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1. Barry Lyndon (1975, Stanley Kubrick)
2. The Conformist (1970, Bernardo Bertolucci)
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1965, Stanley Kubrick)
4. Raging Bull (1980, Martin Scorsese)
5. Badlands (1973, Terrence Malick)
6. Manhattan (1978, Woody Allen)
7. Nashville (1975, Robert Altman)
8. Contempt (1963, Jean-Luc Godard)
9. 400 Blows (1959, Francois Truffaut)
10. Annie Hall (1976, Woody Allen)
11. The Deer Hunter (1978, Michael Cimino)
12. Amadeus (1984, Milos Forman)
13. American Grafitti (1973, George Lucas)
14. Boogie Nights (1997, Paul Thomas Anderson)
15. Do The Right Thing (1989, Spike Lee)
16. Heat (1995, Michael Mann)
17. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972, Werner Herzog)
18. Apocalypse Now (1978, Francis Ford Coppola)
19. Mulholland Drive (2001, David Lynch)
20. Fitzcarraldo (1984, Werner Herzog)
21. Fanny and Alexander (1982, Ingmar Bergman)
22. Crimes and Misdemeanours (1989, Woody Allen)
23. Hannah and her Sisters (1986, Woody Allen)
24. The Thin Red Line (1998, Terrence Malick)
25. Magnolia (1999, Paul Thomas Anderson)
26. The Apartment (1960, Billy Wilder)
27. The Conversation (1974, Francis Ford Coppola)
28. Taxi Driver (1976, Martin Scorsese)
29. Being There (1979, Hal Ashby)
30. Chinatown (1974, Roman Polanski)
31. This is Spinal Tap (1984, Rob Reiner)
32. La Dolce Vita (1960, Federico Fellini)
33. Cool Hand Luke (1967, Stuart Rosenberg)
34. The Leopard (1963, Luschino Visconti)
35. North by Northwest (1959, Alfred Hitchcock)
36. Paths of Glory (1957, Stanley Kubrick)
37. The Last Picture Show (1975, Peter Bogdanovic)
38. One flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975, Milos Forman)
39. The Man Who Would Be King (1975, John Huston)
40. Once Upon a Time in the West (1969, Sergio Leone)
41. Cinema Paradiso (1989, Giusseppe Tournatoro)
42. Lost Highway (1997, David Lynch)
43. Once Upon at Time in America (1984, Sergio Leone)
44. Wild Strawberries (1957, Ingmar Bergman)
45. Jackie Brown (1997, Quentin Tarantino)
46. City Lights (1931, Charlie Chaplin)
47. Mean Streets (1973, Martin Scorsese)
48. The Godfather (1972, Francis Ford Coppola)
49. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001, Wes Anderson)
50. Gallipoli (1984, Peter Weir)
MOST OVERRATED FILMS EVER
The Big Lebowski
Kill Bill vol 1 + 2
The Usual Suspects
El sistema (2008)
There are other ways of helping people other than microcredit
El Sistema is a film of great emotion and pathos. It depicts how Jose Antonia Abreu took a love for music with his desire to help ordinary children find a way out of the trappings of Venezuela's pitfalls of dire poverty. His project started in 1975. Three decades later his movement has bloomed into a full-fledged public works program that several around the world now want to copy and implement.
Its obviously a greatly complex film. However, its beauty in showing the emotions of the various children who now have found a way out of the violence and the generally awful accoutrements of poverty. There is a genuine desire to help people from the founders of the project, to change society in a way that is creative, open and diverse.
The paternalistic figure of Abreu along with his chief composer intermittedly commentate on their motivations to drive their movement forward. "Music" says Abreu "is the best way to express the deep feelings of humankind". His emotions seem sincere, he invested almost a third of his life and now 265,000 children have a hope that no one thought possible before.
As a student of development economics. It is refreshing to see a more bold and more inventive approach to helping the poorest out of poverty. An approach that is not driven by economic growth or creating wealth but just giving children the opportunity to express themselves and show a more dynamic side of human nature.
Maybe the film is on balance an appraisal of "El Sistema" rather than an analysis of its entire function it definitely captures the positive spirit of Venezuela and its people.
The Getaway (1972)
This film was written for Steve McQueen, not the other way around
Before "Oceans Eleven", before "The Bank Job", before "Carlito's Way", there was this film. I am a sucker for 1970s movies because I love the imagery of that decade and this film does not disappoint.
The plot is nothing new; McQueen gets out of jail and needs to another Bank heist as payment for his freedom. As you might expect not all goes to plan. Soon our heroes are cris-crossing Texas, trying to avoid several corrupt Texans, the police and a psychotic criminal.
The casting, naturally, is spot on. A great pack of villains, attractive and racy leads, and several realistic side characters that compliment McQueen and McCraw perfectly.
This is my first Peckinpah venture. He really was a directorial talent who fit the zeitgeist of the 60s and 70s very well with his penchant for sexual interplay and violence. His grasp of colour and capturing the right image is amongst the best of any era. The pacing of the film is varied, but always keeps us surprised with numerous twists and turns along the way.
Its an essential gangster film. It doesn't try to be anything more, but its great entertainment and it retains a gritty realism that rises it above its competitors.
Slightly overromantic portrayal of global capital
Globalization is a polarizing topic. This documentary was made at a time obviously before the obvious nadir for free market economics of this year, 2008. With the fall of Lehmann Brothers, Bear Stearns, Chrysler, GM and the precarious situation of many other large conglomerates the hypotheses have been discredited slightly that have been presented here.
A new era is dawning as I write this. The cycles that have been depicted here in Part 1 are continuous and the "Austrian School" cycle is in its last days, in my humble opinion. This documentary shows, truthfully, how Keynesian economics was discredited and replaced in the Western Economies after the turbulent decade of the 1970s. What isn't mentioned is that several other western powers did not embrace the market-solutions of the USA and UK. France, Germany, Scandinavia and Japan all continued to follow certain Keynesian parameters. The miracles of Hayek-style solutions is portrayed with little counterbalancing examples of its negative sides.
PBS has really tried hard to give an extensive depiction of the development of globalization since the war. There was much here that I did not know before. The many interviews with Sachs, Clinton, Cheney, de Soto and numerous Heads of State or former Heads of State from Asia and Europe. However, the skew in favour of the process of globalisation is all too evident. Few dissenting opinions are detailed or extensively dealt with. The usual arguments of pulling several people out of poverty, and the industrialisation of the developing world are constantly reiterated to imply, cleverly, that globalisation is an irreversible and beneficial process to everyone. However, I am well versed in this topic, and my reading does not extend to Naomi Klein and Michael Moore, but the problems and difficulties that accompany globalisation are not really even hinted at in this documentary.
What this film shows is a good start. A good basis for knowledge for beginners about globalisation. However, my advise is get out and read, get out and discover. There are many issues left untouched in this documentary. It is amazingly interesting to look back at this film after the failures of the Bush administration and watch Richard Cheney say that few people have been harmed in the process of globalisation. We all know now that Cheney is not exactly someone who really has altruistic instincts as his core beliefs.
I'm giving this documentary 7 out of 10 because its technical quality and depth with the amount of information and many interviews. However, its rightward tilt slightly unnerved me. Yet it does deliver a rational argument, despite being incomplete, about the whole discussion that does dominate a lot of contemporary political debate. So watch it and start reading.
The Mayfair Set (1999)
It will make you furious what the market is doing
At the end of this film I was of bemusement at the unreported and almost unseen approach that capital and capital markets have taken since 1945 to gradually take control of the political systems of the USA and the United Kingdom. Curtis outlines several key points and analyses at great length various events and personalities.
These so called market movers were all members of the Clermont Club in Mayfair, London. What at first seemed to be an audacious and unrealistic strategy to take control of the market economy turned into something almost unstoppable, destructive, cruel and completely bereft of feeling or scruple.
What is so shocking is that the corruption and immorality did not start as commonly assumed in the 1980's with the ascent of Reagan and Thatcher to power but with the beginning of the global economy in the late 1950s. There is much material shown here that should be much more discussed and explained because it depicts aptly how moribund and fragile the economies of the developed world have become. How they are built up on tenuous and shallow assumptions that market cycles are no longer applicable. The greed and deception of the business elite reaches far further and far wider than beyond anyone's common knowledge or understanding of politics.
Watch this. Be informed. Be scared.
Les choses de la vie (1970)
So tragic, so brilliant, so French
This film opens with the car crash of the main character. He is not dead. The rest of the movie then slowly unravels; we hear his thoughts on love, his wife, society and his life in general.
As it slowly progresses, with a series of flashbacks we see how the last few days of the main protagonist's life have changed his whole existence. Piccoli perfectly captures the sadness and prevents needless sentimentality as he inexorably and gradually descends towards death. He is going through problems with his wife, played by the wonderful Romy Schneider, we see how he feels compromised in his modern lifestyle, and how he feels for his relationship with his son. Sautet places each scene with great skill to create an atmosphere of unavoidable tragedy, of longing and regret. Sautet stays away from cliché and prefers to show each scene in slow-motion without great effects, just to frame the emotion of the moment. The acting is spot on, never overplayed, also understated, and always poignant and effective. This film is Gallic passion at its most powerful.
What is the most important thing in life? What choices are the right ones? Is everything just pointless? What really matters? Sautet made me think long after this film as to what we think about when our life flashes before us. And believe me, you'll be feeling a little emotional yourself when the credits roll up.
A lesser version of Il Gattopardo?
When the end credits rolled up all I could think of was Visconti trying to recreate the emotion and beauty of the last shot of his best film "The Leopard". You see Lancaster, sad and disconsolate - yet this time it didn't make me feel all that bothered.
Lancaster plays here a very similar role; a sophisticated, old-fashioned and ageing Professor. He lives in great luxury in an exquisite villa in Rome. Everything seems perfect and serene until he is coaxed into renting an apartment to a decadent family.
They behave terribly. They destroy a noble and humble abode into something crass and awfully tasteless. Yet, that is no surprise; the family comprises a sexually promiscuous daughter and her boyfriend, and a older woman who panders to a toy-boy played by Berger. They swear, play loud music, have no apparent sense of decency or morality. There is obviously a clash of belief systems here. Lancaster, an intellectual, well-educated and dour old man is confronted by the amoral youth of the 60s and 70s.
I would normally love films like this. The 60s and 70s are periods that fascinate me greatly. I love Visconti as well, but somehow I get the feeling he was drying up creatively as I viewed this. The script is so heavy-handed sometimes, just the constant cliché that Berger plays is so drawn out and predictable - the angry Communist who just hates life and society, then the older gentleman with good manners who cannot comprehend the change around him and really does not want to understand it and finally the airy, vacuous daughter who seems completely bereft of depth or emotional sincerity. It all seems a little rushed and lacking in subtlety and the very theatrical performances from the mother and the daughter do not help whatsoever.
Visconti was nearing the end of his life when he made this film, and in a way it shows - in two ways. Firstly, it seems that his zest was depleted, the screenplay and whole film are lacking in coherence and a clear structure, and secondly it appears that he was now a filmmaker in a period, a society, a culture that he did not like or comprehend. The decadence, the flamboyance and the hedonism of that time seemed to be overwhelming him; and in a sense like the framework of this film, he saw everything crumbling around him. For this alone, I could say at least watch it for the pretty pictures and a brief insight into the mind of a director who just felt lost and confused - with this film, society and with life itself.
Goya's Ghosts (2006)
Being a big fan of Forman I was obviously hoping that this film would keep me entertained and interested for its entire duration. It did, to a fair extent. Yet, what it lacked was any punch. No real statement or continuity came forth by the time the credits rolled up.
The film's premise of an exploration of Spain before its invasion and subsequent religious reversals and recantions is just lacking completely in continuity. No character is really explored deeply, Forman changes focus far too often. Take the sudden jump of 15 years midway through the film. Most characters are done away with completely and all others are beyond recognition except the main protagonist, the painter Goya. Even he is not really that interesting. He paints paintings. For different people. Natalie Portman's character serves as obvious pathos at the beginning, then her character turns into a demented and ruined savage. Forman never allows any identification, or any centre of interest establish itself. One moment the film seems to be dealing with religious fanaticism, other times with hypocrisy and social upheaval, other times with war.
The film is simply too disjointed, the characters mostly dull and the plot far too linear for this to be ranked amongst Forman's masterpieces. It spends too much time weaving around aimlessly with any apparent focus or goal. It seems Forman wanted to portray a period different any specific purpose or moral lesson - which is what he has achieved although really the cultural observations are equally diluted. Overall, a boring and plain film lacking intent or artistic endeavour, it is like Goya himself - nondescript and a little on the plain side.
Le mépris (1963)
Godard hits the mark
Everyone knows JLG is a great talent. He has been important for cinema. However, after watching an interview with Godard's cinematographer Raoul Coutard it would be best to describe JLG's films as such 'Jean Luc has made many boring films, very long films, but what makes them worthwhile is his talent to create a moment that is pure artistry that you can never forget despite the rest of his nonsense'. Amen.
JLG has made many films that show much congenial and ingenious creativity, yet then pale away into repetitive, biting, boring and arrogant monologues and conversations. 'Weekend' appalled me for its persistent use of Brechtian devices, and its complete deconstruction of narrative - interesting at first, just plain stupid and irritating after 2 hours of nothing but the same point reiterated. 'Vivre Sa Vie' was exactly the same, parts of pure brilliance outweighed by far too many meaningless and pretentious sequences trying to come across as deep political statements. Sometimes I thought the only person who enjoyed JLG's films was Godard himself. Then I watched 'Le Mepris'.
At first I had heard a lot of criticism about this film. Many dubbed it the same old Godard rubbish, boring, slow, without any real purpose. I stumbled across a trailer in an art cinema in London and without further adue immediately bought a copy.
The story is not that complex. A marriage in slow, yet inexorable dissolution. Yet this time it worked for me. JLG symbolism of the Greek antiquity, Brigitte Bardot looking magnificent, Georges Delerue's haunting score, the beautiful Mediterranean backdrop. It all came together. Yes, its slow. Yes, its full of long conversations. Yes, its not easy to understand. However, this time I can forgive JLG because the beauty of the pictures, the creative sparks that flourish throughout this film made it all worthwhile. There are many layers of meaning; love, marriage, compromise, existence, honesty. Its what I was always waiting for when seeing other Godardian films. Has he ever made a better film? I sincerely doubt it. Though I'm sure many other film directors will produce something ever as strong as this. Its one thing to have talent, but its another thing to utilise it. One needs attitude, application, common sense and above all modesty - something that Godard's other films definitely lacked.
Its depressing stuff. Yet its Godard's most humane, most encaptivating, most charming and above all his best film. Just watch the trailer, then you'll understand what I mean.
Carlito's Way (1993)
Pacino and Penn deliver a knockout
There is a scene midway through the film that really exemplifies why I think it is so good almost purely because of the acting. Penn, in the shape of a sleazy, lowlife lawyer wants to persuade Pacino, Carlito (a reformed gangster) to help in a jailbreak. The dialogue is not that great. The direction is good, albeit not noteworthy. Yet, what really makes it so good is the chemistry, the talent of Penn and Pacino together - they make their characters just that much more memorable, that scene just that bit more inviting and engaging and the film instead of being an above average gangster flick into something quite brilliant.
The story is quite simple really. Carlito, a former Puerta Rican bad-ass wants to make good and start up a legitimate franchise renting cars. He remains trapped by his criminal instincts, his whole social circle is entrenched in immorality. The world seems different now, Carlito is now older, he needs to find a way out of the New York underworld before it kills him. He rekindles an old romance in the hope of starting a new, normal life.
The characters in this film are unforgettable, although not always armed with the best dialogue De Palma gives Penn, Pacino and the rest of the cast enough opportunity to shine. By no one does no one element in this film deliver. Kleinfeld, is not just another lawyer, thanks to Penn he is now a vulnerable, moody cocaine addict. Carlito, is not just a merciless criminal, he is also a sensitive, varied character. De Palma manages to create individuals and individual moments that really cannot be easily erased from memory. The set design, and set pieces are were De Palma really comes into his own. There are many brilliant scenes in the disco, in nightclubs, in New York Central Station that belong to De Palma's best work.
De Palma avoids the more showy and gauche tendencies of his direction to give us a truly great character study. There are so many scenes that really stay with you for awhile thereafter and the ending, though maybe not unexpected will definitely have you thinking and asking - why doesn't De Palma produce something this good ever again?
A film of great humanity and skill
After watching this film last night for the 4th or 5th time I now have to unpack one very old, yet true cliché. A great film never gets boring or repetitive. Maybe its because its so stylish, maybe because its so well acted, maybe because its so well written, maybe because its the perfect balance between escapism and reality that it makes it a pleasure to watch time and time again while always gaining something new from it.
Mann's talents are obvious. He masters atmosphere very very well. He can control the pace and mood of a film with much subtlety without seeming clumsy and unintelligent. De Niro's talents and Pacino's skills need not be discussed. However, while many films have a talented cast and set of people that does not always entail a great film. The basic ingredient is always the script. Here Mann excels to a height he almost eclipsed in 'The Insider' and 'Collateral' but never truly matched. Here its much more nuanced and focused on small details that really managed to convey the film's power better than just simply having big reputations attached to the billboard. 'Heat' succeeds were so many other crime thrillers don't even fail, they don't even accept the truths and depths that Mann reveals.
At first 'Heat' just seems to follow the traditional concept of cop vs robber formula. However, it differentiates itself from other crime films by depicting a humane, yet realistic criminal and a flawed, yet dedicated cop. Instead of forcing us to take sides Mann leaves it up to us to decide. The genius is that Mann dramatises it, he does not just simply articulate it and make it plain to see. Like life, its up to us to decide eventually what path we take, what course we choose is our responsibility. 'Heat' is easily Mann's best films and one of the very best it its genre and of the 90's altogether. It never becomes too tedious, or too fast, too flashy or too plain. Its humanity and objective look at characters is what places it above its competitors and never makes it simply just another crime cop thriller.
Miami Vice (2006)
Mann succeeds in many ways and fails in many others
Michael Mann obviously wanted to distance himself from any prior reputation and connotations that the series of the 1980's entailed. This film is serious, gritty and realistic. However, some of the changes were not successful despite Mann's style and skill.
It is plain to see in this film that Mann tried to challenge himself. The usual slick, blue backgrounds and atmospheric, colourful settings are still abundant. However, this time around it's obvious that Mann wanted something different - the use of hand-held cameras and a different lens calibration gave the film something extra. Mann attempted to avoid the over-styled and smooth direction of the series to focus more on a naturalistic manner of portrayal. Therein lie no real flaws in the film's direction style. Where the films's real problems surface are that when a director decides to purposefully pursue a film that has a hard, cruel realistic bite one needs believable and developed characters and a coherent and focused plot. Miami Vice has simply far too many characters, far too many plot strands, far too many pointless sequences.
The main allure of the series was the partnership of Crockett and Tubbs. In this film their relationship is far too convoluted and the interaction between the two is minimal. The chemistry between Farrell and Foxx is not bad but Mann's script was a little underdeveloped, you never had the feeling that they really like each other. It would have been easy for Mann to descend down the Michael Bay a la Bad Boys route with stupid, superficial and pointless macho boastings and statements. Yet, Mann should have emphasised a stronger coherency between the two main protagonists. Mann should also have kept the story simple and more comprehensible, for it led to the villains and numerous side-characters being degraded into plain cut-outs.
The end of the film never led to the emotional climax of Mann's best film 'Heat'. He had simply spent too much time on the stylistic elements, rather than on his writing. The script seems a little rushed and lacking in places, where surely Mann with his many abilities would have been capable of creating an overall better film. In conclusion it must be said that Miami Vice is not a bad film, it disappoints in its vagueness - for one that never particularly liked much from the 1980's it was glad to see that Mann tried to stretch himself visually and experiment, rather than play to the billions of fan boys by just rehashing the old formula of the series. A lost opportunity, but still a decent film.
American Graffiti (1973)
Nostalgic, beautiful, just sad really
I watched this the day before going to University. It was one of the most appropriate and moving moments of my film viewing life.
First off; this is no complex or intriguing film. Its concept is very simple; various teenagers enjoying their youth with pranks, racing, outrageous flirtatiousness and most beautiful and touching of all the teenage dream of romance. My favourite moment of the film is when Dreyfuss's character sees an attractive, young blond early on - he later tries frantically to contact her - she eventually does, but just says her dues and leaves him - the boy, instead of being heartbroken or dissatisfied is happy and upbeat - at least he gave it a chance, at least he lived, as my father put it 'the teenage dream'. It touched me like few films can.
That is what makes his film so good, so classy. It shows youth in all its beauty, without cynicism - the simple joys of life are shown in all vibrance. It also does not contain those elements that are omnipresent in modern versions; unnatural lighting, a unrealistic script, profanity. Lucas and Wexler were the perfect combination, Lucas could hide his shortcomings in dialogue behind Wexler's excellent photography and the great performances of all the cast.
The ending moved me greatly, being at the stage of life that I am. Every student must watch this film before going to University because it highlights those qualities of youth so well and so elegantly that one cannot help feel tinges of remorse and sentiment at the sight of the plane soaring into the sky carrying the boy to University and away from his childhood.
Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
Profound and clever debut by Jarmusch
This film is slow, without an apparent point, and without any obvious substance. It follows a Lounge Lizard, of Hungarian descent, his cousin from Hungary and his layabout friend as they cheat at cards, drink beer, travel to Cleveland and lose all their money. Sounds uninteresting, drab and utterly boring, right? Wrong! Jarmusch is one of the most creative and inventive directors of his generation, this film is just a confirmation of his talent, his mysterious way, and convention defying cheek.
The purpose of this film stems from its quiet, slow and melodic pace. It does not condescend, its far too tacit for that. The very meaning it follows is how the mundane is sometimes meaningful, that life is not made interesting my artificial barriers of wealth, culture and heritage but by attitude and personality. Several sequences are long, without any apparent message - and they are, if you don't look at the film as a whole and not as a set-piece extravaganza.
Jarmusch's dry humour is omnipresent as always. The action scant, and without real artistic intention. The script very minimal and characters seemingly worthless. The beauty of this film, as in life is in, as a cliché so often says, in the hidden, small details that really convey power and depth. Therefore when viewing this film, do not expect anything, just expect nothing and you won't be disappointed. Trust me.
Wall Street (1987)
Wealth or Humanity?
Let's get this straight. Ronald Reagan is a bitch and I hate unchecked capitalism. I think its pure evil, its everything that creates unease and difficulty in this world. Responsible for so much pain; yet why is it so loved and adored by American politicians and the American public? Stone helps answer that question in some sense.
Stone delves deep into the mindset of a greedy, amoral stockbroker who feeds on success, on making money. Yet money is just a means to an end; he is just a predator, using his morphed ideals of economic Darwinism to justify his actions. He acts without morality, because in one line of the film Douglas declares 'love is for the weak'. What Stone does so well though is not just depict an aggressive cut-throat capitalist, he shows the background they arise from. He shows how they become powerful because the system nurtures it, encourages such behaviour; in simple terms that 'greed is good'.
Stone portrays his subject matter in a realistic and seemingly objective manner. He portrays the pure superficiality of the world that economists and monetarians live in. There are many great scenes with Douglas often going at length to profess his nihilism, his abject disdain for principles. The script is very good, though full of technical terms it never becomes too complex for the viewer to ever become alienated. The cast is strong and Douglas delivers a knockout blow as the main antagonist.
Capitalism is undoubtedly the world leading economic system now. It is unrealistic to claim that there is a viable alternative ; we cannot though, let such unethical practises prevail when we let capitalism go unfettered. Without letting this commentary devolve into a political statement it must be simply stated that what Stone conveys with great power is that life is more than just money, why should we sacrifice our humanity for wealth? How much is enough? How many people do we lay off and leave homeless and without healthcare before we realise that people, not materials are what matter? Watch this film and realise what I mean.
Lavish in detail, original in theme, haunting in nature
Von Trier conjured up a real piece of mastery when he wrote and directed 'Dogville'. I am saying this not because of its sheer brilliance of dialogue, its strength of meaning and pure excellence of acting but due to its consummate originality. I, for one have really been screaming out for an end to mainstream cinema's absurd obsession with beautiful sets, gorgeous cinematography and awful lighting arrangements and the constant rehashing of worn-out themes and ideas. Too often directors neglect what the true fundamentals of a film; an intelligent script with discernible characters, an original, yet basic idea which does not need to be dressed up to convey any true power.
Von Trier has funnelled his energies into a film that really astounds and disturbs. It does not, like many films, eschew genuine moral revelation. It stays dedicated to its aims, stubbornly refusing to deviate from its purpose.
To be more specific; Dogville is a story focusing on the attractive and seemingly innocent fugitive, Grace. She is found one night by a young man who refuses a handsome reward in order to protect this intriguing woman. Consequentially, Grace undergoes various phases to integrate herself into the community of Dogville; and at first it seems that she has succeeded. However, appearances are not all what they seem in Dogville and Grace must find out the hard way how the moral systems and beliefs work in small town U.S.A.
Von Trier poses many difficult and elaborate questions to first its characters, and then to his audience. Firstly the moral plethora of small town life would it be in America or in the world; would you be so impartial to actually admit that you would not act in the same manner as Dogville's denizens when they decide to revoke their earlier pledges? Would you be as vindictive and unforgiving had similar circumstances afflicted yourself? Would you not also consider the darkness in the recesses of your own soul and heart? Without impartiality you will never achieve any sort of edification from this film. It is not benign, or unrelenting in any form. Therefore be warned, its coda is not going to ascertain any form of comforting truths of human nature. Disturbing and morbid, yet truly classy and philosophical. Watch it now and learn something about yourself.
This film is average, that is unless you're American..
What a colossal bore. Its a film that takes its ideas, mulls over them but just wants to give you a little, not a lot. Patton conceivably was a great man, with great flaws. He was determined, like this film to get his goals achieved. However, unfortunately he was halted by fate, as was this film from any genuine ingenuity.
The film's flaws stem mostly from its pace. It drags out a message that could be conveyed in a fraction of the screen time. Yes, he was an aggressive and difficult character, yes he was admirable for his ambition and conviction and yes he was a pompous, overbearing and ultimately hypocritical human. Why does Schaffner have to take so long illustrating this? At first it seemed mature and honest, we see Patton's abrasive nature and obstinacy, his arrogant refusal to submit to the system. Unfortunately then we see the same point reiterated on numerous occasions and through the same initial omniscient viewpoint, we never get any other angle on all this. All that we are treated to is the same perspective that eventually insinuates that Schaffner wanted us to feel sympathy for an egomaniac who loved war, and festered the whole time to his wholehearted dedication to it.
Although Scott's performance is truly breathtaking; his presence and charisma really manage to keep us interested to watch the film to the end. He never can diversify the one-sided material he was given. We just get treated to the generic and repetitive view of how Patton was unfairly treated and vilified by his superiors. Objectivity just seems to be flung far away for Patton to roll over in his tank.
Good biographies show the many facets of an individual, their strengths and vulnerabilities; strong biographies like 'Raging Bull' concentrate on how the qualities and dysfunctions interweave with those surrounding them and how their morphed personality shapes their future. 'Patton' unravels itself more to be an wholesome tribute to a psychotic and driven madmen,rather than an analytical piece of characterisation. Its glorification of war is offensive and ridiculous, and it wants to invoke pity and empathy for a supposed 'legend' who was really a very apprehensible individual. He is rewarded for being brutal, egotistical - not only on the battlefield but in the audience's eyes as well because of the partiality of the narrative. It chooses to take sides with Patton, to depict his pomposity as an approvable characteristic and to compress his fallible traits as excusable. It avoids a balanced depiction and chooses to become a cheerleader for devotion and loyalty to Patton's type of firebrand patriotism.
Pity would have been more forthcoming had Schaffner opted for a more sagacious viewpoint; one that chose to focus more on his skewed values and hone in on them rather than dedicate 3 hours of film to underplaying Patton's zealousness and portraying him as an admirable and amiable fundamentalist. Scott's brilliance rather than Schaffner's incapability are what really gives this film a renowned reputation. It simply comes across as frivolous piece of US patriotism masked as an honest portrayal of an unbalanced, crazy and disastrous humanbeing.
The film's ultimate purpose is to evoke empathy and sentimentality for a person who should be lauded for his determination and rebellious nature, and not criticised for his amazingly warped view on life. Because Patton was a victor, he has been canonised as a saint of the American right; which is all this film seems to want to achieve. It eschews real quality through its monotone narrative and dishonest subject matter. Its for romantic rightwingers and nobody else.
Ultimo tango a Parigi (1972)
Maria Schneider's face summarises this film perfectly
Schneider's looks can dutifully encapsulate my true emotions to this film. Occasionally she looks sexy and encaptivating, other times she can look too pale and a little bland. That's exactly how Bertolucci's helping of sexual cravings had me feeling after this film.
Habitually, Bertolucci's work eclipses genius - he is one of the few directors in world cinema that has an eye for definitive detail. He can capture such beautiful images, with such great vision, emotion, colour and panache that the viewer's sentiments are guided like few others in film-making. Like aforementioned, Schneider's face would be the perfect simile for this particular film. One scene the viewer is startled by the raw depth of the film, although slightly troubled by the explicit sex, but then all the viewer is treated to in the next scene is a terse and awkward moment which seems to have no correlation with the one that preceded it.
Naturally Brando's performance did help boost this film greatly, but that seems the film's very weakness - whenever he is off-camera it seems to struggle too much, it loses its power and prestige and becomes a little incoherent. This film undoubtedly has some powerful and poignant scenes that really can convey genuine sentiment and exude a tangible originality too; but it never really seems to shake off the loss of Brando's presence altogether.
For admirers of Bertolucci its a must, but for more neutral cineastes it would be advisable to have a more cautious approach when watching this film - to enjoy it, it would be paramount to expect this film to be an edifying, not an entertaining experience; its not a frivolous subject matter in any sense
Il conformista (1970)
An excellent and mature analysis of fascist ideology
Bertolucci has really achieved the correct balance between sex, politics, character development and plot here. As always the cinematography is exceptional and the acting extremely convincing.
He follows a weak-willed and confused man on his quest to find a proper identity between the rising fascist forces in Italy and his old University lecturer who adheres to a socialist ideology. Bertolucci brilliantly crafts a story through connections between the Conformist's troubled past and his moral dilemma that he must face before him. He interweaves at certain junctures to link psychoanalysis, political ideology and even sex all together to give us a deep and profound film.
Unlike '1900' which I found too blatant and cumbersome at times, Bertolucci presents the viewer with a more accurate and diverse set of characters and situations. The script is of a high-calibre with much philosophising, throw in with that great performances from Trintignant and the sensual and sexy actresses that accompany him and the viewer finds a timeless classic that really effectively portrays the political positions of so many 'conformists' in 20th century Europe.
This is a skillful and intelligent film brought to so by a true auteur in Bertolucci.
Ritchie doesn't do it again
When Ritchie first burst on to movie scene his films were hailed as funny, witty, well directed and original. If one could compare the hype he had generated with his first two attempts and the almost universal loathing his last two outings have created one should consider - has Ritchie been found out? Is he really that talented? Does he really have any genuine original ideas? Or is he simply a pretentious and egotistical director who really wants to be Fincher, Tarantino and Leone all rolled into one colossal and disorganised heap? After watching Revolver one could be excused for thinking were did it all go wrong? What happened to his great sense of humour? Where did he get all these mixed and convoluted ideas from? Revolver tries to be clever, philosophical and succinct, it tries to be an intelligent psychoanalysis, it tries to be an intricate and complicated thriller. Ritchie does make a gargantuan effort to fulfil all these many objectives and invests great chunks of a script into existential musings and numerous plot twists. However, in the end all it serves is to construct a severely disjointed, unstructured and ultimately unfriendly film to the audience. Its plagiarism is so sinful and blatant that although Ritchie does at least attempt to give his own spin he should be punished for even trying to pass it off as his own work. So what the audience gets ultimately is a terrible screenplay intertwined with many pretentious oneliners and clumsy setpieces.
Revolver is ultimately an unoriginal and bland movie that has stolen countless themes from masterpieces like Fight Club, Usual Suspects and Pulp Fiction. It aims high, but inevitably shots blanks aplenty.
Revolver deserves to be lambasted, it is a truly poor film masquerading as a wannabe masterpiece from a wannabe auteur. However, it falls flat on its farcical face and just fails at everything it wants to be and achieve.
Sin City (2005)
just so overrated....
Crowds are strange and odd things. They love and adore, hate and repel in equal measure and often without little thought. Nothing could be more applicable for the praise that has been heaped upon this seemingly 'epic', 'brilliant' and 'masterful' film.
This is simply a shallow movie that has been dressed up by directors, fans and critics alike to be a great critique of humanity, modern society and amorality. A complete contradiction is what I would ideally see as a kind translation of the truth.
There is no point to this film. The violence is repetitive and eventually banal, the acting decent and appalling in equal measure, the characters (oddly enough) so badly formed and unoriginal.
But wait, say my inevitable army of detractors, this is a great saga of good vs evil, of humanity vs evil, this is a great display of acting, cinematography of immensely talent and above all original film-making. Well I say, no no NO NO. The supposed 'goodguys' are just thugs with no compassion or mercy; what this film is basically a great advertisement for misanthropicism - no great case study of people struggling to fight their morals. All Rourke, Willis are fighting for is to 'look' cool and glamorise violence - its just so prosaic and deficient in any depth whatsoever.
All this film wants to achieve is that teenage boys will gawp at Jessica Alba's body, cheer at Mickey Rourke's gruesome atrocities and revel in the constant and unrelenting bloodbath. All this film is good for is some interesting camera shots and use of colour. Otherwise it is one immensely powerful deterrent to disregard any critic who labels this movie anything near decent.
This is one stupid and unintelligent movie, and anyone who thinks it is anything resembling a masterpiece is as bereft of logic and depth as this film.
a forgotten De Niro performance in an unforgettable film
This film is really a forgotten gem. It portrays the humanity of a group of doctors, that is inspired by the compassionate Dr.Sayer. They manage to revive a group of living statues from catatonicism including Leonard Lowe, a boy who lost 30 years of his film from childhood to a mystery disease that has paralysed his mind.
However, as they become human beings again they find it difficult to assimilate back into normal life. They struggle to cope with the new world around them, yet they remind the doctors and the hospital staff what life is really about. The simple things that are neglected are what really matter, which is beautifully recreated by the recovering patients. We, as human beings always try to find difficult and complex solutions to our lives - what we always neglect are the basics, the fundamental parts of life - freedom, health, friendship; and these are what need to be addressed within our lives for true happiness.
This film was extremely poignant and touching without being over sentimental and patronising. De Niro and Williams capture the great beauty of the human spirit that lies within us - that inspires compassion, love and care. This film is extremely profound and really made me rethink my life. I highly recommend it.
Medium Cool (1969)
flawed yet thought provoking
This film really takes a while to get going. Much random footage is pieced together and it takes a good time before one can truly understand the purpose of the movie.
As for the actors - the main protagonists are beautiful - the very handsome Forster and his various female partners all light up the screen.
This film is also a great insight into the style, culture and atmosphere of the 60's - intermittent use of music and extensive camera shots of 60's USA all really serve to make this movie very stimulating as regards to the background setting.
This film is inventive, its acting performed by talented and attractive actors also adds some flavour. If it wasn't for the slightly cumbersome narrative and the characters not being all too interesting this film would be a stone cold classic.
Nevertheless, its original and definitely worthwhile viewing.
disappointing and banal
To be frank, this film really really disintegrated badly from what I thought could have been a very good and fitting end to a series that was declining and needed some much needed originality injected into it. Alas, Lucas put too many childish jokes, too many predictable clichés, too many dull and incomplete analogies, too many banal and poor acted sequences and FAR too much incredibly poor dialogue - spiced up with the odd flashy sequence for the masses to be entertained and Lucas hoped he could get away with shortchanging everyone again with his drivel.
I mean I used to love Star Wars. I admit it. Lucas really made me into a SW geek. Maybe its just my attachment to the old movies, but Lucas has really managed to make 3 extremely colourful, exciting yet bland movies. Lets start with its greatest flaws 1) Predictable sequences - the wholly predictable, yet devastating banal Anakin/Padme relationship - flung in with plentiful boring and bland lines. George, please come up with something a bit more inspiring than your pitiful explanation for Anakin's whole passage to the dark side... and make it believable!!!! 2) Poor acting - I thought Christiansen improved immeasurably since the last movie, yet he was still frighteningly inadequate. EM is one of my favourite actors - so what is he doing with such terrible scenes in an amazingly poor script!!!! Portman has little to shout about and even the actors with true clout are terribly underused - Jackson plays a boring and insipid character whose most notable contribution is to get himself killed!!! 3) Souped up with clichés and childish stupidity - I mean, clichés can be good - sometimes clichés are needed - its just when you cant make clichés without some originality you really can insult a half-intelligent movie goer.
Still, don't make me stop you from watching it. It just is that you might up seriously disappointed, and you will still have so many blank wholes for the millions of explanations that are left untold.