Mark down two for Fassbinder and I stand behind my statement that he was and is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I can't wait to completely wrap THE BOOK so that I can focus on some other movies, movies that I actually seek out and find myself and I think I'll start with polishing off the rest of Fassbinder's filmography, as extensive as it is. Big thumbs up for this one though.
11. Badlands (1973) dir. Terrence Malick 9/10
And then, of course, there's that camera work, which provided me with a multitude of shots to choose from for this very post, but ultimately I had to decide on three. It's funny because the characters don't really deserve this good of a movie. When you think of this heathen Kit Carruthers, poetic lines and visual artistry don't spring to mind and maybe that's why this film stands out as such a great one - because it creates a mash-up of such beauty and such ugliness.
Really boosted my rating for this one, from the original '7.5' to the '9' that I'm upping it to today. But this was just great and even reading my review, I can tell I probably even underrated it at the time. I really gushed about this one back in July and why I only went with a respectable, but ultimately measly '7.5' is beyond me. Good to have a favorite Malick film now too.
10. Five Easy Pieces (1970) dir. Bob Rafelson 9/10
This is a real slice of life picture and has aged really well. It's just about a man trying to find his way, a very simple picture that I think is really easy to enjoy. I had seen this film once before and remembered liking it very well. I was coming off of a pretty vicious headache today and needed something that wasn't going to require a lot of thought and this was just what the doctor ordered, although in the end, I did find myself pondering this character quite a bit, so perhaps my plan backfired. Oh well. It was a fine day at the movies, one that both my wife and I enjoyed and this comes with an easy recommendation.
Another one that just sort of lingered in the background, waiting to wave it's hands to get my attention come last night and the construction of this list. I wasn't really thinking about this one in the weeks leading up to the list, but when I noticed it last night, I knew it needed placed and placed high. I really liked it and this is one I could watch again and again. I'm becoming quite the Nicholson fan, I might add.
09. A Man Escaped (1956) dir. Robert Bresson 9/10
It probably didn't hurt that my wife and I are still truckin' away on Oz, therefore I've been all hopped up on prison fiction anyway. However I'm such a sucker for prison stuff that it never takes much anyway to win me over. Add to that the fact that I'm an even bigger sucker for escape flicks and this one was a sure fire winner right out of the gate. I have to admit though, that after watching those first two Bresson films, I was a little skeptical. Sure Pickpocket was just fine, but Diary of a Country Priest was downright dull and there was always the chance that Bresson could go extra dull for this one. I'm for minimalist filmmaking however and this was almost as minimal as it gets: unprofessional actors, more narration than actual character to character dialogue and long shots of simply the main character trying to spoon his way out of a solid concrete Nazi prison camp. Sure, it's no Le Trou, which gets even more intricate when it comes to elaborate escape plans, but it was a damn good movie and one that I'd be willing to watch over and over again.
You saw this coming right? I mean, it's a prison escape movie which was a shoo in to be in the TOP 10. Add Bresson to the list of directors that I can now speak intelligently about, as well as have a favorite movie of his loaded, if ever asked the question.
08. The Terminator (1984) dir. James Cameron 9/10
I mean you've got action, you've got a thriller, you've got a horror movie and you basically have a non-stop chase scene from beginning to end, with a bunch of really cool, "holy shit" moments thrown in there for good measure. The plastic bombs being thrown at the Terminator while he pursues Sarah & Reese on a motorcycle, the T-800 rising from the wreckage when one of the bombs is thrown into the flammable semi that he's driving, now completely shed of his skin and of course, the raid the T-800 does on the police station. I'll admit, I pretty much hated the all of the scenes that flashed forward to the war, but what can you do.
I needed to convey that this was easily better than Terminator 2 and upping it a point and a half was a good start. I had originally gone '7.5' along with the sequel, but '9' is much more suitable.
07. Fox and His Friends (1975) dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder 9.5/10
As I watched and got deeper and deeper into the film, I kept wondering how it'd all end. I have to say the ending was pretty perfect: Fox having given EVERYTHING to Eugen, except a few spare marks, spends his last night sleeping in his car, before overdosing on valium and dying in the subway, only to have his pockets picked by two youths. I have to ask though, what were Max and Klaus doing together? Was there something there that went straight over my head, a relationship that was eluded to earlier that I missed, perhaps? I was kind of confused by that. I also really loved Fassbinder in this too. What is it about director's in their own movies that always somehow seems to turn out good? Perhaps it's because they know exactly the performance they want and how to deliver it - yeah, that must be it. I was totally taken by him in this and those littler mannerisms he'd deliver when Eugen scolded him, bowing his head a bit and somehow perfectly portraying a temporarily broken hearted man. It only served to side me more with him and oppose me more to Eugen, which is, I'm sure, the intended reaction. Oh and how about that apartment the two had? The spiral staircase, the balcony with the grand view and that marvelous bed with a cherub printed on the foot board - hell, it even had orange carpet, something that for some reason I always think of when I think of old style apartments. Anyway, it was awesome and I kind of wanted to live there, but no with these characters.
Again, I say past me is one picky son of a bitch! I only gave this an '8' originally and it's so much better than that. Still, I can't go full monty or anything, but I'll go as close as I can and a '9.5' is very fair for this classic - easily the best Fassbinder I saw this season.
06. Turkish Delight (1973) dir. Paul Verhoeven 10/10
In conclusion, this was great and I'm left realizing that the name Rutger Hauer, someone who only two days ago I knew only as an actor with a funny name, will now mean something to me. It makes me wonder of all the other celebrities names I've heard only and how many of those I'll someday be able to connect to a personal experience. Now when I hear that name, it won't be just a funny sounding one, but will also come with the memory of this fantastic piece of cinema, a movie that I won't soon forget. It's hard to find, but I promise it's worth the hunt and please, do your best to not give up on it after the first thirty minutes...
Now we enter hallowed ground, ladies & gents. We're talking the movies that from here on out are flawless and are the six movies that will define my past year of movie watching. If I was the president of an academy, these would be my best picture nominees and we kick it off with Verhoeven's masterpiece, Turks fruit. I LOVED this movie and need to find a DVD copy, so I can add it to my collection.
05. The Elephant Man (1980) dir. David Lynch 10/10
I can't really think of anything else to say, so I guess I'll wrap it up. The Elephant Man is currently streaming on Netflix and I 100% agree that it is a must see. Not only is it sure to give you a new appreciation for black & white cinema (the cinematography is spot on!), but also an appreciation for life, for kindness and for your fellow man. And if it gets to that ending and tears aren't at least making their presence in your eyes, then perhaps you are made of stone....
...though, I'll still regard Blue Velvet as my personal favorite David Lynch film! But this was great and slowly, Lynch is getting back into my good graces, after years of writing him off as nothing to get excited about.
04. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) dir. Milos Forman 10/10
Anyway, yeah, I love this movie. Who doesn't, really? I don't knock anyone's tastes but is there anyone who doesn't like this movie? I mean, what's not to like? Remember when you're a teen and you start to really get into films? I remember when I did. I was a big movie fan all my life, but when I was really young (I'm talking 10 - 12 years old) I was way into comedies. I'd go the store and rent things like "Wayne's World" and Eddie Murphy movies. I'd see the classics - The Godfathers and the Scorsese's and the Spielberg's - but I'd never rent them. Then one day, you decide to take the plunge, to see The Godfather maybe and you realize everything you've heard was crap because this movie was crap. No I'm not calling The Godfather crap, my twelve - fourteen year old self is. Anyway, my point is, Cuckoo's Nest is different. It's a classic that is also really easy to love and really hard to dislike. It's the one time I think the whole world can agree that the Academy actually picked the right movie to give their awards to, as I don't know many who can't find SOMETHING to love about Cuckoo's Nest.
I really expected this to be #1 when I watched it, but after watching it and letting it soak in, I knew that there were three better movies this season...
03. The Night of the Hunter (1955) dir. Charles Laughton 10/10
Ummm...in case you missed it in all that - I loved this! I could probably go another few paragraphs, but I won't just because. If you're one of the ones who aren't convinced that they were making great movies in the 50s, then here's your proof. I promise, it's nothing like any old movie you've ever seen and it kind of breaks a lot of the unwritten rules of the times, does it not? I mean, I was pretty freaking shocked when they actually killed off Shelley Winters (a notable star at the time, I think) at the HALFWAY MARK! I couldn't believe it. By the way, while I LOVE most old movie posters, this one is pretty crappy. If I was going to see this movie based solely on this purpose, I'd be expecting a film about marital unbliss and that's all. It should have been a much darker poster, with a sole shot of Mitchum and his love/hate hands, with the tag line, "Would you like me to tell you the little story of right hand/left hand?" Man, I just love it when a movie effects me so much that I start playing armchair filmmaker!
02. The Conversation (1974) dir. Francis Ford Coppola 10/10
I may rate it a few notches below a '10' today, but I think when I think back on this movie it's really going to dawn on me just how perfect it was. And what about that score - brilliance! It was just perfect and honestly, the combination of that music coupled with this film, makes it the best composition I've heard in quite sometime. It portrays the eeriness of being watched, coupled with the paranoia and guilt of our main character and it just suits the film so well. Have a listen. I think whenever I hear that piece, all of the details of this film are going to come flooding back: Hackman's master class performance, the beauty of the camerawork, the near flawlessness of Coppola's writing & direction and the way the plot perfectly appealed to me.
01. The French Connection (1971) dir. William Friedkin 10/10
Seriously people, what's not to like? Seriously!? Because I couldn't find anything that I didn't like and all in all, I had an amazing time watching this last night. In fact, after getting up at 6:30am yesterday morning and not popping this in the DVD player until somewhere around 10pm, I didn't even begin to doze off and even when I laid down (which was past midnight), I just laid there for about ten minutes, thinking about what I just watched. What a great movie and I know I've said it before, but dammit, they just don't make them anymore, like they did in the 70s. Imagine a picture like this even getting nominated for a Best Picture Oscar nowadays, let alone winning! It would never happen. The 70s had a certain grit, a certain independence and filmmakers who knew what they wanted and would do anything to get it, like William Friedkin sitting in the backseat of the car, during the chase scene, to film it himself. Great, great stuff here people and this should've been at the top of your Netflix queue yesterday, so that you could have spent your Valentine's Day today with Popeye!
Here's my theory: You want to know why I shit on so many movies this season and why this may have been....no, no, it definitely was the worst season of movies I've had since starting THE BOOK? Because during the very first week of me watching movies for this season, I saw The French Connection, The Conversation and The Night of the Hunter! Three flawless movies (and yes, past me, you are still a silly bitch who needs slapped with the long white glove of an elderly bourgeoisie woman!) that really made an impact on every future film I'll watch. When I see a film noir, I'll always reference The Night of the Hunter. Whenever I see a drug busting, crime film, I'll think of The French Connection and whenever I ever hear a great score, I'll always think: It's not nearly as great as the score from The Conversation. There it is, kids!
TEN WORTH MENTIONING: Lola (1961), Shock Corridor (1963), Wanda (1970), Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), The American Friend (1977), Saturday Night Fever (1977), The Tin Drum (1979), The Fourth Man (1983), The Right Stuff (1983) and Tampopo (1985)
Well kids, that's a wrap. The next season will kick off with The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II and from there, I've got some treats lined up, some things I've been saving just so I could bust out for the final season. I'm talking about tribute weeks to Andrei Tarkovsky (I've NEVER seen one of his films), Werner Herzog (ditto), John Cassavetes (ditto) and Francois Truffaut. I'm talking about classics like Blade Runner, Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, The Matrix, Braveheart, Ben-Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, The African Queen, Singin in the Rain, The Searchers, The Wild Bunch, Scarface and Seven Samurai, just to name a few. And who knows, maybe my next, my final #1 movie lingers somewhere else, somewhere outside of those select few I just named. We shall see. It's going to be a fun season, one that will end in the completion of my self inflicted film school. I'm ready...let's do it!
January 20, 2015 3:45pm