Network (1976) Film Review

Rating 15
Length 2h01
Release 01.11.2002
Director Sidney Lumet
About In this lauded satire, veteran news anchorman Howard Beale (Peter Finch) discovers that he’s being put out to pasture, and he’s none too happy about it. After threatening to shoot himself on live television, instead he launches into an angry televised rant, which turns out to be a huge ratings boost for the UBS network. This stunt allows ambitious producer Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) to develop even more outrageous programming, a concept that she takes to unsettling extremes.
Moon: no moon
Where to Watch: Own copy
Trailer:

The Good

  • This is for anyone who loves the work of Aaron Sorkin. Particularly those who have watched, and loved, his 2012 drama The Newsroom. Not that this film takes away from Sorkin’s creation, far from it. This provides a viewer with an insight to the inspiration behind the work. I also suspect that there are some Easter Eggs hidden within the 3 season, Jeff Daniels fronted, show.
    I’d also say this is perfect for those who have enjoyed The Morning Show.
  • I’m not sure I’d heard of Peter Finch before watching this film. However, his performance was something else. It is easy to see why he won the best actor awards. I must admit, I do shy away from War based films, but perhaps this is the push I need to explore the genre. (Correction, I have seen Finch in A Town Like Alice. I know exactly who he plays, but I do not remember it.)
  • This is a prophetic tale akin to that of 1984 and almost as dark a morality story as A Handmaid’s Tale. While it could easily be reworked to fit our modern setting, the idea that this came as a “warning” does add to the horrific nature of that ending.
  • The cast is made up of people you will recognise, but not necessarily place. Yes, it may distract you from the narrative, but its really quite fun to work out what you know people from.

The Bad

  • Modern viewers have been ruined by on-your-nose satire and might miss some of the cues and nods being set out of the era in which the film was made. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even look anything up about this film prior to putting it on. I simply wanted to watch a film from the 70s and it was the first one to come up. It wasn’t obvious to me that it *was* satire until reading up on it.

The Ugly

  • It’s a very static and dialogue led film. This might seem like a strange criticism for someone who adores Sorkin and has a yearly rewatch of the Gilmore Girls. However, Sorkin did develop the ‘walk and talk’ and that really does give movement to his work.
    Network feels a little like a Samuel Beckett play; they all use a lot of words, but they don’t say very much at all. It felt to me, that this film had the same problem as Beckett’s play ‘Happy Days’ in which for two hours you watch ONE actor, buried from the waist talk to an unseen person. No movement, whatsoever.

Final Thoughts

A thought provoking must-see movie. Less painful than Citizen Kane, but you won’t necessarily feel entertained.

Carrie (1976) Halloween Advent

Rating 18
Length 1h38
Release 27.8.2021
Director Brian De Palma
About On the day of her prom night, seventeen-year-old Carrie discovers that she possesses telekinetic powers. She puts her powers to use when she is humiliated after a prank.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Part of MGM subscription package on Amazon Prime (£4.99 a month)
Trailer:

First Thoughts

I loathed this film! Just fair warning…

Trick

  • My biggest issue is the entire opening scene/act. It is beyond gratuitous and does such an injustice to everyone involved:
    • Did we really need to see teenage girls (I’m aware they were all nearing their 30s, but that’s not the point. They’re playing teenagers) fully naked. This isn’t about me being a prude, the film is an 18 after all, but about the realities of teen girls. No way, no fucking how, are teen girls prancing about *that* naked. When this is also meant to be about the awkwardness of teen years, why throw that away so you can give your audience a stiffy or wide-on?!
    • Going on from that, what the actual fuck was with that introduction to Carrie White. Bullying her for starting her period and not knowing?! That becomes a bit hard to buy given that she’s spent the entire credit sequence all but orgasming there in the shower, in full view of her class.
      Going on from that, Carrie’s hysterics and the fact that its her first period are so mishandled that I’m lacking sympathy for this character. Just needed even one girl to acknowledge that they thought it was Carrie’s first period and that she didn’t know what one was. Either that, or we really needed more screen time with her not cleaning herself like she was in a porno.
  • Well, I can only imagine the character of Billy Nolan has a microscopic dick, because Chris has flawless speech for someone who is meant to be sucking off her boyfriend. Also, why the fuck was she the one moaning like it was her receiving oral sex?! I honestly felt like this was directed by someone who really just wanted to work in porn. For a film that’s event trigger is menstruation, you’d think that you’d be more aware of your demographic.
  • Now, I’ve read a few bits about De Palma being accused of being misogynistic. I’ve not read King’s book either, so I don’t know if I can put the blame solely on De Palma, but what kind of bullshit is it that girls (I assume it would be the boys too, but that was unclear) cannot go to prom without a date? That’s some discriminatory crap right there and it angered me so much I almost stopped watching there and then.
    Which leads to the reason why they had to put that in play; Sue Snell forcing her boyfriend, Tommy Ross, to ask out Carrie. Like what the fuck?! It doesn’t work or stand up to scrutiny. It’s just as cruel as what Chris has planned because its not established that it’s as friends and Tommy even goes as far as kissing her, which I find hard to take as sincere.
  • The Mum is illogically fucked and leaves me with too many questions:
    – If this mum is so against the society, why is she not home schooling Carrie?
    – Periods are a punishment of sin? What the fuck? Also, what’s the underlying cause of Carrie starting her period late?
    – A religious nut so against sex? Yes, pre-marital sex, I get. However to be so against it that she refuses sex even to produce a child really does make me wonder why she got married at all?!
    – Carrie is clearly a victim of abuse and no one has picked up on it? I guess that’s a bias one because I’ve been trained in spotting such thing, but when the film is called Carrie, I shouldn’t be questioning the morality of everyone else.

Treat

  • I love all the split screen editing that allows both the forground and background be in focus at once. Even the Vaseline smudge between the two really adds to the visuals.
  • Everything from the start of prom onwards is brilliant visually, musically and tonally.
  • The use of the Psycho score is perfect. I thought I’d imagined it at first, but as Carrie’s powers develop and you heard more you couldn’t deny its presence. It works just as effectively here as it does in Psycho.

Final Thoughts

Over-rated bullshit. Probably should have been called Mama, given she was the asshole of the film. The film leaves way too many plot holes that solve so many bits of the cause and effect that leaves you with way too many questions.