Saturday, April 12, 2008
It Came From Forgotten Filmography Fridays 4
O Lucky Man! (dir. Lindsay Anderson, 1973)
“Smile while you're makin' it. Laugh while you're takin' it. Even though you're fakin' it. Nobody's gonna know...”
Brief Synopsis: British avant-garde musical about coffee (or, more arguably, about nothing,) starring an eerily young Malcolm McDowell.
This week is another musical, this one’s British and about coffee. But before we do anything, I’d like to call your attention to the picture of Malcolm McDowell used as part of the promotional materials (the posters, the DVD covers and so on.) I hope this is intentionally creepy, and not just unintentionally so. This may just be symptomatic of McDowell’s own inherent creepiness. (c.f. the poster.)
Malcolm McDowell plays ambitious coffee salesman Michael Travis, although this is primarily a surreal film critiquing capitalism. The musical numbers primarily cut to the band performing, outside of the narrative content of the story (although not thematically.)
The use of intertitles helps further fracture this narrative, the cuts are very rarely on action, or even temporarily aligned. However, these rarely seem jarring, since there is some kind of strong narrative tie keeping the material together. These set pieces are themed on subjects like sex, family, wealth, military, prison, science, and religion.
As a warning for those renters, this movie is definitely not rated foarr a reason. There’s quite a bit of nudity about half an hour in, which likely would not have flied with US censors at the time. Some of the narrative seems rightfully surreal or bizarre, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea. The symbolism gets a little too nail-on-the-head and heavy-handed too, at times (like the scene at the church.) And the blackface. Can’t be forgetting about that.
Helen Mirren has a bit part too.
Also, this movie is LONG. Very long. And it makes me compelled to make this review as short as possible.
There are also a lot of strange parallels here and with Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange besides McDowell’s presence. The court scenes, the scene with him falling out the window are strangely similar.
Okay, maybe not too similar.
That being said, I sort of liked this movie, I’d recommend it to a fan of musicals, or someone wanting to see a surreal avant-garde critique of capitalism. B-.
Yeah, that's what this movie felt like.