In keeping with the serial theme, this was followed by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (6*), and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (*8).
Sunday, August 31, 2008
In keeping with the serial theme, this was followed by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (6*), and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (*8).
Dir: Robert Zemeckis, 1985 (8.8*)
Can you have any more fun in a sf film? The first film stood alone, but then the sequel was so long they split it into two parts, the 2nd now nothing more than an unfinished bridge to the third. Michael J. Fox is a high school kid in the 80’s who has a science professor friend, Christopher Lloyd in his best movie role, always experimenting with mind-blowing machinery. He luck out on one invention however and turns an old Delorian into a time traveling coupe, runnin on garbage or beer using his "flux capacitor". Very funny adventures ensue when Fox is hurtled back to 1955, crashes and meets his mom, Lea Thompson, who takes care of him and develops an immediate crush, jeopardizing her chances with his nerdy dad, Crispin Glover! What are the odds? In this trilogy, pretty good as Fox goes back and forth in the Delorian until he’s in the wild west in part 3… Thomas F. Wilson is perfect as arch-enemy Biff and all his relatives.
Quote: Why don't you make like a tree and get outta here. (Biff)
Dir: Stephen Frears, 1990 (9.0*)
Based on a novel by Jim Thompson, and scripted by crime author Donald Westlake, this is a crime thriller about a trio of con artists (aka "grifters"), Angelica Huston, who fixes odds at racetracks for the mob, her son John Cusack, and a expert grifter he meets (and desires), Annette Bening. This is the best of its type, blending a 40’s style noir novel into an 80’s style film, with superb acting all around.
Dir: David Mamet, 1987 (9.1*)
Just about the perfect con-artist film. Mamet’s wife Lindsay Crouse plays a psychiatrist who writes books, and lets a client know she’s doing one on con-games and their perpetrators. She is then swept into their world by Joseph Mantegna, and gets far more than she bargained for. That's Ricky Jay doing the card tells, technical advisor for Mamet on his con-artist films, and usually given a part. This complex thriller gets you deeper and deeper into the plot until there’s barely room to get out. My favorite script of Mamet's.
It’s said one reason George C. Scott refused his Oscar® for this biopic is because he hated "Blood and Guts" George Patton so much. It’s apparent from this war epic that Gen. Patton was sort of a misguided hero, yet an army moving, battle winning leader of men nonetheless. Scott was never better, and this movie spared no expense in recreating his famous drive through Europe, often moving his army 100 miles in 2 days. Maybe a little heartless, and down a star for excessive patriotic propagandizing, this film is still excellently crafted, one of the best on World War II. 7 Oscars
Patton was a firm believer in reincarnation; in this film they have him make a side trip ton an ancient battle site in north Africa, where Patton connects to past life memories. He wrote this poem about reincarnation, "Through a Glass Darkly", and these stanza are quoted in the film:
Through the travail of the ages,
Midst the pomp and toil of war,
Have I fought and strove and perished
Countless times upon this star
So as through a glass, and darkly
The age long strife I see
Where I fought in many guises,
Many names, but always me
Dir: Clint Eastwood, 2004 (9.1*)
Best Picture (AA)
This hard-hitting boxing film is based on a true story and is Eastwood’s best as director, and was his 2nd best picture Oscar® winner after 92's Unforgiven. I'm puzzled it isn't on more all-time best lists. Hilary Swank, in an amazing Oscar-winning supporting performance, convinces jaded manager Eastwood and his trainer, Morgan Freeman (also an Oscar winner), to give her a shot and train her for a pro boxing career. What follows can’t be described without spoilers, but suffice to say that this deserved the Best Picture Oscar it won, as well as all the acting accolades. Either this or Raging Bull is the best boxing film yet made; Bull had the style, Baby has the heart. 4 Oscars®
Gianni Amelio, Italy, 1994 (9.7*)
Apparently, after communism fell in Albania, there was a mass exodus from the country. In this brilliant Italian film, Italian capitalists are going into Albania to set up a shoe factory there in order to get government grants. However, only Albanians can own companies, so they get an unknown man from prison. The situation degenerates however, and the film becomes a statement about identity, personal freedom, refugees, and hope. Its hard to describe without spoilers. In fact, the title refers to the fact that "America" represents hope to many people. This film made over 100 top ten lists the year it came out and won numerous international awards.
Dir: Francis Ford Coppola, 1974 (10*)
Palm d’Or (Cannes)
If not for a film called Godfather II, this film would likely have won best picture itself in 74 (it was nominated), and may arguably be Coppola’s best; it’s certainly his tightest, and did win the grand prize at Cannes. Gene Hackman plays a electronic bugging expert, usually hired to scope out corporate secrets, often requiring ingenious methods to record conversations, like multiple eavesdroppers, some on the move. He unwittingly discovers that perhaps someone who hired him has committed a murder, which he discovers examining conversations he bugged. Saying very much would spoil this excellent, tense crime film with many implications. This is my favorite Gene Hackman performance, and most subtle, that just goes deeper and deeper as it progresses.
Dir: Philip Alden Robinson, 1989 (9.7*)
A spiritual fantasy and one of the most uplifting films in history. Kevin Costner (as Roy Kinsella) owns a small corn farm in Iowa and is having trouble making ends meet. One day he hears voices in the field ("if you build it, they will come"), and after acting on them and builds a baseball field, the locals think he’s nuts, but he himself embarks on a quest that tranforms himself and everyone he contacts. This includes James Earl Jones, a former political activist and author of children's books, and Burt Lancaster, a doctor who once played one day in the major leagues, and Amy Madigan as his wife, and her nagging brother, Timothy Busfield.
This is not really a baseball film (which I've heard some give as a reason to avoid it), the field itself becomes a metaphor, a gateway to the spiritual realm. This recalls the best of Frank Capra. From the novel Shoeless Joe by R.R. Kinsella, cinema magic and modern myth-making at its finest.
Cameron’s best-paced film, eons above the first Alien film, which even star Sigourney Weaver calls "basically And Then There Were None, in space". [This was an Agatha Christie book, later a good b&w film, in which each character dies until there's one left, who must be the murderer, right?]
In the sequel, Weaver reluctantly returns to the planet that started it all in order to help The Corporaton save its endangered colonists when all communication has been cut off; she realizes she's the only one experienced with whatever's out there. Paul Reiser is a corrupt corporate stooge, looking for a possible profitable weapon, Bill Paxton is hilarious as a marine who knows "we’re getting our asses kicked!". The creatures, created by artist H.R. Giger, are truly terrifying. The action is almost non-stop, yet entirely believable, and is sped along by a 'countdown' plot device. Never have horror and science fiction been merged so well, becoming a classic of each genre.
Paxton: We're doomed, game over, man!
Weaver: This little girl survived.
Paxton: Then why don’t you put her in charge?
Her devoted butler, played by legendary director Eric von Stroheim, adds the perfect cinema connection to Desmond's life, as he obviously respects her legendary stardom. Here he makes what could be a mundane character part into that of unforgettable imagery. Holden's character is just the opportunist that one suspects populates tinseltown, especially among its not quite so successful. Of course, the story funs full circle until we find out how he came to be floating in the pool. Hollywood’s self-criticism was never handled better, a bona-fide black & white classic.
Note: Wilder revealed in an interview that the shot shown above was done with a mirror in the bottom of the pool and the camera focused on the mirrored image - this is actually the beginning of the film, as it starts with the death of the main character.
Wilder is one of the great directors, here's a small list of his best films:
The Front Page, Double Indemnity, Lost Weekend, The Spirit of St. Louis, One Two Three, Ace in the Hole, The Seven Year Itch, Sabrina, The Apartment, Some Like It Hot, Witness For the Prosecution, The Fortune Cookie.
Dir: Stephen Frears, 1988 (9.9*)
A scathing examination of psychological manipulation and emotional torture among jaded French aristocrats. Glenn Close is the master of cruelty, and former lover John Malkovich her witting instigator, Valmont. Close relishes, and seems to trive on orchestrating seductions, using Valmont, and delights in both keeping him at bay and destroying the innocence of others, notably the betrothed young Uma Thurman and moralistic preacher's wife Michelle Pfeiffer, in her best role, garnering an Oscar-nomination for supporting actress.
From a 1670 French play, not dated at all; in fact, so modern that it was remade (without bite) as Valmont, and updated to modern times as the uninteresting Cruel Intentions with Sarah Michelle Gellar, with an equally unmemorable cast, especially vs. Liaisons. Truely unforgettable, this is as good as psychological studies get in films. Close’s best film performance by far, to me (though she is letter perfect in every performance, and now has an Emmy for Damages), and also John Malkovich's.
Seven Oscar® nominations, winner of three: screenplay, art direction, costume design (Lost best picture to the infinitely inferior and forgettable Rain Man, which I don't think is good enough to include here as "1000 to see". Close lost to Jodie Foster in The Accused, not nearly as complex or as subtle a performance; I think the Academy just felt sorry for her being stalked by a maniac)
Awards page at IMDB
Akira Kurosawa, 1957, Japan, bw (10*)
This masterful samurai epic (well over 3 hrs) is really a treatise on medieval war tactics. The story is about a small farming village that annually gets invaded and robbed by a small cavalry gang, usually just after harvest, when they steal most of the food but leave the villagers just enough for survival. Eventually they’ve had enough, and send a few men into a nearby town to recruit unemployed and disgraced samurai, led by master actor Tishiro Mifune, to help them defend themselves; they find seven in all.
The first half is slow but told with lots of humor, the second half is an exciting war exercise and a primer on how action films should look. The innovative camerawork had never been seen, and influenced every action film since. Blurred action, filmed during a rainstorm with mud and water flying (see photo below), rapid edits, handheld cameras, and extreme closeups - the viewer feels thrown headlong into the middle of the action itself. Retold as western The Magnificent Seven, and the sci-fi film, Battle Beyond the Stars. Kurosawa’s masterpiece is one of the best in cinema history.
Now #2 (rising from 7th) all-time on our compendium of Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, 2011 Edition
Dir: Steven Soderbergh, 2000 (9.1*)
Best Director Oscar
Based on a European tv miniseries, this rewrite tells several intertwined stories of people affected by drugs and smuggling. Michael Douglas is a Senator and anti-drug czar, whose daughter is dabbling in drugs, Benecio del Toro (Oscar for Supp Actor) is an anti-drug detective in Mexico, Catherine Zeta-Jones is the wife of a drug kingpin. The star is director Soderbergh, who uses color tinting to connect the different stories together visually, and wrote the script that is basically a flawless integration of all these stories. The film won every Oscar nomination it got except Best Picture, losing to Gladiator. 4 Oscars
Dir: Sergio Leone, 1984, long version (9.3*)
This nearly 4-hr epic (avoid the short version like the plague!) was Leone’s tribute to the Godfather saga, and was the last film he made. Robert De Niro ("Noodles") and James Woods are boyhood friends who later become major Jewish Mafia figures. This film traces decades in their lives as a flashback from a middle-aged, portly De Niro who has received a mysterious message from his past. Look for a very young Jennifer Connally, who was 12 at the time, as a boyhood crush of Noodles who spies on her dance rehearsals and dress changes, and for Tuesday Weld as a robbery accomplice and later gangster mol, who liked 'the rough stuff'. Full of a cast of unforgettable characters, well worth the time - in fact, this is one film where its length works to artistic advantage, as the flashback structure allows the story to wander chronologically as it would from an elderly Robert de Niro's viewpoint of his entire life of crime.
Amy Heckerling, 1995 (8.7*)
Heckerling’s retelling of Austen’s Emma is updated to a Beverly Hills high school, and works due to a terrific debut performance from 16-yr old Alicia Silverstone ("As if!"). The story involves a makeover of a new nerdy transfer student ("Project!"), played by the late Brittany Murphy in her film debut, and Alicia’s own interest in a suave new boy who thinks he’s a Tony Curtis clone (hint hint..) Stacy Dash (as Dionne) is her best gf, who "gets snaps for fashion bravery".
Dan Hedaya steals his scenes as her overprotective father, telling her date: "Look kid, I’ve got a .44 and a shovel and I doubt anyone would report you missing." Terrific stuff, great dialogue, a star is born; what were you doing at 16? There's some hilarious stuff here, most from a girl's perspective, and you don't see that every day in movies. Perhaps the best of all the high school comedies.
Quote: Hey kid, just because Sammy Davis, Jr. died doesn’t mean there’s an opening in the rat pack.
Dir: Harold Ramis, 1993 (9.2*)
From the routine often comes the magical. Self-centered and jaded weatherman Bill Murray, aka Phil, is bored to be reporting yet another Groundhog Day from Poughkeepsie, PA, with Phil the groundhog ("weather reports from rodents"). After the day is over, one major problem for Phil: he awakens to Groundhog Day again, and becomes trapped in the same day, over and over. Not even suicide can keep the day from recurring from the beginning radio alarm, which is always the same dj's line about Groundhog Day and the same Sonny and Cher song.
What could have been boring becomes a terrific "what if" fantasy exercise, as he falls for his tv producer Andie McDowell, and keeps changing his courtship pitch on each successive day, as only he can remember the previous day, with hilarious and heartwarming results. In one funny sequence he always races to a tree at the same time daily to catch a falling kid. They took the theme of "what if I just had one more chance" to the extreme.
In a funny anecdote about making the film, McDowell said that scenes would be over, and Ramis and Murray would be staring at her and she'd have to say "Cut" or "isn't that a cut?" herself.
Quote: Well, then you must be God. (McDowell) - A god, yes – but not THE God. (Murray)
Dir: George Cukor, 1964 (9.8*)
Best Picture (AA, BAA, GG)
One of the best Broadway/London musicals, the score by Lerner and Lowe is untopped, with the best lyrics of any musical, all related to the story. The film starts with a bang the whole point: "Why Can’t the English" (teach their children how to speak). The entire story is about linguistics, that the way a person speaks defines him, and that any type of character can be created if given the right instruction.
This was the premise of the original George Bernard Shaw play "Pygmalion", which was transformed into My Fair Lady by Lerner and Lowe. Rex Harrison creates his stage role here, and is impeccable, winning an Oscar. However, Hollywood gave stage actress Julie Andrews the shaft after she created the Eliza Doolittle role, and replaced her with Audrey Hepburn for the movie, thinking Andrews "not a star" (yet she won the Oscar that year for Mary Poppins!) Hepburn’s singing had to be dubbed by Marni Nixon (who did The King and I and West Side Story as well), so this was the only drawback to the film, which is flawless otherwise. Listen to the London Cast recording with Andrews on CD and you’ll see what I mean and what moviegoers missed. The dvd restoration of this classic musical has the most sumptuous color of any film, there’s even a documentary on the disc about it, with the original art director. One of the best 2-3 musicals ever filmed. 8 Oscars
Quote: You're not one of them outside agitators are you? Cause I won't stand for that. (Normal Fell)
Dir: Nick Park, 2005 (10*)
Best Animated Short (AA), 3 total
Nick Park’s amazing claymation short films won 4 Oscars before he was able to get financing to make full-length films (Chicken Run, Curse of the Were-Rabbit). The first short, Creature Comforts, is not included here but the next three are: The Wrong Trousers, A Grand Day Out, A Close Shave. They are all amazing; I gave a mother Trousers once for her kid and he watched it 30 times in a week! Park made these by pushing clay around and snapping a frame at a time, he could only film 2-3 seconds per day, and would spend two years on a 10 minute film! The "sets" each fit on a folding card table. Park said that at day's end they'd be ankle deep in clay teeth, which were constantly raked out during dialogue and never reused. Wallace represents Park's 'weekend inventor' dad (nothing worked), and Gromit, the 'smarter' dog, is Nick himself. The results are hilarious and the best of their type.
Dir: Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud, Michel Debats, 2001, France (10*)
This awe-inspiring documentary was shot over several years, and at over 200 worldwide locations, and is presented without much narration so that we feel like we’re part of the flying birds ourselves. The effect is to show how incredible migrating bird populations are, and how we need to preserve them for the future of the planet.
Breath-taking, one of the best nature films or documentaries ever shot. Another rarity, it's G-rated.. This should be on everyone's top 100 list.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
When they decide to join the parade of musical films, they hire Debbie Reynolds (who got the part by winning "Miss Long Beach"! At first Kelly refused to work with her) to dub over the vocals for Lamont. Kelly's partner Donald O'Conner has some of the best dance moments, a solo called "Make Em Laugh", which he later says he improvised, and a complex duet with Kelly called "Moses Supposes". O'Conner won a Golden Globe for Best Actor.
Gene Kelly provides most of the choreography (and thus shares directing credit), and the Broadway Melody sequence that last over 15 minutes is his best stuff. It also introduced Cyd Charisse in her first part outside the chorus, one that makes eyes pop, as well as Kelly's "Gotta Dance" character arriving in the big city. This now accepted classic wasn't even nominated for Best Picture!
Quote: I ain't people - I am a shining star in the cinema firmament.
Quote2: If we have brought a little ray of sunshine into your ordinary humdrum lives, then it ain't all been for nothing. (both Jean Hagen as Lena Lamont)
James Cameron, 1991 (8.6*)
You want mind-blowing computer graphic effects and adrenalin pumping action? Here it is, a much better sequel than original thanks to special effects and mucho money poured into this. Arnold Scwartzenegger returns in the mind blowing film, this time to protect John Conner (Edward Furlong, an unknown in his first film), and his mother Sarah, again played by Linda Hamilton, same role as the first, but she's much tougher and has a weapon's cache this time around.
There's also a new bad terminator (Robert Patrick) to add more special effects to the mayhem, as this one can mimic any matter or even liquify as needed; unique and freaky stuff (I liked it when he was a linoleum floor). The pace is terrific, as well as humor, as this film doesn't take itself as seriously as some sf films. 4 Oscars
Quote: Hasta la vista, ... baby!
Many magical cinematic moments and acrobatic martial arts make this a visual treat, as master Taiwanese director Ang Lee (Sense and Sensibility, Brokeback Mountain, Eat Drink Man Woman) got directorial help for the martial arts from action director Yuen Woo-Ping. Classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma provided a beautiful soundtrack score, which won an Oscar®. 5 Oscars® overall, second only to Gladiator's 6 that year.
Released 2007, 5 discs (10*)
One of the most major undertakings in the history of video, filmed over 5 yrs at over 300 locations on earth and involving thousands of people, and with a 25m budget. This nature film attempts to show the diversity and awe-inspiring majesty of the planet we and other creatures live on. This is about ten hours of some of the most jaw-dropping stuff you will ever see. Some footage is so rare that it took years to get a minute of film, such as snow leopards in the Himilayas. Each type of geography is covered in its own episode: mountains, jungles, forests, deserts, oceans, fresh water, etc. Not to be missed!
Dir: Robert Mulligan, 1962, bw (10*)
Best Drama (GG)
AFI Top 100
This beautifully small and simple story makes one wish that Harper Lee (from Alabama) had written more novels, this one won a Pulitzer Prize. Gregory Peck had his most enduring and universal role, and won an Oscar, as a southern lawyer fighting racial injustice in a small town. Oscar nominee Mary Badham was his daughter, a terrific child actress in a part she was "born to play". Look for Robert Duvall in one of his first, and very small parts, yet a very integral role in the plot. This has a very authentic ring, and one of the few films that fights for social and criminal justice for everyone.
Quote: They always said it was a sin to kill a mockingbird.
Steven Spielberg, 2002 (9.3*)
This vastly underrated science fiction film from Steven Spielberg concerns an anti-crime unit in the future, led by Tom Cruise, who are told of crimes in advance of their commission by a trio of genetically altered psychics. Colin Farrell puts in a good performance as another detective who becomes involved with Cruise’s character for possible crimes himself.
The specials effects and editing make this another top notch sf film, and by combining all that with crime detectives and basing it on a story by Philip K. Dick (author of the sf novel that was filmed as Blade Runner), you have another classic science fiction film of the highest quality, one of the best five ever.
Dir: David Lean, 1957 (9.1*)
Best Picture (AA,BAA,GG)
AFI Top 100
One of the giant David Lean epics, and based on a true story, this one features a Japanese POW camp in Burma forcing British prisoners, brilliantly led by Alec Guinness in his Oscar winning role as Colonel Bogey, to build a bridge across a jungle river for Japanese troop trains. Sessue Hayakawa is also terrific as the Japanese camp commander, butting wills with Bogey throughout. William Holden leads a commando team back to the bridge for the film’s plot action. Giant in conception and execution as only Lean could pull off. 7 Oscars
Quote: Madness… madness…
AFI and Time Top 100
Scorsese’s epic tribute to the gangster film tells the true story of Irish criminal Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), based on his memoirs. Robert De Niro is excellent as usual as , and Joe Pesci won an Oscar for his over the top take as the homicidal partner with a trigger finger. Lorraine Bracco had a star-making role as Liotta’s wife, and got an Oscar nomination for supporting actress. Look for the long tracking shot that follows Jimmy and friends down into the night club. This is a long and rich film that maintains a good pace until it starts increasing in speed, and then we’re all pounding along to Harry Nilsson’s "Jump into the Fire" as Hill goes on a coke binge, which is a pretty good description of this lifestyle. Only One Oscar
Dir: Martin Scorsese, 1980, bw (9.1*)
AFI and Time Top 100
This Martin Scorsese sports classic was shot in black & white and is a masterpiece of the colorless, a decision which places the film during its own era, when many of us saw boxing weekly on tv. Robert De Niro, in his best (Oscar winning actor) performance, and one for all time, put on the boxing moves as well as 40 lbs in order to play the older Jake LaMotta after retirement, and also the younger LaMotta in the ring in some of the best staged boxing in film history.
This terrific docudrama covers about 20 yrs in LaMotta’s life; Joe Pesci did a good job as his brother and manager, but Cathy Moriarty was a stunner as his wife Vicky and was robbed of an Oscar, as was Scorsese as best director. Many now consider this the best sports film ever. 8 nominations, including Picture and Director, 2 Oscars (Actor, Film Editing)
Quote: You never knocked me down, Ray, never…
Alexander Mackendrick, 1957, bw (8.8*)
Burt Lancaster plays cutthroat news columnist J.J. Hunsecker who uses his powerful influence to dominate those around him, with Tony Curtis as his press agent (Sidney Falco) in what many considered to be an indictment of Walter Winchell, whose popularity ironically declined after this film and who two years later no longer had a national column. Many credit this film's incisive indictment with ending his muckraking career.
Lancaster is superb in a performance preceding his Oscar® for Elmer Gantry, as a man who dominates and subordinates all those around him, and tries to maintain a tight control over his sister at home as well, with no real regard for either the feelings nor the rights of others, only himself. Beautifully shot in black and white, one of the most searing dramas of its time.
Dir: Christopher Nolan, 2000 (9.1*)
Indy Spirit Award, Best Picture
Director Nolan (Following, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) has created one of the most challenging crime mysteries in cinema as the hero has suffered short-term memory loss from brain injuries and we experience the story in reverse chronological order. Guy Pearce has his strongest performance as a man who takes polaroids of each person in his life and also tattoes important facts on his body as he searches for the perpetrators. This is a tough movie to describe, cuz every time I see it I forget it. Winner of 5 Indy Spirit awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay.
Note: If you've seen the film first, the Limited Edition of the film has an egg on Disk 2 that allows you to view the film forward chronologically.
1) Insert Disc 2, then select the clock.
2) Select "c" 5 times for the questions that come up.
3) Select the pictures of the woman changing a tire in this order: 3,4,1,2
James McTeigue, 2005 (9.0*)
My favorite film of the Washowski Brothers (Matrix Trilogy). Natalie Portman runs across a wanted revolutionary (Hugo Weaving behind the mask) and becomes involved in his world in this future dystopean society sf film, a time after some mysterious event has unleashed a virus on the population. We find out more about this event as the plot unfolds, as it's integral to sowing the seeds of revolution.
The uniformly excellent cast includes Stephen Rea and John Hurt as "The Leader", who need no name. This is a tight science fiction story that’s a parable of independence, and super special effects make this one of the top sf films.
Dir: Rob Marshall, 2002 (9.1*)
Best Picture (AA, GG)
Loved this, my favorite Bob Fosse musical. The acting in this one was probably the best musical cast in 20 yrs at least: Renee Zellweger (nominated), Queen Latifah (nominated), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Oscar for Supp. Actress), even Richard Gere sang (nominated), and John C. Reilly nearly stole the movie (also nominated). The film is about women who kill men, often who deserved it (a terrific song for that, "He Had it Coming"), and two who meet in prison (Renee and Catherine) and vie for the same ruthless lawyer, played by Gere in a hilarious comedy role. This is full of great choreography, reality and fantasy mixed, yet all worked into the plot seamlessly, rare for a musical. The dvd includes the deleted song "Class", with Catherine and Latifah, one of the best, so it’s hard to believe it was cut out. 6 Oscars
Friday, August 29, 2008
Dir: Andrew Stanton, 2003 (9.8*)
One of the best animated childrens films, all the qualities of classic Disney. Thoroughly enjoyable story with funny dialogue, made funnier by the casting of Albert Brooks and Evelyn Degeneres. The story concerns dad fish Broooks looking for son fish Nemo who gets swept up in a tropical fish collectors net, and ends up in a dental office aquarium! Creepy stuff… but not as creepy as Chicken Run. Along the way he runs into Degeneres, and various sea creatures, including some lovable sea turtles. This is a must see, best five all-time for animation. The others: Snow White, Fantasia, Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story. (I also like The Incredibles, Cars, Hoppity Goes to Town, Curse of the Were-Rabbit) Well, Wallace and Gromit's Amazing Adventures are the best, but all short films - still, four Oscars in all!
Everyone should know this fantasy trilogy by now. If not, New Zealand director Peter Jackson (Heavenly Creatures) spent nearly a decade filming the J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy trilogy novels (from the 50's), using the best available computer technology. The result is the most ambitious and well-made fantasy films of all time. Even if you were not a fan of the books (and they were pretty boring), these films should excite and amaze everyone interested. They're a little bloody and violent, kinda "old testament wrath of God" type stuff, but that's probably also what made them so popular. Cast standouts are Viggo Mortensen, as the king who returns, Elijah Wood as Frodo the Hobbitt, the bearer of the ring of power; Ian Holm as the Hobbitt, the ring's finder and former owner, Ian McKellan as Gandalf the Wizard, Cate Blanchett as an elfin queen, and Brad Dourif as Gollum, a hobbitt turned monster nearly destroyed by the ring.
Quote: You're not really a real person; you're an amalgam of all the ushers my dad paid to watch me over the years.
Tony Leung won a Cannes award for Best Actor, Maggie Cheung should have. Ironically, the two would later play lovers and assassins in Zhang Yimou's Hero, in quite different parts. This is a slow moving but visually sumptuous feast, as each shot is saturated with deep, rich colors reminiscent of Vittorio Storaro's work for Bertolucci and Coppola. The Criterion dvd comes with over a half hour of deleted scenes, also well worth watching. Wong later filmed a sequel, 2046, which was the number on a hotel room in this film.