John Schlesinger


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7.0 Midnight Cowboy (1969)
7.0 Sunday, Bloody Sunday (1971)
7.0 The Marathon Man (1976)
6.0 The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)
6.5 Believers (1987)
5.5 Eye for an Eye (1996)
6.0 The Next Big Thing (2000)
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If English is your first language and you could translate my old Italian text, please contact me. John Schlesinger (Britain, 1926) esordì nell'ambito del free-cinema con A Kind of Loving (1962). Il film narra il fidanzamento, il matrimonio e la crisi di una coppia di giovani piccolo borghesi in un paese di provincia. Billy Liar (1965), la commedia di Keith Waterhouse, è un altro ritratto di ambiente piccolo borghese provinciale, speranze, illusioni e realtà di un giovane sognatore. La solitudine e l'insoddisfazione emergono anche da Darling (1965), con Julie Christie borghese irrequieta e amorale, e sex symbol della swinging London. Il film, raccontato come un flashback ottenuto attraverso l'espediente di un documentario sulla vita della modella, sembra, in effetti, un documentario dell'epoca. A giant poster of a beautiful model is being glued to a billboard hiding the previous poster that had photos of starving Africans. The narrating voice is interviewing the model (basically a lengthy flashback). She begins by telling of her childhood. She was never content. As a young woman Diana, better known as Darling (Julie Christie), enters the business of television and is attracted to a married tv reporter, Robert (Dirk Bogarde), who discovered her when she was interviewed for a tv reportage on the British youth. In the meantime she is dating a "desperately immature" young man, Tony. Eventually she seduces the married man and they elope on a vacation together. Robert lies to his wife and she lies to Tony from a phone booth. Initially she is shocked by her own amorality. She spies Robert at home with his family through a spyglass. Robert works on a reportage, interviewing people in the street about what is wrong with Britain. She is still living with Robert when she meets Miles, a wealthy and influential owner of an agency who can help her to launch her career in cinema. Miles gets her the role of protagonist in a film, and she watches the premiere sitting next to Robert. When she gets pregnant, she realizes that a child would ruin her career. However, after her selfish abortion she is disgusted by life with Robert and by sex. In order to get a job in Paris, she accepts to sleep with Miles. She is digusted when he enters the bed where she is waiting for him. Then she goes back to Robert's flat, to whom she lies. He probably senses that she is lying, but gives her money nonetheless to buy what she needs for the trip. Miles takes her to the party thrown by a lesbian sculptor. The guests play a game in which they undress while dancing and throw their clothes in the air for others to pick them up. When the music stop, a guest has to impersonate the guest whose clothes she or he obtained. The first victim of the game is Darling, and she gets humiliated by a black man who depicts her as a prostitute willing to do anything for her career. Next it's her turn, and she has to depict Miles: she mocks Miles as a heartless and narcissistic pimp. Miles is turned on by her cruel performance. (Basically each is aware of the other's real motives and acknowledges her/his own). She lies to Robert the same way Robert lied to his wife: a fake phone call from a phone booth while she is next to her secret lover. When she returns to London, Robert finds her at an art gallery and calls her a whore. They fight in a shopping mall. She tries to defend herself, but he walks out of her life. Next she meets a gay photographer, Malcolm, hired by Miles to jump-start her career as a model. They have to travel together to the Italian countryside for a job. There she meets an old Italian prince who owns a huge villa. She enjoys the company of the gay Malcolm, finally a man who has no interest in her body. Malcolm's theory is that she still thinks of Robert. To test her, Robert tells her that he has seen Robert with a gorgeous young girl. She dreams of living in the quiet countryside with Malcolm. She tells him that she doesn't really like sex that much. It's Malcolm who has a date: one night he takes off with a (male) waiter. The following morning she calls him "traitor". Out of the blue, the old prince proposes to Darling. She has no hesitation: she is not interested in changing her life. Back in London, Miles and Darling throw a party at her flat. Robert shows up unexpectedly to try to repair their relationship, but hears that another man is in the flat with her, and leaves. Darling is disturbed. She insults Miles, who promises to destroy her career. After a mysterious phone call, she falls into a depression and is saved by a priest who helps her rediscover religion. But she has another ace in the sleeve: she accepts the prince's marriage proposal. The television makes a documentary of her new status as an Italian princess, princess Diana. Darling is sleeping with men who are higher and higher in society. She moves into the giant villa and immediately regrets it: the aristocratic life is boring and lonely, despite all the servants (and even grown-up stepchildren). She cries. She returns to Robert. Robert welcomes her at the airport and sleeps with her. She is happy. But Robert is simply getting his revenge: he coldly dumps her after they make love. She has no pride anymore: she cries the whole way to the airport. At the airport she is met by reporters who want to interview her and photographs who want to photograph her. Back in Italy, the newsstands are displaying magazines with her photo under the headline "the ideal woman"...

Midnight Cowboy (1969) spostò l'obiettivo sulla alienazione urbana: un vanesio texano (Hoffman) vaga per New York in cerca di fortuna in compagnia di un italiano zoppo; la metropoli stronca il suo entusiasmo e in breve lo riduce sul marciapiede, testimone e vittima di spettacoli sempre più degradanti.

Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) tocca il fondo del pessimismo di Schlesinger. Un medico omosessuale di mezza età ha una relazione con un giovane designer il quale a sua volta ha per amante una donna divorziata; il classico triangolo viene stravolto dalla cupa amara rappresentazione della solitudine e della nevrosi urbana.

The Day of the Locust (1974) narra l'amore fra una attrice e uno scenografo nel mondo disumano di Hollywood. La denuncia di una civiltà sbagliata, eretta da una umanità abbattuta, culmina nella rinuncia dell'uomo, una sorta di suicidio morale che lo libera.

The Marathon Man (1976) is a suspense-filled political semi-spy thriller. The plot is sometimes implausible (the dying man who crawls back to an apartment) and not completely rational (it is never clear what was the deal between the spies and the nazist).

In New York, "Babe" (Dustin Hoffman) is training for a marathon running along a lake. An old man can't start the car and is blocking the street. Another old man gets upset and starts yelling at him. He says something in Hebrew and the other one replies with antisemitic insults in German. The Jew starts bumping into the German's car, which finally restarts. The Jew keeps chasing the German until they get into a terrible accident. Both cars are set on fire and they both die. As the German is dying, he drops a safety-box key. The marathon man returns home and takes a bath. Meanwhile, in a Paris hotel room his brother "Doc" is having a cryptic telephone conversation. He then visits a shop, where he has a cryptic conversation with the owner, and is almost killed by a bomb, after a Chinese man has been following him. Doc meets his boss Peter Janeway at a cafe. Neither seems too shocked by the bomb. Doc then heads to the opera where the shopowner promised to deliver a package to him, but Doc finds him dead: someone slit his throat. Meanwhile, in New York, Babe is taking history lessons at the university and we learn that this has to do with this father, a man who was wrongfully accused of being a communist during the McCarthy era and committed suicide. In Paris, Doc has further scary encounters. The Chinese man tries to strangle him while he is watching a political demonstration from the window of his hotel (an old man sees the scene from across the street but can't help him). Doc then calmly calls a number and asks for the body to be disposed of. Doc is clearly a secret agent of some kind, and someone is trying to kill him. His boss Janeway explains that Szell's brother has been killed in a car accident in New York and we finally see the connection between the top stories: the old man was the brother of this Szell, and Doc is somehow after this Szell. Babe is studying at the library when a pretty girl shows up and triggers his curiosity. She leaves behind a book that conveniently has her name an address on it. Babe returns the book to her and, smitten, asks for a date. Soon, they become lovers. Now the film moves to South America, where we meet Szell (Laurence Olivier), a German nazist who has a picture of his dead brother on the desk. He shaves his head and then sets out for a trip. As Babe and Elsa are walking in the park, two men attack them and beat up Babe. Szell arrives at the airport and is welcomed by precisely those two men. During the night someone enters Babe's apartment and Babe fears another attack, but it's a bad joke by his brother Doc, who came to visit him. Doc has told Babe that he is an executive working for an oil corporation. Doc loves Babe but is distraught that Babe is working on a thesis that has to do with their father's tragedy, which Babe should forget about. Babe tells him of Elsa, and Doc invites them to dinner. During dinner Doc easily finds out that Elsa has lied about her identity. Elsa leaves humiliated. Babe is upset that Doc played a trick on his girlfriend and runs after her. Doc meets Szell and complains that they are involving his brother Babe. Somehow they work together. Szell claims it was just a warning. We learn that Szell is afraid that Doc would steal his fortune, kept in a bank. Szell then stabs Doc. Doc manages to crawl back to Babe's apartment but dies before he can say anything. The cops interrogate Babe as if he had committed a crime. Doc's boss Janeway reveals to Babe that his brother Doc was working as a spy for the government. Janeway really wants Babe to remember what Doc said before dying and Babe repeats in vain that Doc didn't say anything. During the night Szell's thugs kidnap Babe. He wakes up in a room, tied to a chair. Szell walks in and proceeds to torture him with dentist's tools. Szell is convinced that Babe knows something about his safety box, which Babe honestly doesn't know anything about. Finally, Doc's boss Janeway arrives, shoots the thugs and carries Babe out. Janeway again asks Babe what Doc told me, and now reveals that Doc was a courier carrying diamonds for Szell in a shady government operation that was paying Szell, a former Nazi, for turning up former Nazis around the world. Babe again repeats that Doc didn't tell him anything. Janeway drives him back to Szell's place, where Szell and his thugs are alive and well: Janeway only pretended to kill them, and in reality he is in cahoots with Szell. Szell proceeds to torture him again, but this time Babe manages to escape. He runs half-naked in the middle of the night through the streets of New York, chased by Janeway and the thugs. Babe gets into a taxi, paying the taxi driver with his expensive watch (which the taxi driver happily accepts, even if it's obviously a lot more than needed). Janeway is watching his apartment but Babe asks a gang to rob his apartment, and take whatever they want as long as they give him his clothes and his gun. Now wearing decent clothes, he asks Elsa for help. Elsa drives him to a remote cabin. Babe has finally realized that Elsa works for Szell and confronts her. Elsa confesses that the cabin is belonged to Szell's brother and that the thugs are on their way. Babe takes Elsa hostage and waits for Janeway and the thugs. Suddenly turned into an infallible shooter, Babe manages to kill Janeway and the two thugs, although Janeway kills Elsa (unnecessarily). At the same time Szell is walking in a street full of jewelry shops where he inquires about the value of diamonds, but he is recognized by survivors of the concentration camp. Szell doesn't hesitate to slit the throat of an old Jew who confronts him. Szell then runs away in a taxi and heads to the bank where the diamonds are kept. He fills an entire briefcase of diamonds and walks out, but Babe is there waiting for him. Babe forces him at gunpoint to walk to a water facility. Szell admits that it all happened because Szell was afraid of being robbed of the diamonds. Instead of just killing him, Babe tells Szell that he can keep the diamonds he can swallow. Szell swallows one but then refuses. Babe starts the entire briefcase full of diamonds in the water, driving Szell mad. Szell rolls down the staircase leading to the water and accidentally kills himself with his own knife. (Somehow Babe was willing to kill the thugs but not the mass murderer). Babe walks calmly out (apparently nobody has called the police) and throws the gun in the lake by the trail where he used to train for his marathon. Il film contrappone l'ambiente freddo e bestiale degli intrighi internazionali con la vita intima di un ragazzo come tanti, e i due mondi sono tenuti nettamente separati anche quando si intersecano dolorosamente.

Yankees intreccia tre storie d'amore nell'Inghilterra del 1943.

Crazy Runners (1983) è invece una farsa spensierata, al limite della satira di costume dell'America degli anni Ottanta: eccentrici e grotteschi turisti partiti da città diverse per andare in Florida finiscono tutti in un piccolo paese isolato, poiché i suoi abitanti, per vendicarsi di chi ha negato loro uno svincolo sulla freeway, hanno fatto saltare in aria un valico.

Englishman Abroad (1983)

The Falcon and the Snowman (1985) is a spy thriller with a moral lesson and polemic intents. It is a loose adaptation of a real criminal case. But the film gets so weak towards the end that the plot sounds implausible even if it is actually a real story.

The story is set in the 1970s and still images show famous events of the era, like the scandal "Watergate". Chris is a former altar boy and now a student to become priest in California but he decides to quit. His hobby is to train falcons. Meanwhile, Daulton is a drug dealer who imports drugs from Mexico to California. Daulton tries in vain to convince Chris, a childhood friend, to become his business partner. Both Chris and Daulton are privileged children of wealthy and respectable middle-class families. They are watching the vote to impeach president Richard Nixon live on television. Chris' father, a former FBI agent, finds him a job at the FBI handling top-secret documents. By accident, Chris reads a cable that the Australian CIA sends by mistake to his office, and learns that the CIA is plotting to overthrow the Australian government. At the same time the situation at home is tense: he has an argument with his traditionalist father and decides to move out. Chris gets angry at his government and decides to take his own revenge. He enrolls Daulton to sell top-secret documents to the Soviet embassy in Mexico. Daulton has no choice because it has been arrested for drugs and is about to be imprisoned. This is his chance to flee the country, get a new identity and start a new lucrative business. Daulton succeeds into sneaking into the embassy and impressing Soviet diplomat Alex with the information that Chris has provided. They work out a way to meet and exchange documents for money. Meanwhile, Chris falls in love with the beautiful and naive Lana. Daulton travels back and forth from and to Mexico. Back home, he is wanted by the FBI for the murder of a border guard. His parents know of his drug problem and try in vain to redeem him. Daulton in fact keeps smuggling drugs into the USA at the same time that he sells documents to the Soviet embassy in Mexico. His drug addiction is getting out of control and one night at a party Chris overhears Daulton boast about his spy activities to a girl. Chris decides that Daulton cannot be trusted anymore and sends a coded message to the Soviet agents asking to deal directly with him. He also makes sure that the Soviet agents will not trust Daulton anymore by sending them photographs of girls instead of documents. Daulton becomes neurotic and arrogant to the point that the Soviets almost kill him. He tries to impress his parents with plans to build a house for them in Costa Rica but they accidentally overhear him talking on the phone about a drug deal and get made at him. Daulton takes his little brother for a ride and runs s stop sign. A police car starts chasing him. Daulton drops off his brother and flees. Luckily for him the police car gets into an accident and he can escape. Chris has lost any trust in Daulton and flies to Mexico to meet the Soviets in person. The Soviets have realized that he sold them worthless material. Daulton is a pathetic psychological wreck Chris leaves Lana pretending he didn't love her anymore but in reality to shelter her from the police. He then quits his job after taking pictures of a top-secret project that is worthless because it has already been canceled but the Russians are willing to pay a lot for it. However, the Russians don't want to deal with Daulton anymore. Trying to break into the embassy, Daulton is arrested by the Mexican police which accuses him of killing a Mexican policeman. Daulton is initially protected by US diplomats but then abandoned because of his many lies and tortured by the Mexican police. When the Mexicans finally believe him, Daulton is dumped at the US border and captured by the US police. Meanwhile, Chris is trying to flee the country but he sees agents at the airport and realizes that the FBI always controlled him: there was a microphone into a falcon statuette that his boss sent him as a welcome gift. Chris takes his beloved falcon to a field and releases the bird. Then he calmly waits for the FBI to arrive and arrest him. He is interrogated and confesses committing treason and explains why: he felt betrayed by his country. He also points out that most of what he sold to the Soviets was worthless. The two friends are tried and sentenced to jail. The case is very publicized and ruins the reputation of their parents.

Believers (1987) is a mediocre supernatural horror, an adaptation of Nicholas Conde's novel "The Religion" (1982).

Cal is a psychiatrist happily married and with a little boy, Chris. One day his wife dies a horrible death, electrocuted by a coffee machine. While the titles roll, we see the scene of a ritual killing in Africa. Carl finds a job as a police psychologist, moves to a new house owned by a single woman, Jessica, and hires a Hispanic maid, Carmen. One day Chris is playing in the park when he stumbles on a disgusting ritual altar. The boy picks up an amulet that he believes to be a talisman. Cal's best friend Marty is a lawyer who is trying to convince him to file a lawsuit against the coffe machine manufacturer. Meanwhile, a mysterious and sinister African man arrives at the airport. He has the power to control the mind of the security officer who wants to check his suitcase. We see that his suitcase contains objects for voodooo rituals. We are introduced to Cal's uncle and aunt, a couple of wealthy anthropologists who traveled to Africa with Cal and his late wife. A detective, Sean, is summoned on the scene of a murder. One of his cops, a Hispanic cop, Tom, has been found delirious in a theater where a child has been horribly killed and dismembered. Tom rants about some evil people who have power and cannot be stopped, and feels that his own life is in danger. He is desperate and in pain. He pulls out a gun and tries to shoot himself. Sean summons Cal to examine the cop but can't get anything rational out of him, other than sheer terror. Later Tom escapes from the hospital. Cal and his landlady Jessica fall in love. The Hispanic maid Carmen steals Chris' amulet while he is sleeping. When he wakes up Chris is hysterical. He keeps looking for the amulet everywhere. He breaks a pot and Cal finds something inside: Carmen has been done a little magic to make him and Jessica fall in love. He and Jessica simply smile at it. Tom calls Cal: they found another child killed in a demonic ritual. Cal studies Santeria which seems to be a folk religion related to these rituals. He finds that Carmen has used Santeria objects to protect his own house and he gets mad at her. She is somehow convinced that Cal and Chris are in danger, presumably related to the amulet that she found on Chris. On his birthday Chris behaves like a maniac and almost kills himself running through traffic. We keep seeing the mysterious African man performing rituals at home. Tom calls Cal and asks to see him in a diner but, before Cal arrives, Tom is attacked by unbearable pain and kills himself. His last message for Cal is scribbled on the cover page of a magazine: ACHE. The cover has the picture of a tycoon, Calder, who is now the president of an organization called ACHE. Cal visits the director of the organization, Oscar, who explains that the organization carries out social work. Tom was a volunteer. Later we see that the African man is spying on Cal and Chris. Oscar invites Cal and Jessica to a fund-raising party where they are introduced to the charismatic Calder. Attending the party are the parents of the children who have been brutally killed. The African man is there. He follows Jessica in the bathroom and touches the face powder that Jessica uses. He then launches into a wild dance in front of everybody and lures Jessica into the dance. He then tries to snatch her necklace. Cal jumps and stops him. Oscar yells at the African man. Meanwhile, Carmen has been performing Santeria rituals on Chris in order to protect him from evil spirits. But Chris wakes up and screams just when Cal is coming home. Cal kicks Carmen out of the house. The African man gets hold of a business card of detective Sean and performs a ritual on him. Sean finds out that Calder too lost a son, who officially overdosed at the age of eight. Sean is alarmed and would like to close the investigation. Cal can't believe it, since the facts are becoming even more surreal. Sean shows him what terrified him: the autopsy on Tom's corpse reveals snakes in his belly. When Cal returns home, he finds Carmen performing a ritual on Chris, and angrily throws her out of the house, despite the fact that she assures him she is attempting to protect him. Cal decides to send Chris to uncle and aunt. Cal finds the amulet and, puzzled that Carmen would hide it, brings it to Oscar. Oscar is an expert in Santeria and explains that the amulet is not a Santeria object but instead an evil object: Carmen was indeed trying to protect Chris using Santeria against the evil spirit. Oscar now believes that the cult is planning a third sacrifice of a child for the summer solstice, which is four days away. Oscar performs a Santeria ritual to protect Chris. Jessica is falling ill with a red rash on her face but doesn't tell Cal. Sean calls Cal: the curse is taking hold and he is almost demented. Sean reveals that he found a buried file about Calder's son: Calder killed his own son. Cal leaves to reach his son. Sean kills himself. Jessica is also going down very rapidly: a scar appears on her cheek and spiders come out of it, running all over her face. Cal takes her to the hospital and then his friend Marty drives him to his parents' house. Marty is about to return home when he notices a suspicious car and hides to see what is happening. Cal doesn't know that his aunt left him a frantic message in which she sounded fearful. We see that the African man is with Chris and Calder is with the uncle. Upon arriving, Cal is drugged by his uncle, who starts talking about the voodoo ritual of sacrificing children in order to obtain superpowers. He tells him the story of the ritual in Africa in which they sacrificed their own sick child and another child was saved, the child who is now the African man, a man with supernatural powers. Calder appears and confirms that he sacrificed his own child to acquire the superpowers. While the cultists, led by the African, drive the drugged Cal to the place chosen for the sacrifice of his son Chris, his friend Marty follows the car. Cal tries to escape with Chris, but Chris is no longer in his bedroom and Cal is quickly captured, after stumbling into the dead body of his aunt (killed because she was trying to alert Cal). Cal pretends to go along with the ritual and is about to kill his son but then he stabs to death his uncle. Marty has entered the building and starts shooting at the cultists. Calder takes Chris hostage. The African man shoots Marty with a blowpipe dart but before dying Marty manages to blind the man. Cal chases Calder, kills him to rescues Chris. The blinded African is about to kill Cal when Chris tricks him into falling to his death. Cal and Chris escape alive. Weeks later, Jessica has fully recovered and is pregnant. Cal, Jessica and Chris have moved to the countryside. It sounds like the evil has been completely destroyed, but Cal finds a ritual shrine in the barn and Jessica candidly admits that she made it: she has been infected and presumably she's planning to sacrifice the child that she is bearing.

Madame Sousatzka (1988) celebra la pianista.

Madame Sousatzka (1988)

Pacific Heights (1990)

The Innocent (1993)

Cold Comfort Farm (1995)

Eye for an Eye (1996), adapted from Erika Holzer's novel, feels like a remix of Death Wish.

His last film was The Next Best Thing (2000). He died in 2003.

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