Gravity

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Before I talk to you about my very ingenious ideas about Gravity, I must offer an apology. I have been neglecting this blog for the past couple of months because of certain issues that slowed down my movie watching and robbed me of my free time. I posted on here several months back saying that I have returned to school to pursue my furthering education, but I also made a promise that I wouldn’t neglect my “duty” here, such as it is. Well, surprise surprise graduate school is very hard and all-consuming. Between my massive amounts of homework, trying to come up with original research ideas, an internship and the weekends that were full of trying to earn a wage so I wasn’t completely dependent on money that I have borrowed, this blog has taken to the back burner. Well, no more sir! I am back with a freaking vengeance. Expect this blog to get more lively over the next month and hopefully to continue to be lively for several months after that… but I make no promises. Now on to amazing musings on a movie so many other people have watched and spilled virtual ink on before me.

I decided in my infinite wisdom to watch Gravity, a 3D film that was designed to be in IMAX, on a 20 inch television. I also decided to watch this downbeat movie with a woman, my mother, who doesn’t care for anything that doesn’t have humor or at least a good love story to it. Both of these were huge mistakes that would have impacted my viewing of this movie if it had not been as engrossing and beautiful as it was.

As just a refresher course for anyone who doesn’t have a good movie: Gravity is about a scientist, Ryan Stone, who is working on a device that will make a space shuttle… I don’t know, more spacey? That doesn’t really matter. What matters is that she is a novice astronaut in space accompanied by a very talkative veteran astronaut, played by George Clooney. While they are working on something in the wild atmosphere of space a meteor shower interrupts their progress and sends Stone and Kowalski (Clooney) into infinite danger that they both strive to get out of throughout the rest of the film.

The plot line is simple. It is really just an excuse to see what the filmmaker can throw at Stone to hinder her progress towards safety. What isn’t simple is the impressive performance by Sandra Bullock, who plays Ryan Stone. For at least half of it’s running time, Bullock is hindered from the space suit she dons and the laws of space that the movie sets up. She floats, she spins and she grabs all with this cumbersome suit that hides most of her body movements. Thus she must rely on her face to do almost all of the reaction. Her cool, collected persona that she gives off to Kowalski and her other co-workers is nothing more than a front that hides her deep pain at past issues. The plot doesn’t just function as a how far can we push this woman without her cracking up, it also functions as a way to dig past the layers of rigid complacency and self-reliance her character feels she needs. So when she finally cracks up it is all the more painful and heart wrenching. But her ability to get away from that break down of spirits and push towards fighting for her life with all of the energy she has left is what makes this a strong character. I was quite frankly surprised that Bullock could pull this type of character off. I had sort of given up on her as an actress that could produce anything more that was worth watching. I struggle with her as an actress. I have seen several of her movies (my mother is a big fan of hers) and she always seems to be putting in an effort that draws the watcher towards her and roots for her but her abilities to choose the worst material (All About Steve, anyone?) relegated her to the cash grabbing hack category that is embodied by Nicholas Cage. I first realized how incredibly terrible her decisions were for suitable material when I watched her in The Proposal. By the time this movie came out, 2009, I knew enough to avoid her other disaster movies, but when my mother is watching something that is strange and off-putting, I must give in to my temptation and take no responsibility for it afterwards. (In this way, I watched two absolutely wretched Hallmark Original movies. In one movie the couple are pulled apart by a false accusation of stolen faberge egg. But it was all resolved when it was revealed that the dog of the house really stole it…. Groan)I watched with my mouth wide open as Bullock trounced around being this insane whack-a-doo character that was not based on any reality at all. I was convinced that some alien inhabited her body and tried their best to act as all humans do, but couldn’t quite pull it off. It was appalling to watch. When I heard that she was in Gravity, I was dubious. Many a great director can pull out a riveting performance from an actor or actress that aren’t really known for them but could Cuaron? He is a director that could get great performances out of already great actors, but could he get someone who has so debased herself that she has become a caricature and a punch line? I think that Cuaron proved himself to be a great director, not just by creating a riveting atmosphere, but by extracting a performance out of Bullock that got her a deserved (as opposed to the Blind Side) Oscar nomination and gave us a great strong woman performance.

A Problem Among Us Pop Culture Fanatics

I have a lot of guilt. I am a semi-depressed, anxiety-riden, Midwestern, former Catholic woman. So yeah, it is like guilt has been imprinted on my DNA. I have guilt about a lot of things that I really shouldn’t have guilt over. This is not a therapy session, so I won’t go over all of the ways my guilt manifests itself. Instead I will focus my pervading guilt onto one issue: my need to see or at least know about every new pop culture idea, especially movies. I need to know who are the most popular singers, what made the most money at the weekend box office, why men are all suddenly rocking the greaser look and how the most inane celebrities are doing mentally. Ok so I could give a shit about the last one, but I do care about all the other ones I just mentioned. If I don’t know who a famous artist is or what the premise of a new movie is, I feel like I have failed in some way. But these things do not define me. I do not get some gigantic prize for knowing who Macklemore (by the way I think he is the reason men are now cutting their hair the way they do… but I could be wrong. I am not a guy) is or seeing the most annoyingly trashy movie to hit 100 million in a weekend. (Is that possible? I guess it is) In fact I have just wasted precious brain space and time to devoting myself to this useless knowledge. Knowing this does not make me smarter in any way, but I can’t help but feel guilty when one of my friends, classmates, or even a stranger (this has happened by the way) comes up to me and asks me about this new pop culture thing and I have no idea about it. I at least have to be aware of what is going on. Why is that?

I feel like a lot of cineastes or pop culture nerds (or academics who study pop culture which is what I choose to identify as) have this constant superiority complex. I want to see every movie ever made so that I can find that undiscovered gem that nobody knows about and I can say in detail why this movie is better than that popular trash you just paid fifteen dollars to go see in the theaters. I want to know more about movies than you. This is what drives me to read about movies, write about movies, criticize movies, but it also makes me waste undue amounts of time on websites like Box Office Mojo, IMDb, the AV Club and The Dissolve reading about movies that I should probably not give a crap about. Right now I am looking at the front page of IMDb’s website and I have noticed that I only recognize one image for a trailer at the top. This freaking me out a little that I don’t know what these new movies are and I must go over there and watch the trailers or at least look at their IMDb page instead of finishing this article. I want to be control as to what media I consume, but I am not. Instead I waste hours on Netflix or Amazon watching a show that I don’t even particularly like (like House of Cards) because it is popular.

With every passing year, I care less and less about the new movies that are coming out. I pay more attention to year-end lists where critics just sum up the past year for me in ten easily digestible selections. Of course there is some part of me that finds this absolutely wretched and know that I could never find that undiscovered gem if I only watch the ten most critically acclaimed movies of the year. But then I realize that the alternative is that I have to constantly be paying attention to film reviews, film festival wrap ups, film news, box office news, and various other things. By the time I am done with these myriad of sites, I don’t actually want to watch anything. So I put on another episode of Bob’s Burgers, a show I have watched a bagazillion (actual amount. not making this up) times.

Music Videos Can be Cool Too!!

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Forgive my silly title. I couldn’t think of anything funny or interesting to title this post so I decided to lean into the terrible title game.

I recently acquired an internship where I spend hours upon hours in front of a computer googling various movie titles to get their contact information so that they can be considered for the film festival my company is curating. Every once in a while I find that a music video has been submitted to a particular film festival and it is also posted online. To give my weary eyes a rest, I usually watch these videos and are stunned by the quality. To me a music video is usually just a band standing in front of a camera singing. Or it is a very polished, bland artsy crap. But music videos are just as varied and interesting as shorts or features can be. Here are few examples of great music videos. Please google each and every director and musician, they all deserve to be better known.

London Grammar “Hey You”

This is a music video from a band called London Grammar. They are, not surprisingly, a British electronic pop trio. Just looking at their YouTube channel, I see that they are pretty popular in Britain and have a plethora of other great videos for you to check out.

The director of this video is Chris Ullens. Here is a cool making of video that shows just how long a process stop motion animation is.

Apothek “Family”

Apothek is an electronic outfit hailing from Norway. They don’t seem to have put out much music beyond this single, but man it is a doozy.

This video was made by a collective known as Lavafilm out of Norway as well. It is made up of two people who seem to share the directing duties. Their names are Ida Thurmann-Moe and Andreas Grødtlien. Looking at the picture of them on their website, they seem like pretty rad people.

Gramatik “Brave Men”

I love this video for two reasons. The first reason is that I have seen this musician live in concert before. He is a very talented electronic artist that can actually put on a show (which believe it or not are two very different attributes). If you dig this music, then check out his other stuff. He is amazingly prolific and usually gives his music away for free. Pay him back by attending one of his shows.

The director of the video is Joe Zohar. The other reason why I loved this video is because he chose to take a stereotype of a woman getting beaten up by her boyfriend/husband and turn it on its head. This is what he says on his website about the idea: “Our tale was inspired from human nature and set in an undefined place and time. Illustrating how nothing is ever what it seems and that we all have our secrets. Brave Men is a story about strong women and the cowardly men who don’t deserve them.” I think that is really cool.

Tom Rosenthal “As Luck Would Have It”

Rosenthal is a British singer songwriter. Like Apothek, it doesn’t seem like he is extremely popular yet, but he has a strong voice and vision for his music.

The animator/director of this video is Daniela Sherer. She is has a very unique animating style and you should definitely check out her other stuff. I would in particular recommend tracking down the full length of this video:

So I hope you liked my selections. Through this unique internship that I have, I have been made aware of so much independent stuff on the internet. Maybe next week I will highlight some trailers of movies I think are cool that you probably haven’t heard of yet. Who knows….

New Indie Thursday: Le Week-End

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To me, Paris is THE most romantic city in the world. Looking at the Eiffel Tower, sipping coffee at a nearby cafe, trying oysters at a fancy restaurant, and being surrounded by so much radical history just makes me feel so incredibly warm and fuzzy inside. (I have never been to Paris, but I want to go sooooooo badly… Will you buy my ticket for me?) In Le Week-End, a couple goes to Paris to soak up all the romantic aspects of the city and celebrate their long marriage to each other. Only this isn’t some sappy love story…

Meg and Nick are two teachers that have been married for thirty years. Their children have moved out (though it seems not willingly), on the verge of retirement (forced and self-imposed), and they have been forced to be only with each other. This seems frightening for both of them, but a problem that we have seen a million times before. What is fresh about this film is that there are more complex emotions going on underneath the surface of being alone together forever. Nick feels like an inadequate intellectual because he has yet to publish anything substantial. He is also terrified of being alone and follows Meg around like a little puppy. Whereas Meg is experiencing a rebellious nature awakening inside her that seems to have been put to sleep ever since she got married. She orchestrates an impromptu dine and dash when their bill is too much. She races through the corridors and streets of Paris. She flirts with younger men. She wants to get away from the boring routine of her life as a school teacher. She experience new things and become a new person. Riding underneath all of this is their strong affection for each other. But is this affection enough to keep them together?

I really responded to this movie. I thought it was an honest and complex picture of how a long-term romance evolves. Disappointment and determination become everyday emotions when you share the same life with someone for so long. You are disappointed that life hasn’t turned out exactly the way that you planned it, but you are determined to hold together a relationship that is infinitely frustrating and yet immensely enjoyable. This couple laughs a lot. They joke around and tease each other. There isn’t just this sour and sad exploration of a couple getting older. There is real life and airiness to the movie that I liked a lot. This is of course helped by the amazing performances of Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan. Broadbent is an actor that is solidly good in everything he does, but he really excels at relationship dramas like these. He brings a sense of familiarity and warmth to this type of story that the partner could either accept or riff on, like Lindsay Duncan does here. She takes that warmth and injects her own brand of sarcasm and gives it a neediness quality to it. It is quite wonderful how they can play off each other like they are an old couple that has lived together for thirty years and knows every little quirk about each other. Artifice is made real these two actors. In this reality, my own reality is reflected.

My Top 100 of All Time Part 5

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Woo hooooooo! This is my fifth installment of this bad boy. It took me forever to make this list and I am milking it for all it is worth. If you have a problem with it, you can… well you can do what ever you like, I suppose.

59. La Dolce Vita (dir. Fellini)

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If you haven’t seen this movie, then I don’t know why you are reading this blog. This movie is essential viewing for art house cinema fans for a reason. It is odd and fantastic and so influential that it is almost maddening who can trace their roots back to this or 8 1/2. Plus Marcello Mastroianni is so incredibly beautiful that it is hard taking my eyes off him to do normal things in life like eat, breathe and go to the bathroom. Ugh. What a handsome Italian.

58. Crimes and Misdemeanors (dir. Allen)

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I have to admit that I like Woody Allen’s lighter stuff more than his heavy dramas. But this movie is the exception to that admission. Allen is able to give a nuanced portrayal of infidelity in a way that doesn’t treat it as a joke. I really apprecitate that.

57. My Dinner with Andre (dir. Malle)

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This movie is so simple and that is why I love it so much. It is just a simple conversation about living their art had at a restaurant. What they have to say is touching, beautiful, and yet somehow also absurd. My goal in life is to have a person that I can talk to like these two men talk to each other. Sad goal isn’t it?

56. Taxi Driver (dir. Scorsese)

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When I saw this movie for the first time, I finally understood why Martin Scorsese is considered an amazing filmmaker. This movie is dark in such an amazing way. A huge part of me wishes that I lived in the New York City of this time period.

55. In a Lonely Place (dir. Ray)

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This movie is my favorite Humphrey Bogart performance. He just blows me away with his tortured and manic way that he exists. I can also relate to the terrible writer’s block that is portrayed so vividly. When you define yourself by one thing and you physically can’t do it, it makes you go crazy or become really depressed.

54. The Shining (dir. Kubrick)

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Around Halloween, I usually get asked what my favorite horror movie is. I usually respond The Shining and I almost always get eye rolls. ‘Here goes the film geek once again. Talking about how amazing the Shining is.’ Well it is amazing. And creepy. And terribly affective as a horror movie.

53. The Iron Giant (dir. Bird)

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The Iron Giant is just so darned cute. This is mainly why I love it so much. It is a movie version of looking at cute puppies on the internet.

52. M (dir. Lang)

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Fritz Lang is probably the best filmmaker ever. Okay, so that might be an exgeration, but not much of one. His ability to use sound in order to create a sense of dread in this movie is so great that filmmakers are still copying it over seventy years later.

51. A Woman Under the Influence (dir. Cassavettes)

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Gena Rowlands is so freaking amazing in a Woman Under the Influence that is almost unbelievable. How can she be that great at portraying a woman slowly going crazy? She must be crazy herself. Or maybe she is just the best actress to ever live and walk this gosh darn planet… That could be it.

50. Howl’s Moving Castle (dir. Mayazaki)

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How can I go into the last half of my favorite movies list without mentioning Mayazaki? And one of the most watched movies, Howl’s Moving Castle. Everything about this movie is just how a great animated film should be made. Quirky characters, fantastical settings, and a really great plot line. Check, check and double check.

New Indie Thursday: Grand Piano

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A good thriller is hard to find. A good time crunched thriller is even harder to find. So when I heard that many people thought Grand Piano was a diamond in the rough come to give me a good thrilling yet pulpy experience, I decided to go for it. I was not disappointed.

Elijah Wood plays Tom, a virtuoso piano player who choked several years ago on a complicated piece written by his mentor. He must now prove to himself and to his audience that he is still as good as he once was. His very famous wife urges him on and encourages to do his best all while surrounded by onlookers and fans. Once he gets to the stage, Tom realizes there is a message on his piece. He sees that it is a message from a man who wants to kill him and his wife. If he messes up even just one chord then he dies. If he tries to get help then his wife dies. He is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

This movie was fast paced and full of pulpy goodness. It had multiple murders, suspicious people lurking around in the background, henchmen, and a frightened Elijah Wood which is somehow good. It won’t win any depth awards and I probably won’t think about it in a week or two like I do with most great movies, but it was a fun way to spend a couple of hours. I had a good time. That is the best review I can give it. And I think that is all this movie aims to do.

Netflix Graveyard: A Single Man

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Being homosexual in the sixties was a hard thing to be. Especially if you wanted to be accepted into normal society. In a Single Man, Tom Ford explores what that isolation means to one man. A Single Man.

George is a university professor in California. He is also incredibly lonely and single. He is single because his lover died eight months ago. This lover was his life. He was his reason for living. George can no longer go on. But go on he does. He gets dressed. He goes to work. He teaches a class on Huxley. He interacts with a student, a fellow teacher, and a drifter. All of these interactions feel rote and like they are missing something. Something necessary to make them important. But George notes these interactions, making fun of his colleague’s need to build a bomb shelter, touched by his student buying him an eraser, and loving the burn of a cigarette that he gets from the drifter. Each moment will be the last of its kind, at least for him. He is determined to meet his lover in the afterlife. Several times he tries, but he keeps not succeeding. After one of these times, he goes over to Charley’s house to have dinner with her. Charley is lonely and a drunk. She is just as lonely as George. And maybe just as desperate to have some semblance of a human connection. She wants desperately for George to be straight, for him to care for her like he did for his lover. But this will never be. No one can change who they prefer or who they fall in love with. George escapes Charley’s clutches and tries once again. This time, he is distracted by the memory of meeting his lover for the first time. He goes to the same bar he saw him and meets the same student that bought him an eraser earlier in the day. Could this student be his saving grace? The student seems to see through his placid exterior and into the deep loneliness of his subconscious.

Colin Firth is easily the most amazing thing about this movie. He embodies the hurt and loneliness, the need to hide from everybody just to survive, so innately that I believed he once went through a similar experience. Firth takes this extended fashion shoot full of insanely beautiful but ultimately banal settings and breathes life into them. Take for instance the scene where he interacts with the drifter. He is outside a liquor store. He pulls his beautiful sixties car in front of a huge poster of Psycho with Janet Leigh screaming. The haze of the sun burning onto the concrete makes this scene feel like it is one of those Vogue fashion shoots that Ford is so known for. The drifter is an impossibly handsome Spanish man with a James Dean outfit and outlook. He can barely speak his lines. He is the worst actor I have seen in a professional film like this in a long time. But Firth takes this terrible acting and turns it into a touching moment when he reaches out and takes a cigarette from him. Firth takes this scene from inside a glossy fashion magazine and places it in a high quality drama. He breathes life into places where there isn’t really life before. In the scenes with Julianne Moore for instance. I love Julianne Moore, but she is positioned to be just a walking mannequin who drinks. Even her outburst towards the end of their conversation feels like it comes out of a talking doll. There is no life in her eyes. But Firth is able to take the literal nothingness that Moore is giving him and transform into cinematic gold. He produces one of the most touching moments in the film. See this movie for the sets and for Firth. But mostly for Firth.

Classic Cinema Tuesday: Sansho the Bailiff

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Mizoguchi isn’t really a director that I am very familiar with. I have heard of Ugestu but have not watched it. I know that he influenced many French New Wave directors. And I know that no one thinks of him any more. Beyond of course diehard Japanese and art house cinema fans. This sums up my knowledge of Mizoguchi. After watching Sansho the Bailiff, I don’t know if I know much more about him or his work.

After a Japanese governor decides to oppose a decree by a corrupt government, he is sent into exile. After some years, his wife and children journey to this remote place to join him. Along the way, the wife trusts someone she shouldn’t and as a result gets sold into slavery… sex slavery. Her two children, one boy and one girl, get sold to Sansho the Bailiff. They are now his slaves. They toil for long hours spinning wool or policing the province. They grow up in terrible conditions, but they never loose hope that they can one day get out. Zushio (the son) incorporates himself into Sansho’s band of ruffians to find a sense of relief from the daily grind. Anju (the daughter) objects to this turn in his outlook. When a sick woman is put out in the woods to die, Anju goads Zushio to escape the camp and take the sick woman with him. Anju decides to distract the ruffians while Zushio runs for his life. Anju is killed in the process. Zushio appeals to a local governor to get some shelter in the name of his exiled father. To his surprise, the local governor gives him an area to rule that includes the area of Sansho the Bailiff. The first decree Zushio makes is to outlaw all decrees that makes Sansho’s business legal (it was incredibly legal before he came to power). Zushio then travels personally to Sansho’s area and jails him for misconduct. He also searches for Anju, unaware that she was killed when he escaped. When he finds out, he decides to let go of his ruling area and journey to find the only person left (his father died in exile) alive of his family. In a climatic moment, Zushio finds his blind and old woman freeing her from her eternal bondage as a sex slave.

To be frank, this movie is incredibly depressing. Only at the end, does any sense of hope really sustains itself for longer than a moment. This movie also seems like it is screaming for a Foreign Language Oscar. Impeccably shot, well acted, and a typically downbeat story is all you need to ever secure that Oscar, and this movie has all three in spades. This is why I can’t quite put my finger on who Mizoguchi is. He doesn’t seem to have the visual flourishes of Kurosawa or the spare storytelling of Ozu. Is this all he is? Is Mizoguchi only good for making depressing sweeping old dramas? I don’t know, but I was quite bored with this effort. It wasn’t that this movie was bad or terribly made. I just felt like I have seen this type of epic before. Maybe I have become jaded in my adult movie viewing life… It’s probably that.

My Top 100 Of All Time Part 4

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This is the fourth installment of the most self-indulgent series ever. I am basically saying “hey look at me I have awesome taste in movies!” Well I do. And here is the proof. My entries of 69-60 on the list of top 100 of all time for me.

69. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (dir. Brooks)

cat_on_a_hot_tin_roof_paul_newmanTennessee Williams wrote such amazing dialogue for actors. And if you can get actors that truly understand what they are saying and why they are saying it, then it becomes a force to be reckoned with. Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, and Burl Ives were all made for these parts and made for this dialogue.

68. The Crowd (dir. Vidor)

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If someone tells me one more time that silent pictures were all primitive and why should we even care about them, I am going to shove a physical copy of this movie down their throat. Not only is the movie visually striking and politically relevant to our times, but King Vidor had a knack for telling a story with his camera in a way that most directors still struggle with today.

67. Nights of Cabiria (dir. Fellini)

nights-of-cabiriaI have one name for you: Giuletta Masina. Oh Man is she just a fantastic actress. She is great in Juliet of the Spirits and La Strada, but this movie is my favorite of hers during her fruitful collaboration with her husband, Fellini.
66. A Streetcar Named Desire (dir. Kazan)

streetcar Another Tennessee Williams picture. His characters are strange and not quite good in any way and I think that is why they are so compelling and heartbreaking. Blanche DuBois is a character doomed to a terrible existence and yet you can’t help but root for her and hope she pulls through. Of course Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando are able to do their well constructed characters justice because they both understand exactly what is needed for them. And Marlon Brando is just plain sexy in that fitted white t-shirt. I’m getting hot just thinking about it. 😉

65. Brick (dir. Johnson)

53 This was the movie that really got me into independent cinema. I found this film while listening to Filmspotting and I couldn’t help but watch this movie directly upon hearing their glowing review. This movie made me understand how a movie can call upon the tradition of movies and still make it their own. Rian Johnson’s directing and screenwriting, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s acting and the crew’s innate ability to use what limited space they were given to their utmost advantage is what made this movie great and so high on my list.
64. Modern Times (dir. Chaplin)

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When I finally dived into Chaplin’s oeuvre for the first time, I was taken aback by just how visually stunning and interesting his scenic gags were. Watching the iconic gears scene in this movie took my breath away. For that scene alone, this movie is on the list. However it is this high because of Chaplin’s ability to pull at my heartstrings.
63. A Clockwork Orange (dir. Kubrick)

a-clockwork-orangeX When I first saw this movie, I hated it. I was young and I didn’t understand what was going on in the movie at all. Then I read Anthony Burgess’ amazing novel and watched the movie again… And I still hated it. But for a completely different reason (it wasn’t the book). I watched it for a third time and realized just how much of a pull the grotesque nature of this film had for me. I had watched it three times without any one forcing me to. I then grew to love it and its visual weirdness.
62. Kiss Me Deadly (dir. Aldrich)

kiss_me_deadly In contrast to A Clockwork Orange, I was exposed to this movie in one of my undergraduate film classes and loved it from the first scene. And it just got better with time.
61. Coffee and Cigarettes (dir. Jarmusch)

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For an uncomfortable amount of time after I first saw this movie with my boyfriend, we would go to coffee shops just to drink coffee and smoke cigarettes, wishing that we could get a waiter like Steve Buscemi or Bill Murray. We would then talk about our Tesla Coils or about how Elvis isn’t really dead. Such warm and fuzzy memories.
60. Sunset Boulevard (dir. Wilder)
swansonIf you are looking at how low this movie is, don’t fret. I do have really good taste. All of the movies after this one are definitely better than Sunset Blvd. But that does not diminish the impact that Sunset Blvd had on my film watching life. I still remember watching Gloria Swanson descending that huge staircase like a madwoman. Perfection.

Chaplin

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Why oh why do I still go back to biography pictures? I know that they are usually shit and yet I can’t resist a picture about a famous person whose life I want to know about am too lazy to read a biography book. Tell it to me in picture form! I guess that is what I thought when I saw that Chaplin was on Netflix Watch Instant the other day. I care about Chaplin’s output. I care about how Chaplin made his movies. But do I care about this white washed portrayal of essentially a megalomaniac who only likes very young women?

Chaplin stars Robert Downey Jr as the title character. We see Chaplin’s progression from being a vaudeville star to being an icon in American silent cinema and finally his deportation and asylum in a foreign country. Every little minute detail is covered in this extremely long snoozer. And we get to see the height of old age makeup circa 1992. (Just a warning: if you are studying to be a visual effect makeup artist, do not look at this movie for inspiration…)

How can a biopic about one of the greatest actors and directors be so insanely boring? A worship of an icon does not mean that you need to care about every little minute detail of his life. Oh and having him narrate his own story as he takes a very long walk with an empty Michael Caine is cliché even in 1992. I don’t care about Charlie Chaplin the statutory rapist. I don’t care about his house in Switzerland or his many failings as a person. I care about his art. I want to see how and why he made the pictures he did, not glimpses of his pictures in between scenes of him yucking it up with various young women. I don’t care. I feel like I am a broken record. The most effective biographical pictures whether they are documentary or fictional are most effective if you see one or two major events in the person’s life and use those events to construct a whole picture of who this person was/is. Is anybody freaking listening to me? Hello?