In the late 1970s, when Hollywood was in the midst of one of the most devastating earthquakes since the collapse of the studio system (such as the creation of blockbuster fundamentalism), there was a widespread trend that seemed to fit the New World Order very hotly. There was the arrival of British movie directors who respected their craft in the rare world of English TV advertising (which, as we have always been told, had supreme techno-visual work compared to the American part).
At first there were two such replacements: Alan Parker and Ridley Scott. They were then joined by Scott’s younger brother Tony Scott (who managed his first major feature in 1983). All three became players in the industry and each developed his own style and brand and personality. Ridley Scott was an artist in this group, creating visionary sci-fi like “Alien” and “Blade Runner”. Tony Scott, of “top song” fame, was a smooth escapist wizard.
Alan Parker, who died this week at the age of 76, was tough to make pigeons. He shared with his British-advertiser brothers a number of defined visual features, such as the love of fog, scattered light, and artistically dry shaking. His films, like theirs, often had a handful of technical slick shine, a kind of beautiful-crafted-yet-untouched-not-human-hand quality. Yet as the years progressed, and the achievements began to wane, Parker was revealed not only as a filmmaker – his best – brilliant skill, but also as an eclecticist who could spread the idea.
In a career that spanned more than 30 years, he managed only 14 features. But do they ever jig and wake up in terms of subject, tone and point of view! Her first film, “Bugsy Malone” (1976), was a high-kits gangster musical, a child actress ring in the adult character, then a serious surprise with a young American trapped in a Turkish prison on “Midnight Express” (1978). Wrote plays of life that cover the emotions of culture-war that seem hot with this day. He then created “Fame” (1970), a teen-the-key-to-fine-arts-finishing-school-soap opera that fell in love with “creativity”, despite being the only nominal one. He then broke into his courage to create “Shoot the Moon” (1982), a divorce drama so raw and real that it is apt to be compared to “Kramer vs. Kramer” and “A Wedding Scene”.
He then created a Grand Dystopian rock opera (“Pink Floyd: The Wall”), an offbeat art drama about a man who thinks he’s a birdie (“birdie”), setting a pretty stylish private-eye noir in a world. We could actually be hell (“Angel Heart”), a message from the Deep South about toxic racism in the historical message film (“Mississippi Burning”), an Irish roots-rock-feeling-good indie (“Promises”), a fantasmagorial joke About the colonially stable inventor of the Flux (“The Road to Wellville”) and the screen adaptation made between the decades of “Evita”
With a few exceptions, just thinking about the roster of that film made me want to see most of them again (nothing in the world made me want to see “Evita” again)) I can’t pretend that many of them were my favorites yet an Alan Parker film Had its own main way of spreading. The experience of watching the movie “Midnight Express” that came out of the Oliver Stone screenplay drew me to him first (Stone won an Oscar for it, which put him on the path to his career) as a filmmaker) and with the greatest excitement as Parker’s prestigious Hollywood prison and escape story. Staged, only with exciting political fervor.
Parker had commercial gifts to finalize things. A few years later, he made his greatest film, “Shoot the Moon,” and it couldn’t be more uncompromising. Drawing on his own experience of divorce (and Bo Goldman’s layered screenplay), he directed Diane Keaton and Albert Finney as a couple in the midst of a split, a kind of tender but rugged performance that felt torn from life. To this day, the film touches the nerves about the consequences of a marriage that has never really reached a film.
“Shoot the Moon” was a work of art and after establishing himself as a philosophical filmmaker, Parker made his most arrest work in the 1970s. “Birdie”, taken from William Wharton’s novel, is a really strange group, but a part of the beautiful direction of rebellious triviality. And “Angel Heart” remains my favorite Parker film after “Shoot the Moon.” It’s a testament to the tempting nature of his talent, as great as Mickey Rourke’s, it’s all about direction – the durable environment of ambiguity, the innovative use of ceiling fans and lifts. Become a detective in the dream of a deliberate flower-evil fever, as the film turns out to be.
Yet from that point of view, I parted ways with Parker. “Mississippi Burning” has played an important part in American history – the massacre of three civil rights activists in Mississippi in 19464 – and turned it into a fantasy of demonic revenge; I was shocked then that Parker thought it was a righteous thing to do and still it gives me space. (It’s like the dark side of pure liberal message-encouragement)) And I’m going to pay tribute to the fact that “commitment” to many is love, it’s a film I like more than the truth. A fictional music that awakens itself in the curious Barom’s “reality”, I think it’s very flashy and flashy by half (and also the Irish rockers ’love of the idea of singing American black music as something naturally cool).
In the 90s, Parker’s career faded fairly quickly. He did his best with “Avita” and “Angela Ashes” but both did better in their original forms (stage music and reminiscence) and have not directed any more films since 2003’s “The Life of David Gaul”. Who knows, really why managers lose their mojo? This is an impossible job. Yet when I come back to Alan Parker with thrilling skills, mesmerizing visual polish, and – yes – an undeniable humanity, there is no doubt about it. And that would be the best lasting of this movie.