REVIEWS

The familiarity of Z, the banality of Bob & Carol & John & Mary

LARRY ZOLF March 1 1970
REVIEWS

The familiarity of Z, the banality of Bob & Carol & John & Mary

LARRY ZOLF March 1 1970

The familiarity of Z, the banality of Bob & Carol & John & Mary

REVIEWS

FILM

LARRY ZOLF

Z: It’s Greek for He Is Alive and it’s the title for one of the 10 best films on any list this year. Directed by Costa-Gavras and featuring Yves Montand, Irene Papas and Jean-Louis Trintignant, Z is multilevel excellence.

It is a fast-paced, relentless action thriller and a political allegory that both underlines and transcends the modern Greek tragedy of Junta fascism. As political satire, Z is the kind of film that only hurts you when you laugh.

Costa - Gavras deliberately based his film on actual Greek political events of the past five years — that is, on political assassination, wholesale corruption, police brutality and coup d’état. What unnerved me about Z was that the horrifying events it depicted all seemed so agonizingly familiar. The Salonika riot that killed Lambrakis (Yves Montand) looked very much like Chicago. As with John Kennedy, Lambrakis’s skull and brain are crushed but the valiant heart beats on for hours. Like the American democratic Left, Greek reformers argue endlessly about nonviolence and legalism versus direct action as the totali-

tarians briskly step in to fill the obvious political vacuum.

Costa-Gavras shares with Thucydides and the other ancient Greek historians the conviction that history teaches lessons. In Z he bears us this gift of historical insight’ (which we can only ignore at our peril) : if a junta can rule the home of Athenian Democracy today, perhaps a junta will rule the home of Jeffersonian Democracy tomorrow.

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice:

When Hollywood decides to devote its full arsenal of production-value shlockerai to bring to cinematic life a cheat-and-tell tale of two fatuous couples, full of sexual fury signifying nothing, it comes up with Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.

Obviously, somebody had fun making this Harold Robbins surviyor. It opens with Bob (Robert Culp) and wife Carol (Natalie Wood) on their way to a touch-and-seek group - therapy Esalen - type institute as the soundtrack resounds with excerpts from Handel’s Messiah.

It doses with Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice in bed together in a Las Vegas hotel room, except that Bob is with Alice (Dyan Cannon) and Carol is with Ted (Elliott Gould).

So much for the scenario. Thankfully, my own viewing was given some comedy relief by two women in the row behind me: “It makes a mockery of sex; it’s dreadful,” said one. “It’s one of the best movies of its kind,” said the other. “What beautiful figures they have,” said the first, as Natalie and Dyan undressed for the orgy. “I

hope he takes his beads off,” said the second as she watched hippie Bob disrobing. “That’s what I call togetherness,” they both shouted in unison as this silly little flick reached its pointless little conclusion.

John And Mary: This latest Peter Yates epic asks this engrossing, existential angst question: Can John (Dustin Hoffman) and Mary (Mia Farrow) live merrily ever after if John will not marry Mary? The answer, if you care, is yes.

The problem with John and Mary is that in this case the fruits of sin make for a rotten film. “Do you always jump into bed the first time you meet a guy?” asks John at one point. At another he issues these immortal declaratives: “If it’s going to be serious, it had better be right,” and, “Running away from each other won’t work any more.”

John And Mary is really no more than a New Morality update on the old soap opera. Manfully trying to provide some hipness, some sense of the au courant, Mortimer complicates his banal script by telling us that John’s mother was a Depressionstyle Old Leftie, forever picketing and marching for some worthy cause. Mary’s previous boyfriend is a lecherous, married, state senator of the New Left persuasion, forever mouthing clichés about the blacks, students and the war in Vietnam. Perhaps this film is really a subtle exercise in Marxian dialectics — son of Old Leftie falls in love with concubine of New Leftie as the audience loses nothing but the price of admission.^

RIDDLE OF THE MONTH

Together with actress Meg Hogarth, director Marigold Charlesworth has written ‘The Riddle,’ a play for The Young People’s Theatre, which opens at the Colonnade Saturday. Miss Charlesworth is ececzzz czzciyyc ooczzcczzc wyydoo W102-00 — 4301.

— Toronto Daily Star