The Day of the Locust Reviews
As if the other depravities weren't enough, there's even a repulsive cockfighting scene needlessly thrown into the mix. Meanwhile, the surreal climax is like an entirely different movie (shades of "The Wall"?) and goes way, way over the top.
Interesting to see the often villainous Atherton as an innocent, William Castle in a cameo as a fictional director and the pubescent Jackie Earle Haley as an insufferable child-star brat.
The problem is the direction. The movie needed some quirkiness or edginess to keep it going, and it had neither. Not that John Schlesinger is generally a bad director. After all, before this he had directed the brilliant Midnight Cowboy, and also Far From the Madding Crowd, and would go on to direct Marathon Man.
It really needed someone like Robert Altman at the helm. This would have ensured the message wasn't lost. Altman would go on to parody Hollywood with The Player.
Cast mostly does the best it can. Donald Sutherland and Karen Black are solid. William Artherton, in effect the lead actor, is dull. (Coincidentally, Karen Black's next movie after The Day of the Locust was an Altman one, Nashville, and Donald Sutherland was previously in MASH).
Probably the most interesting thing about the movie is Donald Sutherland's character's name - Homer Simpson. So that's where Matt Groening got it from!
Todd Hackett is an artist that falls in love with a beautiful blond that happens to be the daughter of alcoholic actor. The actress strings him along but never commits to the relationship or has sex with him; however, she does seem to put out for the "rougher" men in her life. Todd reluctantly moves on; and shortly thereafter, the alcoholic father passes away. In steps Homer Simpson, a religious man that supports the actress in every way possible; and again, no love and no commitment from the blond. When Todd returns to see Homer living a life similar to his younger self, how will the relationships evolve?
"Naked she was born and naked she would die."
John Schlesinger, director of Pacific Heights, An Eye for an Eye, Midnight Cowboy, Marathon Man, and A Kind of Loving, delivers The Day of the Locus. The storyline for this picture is interesting and unpredictable and the conclusion is unique and fascinating. The acting is outstanding and the cast includes Donald Sutherland, Karen Black, Burgess Meredith, William Atherton, Bo Hopkins, and Jackie Earle Haley.
"I hate people with thin lips."
I have started watching Donald Sutherland movies after he was referenced in a recent book I read, Shantaram. This was not the movie referenced in the book, but it was very interesting. The film was a bit methodical and frustrating at times. However, this is a very artistic film that is unique and one of a kind. The end is definitely worthwhile. This is worth watching once but contains a long run time.
"Don't make me hurt you."
Sutherland gives one of the better screen portrayals of cuckoldry, and his final meltdown, (at a child Jackie Earle Haley) preceding the expressionist apocalypse is amazing. Waldo Salt's adaptation is hard-edged and while it may turn less character focused, that is in keeping with the allegorical point.
This powerful, tragic and depressing film focuses on the characters missteps and misdeeds in an apocalyptic nightmare of 1930's Hollywood. The film follows and aspiring film designer who walks further and further into Hell as he becomes entangled with a morbid sideshow of characters on the brink of madness.
John Schlesinger(Midnight Cowboy) directed this movie, which winds up with a terrifying riot at a Grauman's Chinese theater movie premiere. Some may think that the ending is overblown and too surreal, but it is a metaphor for exposing the shimmery illusions of Hollywood as a sad and gory reality. This is not a movie that will entertain most(except for the fact that Donald Sutherlands cartoonish character is named Homer Simpson)but it really takes my breath away with each viewing. Vivid and most unforgettable, but the ending will either blow you away or just piss you off. There is no in between here.
Upon arriving he stays in some rather run down rooms, opposite him there lives a beautiful young woman named Faye Greener(Karen Black) and her father Harry Greener(Burgess Meridith). Tod immediately falls in love with Faye but she turns down his advances because she wants to marry someone rich and famous. Faye's Father dies and she becomes a prostitute, she lives with a accountant named Homer Simpson(Donald Sutherland) who she doesn't like much but who worships her. Meanwhile Tod is not having much luck with his work and is gradually descending into the sinful lifestyle that pervades Hollywood. After surprising Faye with another man Homer now believes Tod who had long told him she was a prostitute. He goes wild and stamps repeatedly on an sadistic child that had been taunting him, he is then ripped apart by an angry mob.
I will start by comparing this film to Shlesinger' other film "Midnight Cowboy" which is much better in my opinion:
-Both feature characters arriving in a new city with high expectations.
- in both thoses expectations are destroyed by the reality
- in both the reality in corrupt and sinful.
- both feature characters who we feel sorry for and they both die in the end.
This film is very hard for me to review as it is such a sprawling mess of a film that it takes a lot of careful thought to pick out the aspects and ideas I liked.
The acting was by far the best thing about this film: Karen Black and William Atherton do great jobs, Donald Sutherland is brilliant as the emotionally retarded and sexually repressed Homer Simpson, a gentle giant who suddenly snaps in the end of the film.
The plot was extremely confusing: each scene was very clear and understandable but where they fitted in the bigger picture I just couldn't comprehend, that is the main problem with this film, some of the ideas where great especially the "locust people" thing and the exposure of the weird and disgusting people that inhabit Hollywood, if these themes had been more developed it would have been a better movie.
Some bits could have been taken out entirely and made no difference to the film as a whole such as the Cock-fight scene and the scene were Tod goes to the outskirts with Faye and her friends.
I think that the film was stretched between two genres: either a romance taking place in Hollywood involving the three main characters or a film aiming to expose Hollywood for the seedy place it is through the eyes of a stranger. It tried but could not do both.
The cinematography was strange but appropriate in the shots of Hollywood everything is incredibly bright, shiny and colourful but by the end it is very dark and brooding indeed.
The screenplay was rather inefficient and no attempts were made to explain the increasingly weird and out of place things that keep occurring.
The soundtrack was slightly above average but nothing striking.
The climatic ending is quite shocking and violent and surprised me quite a lot
Overall slightly recommended, very powerful and disturbing film but I'm not quite sure what it wanted to say.
If you're a Schlesinger fan you might want to watch it but it is nowhere near Midnight Cowboy in my opinion.
Donald Sutherland is amazing worth watching if your a fan of his work.