Cutter's Way (Passer, 1981): BFI Southbank, NFT3 6.10pm & 8.45pm
Screening at BFI Southbank for an extended period from Friday June 24. Details here.
I was lucky to see this brilliant neo-noir classic last year at Tom Huddleston's much-missed Exploding Head Film Club. Here is Time out critic Huddleston's ecstatic review in the current issue:
'In Hollywood, decades aren’t so much periods of time as states of mind. So, just as early-’70s moviegoers might have been fooled into thinking it was still swinging 1967, cinema in the early ’80s was still suffused with the doubt and melancholy which had defined the preceding decade. One of the archetypal figures in that mood-shift was Jeff Bridges, his keen, frisky but oddly lonesome persona defined in new-Hollywood masterpieces like ‘The Last Picture Show’ and ‘Fat City’. By 1981, Bridges was showing signs of wear and tear, but this only enriched his performances: sadder even than a lonely teenager is a lonely thirtysomething who still tries to live like one.
‘Cutter’s Way’ feels like a farewell to the ’70s: to honest political activism, social responsibility, excessive but essentially good-natured drug and alcohol abuse, Vietnam, California and the young Bridges. His character, Richard Bone, clings to his fading prime the way his best friend and mentor, crippled war veteran Alex Cutter (John Heard) clings to his walking stick. Together, the two men attempt to solve a murder, but that’s window dressing: this is a tale of friendship, endurance and loss, and one of the saddest movies ever made. Everything in the film feels tuned to capturing this spirit: Czech director Ivan Passer’s use of late-summer light is rich and entrancing, while Bridges and Heard give their all: the latter delivers a performance of spectacular rage and intensity. The result is nothing less than a modern masterpiece, and a film ripe for rediscovery.'
Lisa Eichhorn has also been praised for her portrayal of Cutter's wife and you can here her and critic Nigel Floyd talk about the film here on Radio 4's The Film Programme on BBC iPlayer.
Guardian film writer John Patterson, who has seen it around 30 times, labelled the movie a "cinematic masterpiece" in his article here earlier this month. Do not miss.
Here are the wonderful opening credits.