A powerful gang leader at a city wide peace summit is shot and the Warriors are wrongfully accused. Now they must make it back to their home turf in one piece. Story based on a 1965 novel by Sol Yurick is vivid and consistently engaging, a model of how to edit an action thriller. Highly stylized vision of NYC gangs is a perfect marriage of tough inner city drama and 70s disco-era style. The production design’s concept of the near future possesses the realistic look of gritty NYC streets but the multi-racial gang members appearance more closely resembles something out of West Side Story than actual thugs. Indeed every group sports colorful attire that represent their faction with visual flair. The urban drama’s infamous reputation for sparking violence in theaters at the time, seems perplexing today. The onscreen brutality is cartoonish as death is downplayed at each opportunity. With two exceptions, there are virtually no guns as the violence is physical combat. For example, one altercation versus the Furies (they wear baseball uniforms) is fought swinging bats much in the same way an ancient battle would be with swords. The costumes, music, and acting are somewhat dated, but enjoyable fun. The plot is skillfully kept simple and the pacing is enthusiastically brisk. It’s easy to see why in subsequent decades, the film has become a cult classic.
Archive for 1979
Vulgar, decadent, autobiographical musical about Bob Fosse. Interestingly, the portrait is not flattering despite being written, directed, even choreographed by Fosse himself. There is real self -loathing here as the film challenges the viewer to care for the main character. He’s morally repellent and downright unpleasant. Joe Gideon’s constant daily routine is Vivaldi, Visine, Alka-Seltzer, Dexedrine and sex. He juggles multiple women, including a wife and girlfriend as his health deteriorates. Overly affected and self indulgent, fantasy sequences in which he flirts with the angel of death are intercut with graphic scenes of real open heart surgery. Even the dance numbers feel overwrought. “AirRotica”, one of his most flamboyant, tries to be so aggressively sensual, it’s actually humorous. Shockingly overrated, it was nominated for Nine Academy Awards. Roy Scheider has a real presence in the leading role. As for the rest? I just didn’t get it.
Unnerving exploration of the psyche follows a controversial therapist who is treating the ex-wife of a husband who seeks to take custody of their daughter. Eerie, deliberately paced rumination on rage and its manifestations culminates in a memorable climax that is truly horrific. The graphic degeneration of the human body is a common theme in director David Cronenberg’s work and this film is no exception. His script is clearly influenced by the messy real life divorce from his first wife and the subsequent custody battle for their daughter.