The Conversation (1974)


What a STUPID Conversation.

The Conversation (1974)I thought that I would’ve been able to get far more reviews out of my Film Criticism class than I did.  It was a class where I watch movies and write about them, for God’s sake!  How could I not just take my assignments and add a few more penis jokes and release them to my readers?  I’ll tell you how: because most of the movies we watched were boring and pretentious.  I didn’t even want to talk about the boring, black and white movies that we had to watch from week to week.  How would you all want to read about them?  The movies that I did choose from this class to review for you guys were the least pretentious.  And also they were in color.  Perhaps that’s how I judge pretention: strictly based on the color palate.  Well let’s see if I liked it as I review The Conversation, written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and starring Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams, Frederic Forrest, John Cazale, Allen Garfield, and Teri Garr.

A surveillance expert named Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) has been tasked by The Director (Robert Duvall) to record a boring conversation between two people (Cindy Williams and Frederic Forrest) about Christmas shopping or some shit.  He edits the tapes with his colleague Stan (John Cazale) and goes to turn it in to The Director, only to find that he’s out and he would have to leave it with his assistant Martin Stett (Harrison Ford), which was not part of their agreement.  So he keeps the tapes until he can meet with The Director as agreed, and he decides to go to a convention for surveillance gear.

Does it sound like nothing happens in this movie?  That’s because it doesn’t.  At least it doesn’t until the very end when some big reveals are dropped, but without spoiling the big reveals of this movie I can only really talk about what sounds like a really boring movie.  The movie was not what I expected it to be.  When it opened I thought it was going to be about snipers because they were watching people through a scope.  It turns out to be about surveillance.  And more specifically, the surveillance of two people having a boring conversation.  I assume this is to be a metaphor for the audience, who will spend ¾ of this movie watching people have boring conversations and wondering what the point is.  If I wasn’t watching this movie for a class, I would’ve checked out at about the halfway point … and it would’ve been my loss.  It ends really strong and exciting.  I didn’t see the first reveal (the reason that the two people were being recorded) coming, and I didn’t see the second reveal (the actual subject of the conversation) coming.  And the way they handled it was very exciting and suspenseful.  It finally made the movie feel like it was worth watching, but it takes so long to get there I don’t know that I’d actually recommend it.  You have to sit through a lot of boring to get to a reason to like the movie.

The performances were all great, so at least the people that are into that sort of thing will have something to watch for most of this movie.  Gene Hackman was great, but the movie never really required him to stretch his acting chops until maybe the end.  I did think it was a little weird that he was a surveillance expert at a conference for surveillance gear but thought nothing of it when that douche bag guy slipped a pen into his jacket.  They make microphones around that size, don’t they?  Oh well, probably not worth thinking about.  Also, Robert Shields played a mime in this movie and I got to wondering: Is a mime’s sole purpose in the world to be annoying?  It seemed to be the mission of this mime in the beginning of the movie.  I’ve never heard of anyone that likes mimes so how is it ever a job anyone takes?  And speaking of annoying: what was the deal with the guy waiting outside the phone booth that started tapping on the door the second he arrived at it?  The world doesn’t move at your schedule, asshole!  This is how lines work!

The Conversation is a good movie that I don’t feel confident in recommending because, to people like me, it requires far too much patience to reach the point where it’s worth the wait.  Nothing seems to happen in the movie until the last 15 minutes of the movie, when the movie reveals itself to the audience and finally becomes worth the 100 minutes you’ve already trudged through, but you must still sit through those 100 minutes to get it.  If that sounds like something you’re able to do, or if you just want to see Gene Hackman being pretty great, then I would recommend this movie.  Otherwise you can skip it.  The Conversation gets “I’m not afraid of death, but I am afraid of murder” out of “This conversation is over.”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE!  YouTube  OTHER JOKES HERE!  Twitter  BE A FAN HERE!  Facebook  If you like these reviews so much, spread the word.  Keep me motivated!  Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!

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