Obsession

I couldn’t see how the Broncos could win the Super Bowl with the Panthers playing so well. I went over to the office to finish some writing. One of the women told me how great the Harlem Globetrotters were at the Oracle Arena. I couldn’t believe that she had never heard of them before. I had to work hard because someone didn’t show up for work, and I was tired when I returned home. I urgently needed to do my laundry, however, so I went over to the laundromat to get that done. Instead of watching one of the DVDs I had borrowed from the library, I watched Brian De Palma’s “Obsession” on one of the movie channels. It had big names like Vilmos Zsigmond, Bernard Herrmann, and Paul Schrader, but it was derivative of Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” with a plot that was about a hundred times more unbelievable. De Palma would do the imitation with less effect again in “Blow Out.” He was never able to recapture the magic of the older movies. Instead of James Stewart and Kim Novak, we get in “Obsession” Cliff Robertson and Genevieve Bujold. While I like Cliff Robertson, he was never as good an actor as James Stewart. Robertson holds back too much, I think. Genevieve Bujold was one of the more interesting actresses in the movies at one time, but I couldn’t stand her fake Italian accent in this movie. I was skeptical at all of her reactions in her scenes in Italy with Robertson. I hadn’t realized that John Lithgow was in the cast. I couldn’t see why De Palma chose him, because his attempt to portray a New Orleans businessman wasn’t too convincing. I first came to know who Lithgow was from “The World According to Garp.” I really didn’t see Genevieve Bujold as some sort of alluring woman. De Palma and Zsigmond certainly didn’t photograph her that way. There is an incest theme that De Palma retreated from. It made “Chinatown” seem like a braver film. Paul Schrader apparently made the time period go on for longer, which I could not see as working in any way. As it is, the plot is too crazy. One part with a locked door and key seemed like it came from “Notorious.” There was a bit of “Dial M for Murder” in the last scene with Robertson and Lithgow. I guess back in 1975, it was still possible for a person to bring a gun right up to an airport gate. Brian De Palma is someone whose work I can’t quite like. His thinking just seems incomplete. I was rather glad to see an example of the late Vilmos Zsigmond’s work, but I kept thinking that he put in enough flashback ripples in the footage to make me seasick. I did like Bernard Herrmann’s music, although it didn’t make me forget “Vertigo.” Herrmann did get a posthumous Oscar nomination for his score for “Obsession.” It’s a story that was too much like its influence. I think that a movie is in trouble when the fake blood looks too fake. I thought about how TWA handed Bujold some stationery so that she could write a letter. I think I liked the De Palma of “The Untouchables,” rather than these films that seem like other films. “Obsession” makes 1976 seem like it was a very long time ago. On the Roger Ebert website, Peter Sobczynski ranked “Obsession” 21 out of 27 De Palma films. Ebert’s original review on August 27, 1976 gave the movie three stars. Brian De Palma is now 75 years old. I thought his directing career has been interesting, but probably didn’t reach the level it could have. He reminded me of Peter Bogdanovich with his tendency towards homage. Maybe he should have sought out original material rather than using classic movies as models. It seems that the real obsession in “Obsession” was Hitchcock’s “Vertigo.” The movie that came on after “Obsession” was “The Fan” with Lauren Bacall and Maureen Stapleton. It was released in 1981, a few months after the murder of John Lennon, so there was some controversy surrounding it. From the opening scene with the reading of that letter, I thought it was going to be a bad movie. The only reason to see it was to see what Lauren Bacall looked like at the time. She wasn’t too old, and she had life in her face and eyes, from what I saw. It wasn’t enough for me to turn off the television, though. I heard on the news that football fans were paying the highest ticket prices in the history of the Super Bowl this year. I would like to see who is paying $28,000 for a ticket. Joe Montana picked the Panthers. I don’t see the Broncos doing too well, unless their coaches are geniuses. The early morning was foggy, and I had a lot to do to prepare for my first class of the semester. I had waffles and tea and headed to the office. Two of the people who died on January 26 were Edward G. Robinson (1973) and Jose Ferrer (1992). Today is a birthday for Wayne Gretzky (55), Ellen DeGeneres (58), and Eddie Van Halen (61). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for January 26, Frank Sinatra performed in front of 175,000 fans in Rio de Janeiro in 1980. In 1987, Whitney Houston won five American Music Awards. Jean Knight turned 73, and Bob Uecker turned 82.

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