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I Like to Watch (Instantly): The Landlord

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Portrait of the artist as a young real estate investor
Portrait of the artist as a young real estate investor

The Landlord (1970)

Directed by Hal Ashby

Cast: Beau Bridges, Lee Grant, Diana Sands, Pearl Bailey, Walter Brooke, Louis Gossett Jr., Susan Anspach, Robert Klein, Trish Van Devere, Hector Elizondo

Oscar-winning editor Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude) cut his teeth as a director on this exuberant satire set in a pre-gentrification Park Slope, Brooklyn that no longer exists. By turns whimsical, dark, slapstick and surreal, The Landlord is both a hopelessly dated artifact of its times and a total dead-ringer for the kind of relentlessly quirky films guys like Wes Anderson have been passing off as original work. The script by Bill Gunn (writer-director of the cult classic black vampire film Ganja & Hess) drips with juicy irony as mop-topped Beau Bridges buys a slum tenement building as an act of rebellion against his upper-crust family and (wouldn’t ya know it?) finds himself drawn into far more intimate relationships with his tenants than originally planned. Lee Grant is a standout as Beau’s waspy mother (in an Oscar-nominated performance), but this is a true ensemble piece with great character work throughout. Netflix copy is a nice widescreen transfer, but not HD.


The Landlord

Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude) directed this controversial 1970 comedy about a rich 29-year-old (Beau Bridges) who "runs away" from home and buys a tenement building in a Brooklyn ghetto. Initially, he plans to evict all the residents, but soon becomes fascinated with the area's African-American residents. Double-featured with Shampoo. 112 minutes R. (Opens Tuesday 8/18)

 

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