Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bang Bang, No Kiss

In the movie season of 1967 the release of Bonnie and Clyde (1967, Warner, $39.92, two-disc, 112 minutes) created the kind of slam-bang ripple effect that far too few movie releases could get close to in the current, less kinder, non-too-gentle, atmosphere of contempo jadedness and cynicism. Viewing the film with the eyes of a 2008 viewer, the movie neither shocks nor scandalizes, although it remains a superb effort, and an amazing distillation of combined talents, from sharp director Arthur Penn, hipster screenwriters Robert Benton and David Newman, stunning Faye Dunaway, and producer/lead actor Warren Beatty. Under Penn’s sturdy and bold hand, the movie rolls along like a backwards American fable, exquisitely interweaving humor and violence, tossing in a strange subplot of murky sexuality, and turning the Robin Hood hijinx at its center purty much upside down. Beatty and Dunaway simply bask in the burnished glow of the camera lens like a pair of old school Hollywood icons, even while the movie itself drives another spike in the glorified past of the Hollywood studio product. The extras included in this “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” are fascinating and educational, but they lack the chorus of critical voices that can make these extra discs particularly superlative.

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