Saturday, July 26, 2008

LAMB Monthly Movie Review: The Conversation

I almost didn't participate in this review cause I was originally gonna get it through Netflix, but I closed my Netflix down to save some money for my move next month. But the other day I was cleaning my desk out (at home, I didn't get fired) and found a free Non-New Release rental for Blockbuster. I went "Alrighty, I shall use this."

So off I went and lo and behold, there it was, sitting all perty on a shelf. I grabbed it and came home.

So "13 Conversations About One Thing" stars Matthew McConaughey as...

Wait. This don't sound right.

Oopsy. Got the wrong movie. Isn't my face red?


Ok I'm back! They let me exchange movies. Woo Blockbuster!

OK! For reals now. "The Conversation" stars Gene Hackman, and as MST3K tells us, he's good in anything. The film opens up on a town square in San Fransico one sunny day and we focus on Shields from Shields and Narnell annoying random people. Eventually Gene Hackman shows up and punches the shit out of Shields. Ok, not really, just something I wanted to see.

Anyway, Hackman plays Harry Cauls, a private surveillance expert. He's like a boring spy: he tracks people but there's no shooting guys with metal teeth involved. He and his team are tracking a couple that's roaming around this square. Harry's taping every word they say, and this is the titular Conversation. We don't hear a lot of it cause why ruin the surprise up front?

Harry takes the tapes to his studio and mixes it like he's Timbaland and eventually discovers that the guy in the couple mentions a date, a hotel, and a time. And that "he would kill us if he had the chance". So Harry gets concerned about this and decides to stick his nose into it.

There's actually a good reason for this. While Harry is at some convention for other "surveillance" guys, he runs into one of his competitors, some big mouth asshole named Moran at the convention. Harry invites Moran and a few others to his office for after-con drinks. There, Moran tells everybody how Harry back in New York tapped some dudes and as a result of the conversation one of the dude's and his family got murdered. Harry felt guilty and left NYC and came to San Fran.

So Harry doesn't want a repeat of that again. He refuses to give the tapes he recorded to anybody but "The Director", the guy that hired Harry. Harry thinks that these two people are gonna be murdered and he doesn't want more blood on his hands. The Director isn't nowhere to be found, but his assistant, played by a super young Harrison Ford, is more than happy to take the tapes. Harry isn't happy with that and he leaves with them.

After having sex with one of Moran's models, Harry finds the tapes are gone. Later, he gets a call saying that The Assistant got the tapes. Who took them? Moran's Bimbo? The Assistant himself? We never really find out.

Harry then meets with the Director, who's played by Robert Duvall. Harry picks up his fee and leaves, but still a nervous wreck. He's convinced that the Director is gonna kill the couple he had followed, whom Harry discovered that the female is the Director's wife! Uh-oh!

So Harry goes to the hotel where the murder is probably gonna happen and manages to get a room next to the one the couple said. He uses all of his tricks to eavesdrop into the room next door. He eventually hears an argument, and when he goes outside to the balcony, he sees a bloody hand grabbing at the glass divider between them.

Harry freaks out and just lays in bed for hours, while The Flintstones is playing. It looked like a pretty early episode, cause it had Fred waiting for Wilma to give birth to Pebbles. Unless they did a flashback episode, I'm not sure. I guess I'm gonna have to get the DVD sets to find out...

Oh right, this movie. Sorry.

Harry breaks into the murder room and doesn't find anything out of the ordinary. Did he dream the whole thing? Was it really even happening? Why is Harry so attached to the room's toilet? Did he have Taco Bell?

Well, no, but what he finds inside the toilet looks like someone did eat Taco Bell for a week. He finds it full of blood and cause he flushed it, it starts to overflow. This confused me, was the body stuffed down the toilet? That'd be impressive if so.

So now Harry is flipping out and wants to confront The Director, but his goons won't let him past the front door. He eventually finds the female of the couple sitting in a car and after reading a headline about some rich executive dying in a car crash, Harry pieces it all together.

I shouldn't have to say SPOILER ALERT cause the only people that are probably reading this are the other LAMBS, but you never know. SPOILER ALERT!

Turns out the couple was gonna murder The Director! Harry then realizes that when the dude said "he'd murder us if he had the chance" he meant it like "if we don't murder him first, he'd murder us" you know?

For some reason, Harry seems ok with this and tries to go on with his life, which is pretty boring. He lives in a low-key apartment, he use to get it on with Teri Garr, but cause the age difference was a bit creepy they stopped, and he plays the saxophone.

Also Harry is super ultra paranoid and doesn't like his privacy being invaded, so he flips out whenever anyone asks him a lot of questions or if he's being tape recorded. And we find out he's religious when you say "Jesus" or "Christs sake" in front of him he yells at you. I just mention all this cause of character development.

Anyway, Harry is jamming on his sax when his phone rings. Nothing happens, so Harry goes back, but it rings again. This time, The Assistant is on the line saying he knows Harry knows what happens and to be careful, cause they're listening, then he plays back a small snippet of Harry jamming on his sax.

Like I said, he's paranoid, so he starts trashing his apartment, looking for the bug. At the end of the movie, his apartment is in shambles, there's no furniture in sight, and Harry is all by himself on a pile of wood, playing his sax.

DUDE! It's in the sax!!! COME ON!!!

I hate to say this cause it makes me sound pompus but anybody use to today's dramas and thrillers will probably hate this movie cause it moves at a snail's pace and really not a whole lot happens. But I think it's pretty interesting and liked the way it looked and filmed. And Hackman was brilliant as usual.

This was written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and was made in between "The Godfather" and "The Godfather Part 2". So the entire movie I'm waiting for Harry to eat an orange or something. But no, didn't happen.

If you like slow stylized thrillers, this is for you. If you're into the ADD riddled fast edit cuts and shaky-cam films, you should probably avoid this film. And like I said Harry is the boring type of spy, he doesn't really get to kick a lot of ass in this movie, but he does get a lot of pussy. How interesting.


Check out the other LAMB reviews of this movie!


Fletch said...

I think I can groove to either the ADD cuts or the slower films, but yeah, the snail's pace is what killed me here. I too really liked the look of it and the general plot/character, but it felt like it was 4 hours long. Not good.

The first 5 minutes were brilliant.

Love your Flintstone tangent. And I didn't get the bloody toilet, either. I figure it was still part of Harry being paranoid/crazy.

Dead Pan said...

I am in agreeance with Fletch...I think the bloody toilet, the killing of the director and everything all happen to be part of his imagination still, they might be real, but in essence it is only what he thinks has happened. This is why the last time we hear the sentence some words are more emphasized because the whole film is about how he is perceiving things, not what is actually happening.