Meewella | Critic

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Tag: Dustin Hoffman

QuickView: The Graduate (1957)

Th Graduate poster

“It’s like I was playing some kind of game, but the rules don’t make any sense to me. They’re being made up by all the wrong people. I mean no one makes them up. They seem to make themselves up.”


Mike Nichols’ sophomore film was once a coming-of-age classic, but The Graduate has not aged particularly well. The first act still works, with Dustin Hoffman portraying Benjamin’s post-graduation malaise and reluctance to engage in the adult world; his awkward fumbling through an affair is juxtaposed with Anne Bancroft’s persistent and assured Mrs Robinson. However, his subsequent relationship with her daughter lacks any genuine connection, predominantly due to shallow writing that provides neither character with much depth; that either of them feels strongly enough to act as they do in the latter half of the film stretches credulity. Nichols’ direction is a mixed bag, displaying creative transitions between shots but indulging in visual metaphors that are laughably on the nose. The Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack provides a memorable and consistent tone, but repeated reuse of the same three songs becomes tedious, and does not always suit the scene. The Graduate never falls apart entirely and still earns some wry laughter in its later acts, but its trajectory is certainly downward trending.


QuickView: All The President’s Men (1976)

“Someone once said the price of democracy is a bloodletting every ten years. Make sure it isn’t our blood.”

Ben Bradlee

Whilst considered a classic by many, the film’s greatest strength is also its weakness. Where Hollywood typically glamourises any profession it portrays, there is courageous verisimilitude here in presenting the relentless drudgery of newspaper reporting: endless calls for quotes, hours of waiting to speak to a source, wrangling names and numbers and details, poring over notes scrawled on whatever paper is to hand. The film is often taut — through Hoffman and Redford’s excellent performances, some great camerawork, and the knowledge of how events ended — but its latter half certainly drags. The Watergate Scandal broke slowly, not all in one go, and after we see the first chink lift in the White House’s armour, to be presented with the same process repeated multiple times makes for poor storytelling. This, coupled with a lacklustre conclusion in which the dominoes eventually topple off-screen, means the film’s edge dulls as its scandal fades.


QuickView: The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017)

“It was like walking barefoot through broken glass to get a milkshake. I loved the milkshake, but, you know, my feet were bleeding.”


Writer/director Noah Baumbach has an exceptional ear for conversational dialogue, the way it actually occurs rather than witty repartee stylised for the screen. The fractious relationships of the Meyerowitz family are evident in the way they talk at cross-purposes — sometimes engaged in entirely different conversations — or respond to what they want to hear rather than what was actually said. As fascinating as this is, the characters lack real depth despite the high-profile cast, and the film drifts weightlessly through its disjointed scenes with little to say.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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