Monday, April 17, 2017

Equus

Year 9, Day 107 - 4/17/17 - Movie #2,601

BEFORE: I hit another century mark. so that means that the year's 1/3 over already.  I still haven't made much of a dent into reducing the watchlist, it's all I can do to keep it from growing larger.  But at least I've hit a sort of equilibrium, where I'm not making progress, but I'm not backsliding either.

But I've circled back to Richard Burton - and while it's tempting to knock off the rest of the Burton films on my list, I'm heading in a different direction tomorrow, because I've got a schedule to keep, and a chain that looks like it's going to land me on the film "Mother's Day" at just the right time.  Plus it will allow me to both link to "Logan" and to go see "Guardians of the Galaxy 2" the week after it opens.  And I think with a little more coaxing, and the addition of an Academy screener or two, I can extend my chain all the way to the end of May. 

Peter Firth carries over from "Risen", and I'll go in a non-Richard Burton direction tomorrow.

THE PLOT: A psychiatrist attempts to uncover a troubled stable boy's disturbing obsession with horses.

AFTER: Peter Firth seems to be one of those actors who's managed to stay under my radar, because my first response before this week was, "Umm, wait, who?  Is he Colin Firth's brother or something?"  But no, he starred in "Joseph Andrews" way back in the day, and then had bit parts in "The Hunt for Red October" and "Pearl Harbor" years later.  Seems like he kept busy in-between, but I almost didn't make the connection between this one and "Risen" because he's a young man in one, and quite older in the other.  He's been around - fortunately the search function on my IMDB account alerted me that he was in two films on my watchlist, otherwise I never would have spotted it.  "Risen" seemed like a dead-end for so long, at least until I decided to grab most of that Richard Burton marathon from TCM.

I'm aware of the stage-play of "Equus", especially since they revived it a couple years ago with Daniel Radcliffe, but I've avoided learning anything about the plot.  Which was a good move, because the film seems to have just one piece of information to divulge, and it makes sure to take all 137 minutes of its running time delaying its reveal.  Yeah, I get that this troubled teen blinded 6 horses, but the main (and only) question would seem to be "But WHY?"  Gotta be careful, don't want to tip your hand too soon, and all that.

But I sometimes see bits of a film before I'm scheduled to watch it, because I usually burn it to a DVD, and I have to check the recording - so when I saw in advance that the young man had an experience when he was a boy, riding on a horse with a big burly man, naturally I assumed it was a gay thing, that that was the teen's big secret.  Which made some sense, 1977 was a different time, and one might imagine that his parents might be reluctant to talk about their son's sexual preference, or to even feel ashamed, as that was sort of normal at that time.

But it's so more complicated than that, with his mother's religion factoring in, and his father's attitude toward sex - when the truth about Alan's nighttime activities is finally revealed, one imagines his parents thinking, "Couldn't he just have been gay?" Because the truth is quite a bit more weird.  Still, the mentions of religion and the Christ imagery did make this sort of the perfect post-Easter film.  But it's a long way to go for a little bit of payoff.

I found I couldn't really make the mental leap from the teen's situation, and the imagery involved, to the apply the same metaphors to the psychiatrist, as if he was somehow a service animal, such as a horse, subject to the bit and chained to his job.  Umm, he's a doctor, with a high-up job in a hospital, it's hard for me to feel sorry for him.  He's probably well-off, and if he can't take the hours or he's sick of his job, then maybe he should retire.  Or did I miss the point of the symbolism somehow?

Also starring Richard Burton (last seen in "The Robe"), Colin Blakely, Joan Plowright (last seen in "The Scarlet Letter"), Eileen Atkins (last seen in "Magic in the Moonlight"), Harry Andrews (last seen in "The Agony and the Ecstasy"), Jenny Agutter (last seen in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier"), Kate Reid (last seen in "This Property Is Condemned").

RATING: 4 out of 10 commercial jingles

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