#298 The Graduate

Watched: January 31 2021

Director: Mike Nichols

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross, William Daniels, Murray Hamilton, Elizabeth Wilson

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 46min

Surprise motherfuckers! We’re not dead. We just got to summer and realised we were completely exhausted by work and pandemics and generally being alive, so we needed a proper break. No work, no writing, no responsibilities! Sorry ’bout it. But we are now rested and rejuvenated and ready to dive back in with a fun, lighthearted romp through depression, existential crises, borderline abuse, doomed relationships and rape allegations… Oh. Oh damn.

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Well, the plot of The Graduate is pretty well known. Ben (Hoffman) comes home from college, all disillusioned and emo. His parents’ generation is totes old fashioned and lame, and all Ben knows is he certainly doesn’t want to become like them (spoiler alert: he probably will). Then the ultimate cougar seduces him.

The ancient crone Anne Bancroft, 36 years old at the time of filming. Fuck, we’re old.

Ben’s domestic claustrophobia and feeling of alienation on his return home are probably familiar to most people – we know we’ve been there. Being a young adult is hard, man! Luckily, he deals with his emotions in a mature manner – by floating around in the pool and fucking his parents’ friend.

“They just don’t understand, AquariumMan!”

Things get more complicated once Ben falls in love with Mrs Robinson’s daughter Elaine (Ross). Whether out of jealousy or because she thinks her daughter could do better than her boy toy, Mrs Robinson does everything she can to break the two up – including falsely accusing Ben of rape.

“I get that you’re mad at me, but the trope of women falsely crying rape in popular culture is very detrimental to feminism in general and to actual victims specifically. Because while statistically false accusations are rare and unreported assaults are much more common, a lot of people will use the few examples that exist in order to undermine the victims who do come forward. See – I did learn some things in college!”

As is tradition, let’s go through what we liked and didn’t like about The Graduate. We loved the stress, depression and claustrophobia experienced by Ben, the clown painting, the portrayal of ennui and alienation, Simon and Garfunkel, and the last shot when the two crazy kids realize they may have just made a huge mistake.

Well fuck

What we didn’t like… Well… Let’s face it: Elaine is a non-person. The only semi-intelligent thing she does is leave him on that first, disasterous date. Then after that, she sort of just exists to be an object of obsession for her new stalker who’s secretly banging her mom. And also to show him if you just stalk and bother her enough, she’ll eventually fall in love with you. #lifehack

There’s nothing more charming than a man who follows you to a date with another guy. Harrassment means he cares!

That being said, Ben’s malaise is relatable for people of several generations. The ’60s was not the last decade where the youth had trouble relating to their parents, and while we came around a long time later (we’re still young dammit!), we’ve been in the same boat. Luckily, we avoided being seduced by the neighbourhood cougar. Phew!

What we learned: A relationship is the solution to all your problems! Also, stalking is super romantic.

Next time: The President’s Analyst (1967)

#277 Seconds

Watched: September 12 2020

Director: John Frankenheimer

Starring: Rock Hudson, John Randolph, Frances Reid, Murray Hamilton, Salome Jens

Year: 1966

Runtime: 1h 46min

seconds

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Arthur Hamilton (Randolph) is a middle aged, middle class banker who is tired of his unfulfilling existence. One day he receives a phone call from a deceased friend with promises of a whole new world.

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“A whole new wooorld! A new distorted point of view…”

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He seeks out the address given to him on a train and before he knows it he is pretty much blackmailed to go through with “rebirth” – a faked death, a new name, a new face, and a new life.

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“No point in screaming ‘no’ – you’ve nowhere to go! You’ll wish you’re only dreaming!”

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However, what could seem a dream to many in reality turns into a nightmare when Arthur, now Tony Wilson (Hudson), struggles to adjust to his new existence.

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“A whole new world (each new face a surprise!)”

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Seconds is tense, uncomfortable and unsettling. Tony’s decline and his ultimate fate are completely out of his control and very brutal.

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“A hundred thousand grapes to squeeze (get undressed, you’re a pagan)”

The film gave us a bit of a noir-vibe, possibly because of the way it is shot. We were gripped throughout though very uncomfortable, especially for the last 30 minutes or so. You can see where it’s going, but you still can’t look away.

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“Stop shouting who you are – you’ve gone too far!”

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The only weakness here is in the script – possibly the original book: we would have thought it even more impactful if Arthur/Tony chose to go through with the rebirth. As it is, he was tricked into it, which makes the message somewhat less poignant. In our opinion.

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“Now we’ll take your whole new world awaaaay…”

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All in all, if you want a depressing and disturbing sci-fi film for a rainy Tuesday night, go for Seconds. You can do a lot worse.

What we learned: Don’t believe the hype! (Except the hype about this movie. That’s all true.)

Next time: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)