And then the twist cracks you over the head and everything changes.
American Film Institutes Ranking: #61/100 Awards: Nominated for two in the technical categories. My Rating:
This movie made me sweat bullets over wasted time. You get stuck watching, reading, playing, and listening to a lot of things you don’t care about when you review top 100 lists. Here I was, halfway through, and wondering if I really cared to make it to the end. I’m thankful I did. Hitchcock takes his sweet time, but once he finally decides to drop the bomb, everything that was “wasted time” becomes intricately plotted narration.
Spielberg uses all his blockbuster techniques which occasionally go too far.
American Film Institutes Ranking: #9/100 Awards: Nominated for twelve winning seven: Picture, Director, Screenplay and more. My Rating:
Presented in a black-and-white documentary style, Schindler’s List is meant to capture the true essence of the horrid holocaust. The goal was to make this as real as possible; this isn’t just some story, but a an actual event that affected all of humanity. The holocaust offers plenty of real examples of humans at their worst. Just replaying the instances of complete barbarianism would have been enough to devastate.
Spielberg takes it one step further; he tugs on our heart using narrative and plot devices that could have easily come from his other blockbuster films. These Hollywood maneuvers are at odds with wanting to create that pure narration of a historical event. Some scenes, gut-wrenching enough on their own, become too staged and the realism melts.
The journey up the river and deeper into the jungle is rewarding.
American Film Institutes Ranking: #29/100 Awards: Nominated for eight winning Sound and Cinematography. My Rating:
The right space for a lesson to exist is on a continuum where it goes past being a challenge but stops before it becomes inscrutable. Movies that are too easy become labeled as hackneyed. On the other end, movies that are completely impenetrable are only liked by a certain few; a parade of avant garde and social conscious critics try to prop up the significance as it falls on deaf ears.
Apocalypse Now hits that right spot. I’m not sure I understand all of it, but I get enough of it for it to continue to roll around in my brain. The movie exposes our faulty concepts on the meaning of insanity and then goes on to try and figure out who really is acting “crazy.” By the end, and maybe even still, I’m so disoriented that I’m not sure I can tease that one out.
American Film Institutes Ranking: #60/100 Awards: Nominated for nine winning the ones for sound and effects. My Rating:
I can’t recall ever actually seeing this film, but somehow I knew quite a few bits and pieces. Maybe the Simpsons are to blame.
This movie cheesed me out. The movie continues to expect more and more suspension of disbelief until you are reach an apex of phantasmagorical hallucination. Like a rich dessert, I was satisfied at first, but by the end, I reached a saturation point where I didn’t want anymore.
The most exciting part of this movie was watching Robert De Niro get fat.
American Film Institute Ranking: #24/100 Academy Awards: Nominated for eight while winning two for Best Actor (De Niro) and Best Film Editing. My Rating:
This film has a lot of pieces: a boxing angle, character study, beautiful black-and-white cinematography, artistic flare. All of this is crammed into a predictable trite: the amazing boxer who is both protagonist/antagonist because of his inner demons.
While the individual pieces are solid in their own way, they never really coalesce into something bigger due to the overall narrative missing a hook.
The story was okay to good, but the visuals made the film.
American Film Institute Ranking: #66/100 Academy Awards: Nominated for three winning best cinematography. My Rating:
A whodunit wrapped around a historical time piece, “A Third Man” is another entry into the catalogue of film noir. It relies on tension created by relationships rather than overt violence. This doesn’t always keep the pace up, but the shots within the film are so intricate that it adds an artistic crust that makes up for the lack of action.
Al Jolson’s first lines “Wait a minute! You ain’t heard nothing yet!” presciently described the future of cinema.
American Film Institutes Ranking: #90 Academy Awards: Was ruled ineligible for top awards at the 1st Academy Awards (1929) because so many silent films would be displaced. My Rating:
Jazz Singer has two reasons for its present day notoriety: it was the first ever feature-length talking film; it uses a lot of black face by Al Jolson.
What gets lost between these two things is that the film content itself is surprisingly good. The story is a basic father vs. son/conservative vs. liberal retelling that’s told from a Jewish heritage perspective. The twist makes it different and meaningful. Interspersed are song numbers by Al Jolson that still resonate.
A review of this movie requires a lot of history and cultural perspective. Here we go.