29 Housekeeping

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Lost Highway
Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:41 am
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Re: Housekeeping (Bill Forsyth, 1987)

#26 Post by Lost Highway » Fri May 18, 2018 12:32 pm

swo17 wrote:
Lost Highway wrote:Is it wrong to say that this doesn’t feel like a movie made by a man ? It’s just that i can’t say that about many films written and directed by men. There are many films by men with great understanding of their female protagonists, but the three female characters here are so subtly rendered here.
Well it was co-written by a woman.
It was adapted by Bill Forsyth from a novel by Marylinne Robinson. They didn't co-write the screenplay.

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swo17
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Re: Housekeeping (Bill Forsyth, 1987)

#27 Post by swo17 » Fri May 18, 2018 12:38 pm

Ah, I was going off IMDb's main page for the film.

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Lost Highway
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Re: Housekeeping (Bill Forsyth, 1987)

#28 Post by Lost Highway » Fri May 18, 2018 12:40 pm

swo17 wrote:Ah, I was going off IMDb's main page for the film.
Its a great adaptation and there is no doubt that many of the virtues of the film are largely down to the novel. I loved Forsyth‘s previous films but they all had male protagonists, so the way he deals with female characters here was something new.

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Roscoe
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Re: Housekeeping (Bill Forsyth, 1987)

#29 Post by Roscoe » Fri May 18, 2018 1:51 pm

Agreed -- HOUSEKEEPING is one of the most absurdly overlooked films ever made.

beamish14
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Re: Housekeeping (Bill Forsyth, 1987)

#30 Post by beamish14 » Fri May 18, 2018 4:13 pm

One of the most resplendent and richly rewarding films to have been produced by Hollywood in the last 50 years. It doesn't offer any simple solutions or have any moral platitudes. It's not surprising that Columbia was utterly clueless as to how to market it (they tried pushing it as a goofy comedy of all things, as evidenced by the terrible North American poster and trailer), and it was shamefully neglected by many critics. Sometimes you watch a film where every single element is completely aligned: the casting of the untested child leads and Christine Lahti, the perfect direction, and its magnificent rhythm.

Housekeeping was also part of a slew of films that really took advantage of British Columbia's scenery during this period, which also includes The Grey Fox, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains and My American Cousin.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Housekeeping (Bill Forsyth, 1987)

#31 Post by hearthesilence » Tue May 22, 2018 4:04 pm

I already posted quite a bit about this elsewhere on this forum - I wish I could revisit it now but my copy's still out on loan to a friend who's never seen it.

I first heard about this through Jonathan Rosenbaum - he gave a glowing review when it first came out (putting it at #3 on his top ten list of films that made it to Chicago in 1988) and then included it in his "alternative 100" list in response to the myopic 'Top 100 American Films' list from the AFI (protesting what the AFI seemed to define as a 'worthy' film - for example, no documentaries and no experimental films, but also a marked prejudice against indie films, B-films and even major studio films that didn't make a lot of money or Oscars). I didn't see it until 2009 when Film Forum screened a brand-new 35mm print, with Forsyth giving a long talk and even Peter Reigert from Local Hero sitting in the audience to both watch the film and listen afterwards. I eventually purchased the iTunes HD download but despite striking a new print, Sony never did anything else with it except release a MOD. Thankfully Indicator came along and I highly recommend their re-issue to anyone who likes this film - the bonuses are exemplary and certainly put the company on the map for collectors and cinephiles.

I knew the film came at a time when a new regime at Columbia notoriously sabotaged some exceptional films green-lit by the previous regime, doing everything from striking fewer prints to doing either a poor job or very little in terms of marketing. (Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen was the worst casualty, as Gilliam even compromised on the cut believing Columbia wouldn't properly distribute the film if he didn't - he was wrong.) As I learned from the extras, the head of Columbia who green-lit these wonderful films was none other than David Puttnam, Forsyth's producer on Local Hero (which was released several years before Puttnam ran Columbia). I imagine his presence protected Housekeeping when it was shot and completed, but he left the studio two months before it hit theaters, and one has to wonder if that had an impact on how it was distributed.

It was also startling to hear that Diane Keaton was originally attached as the lead, and given her clout she was pushing for a romantic interest in the film. Amusingly, Forsyth seems to suggest that Sam Shepherd was pushed as that romantic interest - eventually Keaton left the film to do Baby Boom which (in terms of money) was a much more commercial and high-profile production than Housekeeping and sure enough Sam Shepherd was her love interest in that film. Her departure nearly killed the film but when Lahti signed on, it was revived - for a smaller budget perhaps, but it's clear that Forsyth is much more comfortable with smaller budgets. He's been upfront that his later, more expensive Being Human felt wasteful compared to the leaner (and presumably more efficient and less bureaucratic) films he made before.

Coming a few years after her wonderful performance in Swing Shift (which should now be recognized as a masterpiece - it's finally been 'restored' if you know what I mean), she really establishes herself as one of the great American film actors of the '80s. While she did find television fame later on, winning Emmy's for Chicago Hope, part of what made her so effective in these films is that she didn't have a star persona - unlike Keaton who is clearly DIANE KEATON in everything she's chosen to do, Lahti disappears more into a character and feels much more organic to her surroundings. Granted she plays an eccentric here, but the dynamic would be very different if it was a star persona adored by the moviegoing public being dropped into a ordinary, conventional town.

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Lost Highway
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Re: 29 Housekeeping

#32 Post by Lost Highway » Mon May 28, 2018 7:45 am

I think Keaton would have been good in the role but it’s disappointing to read that leading ladies of that era insisted on romantic leads or on foregrounding romance.

Wasn’t it Goldie Hawn’s insistence on emphasizing her romance with Kurt Russell which basically ruined, or at least severely damaged Swing Shift ? And ironically Christine Lahti was the victim of Hawn’s demands, seeing her role reduced.

beamish14
Joined: Fri May 18, 2018 3:07 pm

Re: 29 Housekeeping

#33 Post by beamish14 » Mon May 28, 2018 7:49 pm

Lost Highway wrote:
Mon May 28, 2018 7:45 am
I think Keaton would have been good in the role but it’s disappointing to read that leading ladies of that era insisted on romantic leads or on foregrounding romance.

Wasn’t it Goldie Hawn’s insistence on emphasizing her romance with Kurt Russell which basically ruined, or at least severely damaged Swing Shift ? And ironically Christine Lahti was the victim of Hawn’s demands, seeing her role reduced.
Hawn believed that Demme had made the film more of an ensemble piece, and in the process, significantly weakened the potency of her own work. Ironically, Lahti STILL got an Oscar nomination, but I think Hawn would've as well if she'd had the sense to leave it alone.

As an aside, it's interesting to note that both Peter Riegert and Christine Lahti both got Oscar nominations for short films they directed, and Lahti took home the award for hers. Lath's was made by the great Chanticleer Films, a production company known for producing live action shorts, which produced an astonishing number of Oscar nominees during its relatively short existence.

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