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Blue Collar (1978)

max from fearless · 1 · 833

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max from fearless

  • The Vision Quest
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on: September 14, 2014, 01:57:50 PM

First off. Blue Collar is a cool as hell, hang out movie. So much of this movie is men, hanging around drinking, talking, trying to get their opinions heard, trying to get their jokes heard, trying to get their thoughts straight, trying to figure out what there next move is, whether they in fact have a next move. I love that. It's great to see and feel my way through those feelings in a movie; wanting to be heard. Secondly, seeing the way people live and work, fuckin' great. Reminded me of Claire Denis. The way the movie's plot slyly weaves it's magic underneath all the jokes and random moments (like Pryor checking the girl in the union office, then seeing her after his meeting and seeing the back room and how that evolves....HELL, just how his anger is personified by the hole in his locker and how his outbursts lead to his downfall/promotion)

I loved spending time with Pryor's family, with Keitel and his wife and kids and Kotto and his many women and loanshark even. My heart was broken by the scene where Keitel see's the effect of not being able to get his daughter braces. I was cracking up too hard when Pryor's wife went to go and borrow her neighbours kid's to pretend they are there own to fool the government tax man.

This film was so human. I felt that Renoir quote coarsing through every single second of the picture "Everyone has their reasons." Even the duty manager who went round insulting every single worker (His insults killed me, the dude was cold as fuck, especially when he says: "Did you pick cotton that slow?" to an old black man) when we later see that he's lost his job in the bar, we feel for him, and later when we see one of the guys from the bar (this bar guy is also the bar guy from Taxi Driver trying to sell Travis the Erol Flynn bath tub fragment) doing his job, and we see how he's 'turned' it stings even more.

All the performances are incredible. Yaphet Kotto, Richard Pryor and Harvey Keitel all get great scenes. I think EVERY character gets a moment to shine. From the wives to the kids to the cop who comes in during the robbery. (His reaction to their disguises and then his scene in the hospital are great) No character is left behind in this movie. But it's the trio's chemistry which makes the thing soar, into film classic status.

It's their back and forth, naturalism (i'm a big pryor fan and could feel his improvs coming and it had me think on some shot selections fucking with the flow of certain scenes) which makes the genre turns look so effortless. It's like the movie kept goading me: Thought I was a kitchen sink Union drama? Thought I was a heist/crime movie? Thought I was a paranoid suspense thriller? Thought I was a man against the system movie? Well It was all of the above and more and effortlessly so, due to the characters and their journeys, and boy, what arcs they have!!!! The argument between Pryor and Keitel at the end is the stuff of great tragedies. There is self-betrayal. Loss. The desire for power. Trying to do the right thing. Blindness and their general lack of awareness (they fell into the very trap that Kotto explained, even though it was him who kind of initiated it when they had to split up) Trying to make something of yourself and just trying to feed your kids. But overall the death of a friendship. That scene is incredible (asides from the freeze frame, maybe? BTW, I hated the titles and freeze frames but it is paid off at the end)

Overall, this is an American classic. I get why it's overlooked (working class milieu, two black leads) but it is ALIVE in ways most movies could never dream, and this needs to be resurrected (at least give me a goddamned blu-ray???) it's relevant, now more than ever. It's about power, work, working people trying to keep their heads above water, race, friendship, corruption, crime and those choices that change our lives. It never feels heavy or preachy, it's unbelievably light, until it starts to turn and when it does, it doesn't pull it's punches. It goes straight for the gut. It also has a great sex/party scene sequence, where Pryor the motormouth interrupts Keitel from going down on a girl. I laughed and laughed. This movie has EVERYTHING and is so deceptively simple and yet so deliciously complex. I'm never sleeping on Schrader ever again (even if he has apparently disowned this movie) this is great storytelling and great filmmaking.