THE TENANT (1976)

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Christopher

This was my second time seeing this and I have to say that watching it a second time, after watching Repulsion for the first time, I was not as into this film as I once was. I think this film is great but when you compare it to Repulsion or Rosemary’s Baby, this one stands out as the weakest one in my opinion.

That being said I think this film has a ton of great moments to it. This movie does mess with your mind and I love that about it. There’s this fantastic scene where Polanski walks from one end of the room to the other but as he crosses the room everything starts getting bigger so by the time he’s on the other side he looks like some kind of weird child. I think the other solid moment of the film is the climax, I won’t spoil anything but I think Polanski does a perfect job at making scenes feel extremely surreal.

Check this out for sure but make sure you watch Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby as well!

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

I definitely have mixed feelings about The Tenant. It had some really great images and moments but overall kind of fell flat to me.

It’s about Trelkovsky (Roman Polanski) who rents an apartment in Paris (which was confusing because a good number of the actors, like Shelley Winters, are Americans with American accents, and a lot of the side characters are obviously dubbed in English by Americans). Everyone in the building, from the landlord to the tenants, are insane about how the apartment building is kept and how quiet everyone needs to be. They’re always on Trelkovsky’s case, even though he’s very quiet. Trelkovsky finds out that the former tenant, Simone, tried to kill herself by jumping out of her window and he meets her friend Stella (Isabelle Adjani) when he visits her in the hospital. Things get weirder as time passes: everyone in Trelkovsky’s building seems to get crazier, Trelkovsky finds a tooth in a hole in the wall, and he can see his neighbors across the street standing totally still for hours. Around this time is when the movie started to lose me.

At one point, Trelkovsky finds one of Simone’s dresses in the apartment. I jokingly predicted that Trelkovsky was eventually going to wear the dress, but it turns out that that’s exactly what happened. Trelkovsky buys a wig and shoes and dresses up like Simone, complete with makeup, and sits in his apartment. Up to this point, we’ve pretty much seen everything from Trelkovsky’s perspective. But then it gets more disjointed; we start to see what’s really happening and what Trelkovsky thinks is happening, which increasingly become different things. He sees the landlord and other tenants as being more evil than they are and has crazy visions. At one point he realizes he’s missing a tooth and finds it in the wall (presumably put there by himself). He starts to believe his neighbors are trying to turn him into Simone, and eventually he too jumps out the window in a failed attempt at suicide.

My main issue is why did Trelkovsky go crazy. Was he like that from the beginning and it just unraveled? Was there something maybe supernatural about the apartment? Was he driven crazy by his neighbors? It’s never made clear, and maybe it doesn’t matter but it certainly mattered to me. It was really distracting and eventually made me not care about following Trelkovsky because after a certain point it was clear he was insane and was going to jump out of the window like Simone, but without context as to why it was happening I just sort of lost interest.

The Tenant has some great moments, like Trelkovsky envisioning his entire neighborhood outside and cheering for him when he decides to jump out of the window. And the tooth thing was super creepy and really perfect. But I think The Tenant lacks a bit in the storytelling department, which is surprising considering this came after both Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby. Not Polanski’s best movie, but worth seeing.

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ROCKY (1976)

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Elizabeth

Serious question: why the hell is Raging Bull more renowned than Rocky? I know that it’s not like people don’t love Rocky, because they do. But for example, on AFI’s top 100 movie list, Raging Bull is number 4 while Rocky is number 57. After seeing both of them now, this really just makes no sense to me.

So, to be honest, I wasn’t really expecting to enjoy Rocky all that much. I really didn’t think Raging Bull was enjoyable, and I was expecting the same from Rocky: that it would be about this big brute of a guy who beat men up for a living and treated women badly. Rocky is not at all like that.

Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) really is incredibly interesting. I don’t think I’m being easy on the character just because this is a sports or boxing movie. From early on in the movie, we see that while Rocky is tough, by roughing up a guy for money he owes to the mob, he’s also empathetic and sensitive, because the mob guy wanted Rocky to break the guy’s thumb, but Rocky didn’t because he knew an injury like that would get the guy laid off (and, logically, wouldn’t help because then he’d never have the money). He cares for and talks to his animals, two turtles (named Cuff and Link ADORABLY) and fish and it’s also worth mentioning that he has a poster of puppies in his apartment. He has a nervous crush on Adrian (Talia Shire), the mousy girl who works at the pet shop he frequents. He’s a sweet guy who, despite being a boxer and looking like Sylvester Stallone, thinks he’s a loser who probably won’t get anywhere. You don’t really see the arrogance in him that shows up in other athletes on film. This is probably the most clear when, as Rocky’s big fight against Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) is coming up, he tells Adrian that he really doesn’t expect to beat Apollo, despite all of his training, but he just wants to make it through all of the fight’s rounds. I just don’t think this is a trait that comes up very often in sports movies: the underdog doesn’t think he’s going to win because that’s unrealistic, but he wants to make his opponent really fight for the win. And then I was very surprised when Rocky didn’t win the fight, which makes Rocky’s lack of arrogance all the more endearing because he was just being realistic. But the end scene is just so great, with the fight over and Rocky calling for Adrian and Adrian running into the ring and they declare their love for one another . . . Rocky didn’t win the fight, but he won at LOVE!!!!

But yes, Rocky is really, truly great. Rocky is complex, Adrian is complex, their relationship is realistic and sweet, and Rocky is a character that you really want to root for because he really is a good guy. There’s also a pretty amazing part when Adrian brings Rocky a big ole dog from her pet shop for him to run with, and Rocky is so happy and sweet towards this really cute dog that it’s just too much.

AWESOME.

Christopher

This is really what a movie should be. Great fights, a good love story, and beautiful cinematography. And the coolest thing about this movie to me is the fact that Sylvester Stallone wrote it. This film really is a great American movie. Of course Rocky is a real great example of success but watching this movie again reminded me a lot of when I was boxing. I mean I never became great at it, I never got below 200 to fight in a tournament (I was at 204 at the best), and I broke my nose in my first fight. But there is something so fantastic about trying to do something that you want to do and accomplishing it. Granted it’s easy to relate that feeling to this movie cause it’s literally the same topic but this movie has such a good message without being cheesy.

THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE (1976)

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Elizabeth (spoilers!)

So, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane is pretty weird, but not really in the way I expected. If you read the description on Netflix or the taglines of the poster, you know the gist is that Rynn (Jodie Foster) is a 13 year old girl who lives alone and has something up with her cellar. So, I was expecting the whole movie to pretty much be about Rynn being crazy and either keeping her parents locked up in the cellar or just killing people and keeping the bodies in the cellar, with the climax of the movie discovering exactly what was going on down there. But that’s really not what the movie is about.

From the first scene of the movie, it’s clear that the main conflict isn’t that Rynn is crazy/possibly a killer, it’s that she lives alone and is getting stalked by a super creep pedophile, Frank (Martin Sheen). I wasn’t really expecting that. Frank is the son of Mrs. Hallet (Alexis Smith), who owns the house that Rynn, and presumably her father, are renting. So in the small town that they live in, everyone apparently knows that Mrs. Hallet is awful but she’s too rich for anyone to do anything, and subsequently everyone knows that Frank is a pedophile but the cops can’t do anything because of his rich mother. So Mrs. Hallet sucks and constantly barges in on Rynn’s house (although to be fair, Rynn never seems to keep the door locked until the end of the movie for some reason) and is suspicious that Rynn’s father isn’t actually there. Rynn also desperately tries to keep Mrs. Hallet out of the cellar, but once Mrs. Hallet finally breaks through and gets down there, she screams and on her way back up from the cellar, the door hits her on the head, pushing her down the stairs and killing her. While trying to figure out how to get rid of Mrs. Hallet’s car, Rynn meets Mario (Scott Jacoby, who I thought looked distractingly like Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig). Once they meet, the plot takes another unexpected turn. Rynn tells Mario everything: what happened to her father (he died of an illness), what happened to her mother (Rynn unknowingly poisoned her per her father’s instructions), what happened to Mrs. Hallet, and what she’s done with all the bodies (in the cellar, obviously). So Mario helps her bury the bodies and now that we all know that Rynn isn’t totally crazy, and we know what’s happened to all the missing characters, the movie then becomes about A.) Rynn and Mario falling in love, B.) Mario helping Rynn keep everything a secret, C.) Rynn trying not to get raped/possibly murdered by Frank.

It’s WEIRD. It works, though. Like with Spring Breakers, this is another rare case where I’ve found that the movie is nothing like what I thought it would be, but it ends up being a good thing.

Also, just be warned that’s there’s a scene of animal abuse that I thought was really disturbing and sort of messed me up. So just be aware of that . . .

Christopher

I was expecting to have to trudge through this movie. But this movie ended up being pretty weird in a great way. There was some pedophilia stuff in it but nothing too crazy and the pedophile was Martin Sheen so it wasn’t that uncomfortable since I like him. Also, there is a scene where the 13 year old Jodie Foster gets naked but Elizabeth looked it up and it was a body double, luckily. So those are the weird things about the movie but the cool things are that Jodie Foster plays a 13 year old girl that drives this movie with her superb acting. The story is basically a what’s real, what’s not kind of thing and Foster plays her part with such a straight face so convincingly, you can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next. I mean for the most part the story is basically straight forward but the journey to get there is bizarre.

This is on Netflix and I highly recommend you watch it!

THE OMEN (1976)

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Elizabeth

God, it’s not even worth trying to figure out what installment The Omen is in our ongoing Kids Ruin Everything series, but this is probably at the top of the list of being the most explicit in that message.

I hadn’t seen The Omen in a long time, and watching it again reminded me a lot of Rosemary’s Baby, a favorite of mine, in the way it deals with women and children. Both movies have men take over life-altering decisions in terms of their children, without ever informing their wives/mother of the child, both with pretty catastrophic results. Plus, they both have the devil.

I guess the most telling is when Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck, looking good but being kind of a dick) believes his wife, Katherine (Lee Remick) is going crazy . . . because she’s completely figured out the fact that their son is not actually her’s and is probably evil/the devil? It doesn’t occur to anyone that Katherine’s not crazy and just smart. But whatever.

I guess this is one of the few movies where you want the child to die at the end. That alone makes it interesting enough to watch.

Christopher

It’s just like when I saw Rosemary’s Baby, HOW HAVE I NOT SEEN THIS MOVIE. I’ve been on a big horror movie kick recently, mostly without Elizabeth, but when we decide to watch horror movies together they generally are actually good, and The Omen was fantastic. I’m really excited to see the others; I’m sure they’re not that good but seeing the story of this demon child evolve sounds interesting.

CARRIE (1976)

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Elizabeth

Carrie is obviously pretty freaky, but any time I watch it I’m just reminded of how much of a tragedy it is. It opens with Carrie (Sissy Spacek) getting her period for the first time in the school locker room shower without knowing what a period is, and instead of being at all sympathetic, the girls in her class throw pads and tampons at her while yelling, “Plug it up!” I don’t think you have to be female to find that horrifying.

When I was younger and before I ever saw the movie, the cover of Carrie scared the hell out of me. And while obviously the whole pig-blood-prom-fire scene is the most famous and pretty memorable, I think it makes Carrie look too much like a bad guy. Okay, yeah, Carrie killed her classmates, including people who tried to help her. But she was bullied to an unbelievable degree, and her mom was a psychotic Christian. Can you blame her? Okay, I’m not saying there’s an excuse for school violence. But tormenting a girl with telekinesis does not bode well for you, which is a lesson everyone should take away from Carrie.

But in all seriousness, I think there is a lesson to take away from Carrie, which is that no matter what you think you know about someone, you might not really know what’s up with them. And don’t douse them in pig’s blood during their one moment of happiness, either.

Christopher

I was not expecting to love this movie but it was great!! I had no idea how sad and crazy this film was and that John Travolta was in it.

It was a pretty predictable movie, mostly because how famous it is, but at no point was I bored or uninterested. I felt like this film was a lot like Rosemary’s Baby in the way that it turned out to be pretty great instead of just a cheesy horror film.