Monday, July 11, 2016

My 150 Favorite Films - #15

Jean de Florette (1986) 

Jean de Florette and it's companion drama Manon of the Spring, are, quite apart from the plot, two of the most sumptuously photographed stories ever committed to film. The haunting tale, of greed, revenge, murder and plot twists make this a film for the ages. Filmed in rural Provence, the story it tells is of two local farmers who scheme to trick a newcomer out of his property. As it stars Gerard Depardieu, Yves Montand, Daniel Auteil, Emmanuelle Beart, and is directed by the acclaimed French director, Claude Berri, this film has proven to be one of the most sumptuous and moving of all time. Filmed together, but released separately, I am counting the two films as one.

Monday, July 04, 2016

My 150 Favorite Films - #16

The Wedding Banquet (1993)

Before Ang Lee became world famous directing such modern-day classics as Brokeback Mountain, Sense and Sensibility and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, he made this small, early film, about a gay, Taiwanese man who intends to go through with a sham wedding in order to please his traditional parents. Needless to say, complications arise. Nominated for Best Foreign Language of 1993, The Wedding Banquet was also the most profitable film of 1993, relative to its cost, and to my mind, the most enjoyable.


Wednesday, June 08, 2016

My 150 Favorite Movies - #17

The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)

The French Lieutenant's Woman takes a novel approach to adapting the metafictional novel, and brings it to the big screen by making it a movie within a movie. In line with the source material having two different endings, the screenplay, by Harold Pinter, adapted from the novel by John Fowles, intercuts between two love affairs, between the 19th-century characters in the novel, played by Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons at his most swoon-worthy, and the "actors" (also played by Streep and Irons) portraying these characters. A mesmerizing film, from beginning to end.

Friday, June 03, 2016

My 150 Favorite Movies - #18

Pillow Talk (1959)

The first and, arguably, the best in a series of classic romantic comedies starring one of the screen's most enduring couples, Doris Day and Rock Hudson, Pillow Talk revolves around a shared party line, and a case of seduction by deception. Also starring Tony Randall and Thelma Ritter, the film proved to be so popular, that Day and Hudson were reteamed twice more (as different characters) in Lover Come Back and Send Me No Flowers.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

My 150 Favorite Movies - #19

Chilly Scenes of Winter (1979)

Based on the Ann Beattie novel, and originally called Head Over Heels (with a happier ending), this tale of obsessive love unrequited is both emotionally draining and exhilarating, if such things can co-exist in the same story. Starring John Heard, Mary Beth Hurt, Peter Riegert, and Gloria Grahame (yes!) in the extreme latter part of her career, this movie is definitely worth seeking out and worth savoring.

Monday, April 04, 2016

My 150 Favorite Movies - #20

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

The title comes from a line in a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "kind hearts are more than coronets, and simple faith than Norman blood." This black comedy, arguably the best comedy out of Ealing Studios (which also included The Ladykillers and The Lavender Hill Mob), takes it's plot from an obscure novel titled Israel Rank: the Autobiography of a criminal, originally published in 1907, and which also served as the inspiration for the Broadway play, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder. The story concerns a plot by an obscure relation to kill off all members of an aristocratic family who are standing between him and the dukedom, in order to avenge his mother's being disowned by them. Although that may not sound comedic, it is widely regarded to be a comedy classic especially since all eight family members, are played by the inestimable Alec Guinness. Dennis Price stars as the hapless murderer, along with Joan Greenwood and Valerie Hobson as his comely love interests.

Monday, February 22, 2016

My 150 Favorite Movies - #21

All About Eve (1950)

Bette Davis may have lost the Academy Award for Best Actress this year (to Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday), but she certainly won the war, as everyone still talks about this amazing movie, and her performance in it. As an aging actress no longer able to play the ingenue, the performance may have been a little too close to home for comfort, but it rivets. Playing her opposite number, as the little ingenue who could (and the title character) Anne Baxter more than holds her own. Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, Celeste Holm, and especially George Sanders, as acid-tongued critic Addison DeWitt, capably bring up the rear. Featuring an early cameo by a then little-known actress named Marilyn Monroe, All About Eve holds the record (tied by Titanic) for the most Academy Award nominations for any one film. Director and screenwriter Joseph L. Mankiewicz was nominated for and won Oscars in both those categories.