspiration, disappointment, exploration, hurt, jealously, confusion, realization, intimacy, and isolation. And we're left with several characters who are all walking different paths, yet each of those paths seem to be circling a (wait for it): strange love.
STRANGE LOVE: The Talented Mr. Ripley
In 1999 we were transported back to 1959 to meet a very interesting, determined, and deranged young man named Tom Ripley…
Matt Damon is Ripley—the protagonist and antagonist of both the Patricia Highsmith 1956 novel and this, the film adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley. And from the moment Damon appears on screen, there’s a just a hint of oddness in his demeanor that slowly burns into full blown madness and duplicity by the end of the film.
The Talented Mr. Ripley is a movie loved by critics and fans, and much of that affection can be credited to a great cast—which includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Jude Law—and to a great script. The story revolves around Ripley’s obsessive fascination with the inner and outer lives of the wealthy. But more importantly, it focuses-in on Ripley’s palpable Interest in Law’s character: Dickie Greenleaf.
As we watch everything unfold, Ripley goes from acquiring Dickie’s taste in music, to wearing Dickie’s clothes, to watching Dickie have sex, to burying Dickie at sea… Soon, Ripley decides to become Dickie. After all, the only thing better than being with the one you love—is being the one you love. Right?
STRANGE LOVE: Malcolm & Marie
Two questions: Can a two-hour argument be interesting AND fully define the past, present, and future of a strange love?
That’s what we’re gonna dive into as we look at 2021’s Malcolm & Marie—a film that puts two actors in a celluloid ring, straps the gloves on, rings the bell, and let’s the toxic punches fly…
John David Washington’s Malcolm Elliott is a filmmaker who has just premiered the movie that will make him a household name. Zendaya’s Marie Jones is the inspiration behind Malcolm’s film and also his partner in what—if we're being polite—could most accurately be described as a tumultuous relationship. At the film premier, Malcolm apparently thanks everyone involved with the movie, and basically everyone he knows… except for Marie.
Cue the explosions.
So, almost as soon as Malcolm and Marie arrive home following the premier, everything hits the fan. The ensuing argument has its peaks and valleys, and it dips as easily into the traumas of the past as it does the insecurities and accusations of the present. And by the time the discourse distills into the 3 little words that no one wants to hear (I’m talking about “I HATE YOU”), we’ve gone on a grand tour of this couple’s personal and combined damage.
Selfish acts, unlimited ego, unresolved issues, intentional infliction of pain, etcetera, etcetera… It’s all here. But is it strange? Or, is Malcolm & Marie just a portrait of what everyday, real life love looks like?
STRANGE LOVE: Call Me By Your Name
Call Me by Your Name is a 2017 film that was nominated for 4 Oscars, including Best Picture and a Best Actor nod to Timothée Chalamet, the film took home the Best Adapted Screenplay award. Chalamet stars as Elio—a sensitive, brilliant, but emotionally naive 17 year-old who spends an Italian summer learning about love and its inevitable heartbreaks. On the other end of that heartbreak is the graduate student Oliver, played by Armie Hammer, who initially spurns Elio’s affection but comes to invite and encourage it.
Call Me by Your Name is two hours of what could be described as “exquisite torture”—a film that delves into the very beautiful aspects of discovery, deeply rooted attraction, and full-blown adoration—but it also doesn’t shy away from real, raw moments of emotional pain. Elio and Oliver do in fact fall in love, and we take that spiritual and physical journey with them. And we also get to endure the impact of their not-so-secret summer affair—not only on themselves—but on those closest to them, including Elio’s parents and the girl he most likely would have given his heart to had he not met Oliver.
Luca Guadagnino directs this film from a script based on a 2007 novel. And this is an incredibly poignant and powerful piece of cinematic storytelling that says a lot of profound things in very subtle and meaningful ways. So get it into it and see how Call Me by Your Name fits—or doesn’t fit—the definition of strange love…
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