We reach the end of the current series of Conversations with Byron’s making the final selection of movies. This time all originating from the cinematic year of 1985. Recorded on Iain’s actual birthday, Byron decides to celebrate by visiting three films Iain likely hasn’t heard or seen. First up is whimsical comedy Purple Rose Of Cairo which is directed by Woody Allen. Byron’s second choice is William Friedkin’s underrated crime film To Live And Die in L.A. Finally, Byron takes Iain into the warped mind of Terry Gilliam with cult classic Brazil. Will The Genre-Giant enjoy the offerings from Byron this time out or will it be a very downbeat birthday for the dramatic.
Byron Pitt’s Show Notes
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The Purple Rose of Cairo
“”The “Purple Rose of Cairo” is audacious and witty and has a lot of good laughs in it, but the best thing about the movie is the way Woody Allen uses it to toy with the very essence of reality and fantasy. The movie is so cheerful and open that it took me a day or two, after I’d seen it, to realize how deeply Allen has reached this time. If it is true, and I think it is, that most of the time we go to the movies in order to experience brief lives that are not our own, then Allen is demonstrating what a tricky self-deception we practice. Those movie lives consist of only what is on the screen, and if we start thinking that real life can be the same way, we are in for a cruel awakening.” This excerpt is from Roger Ebert’s glowing review of The Purple Rose of Cairo
“But Allen’s work is not the subject of this piece, nor is that “artist and the art” argument that we have whenever we talk about Allen, Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski, or anyone else whose private life is tainted by scandal or crime. This is certainly not an attempt to “prove” anything, as a lawyer might. I’m talking only about my own personal feelings about Allen, which I summed up at the top.”
It’s difficult to talk about Woody Allen without his problematic personal life. Here Matt Zoller Seitz attempts to deconstruct and reassess his own feelings towards Allen, as the allegations once again appear in the news.
To Live And Die in L.A.“In 1977, there was no director hotter in Hollywood than William Friedkin. His last two films, The French Connection and The Exorcist, were instant classics and now he was about to release what he considered his masterwork, Sorcerer. What he didn’t foresee, however, was that a modestly budgeted science-fiction epic called Star Wars would destroy his beloved film and change the Hollywood landscape forever.” Friedkin’s fantastic remake of Wages of Fear was unfortunately hampered by a little known sci-fi film.
“So now, the mass production of films from the Hollywood studios are comic books. Batman, Superman, stories like The Hunger Games, so many, Iron Man… I’m not saying this in a negative way, this is what audiences want to see. Everywhere. These are the most popular films, and they very often crowd out other kinds of films. I imagine that’s true in Croatia, isn’t it?” This excerpt is taken from a frank (as always) discussion with Friedkin himself.
Brazil“Terry Gilliam used to have a recurring dream that he could fly. Not soaring gracefully through the clouds, but zipping around a couple of feet above the ground. “I’m not a high flier,” he says, his face scrunched up with pleasure. “Under the radar is where I go!””An interview with Terry Gilliam while he was promoting his last feature, The Zero Theorem.
“Gilliam, whose “Time Bandits” overcame the inaccessible label to gross $42 million for Embassy Pictures, has turned “Brazil” into a cause celebre, publicly accusing Sheinberg of bullying the film makers out of their editing rights so Universal can turn the film into something more accessible and upbeat for American audiences.” The production of Brazil was one of Gilliam’s hardest fought battles. This article is just a hint of the issues that Gilliam faced. I also urge you to find the book The Battle of Brazil by Jack Matthews.