Monday, June 12, 2017

My 150 Favorite Films - #3

A New Leaf (1971)

There are lines of dialogue in A New Leaf that I have been using in my everyday life for years, among them, "she has to be vacuumed every time she eats," and "I've never spent a more physically destructive evening in my life." Although the director, Elaine May, has all but disavowed this film after the studio took it away from her and recut it, I still think this is by far, the best thing she has ever done, and considering her illustrious career, that really is saying something. The plot, concerning a playboy who spends all his money, and has no choice but to marry a wealthy woman, is but one factor. The acting by May and Walter Matthau is superlative. The denouement is one of the most satisfying ever committed to celluloid. A cult classic and a hidden gem.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

My 150 Favorite Films - #4

Local Hero (1983)

The always reliably excellent Peter Riegert stars in this bit of a shaggy dog story as an oil company executive sent to a remote village in Scotland in order to acquire the town for the purposes of building an oil refinery. Burt Lancaster stars as his obstreperous boss, who sends him because he thinks he is Scottish, having a Scottish-sounding name (MacIntyre). What he finds there, turns out to be lovably eccentric villagers, and a picturesque town far removed from his life back home in Texas. The low-key approach, from writer-director Bill Forsyth, makes for a charming, disarming, quirky and quite engaging little movie, for anyone to enjoy.

Monday, March 27, 2017

My 150 Favorite Films - #5

Reds (1981)

Film icon and maverick Warren Beatty, co-wrote, co-produced, directed and starred in this epic movie based on the lives of American journalists John Reed and Louise Bryant and their involvement with each other and with the Russian revolution of 1917. Diane Keaton costars, along with Jack Nicholson and Maureen Stapleton, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. What sets this film apart from other Hollywood epics is the use of real-life "witnesses," who were active participants in the events recalled in this film and relate the political chaos of the times. Winner of the Academy Awards for Cinematography (Vittorio Storaro) and Best Director, Reds narrowly missed out on Best Film, losing to Chariots of Fire.

Friday, February 24, 2017

My 150 Favorite Films - #6

The Awful Truth (1937)

Leo McCarey directed one of the best film comedies of the 1930's, with one of the best casts around, Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, as a soon-to-be divorced couple out to ruin each other's new romances. Co-star Ralph Bellamy gets a chance to shine in the supporting role of Dunne's hapless suitor. In addition to winning, for McCarey, a Best Directing Oscar, the film has also been voted, by Premiere magazine, one of the 50 best comedies of all time, one of the Best U.S. Romances of all time, by the American Film Institute, and been inducted into the National Film Registry. This is a film which can be watched again and again with no loss of enjoyment.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

My 150 Favorite Films - #7

The Hot Rock (1972)

The Hot Rock is another one of those quirky caper films that I love, that I often wonder, "why don't more people know about this film?" Blessed with a splendiferous, testosterone-fueled cast, including Robert Redford, George Segal, Ron Liebman, all in their prime, The Hot Rock revolves around a plot to steal, or "liberate" a gem from the Brooklyn Museum. In short order everything that could go wrong does, and the plot quickly devolves. Worth seeing just for the cast alone, let alone the sublimely witty screenplay by William Goldman, based on a novel by Donald E. Westlake.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

My 150 Favorite Films - #8

Living in Oblivion (1995)

This slyly clever film pokes satirical fun at the world of independent filmmaking with all it's recalcitrant problems and inherent woes told from an insider's perspective by indie director, Tom DiCillo.  One of the first starring roles for each of the following: Steve Buscemi, as the Director, Catherine Keener, as the leading lady, James LeGros as the leading man (doing a subversive parody of Brad Pitt, despite what the director may say), Peter Dinklage, and Dermot Mulroney. Enjoyable on many levels.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My 150 Favorite Films - #9

Mulholland Drive (2001)

As fascinating as it is frustrating, Mulholland Drive ostensibly tells the story of  the illusion and disillusion of  Hollywood, and how corrupting an influence it can be. The film is enigmatic, to say the least, and open to wildly different interpretations. It can best be categorized as a psychological thriller, with the central mystery never being entirely explained. Naomi Watts hit the big leagues in her role as a young Hollywood hopeful and cult film director David Lynch was nominated for an Academy Award. The film itself has been named to many "Best" lists, including "Best Picture of the Decade" by Cahiers du Cinema and Best Picture of the 21st Century by  a BBC poll.