Gordon Willis, the celebrated cinematographer who worked on The Godfather films and Annie Hall, passed away Sunday at the age of 82. The Paris Review has posted a short “In Memoriam,” which serves as both a wonderful introduction to the work of this artist and a knowing celebration of his work, complete with a video of Manhattan‘s bridge scene and an interview with Willis himself.
In 1699, at the age of 32, Jonathan Swift wrote a list of resolutions for himself that he titled “When I come to be old.” The first of these was, “Not to marry a young Woman.” Improbably, reading this Swiftian direction set me compiling a list of movies in which men and women disregard his advice. I can’t say it’s in any way particularly timely, or suited to the season – unless nothing says “summer” to you like a nymphet in a bikini and heart-shaped sunglasses or Dustin Hoffman in full diving gear at the bottom of a pool.The GraduateManhattan – oh, beauty and the beast: Mariel Hemingway in bed with Woody Allen. A great movie, and a beautiful movie (even if you find WA occasionally repulsive).Kubrick’s Lolita (1962)Lolita (1997) The Kubrick Lolita goes in more for the “humor” of Nabokov’s novel – a lot of slap-stick-y scenes with Peter Sellars as Clare Quilty. I prefer the remake because it goes in more for the tragedy. Jeremy Irons walks the monstrous/charming line superbly and Dominique Swain is more convincing that Sue Lyon as Lolita.Pretty Baby – Louis Malle’s beautiful and creepy film about the daughter of a prostitute in a New Orleans whore house. A too young Brooke Shields, with Keith Carradine and Susan Sarandon.The Professional – remember Natalie Portman singing “Like a Virgin” to a flabbergasted Jean Reno?Beautiful Girls – Portman again, reprising her “old-soul” girl-woman vibe from The Professional opposite Timothy Hutton. (not that surprising that Portman was offered the Lolita role for 1997 remake)Lawn Dogs – highly recommended: Young Sam Rockwell and very young Mischa Barton. The solace and dangers of friendship in a deeply creepy suburbia.Harold and Maud – for the series of staged suicide scenes and Cat Stevens soundtrack alone, this is worth a watch, but there’s so much more…Venus – The great Peter O’Toole playing, as far as I can tell, himself. And he is charming. Plus the enormously fat actor now of Harry Potter/Uncle Vernon fame (once of Withnail/Uncle Monty fame) as one of O’Toole’s pals (Richard Griffiths).Last Tango In Paris – Really old Marlon Brando and really young French hottie: borderline porn – kinda gross (not recommended to the faint of heart, or really anyone at all)Shopgirl – Steve Martin, Clare Danes, Jason Schwartzman, and Pete Sampras’ babe wifeLost in Translation – another former goofball (Bill Murray) makes good as a serious leading man opposite Scarlett JohanssonY Tu Mama Tambien – not the rollicking good time the previews suggested it to be: brace yourself.Notes on a Scandal – Judy Dench and Cate Blanchett at their finest.American Pie – the movie that brought us “milf”The Good Girl – Jennifer Aniston playing a downtrodden housewife and Jake Gyllenhall (whose character renames himself Holden Caulfield) as her co-worker paramour at the Retail Rodeo.Laurel Canyon – Francis McDormand and Alessandro Nivola are the May-December pair, ably supported by Kate Beckinsale, Christian Bale, and Natasha McElhone. A good movie for repressed graduate students.