Maria Schneider and Marlon Brando Wallow in Self Loathing in Last Tango In Paris
How many times has this happened to you? You read glowing reviews or hear endless hype about a supposed Cinema Classic from the ‘60s or ‘70s that you’ve managed to never see, either because you were too young/not born yet when it was initially released or it’s never been available on DVD before, or maybe just because you sensed it was not going to be your thing.
But after years of people telling you how great this film is, you figure it must be at least worth seeing, since it was nominated for an Academy award for Best Picture, or so-and-so won a Best Actor Oscar for his role or whatever. So, you add the film to your Netflix queue and get all excited when it arrives because you are about to see the Greatest Movie Ever Made! But after all the years of anticipation, it just ends up being aggressively terrible and sucking wildly.
That’s how I felt when I wasted over two hours of my life that I’ll never get back watching what is certainly one of the most overrated pieces of pretentious Art House crap ever put to film: Last Tango in Paris.
Last Tango in Paris was released in 1972 and earned a scandalous X-rating at the time, due to the film’s controversial, “highly erotic” and sexual subject matter. But let me tell you something: the only thing shocking about this movie is how bad it is. While there’s quite bit of (female only) nudity, which gets pretty boring after two hours, there are exactly three sex scenes, two of which involve no nudity, and one of which is a rape scene.
The two main characters, played by Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider, speak in improvised non sequiturs throughout most of the film and they usually end up sounding like a couple of mental patients. Although the acting is pretty decent, both characters are hugely unlikable. On the up side, the street shots of Paris are lovely.
Here’s why I think Last Tango in Paris (which even now mysteriously carries the NC-17 rating) was ever rated X: full-frontal bush shots. Because, you know how offended Americans are by pubic hair. The best part of the entire film is the last scene, where Schneider’s character shoots Brando in the gut. If you haven’t seen the film yet, don’t read that last sentence.
Shannyn Sossamon, Patrick Fugit and Shea Whigham star in Wristcutters: A Love Story
A film I can recommend is a new release called Wristcutters: a Love Story, starring Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon and Tom Waits. Wristcutters is dark comedy about what happens to suicides in the afterlife. For a movie in which every character has, as they say “offed” themselves, it manages to be hilarious, intelligent and, ultimately, really sweet. I loved it. If you live in NYC Wristcutters is playing at the Quad Cinema on 13th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues.