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Michael Cimino RIP

Posted: Sat Jul 02, 2016 7:16 pm
by Richard M Roberts
So Michael Cimino croaked today.....awww darn.

One of the most pretentious and incompetent Directors of the last half of the Twentieth Century, who also managed to bring down United Artists and give corporate moviemaking it's poster child to take total control away from Directors (not necessarily a bad thing when what total control for Directors was giving you was HEAVENS GATE).

I find it a more pathetic indicator of the current sorry state of film criticism that HEAVENS GATE is gaining a small reputation as an underrated masterpiece, just film nerds more taken with pretty pictures than any interest or understanding of the Human Condition or solid storytelling, the same idiots who would vote in VERTIGO over CITIZEN KANE as the greatest movie of all time. HEAVENS GATE is, was, and always will be an expensive, overblown mess, not worth wasting the time it takes to watch the trailer much less the lifetime it takes to watch all of it. Total crap, and frankly, THE DEERHUNTER was not much better.

So the little weirdo is gone.


Re: Michael Cimino RIP

Posted: Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:09 am
by Gary Johnson
Since most film history has two sides of the coin, I'll offer a rebuttal to Richard's rather acrimonious rant against a rather minor character in the larger sphere of filmdom. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a big fan of Michael Cimino. But for a time he was big. He held power and influence. And yes, he practically single-handedly almost toppled a major studio.
Like that hasn't happened before.
Does the name Von Stroheim ring a bell? Joe Mankiewicz??

What I find most interesting about Cimino is the times he lived in. Just like DeMille and Coppola, all of these directors were nurtured in an era of independence. It's hard to find examples of out of control filmmaking during the golden age of Hollywood. The corporate powers would not allow such excesses to be. But during the Teens and Twenties, before the studio conglomerates took over total control, and after the total breakup of the entire system by the late sixties, filmmaking ran amok throughout the 1970' -- fueled by an excess of society rebellion and cocaine.

This was Michael Cimino's milieu. Since many to this day still look at Von Stroheim as a victim of his time, the same could be said of Cimino.
He came to prominence through the aegis of his era's biggest star, Clint Eastwood. After writing a respectable follow-up to DIRTY HARRY, Eastwood commissioned him to create an original screenplay and, for reasons I've never really discerned, allowed him to direct it. THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT (1974) is one of the revered films of Eastwood's oeuvre. Cimino's screenplay elevated Jeff Bridges into a new level of stardom, made George Kennedy into a brutal but humanly flawed villain, and allowed Clint to break away from his monosyllabic characterizations, which even then were becoming fodder for humor, and show a little depth of emotion. His gruff nurturing and caring for Bridges character gave the film it's resonance - in the same way that Hawks brought about a new level of tenderness to Wayne's character toward Dean Martin in RIO BRAVO.

It was a big hit. And what does Hollywood do with a big hit? They throw more money at the creators hoping for an even bigger hit. And they got it when four years later Cimino came out with the DEER HUNTER (1978). This is the movie that gave Cimino carte blanche to do as he pleased. It's also the movie that he began losing me with. I've never really warmed up to this flick. From it's ersatz GODFATHER opening with the long, boring wedding sequence, to the almost instantaneous go to war and be captured by the Viet Cong sequence (worthy of some 1930's Warner quick cutting editorial). I found that outside of DeNiro's character, I didn't really care for anyone involved in this tragic rehashing of a turbulent time.
But what do I know? The suits of the time only knew that Cimino meant big box office so they gave him the moon. After two films? Who does business like this? I guess when the film executives were snorting as much cocaine as the filmmakers. But it's easier to denounce the person in charge than the people who put him in charge (Just ask our nation's bankers). And in the written pantheon of film history, that is exactly what happened.
When HEAVEN's GATE opened I hated it. For one very simple reason -- too damn long. That movie seriously needed a strong producer to shear an hour out of that running time, but they had already given away all of their power to a neophyte director. Call him pretentious? Hardly. Full of hubris? Precisely. If someone came to you with a boatload of money and said, "Go make a movie", you would be full of yourself also. That's the reason that Coppola wallowed in the jungle for a year and a half losing his mind while snorting cocaine. And what did he end up with? In my mind a piece of crap. Now that's a pretentious film. Except that it won awards and created notoriety and I guess, after cost overruns, broke even (Don't remember. No longer care....)
Everything that HEAVEN'S GATE did.......(except the win awards and break even part). So we are left with a flawed movie and an ostracized director. He would attempt a comeback five years later with a Mickey Rourke film. Five years later he would attempt another film starring the same Mr. Rourke. By then everyone stopped caring. We had moved on. So had Hollywood. That era of excess had moved on into an era of corporate calculations -- concerning the box office. If only Cimino had reached out to his former mentor, Mr. Eastwood, who had thrived heartedly in both the era of self-indulgence and the era of manufactured symmetry. Maybe he could have put his former shining star back on the right track. But more than likely, Cimino wouldn't had been interested. He only knew one way to create.

Re: Michael Cimino RIP

Posted: Mon Jul 04, 2016 11:01 pm
by Richard M Roberts
it is always pointless to try to excuse stupidity by saying "it was the times", stupidity is timeless.

There was a huge difference between Von Stroheim and Cimino, Von Stroheim had acres of talent, no control, but acres of talent.

Michael Cimino had no talent whatsoever, I saw THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT when it came out and though it had a quirk or two, it was also a very stupid movie.

THE DEERHUNTER was no better, and though APOCALYPSE NOW was also an overrated, overblown, self-indulgent work, there was much that was fine in the performances and good points to be made, many of them Conrad's, at least in the original version of the film, the "redux" editions have made it completely unwatchable(though I am no worshipper at Coppola's shrine either, I find the GODFATHER movies some of the most boring things ever put to film, there is nothing noble or romantic about the mafia, they are just thugs. The best films Coppola ever made are THE CONVERSATION, PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED, GARDENS OF STONE and TUCKER, and he made some gawdawful ones like RUMBLE FISH and DRACULA as well).

There is not a frame of film Michael Cimino ever shot that is worth preserving.