Filling the Voight Void: Coming Home

After adoring Midnight Cowboy, I realized I needed to fill more of the Voight void, never having seen Coming Home (written by Waldo Scott and Robert C. Jones). Waldo Scott, won the Oscar for best screenplay for this film, as well as for Midnight Cowboy. Robert C. Jones also wrote Bullworth, one of my favorite political films, as well as the classic, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Hal Ashby, director of Coming Home, is very close to my heart since it was his film Harold and Maude that ignited my love for film after seeing it on a lonely night, heart broken from my second soon to be ex-husband, shown on the big screen at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York.

An aside on Hal Ashby: researching his life just now, I had never realized how tragic it was; horrendous upbringing involving abuse and his father’s suicide, drug abuse, ending in liver and colon cancer. Sean Penn dedicated his first film to Ashby who he had never worked with, but by whom he was obviously influenced. I’ll be tweeting to Penn to do a biopic on Ashby as his life seems to be perfect for dramatization.

And speaking of dramatization, please indulge me in a quickie:

At rise: Roxanne, a film auteur, calls in the cast of The Party, which includes seven actors. The cast gathers in a fancy screening room.

Please guests, take any seats you’d like.

(All actors sit politely, mumbling under their breaths, ‘what is this all about?’)

Roxanne (continued)
Ok, well, what I’d like you to do is watch the following film. Take note that there are basically 6 characters, with essential focus on three.

(All actors look at one another, mentally counting themselves.)

Kristin Scott Thomas
Excuse me, what is the purpose of this?

Patricia Clarkson
Well, it’s a fantastic American film from the ’70’s!

Kristin Scott Thomas
Yes, but won’t it be terribly depressing, I mean Vietnam. Even you Americans are passed all that-

Timothy Spall
Yes, none of my American chaps ever discuss that, you’ve got enough problems with Post Iraq PTSD.

Bruno Ganz
And Jake Gyllenhall just did a movie about paralysis about a Boston Marathon fan.

Emily Mortimer
Yes, and this is going to cut into my prime whining time.

(Roxanne nods and smiles, and without replying, turns to shut the lights and start the movie. Grousing continues briefly, and Patricia Clarkson moves herself away from the Brits. All quiet down with the opening song by the Rolling Stones. Fast forward through film, Roxanne is upfront.)

Kristin Scott Thomas
Oh my, that film was gorgeous, the acting, the soundtrack, the emotional resonates.

Timothy Spall
The love story of Voight and Fonda had weight. The scene where he stops her jittery running about with his hand firmly on her waist-
Kristin Scott Thomas
And how vulnerable he was getting from wheelchair to bed when they finally make love-

Patricia Clarkson
Unlike our shallow piece of crap.

Bruno Ganz
Well, what if we add something, like a love scene between Timothy and Kristin and have him be withdrawn, Kristin clueless, since she’s absorbed in her affair.

Emily Mortimer
Yeh, and maybe you don’t even need me and my spouse, I mean it just muddies the water and I could easily go whine in my next film.

As you Brits might say, “By jove, that’s Brilliant!”

Midnight Cowboy: Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue,

My love for cinema didn’t really begin until 2006 after the breakup of what I thought was the love of my life. I’ll never forget the night my film love affair started at the Dryden Theater at the George Eastman House where I saw Harold and Maude for the first time. I was mesmerized by the black comedy and the beautiful Cat Stevens soundtrack. I was hooked.

In between then and now, I concentrated on both new and old films trying to play catch up. This is a long way around to say that I just had the chance to watch Midnight Cowboy from 1969. Wow! The movie truly is something old, something new (to me), something borrowed (library) and something blue (sad).

What amazed me were both the trivial and the profound:
Trivial first…I both forgot (Leona Hemsley) and didn’t realize (a scene from Midnight Cowboy shows a wealthy woman putting false eye lashes on her dog as well as designer clothing) that pet worship has been around for quite awhile. I witness this often in Sarasota (an observation not a judgment as noted widely as in this Wired article form 2015:

Profound: John Schlesinger competently moved from flashback to fantasy to reality scenes in a movie made before many high tech editing was available. Hence, why the film (and his direction) won Academy Awards.

More profound: Like my Taste of Honey review, though ten years later, Schlesinger bravely portrayed homosexuality, in America, this time. He also, like the British kitchen sink films, chose to highlight reality over Hollywood endings.

And if I had to choose a song to be looped in my head forever, Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me by Nilsson, which bookends the film, would always be a solid choice.

More trivial: Jon Voight’s perfect baby round face and his full lips are clear paternal lineage to Angleina Jolie’s beauty. Dustin Hoffman was brilliant as Ratzo and proves his acting chops started from the get go. Too bad he, as well a DeNiro, have let their careers slide into “Meet the Fockers Two” caliber flicks. Seeing Brenda Vaccaro as a young woman in a hot sex scene was a blast.

My favorite scenes show my Floridian bias: the fantasy scene where Ratzo dreams of making it big in Miami. His fantasy show how much he wanted simple recognition, not babes. The beach scece where Hoffman races Voight in a white suit is drop dead gorgeous. As my Dad warned me, the end scenes are heartbreaking, but poignant.

Truly a treasure to dig up at your local library if you’ve never seen Midnight Cowboy.