The penultimate segment of the list! A lot of physical films this time around. Only two were released after the year I was born, though only two are in black and white. Many of the films take place in only a few locations. Also, they’re all great.
Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Starring Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei
And now, I’m an old broken down piece of meat… and I’m alone. And I deserve to be alone. I just don’t want you to hate me.
That this film and Black Swan were once the same script makes total sense. Both examine how the body suffers from performance and willpower. The Wrestler is more grounded and heartfelt, though not sentimentally so. Rourke and Tomei give great, real performances and Aronofsky keeps everything immediate.
Directed by Terrence Malick. Starring Richard Gere and Brooke Adams
Nobody’s perfect. There was never a perfect person around. You just have half-angel and half-devil in you.
Malick loves him some voice-over and pretty pictures. This tale of depression-era farming and a simmering romance is beautifully shot and told. The locust scene is spectacular filmmaking.
Directed by Charles Crichton. Starring John Cleese and Jamie Lee Curtis
Now let me correct you on a couple of things, OK? Aristotle was not Belgian. The central message of Buddhism is not “Every man for himself.” And the London Underground is not a political movement.
One of the smartest movies I’ve seen, A Fish Called Wanda is a hilariously absurd film that manages to get some real emotion in while crushing dogs under pianos. Kevin Kline won an Oscar for his performance as the monumentally stupid and confident Otto and he deserved it.
Directed by Elia Kazan. Starring Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando
I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic. I try to give that to people. I do misrepresent things. I don’t tell truths. I tell what ought to be truth.
The key word for this movie is heat. There’s the obvious and overwhelming sense of heat in terms of temperature but the real heat comes from the characters. There’s something boiling under everybody’s surface and as the film goes on it gets closer and closer to exploding. Kazan cleverly changes the room where the majority of the film takes place to get more and more claustrophobic as the movie progresses.
Directed by Frank Borzage. Starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell
Chico… Diane… Heaven.
Though I don’t like it as much as Lucky Star, 7th Heaven is another fantastic film pairing Gaynor and Farrell under the direction of Borzage. There’s a lot about levels and rising and falling, along with some terrific romance and Borzage’s typical miraculous ending.
Directed by John McTiernan. Starring Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman
“And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.” Benefits of a classical education.
Yes, for those of you that didn’t know, my blog name is a quote from Die Hard. It’s the best of the 80’s and 90’s action films, mostly because of Willis and Rickman and their superb bantering. Die Hard is a movie that will never age.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint
No. No. Mother, I have not been drinking. No. No. these two men, they poured a whole bottle of bourbon into me. No, they didn’t give me a chaser.
Cary Grant is one of the best people ever. This is scientifically proven. Here he gets to be caught up in a smuggling plot and a delightfully devious romance. When I finished watching it I remarked that it felt very modern and retro at the same time. I could see Steven Soderbergh doing a remake like he did the Ocean’s movies. But they wouldn’t have Cary Grant and that would be a travesty.
And then we hear the “Ave Maria”, with its message of the triumph of hope and life over the powers of despair and death.
Fantasia was supposed to be the beginning of a continued experiment where Disney would create a visual accompaniment to a work of classical music every year and put it on the front end of their flagship releases. That, unfortunately, didn’t happen. Fantastia is a fantastic work of art in its own right, though. Each piece works for me and the animation is beautiful and compelling. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait 60 years for another sequel.
Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss
Martin, it’s all psychological. You yell barracuda, everybody says, “Huh? What?” You yell shark, we’ve got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July.
If you haven’t seen Jaws I don’t know what you’re doing reading this list. The original summer blockbuster, it has a lot more depth than most of the crap we get during the summer now. It is superbly directed and the acting is just great. Where is the Quint speech about the Indianapolis in Transformers or the restraint about showing the bad guy in the later Pirates films? Yeah, the shark they built didn’t work so Spielberg couldn’t show it but the way he handled that technical glitch created one of the most terrifying monsters in cinema history.
Directed by Guillermo del Toro. Starring Ivana Baquero and Sergi López
The moon will be full in three days. Your spirit shall forever remain among the humans. You shall age like them, you shall die like them, and all memory of you shall fade in time. And we’ll vanish along with it. You will never see us again.
More of a war drama than a fairy tale, Pan’s Labyrinth subverts expectations at every moment. The real world horror is worse than any fantasy could be, thanks to an all-time great performance by Sergi López as the evil step-father and fascist general. Whether the fantasy world exists outside of Ofelia’s head isn’t important because it is entirely her story and it is real for her. Another film where I wouldn’t change a thing.
The other parts of the list: