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Rumble Fish
If Rumble Fish, recently released by the Criterion Collection, seems notably contemporary on this front, as an early example of the best that an MTV aesthetic had to offer, it is also a film that oozes nostalgia. This duality is why the film and its characters seem out of time and out of place: nowhere specific but wholly distinct.
July 27, 2017
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Rusty-James may not be the brightest fellow, but he has a desire that is very direct and possibly universal: “I just want you to see me, man,” he says through his pain. Coppola’s achievement is in seeing him, and seeing himself, and seeing us, all operating, or at least trying to, in the wasteland.
April 25, 2017
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Beautifully shot in black and white—save for the Siamese fighting fish referred to in the title—RUMBLE FISH makes its fading, dusty industrial locale look both recognizable and unfamiliar. The film does not leave us with much substance to grasp, but that seems to be the point. By immersing the audience in rich visuals and music, RUMBLE FISH evokes a sense of timelessness and being lost, beckoning us to go deeper in.
July 19, 2013
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Maybe Rumble Fish never quite settled on an identity for itself, but it radiates conviction, like it wanted to take shape as exactly the feathered fish it is… The black-and-white photography betrays few of the harsh contrasts… that make Weimar films such visually, graphically, and emotionally tense affairs. I saw more of the mercurial, silver shimmer of Luchino Visconti, plus the jealousies, the clammy sibling bonds, and the Catholic fascination with blood and skin.
January 01, 2012
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It’s a weird movie and I only realize that now that I have seen it as an adult. It is truly bizarre. There is not a camera angle that Francis Ford Coppola does not enjoy, whether it is appropriate or not. It is the simplest of stories, yet the method of storytelling is overly complex and intricate, as though we are watching some abstract intellectual French drama or highly wrought German melodrama.
December 08, 2008
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Coppola’s best film, the most emotional, the most revolutionary and the most clearly in love with 1940’s movies. It has a mood from Camus and the French Existentialists, but it looks and feels like Welles and Cocteau. The Tolandesque fusion of Tulsaheat wave and the fever dreams of adolescence is a rhapsody to fraternity… It is deliberately an American art film—as full of the heart’s creaking sounds as Kane—and a legend of love, aspiration, and loss…
October 01, 1993
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Francis Ford Coppola has decided to be an expressionist, but the style of this 1983 film—which comes from Murnau by way of David Lynch and Eraserhead—is so overblown in relation to the trite romantic themes Coppola has to express that the project becomes ridiculous… The action is clotted and murky, and Coppola obviously hasn’t bothered to clarify it for the members of his cast, who wander through the film with expressions of winsome, honest befuddlement.
November 01, 1983
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The film seems shapeless, not because the script is shapeless but because Coppola has put such heavy visual emphasis on every sce that the dramatic structure simply vanishes. Similarly, the shallow characterizations do not arise only from the emotional clichés at the heart of the movie. A moment of development needs to be handled with less emphasis than a payoff scene and, by refusing to ease up, Coppola substitutes bad climaxes for what could have been good buildups.
October 21, 1983
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