Friday, March 4, 2016
Saturday Night Fever
You can tell by the way I use my keys, I'm a nitpicky person, no time to talk. So.... this is the second time I've seen this movie, and I still don't get why it was Gene Siskel's favorite film. Everyone in the film is just so incredibly hateful. The cinematography is rarely good (it's best at while shooting dancing scenes, but then it decides to flip around so you can't actually see the dancing, just the shoulders). The sound editing is terrible - the music blares at you like a very disco-oriented foghorn, while the dialogue was apparently recorded three blocks away with a mini-mike inside a coffee can. I also have to wonder just what the hell it was with John Travolta's early career and him sexually assaulting girls in the backseats of junky cars. Did directors really think we wanted to watch John Travolta try to rape a girl in full color two times? It's even weirder than Tom Hanks's thing of peeing scenes, though thankfully Travolta has stopped doing the sexual assault scenes, and Hanks has not stopped doing the peeing scenes. Ah well. On the the actual movie, which is probably the most depressing movie to ever have a wide level of cultural osmosis. Watch John Travolta strut down the street to "Staying Alive"! Watch every conceivable character in film and television do so as well! Watch him stuff his face with pizza and chew with his mouth open, then sexually harass a few women! Watch them leave that little part out in parodies... So the basic story is that he's Tony, the all-around family loser and disappointment, soaked to the bone in what social justice types call "toxic masculinity" (drinking, fighting, chasing women, harassing women, bragging about how much sex he gets...), working a dead-end job, hanging around with even bigger losers, and the only thing he's good at is dancing. He's really good at that. And I will not knock him for that - he is an amazing dancer. It would be a lot more fun to watch him if the camera didn't think I wanted to see what a split kick looked like from a crotch-eye view, but there are a good number of scenes where the camera actually pans back and lets him dance. He realizes how lousy and unfulfilling his life is when he meets a social climbing dancer, who he blows off his former dance partner for. There's a side plot about how big a jackass he is by ignoring his friend who is desperate about his pregnant girlfriend, and another side plot about him treating the girl who likes him like garbage, and his brother dropping out of the priesthood, and him getting jealous when his dance partner, who has made it abundantly clear she does not want to be in a relationship with him, does anything with another man. And one of his friends is jumped by a Hispanic gang, so the little knot of Italian knuckleheads go and bust their heads, and then find out maybe they got the wrong guys. And then Tony realizes how false and hollow his life is when a Hispanic couple outdances him and yet only win 2nd place. This movie just strikes me as a total mess. I can see why it's "historically significant", because it did heavily affect the trend of disco in the country. It affected fashion, dance styles, music, and made Travolta into a superstar. But I am just not seeing where all this "deep, affecting drama" is coming from. I'm just seeing a bunch of foul-mouthed jackasses make even bigger jackasses of themselves, interspersed with some often weirdly shot dance numbers. If I'm going to watch a dance movie, I think I'll stick with Astaire or Kelly. At least the characters in those movies are likable, while I found myself wanting to hit every character in Saturday Night Fever with a hammer.