Saturday, December 31, 2011

2001: A Space Odyssey

Dir: Stanley Kubrick, 1968 (10*)

AFI Top 100
[Updated: 12.31.11]

This groundbreaking SciFi epic was the first to feature totally realistic space effects, and changed forever the way SF films looked. The story, by Arthur C. Clarke, was written for this film because Kubrick wanted to film his incredible novel A Childhood's End, which could not be filmed at the time with existing technology. That book, and this film, are about the next step in the evolution of mankind, from a material to a spiritual being. The previous step, from animal intelligence to human intelligence, is shown in the beginning to give us a major clue, so its surprising that so many people are still baffled by this movie, which has only 20 minutes of dialogue and encourages us to think - what a concept!

Kubrick's film would have been even better had he been able to get phenomena filmmaker Jordan Belson to work on it, but he refused to ever work on commercial films. Belson makes short animated films about things like the birth of a star, or motion through space. All his short films are in the permanent archives at the Museum of Modern Art, and are much better than anything put into commercial SF films. At film festivals, these short films of 3-8 minutes always get standing ovations. Kubrick did make planets and spaceships finally look realistic together, and forever changed the way science fiction films looked going forward. It would be another 10 yrs before Star Wars, but all the action adventure space films that followed looked the way they did because of 2001, so in that regard it was highly influential on the entire industry. Not exactly an exciting film, it was nevertheless a visionary film, and for its time, like nothing else that had ever been filmed.

The sequel, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, attempts to explain the story further, a story which really needed no filmed postscript. That became more of an action film, with much more human interaction between Americans and Russian in a joint venture to activate the spaceship Discovery, and also check out Jupiter from closer range. Worth seeing, and well-done. Clarke himself wrote a third novel in the series as well, 2040, that has not yet been filmed, real SF fans should read the entire trilogy.

Ranked #1 at the Criterion networking film site, The Auteurs, with over 100,000 members.

Note: it's very similar to the parable of Jesus - it's about the birth of a spiritual being, not a corporal one. The awakening of one's spiritual self is a 'virgin birth' that doesn't involve procreation. In 2001, this is symbolized by the floating embryo at the end, a metaphor for the astronaut now being a spiritual being. In Clarke's novel Childhood's End, this happened to the entire race beginning with the current generation of children, so the adults were living out the last physical lives on earth, or the end of the childhood of mankind.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Death at a Funeral

Frank Oz, 2007 (8.3*)
It’s not every day that you laugh all through a film about a funeral. Writer Dean Craig has managed to do just that in this black comedy. It’s also not in any other cinema funerals that you see hallucinagenic drugs ingested (accidentally), a naked man threatening to jump off a roof, and a blackmailing dwarf giving everyone a thrill with an unexpected appearance.

These are just a few of the bizarre images and ideas that should at least have everyone chuckling. The film starts a bit slow, as at first you just have people on their way to the funeral of a well-to-do British family patriarch, father of a pair of brothers, played by Matthew Macfadyen, who lives at the house of his parents, and Rupert Graves, a famous novelist who lives in New York, flying in after years away from home. You see the normal rushing of people late, the grumbling by the elderly uncle in a wheelchair, “you’re late!” (wonderfully played by veteran actor Peter Vaughn, who was the head man in  Terry Gilliam's Brazil – “Ere I am JH”) and other family members in slight turmoil. However, this funeral has no one weeping or appearing that distressed, so in that regard it’s a realistic one.

However, once the funeral service begins at the house, one event after another delays the proceedings to the delight of the audience. One of my favorite side stories is the boyfriend of a relative who is accidently given some LSD instead of valium, as a pill bottle for the latter was used by a hippie brother for transporting the acid without notice. Alan Tudyk is perhaps a little over the top, but I have seen people on psychedelics act just this way at pop festivals; many inevitably end up naked, as does his character Simon.

Tiny actor Peter Dinklage (best known for The Station Agent) plays the dwarf who sets the brothers and the funeral on its ears with some startling photos, adding his own bizarre flavor to the unexpected plot turns. Jane Asher, former gf of Paul McCartney, plays the grieving widow, who is the only one shedding any tears for the deceased.

Remade by Neil LaBute as a black version (of course with Martin Lawrence, who gets to star in every film that Eddie Murphy is not in - and also Chris Rock), a unappealing version that got a 5.4 rating at IMDB vs. 7.3 for the original, and a 51 from Metacritics vs. 67 for the original. Not big numbers for the original either, but I think it’s a little better than that – it’s certainly an original comedy, and the best comedy about the way we treat death since The Loved One (1965), Tony Richardson’s b&w comedy of the Evelyn Waugh novel.

This won two audience awards, at the Locarno Int’l Film Festival and the U.S. Comedy Arts festival.


Monday, December 26, 2011

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy

Noomi Rapace, her biopic, and as Lisbeth
Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Denmark - Sweden - Germany - Norway
Niels Arden Oplev, 2009 (7.8*)
I’m reviewing these together because after you’ve either read the novels or seen the trilogy, you realize it’s just one long story about the heroine, not three distinctly different stories.

Actress Noomi Rapace made a star of herself and created an indelible screen image in punk hacker Lisbeth Salander, the subject of this crime trilogy from the famous novels by Stieg Larsson. I haven’t read the novels, but like most transcriptions to screen, you lose a lot because you’re getting a lot of other artists to interpret a solo work from the mind of one person, and the medium is also being transformed from one of linguistics and the mind’s imagination to a series of images filtered through the minds of others – the screenwriters, the cinematographers, the editors, and the director. All form a collaberative committee on a film, overseen by the director’s vision, which often changes during the process.

Some may find these films a bit too explicit, they show a woman who’s the victim of abuse, and it’s not for the squeamish. Some found this exploitive, others found it a frank depiction of the misygony in society, and how women in general are the victims of sex crimes perpetrated by sadistic men – unfortunately there’s never a shortage of these at any time in history. For me, I found the films to be more about a woman empowering herself by using her brains and street smarts to stand her own ground. In many regards, I found these films similar to the theme of the powerful French film Chaos (2001), from director Coline Serreau, which I’ve called “the ultimate women’s power film”, and one which had me standing and applauding at the end.

The series begins with a man convinced a relative was murdered and he employs a disgraced journalist, expertly played by Michael Nyqvist, and a criminal computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander, to help him unravel the mystery of some grisly murders in the distant past.

The first film won 13 awards (and Rapace won three for actress), including a BAFTA for films not in English (the equivalent of foreign language film at the Oscars). Rated 7.7 at IMDB, and 76 from Metacritics – that’s probably about right, though the cinematography and music are first rate, and actually make each film better. Some think it’s a bit long at 155 minutes, and there’s a longer 180 minute version from Sweden.

The Girl Who Played With Fire
Daniel Aldredsen, 2009 (7.2*)
The second in the series begins to unravel the mystery of Lisbeth Salander’s life. Her father may have been a Soviet agent, that’s part of the mystery. Journalist Blomkvyst of Millenium magazine (Nyqvist), who exposes the corrupton of the establishment, is investigating sex trafficking in Sweden, and the two themselves become the targets of the powerful in return

This film has more action, and is also compelling but is really setting you up for the concluding film, which provides closure to the entire series.

This film is not as compelling as the other two, and was only rated 6.9 at IMDB (fan votes), and 66 at Metacritics. This film and the third didn’t win any awards, and only garnered five nominations between them.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
Daniel Alfredson, 2009 (8.0*)
[Rated 7.0 at IMBD and 60 at Metacritics]

This film was the most riveting of the three for me, perhaps because it was the least violent. Without giving anything away, it becomes a battle of wits between two viewpoints – to put it in normal cinema jargon, the good guys and the bad guys, but using their minds rather than weapons or martial arts.

However, depending on how you feel about certain issues, these sides may appear the opposite to other people. It’s almost like politics - if we agree with a rebel, they’re freedom fighters; if we disagree, they’re terrorists. That's why we have a legal system, at least for civilians.

We see the entire mystery unfold as the journalist uncovers the clues himself. Another long film at 147 minutes, it still didn’t seem overlong; it’s a complex psychological story that demands thorough examination and revelation. The third film brought closure to the story, and in an intelligent, credible manner. Those who stick with the entire trilogy should feel justified in the end.


Thursday, December 22, 2011


Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell, 1970 (8.5*)
Roeg was also cinematographer

This is #326 on our Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls. Former cinematographer Nicolas Roeg shared directing credit on this one, beginning a career that included some visually stunning films.

Performance woke me up when I first saw it. In the beginning, gangster Chas Devlin, played by James Fox, appears to be running from some other criminals, and needs to disappear quickly. He finds an ad for someone wanting to rent a room to a lodger. He literally walks into the mansion and life of a jaded rock star Turner, Mick Jagger – who, by the way, when first seen is listening to late 60’s rap music, in this case “Wake Up, Niggers” by the Last Poets (who were absolutely great, and ground-breaking; I have both their lp's on vinyl), likely the fathers of modern rap, because this sounded just like rap music today, which hasn’t progressed much at all from the late 60’s.

With the help of his two bohemian girlfriends (Anita Pallenberg and Michèle Breton), Turner slowly ensnares Devlin in his hedonistic world.

So a story that begins as a crime thriller, becomes an existential tale of two men beginning to share lives and personalities, each providing something the other needs, an escape from a reality that’s no longer tolerable to either psyche, for different reasons.  For me, this is what elevated this story beyond the mundane, and probably why it’s still ranked as highly in polls today.

James Fox, a criminal on the run


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Splendor in the Grass

Elia Kazan, 1961 (8.6*)
Ranked #1003 on our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

Not considered one of Kazan’s best, certainly not when compared to On the Waterfront (1951) or A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) bw, or even up against A Face in the Crowd (1957), or his first film, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), this film of a 50’s high school romance still stands up well today, and seems to speak to a universal audience from any era. This list of films shows what a great director Kazan was, if you can get past the HUAC hearings and just judge his art on its own merit.

Warren Beatty made his film debut as a popular, wealthy, and handsome high school senior, Bud, of course also a star athlete – the quintessential American dream in a man, and for his film debut, gives a sensitive and believable performance. He was the younger brother of actress Shirley MacLaine, and before this was best known as the boyfriend of Tuesday Weld on The Life and Loves of Dobie Gillis on tv, playing a popular, wealthy, and handsome high schooler in that romantic comedy.

Natalie Wood plays his less wealthy girlfriend, Deenie, from the wrong side of the tracks to Bud's bigoted, narrow-minded, capitalist father, honestly portrayed by Pat Hingle in his most memorable role - he was so good you wanted to hit him with a baseball bat. I don’t think it was Beatty’s debut that surprised people, it was the full-bodied performance by Natalie Wood, in what for me is a career-making performance that proved she was more than just another pretty face, and she was undoubtably that.

In this story, amid the pangs of youthful desire, Bud is first having his advances denied by Deenie, who, of course, has marriage in mind and doesn’t want to be a ‘bad girl’. Then we see Bud’s slutty older sister who gets drunk, then literally has men lining up for a chance with her. We begin to get the idea that this is a more complex film romance than most. Later, when Deenie finally wants to go the distance because she fears she may lose Bud, he backs off, no doubt psychologically damaged by his dysfunctional family. As a result, Deenie has your standard teenage nervous breakdown.

This movie grew on me over time, and though not Kazan’s best, it’s still better than 95% of the movie romances, thanks to the power of William Inge’s original play and Kazan’s great touch with actors. His films produced more Oscar® winning performances is history than anyone except William Wyler – Wyler leads 13 to 8, so even Kazan is a distant second to the great Wyler.

I find this film to always be honestly touching, and it speaks to those who did grow up on the wrong side of the tracks (for me, right next to both the railroad tracks and an old cotton mill). Like many Kazan films, it says a lot about class bigotry and alienation within our society, which is especially tough for teenagers to deal with because they’re just gaining the experiences that progress them into adulthood, and don’t have the wisdom or patience to withstand the prejudices of adults that are often taught to their children as well.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Before Sunset

Richard Linklater, 2004 (8.2*)
This film was a small, pleasant surprise for me. This one follows Linklater’s Before Sunrise, made nine years earlier with the same actors. In that film, an American traveler, Ethan Hawke, meets a young Frenchwoman from Paris, Julie Delpy, and for at least one night, sparks fly. Yet somehow the film failed to involve me, it just didn’t seem to cut much beneath the surface to let me feel much for the characters, and it was just a two character film.

In this sequel, set nine years later, Hawke is now a published novelist at a book signing at a small Parisian bookstore. After answering a few questions about writing, he spots Delpy off to the side waving at him. You can tell by his face he's both excited and surprised; he wanders over, they very much want to catch up, but Hawke has a flight at the airport and must leave by 7:15 that evening, hence the title. They have to say what they will, and reveal their emotions or hide them, all before sunset. What follows is loose and free examination of what’s been going on in each of their lives and minds since that previous chance meeting. This time, the characters have more passion, more depth, and more chemistry onscreen.

I thought this film was engaging and credible, these are the kinds of relationships in our lives that eventually disturb many of us. The quick ones with lots of chemistry between a couple are who otherwise destined for different geographical locations, at least temporarily. Often they may intend to reuinite but more often do not, and this film makes an honest and easy-going attempt to give us all the same idea – what if we could reunite with a former lover from our past, when our passion was only extinguished by distance and time.

The script, with believable dialogue, was co-written by Linklater and his two stars, which makes me wonder if much of it was improvised; it has that feel. Delpy herself also sings one of her own songs onscreen while playing acoustic guitar, and a couple more on the soundtrack, and they’re not bad – kind of simple and folky like another Marianne Faithful. It seems apparent from the lyrics that she either wrote the song for this film, or as a postscript for the first film. She also gives the better performance here, her character was the more involving with more emotions to show. In fact, this is my favorite performance by Delpy to date.

Linklater often employs a moving camera backing up while the two actors walk forward, following them through the city streets, or even into a river boat. Paris is a beautiful set for a film, and here almost serves as a supporting cast member. This keeps the film from being as static as two people just sitting and talking in a café, which they do briefly, more like My Dinner With Andre, which was boring compared to this film. This story makes us wonder exactly what happened to these characters in the nine year interim, and what will happen in the next two, after this reunion. One of the better screen romances on film, certainly one of the most credible.

This is Linklater’s highest ranked film, currently at #418 on our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls. His others ranked are Dazed and Confused #530, Waking Life #687, then Before Sunrise #752.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Army of Shadows

Jean-Pierre Melville, 1969, France (9.0*)
Based on truth, as both novelist Joseph Kessel and director Jean-Pierre Melville were both in this army themselves. An excellent (and low-key) war film without the histrionics of most, Army in the Shadows takes the French men and women of the Resistance as its theme, at a point near the end of the war when the Resistance movement and Nazi intelligence about its work and staff are both firmly established.

This film will likely give most of the modern filmgoers a history lesson into the daily movements of the Resistance. Here we are shown the more mundane aspects of fighting a war from within, such as the ladies who operated safe houses for members on the run, as the Gestapo can torture enough members to gain intelligence on others. We also see aristocrats whose estates played host to small aircraft used to smuggle collaborators in and out of France. Unfortunately, we also witness the fate of those who crack under pressure or torture.

This a fascinating expose of the gruesome realities of heroism and the struggle against occupying armies, which of course also included moments of hopelessness and failure of nerve, as even the stout feel hidden eyes on every movement. Events test this hidden army, eventually each one finds themselves up against his or her personal limit of bravery and endurance as this struggle continued for years with no end in sight, at least during the time setting of this film.

Led by Simone Signoret in perhaps her best performance, and also starring Paul Meurisse and Jean-Pierre Cassel, this is one of the finest French films for craftmanship of acting and directing, and is Melville’s masterpiece. His crime films are excellent but none pack the emotional or historical weight of this story. You won’t find a better film about the Resistance in all of cinema.

The newly restored version on dvd was released in 2006 and won three new awards. The film has a rating of 8.2 at IMDB, which would place it in the top 250, but it doesn’t have enough ratings yet, with under 8,000 – so it’s rank in our compendium of polls would be much higher than the current 277, it would certainly be in the top 200. At Metacritics, it has a rating of 99, which would place it in the top 10 there, just after the 5-6 perfect 10’s, which include Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962).


Monday, December 12, 2011

Crash (1996)

David Cronenberg, 1996 (8.0*)
You now need the year of this film as a designator, so it's not confused with the mediocre film (that came later) that won best picture of 2005 in a very weak year (when they were afraid of Brokeback Mountain as well).

Cronenberg’s Crash is the much more interesting one; this one pre-dated the terrible best picture one that resembled a tv show, and was based on SF author J.G. Ballard’s novel (he also wrote Empire of the Sun based on his childhood). In this bizarre story, a group of car wreck survivors are turned on by auto crashes.

After a car wreck in which Holly Hunter’s husband is killed in a head-on collision with James Spader he discovers a strange eroticism to the entire crash. They later get together for romance in a car [that's her on the dvd giving him a lap ride in the front seat!]. He then discovers a group of people who use the energy of these crashes to fuel a strange sense of eroticism. Some even re-enact famous crashes at clandestine events only known to the group itself. Those with scars and injuries, like Roseanne Arquette, become especially sensual in cars.

I’d say this film is more notable for James Spader getting to make love onscreen to Holly Hunter, Rosanna Arquette, and his (onscreen) wife Debra Kara Unger [photo below] in the same film, which I think is my favorite sex group yet in all of cinema.

J.G. Ballard is a very interesting author who once stole some Republican National Committee stationary and sent a memo to the convention that nominated Reagan, with an article on them he penned titled “Why I Want to F*** Ronald Reagan”. This was later published in a collection of Ballard's stories and articles with the story of how he acheived the singular feat.

Crash won 8 awards out of 12 nominations


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Stop Making Sense

Jonathan Demme, 1984 (9.2*)
I guess it helps to be a fan of the rock band Talking Heads to really enjoy this concert documentary, but for any fan of concert filmmaking, this will also be a treat. There have been other good concert films, like Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz, documenting The Band’s last concert, but for me this one went a little more over the top.

When I saw this in the theater, there were people dancing in the aisles, and the crowd was a huge range of ages. I was already a fan of the band, so for me it was an unexpected treat that I felt like I was also at this concert at the Pantages Theater in L.A., shot over three nights.

The band had just been a more intellectual punk rock band than most, led by the cerebral lead singer-songwriter David Byrne, known as much for his out-of-sync gyrations as much as songs. Then they added two former members of the Funkadelic-Parliament funk bands, Bernie Worrell (keyboards) and Alex Weir (guitar, vocals) and suddenly discovered rhythm, notably from the James Brown school of funk grooves. This suddenly rejuvenated the band and it’s obvious in this concert; they’re now a fusion of musical influences working together to create something unique. My own favorite here is near the end, “Cross-Eyed and Painless”, and I can’t imagine it without the P-funk connection. Of course there’s the hits, “Burning Down the House” and “Psycho Killer”, but just as good are “This Must Be the Place” and “I Get Wild/Wild Gravity”.

Ironically, Byrne is now best known for wearing the big suit around this era. On a live tv interview (Letterman?), Byrne said "a friend told me 'onstage, you're bigger than life', so I said 'oh, then I need a really big suit'"

If you’re just interested in good rock concert films as well, this is one of the best ever (maybe the best) - along with The Police “Synchronicity Concert” (a live concert, unedited, from the Omni in Atlanta, Ga), and the all-time classic, Woodstock (1970) which did it’s best to record both highlights of three days of concerts and also document the event itself. For these reasons, it will likely forever remain the ultimate rock concert film.

Demme is best known for directing the Oscar®-winning best picture The Silence of the Lambs (1991), for which he also won a directing Oscar®. Demme is currently the 78th ranked director on our top ranked 1000 films compendium of all polls, with 4 titles in the top 1000, with Silence of the Lambs his top-ranked at #47 all-time.

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Awful Truth

Leo McCarey, 1937, bw (8.8*)
This is one of those 30’s screwball comedies that you can watch over and over. Cary Grant plays a man who may or may not have been philandering, as he’s getting a tan in a salon in the film’s beginning because he’s supposed to have been in Florida. When he gets home, wife Irene Dunne is gone, and the two start divorce proceedings.

They also start trying to make each other jealous by trying to get engaged as fast as possible. Of course, they then play little games trying to saboutage each other’s attempts at a new relationship. All this is made a classic with some very funny dialogue and performances to match. There’s a great sequence in which Dunne has someone play her husband sister for his new lady’s family.

Asta the dog, from the Thin Man series, has one of his 14 film roles here as Mr. Smith, the family pet for whom Grant demands visitation rights in the divorce proceedings - but is he missing the dog or Dunne?

Awful Truth is a film with genuine laughs, not one of those films that is pleasant throughout and a funny concept, but seemingly lacks any laugh-out-loud dialogue. McCarey had a hand in some of the best comedies of his era, notably the Marx Brothers’ best film, Duck Soup (1933)

McCarey actually won the Oscar® for best director for this film, which he later duplicated with Going My Way in 1945, for which he also won for best screenplay. This could have easily won for screenplay as well.

Ranked #515 in our update of the top ranked 1000 films of all-time
Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net

Ranked #84 comedy on our list of comedies in the top 100
Top Ranked Comedy Films of All Time


Friday, December 2, 2011

The Adventures of Robin Hood

Michael Curtiz, 1938 (8.2*)
This version of Robin Hood remains one of the most lively and colorful; it playfully captures the feel of the original legendary myth – after all, it’s a band of merry men cavorting in the woods in tights! These are the people who invented the phrase ‘derring-do’, that pretty well sums it up.

It’s a film of fluff and derring-do, all with gusto and tongue-in-cheek, starring the energetic Errol Flynn as the nobleman turned highway robber with his band of thieves. Olivia de Havilland provides the romance, as a damsel trapped inside the castle with those in control, but whose heart is stirred by this roqueish rascal, who, of course, risks capture just to face Olivia and make with some serious flirtation from a distance, which is all it takes for this bored lady.

Of course, there has to be a reason for all this, so the story is that while King Richard is away fighting in one of the Crusades, the Norman lords, led by Basil Rathbone, are abusing the Saxon masses, so Robin of Loxley stands up for the people by basically becoming a small-time warlord with a tiny guerrilla army hiding in the forests, so he's a medieval Che Guevara fighting the politicians in cahoots with the wealthy capitalists who together are stealing land from the people with inpunity.

For it’s time, this was some of the best technicolor ever put on film, it’s a beautiful palette to behold, one of my favorites (I’m a painter and a photographer, with a degree in Painting and Drawing). They truly 'don't make em like this anymore', though Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy (2003-07) is an attempt to recapture the unbridled, mindless joy of cinematic mayhem in the name of good.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Love Among the Ruins

George Cukor, 1975, tv (8.6*)
This wonderful UK comedy that takes place in I believe the Edwardian era is another reminder of just how far ahead their tv productions are compared to the U.S. – over there these are just as good as feature films with tenfold budgets and huge pr campaigns.

Katharine Hepburn plays an aging actress who is being sued by a younger man for breach of promise. The lawyer she unwittingly hires, Laurence Olivier, is actually a former lover from several decades back, who she has forgotten but who is still in love with her. In fact, her new lawyer never really got over his youthful attachment. There are some classic scenes of them alone as he tries to stir her memories.

As this involves a court case, in which Hepburn’s estate and reputation both are on the line, we get to see a different side of both characters than we see in private – here the two are acting in Hepburn’s best interest, so the two actors involved are now giving us a performance within another performance, pretty classy indeed.

Everything about this production is top quality, you might say sublime. Cukor won an Emmy for his direction, as did the writer, James Costigan, also the costumes and set design. Both Oliver and Hepburn won primetime acting Emmys, as the tv film won six overall. It's nice to see the two actors beyond their prime but obviously still better than just about anyone else alive.

This is the perfect type of G-rated comedy they should and could make much more often than once a decade or so. Cukor also directed the classics My Fair Lady (1964) and The Women (1939).


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Adam's Apples

Anders Thomas Jensen, 2005, Denmark (9.1*)

This black comedy has one of the most insane casts since One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). A paroled felon, Nazi skinhead Ulrich Thomsen, who’s perfectly cast here (he just looks like an angry criminal), shows up at a clergyman’s church that serves as a halfway house for some released felons that really should be behind bars. Here they supposedly do community service, but they never seem to do any.

The new arrival soon meets a semi-terrorist Pakistani who holds up all Statoil gas stations because of some capitalist crime by the company against his father; apparently they stole their land to get their oil for nothing, which has happened since oil was discovered. This guy not only has weapons but knows how to use them, as some local crows find out the hard way.

The preacher himself (another fine acting job by Mads Mikkelsen who was the bad guy in the Casino Royale remake, but who has done many excellent Danish films) is a utopian anti-realist who admittedly sees the silver lining to nearly everything. After being beaten senseless for this optimism by the Nazi, he shows up at the skinhead’s door and calmly says “we’ll continue this discussion in the kitchen”. The kitchen is run by an over-sized and over-sexed man who seems to be stuck in his teenage years; he’s the most innocent of the entire group, yet his dirty mind goes into overdrive when a woman shows up.

The apples in the title pertain to the Nazi’s name, Adam, and an apple tree in the yard. Adam decides he’s like to bake an apple pie when the apples are ready. In the meantime, since this film is about whether it’s god or the devil that gives one misfortunes, the poor apple tree goes through hell on earth, nothing goes right for it, yet it’s fruit is the metaphor for the entire film.

Much of this questions the nature of the metaphysical, but in a humorous way. For awhile, you’re so taken aback by some events that you’re saying “what the heck is this?”, then after it’s all over you say “ok – I get it now”. There's a hilarious interchange about a portrait of Adolph Hitler that I won't spoil here, but this humor knows no bounds.

It has a magical quality that few films manage to pull off, without really being a fantasy so much like Field of Dreams or It’s a Wonderful Life or Heaven Can Wait. It’s magic is in it’s eccentric characters, none of whom are similar yet all of whom share the world of the preacher, and they all live apart from urban or even modern problems. Their problems are even larger really, as some unseen force seems to be attacking them whenever possible, especially the preacher – his personal history brings to mind the story of Job, just less extreme.

This won the best feature film award in Denmark, beating out one of my favorites, Susanne Bier’s After the Wedding. I’m not sure if I’d go that far, Bier’s film is one of the best acted in history (and also features Mads Mikkelson); all four major actors in that won best acting awards somewhere in the world, six total (the two women won two each). This was a great year for Danish films, to say the least.

This won 18 awards out of 30 nominations, including several audience awards (Sao Paolo, Warsaw, Wisconsin). Ironically, at IMDB, the fans rate this 7.8 (almost in the top 250), while the critics at Metacritic (36 in all), rank it just 51 out of 100. So average filmgoers like this bizarre film more critics, you’ll think it would be just the opposite once you see it.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

One Million Total Pageviews

This happened earlier today and I grabbed a screen
shot from each blog, total = 1,000,812
However, Google started keeping these stats about a
year after I started these, so this is half our real total

Thanks to all our visitors, we just crossed one million total page views on both film blogs combined, 860k here at 1000 Dvds to See, which is our site for individual reviews of what I'm building as my top 1000 to view (around 810 so far), and 140k at World's Best Films, which is mostly poll results, award lists, and films by genre or director.

Check out our compendium of polls there, Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net

We also have a list of the top ranked 300 directors (it started as 100 and I expanded it) based on the above 1000 film compendium, Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

Thanks for checking us out and for hanging out awhile, most of you are viewing 5+ pages - I'll have to admit there are lots of lists of films to get lost in, I'm often finding ones I need to update, and we always welcome suggestions, especially for non-English films, we don't have enough of those yet in print in the U.S.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Breaking Point

Michael Curtiz, 1950, bw (8.7*)
Well after To Have and Have Not (1944), which was loosely based on the Ernest Hemingway novel and which introduced Bacall to Bogart, this remake from famed director Michael Curtiz (Casablanca) attempted to remain more faithful to the novel, and the author himself thought it was the finest cinema adaptation of any of his works. This was a much more serious and cynical treatment than the Hollywoodish original.

John Garfield is the small boat captain who’s not too particular about who hires out his boat, as he’s seeing some rough economic times, and he needs to make a boat payment pronto or it could e repossessed. He takes on a charter that definitely involves clandestine, illegal activity that may find him in over his head.

Patricia Neal turns in one of her best performances as the woman who drifts into his life from the other side of tracks (or other side of the harbor in this case), and her coy, self-assured demeanor seems more real than Lauren Bacall’s in the original (and I liked Neal even more), as if she’s honed this act on many men before now, and on a classier batch then Garfield. The two had an apathetic, jaded type of chemistry onscreen, which seems more likely given most Hemingway characters; Garfield treated her like a distraction, not an attraction.

The reason the film has been forgotten is that just before it’s release Garfield was called to testify before the HUAC in Congress, and the studio dropped support for the film and the actor like a hot potato, and Garfield’s career never really recovered, ending just two years later. Though Garfield is certainly no Bogart as an actor, in a way he’s even more of an average joe type of guy, so this is the perfect role for him.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Outcast of the Islands

Carol Reed, 1951, bw (9.0*)
One of the best adaptations of any Joseph Conrad novel, this is from his Almayer series, about a British merchant (Robert Morley) on a Malayan island paradise. In this tale, an unscrupulous white trader, Trevor Howard, falls in love with a beautiful native islander and basically sells his soul for money so he can entire her away. I and many others think that Howard gave his best performance here, as a weak anti-hero, but really as a typical, self-serving individual.

A terrific cast of veteran British actors includes (along with Morley and Howard), Ralph Richardson, Wilfred Hyde-White, and Wendy Hiller. Conrad had a way of using real action to explore and reveal the depths of one’s character (or a group), such as in this, Heart of Darkness, and The Nigger of the Narcissus. This was one of my favorite novels of his and Reed has done it justice.

There are some haunting images in this that one will never forget, especially some shot in a torrential tropical rainstorm. I would say this is a a must-see, overlooked classic, perhaps Reed’s best film. It received two BAFTA nominations, for best film and best British film.

This is an unjustly overlooked film, and has only been rated by 300 people at IMDB, while dumb, sophmoric comedies have over a hundred thousand. It's due to be released on DVD in 2012. Look for it.

Mostly noted for the noirish The Third man (1949, bw), Reed also directed the Oscar®-winning best picture Oliver! (1967), the musical based on Dickens’ novel, which was a birarre concept but it worked, except for a lead actor who couldn’t sing a lick, but Oscar-nominee Jack Wild was super as Artful Dodger, which led to his own tv show for kids, appropriately named H. R. Puff-n-Stuff. I recently reviewed Reed’s suspense thriller Odd Man Out (1947), with IRA gunman James Mason on the lam.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Odd Man Out

Carol Reed, 1947, bw (8.8*)
#634, Top Ranked 1000 Films, 2011 Update, all polls.

Master British director Carol Reed made a perhaps even tighter, white-knuckle crime thriller with this gem. In one of his best roles, James Mason shines as a wounded IRA gunman, who is trying to escape a net of British police, and who is both helped and hindered by those along his route.

We are made to feel his personal terror as the camera stays with him, he’s a man alone in an urban war zone and fighting losing odds. This is easily the most intense role of Mason’s long and distinguished career, as he really is noted for cool, collected characters with an experienced and wise demeanor, and normally projects an aura of calm confidence, such as God in Time Bandits (1981) or as heaven’ representative in Heaven Can Wait (1978).

Carol Reed directed some of the best British postwar films. Mostly noted for the noirish The Third man (1949, bw), I liked Outcast of the Islands, from the Joseph Conrad novel, even more. It has a white man in an isolated tropical paradise who sells his soul for money, and it features some of the most haunting images in cinema, filmed during a torrential tropical rainstorm. Reed also directed the Oscar®-winning best picture Oliver! (1967), the musical based on Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist (filmed seriously first by David Lean and later by Roman Polanski).


Monday, November 21, 2011

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

Luis Buñuel, France, 1972 (8.6*)
Best Foreign Film (AA)
#99, Top Ranked 1000 Films, 2011 Update, all polls.

Probably the most affable and accessible of the Spanish master’s films, as many are a bit serious or obscure for the average filmgoer. On the surface, this is a comedy about a suburban dinner party.

However, as you would expect from Buñuel, you don’t exactly plan then have a successful dinner party. This story begins innocently enough, but you soon find yourself once again in the mind of an inventive and creative filmmaker, the same one who in his The Exterminating Angel, has guests to a dinner enjoy the meal and the company then find they cannot leave the room.

The dinner party gets delayed by a series of random and spontaneous events that include the hosts having afternoon sex, and a military patrol on war game maneuvers uses the house for a field headquarters.

As usual in his films, what you get out of this is going to depend on what you bring into it, but I wouldn’t look for anything too deep here – I believe this film is more enjoyable than most of his because of that, and for the excellent cast led by Fernando Rey, and the award-winning Stéphane Audran.

Winner of the Foreign Language Film Oscar® for 1972, and six awards total out of 11 nominations

#16 on the Top Ranked Comedy Films of All-Time, 2011 Update


Master List of Dvd's

DVD's Reviewed So Far
[Updated: 2.08.13] (843 total)

Until I reach 1000, one would have to assume that all these will be in my top 1000 films, which I've never compiled before, it's always a work in progress anyway. One poll I found actually had 3 Jerry Lewis films in the last 30 or so in order to reach 1000 - I don't think I'll have to dig that deep! (though, The Nutty Professor is awfully tempting, isn't it?)

101 Dalmatians (1961)
12 Angry Men (1957) bw
12 Monkeys (1995)
127 Hours (2010)
13 Tzameti (2006) France, bw
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) [photo top]
30 Rock (2006)
300 (2006)
The 39 Steps (1935) bw
The 400 Blows (1959) France, bw
50 First Dates (2004)
The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953)
8 ½ (1963) Italy, bw
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
A Boy Ten Feet Tall (1963)
A Canterbury Tale (1944) bw
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) tv
A Christmas Memory (1968)
A Christmas Story (1983)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
A Face in the Crowd (1957) bw
A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
A Good Year (2007) Australia
A Great Wall (1987)
A Hard Day’s Night (1964) bw
A Life Less Ordinary (1997)
A Little Princess (1995)
A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
A Night at the Opera (1935) bw
A Prophet (2009) France
A Raisin in the Sun (1961) bw
A Room With a View (1985)
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) bw
A Town Like Alice (1981) Australia
A Very Long Engagement (2004) France
A Wednesday (2008) India
The Absent-Minded-Professor (1961) bw
Ace in the Hole (1951) bw
Adam's Apples (2005) Denmark
Adam's Rib (1949) bw
The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
After the Wedding (2006) Denmark
Aguirre, The Wrath of God (1972) Germany
Alexander Nevsky (1938) Russia, bw
Alice (1990)
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1975)
Aliens (1986)
All About Eve (1950) bw
All About My Mother (1999) Spain
All the Presidents Men (1976)
All Quiet On the Western Front (1930) bw
All That Jazz (1980) bw
Almost Famous (2000)
Amadeus (1984)
Amarcord (1974) Italy
American Beauty (1999)
American Gangster (2007)
American History X (1998)
American Splendor (2003)
An American in Paris (1951)
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
An Education (2009)
An Ideal Husband (1995)
And Then There Were None (1945) bw
Angels and Demons (2009)
Animal House (1978)
Animal Kingdom (2010) Australia
Annie Hall (1977)
The Apartment (1960) bw
Apocalypse Now! (1979)
Apollo 13 (1995)
Army of Shadows (1969) France
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
The Artist (2011)
As Good As It Gets (1997)
Ashes of Time Redux (1994) China
The Assassination of Jesse James (2008)
Atlantic City (1980)
Atonement (2007)
Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) France, bw
Auntie Mame (1958)
Austin Powers: Int'l Man of Mystery (1997)
Australia (2008) Australia
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1973) tv
Avatar (2009)
The Avengers (1964-67) tv
The Awful Truth (1937)
Babe (1995) Australia
Babel (2006) Mexico
Baby Boom (1987)
Back to the Future Trilogy (1985)
Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
Badlands (1972)
Ballad of a Soldier (1959) Russia, bw
Band of Brothers (2001) tv
Band of Outsiders (1964) France, bw
Baraka (1992) Australia
Baran (2001) Iran
The Barbarian Invasions (2003) Canada, tv
Basic Instinct (1992)
Batman Begins (2005)
Battle of Algiers (1965) France, bw
The Battleship Potemkin (1925) USSR, bw
The Beautiful Country (2004) Norway
Beautiful Girls (1996)
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
The Beaver (2011)
Beetle Juice (1988)
Before Sunset (2004)
Being John Malkovich (1999)
Ben-Hur (1959)
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)
Best in Show (2000)
The Best of Youth (2003) Italy
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) bw
Beyond Silence (1996) Germany
Bicycle Thieves (1948) Italy, bw
Big (1988)
The Big Chill (1983)
The Big Country (1958)
Big Deal on Madonna St (1959) Italy, bw
Big Fish (2003)
The Big Sleep (1941) bw
The Bird People in China (1998) Japan
Birth (2004)
Black Book (2006) Netherlands
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Black Narcissus (1947)
Black Rain (1989) Japan, bw
The Black Stallion (1979)
Black Swan (2010)
Blade Runner (1982)
Blast From the Past (1999)
Blood of My Blood (2007) Mexico
Bloody Sunday (2002)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Body Heat (1981)
Boiler Room (2000)
Bolt (2008)
The Book of Eli (2010)
Born Yesterday (1950) bw
Bottle Rocket (1995)
Bourne Trilogy (2007)
Brazil (1985)
Breaker Morant (1980)
Breaking Away (1979)
The Breaking Point (1950) bw
Bride and Prejudice (2004) India
Brideshead Revisited (1981) tv
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Broadcast News (1986)
Broken Trail (2006) tv
Brothers (2004) Denmark
The Buccaneers (1996)
Bull Durham (1988)
Burden of Dreams (1982)
Burn After Reading (2007)
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007)
Butterfly (1999) Spain
Bye Bye Birdie (1963)
Café Lumière (2003) Japan
Captain Abu Raed (2007) Jordan
Captains Courageous (1937) bw
Capturing the Friedmans (2003)
Carmen (1983) Spain
Carrie's War (2004)
Cars (2006)
Casablanca (1942) bw
Casino Royale (2006)
Casque d’or (1952) France, bw
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Central Station (1998) Brazil
Changeling (2008)
Chaos (2001) France
Ché (2008)
Chicago (2002)
The Children of Huang Shi (2007) Australia
Chinatown (1974)
Chocolat (2000) France
The Chorus (2004) France
Chungking Express (1994) Hong Kong
The Cider House Rules (1999)
Cinderella Man (2005)
Cinema Paradiso (1988) Italy
Citizen Kane (1941) bw
Citizen X (1995)
City of God (2002) Brazil
City Slickers (1991)
The Civil War (1990) tv
Climates (2006) Turkey
Close-up (1990) Iran
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Closely Watched Trains (1966) Czechoslovakia, bw
Closer (2004)
Clueless (1995)
Cobra Verde (1987) Germany
Come and See (1985) Russia
Coming Home (1978)
The Company (2007)
The Conformist (1970) Italy
The Constant Gardener (2005)
Contact (1997)
The Contender (2000)
Control Room (2004)
The Conversation (1974)
The Counterfeiters (2007) Austria
The Cranes Are Flying (1957) Russia
Crazed Fruit (1956) Japan, bw
Crazy Heart (2009)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) China
Crumb (1994)
The Crying Game (1992)
The Cuckoo (2002) Russia
Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 7 (2009)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Dances With Wolves (1990)
Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Darling (1965) bw
Das Boot (The Boat) (1981) Germany
Days of Glory (2006) Algeria
Dead Like Me (2003) tv
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Dead Ringers (1988)
Death at a Funeral (2007)
The Deer Hunter (1978)
Defending Your Life (1991)
Defiance (2008)
The Departed (2006)
Departures (2008) Japan
Devils On the Doorstep (2000), China, bw
Diabolique (1955) France, bw
Digging to China (1998)
Diner (1983)
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
Diva (1981) France
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
Donnie Darko (2001)
Double Indemnity (1944) bw
Down With Love (2003)
Downfall (2004) Germany
Downton Abbey (2010)
Dr. Strangelove (1964) bw
Dreamland (2006)
Drive (2011)
Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
Duck Soup (1933) bw
E.T.: The Extraterrestrial (1982)
Eagle Eye (2008)
Earth (1998) India-Canada
The Earrings of Madame De.. (1953) France, bw
Eastern Promises (2007)
Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) China
The Edge of the World (1937) bw
El Alamein (2002) Italy
El Mariachi (1992) Mexico
Election (1999)
Elevator to the Gallows (1958) France, bw
Elmer Gantry (1960)
Emma (1996)
Emma (Miniseries, 2009)
The Emperor and the Assassin (1998) China
Empire of the Sun (1987)
Enemy at the Gates (2001)
Era Notte a Roma (1960) Italy, bw
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
The Executioner's Song (1982)
Evergreen (2004)
Everything is Illuminated (2006)
The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)
The Fall (2007) India-U.S.
Fallen Angels (1995) China
Fantasia (1940)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Farewell (2009) France
Farewell My Concubine (1993) China
Fargo (1996)
Fateless (2005) Hungary-France-UK, bw
Fearless (1993)
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
Field of Dreams (1989)
Fight Club (1999)
The Fighter (2010)
Finding Nemo (2003)
Finding Neverland (2004)
Fire (1995)
The Fireman's Ball (1967) Czech Republic, bw
Fitzcarraldo (1982) Germany
Five Easy Pieces (1970)
Five Minutes of Heaven (2002)
Floating Weeds (1959), Japan
Flowers of Shanghai (1998), China-Taiwan
The Fortune Cookie (1966) bw
The Fountain (2006)
The French Connection (1971)
Frequency (2000)
Friday Night Lights (2004)
From Russia With Love (1963)
Frost-Nixon (2008)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Gadjo Dilo (1998) Romania
The Game (1997)
Gandhi (1983)
Gangs of New York (2002)
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970) Italy
Gattica (1997)
The Gay Divorcee (1934) bw
The General (1927) bw-silent
Get Carter (1971)
Gettysburg (1993)
Ghostbusters (1984)
The Girl in the Cafe (2005)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy (2009)
Gladiator (2000)
Gloomy Sunday (1999)Germany
Glory (1989)
The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather Part II (1974)
God Grew Tired of Us (2006)
Going in Style (1979)
The Golden Compass (2007)
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Good Bye, Lenin! (2003) Germany
The Good Shepherd (2006)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) bw
Goodfellas (1990)
Goodnight Mister Tom (1998) tv
Gorky Park (1983)
Gormenghast (2000)
The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964) Italy, bw
The Graduate (1968)
Grand Illusion (1937) France, bw
Gran Torino (2008)
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Grave of the Fireflies (1988) Japan
The Great Escape (1963)
The Great White Hope (1970)
Green Zone (2010)
The Grey Fox (1983)
The Grifters (1990)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Grumpy Old Men (1993)
Gun Crazy (1949) bw
Half Moon (2006) France-Iraq-Iran
Hamlet (1996)
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Happy Feet (2006) Australia
Hara-Kiri (1962) Japan, bw
Hard Eight (1997)
The Harmonists (1997) Germany
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968)
Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1992)
Heat and Dust (1983)
Heathers (1989)
Heaven Can Wait (1978)
Heavenly Creatures (1994) New Zealand
Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) bw
Hero (2002) China
Hidalgo (2004)
High and Low (1963) Japan, bw
High Noon (1952) bw
Himalaya (1999) Nepal
His Girl Friday (1940) bw
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Hope and Glory (1987)
House of Flying Daggers (2004) China
House of Games (1987)
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967)
How the West Was Won (1962)
Hud (1964) bw
The Hurt Locker (2009)
The Hustler (1961) bw
I Am Cuba (1964) Cuba-Russia, bw
I Served the King of England (2006) Czech Rep.
I Vitelloni (1953), Italy, bw
The Ides of March (2011)
Il Postino (1995), Italy
Il Posto (1961) Italy, bw
The Illusionist (2010) France-UK
I'm Not There (2007)
The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)
In a Lonely Place (1950) bw
In a Better World (2010) Denmark
In Bruges (2008)
In Cold Blood (1967) bw
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
In the Mood for Love (2001) Hong Kong
In the Valley of Elah (2007)
Inception (2010)
The Incredibles (2004)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
The Informer (1935) bw
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Inherit the Wind (1960) bw
Innocence (2004) France
Inside Job (2010)
Inside Man (2006)
Inspector Morse Series (1987-99) tv
Into the West (2005) tv
Into the Wild (2007)
Invictus (2009)
Iron Man (2008)
The Italian (2005) Russia
It's a Wonderful Life (1946) bw
It's Complicated (2009)
Ivan's Childhood (1962) Russia, bw
Jean de Florette/Manon of the Spring (1986) France
Jeff Beck: Live at Ronnie Scott's (2007)
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
Jezebel (1938) bw
Jodhaa Akbar (2007) India
John Adams (2008)
Johnny Guitar (1954)
Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) bw
Junebug (2005)
Kapó (1959) Italy, bw
The Kids Are All Right (2011)
The Killing Fields (1984)
Kinamind (2005) Denmark
Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) bw
The King and I (1956)
The King of Comedy (1982)
King of Masks (1997) China-Hong Kong
King's Row (1941) bw
The King’s Speech (2010)
The Kingdom (2007)
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
The Kite Runner (2007)US-China
Klute (1971)
Kolya (1996) Czech Republic
The Krays (1990)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
L'america (1994) Italy
L'avventura (1960) Italy, bw
La Dolce Vita (1960) Italy, bw
La Femme Nikita (1990) France
La Haine (2005) France, bw
La Vie en Rose (2007) France
The Lady Eve (1941) bw
Landscape in the Mist (1988) Greece
The Last Emperor (1987)
The Last King of Scotland (2006)
The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
The Last Picture Show (1971) bw
The Last Seduction (1993)
The Last Station (2009)
The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) bw
Lawn Dogs (1997)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Le Plaisir (1952) France, bw
Le Samourai (1967) France
Leave Her To Heaven (1945)
Lebanon (2009) Israel
The Legend of 1900 (1998) Italy
Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)
Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1982)
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
Life With Father (1947)
The Lives of Others (2007) Germany
Lone Star (1996)
Lonesome Dove (1989) tv
The Longest Day (1962) bw
Longitude (2000) tv
Lord of the Flies (1963) bw
Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2003) New Zealand
Lord of War (2005)
Lost Horizon (1937)
Lost in Translation (2003)
The Lost Room (2006) tv
Love Among the Ruins (1975)
The Loved One (1965) bw
Lust, Caution (2007) China
M. (1931) Germany, bw
Mad Men (2007) tv
The Madness of King George (1994)
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) bw
The Major and the Minor (1942) bw
Malena (2000) Italy
The Maltese Falcon (1941) bw
Man On Wire (2008)
The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
Man With the Movie Camera (1928) USSR, bw/silent
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Manhattan (1979) bw
Manufactured Landscapes (2006)
Mao's Last Dancer (2009)
Margin Call (2011)
Martin Chuzzlewit (1994) tv
Marwencol (2010)
Mary Poppins (1964)
MASH (1970)
The Matrix Trilogy (1999-2004)
McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)
Me and You and Everyone We Know (2006)
Meek's Cutoff (2010)
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Melancholia (2011)
Memento (2000)
The Memory Loss Tapes (2008) tv
Mephisto (1981) Hungary
Metropolis (1927) Germany, bw-silent
Metropolitan (1990)
Micmacs (2009) France
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Midnight in Paris (2011)
Midnight Run (1988)
Milk (2008)
Millennium Mambo (2001) Taiwan
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Millions (2004)
Minority Report (2002)
Mister Roberts (1955)
Mongol (2007) Russia
Monsoon Wedding (2000) India
The More the Merrier (1943) bw
Morgan! (1966) bw
The Mosquito Coast (1986)
The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) Brazil
Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002) India
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) bw
Mrs. Miniver (1942) bw
Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
Munich (2005)
Murder Rooms: Dark Beginnings (2001) tv
The Muse (1999)
My Blueberry Nights (2007)
My Brilliant Career (1979) Australia
My Fair Lady (1964)
My Favorite Wife (1938) bw
My Left Foot (1989)
My Man Godfrey (1935) bw
Mystic River (2003)
The Namesake (2006) India-US
Napoléon (1927) France, bw-silent
The Natural (1984)
Ned Kelly (2004) Australia
Nelly and Mr. Arnaud (1995), France
Network (1976)
Never Cry Wolf (1983)
Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941) bw
The Night of the Hunter (1955) bw
The Night Porter (1974) Italy
Nights of Cabiria (1957) Italy
Nine (2009)
Nine Queens (2000) Argentina
No Country For Old Men (2007)
No Man’s Land (2001) Bosnia
Norma Rae (1979)
North by Northwest (1959)
Nosferatu (1922) Germany, bw-silent
Not One Less (1999) China
Nothing But the Truth (2008)
Now, Voyager (1942) bw
Nowhere in Africa (2002) Germany
Ocean's Eleven (1960)
Ocean's Eleven (2001)
October Sky (1999)
Odd Man Out (1947) bw
Of Gods and Men (2010)
Off the Map (2003)
Oklahoma! (1955)
Oldboy (2003) Korea
Oliver Twist (1948) bw
Oliver! (1967)
Olympia (1938) Germany, bw
On Golden Pond (1981)
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
On the Waterfront (1951) bw
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
One False Move (1992)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
One, Two, Three (1961) bw
Open Range (2003)
Out of Africa (1985)
Out of the Past (1947) bw
Outcast of the Islands (1951)
Outland (1981)
The Pacific (2010)
The Paper Chase (1973)
Paper Moon (1973) bw
Parenthood (1989)
The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) bw-silent
Pat Metheny: Speaking of Now Live (2003)
Paths of Glory (1957) bw
Patton (1970)
Peeping Tom (1960)
Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
Performance (1970)
Perfume (2006) Germany
The Philadelphia Story (1940) bw
Pi (1998) bw
Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) Australia
Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy (2003-07)
Planet Earth (2007) tv
The Player (1992)
Platoon (1986)
The Police: Synchronicity Concert (2005)
Poltergeist (1982)
The Power of Nightmares (2007) tv
Powwow Highway (1989)
The Prestige (2006)
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Pride of the Yankees (1942) bw
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)
The Prisoner (1967) tv
Prisoner of the Mountains (1996) Russia
The Producers (1968)
The Professional (1994)
The Promise (2005) China
Pulp Fiction (1995)
Purple Noon (1961) France
Quinceañera (2006)
Quiz Show (1994) bw
Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002), Australia
Raging Bull (1980) bw
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The Railway Children (1970, 2000)
The Rains Came (1939) bw
Raise the Red Lantern (1991) China
Raising Arizona (1987)
Rango (2011)
Rashomon (1954) Japan, bw
The Reader (2008)
The Red Badge of Courage (1951) bw
Red Cliff (2008) China
Red Dragon (2002)
The Red Shoes (1948)
Reds (1981)
Reilly: Ace of Spies (1983) tv
Rendition (2007)
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Requiem For a Heavyweight (1962) bw
The Replacement Killers (1998)
Repo Man (1984)
Restrepo (2010)
Return of Martin Guerre (1982) France
Revolutionary Road (2008)
Richard Pryor Live in Concert (1979)
Rififi (1955) France, bw
The Right Stuff (1983)
The River (1951)
Rivers and Tides (2003)
The Road Home (1999) China
The Road Warrior (1981) Australia
Rocco and his Brothers (1964) Italy, bw
Ronin (1998)
The Ruling Class (1972)
Run Lola Run (1998) Germany
Runaway Jury (2003)
The Russians are Coming (1966)
Sahara (1943) bw
Salaam Bombay! (1988) India
Samson and Delilah (2009) Australia
Samurai 1: Musashi Miyamoto (1954) Japan
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Say Anything (1989)
Schindler's List (1993) bw
Scrooged (1988)
The Searchers (1956)
Searching for Bobby Fisher (1993)
Secondhand Lions (2003)
The Secret in Their Eyes (2009) Argentina
Seven Beauties (1975) Italy
Seven Days in May (1964) bw
The Seven Samurai (1957) Japan, bw
The Seven Year Itch (1955)
The Seventh Seal (1957) Sweden, bw
Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Shall We Dance? (1995) Japan
Shallow Grave (1994)
Shane (1953)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)
The Shop Around the Corner (1940) bw
The Shop on Main St. (1965) Czechoslavakia, bw
Shutter Island (2010)
Siberiade (1979) Russia
Sideways (2004)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Silkwood (1982)
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Sin City (2005) bw
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Singles (1992)
Six Feet Under (2006) tv
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Sleeping Dogs Lie (2008)
Sleepwalking Through the Mekong (2009)
Sleuth (1972)
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Smoke Signals (1998)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
The Social Network (2010)
Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
Some Like It Hot (1959), bw
Source Code (2011)
The Spanish Prisoner (1997)
Spartacus (1960)
Spider-Man Trilogy (2006)
The Spiral Staircase (1945) bw
Splendor in the Grass (1961)
Spring in a Small Town (1948) China, bw
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.. and Spring (2003) Korea
Stalag 17 (1953) bw
Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (2001)
Star Trek (2008)
Star Wars Trilogy (1983)
The Stars Fell on Henrietta (1995)
State of Play (2009)
Stop Making Sense (1984)
The Story of the Weeping Camel (2003) Germany
Stray Dog (1949) Japan, bw
The Stunt Man (1980)
Sullivan's Travels (1941), bw
Sunrise (1927), bw-silent
Sunset Boulevard (1950) bw
Sunshine (1999) Germ.-Austria-Can.-Hung.
Sweeney Todd (2007)
The Sweet Hereafter (1997) Canada
The Sweet Smell of Success (1957) bw
Swing Time (1936) bw
Synecdoche, New York (2008)
Take Shelter (2011))
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Tea With Mussolini (1999)
Temple Grandin (2010) tv
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Terms of Endearment (1983)
Tess (1979)
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) Germany, bw
Thank You For Smoking (2005)
There Will Be Blood (2007)
They Were Expendable (1945) bw
The Thin Man (1934) bw
The Thin Red Line (1998)
The Third man (1949) bw
Thirteen (2005)
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)
Three Times (2005) Taiwan
Throne of Blood (2008) Japan, bw
The Tiger's Tail (2006)
Time Bandits (1981)
The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)
To Die For (1995)
To Have and Have Not (1944) bw
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) bw
To Live (1994) China
Together (2002) China
Tokyo Story (1953) Japan, bw
Tootsie (1982)
Touch of Evil (1958) bw
Touch the Sound (2004) Germany
Touching the Void (2003)
Toy Story (1995)
Toy Story 3 (2010)
Traffic (2000)
The Train (1964) bw
Transsiberian (2006)
Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) bw
The Tree of Life (2011)
The Triplets of Belleville (2003) France-Belgium-Can.-UK
Triumph of the Will (1935) Germany, bw
Trouble in Paradise (1932) bw
Troy (2004)
True Love (1989)
The Truman Show (1998)
Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)
The Tunnel (2001) Germany
Turtles Can Fly (2004) Iran-Iraq
The Twilight Samurai (2002) Japan
The Two of Us (1967) France, bw
Ugetsu (1953) Japan, bw
Umberto D (1952) Italy, bw
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)
Under the Sun (1998), Sweden
Unforgiven (1992)
United 93 (2006)
Unstoppable (2010)
Up (2009)
Up In the Air (2009)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
V for Vendetta (2005)
Valkyrie (2008)
Vanishing Point (1971)
Vantage Point (2008)
Vatel (2000) France
Veer-Zaara (2004) India
Vera Drake (2004)
Vertigo (1958)
Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008)
The Virgin Suicides (1999)
Viridiana (1961) Italy, bw
Visions of Light (1992)
The Visitor (2008)
Vitus (2006) Switzerland
W. (2008)
The Wages of Fear (1953) France, bw
Walkabout (1971) Australia
Wall-E (2008)
Wall Street (1987)
Wallace and Gromit: 3 Amazing Adventures (2005)
War and Peace (1968) Russia
War Photographer (2001) Switzerland
Warriors (Guerreros, 2007) Spain
Water (2005) India-Canada
The Way Back (2010) Australia
We of the Never Never (1982) Australia
West Side Story (1961)
Whale Rider (2003) New Zealand
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) bw
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
When Trumpets Fade (1998)
Where In the World Is Osama Bin Laden? (2008)
Whistle Down the Wind (1961) bw
The White Ribbon (2009) Germany
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) bw
The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)
Winged Migration (2001) Fr-Ity-Gy-Spain-Switz
The Wings of the Dove (1997)
Winter's Bone (2010)
Witness (1985)
Witness For the Prosecution (1957) bw
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
The Women (1939) bw
Women in Love (1970)
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) Spain
Women Without Men (2009) Iran
Woodstock (1970)
The Wrath of Khan (1982)
The Wrestler (2008)
The Yakuza (1974)
You Can't Take It With You (1938) bw
Young Frankenstein (1974) bw
Youth Without Youth (2007)
Zelary (2003) Czech Republic
Zhou Yu's Train (2004) China
Zodiac (2007)

One of the many surreal images in Lars von Trier's
moody SF film, Melancholia


About Me

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Artist, photographer, composer, author, blogger, metaphysician, herbalist

About This Blog

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

Author at EZines

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