Monday, February 16, 2009

"Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" (1974) - Movie Classics

“Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” is a Scorsese’s speech of love. But the love is not the selling point out there. There is no selling point of emotions in films of Scorsese except for its reality. What an eye for simple beauty in reality does this man has. And how does he extract the best out of the actors and some how in the interviews they speak about the film, there is an essence of jubilation and an experience they would never forget even in their pinnacle of many successes. This is Ellen Burstyn and Kris Kristofferson in an atypical Hollywood persona interview who has something to say about the film in the special features.

Taking the heat and survival of the life, Alice (Ellen Burstyn) is left with her son Tommy (Alfred Lutter). They are stranded in the town of Sorocco in New Mexico after her husband Donald (Billy Green Bush) dies in an accident. Alice wanted to be a singer but was happy or thought she was happy in a rugged care of Donald. He was grumpy, angry and treated what Alice wanted her to be, crappy and dominant. He comes home and while Alice begs some attention from the man she goes down under the ground to please, he ignores her. But she cries and wonders the open ended road she has to travel along with a son to support after Donald is gone. She is cheery, smart mouthed and ditto for her son. Both form a pair and head towards the west. She wants to pursue her singing and makes stops in cities for a temporary work to get them where they want to. The place is called Monterey, California where Alice in her teenage had the best time of her life singing and hoping for stardom and ambition.

The first stop they make is the city of Phoenix. Sun seem to reside personally for every one and Alice goes hunting for a job with a bored son in the motel. She is thirty five and works very hard to hide herself in make up and polished skin to pass for an under thirty singing talent. She lands in a job after some tears and a song to her would be employer Jacobs (Murray Moston). As the job starts to settle and routine becomes routine and when the men passes around, there comes the young Ben (Harvey Keitel). Charming and smooth. He fights hard with fencing words and getting jabbed but sure he reaches to Alice and to us. Little do we know about what would end up as the scariest thing ever.

The beautiful thing about the film is how Alice and her son converse. Whether Tommy speaks more adult or Alice behaves more childish is a tough thing to decide. Tommy is an amplified male young version of Alice and adds the classy annoying character of being a kid. He pesters the living daylights of Alice but a sweetness and sarcasm which Alice is a little proud about makes them live with the happiness they earn everyday. Alice promises him a school at Monterey and a great life out there.

When the consequences of choices make them flee to the town of Tucson, Alice has come to settle for something. She becomes a waitress in crazy breakfast place. She hates the place and she despises her fellow waitress Flo (Diane Ladd). But they get along fine in series of strange circumstances. There is a man with a beard and manliness sweating through begins to woo Alice. That is David (Kris Kristofferson). He knows the right way to approach Alice and that is through Tommy. Alice loses grip in a nice way about the dream of Monterey and begins to fall for this man.

If all those sounds like I have given the story, it is not that. It rarely does matter. It is about Alice wondering what is to be independent. She wants to be held but wants to stand up when she wants. She needs an ambition she has forgotten but respect the social and personal need for a companion. Does not everything align up? That is the life we have to compromise and deal for.

Of course Scorses brings his unique piece of flavour. The actors in his film wants to be that character even if the person is the worst personality ever. Such is the passion he generates that their becoming of the people is a willing process they learn to behave as their role. And in between those people the director creates the simple love, adorable affection and scary fury.

So many lovely scenes and an ending happening in the middle of the cafe crowded with regulars appearing none cinematic, sappy or melodramatic at all. He even invites an applause when the couple kiss without a blink of snatch away from the reality he thrives upon. How romantic they fall in love and charm each other. This is spectacular and funny in the role of Alice making merry with the little day she gets with her son.

Seeing a presentation from 1974 and a romance which one would love to see again and again, what happened to those cadre in coming days. It is like giving up on this genre and if that is sad, the worst part is the audience coming to settle for it. They laugh at the pathetic act of the stereotype and say that is what we watch a film for. It is unsettling. You do not need to be an avid art lover but a simple acknowledger of the honesty.

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