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1979

Treat Williams as Berger

John Savage as Bukowski

Beverly D’Angelo as Sheila

Directed by Milos Forman

 

Synopsis:  Bukowski ends up in Central Park a couple of days before he joins the army; he wants to do all the typical tourist stuff, since he’s from Oklahoma.  He meets up with Berger and a band of hippies, who do their best to help him stop being so uptight about everything in life; he also has a chance meeting with Sheila, the girl of his dreams.  After his psychedelic days in NY are over, Bukowski heads to Nevada, soon to be followed by Berger and the gang, and an attempt to spring him from the base is made, with disastrous results.

Amazingly, I’ve never seen this movie before last night.  I’d heard about it, sure, but never actually had the opportunity to watch.  I’m glad I did.  I’d heard about the controversy surrounding the stage show and subsequent film, which to me seem pretty nonsensical.  In the age of (supposed) tolerance, a time when we can really talk about anything because as a culture we have no sense of propriety (really folks, why do we say the things we do without considering others’ feelings first?  That’s lame.), it’s kind of funny that songs would be written about sexual acts, then performed on horseback through Central Park.  That was a great scene—here are a couple of others that I enjoyed:

  • The opening scene with “Aquarius” and the dancing horses.  Seriously cool.
  • Berger and the gang crash Sheila’s family’s party.  “Who are you here with?”  “Mr. Berger.”  Classic and hilarious.
  • Berger’s final scene.  Pretty powerful; even though he’s singing in a rock opera, you can tell what his character is feeling.  And it’s not fun.

What else did I like?

  1. Location, location, location.  I’ve always wanted to go to Central Park (or anywhere in NYC, for that matter).  I love how so much of the park was used in this film—the tunnels for Lafayette’s song-and-dance, the pond for the swimming scene, and more.  It really was as strong a character as the band of hippies it housed.
  2. Beverly D’Angelo.  Prior to becoming Mrs. Griswold, she was fantastic in this.  Watching Sheila transform from the beginning of the film to the end was really fun.  I enjoyed immensely her reactions to Berger the first time he stole her brother’s car.
  3. The dramatic irony of the final scenes with Berger and Bukowski.  You know what’s going to happen, and yet the free-spirit is fine with simply assuming that his buddy will get a couple of hours with the gang, and he’ll be a better man for it.  And then all hell breaks loose.

Weepy Meter:  1/10       I didn’t this time, but we were making save-the-date cards, so I bet if my full attention was on the movie, I would have.

Man Meter:       5/10       I’m not too sure about this one.  It’s old, and there’s a bit about war in it, and some fun drug tripping scenes, but there’s a LOT of singing and dancing.  Maybe if he’s into film in general and wants to gain a greater appreciation for the greats of the past, then yes.  Bbut if he’s into Stallone movies, sorry, hon, you’ll be watching this one by yourself.

Overall rating:  6/10       It was good, and fun, and Treat Williams was great, but I think I could watch it once more and be good.  It’s more of an experience, watching it because it’s iconic, than anything.

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