Sunday, April 20, 2014

My 100 Favorite Movies - #83

Bob le Flambeur (1956)

In some quarters considered the "grandaddy" of the heist film (my favorite genre), that is not an entirely accurate characterization, as The Asphalt Jungleamong others, predates this film. Still, it's an outstanding example of the genre. Bob is a down-on-his-luck gambler preparing for a casino heist. What happens next, the characters, and more importantly, the audience, does not see coming. Moody, but not bloated with self-importance (unlike some other, similar films of that time period), Bob le Flambeur, seen today, does not appear dated at all, and retains interest for the plot machinations, the cinematography, and the acting. Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville (legendary not merely for his filmmaking, but also for his work with the French resistance), here is an example of film noir at its finest, and also a precursor to the French new wave.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

My 100 Favorite Movies - #84

Love and Death (1975)

There is a line in Stardust Memories in which a group of aliens tells Woody Allen's character that they like his movies, especially, "the early, funny ones." Well, Love and Death is the last of those early, funny ones, and arguably the funniest movie that Allen has ever made. The story takes place in Russia during the Napoleonic era, and concerns a plot to assassinate the Emperor. The plot is a secondary device, as the film lavishly parodies both the classic Russian literature of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, as well as the cinema of Ingmar Bergman and Sergei Eisenstein. My favorite visual joke in a movie is here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

My 100 Favorite Movies - #85

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)

Another romantic drama set against the backdrop of political conflict, Daniel Day-Lewis channels his latent smoldering sex appeal in this tale of a philandering doctor whose love life is disrupted by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Two of the sexiest actresses in cinema, Lena Olin and Juliette Binoche, play the women in his life. Based on the acclaimed novel by Milan Kundera.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My 100 Favorite Movies - #86

The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)

Set in Indonesia during the overthrow of President Sukarno, the title comes from the famous Italian phrase "vivere pericolosamente," which Sukarno borrowed during his Independence Day speech of 1964. Actress Linda Hunt was the first woman to win an Academy Award for playing a man. I recall her Oscar speech as being quite touching, here is an excerpt: There was an Indonesian phrase in the film which translates into English as "water from the moon." And it means that which is unattainable, the impossible, that which one can never have or know. Making "The Year of Living Dangerously" for me was "water from the moon."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My 100 Favorite Movies - #87

The Long Goodbye (1973)

Elliott Gould, at first glance, may seem like nobody's choice to play Philip Marlowe, however, he is so uncool as to be cool, albeit in a very unmachismo fashion. Robert Altman reinvents Marlowe for the seventies, and the time and place seem to suit. It's film noir, but in a somewhat disheveled Altman-like fashion. It's a movie that can be watched over and over again, and still find something new therein.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My 100 Favorite Movies - #88

Sherman's March (1985)

The subtitle of this film is A Meditation on the Possibility of Romantic Love in the South During an Era of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation. Documentary filmmaker Ross McElwee originally intended to make a film documenting General William Tecumseh Sherman's march through the south during the Civil War. Somewhere along the way, attention got diverted and he ended up making a movie about himself and all of the women in his life. This is the movie that turned me on to documentaries, and the possibilities of all they could accomplish. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Sherman's March has clearly been an influence on Michael Moore, among others. In 2000, it was selected for preservation into the U.S. National Film Registry.

Monday, April 14, 2014

My 100 Favorite Movies - #89

High Fidelity (2000)

High Fidelity is a terrific movie, based on a terrific book, by Nick Hornby. It takes place mainly in a record store, and stars John Cusack as Rob, who is fond of making music lists, and is thus a character after my own heart. And it includes one of my all-time favorite exchanges of dialogue in a movie (Jack Black plays Barry):

Customer: Hi, do you have the song "I Just Called To Say I Love     You?" It's for my daughter's birthday.
Barry: Yea we have it.
Customer: Great great... Well, can I have it?
Barry: No, you can't.
Customer: Why not?!
Barry: Because it's sentimental tacky crap that's why. Do we look like a store that sells "I Just Called to Say I Love You"? Go to the mall!
Customer: What's your problem?!
Barry: Do you even know your daughter? There's no way she likes that song! Oh oh oh wait! Is she in a coma?

I have written previously about this movie here.