If You Think This Generation is Down on Itself, Check out the 70's! Edition
A Clockwork Orange
For those who have yet to experience it, A Clockwork Orange isn't exactly the kind of movie that you watch in the middle of a sunny day. It's a deeply disturbing film, nearly stomach-turning even, but its craft and its messages are among the strongest that I personally have ever seen. One of the great Stanley Kubrick's most important and iconic films, Clockwork stars Malcolm McDowell as Alex, the leader of a pack of youthful thugs in a futuristic Britain. After countless nights of terrorizing his hometown, Alex is finally captured by the authorities, quickly becoming a sort of test subject for a government who wants to root out these kinds of horrid, beastly actions. Strung together in Kubrick's standardly hypnotic manner, Clockwork is an enormous undertaking, complete with a world and culture all is own, and an ethical ambiguity that will have people talking until there are no more people to talk. If you haven't seen this yet, it's time to suck it up, and get to it.
Now a-days, it seems like every other movie that comes out is positively littered with 70's references. Chinatown, ironically, is one of their most often cited, despite being a throwback itself. Roman Polanski's classic harkens back to the seedy Noirs of the 40's, owing much of its swagger and success to Jack Nicholson's sensational performance. He stars as J.J. Gittes, a private detective with quite the chip on his shoulder. He's hired to solve a simple mystery of adultery, a case that eventually snowballs into something much, much bigger. Directed with Polanski's signature sense of subtle flair, and benefitting from excellent side performances from Faye Dunaway and John Huston, Chinatown is an impossibly dark, cool, and delectable creation, and if you've admired the likes of Tarantino and Winding Refn for aping styles of the past, you owe yourself to see this flick.
Clint Eastwood might be kind of old and crusty by now, his sentimentalism getting the better of his releases more often than not, but, man, was he a badass in his day! Besides the, 'Man with No Name,' Harry Callahan is easily old Clint's most recognizable character. A tough-as-nails, no-heed-for-rules Law Officer in San Francisco, Callahan is placed on a case of a kidnapped girl, her chances of survival lessening with each passing moment. Director Don Siegel turns up the heat from start to finish, engaging audiences in his police procedural with focus and mastery. But this is really Eastwood's show, a man who, at the height of is acting career, might not have been the most emotive, but was a dominating presence to be reckoned with. Don't let the likes of J. Edgar and Hereafter distract from what's in front of you: Eastwood was the tough-around-the-edges, collected-until-he-needs-to-be action star that many have tried to recreate, but none have succeeded with that same spark.