This is a continuation of a post I posted last week.
89. The Act of Killing (dir. Oppenheimer)
This movie is easily the most interesting and shocking documentary to come along in the last couple of years. About a man who served as a hit man during the revolution of his country, Indonesia, and then receives national recognition for his service, really gets to the core of insane ability of humans to lie to themselves in order to make things tolerable. The cinematography alone is enough to take your breath away.
88. Nightmare Before Christmas (dir. Selick)
This is a nostalgic pick for me. Believe it or not I had some gothic tendancies when I was in high school (I wasn’t allowed to wear all black or dye my hair to school, so I was only goth in my soul) which involves a heavy obsession with Nightmare Before Christmas. In order to fit in, I memorized this movie front and back and subsequently developed a love for stop motion animation. I also frequented Hot Topic during this time, buying up all of the Jack Skellington my meager allowance would allow. I still look back fondly on this movie. It might be my favorite Tim Burton movie.
87. Man Bites Dog (dir. Belvaux)
Man Bites Dog is a harrowing experience. A mockumentary about a serial killer actually killing people on screen, it is sometimes very hard to watch. Once you have completed this movie, you will have realized just how truly terrible most found footage horror movies are today. This movie is not just about the serial killer but also about the viewer’s propensity to see violence and destruction and relish in it. It is a fantatstic movie.
86. The Blue Angel (dir. von Sternberg)
I first saw this movie in a History of Film class and was the only one to like it and I am still proud of that fact today. I loved this movie because of one reason: Marlene Dietrich. This movie was her breakout performance and the one that got the attention of Hollywood studios. She oozed sex and grace in this movie and her vicious ability to completely destroy a teacher’s boring life made for some interesting viewing. There is one scene in the movie that I sticks with me still and it is a simple scene. In order to show time passing, von Sternberg had the teacher burn pages of the calendar with a hair iron. It is so simple and yet so ingenious. Man I would like to watch this movie right now.
85. Army of Shadows (dir. Melville)
I have already written about one Jean-Pierre Melville movie, but he appears on here several times so get used to seeing his name. This movie is a different type of movie for him in that it is not strictly about gangsters, although the characters are treated as if they were. Melville worked for the Resistance in France during World War II and decided to make this movie as a testament to this time. It follows a Resistance fighter gets caught and interred in a camp. He manages to escape only to rejoin the Resistance again and keep on doing the work. This movie isn’t about the grand adventures of Resistance fighters, but about the mundane day-to-day activities and fears they have about getting caught. In other words a pure Melville film.
84. Dark Victory (dir. Goulding)
Aw man. What a declicious melodrama Dark Victory is. Bette Davis stars as a socialite diagnosed with a brain tumor. She is vivacious and strong headed so naturally the doctor who works on her falls madly in love with her. Her strength and their love drive this film and make it one of the best performances of Davis’ career. It is so romantic. I apparently have a soft spot for romance movies… sue me.
83. Gold Rush (dir. Chaplin)
This movie is a Chaplin classic. Everything that you know about Chaplin is in this movie. His dancing roll dance, him eating a shoe, the massive amounts of snow that infiltrates his one room shack are all here. This movie is a joy to watch but it also gives you a sense of the insane amount of hardship people put themselves through just for a chance to get rich on gold.
82. Winter Light (dir. Bergman)
Winter Light is probably one of Bergman’s most austere movies. It follows an emotionally closed off priest who is questioning his faith in God while also trying to serve his congregation and fend off the love of a homely school teacher. This one sided love affair produces one of the most heart wrenching scenes where the teacher writes to the priest. She looks directly in the camera in a medium shot and says the lines of her letter as if the priest were sitting directly across from her. Her voice is so full of emotion and her piercing stare is so unflinching that it quickens my heart and makes me instantly resentful of the priest who rejects her love without so much as a second thought. This is a beautiful film full of complex ideas and wonderful performances.
81. Swing Time (dir. Stevens)
This is easily one of the sweetest movies ever made. Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire have an easy chemistry together that floats through their extended dance sequences, screwball like dialogue scenes and their great songs that they sing. Everything they do together is just fantastic. This movie instantly lifts up my spirits every time I put it on.
80. Battleship Potemkin (dir. Eisenstein)
Battleship Potemkin is required viewing for anyone interested in the evolution of film and the mechanics of filmmaking. The Odessa stairs sequence is incredibly iconic and an ingenious use of montage. It is still iconic for a reason: it is arresting. Eisenstein was a genius that should have had a more prolific career that constantly pushed the envelope of medium of filmmaking. Unfortunately Russia was in a weird state at the time he was alive and he was only able to make a film every once in awhile and mostly under strict circumstances. What a freaking shame.