BEFORE POSTING, BE SURE TO READ THE RULES!
In the past year, I've posted quite a few threads that attempted, in one way or another, to draw your favorites out. Consider this the big brother to "The best films available for online streaming." The point of each of these threads is for you, that goon with nothing to watch, to flip to a random page and get 40 good movies to pick from. While the streaming thread limited it to the obvious, this is for all movies. This thread is meant to stand the test of time. Please don't poo poo it up.
The Criticker Collection
1. One movie per goon per day. No exceptions.
2. This isn't PYF. Put some effort into your recommendations.
3. No discussion. (The idea behind this rule is to preemptively condense the thread into a wall of solid recommendations.) If you wish to thank someone for their recommendation, I suggest you do so via PM or, failing PM, in the General CineD Discussion thread. Everyone reads that, right?
4. Post at least one piece of artwork -- a screenshot, a poster, a lobby card -- for every movie you recommend.
5. Mention at least the following: the year, the country, the director, the genre, a brief synopsis of the film and one or two paragraphs on why it's great.
6. The movie has to be at least one year old and seen more than once by you, to cut down on the shortsightedness of hype.
7. Check the Criticker collection to make sure you're posting a film that's new to this thread!
Follow these seven simple rules, and this could be a lot of fun. Enjoy!
Thanks to a few of the alpha-stage submissions, we have a template!
EDIT 6/5: New rule. Read #6.
EDIT 6/5: Added our beloved Criticker collection
EDIT 6/5: Slightly modified Rule #5.
EDIT 6/6: Added template and slightly modified Rule #5 again.
EDIT 6/17: Added Rule #7.
Somebody fucked around with this message at Jan 21, 2012 around 11:18
|# ? Jun 5, 2010 15:33|
|# ? May 20, 2013 06:01|
Magnolia (1999, USA, Drama)
Directed by: P.T. Anderson
Starring: William H. Macy, John C. Reilly, Julianne Moore, Philip Baker Hall, so many others
Why I love this film: It retains such an incredible amount of energy from start to finish, frenetically cutting between a handful of wonderfully dramatic stories. It's three hours long, but it never feels like a three-hour movie. Plus, the third-act twist is such an audacious development it has to be seen to to be believed.
Why you'll love this film: It's one of the finest American movies of the last twenty years, a film that attempts so much and accomplishes 90% of that. It's a genuinely engaging batch of stories, and you'll find at least one you identify with.
|# ? Jun 5, 2010 15:45|
12 Angry Men
Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Henry Fonda, Lee J Cobb, EG Marshall
Synopsis: A jury of twelve men are entrusted to reach a verdict regarding a poor Latino boy accused of murdering his father. At first, the case appears to be clear-cut and eleven of the twelve jurors initially vote 'guilty', with Fonda's character being the only dissenter. It is now up to him to convince the other eleven of the boy's potential innocence. However, it is also the hottest day of the year and tempers are riding high...
Why you will love this movie: It is timeless.
What, I have to write more? Okay, I'll go ahead and explain why I love this movie: Because it is timeless. Simply put, you could take the dialogue word-for-word and change the location to absolutely anywhere in the world and it would still resonate. I'd call 12 Angry Men ingenious in its simplicity and breathtaking in its depth because on the surface it appears to simply be a love-letter to the American justice system but after repeated viewings there are tough messages about prejudice and true justice.
But what I love most are the characters: None of the twelve men are similar at all, except that they're all white. There are architects, mechanics, painters, bank tellers and messengers. Some are rich, some are middle-ground, one comes from the ghetto. Despite only being a 96 minute movie, each character is beautifully rounded with very clear motivations and backgrounds despite the fact that you never even find out their names (with two exceptions).
The acting is also nothing short of superb, with twelve classy, old-school character actors kicking rear end all over the place, each one giving a wonderful performance without ever daring to outshine the others. Particular props go to Lee J Cobb as the hot-tempered Juror #3, the loudest and most voracious of the bunch.
And I'm going to go out on a limb here: Juror #8 (Fonda) is the greatest character in cinema history. Calm, cool, assured, intelligent, confident and combative when he needs to be, all in the name of justice. Out of everyone in that room, he is at first the only one who seems to grasp the enormity of their shared situation and he quickly establishes himself as a hero.
This is also Lumet's directorial début, and in that area it is astonishing: Everything takes place in one room, yet the pace is frantic and the film is always great to look at. In a particular stroke of genius, Lumet decided to gradually switch to longer focal lengths as the film progressed, making it seem as if the background was suffocating the characters. As the film nears the end, you practically feel the claustrophobia and unbearable heat of the room itself.
See 12 Angry Men right now, drat it.
edit to mention the 1990's remake directed by William Friedkin and starring Jack Lemmon, George C Scott, Tony Danza and Edward James Olmos. The remake is fine and the racial diversity is a nice touch (Juror #10 in particular gets a very effective redesign) but it doesn't even come close to the original.
Adrianics fucked around with this message at Jun 5, 2010 around 16:28
|# ? Jun 5, 2010 15:48|
LA Confidential(1997, USA)
Director: Curtis Hanson
Writers: Curtis Handson, Brian Helgeland based on a novel by James Ellroy
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger, James Cromwell, Danny Devito, David Strathairn
My Love: This is without a doubt my favourite movie. It's the first one I think of anytime I'm asked that question. There are hundreds of films that are technically better and I can recognize that... but it doesn't matter. The story alone is a dark LA crime story involving drugs, thugs, corrupt cops and politicians and enough grey area to paint a government building. The film is beautiful in its period and set design and it breathes the era. The writing is sharp and taut and plays out just like an Ellroy novel.
The real draw, however, is the acting. Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe are both amazing in this. If you ever doubt either's acting abilities, watch the interrogation scene. Devito, Cromwell and Strathairn work amazingly well in their roles and Basinger is a bombshell. The winner is Spacey though. His facial work is transcendent and he just elevates his character.
Again, I catch some poo poo for loving this movie unabashedly, but I guarantee if you watch it you'll at least think it was worth your time and at most find a new favourite.
|# ? Jun 5, 2010 16:05|
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman
Plot: 'Retired Old West gunslinger William Munny reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner and a young man.'
Why watch: I know the popular image associated with this movie is Clint holding a shotgun behind his back, and I have that print myself, but I think the image above is a lot more evocative of the overall themes this movie focuses on. I hesitate to call it a 'deconstruction' of the modern western because in the end, violence does beget violence, people do get killed, and you do end up flush with bloodlust and cathartic release despite your best efforts. This movie does a little more than deconstruct - It elevates the western to an artistic level. If you grew up on Sergio, this movie feels like a bookend. If you happen to have never seen a spaghetti in your life, it has to suffice on it's own merit as a deliberate, fantastically acted, well written and precisely directed drama.
|# ? Jun 5, 2010 16:24|
Ice Cold in Alex
UK - 1958 - War
Dir: J. Lee Thompson
What is it?
It's World War 2 and Captain Anson (Mills) is not having a very good time of it in Africa. Struggling with alcoholism, the last thing he wants to do is drive an ambulance across the desert. Shame then, that this should be his next mission.
With his good friend Tom (Andrews) and young nurse Diana (Syms) in tow, the ambulance sets out on its arduous journey. When they pick up mysterious South African captain can der Poel (Quayle) with his bag full of gin, Anson swears not to drink any alcohol until they arrive in Alexandria, where he will reward himself with an ice cold lager.
What's so special about it?
Ice Cold in Alex perfectly sums up the Great British outlook on life. Keep a stiff upper lip, work hard against all odds and reward yourself with alcohol. Here we have a film that is very different to other films set during WW2, here our group of characters do their best to avoid conflict, hell bent on getting their plucky little ambulance to Alexandria in one piece. Their friendships are tested to the extreme and never falter. It makes one proud to be British, what?
Professor Clumsy fucked around with this message at Jun 6, 2010 around 18:32
|# ? Jun 5, 2010 16:26|
The Big Lewbowski (1998, USA)
Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (Uncredited)
Writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Starring: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore
Synopsis:The Big Lewbowski is a comedy by the Coens with a very confusing plot on paper. Essentially, the movie is about a slacker living in Los Angeles who goes by the name 'The Dude' (Bridges) attempting to get a new rug after the first one was damaged in a case of mistaken identity, and ends up acting as a courier in a ransom situation, during which his best friend Walter (Goodman) decides to keep the money for himself.
Why You Will Love This Movie: It's really funny. The dialogue is frantic, characters often talking and yelling over each other, and full of vulgarity. The plot isn't important, it's more a vehicle to move the characters into different situations and locations in order to have more humorous conversations. It's a true cult classic. The movie struck such a chord with some people that it has it's own convention called Lebowski Fest. It's got plenty of quotable lines, and it depicts many different parts of American Society as being very weird, to great comedic effect. It can be polarising, but it might just make you fall in love with it. The movie is pretty well known by now but if you've been on the fence, I recommend you give it a go.
|# ? Jun 5, 2010 16:38|
Directed by: Gary Ross
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, William H. Macy, Joan Allen, Jeff Daniels, Don Knotts
The Plot: Two self-absorbed '90s teenagers (Maguire, Witherspoon) are transported to the world of Pleasantville, an "Ozzie & Harriet"-esque '50s sitcom. As the two begin applying their 'modern' way of thinking to the America of yesteryear, the black-n-white Pleasantville slowly begins to transform into a world of color. That may sound a bit cryptic and like something you'd read on the DVD cover, but that's literally what happens.
Why I Love It: I always think of Pleasantville as a hidden gem. It's a fantastic movie, and one I'm glad I have in my DVD collection, but it's also one that I always, always, always forget about. That's not to say the movie isn't memorable; it definitely is. But every time I peruse my shelf looking for something to watch, I always see Pleasantville and go "Oh hey, I forgot I had this!" I've rediscovered it this way six or seven times, and every time it's just pure magic all over again.
As a story, the film very smartly doesn't go too far down the meta-rabbit hole. Pleasantville could've spiraled out of control if it had gone too far in the direction of The Truman Show, but instead Gary Ross limits himself to only dealing with the town of Pleasantville and little else ("What's outside of Pleasantville?"). In doing so, he's able to play with some difficult issues such as race, gender equality and enlightenment in a manner we haven't really seen much of before or sense.
Why You'll Love It: In an era overstuffed with postmodern takes on just about everything under the sun, Pleasantville is one of the few shining examples of how to do it right. It's the kind of movie people mean when they talk about "the magic of cinema". For as weighty as some of the material gets near the end, there's a real sense of wonder to the film that we just don't see anymore.
The Pleasant Trailer
edited to reflect the new template
Jay Dub fucked around with this message at Jun 6, 2010 around 16:19
|# ? Jun 5, 2010 16:45|
This is Spinal Tap (1984, USA)
Director: Rob Reiner
Writers: Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Rob Reiner
Starring: Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Rob Reiner
Synopsis: Semi-famous commercial director Marty DiBergi decides to follow semi-famous English Heavy Metal band Spinal Tap across America during their latest tour. Along the way, the band members tell stories of the band's origins, past experiences the band had, and how several of their fifteen drummers have died over the years. Discover the full fury of one of England's loudest rock bands in This is Spinal Tap!
Why You Will Love This Movie: This is Spinal Tap is without a doubt one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Filmed as a documentary (or rockumentary if you will), it perfectly portrays, and then skewers, dozens of rock band and heavy metal cliches. From the song names ("Big Bottom" and "Tonight I'm Going To Rock You Tonight") to the band's costumes (cucumbers!) to the stage designs (I don't want to spoil anything about these), everything about this movie is taken from at least 3 real rock bands. But the genius lies in the writing. The writing effectively exaggerates all the tropes, but it still feels grounded in reality. The acting is amazing, and no one lets on that they know the joke. This is Spinal Tap is full of great jokes, from the fate of their drummers to the concerts they put on. If you like heavy metal or rock and roll, This is Spinal Tap will have you laughing almost non-stop.
|# ? Jun 5, 2010 17:26|
Blue Velvet (1986, USA)
Director: David Lynch
Starring: Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper, Isabella Rossellini, Laura Dern
Synopsis: Jeffrey Beaumont decides to play detective when he finds a severed human ear on his way home from high school. He's quickly dragged into a nightmarish underworld ruled by Frank Booth, a psychopath with a serious Oedipus complex.
Why: It's David Lynch's best film — a surreal nightmare with a cogent plot. Dennis Hopper absolutely steals the show, and I can't think of a better role by which to honor his memory. It also works as a powerful critique of suburbia and Hollywood movies in general (you'll understand this when you see the ending). If you haven't seen any Lynch before, start with this one.
thegloaming fucked around with this message at Jun 5, 2010 around 18:17
|# ? Jun 5, 2010 18:03|
Infernal Affairs (2002, Hong Kong)
Mou gaan dou
Director: Wai-keung Lau, Alan Mak
Writers: Alan Mak, Felix Chong
Starring: Andy Lau, Tony Leung, Eric Tsang, Anthony Wong
Synopsis: Lau Kin Ming is a criminal sent to infiltrate the police as a mole. Meanwhile, Chen Wing Yan is a police cadet, "expelled" for show, sent to infiltrate the triads as a mole. Several years later, Inspector Ming and Yan both remain deep undercover as a part of the continuous war between Triad boss Sam and the police Superintendent Wong. Ming and Yan are both assigned to find the mole in the groups they are working undercover in, setting off a tense race through several layers of deception.
Why You Will Love This Movie: This is the film that was remade into The Departed to win four Oscars. However, the original tells the story in fifty less minutes, weaving a much tighter, tenser narrative than the remake. The characters are more complex, and the acting is surprisingly captivating and emotional. I found Eric Tsang's crime boss character Sam to be a lot more frightening, with his boiling rage under the surface, than Nicholson's character in the remake. Infernal Affairs also frames the story within the Buddhist concept of Avici Hell, or continuous, one-way hell. This is the springboard for delving into the main characters' myriad of complex internal conflicts that continues into the prequel and sequel stories.
Infernal Affairs is the beginning of a criminal movie trilogy that should rank up with The Godfather and Pusher as one of the best crime trilogies of all time. The two additional films don't dive-bomb in quality like a lot of trilogies do, but rather add a lot of complexity and depth to almost all the characters in the three films. The Avici Hell theme is expanded upon greatly by the second, and especially third, film in the trilogy. Simple lines like, "I'm a cop," gain a multitude of different nuanced meanings as the films play out.
JMBosch fucked around with this message at Jun 6, 2010 around 05:55
|# ? Jun 5, 2010 19:04|
...of SCIENCE! fucked around with this message at Jan 19, 2013 around 20:06
|# ? Jun 5, 2010 20:34|
Happiness (1998, USA, Dark Comedy)
Writer/Director: Todd Solandz
Starring: Jane Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Dylan Baker, Lara Flynn Boyle
Synopsis: Three middle-class New Jersey sisters all struggle with their families and sex lives.
Why it's great: This film is, by far, one of the most disturbing comedies you will ever see. A few stand-out details to mention: Dylan Baker plays the husband to one of the sisters. Little does his wife know that he is secretly fantasizing about having sex with young boys; he's a pedophile in the making. What's remarkable about this is that you actually have empathy for his character. Another great thing to mention is the always fantastic Philip Seymour Hoffman, who plays a sexually-repressed loner who makes dirty phone calls to
random women in the telephone directory.
However, the film is more than just shocking moments. It's a great story, incredibly dark, and it poses the question: what is happiness? The concept of happiness is different for each character. Definitely worth a look.
This scene is the first scene after the opening credits. Philip Seymour Hoffman's character is talking to his psychiatrist (Dylan Baker).
|# ? Jun 5, 2010 22:57|
The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad
Director: Gordon Hessler
Starring: John Phillip Law, Tom Baker, Caroline Munro
Why I Love It: Harryhausen's effects have never been better in any of his films in my opinion. ontop of this, it is the darkest of the Sinbad trilogy and has he best story, acting and monsters.
Why You'll Love It: The movie is worth seeing for the westernised look on the arab world from an awesome 70's perspective. all the actors are caucasian yet still wearing turbans, references to hashish and trippy sitar music is here.
There is literally nothing else like it, apart from a british made for tv movie 'Arabian Nights', but that is unfortunately tarnished by being too modern
|# ? Jun 5, 2010 23:45|
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
Director: Sydney Pollack
Starring: Robert Redford, Will Geer
Synopsis: Jeremiah is a veteran of the Mexican War who seeks solitary living as a fur trapping mountain man; things don't turn out as he would've liked. This film is based on the real life of John Johnston.
Why it's great: Fantastic scenery throughout. Robert Redford sports an awesome beard. Jeremiah comes to life through his encounters, his choices, and his changing view of the world around him.
My recommendation isn't doing this film justice at all. Trust me and watch it, look at that beard for goodness' sake.
|# ? Jun 6, 2010 02:00|
Big Fish (2003)
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Albert Finney, Ewan McGregor, Billy Crudup, and Jessica Lange.
Synopsis: Estranged son reconciles with his father as the latter's health is failing
Why I love it: Do you remember Disney's Peter Pan? Mr. Darling, the no-nonsense father insisting his daughter Wendy grows up has a change of heart at the end of the movie when he sees the pirate ship sailing through the skies as he had as a child
There's a certain point in life where the make-believe no longer holds any magic, and while we may not have died inside, there's a certain part of us that falls into a deep sleep. When it awakes, everything is magical and amazing again.
Big Fish is about that magic and the grains of truth in the most obvious bullshit. The cinematography, music and cast come together to make what should have won Best Picture.
|# ? Jun 6, 2010 05:43|
...of SCIENCE! fucked around with this message at Jan 19, 2013 around 20:06
|# ? Jun 6, 2010 07:02|
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Starring: James Woods, Deborah Harry
The Plot: Sleazy television producer Max Renn discovers an ultra-violent new television show, Videodrome. He wants his network to pick up the show, but its creators have other plans, for him and for the world.
Why You'll Love It: When it comes to body horror, you can't top Cronenberg. If you like to feel really uncomfortable and awestruck at the same time, see this film. There are some truly disturbing scenes with great special effects that hold up better than any CGI could. I love the acting — it's stylized enough to give the whole film a timeless sci-fi feel. It's critique of violence, sex, and the media drives the narrative, so even the most outrageous sequences never seem out of line. It's smart, it's gross, it's Cronenberg at the top of his game.
Really Cheasy '80s Trailer
If you have archives, check out the film's Movie of the Month thread.
|# ? Jun 6, 2010 07:21|
Le fabuleux destin d'Amelie Poulain
Directed by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Matthieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Serge Merlin
Genre: Romantic Comedy
The Plot: When she returns a time capsule an old man left in her apartment when he lived there as a boy and witnesses the effect it has on him, a perky and innocent French waitress is compelled to selflessly help those around her in her own little way; in the process, she finds herself falling for a mysterious collector of discarded photo booth pictures.
Why You Will Love This: If Amelie isn't the sweetest, most genuinely heartwarming movie ever made, I don't know what is. From Audrey Tautou's pitch-perfect portrayal of our enchanting and endearing heroine to Jeunet's exquisite, colourful and consistently inventive direction, from the score by Yann Tiersen that fits like a glove to the seriously funny myriad of subplots populated with immediately memorable characters, Amelie is the best kind of cinematic confection.
US Trailer (with a terrible voiceover):
Pigeon Shamus fucked around with this message at Jun 6, 2010 around 13:08
|# ? Jun 6, 2010 13:05|
Fanny And Alexander
Directed by: Ingmar Bergman
Starring: Pernilla Allwin, Bertil Guve, Ewa Fröling, Jan Malmsjö, Erland Josephson
Genre: Period Drama
The Plot: The lives of a sprawling turn-of-the-century Swedish family, following various threads but mainly focusing on Emilie Ekdahl and her titular children as they adapt to and desperately try to find a way out of life with their new husband/father, Bishop Edvard Vergerus. However, that's a very cut-down description, the film itself is much fuller and larger.
Why You'll Love It: Because it's magical, delightful, and one of the best narratives that has been told in film. It's my favorite film, hands-down. Not only is the main tale of Emilie and her children dealing with the Bishop a marvelous piece of storytelling (not to mention the Bishop is one of the most monstrously villainous characters put to celluloid) but the side tales and subplots are all just as good. You get the patriarch of the family, Helena, dealing with her loneliness, various uncles and aunts (Uncle Gustav, who has the hots for the limping maid, much to the amusement of his wife, and Uncle Oscar, who can't hold on to money and berates his German wife), and the many storytelling scenes that dot the narrative, moments where the film pauses for just that, some storytelling. It's utterly enchanting.
The catch, I guess, is that it's five hours long, divided into four episodes. The entire first episode is nothing but setting up the characters, though it is also set at Christmas, which makes it a holiday tradition in our house. What prevents it from being boring is simply that there's so much love poured into the film, much of it being taken from Ingmar Bergman's own childhood (which can be read about in his fascinating autobiography The Magic Lantern), which brings the characters to jovial, rosy-cheeked life. It's also beautifully shot by Bergman's long-time cinematographer Sven Nykvist, which is worth mentioning simply because the film is just that good-looking.
Ok, yeah, five-hour Swedish historical drama, I know. That's what I thought when I first sat down to watch it, and now I watch it twice a year. It's not for everyone, but you're in Cinema Discusso and you're reading this thread so there's a good chance that it is for you.
Original US trailer
Note: There are two versions, the theatrical three-hour version and the "television" five-hour version. The five-hour is far superior.
Magic Hate Ball fucked around with this message at Jun 7, 2010 around 00:03
|# ? Jun 6, 2010 13:51|
Click here for the full 720x1067 image.
Directed by: Mel Brooks
Starring: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder
The Plot: A meeting between disgraced Broadway producer Max Bialystock and meek accountant Leopold Bloom leads to an outrageous scheme: To raise $1,000,000 to produce a Broadway show, deliberately pick a show destined to flop and flee with the proceeds. The play? Franz Liebkind's Springtime For Hitler, described as a 'gay romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden'.
Why You'll Love It: It is the most consummate comedy of all time and possibly the funniest movie ever made. It manages to cram in just about every comedy trope ever yet never feels overblown: It has an odd-couple, Hitler jokes, a man in a dress, rapidfire dialogue, a man who has sex with old ladies for money, a Swedish sectretary who only exists to dance in her underwear and what has got to be one of the most brilliantly inventive musical numbers ever.
The performances from Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder (who earned an Oscar nomination) and Kenneth Mars are sublime. The opening act, contained almost entirely within Bialystock's office and only featuring Bialystock and Bloom, is nothing short of brilliant with some of the comedy genre's most memorable lines.
And sure, there are some moments that have aged horribly (the entire character of LSD) but The Producers is a must-see movie for any fan of comedy or just for anyone who wants to see one of cinema's most influential writer-directors (and noted EGOT winner) at the top of his game.
Trailer (which is retro as gently caress): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCNjOBzg8tc
Note: This film was adapted into a Broadway musical in 2001, starring Nathan Lane as Bialystock and Matthew Broderick as Bloom. The musical itself was adapted to a 2005 film starring Lane, Broderick, Will Ferrell and Uma Thurman. Neither are as good as the original movie but still worth seeing.
|# ? Jun 6, 2010 13:51|
YUKINOJO HENGE a.k.a. AN ACTOR'S REVENGE a.k.a. REVENGE OF A KABUKI ACTOR
Directed by: Kon Ichikawa
Starring: Kazuo Hasegawa, Fujiko Yamamoto, Ayako Wakao, Eiji Funakoshi, Narutoshi Hayashi
The Plot: Kasuo Hasegawa stars as Yukinojo, a talented kabuki actor who specializes in playing female roles (women were not allowed on the stage during the period of the film). But his success on the stage is but a means to an end; his true goal is to visit vengeance upon the three ruthless and powerful men who destroyed his family's business and drove his parents to commit suicide. Yukinojo's vengeance will be carefully scripted, and skillfully acted. But the price of admission will be high indeed.
Why You'll Love It: A celebration of both theater and cinema. Donald Richie proclaims it "One of the most visually exciting films ever made." I would say that's an understatement. The visual flair and panache with which Ichikawa presents this film is audacious, lively, and incredibly enjoyable to behold. The colors are vibrant, the staging absolutely exquisite. Ichikawa demonstrates a masterful use of empty space, particularly black space. He exploits the widescreen scope in dazzling and unusual ways. He effortlessly tosses off one bold stylistic flourish after another as if to say, "there's plenty more where that came from!" The acting is top-notch across the board, especially Kasuo Hasegawa in a dual lead role. The story is full of intrigue, suspense, romance, melodrama, and an astonishing playfulness and wit. Ichikawa thumbs his nose at tradition at every turn, and satirizes well-worn Japanese cinema conventions gleefully. And the score is just as daring and exciting as the film's visuals. It's all over the place... from traditional Japanese folk music, to string-heavy Hollywood schmaltz, to lounge music, to off-kilter free jazz. A flawless film, amazingly stylized "kabuki noir" with an entertaining story of intrigue and brilliant cinematography. One of those movies that gets me excited about watching movies.
FitFortDanga fucked around with this message at Jun 6, 2010 around 16:26
|# ? Jun 6, 2010 16:22|
Directed by: Steve James
Starring: William Gates, Arthur Agee
The Plot: The film follows Gates and Agee, two African-American children from Chicago's inner city, as they are both recruited to play for a powerhouse high school basketball program. Gates and Agee end up having very different basketball careers and family lives after their four years of high school, and the film documents most of the important highs and lows for both.
Why You'll Love It: It's sort of a cliché to point out that a documentary is as dramatic and engrossing as any fictional story, but Hoop Dreams is definitely the best example of how true that can be. It's not just a story about high school basketball, but also touches on a lot of aspects of inner-city life (it actually ends up being a very pointed look at the high school education system of the city, and how it treats star athletes and athletes who aren't quite stars). As the movie unfolds over three hours, we feel like we get to know not only Gates and Agee, but the people surrounding their lives too such as family members, friends, coaches, and high school administrators. Some of the stories surrounding the boys are almost as involving as the boys' themselves: you could probably make an excellent documentary about Agee's mother and father alone, or Gates' basketball coach.
Hoop Dreams is one of the best films of the 1990s, and one of my personal favorite films of all time.
|# ? Jun 6, 2010 17:17|
Band of Outsiders
Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard
Starring: Anna Karina, Sami Frey, Claude Brasseur
The Plot: Two French thugs, with the assistance of a female students, plan a heist to steal a fortune from her benefactors.
Why You'll Love It: As far as I know, it's the first film to pull a Tarantino and make self-conscious references to movies from which it's borrowed elements in that hip, irreverent style. Plus, the dramatic plot is told with such a sense of narrative whimsy -- a favorite being a dance sequence intermittently broken by freeze frames while the narrator comments on the characters. Really, a fantastic film, a joy to behold and the closest thing to a love letter to American from the French we're likely to get despite reciprocating the love again and again with Tarantino and The Dreamers and
|# ? Jun 6, 2010 17:19|
USA - 1972 - Science Fiction
Dir: Douglas Trumbull
What is it?
Following the exploits of Freeman Lowell (Dern), the last of Earth's gardeners. With the Earth now a desolate rock, Lowell is now responsible for looking after the last of the vegetation, contained in domes on massive spacecraft. When the company decide that this is an unnessecary expense, they order the destruction of all the domes. Lowell takes extreme action, killing his crewmates and saving the final dome. Now alone, he must rely on the robotic drones that maintain the ship for companionship and assistance.
What's so special about it?
Lowell and the drones, Huey and Dewey (Louie is no longer with us), share an impressive chemistry. For what basically boils down to a one-man show with puppets for support, it's surprisingly effective. Huey and Dewey are full of personality and because of Lowell's actions (and the fact the drones don't really like him very much) we grow to care more about them than for him. When you get to the end, you'll feel quite conflicted about Lowell and his actions, which makes the end utterly heartwrenching.
Silent Running is also hugely influential on modern sci-fi classics. If you're a fan of Moon or WALL·E you will definitely recognise the origins of a lot of their central themes and characters. This should be required viewing for everyone.
|# ? Jun 6, 2010 18:30|
Directed by: Gerald Kargl
Starring: Erwin Leder
The Plot: A psychopathic murder is released from prison, only to attempt to kill the cab driver taking him away from the institution. Failing that spectacularly, shaking his confidence, he then spends the day indulging his insanity by terrorizing and slaughtering a family. All the while, his bleak, misanthropic train-of-thoughts-and-memories rattles on in the viewer's head, providing a disturbing level of narrative proximity to the killer.
Why You'll Love It: This is an intense film. (Think something maybe as rattling, but only slightly less affective, as Irreversible.) If you are looking for a narrative that tries, quite successfully, to plop you into the passenger seat of a disturbing, unblinking, procedural journey of a depraved thrill-killer, definitely check this out. With the use of inventive camera-work, a near-constant inner monologue for the lead, devoted acting, and atmospheric sound and music, Angst delivers a visceral, affecting, and ahead-of-its-time experience. The voice-over narrative provides a lot of insight into the killer's psychological past and issues, rounding out the cinematic experience as an uncomfortably close day with a maniac far past society's reach.
|# ? Jun 6, 2010 21:44|
Natural Born Killers
Directed by: Oliver Stone
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr, Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Sizemore
The Plot: Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis portray Mickey and Mallory, a pair of sadistic mass murderers in love with each other going on a cross-country killing spree. While at large, the media follows their story, turning the couple into celebrities, with tabloid tv reporter Wayne Gale (Downey Jr), detective-turned-author Jack Scagnetti (Sizemore), and prison Warden Dwight McClusky (Jones) all attempting to gain fame for themselves in the wake of the pair's rampage.
Why You'll Love It: Loosely based off an early script by Quentin Tarantino, it's a satire, although a very dark one, about the way the media and society have developed to a point where there is an obsession with horrifically violent stories and how the media can use these stories and the perpetrators as tools to gain fame, profit and ratings.
The visuals in the movie are unique; taking 2 months to film and 11 to edit, the amount of time spent in post-production is evident, with a high number of quick cuts, different camera angles, switches from colour to black & white, different film formats from Super 8 to video, the film feels like a drug-induced nightmare, apt considering Stone's own experiences with drugs were written into the film.
The performances are solid all round, although the highlights are Robert Downey Jr as an Austrailian 'shock' journalist who is a slimy, greedy man with no real morality, and Rodney Dangerfield in a very disturbing role as Mallory's abusive father.
At times a dark comedy with slapstick violence and at others a very disturbing action movie, Roger Ebert probably described it best with "Seeing this movie once is not enough. The first time is for the visceral experience, the second time is for the meaning." A movie that isn't big on subtlety, but makes a point in a unique, scary and funny manner all at once.
|# ? Jun 7, 2010 00:21|
The Steel Helmet
Directed by: Samuel Fuller
Starring: Gene Evans, Robert Hutton, Steve Brodie
The Plot: The first Korean War film made during the Korean War, The Steel Helmet is about a group of American soldiers making their way through North Korea.
Why You'll Love It: Part of the charm is how cheaply this film was made. The sets are tiny and the stock footage obvious. You can see a stain on one backdrop and swear there's a part where a still picture is used for stock footage.
The real joy of The Steel Helmet is the heart of the film. Sam Fuller was himself a veteran, and his view is that war is nothing more than staying alive. There are no heroes in The Steel Helmet, only survivors. The narrative is classic Fuller pulp, with some anecdotal scenes and cheap thrills thrown in. It's a thoroughly entertaining war picture that celebrates living.
|# ? Jun 7, 2010 01:49|
USA - 1980 - Comedy
Dir: Robert Altman
Paul L. Smith
What is it?
The infamous pipe-smoking sailor man Popeye (Williams) arrives in Sweethaven on his globe-trotting search for his missing father Poopdeck Pappy (Walston), only to find that there's more to the island (and his pappy) than meets the eye. Things get worse when he and his love-interest Olive Oyl (Duvall) have adoption thrust upon them, much to the dismay of Oyl's fiance Bluto (Smith). Can Popeye, with the help of his friends Wimpy (Dooley) and Geezil (Libertini), free Sweethaven from the oppression of Bluto and the mysterious commodore?
What's so special about it?
I've waxed lyrical about Popeye on these forums before and I'm not afraid to do it again. The reason, quite simply, is that Popeye is my absolute favourite film. That's right, this live action cartoon is, in my opinion, the finest example of cinematic brilliance that the industry has to offer. Not only is it heartwarming and funny, but it explores absolute extremes of cinematic potential. Every frame is packed with visual gags, larger-than-life performances and stunning production design. The songs, by Harry Nillsen, are composed and performed in bizarre yet curiously naturalistic way, often accompanied by unharmonious choruses that could only exist in a Robert Altman film. I could go on and on about the brilliance of Popeye, but instead I'll let this clip do the talking...
|# ? Jun 7, 2010 14:10|
TIME OF THE GYPSIES
Directed by: Emir Kusturica
Starring: Davor Dujmovic, Bora Todorovic, Ljubica Adzovic, Husnija Hasimovic, Sinolicka Trpkova, Zabit Memedov
The Plot: In this luminous tale set in the area around Sarajevo and in Italy, Perhan, an engaging young Romany with telekinetic powers, is seduced by the quick-cash world of petty crime, which threatens to destroy him and those he loves.
Why You'll Love It: Heartwarming and heartbreaking, fascinating, musical and magical, at times gut-bustingly funny. So bursting with life, everything a movie should be. Supported by a remarkable cast of personalities, at the center of which is Perhan. You could call him part Max Fischer, part Michael Corleone, but that's a major oversimplification. He's an incredibly compelling character, and watching him develop throughout the film is a cinematic experience as fulfilling as any other. Goran Bregovic's score is magnificent.
|# ? Jun 7, 2010 14:30|
Directed by: Bent Hamer
Starring: Joachim Calmeyer, Tomas Norström
Swedish scientists are despatched to observe, from their perches, the kitchen habits of single Norwegian men in 1950s rural Norway.
Why You'll Love It: Apart from the luminous, beautifully-composed and lit cinematography, Kitchen Stories is a delightful, warm, humorous, human story. It is unexpected, engrossing, subtle, funny, original, and moving - just an absolute pleasure to watch.
|# ? Jun 7, 2010 14:46|
Directed by: Hal Hartley
Starring: Thomas Jay Ryan, James Urbaniak, Parker Posey
The Plot: Garbageman Simon Grimm meets Henry Fool, an enigmatic writer turned alcoholic. Fool mentors Grimm in the ways of fine literature and quickly becomes involved in Grimm's personal life.
Why You'll Love It: The world is rich with flawed, sympathetic characters with interconnected fates. Thomas Jay Ryan's presence as Fool is hypnotic — a perverted, amoral drunk with the eloquence of William Wordsworth. The film succeeds where few others do in its exploration of art and the people/institutions that control it. Hartley strikes a fine balance between comedy and drama so that we never feel cheated or exploited.
|# ? Jun 7, 2010 18:01|
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Directed by: John Hughes
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Jeffery Jones
Genre: High School Comedy
The Plot: Ferris Bueller decides he doesn't want to go to school, and instead spends the day traipsing around Chicago with his best friend and his girlfriend.
Why I Love It: Ferris Bueller is the idol of many a high school student, and it's pretty easy to see why. He's smart, funny, and everybody loves him, which is why he's able to get away with everything he does in this movie. I love a movie where the focus is on someone who is an excellent liar (see: Catch Me If You Can), and Ferris is easily one of the best. Some excellent set pieces (an actual Chicago parade and a race home after his day are some of the highlights), and a few great bit parts (Ben Stein and, of all people, Charlie Sheen) just kinda add to the fun, and Matthew Broderick has essentially spent his entire career trying to find another role as good as this one. This is one of many movies that prove that John Hughes had the innate ability to accurately portray high school life, and easily the most fun and lighthearted out of all of them. It's just 102 minutes of fun, and I don't think I could recommend any high school movie more.
|# ? Jun 7, 2010 18:25|
GRAND SLAM (aka Ad ogni costo)
Directed by: Giuliano Montaldo
Starring: Janet Leigh, Robert Hoffman, Klaus Kinski, Edward G Robinson
Music: Ennio Morricone
A bored American teacher working in Brazil hatches a plan for a diamond heist to be executed during the Rio Carnival. A team of experts is assembled including a safe cracker, a military man, a mechanical genius, and of course a playboy (his job is to seduce Janet Leigh, so he gets the best job obviously). To pull this off, the team will have to coordinate and expertly execute the plan down to the last painful detail and overcome the latest and greatest in security technology: the Grand Slam security system.
Why You'll Love It:
If you like heist films, you'll enjoy this one. While it's not necessarily inventive, it does a great job with what you might expect from the genre (do you like Ocean's 11? Rififi?). The plot is tight (especially for an Italian film), there's suspense, action, humour, and just enough cheese to keep it fun. The all-star cast does a great job too.
Blue Underground has released a great DVD edition as well.
Oh, and no less than Roger Ebert calls it "one of the best heist movies".
One of my favourite sequences is the assembly of the team, using a well connected guy's contact files for all sorts of interesting characters ...
Let's just look through my files concealed behind this painting:
Newspapers? no ... oilmen? no ... pentagon? no ... ah yes PLAYBOYS!
Syndicate killers? yes! and I must remember to keep a theatrical actor in mind for the future too ...
|# ? Jun 7, 2010 19:02|
Directed by: György Pálfi
Starring: Ferenc Bandi, Józsefné Rácz, József Forkas
The Plot: In rural Hungary, an elderly man gains a persistent case of hiccups while he watches the daily life of his village unfold. As the people, and animals, of the village go about their normal routines, something else is happening, subtly, behind the scenes. Daily life becomes punctuated by funerals. Power is shifting under the surface as the body count rises. Police investigate. Suspicions are raised. But life, as it can, continues, and all the while, ne'er a word is said (almost).
Why You'll Love It: György Pálfi's debut is one of the most carefully understated looks at [spoilered for minor plot hint] gender politics and power structures in film. With no dialogue, save for a thematic and climactic folksong at the end, he tells the tale of a village struggling to adapt to the new, changing ways of things, and gradually imploding as they try. The movie is structured as a series of several vignettes that show parts of the lives of people and animals in the village. But by paying close attention to certain characters and actions, one can start to see a large, motivated plot, indulged in by many characters, churning its gears behind the scenes. As an exercise in story-telling alone, this movie is worth at least one watch. The cinematography, wide variety of filming techniques, and sights of idyllic country life will hold your attention taut as you look closely for clues to flesh out the mystery.
|# ? Jun 7, 2010 19:07|
...of SCIENCE! fucked around with this message at Jan 19, 2013 around 20:07
|# ? Jun 7, 2010 19:33|
Friday Night Lights
Directed By: Peter Berg
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Derek Luke, Garret Hedlund, Amber Heard, Connie Britton, Lucas Black, Tim McGraw
Country of Origin: USA
Year Released: 2004
Genre: Sports Drama
Why You'll Love It: Because it is the best "fictional" sports movie of all time. Based on the book of the same name by Berg's cousin, H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger (who some of you may have seen recently in the special features on Criterion's release of Stagecoach), where, as a sports journalist, he followed the trials and tribulations of a high school football team in a dying town (Odessa, Texas) in the middle of a desert. The movie, with occasional slips into melodrama, creates a haunting portrait of reality for someone with the poor luck to be born into a town past it's prime. The only escape for both the town and the kids is football; for the town, it's a way to forget that tomorrow, it could all go away. For the kids, it's the only way out of this town and to a life more fulfilling than blue collar work in 110 degree weather. Berg lingers on the arid West Texas landscape between his swoops into these character's lives; it is at once beautiful, but also alarmingly frightening. There is nothing for these characters, it seems, beyond the borders of Odessa.
Billy Bob Thornton plays Gary Gaines as a man obsessed, not with winning, but trying to point these kids to a better life, where football can just be a diversion, instead of their whole identity. Derek Luke's "Boobie" Miles is the definition of tragedy as his whole world collapses under a knee injury. Lucas Black's Mike Winchell, having to fill the hole left by Boobie's departure, is trying to keep it all together, knowing his life's over if he doesn't; and Garret Hedlund's Don Billingsley is more afraid of his drunken father (played by Tim McGraw a million times more real than his work in The Blind Side), a State champion in his youth, than he is of any other player in football. Amber Heard's Maria watches on as her academic talents are ignored and unimportant in light of her being with Billingsley. And through it all, Connie Britton's Sharon Gaines stands by her husband as his life becomes consumed by a couple dozen of kids.
The movie is both tragic and soul-stirring, usually at the same time. It's not a movie about football, really - more a movie about the perils of celebrity, the pains of growing up, the expectations of fathers and the failures of sons. It's about the heart of America, about a town both united and divided by two things: church and football, and it doesn't wince at the brutality and racism found in either. It's the best portrait of high school sports put to film, an inspiration for one of the most critically acclaimed TV shows of all time (brought into existence by director Berg and the movie's producer, Brian Grazer), a docudrama of immense weight and filled to the brim with amazing performances.
It's just a loving great movie.
|# ? Jun 7, 2010 22:20|
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
Directed by: Russ Meyer
Starring: Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers, and Marcia McBroom
Genre: To quote the tagline, "This Is Not A Sequel. There Has Never Been Anything Like It!"
Three young girls in a band travel to LA where they enter the world of sex, drugs, lesbianism, abortions, and every other sensational headline-grabbing cliche as they slowly succumb to the plentiful vices on display.
Why You'll Love It:
Pretty much firing on every cylinder, director Russ Meyer and screenwriter Roger Ebert imbue this film with a manic rock n' roll energy that's mystifying, hilarious, and unlike pretty much any other movie ever made. A rare sequel that's a point blank parody of the original, it takes on the trashy work of Jacqueline Susann and makes it into an over-the-top tripped out ride. The music is fantastic (including a performance of the Strawberry Alarm Clock in the middle), the jokes are great, and, as usual, Russ Meyer gives some buxom women powerful roles as they work through every lunatic thing LA can throw at them. It's a joy of ludicrous film making and a blast to watch.
|# ? Jun 7, 2010 23:50|
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson
Genre: Romantic Comedy....ish
The Plot:Barry Egan is the boss of a company that makes novelty plungers. His seven sisters constantly harass him, he's incredibly lonely, and every once in a while, gets very angry and very violent. But one day, two mysterious drop offs at his workplace start a major change in his life.
Why You'll Love It: A friend of mine described it as "An Adam Sandler movie if the universe he was in was completely serious and real." And while that's one way to put it, that's ignoring the complete toe-curling anxiety from beginning to end, the perfectly choreographed combination of Jon Brion's astounding score to the action, and the hallucinatory interludes. It's easily the most underrated film of PTA's career, and a testament to how amazing an actor Adam Sandler could be.
|# ? Jun 8, 2010 00:14|
|# ? May 20, 2013 06:01|
Kiss Me Deadly
Directed by: Robert Aldrich
Starring: Ralph Meeker, Maxine Cooper
Genre: Film Noir
The Plot: Private eye Mike Hammer picks up an attractive hitchhiker who is wearing nothing but a trench coat and who apparently has escaped from a mental institution. Soon they're ambushed and the girl ends up dead, and Hammer resolves to solve her murder. This sets off a wild chain of plots, betrayals, and conspiracies.
Why You'll Love It: People usually throw out movies like The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Touch of Evil, and The Third Man when discussing film noir (and with good reason), but Kiss Me Deadly always felt like the quintessential noir to me. Everything here is common to most films in the genre: a tough bastard of a private eye whom we root for despite his numerous and obvious character flaws, femme fatale, a twisting plot that alternates between shocking and confusing, double crosses, wanton violence, and striking cinematography. Yet all those characteristics seem to be taken to the next level here. Kiss Me Deadly might not be the best noir of all time, but I have probably watched it more than any of the "better" films in the genre.
|# ? Jun 8, 2010 04:32|