• Most new users don't bother reading our rules. Here's the one that is ignored almost immediately upon signup: DO NOT ASK FOR FANEDIT LINKS PUBLICLY. First, read the FAQ. Seriously. What you want is there. You can also send a message to the editor. If that doesn't work THEN post in the Trade & Request forum. Anywhere else and it will be deleted and an infraction will be issued.
  • If this is your first time here please read our FAQ and Rules pages. They have some useful information that will get us all off on the right foot. More details on our policies, especially our Own the Source rule are available here. If you do not understand any of these rules send a private message to one of our staff for further details.
  • Favorite Edit of the Year (FEOTY) 2021 polls are here for all 11 categories.

TM2YC's 1001 Movies (Chronological up to page 25/post 481)

TM2YC

Take Me To Your Cinema
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,749
Reaction score
1,138
Trophy Points
228
50666296067_774d57b685_o.jpg


Le Samurai (1967)
Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Country: France
Length: 103 minutes
Type: Noir, Crime, Drama

I've been meaning to watch Jean-Pierre Melville's 'Le Samurai' (1967) ever since I fell in love with John Woo's 'The Killer' (1989) sometime in the 90s.  Woo has said it was the main influence and star Alain Delon inspired Chow Yun Fat's "performance, his style, his look, even the way he walked".  The sharp suits and thin ties of the killers do echo those of the Hong Kong action genre but Melville's film is very cool, melancholy and restrained, where as Woo's is packed with action and emotion.  The plot is recognisably similar: a top-level freelance assassin, who operates by his own code of honour, executes a hit at a nightclub, which is witnessed by the pianist (in 'The Killer' she's a singer) who he develops feelings for. That opening club scene in particular is very like 'The Killer' which Woo acknowledges in the liner notes of The Criterion 'Le Samurai' release. When the assassin goes to collect the money his employer double-crosses him and he then has to evade them and a cunning police detective.  Woo's innovations on Melville's plot were having the assassin accidentally blind the pianist/singer character, so he has to get money for her operation (making us the audience sympathise with him enormously), plus having the pursuing policeman gradually forge a friendship with the killer, after he witnesses him save a child.  Melville's film doesn't have those more human, more heroic aspects, it's more internalised and grim.  The opening 10-minutes has no dialogue and it's set in an almost monochrome Noir world of blue greys, brown greys, green greys, whites and blacks.  I'd argue there's a strong influence of Alain Delon's character on that of "The Driver" in Nicolas Winding Refn's 2011 film.  They're both taciturn loners, who execute their criminal jobs with mathematical precision but appear to take no satisfaction from it.



<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50666218091_b8c41299b2_o.jpg


The Killer (1989)
Director: John Woo
Country: Hong Kong
Length: 110 minutes
Type: Crime, Action, Drama

A total classic of the hyper-violent Hong-Kong action genre of the 80s/90s, one that I could watch forever on repeat. The balletic gun battles are the greatest ever shot but the themes of comradeship and sacrifice are powerfully emotional too. The stylish direction, inventive editing, effecting score (some of it borrowed from the 1988 Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle 'Red Heat'), gut-punch soundFX and terrific performances all excel.  Chow Yun-Fat in his white suit, black tie, slicked-back hair and duel wielded pistols is about as cool as it gets.   'The Killer' is probably in my top-5 films of all-time and a "perfect movie" in my book. When is this masterpiece ever going to get a decent HD transfer?  The 1998 Criterion DVD is still arguably the best way to watch it.


A person on youtube has put together the whole score:


Sally Yeh's Cantopop theme song 'Shallow for Life' is so beautiful (I think that's the translation?):

 

TM2YC

Take Me To Your Cinema
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,749
Reaction score
1,138
Trophy Points
228
50669240356_a1d2c63679_o.jpg


Jules and Jim (1962)
Director: Francois Truffaut
Country: France
Length: 105 minutes
Type: Drama

Although the title features two people, Francois Truffaut's third film is about a ménage à trois between Frenchman Jim (Henri Serre), Austrian Jules (Oskar Werner) and the woman which they are both obsessed with Catherine (Jeanne Moreau).  Jim is outgoing and decisive, Jules is shy and lovelorn and Catherine is an erratic, untameable free-spirit.  The story follows their evolving relationship from before WWI, to the beginning of WW2, the unshakeable friendship between Jules and Jim, contrasting with the wars between their countries.  Jules actually welcomes being sent to the frozen Eastern front because it decreases his chances of accidentally killing Jim on the Western front.  All three actors are superb but I wasn't all that interested in their love lives.  Quentin Tarantino named two of his characters in 'Pulp Fiction', "Jules and Jimmy" after the two friends here.


<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50669314677_6dbf59f0c6_o.jpg


Little Big Man (1970)
Director: Arthur Penn
Country: United States
Length: 147 minutes
Type: Western, Comedy

The narrative structure of this 1970 Dustin Hoffman epic Western will be instantly recognised by anybody who has seen 1994's 'Forrest Gump'. That film had the title character recount his unlikely part in the dark chapter of US history labelled 'Vietnam', 'Little Big Man' does the same for the genocide of the Native Americans. Although as this film was released against a backdrop of Vietnam protests, it can also be seen as a satirical comment on that war too.  In the present day, the 121 year-old title character narrates his comic/tragic life story, being raised by a Cheyenne chief, becoming a gunfighter, befriending Wild Bill Hickok and confronting General Custer (who is portrayed as a dangerously self-deluded buffoon). There's lots of laughs and lots of tears along the way but also some shocking scenes depicting senseless massacres. The tribal elder and other Cheyenne characters in the film recite the motto "Today, is a good day to die" when facing danger, which was later borrowed as a Klingon saying in the Star Trek universe.


<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50668489233_94da55dc35_o.jpg


The War Game (1966)
Director: Peter Watkins
Country: United Kingdom
Length: 44 minutes
Type: Pseudo-Documentary, Sci-Fi

Peter Watkins' follow up to 'Culloden' was suppressed by the BBC under pressure from the then Government for 20-years. The Drama-Documentary imagines and explains in cold detail exactly how and why everybody in Britain would be totally f**ked if there was ever a Nuclear attack. It was feared that had the broadcast gone ahead it would have turned public opinion against Nuclear weapons and would have resulted in mass suicides in the event of the bomb being dropped.

 

mnkykungfu

Well-known member
Donor
Messages
1,453
Reaction score
262
Trophy Points
93
TM2YC said:
50666218091_b8c41299b2_o.jpg


   'The Killer' is probably in my top-5 films of all-time and a "perfect movie" in my book.

Totally with you. I've always been hard-pressed to choose between this and Hard Boiled. For pure action, the latter gets the edge, but the story here is deeper and resonant and more poetic, so it comes out on top. Hong Kong cinema was never better, and sadly, will probably never be as good again.
 

TM2YC

Take Me To Your Cinema
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,749
Reaction score
1,138
Trophy Points
228
50677221377_ab0fd2afa5_o.jpg


Seven (1995)
Director: David Fincher
Country: United States
Length: 127 minutes
Type: Thriller, Noir, Crime, Horror

'Seven' was such a massive hit on home video and TV back in the 90s and it's still so, so good. After the much discussed painful debacle over his debut feature 'Alien 3' (which I actually quite liked), 'Seven' feels like David Fincher saying to himself "I've got a second chance, now I'm really going to show people what I can do!".  Every facet of the production looks to have been meticulously planned to further the dark mood he was after.  The constant rain, the immersive, ominous soundscape, Howard Shore's gothic score, the noir lighting, the degradation and filth on every surface, the timeless 50s/90s look, I'd even wager Fincher specified that none of the clothes where to be ironed, all to create the tainted mire of his imagined nightmare city.  Most shots are lit as dark as they can be while still keeping everything illuminated. The highlights shine white and the lows are inky blacks but it's murky shadows in between.  The "bleach bypass" process was used on the film stock to achieve the look (and was used again on 'Fight Club'). I wish his more recent digital films looked as good as this.

If 1994's 'The Shawshank Redemption' didn't make Morgan Freeman a mega star (at the age of 57), then his role as Detective Somerset a year later definitely did.  I'd have loved to see Freeman reprise this character in more films, he's a real modern day Sherlock Holmes.  His rookie sidekick Brad Pitt isn't the greatest actor (at least back in the 90s, I like him much more now) but Pitt's overdone mannerisms and showy quirks actually work perfectly in contrast to Freeman.  His hyper, fidgety style accentuates the still, quiet, subtle, intelligence of Freeman's characterisation.  Shore's soundtrack recalls his score for 1991's 'The Silence of the Lambs', which shares some DNA with 'Seven', I'd bet Kevin Spacey based his unsettling monotone voice on that of Anthony Hopkins.  I wondered if 'The Dark Knight' sort of super-villain that lays a grand scheme to ensnare the heroes, controlling the world from their cage began here?

This time watching I noticed how many gaping plot holes there are and little of the character stuff makes sense. However, those problems largely go away if you remove the conceit that it's taking place across seven days.  So I wonder if this was a last minute change by Fincher to give his film some more seven-ness and a "ticking clock" element?  Characters repeatedly comment on how long it's taking to catch the killer but wrapping up seven murders, in seven days, would the fastest piece of case solving in the history of law enforcement!  Also Gwyneth Paltrow's character is portrayed as tired of living in the city to the point of mental disturbance but she's only been there for two or three days when she expresses it.  Then there is the amount of contrivance and coincidence required for the killer's plan to work in the exact day by day, week long time frame.   So 'Seven' isn't a perfect movie but it comes damned close.  If you have to watch a movie 10 times to start seeing any flaws, I'm not sure they count as flaws.


<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50677221392_98a81518a2_o.jpg


Fight Club (1999)
Director: David Fincher
Country: United States
Length: 139 minutes
Type: Drama

'Fight Club's satire is both acutely of it's time and timeless. Filmed a few months before the Columbine massacre, the scene where Edward Norton threatens his office manager with "pumping round after round into colleagues and co-workers" is chilling. The terrifying scene where he dreams of being in a crashing plane, the shots of skyscrapers being blown up and all the stuff about secret terror cells, seems to predict the events of September 11th, two years later. On the other hand, apart from the odd shot of a CRT television, you wouldn't know this was shot 20 years ago, fashions and the political, social and economic context have changed so little. I hadn't fully appreciated the cynical undercurrent of criticism beneath the film's anarchistic surface before. Tyler's anti-authoritarian and anti-consumer movement becomes the kind of corporate organisation he has rejected, it has it's own strict rules (famously), it's uniforms, filing systems, mandated tasks, routines and oppressive orthodoxies.

Some of the editing ideas don't translate to digital viewing, the reel change marks, the Tyler subliminal glitches, the film burns and gate distortion would have probably felt like possible genuine Andy Kaufman-esque problems with the projection back in the 35mm days, today these deliberate "mistakes" are reproduced with cold digital precision. Jeff Cronenweth's striking hi-contrast Cinematography has the unusual look of being purposefully lurid, dirty and over processed but also artfully lit in every shot. So why do most of his films with David Fincher since then look like low-contrast, monochromatic grey/green/brown smears.


 

TM2YC

Take Me To Your Cinema
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,749
Reaction score
1,138
Trophy Points
228
50684023401_18d4873f0f_o.jpg


Persona (1966)
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Country: Sweden
Length: 84 minutes
Type: Drama, Psychological

Another black & white psychological drama from Ingmar Bergman about characters in an isolated cottage on a remote shoreline having an existential crisis.  Elisabet is a famous actress who has suddenly stopped speaking, she's accompanied by her nurse Alma, who poors out all her deepest feelings and painful secrets to this attentive mute listener.  I understand there have been numerous interpretations as to what it all means.  I took it to be about the women being two sides of one personality, in a struggle to reconcile with each other.  Both women stare out at the camera but not at the audience, at themselves, as if it was a mirror, the film looking at itself.  The handling of light and dark is exquisite, as is the composition of the two faces within the frame.  The phantasmagorical intro is outta sight, then it settles down into Bergman's familiar style, I wished there had been more of that intro.  I found 'Persona' to be intriguing enough to sustain 84-minutes but I can't say I particularly enjoyed it.



<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50683261913_6467859995_o.jpg


The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Director: Frank Darabont
Country: United States
Length: 142 minutes
Type: Drama, Crime

This got rented so many times when it came out and I’ve seen it over the years but not for a long stretch. Seeing it again, I thought the cinematography was gorgeous, who knew there so many rich shades of brown, blue and grey. I’d never noticed that the colour green is almost totally absent (symbolising being locked away from nature). This isn’t achieved the modern way, by getting a computer to simply adjust the grade in post (making the film look dreadful). It's done by designing the look of the world from the ground up to not allow that colour. 142-minutes slips by without you noticing, as Andy says "The easiest time I ever did". The use of foreshadowing is clever and constant. I'd never realised before that when Andy first mentions his thoughts of getting out to Red, Red replies "This is just sh*tty pipedreams" which is exactly what it turns out to be. A film that rewards you every time you rewatch it.

A scan of the original 35mm trailer:


<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50684096407_053f1dd8fe_o.jpg


Caravaggio (1986)
Director: Derek Jarman
Country: United Kingdom
Length: 93 minutes
Type: Historical, Drama

Derek Jarman's unorthodox biopic of the famous painter takes place wholly within the shadowy interior world of his canvases (IIRC there are no exterior shots). The narrative also shares the same preoccupations with sex, power, love, death and bloody violence.  Jarman sprinkles in deliberately anachronistic details like calculators, motorbikes and typewriters, making it feel like the present day and the past simultaneously. Nigel Terry plays the artist with intensity and Tilda Swinton and Sean Bean make their screen debuts... Sean's character, true to form, meets a bloody end.


 

TM2YC

Take Me To Your Cinema
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,749
Reaction score
1,138
Trophy Points
228
Three varied films from 1980...

50692150198_cfa265973b_o.jpg


The Last Metro (1980)
Director: Francois Truffaut
Country: France
Length: 131 minutes
Type: War, Drama, Romance

'The Last Metro' swept the board at the 1981 Cesars and I can see why.  The film is set within a Montmartre theatre in occupied Paris, as they rehearse and then perform a new play under Nazi rule.  Catherine Deneuve plays Marion Steiner, the leading lady and the person left in charge of the theatre after her German/Jewish husband and playwright Lucas was supposedly forced to go on the run.  She's actually hiding him in the cellar, where he's guiding the production by listening from below.  A very youthful Gerard Depardieu plays the third part of a love triangle with Marion and Lucas.  As well as portraying Lucas' existence under an anti-Semitic regime, two of the main cast are gay/lesbian and you get the impression that the theatre is a warm, safe refuge for them as well.  The cast trying to maintain the theatre, their way of life and their dignity in the face of oppression and deprivation is a key theme.  In an early scene Deneuve returns home in an expensive fur coat but then we see her lay it on the bed, ready to use as a top blanket.  Truffaut conveys many such ideas and emotions visually and his characters are pleasingly complex.  The line between collaborators and the resistance could've been drawn in black and white but aside from one character, Truffaut primarily works in shades of grey and empathetically reserves most judgements for the viewer.  I'm sure Quentin Tarantino must have drawn inspiration from 'The Last Metro' for his 'Shosanna' scenes in 'Inglourious Basterds'.


<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50692150208_c1f0b84e81_o.jpg


Atlantic City (1980)
Director: Louis Malle
Country: United States, Canada, France
Length: 104 minutes
Type: Drama, Romance, Crime

Burt Lancaster plays an ageing failed gangster and Susan Sarandon plays a trainee blackjack dealer in the faded glory of Atlantic City.  Both their lives are upturned when Sarandon's deadbeat estranged husband arrives in town with a pack of cocaine he's stolen from dangerous mobsters.  Director Louis Malle observes these people's quiet, defeated lives with such an affection and love.  Atlantic City itself is like another character, the film was shot on location just at the moment when the old buildings of it's prohibition height were being demolished, ready for new casinos like Trump Plaza to begin construction in '82 (we know how that turned out).


<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50692150263_77c305bba5_o.jpg


Airplane! (1980)
Director: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker & Jerry Zucker
Country: United States
Length: 87 minutes
Type: Comedy

Doing a near scene-for-scene, shot-for-shot, line-for-line remake of a "serious" film like 1957's 'Zero Hour!' but making it funny by simply re-contextualizing the material within a comedy is a pretty high-brow concept but one crammed with deliciously low-brow humour of every variety.  On this re-viewing I was really laughing at Stephen Stucker's character the control tower assistant Johnny, the only person in the film who isn't playing it deadly straight... in fact he's like some bonkers opposite of playing it straight. Sure not all of the jokes work and a few of the references have dated but there is such a hurricane of gags that these moments get lost in the shuffle and obscured by the shear quantity of joyfully ridiculous jokes that do work every time.  How could anybody tire of this comedy classic?


 

TM2YC

Take Me To Your Cinema
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,749
Reaction score
1,138
Trophy Points
228
50700193016_07eac4b530_o.jpg


The Young One (1960)
Director: Luis Bunuel
Country: Mexico
Length: 95 minutes
Type: Drama

'The Young One' ('La joven' aka 'White Trash' aka 'Island of Shame') can be added to the short (but growing) list of Luis Bunuel films which I've seen and actually like.  It's one of only two he made in the English language.  Black travelling Jazz clarinet player 'Traver' narrowly escapes a lynch mob via a stolen boat and washes up on the shore of a small island and game reserve.  The only inhabitants are the apparently racist gamekeeper 'Miller' and his diseased business partner's guileless teenage daughter 'Evalyn'.  While Traver is stuck repairing his boat the two men violently clash and Miller lusts after Evalyn.  Considering these are complex, nuanced and flawed characters, involved with extremely dark and challenging themes, it's amazing how smooth flowing and enjoyable the film is to watch, even funny at times.  It proves that the surrealist director could do a straight-forward, contained, character-driven story with great skill.  Sadly Bunuel's predilection for using animals as a metaphor for human suffering is still in effect, filming chickens and crabs being eaten alive, plus other creatures being shot, trapped and stamped on.


<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50700274112_ded7bd1655_o.jpg


Murmur of the Heart (1971)
Director: Louis Malle
Country: France
Length: 118 minutes
Type: Drama

French Director Louis Malle draws from his own childhood in this evocative coming of age piece set in a mid-50s middle-class home.  Benoit Ferreux is superb as 15-year-old Laurent, his adolescent confusions not helped by two mischievous older brothers, his distant gynaecologist father, a suspect catholic priest and his (too) close relationship with his beautiful and promiscuous Italian mother. The backdrop of Jazz LPs and angry debates about the 1st French offensive in Vietnam set the mood. Sure to please fans of 2017's 'Call Me by Your Name'.

 

TM2YC

Take Me To Your Cinema
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,749
Reaction score
1,138
Trophy Points
228
50703391851_92fcac51a9_o.jpg


Open Your Eyes (1997)
Director: Alejandro Amenabar
Country: Spain
Length: 117 minutes
Type: Drama, Psychological, Sci-Fi

I liked 'Vanilla Sky', Cameron Crowe's 2001 Hollywood remake of Alejandro Amenabar's Spanish film 'Open Your Eyes' ('Abre los ojos') but it's been a decade or two since I saw 'Vanilla Sky', so fortunately I didn't remember enough of it to have the twists and turns of the original plot spoiled.  In fact, half remembering some alternate reality version of this story with different faces for the characters only enhanced the experience, considering it's themes.  Eduardo Noriega plays a vain young man who meets what might be the woman of his dreams (Penelope Cruz) at his birthday party but the next morning an ex-girlfriend (who he thoughtlessly cast off) deliberately crashes a car they are in, killing herself and scarring him facially and mentally.  It's a powerful mix of Georges Franju's 'Eyes Without a Face', Paul Verhoeven's 'Total Recall', 'Phantom of the Opera' and Alfred Hitchcock's 'Vertigo', the last two being referenced specifically (the shot where James Stewart sees Kim Novak appear from a mirage is recreated).  'Open Your Eyes' is one of those rare films that's satisfying precisely because it leaves you with an unresolved mystery.


<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50703391896_7ce0c5b7f3_o.jpg


King of New York (1990)
Director: Abel Ferrara
Country: United States
Length: 103 minutes
Type: Crime

Christopher Walken stars as fictional New York crime lord Frank White, backed with a superb supporting cast featuring Laurence Fishburne, Giancarlo Esposito, David Caruso and Wesley Snipes. Director Abel Ferrara dresses everybody, the main cast and all the extras in the background (plus most of the cars) in jet black. It's like everybody is dressed for their own funerals. Walken shifts between catatonic introspection, brooding malevolence, nervous ticks and laughing at jokes only he can hear. He gazes mournfully straight down the camera once at the start and once at the end of the film, like he's acknowledging he is part of an unavoidable doomed tragedy. It's a very interesting performance. Far from the other lo-fi Ferrara films I've watched, this looks beautifully lit with cold natural grey light (plus some occasional deep blues) and noir shadows filling crumbling old New York interiors.

 

mnkykungfu

Well-known member
Donor
Messages
1,453
Reaction score
262
Trophy Points
93
^I watched KoNY so much in High School that I got burned out on it. Love that film, but haven't seen it in probably 20 years. Would be interesting to rewatch now and see if it has the same understated cool that I found so unique...
 

TM2YC

Take Me To Your Cinema
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,749
Reaction score
1,138
Trophy Points
228
50709926118_665c5540af_o.jpg


Chariots of Fire (1981)
Director: Hugh Hudson
Country: United Kingdom
Length: 124 minutes
Type: Historical, Drama, Sports

'Chariots of Fire' feels like such an effortless masterpiece.  A lot of that is probably down to Colin Welland's script (he was also famous as the kind teacher from Ken Loach's 'Kes'), which juggles a range of real-life characters, over a number of years, sticks pretty closely to the historical facts but always flows like a good work of fiction.  Hugh Hudson crafts a heroic, thrilling sporting drama (and I don't even like watching sport) about a vanished time of gentlemen athletes, where amateur enthusiasm, honour and sportsmanship, was prized above professionalism, money and winning at all costs.  The two main protagonists are, Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) an ambitious and passionate English/Jewish athlete running to prove himself against the lazy anti-Semitism of the pre-WWII British establishment and Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) a principled and naturally gifted Scottish/Protestant who runs "for the pleasure of God".  It's more about exploring their differing motivations for attainment, rather than the actual sport itself.

The evocation of a century ago is seamlessly achieved with no FX cheating, using big crowds, impressive locations, fine costuming and visual spectacle.  David Watkin's natural looking cinematography is about as good as it gets and Vangelis' score still sounds daring and unlike anything else but it totally works, it's the very athletic potential of the human body somehow conveyed through music.  'Chariots of Fire' was the first of a string of acclaimed films that The Ladd Company made ('Blade Runner', 'The Right Stuff', 'Once Upon a Time in America') in the few short years it was around.  The two men's histories after the events of the film are worth reading up on.  Liddell sadly died in a Japanese Internment Camp during their invasion of China and Abrahams bravely travelled to Berlin in 1936 with friend and fellow runner Aubrey Montague (played by Nicholas Farrell in the movie) to report on the Nazi Olympics for the BBC.


The original landscape poster for 'Chariots of Fire' is pretty cool, done in the style of a 20s poster:

IMG_9494.jpg


<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50710659481_7a8997ce75_o.jpg


Reds (1981)
Director: Warren Beatty
Country: United States
Length: 195 minutes
Type: Political, Historical, Drama

Warren Beatty directs, stars, co-writes and produces 'Reds', the story of Socialist Journalist John Reed and Diane Keaton plays his long suffering wife and fellow writer Louise Bryant. Half the over-3-hour run-time is devoted to their turbulent relationship at home and the other half to their fruitful working relationship covering the 1917 Russian Revolution. It shows their struggles up to the publication of Reed's famous 'Ten Days That Shook the World' book, which was turned into an acclaimed 1928 silent film by Sergei Eisenstein. Beatty brilliantly captures the excitement of reporting from the front-lines of earth shattering events. He and Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro use careful muted colours in the costumes, sets and naturalistic lighting to re-create a world of sepia photographs. The most interesting artistic choice is the intercutting of the dramatic reconstructions with interviews-to-camera by people who knew the Reeds and who were still alive in 1981. Their faces are decrepit but their voices are alive with the import of what they witnessed. 'Reds' deserved the awards it won at the time. It must've taken some chutzpah to make an American epic sympathetic to communists just a couple of decades after the infamous Hollywood blacklists. Remember, Ronald Reagan was elected US President at the start of the same year and he helped draw up those lists.


<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50709926088_fb6b924762_o.jpg


A Hard Day's Night (1964)
Director: Richard Lester
Country: United Kingdom
Length: 87 minutes
Type: Musical, Comedy

Director Richard Lester takes what could have been a cheap promo exercise for a pop group and makes it into real art. From the very first shot it announces it's intent. Without any preceding titles, it hard cuts to The Beatles already running towards camera, timed with the opening clang of the 'A Hard Day's Night' song. George trips over, the rest of the group laugh but the film keeps going, so we're watching what would usually be an out-take, telling us we are in for anarchic Documentary-style fun. The simple story rotates around The Beatles' management trying to keep them on schedule for a TV appearance. The fab-four rebel against them and cause as much mayhem as possible but of course they are showbiz professionals at heart, so they turn up at the last possible second to do the gig. The constant banter and antics from the lads rewards repeat viewings.

One of the best elements is John Jympson's inventive editing (he was the guy who later cut the workprint of 'Star Wars'), ending a scene unexpectedly, or extending another by a couple of surprising shots. After seeing the film many times, my one gripe would be the somewhat anti-climactic ending. A safe, rehearsed and mimed TV performance doesn't cut it after all the fun and chaos, we should have been shown a raucous live performance from the boys. Having seen the new 4K restoration of the Shea Stadium concert, I can testify to The Beatles being a terrific live band.


 

TM2YC

Take Me To Your Cinema
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,749
Reaction score
1,138
Trophy Points
228
50720504086_ef3e228993_o.jpg


Five Deadly Venoms (1978)

Director: Chang Cheh
Country: Hong Kong
Length: 98 minutes
Type: Kung Fu

The plot of 'Five Deadly Venoms' seems unnecessarily complicated at first but the mystery does draw you in.  A dying Kung Fu master dispatches his final pupil, to warn a 2nd master that his treasure is under threat from the five former pupils of the 1st master, who may, or may not have turned to evil.  Two pairs of the pupils know each other (Lizard and Toad) but not the other pair (Snake and Centipede) and the firth (Scorpion) is unknown to everybody and they all have secret and public identities to disguise their skills and origins.  The last student also conceals his identity, posing as an impish beggar, until he can determine which of his brothers can be trusted.

When it finally gets to the action, the fights are excellent but the film seems more preoccupied with Torquemada-esque instruments of torture, spikes into people's brains, water boarding, burning skin with metal and an iron maiden device.  The cheap hair and makeup, pantomime costuming and televisual look to the whole thing looks frankly rubbish but the strong characters, action and brisk pace negated those issues for me.  The name of the "Deadly Viper Assassination Squad" from 'Kill Bill' and them being named after insects/reptiles is surely inspired by the "Five Deadly Venoms", although I believe they're called the "Poison Clan" (from Chinese folklore) in the original language.  I watched this on Netflix with Cantonese audio and English subtitles which were much too Anglicised for my liking.  Like 'Dawn of the Dead', this uses some of the same library music as 1975's 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' making some bits seem unintentionally comical (IIRC it's the music they use when the titles are breaking down at the start).


<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50720504111_5e259eb21b_o.jpg


The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)
Director: Lau Kar-leung
Country: Hong Kong
Length: 115 minutes
Type: Kung Fu

This is basically "training montage: the movie".  After his family are killed by a brutal regime, a young student journeys to the Shaolin temple to learn Kung Fu from the monks, in the hope of using it to free his people.  In each chamber of the temple he learns a different lesson, or skill and his years of training occupy most of the middle of the film.  The reasons for him wanting to attain the knowledge and what he does with it when he's learned it are dealt with in as little time as possible and the ending is extremely abrupt.  It's an unusual structure for a script but it works and kept me engaged.  It's difficult to believe this is from the same Shaw Brothers studio and made in the same year as 'Five Deadly Venoms' because 'The 36th Chamber of Shaolin' looks so much more polished, expensive and filmic.  The costumes are better, the wigs are significantly better and it's got some great locations and big crowd scenes.  The fight choreography is superb and fast paced.  Fans of 1991's 'Once Upon a Time in China' will enjoy this too but it's got less humour and less focus on characterisation.

 

mnkykungfu

Well-known member
Donor
Messages
1,453
Reaction score
262
Trophy Points
93
"Training montage- the movie" har har! Yeah, 5 Deadly Venoms is more niche, but 36th Chamber is one of the titans of the genre. Arguably the most influential of all time for others within the genre (Enter the Dragon was more influential for general cinema). If you're a fan of the rap group Wu-Tang Clan or any of the artists in their family, about 80% of their pulls and references come from this film and its sequels.
 

TM2YC

Take Me To Your Cinema
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,749
Reaction score
1,138
Trophy Points
228
50733747128_8aa36852fb_o.jpg


The Godfather (1972)
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Country: United States
Length: 177 minutes
Type: Crime, Drama

I've seen 'The Godfather' being joked about as the kind of film that people who know nothing about films would say is their favourite film.  It's acquired that kind of default status and ubiquity because it's just that undeniably good, arguably a "perfect movie". An artistic tour de force, a dark and violent vision, yet so effortlessly enjoyable and accessible.  It often surprises me when I notice it's 3-hours because I never remember it being that long, it feels more like two.  I hadn't noticed before that the runtime divides exactly into two halves.  The first part is set in the days leading up to Christmas 1945 in a more or less continuous narrative.  The last happy Christmas holiday the family share together, starting with them all being reunited for a wedding.  That opening wedding scene is a masterpiece of writing and visual story telling.  It introduces all the characters, large and small and is full of foreshadowing telling us about them.  For example, there's a shot of the bodyguard Paulie commenting on Connie's bridal purse, it's exposition and a moment of humour but it's also giving us a hint that he covets the Corleone's money.  The murder of Sollozzo and McCluskey shatters the happiness and the structure of the film itself.  The second half jumps forward in time and place at speed across 10-years, on a downward trajectory.

The main theme is the contrast between the Corleone families stewardship under Vito, who rules with love and respect and Michael who rules with fear and domination.  Where did this Al Pacino go?  If I recall correctly, he only raises his voice once (in the final scene) the rest is delivered with cold, brooding malevolence.  Two scenes play up their differences, when Vito meets with Sollozzo to refuse his offer, treating him honourably (although he doesn't deserve it) and when Michael sweeps into the meeting with Moe Greene and instantly antagonises him.  It's not clear if Michael is being deliberately provocative, simply doesn't care if he causes offensive, or he just lacks the human empathy needed to at least try to persuade Moe.  Another thing I hadn't noticed before was the way Francis Ford Coppola has actors walk between us the audience and the main characters we are observing, giving us the feeling that we interacting with the world of 'The Godfather' in a documentary way, without sacrificing any of the high-gloss look.  The only criticism would be that although the budget was relatively large for a 1972 drama ($6-7 million), you can tell Coppola is having to choose where to spend it.  There is quite a bit of stock footage and shots of doubles (trying to hide their faces) walking around in second unit location shots.


<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50734581262_a62921c219_o.jpg


The Conversation (1974)
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Country: United States
Length: 113 minutes
Type: Thriller, Drama

The film Francis Ford Coppola made in between the first two Godfathers. He is credited with writing, producing and directing but a lot of credit has to go to genius Walter Murch who served as sound designer and supervising editor because this is a film that's all about the sound and editing. Gene Hackman plays top surveillance expert Harry Caul, a man who is intensely reserved, closed off and intolerant of people around him, yet has a job exposing the intimate private lives of other people. He is a tragic figure, preferring to lose the girlfriend he secretly loves passionately, rather than share any information about himself with her. Something he can only later confess to a floozy he has met at a surveillance conference, in the saddest scene when his work colleagues play a prank by secretly recording him, not realising he was baring his soul. The title of the film refers to a cryptic conversation he is commissioned to record in the elaborate opening sequence which drags him down into a paranoid obsession with finding out what they were talking about, who wants to know and why.


<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50734581237_ae096d1d30_o.jpg


The Long Goodbye (1973)
Director: Robert Altman
Country: United States
Length: 122 minutes
Type: Crime, Noir

Robert Altman re-invents the Film-Noir detective genre, with Elliott Gould playing Philip Marlowe as a dishevelled slob, mumbling the trademark Noir voiceover out loud to his cat. Arnold Schwarzenegger has an early cameo as a heavy for an oddball gangster who orders all his men to strip down to their pants in a bizarre attempt to intimidate Gould. Marlowe lives opposite an apartment filled with topless hippie girls doing yoga on the balcony, a fact that only he seems unimpressed by. There is a running gag where characters interact with a parking attendant who does flawless impersonations of Hollywood actors. It's a bit like the odd 70s twist Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Inherent Vice' put on the genre, except the plot isn't virtually incomprehensible!  'The Long Goodbye' is a kooky character study and an enjoyable watch.

 

TM2YC

Take Me To Your Cinema
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,749
Reaction score
1,138
Trophy Points
228
50738251732_c0f7be0c27_o.jpg


Spirited Away (2001)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Country: Japan
Length: 125 minutes
Type: Animation, Fantasy

This is the second time I've watched 'Spirited Away' and it impressed me more than on the first viewing.  It's widely thought to be Hayao Miyazaki's best and one of the best animations full stop, it won the Academy Award and is still the highest grossing film ever in Japan, so perhaps I'm more critical of it than his other films.  The story is both very simple ("free parents from magic castle") and unnecessarily complicated in the telling.  However, it's those complications that are the real delight.  Meandering around the wonderful weirdness of the world inside the spirit bathhouse with Chihiro/Sen is a feast for the senses.  The myriad strange characters we meet there and their behaviours and functions within the world display more imagination than twenty Disney made films put together.


<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50738168186_4b48f379e8_o.jpg


Princess Mononoke (1997)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Country: Japan
Length: 133 minutes
Type: Animation, Fantasy

After seeing other Hayao Miyazaki animations in the past, I was not expecting this to be quiet so violent and adult oriented. There are more beheadings and maimings than in The Hobbit trilogy. It starts off as a fairly standard sword & sorcery adventure set in 16th Century Japan, following Prince Ashitaka (and his trusty elk steed Yakul) on a journey to a far away land to discover the source of an evil curse. It gets much stranger as it goes along with tentacles everywhere, forest spirits, nightmare demons, boar god armies and giant talking wolves. The source of the evil is a conflict between animals and the ancient spirits of the forest and the humans of the industrial 'Iron Town'. The forest is represented by San (the titular "Spirit-Monster Princess"), a human raised by the wolf gods and the humans are lead by the authoritative Lady Eboshi, a friend to lepers and prostitutes. Miyazaki is careful not to make either side out to be completely villainous, it's more concerned with ecological themes, the balance with nature and our failure to empathise with others. The animation and design is a riot of imagination and the handling of light is stunning as characters move beneath foliage, dappled in sunlight.


<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50738168181_e687c8a292_o.jpg


Traffic (2000)
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Country: United States
Length: 147 minutes
Type: Drama, Crime

Steven Soderbergh remakes the 1989 British TV series 'Traffik' (which I've not seen) about the drugs trade, switching the locations from Britain/Pakistan, to USA/Mexico. An all-star ensemble cast plays characters involved at different levels in the "war on drugs". A US politician tasked with winning the war, his spoiled drug addicted daughter, a corrupt Mexican General, an honest Mexican cop, a US team protecting a witness, the rich wife of a drug lord, a Cartel assassin etc. All their plot threads start out separate but criss-cross at various points. Soderbergh (who acted as his own Cinematographer) choose to shoot the different story lines with heavy colour filters and different film stocks, to help the audience not get confused. I didn't care for the very ugly look this gave the whole film and I think he underestimated his own powers as a storyteller anyway, you could watch this in black & white and you'd understand everything. The characters are mostly conflicted, cynical, corrupt and self-deluded and the social commentary sadly hasn't aged a day in 20-years. The dialogue scenes are broken up by many sequences where Soderbergh drops out all the soundFX and just lets us feel what is happening to the characters with music and montage. Michael Douglas has rarely been better, the fewer words that come out his character's mouth, the more his face seems to talk. It's surprising that a film like this, a 2.5-hr serious drama, did $200 million at the boxoffice. Soderbergh got the Best Director Oscar for 'Traffic'... narrowly beating himself for 'Erin Brockovich'!

 

mnkykungfu

Well-known member
Donor
Messages
1,453
Reaction score
262
Trophy Points
93
^Controversial opinion: I like The Conversation more than The Godfather. Could be due in large part to my respective expectations when I watched each, but yeah, I am one of those that finds every casual film fan thinks The Godfather is the default "best" movie. Of course, I think Citizen Kane might be, so who am I to talk?
 

mnkykungfu

Well-known member
Donor
Messages
1,453
Reaction score
262
Trophy Points
93
TM2YC said:
50738251732_c0f7be0c27_o.jpg


Spirited Away (2001)
 Meandering around the wonderful weirdness of the world inside the spirit bathhouse with Chihiro/Sen is a feast for the senses.  The myriad strange characters we meet there and their behaviours and functions within the world display more imagination than twenty Disney made films put together.

You may find it interesting that a large number of the yokai (spirits) in the film are not creations of Ghibli, but inspired by traditional Japanese yokai. Ghibli has incorporated these into their films several times (one reason for the appeal of their films beyond the otaku sub-culture), most notably in the balls-to-the-wall (pun intended) craziness of Pom Poko. It was actually directed by Takahata, but the story was written by Miyazaki.
film-poster-of-parade.jpg


Also, funny story: the title in Japanese on the poster you posted is "Sen to Chihiro Kami Kakushi". The English title is one possible translation, clever wordplay that works in English. However, a more literal translation is something like "Sen and Chihiro's Hidden Spirit", which also has a double meaning in terms of her true self being hidden and also her spirit being stashed away. But when people say this in Japanese, I thought they were saying "sento Chihiro kamikakushi"... a sento being a traditional spa... So the first few years I was in Japan, I thought the original movie was called "Hidden Spirit Bathhouse Chihiro" which also makes a lot of sense (if you don't quite grasp Japanese grammar.) I still like to think of the movie as 'Chihiro's Spirit Bathhouse', which totally fits a Ghibli film for me.  :D
 

TM2YC

Take Me To Your Cinema
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,749
Reaction score
1,138
Trophy Points
228
^ I'm planning on watching Takahata's films soon.  Thanks for the interesting info on the translation.  The gold standard for translation I've encountered is the Lone Wolf & Cub comics, they only translate the words/titles/jobs/places/etc which can be exactly translated into English, the others are explained in a glossary in the back of the books.  You learn more that way.  For films I prefer if they take a similar approach with the subtitles, if I don't understand something I can google it later.

<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50747932713_a8af419a2f_o.jpg


Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Country: United States
Length: 111 minutes
Type: Action, Kung Fu, Samurai

I was obsessed with 'Kill Bill: Volume 1' when it came out and still am.  It's a film that's so stylish, visually flamboyant and energetically directed that it's difficult to take it all in.  The most prosaic shot from KB1 (if there is such a thing) would be the most dazzling shot from the films of other directors.  Quentin Tarantino uses bold primary colours, most notably the yellow of the Bride's catsuit, strong blue lighting and of the geysers of red blood.  Those are set off by bright blown-out whites and deep blacks.  The "House of Leaves" sequences is of course the highlight (in the uncut Japanese DVD version), one of the most thrilling and insane sword fights ever conceived.  The way the late Sally Menke edits O-Ren's entrance to time with Tomoyasu Hotei's 'Battle Without Honor or Humanity' theme became instantly iconic.  I had to have every song on KB1's jukebox soundtrack.  My favourite shot still has to be the one continuos move where the camera follows stunt woman Zoe Bell running up the bannisters, she pounces and chops an adversary down mid air and the camera follows him rolling back down the stairs.  It's so gracefully shot and performed with expert precision. This time I watched the film wearing my newly acquired pair of Japanese yellow/black Onitsuka Tiger trainers (my favoured brand of shoes for a number of years).  Just the standard retail shoes which sadly don't come with "F*CK U" moulded into the soles like Uma Thurman's in the film.

(I watched my own 720p reconstruction of the uncut version.  I really need to make a 1080p-ish version sometime)


Only KB1 was on my 1001 list (even though it goes up to 2005) but I felt compelled to watch the 2nd part along side...

Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)
'Kill Bill: Volume 1' is endlessly re-watchable but 'Kill Bill: Volume 2' is a bit of a chore.  I'm sure it can't have been his intention but it's like Quentin Tarantino took all the best scenes and edited them to be as exciting as possible and put them into the first film, then took what was left over and dumped it into the second, edited as slowly as possible.  It's 25-minutes longer, yet much less happens.  It doesn't look as good either, KB1 is full of primary colours, KB2's overall impression is brown.  Partly this is down to lots of desert scenes but it's also graded to look blander.  The soundtrack, featuring lots of Ennio Morricone is nice but nothing pops with as much flair as the standout tracks from the first movie.  Even the on-screen credits are inferior (normally something QT excels at), done in this godawful digital drop-shadow font.  At the end there are two entire separate credit sequences, one after the other (three if you include the scroll) like QT couldn't decide which to go with so thought "ahh who cares, I'll have both".  I don't hate KB2, there are some very memorable moments, it completes the story, the writing of QT's dialogue is typically excellent and the performances are faultless but it suffers in comparison.  KB1 is something I look forward to, KB2 isn't. A "snoring rampage of revenge" ;) .

 

mnkykungfu

Well-known member
Donor
Messages
1,453
Reaction score
262
Trophy Points
93
^I sort of work in linguistics, so I have a different take on translation from Japanese. It's such a context-based language that I don't feel anything but the most rudimentary translation is possible. For example, they have the same word for what we'd use as both "teach" and "tell". They use only one word for "look", "see", "watch", "notice", etc. Direct translation from Japanese to English often depends on the context of the situation, which means you're depending on the subjective judgement of the translator. I think a truly direct translation of any work would involve a textbook-sized glossary filled with historical references and anthropological explanations. Though I appreciate the sentiment of wanting to do the work as a viewer/reader.

Back to film reviews, I think I know why you prefer KB1 over KB2. It's ripped much more literally from extant films. KB2 is a more original work that only takes a few shots, scenes, and motifs from French New Wave and Spaghetti Westerns. KB1 is an almost literal mash-up of Game of Death and Lady Snowblood framed up in Five Deadly Venoms style. Tarantino just drops in iconic martial arts characters whole cloth, reproducing their costumes and portrayals, from Pai Mei and Gogo to Hattori Hanzo and the 5.6.7.8's. It's literally "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if this character from movie X's story made them cross over with this story from character Y's movie?" The pre-existing Japanese and Chinese films and actors have already done all the heavy lifting.
 

asterixsmeagol

Well-known member
Donor
Messages
1,347
Reaction score
316
Trophy Points
93
TM2YC said:
Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)
'Kill Bill: Volume 1' is endlessly re-watchable but 'Kill Bill: Volume 2' is a bit of a chore.  I'm sure it can't have been his intention but it's like Quentin Tarantino took all the best scenes and edited them to be as exciting as possible and put them into the first film, then took what was left over and dumped it into the second, edited as slowly as possible.  It's 25-minutes longer, yet much less happens.  It doesn't look as good either, KB1 is full of primary colours, KB2's overall impression is brown.  Partly this is down to lots of desert scenes but it's also graded to look blander.  The soundtrack, featuring lots of Ennio Morricone is nice but nothing pops with as much flair as the standout tracks from the first movie.  Even the on-screen credits are inferior (normally something QT excels at), done in this godawful digital drop-shadow font.  At the end there are two entire separate credit sequences, one after the other (three if you include the scroll) like QT couldn't decide which to go with so thought "ahh who cares, I'll have both".  I don't hate KB2, there are some very memorable moments, it completes the story, the writing of QT's dialogue is typically excellent and the performances are faultless but it suffers in comparison.  KB1 is something I look forward to, KB2 isn't. A "snoring rampage of revenge" ;) .

I've only seen the Kill Bill movies once and I did not enjoy them, but it's probably my fault. When Kill Bill: Volume 2 was out of theaters, one of the second-run-theaters in my area did back-to-back screenings of Volumes 1 and 2. I enjoyed Volume 1 well enough, but 4+ hours was way too much and I was completely bored by the end.
 

TM2YC

Take Me To Your Cinema
Staff member
Donor
Faneditor
Messages
13,749
Reaction score
1,138
Trophy Points
228
mnkykungfu said:
^I sort of work in linguistics, so I have a different take on translation from Japanese. It's such a context-based language that I don't feel anything but the most rudimentary translation is possible.

I don't so much mean things that are hard and nuanced to translate smoothly. I'm thinking more of choosing to translate things, that can't be translated. For want of a better example: If the translator assumed people outside of Japan wouldn't know what Sake was, they could choose to translate it to "dry sherry" because that would give an impression of what it tasted like but it would also make the people reading the subtitles thinking they were just drinking dry sherry and not Sake which is an important cultural detail. It would be like translating tea to coffee for a British film :D .

mnkykungfu said:
Back to film reviews, I think I know why you prefer KB1 over KB2. It's ripped much more literally from extant films. KB2 is a more original work that only takes a few shots, scenes, and motifs from French New Wave and Spaghetti Westerns.

No it's kinda the opposite for me...

There is so much that is uniquely QT about KB1 that the influences are completely subsumed into the over powering style of his own invention. e.g. the Bride could only wear yellow in the crazy 88 scene because he needed a primary colour so your eye could follow her around in the frenetic carnage (something muted by the censored US cut) but red and blue wouldn't show up the blood on her suit. If it had to be yellow then why not openly homage Bruce Lee too. In it's original context 'Battles Without Honor and Humanity' was just a cool piece of music, QT uses it to describe character in a scene with no dialogue or sound.

..but KB2 feels like QT taking the foot of the accelerator and contenting himself with playing in the Spaghetti Western and Kung Fu genres plus literally referencing 'Shogun Assassin'. There are many more overt homages in KB1, than in KB2 but they such a small part of the overall QT-ness and he's doing something smart with them anyway.

mnkykungfu said:
KB1 is an almost literal mash-up of Game of Death and Lady Snowblood framed up in Five Deadly Venoms style.

Sorry, I don't see that at all.
mnkykungfu said:
Tarantino just drops in iconic martial arts characters whole cloth, reproducing their costumes and portrayals, from Pai Mei

Pai Mei isn't in KB1 but I get your overall point.

asterixsmeagol said:
one of the second-run-theaters in my area did back-to-back screenings of Volumes 1 and 2. I enjoyed Volume 1 well enough, but 4+ hours was way too much and I was completely bored by the end.

IIRC, "The Whole Bloody Affair" is pretty much that. I can imagine it being wearisome. I did a chronological cut many years ago which worked better because as an accidental consequence of the linear story, some action scenes come forward and some dialogue scenes fall back, even out the pace but it's still loooong.

<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

Speaking of long films...

50760118061_c14edb0f3f_o.jpg


The Godfather Part II (1974)
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Country: United States
Length: 200 minutes
Type: Crime, Drama, Epic

I've never thought 'The Godfather Part II' is that famous sequel that is better than the first film. GF1 is a "perfect movie", while GF2 is "merely" one the greatest films ever ;) . It's 23-minutes longer than its 3-hour progenitor and feels it. The pacing increases exponentially in GF1 but it actually slows in GF2. The inventive cross-cutting parallel timelines disguise that it's the same film again. The opening wedding is now a Communion party and again opposing forces are plotting against the Corleone family, with the help of it's most trusted members. Michael outplays them, "settles all his debts" and it ends with him and Kay being estranged. It's just done bigger, with more gloss, more budget, higher stakes, darker conclusions and no corners cut (like the stock footage in GF1). Instead of Michael being on a path from good to evil, he's on a path from evil to evil-er, he doesn't metaphorically close a door on his wife, this time he literally puts her onto the street. The first film's main theme was comparing Vito's somewhat benevolent reign and Michael's new reign of terror.  In GF2 they bring the dead Vito back as a young man (played brilliantly by Robert De Niro) so they can make that the theme again. It's much less subtle though, as Francis Ford Coppola directly compares young Vito bringing his family together (in both senses), with Michael destroying everybody around him, even himself. The flashbacks have a touch of "prequel-itis", so we learn how Vito got his voice, how he got his name and how Tommasino ended up in a wheelchair, when that was information we never need in GF1.

Like the third film, GF2 is hampered by actors refusing to reprise their roles. The absence of Marlon Brando is artfully handled by Coppola, so him not being in the room at the end, drawing everybody else away, their laughter and joy heard from the next room, as Michael sits alone, is probably way better than whatever was planned if Brando had played ball. The bigger problem is Richard Castellano not returning as Clemenza. Introducing a replacement character has nowhere near as much impact, especially as the young Clemenza is still included prominently in the flashback sequences. The substitution, Michael V. Gazzo's Frank Pentangeli is a brilliantly written character and his performance is even better, so the situation is as good as it could be. I hadn't noticed before that Michael is often pictured drinking water (stretching to carbonated water when he's in cocktail-capitol Havana), which in films that feature the love of food and drink so heavily, must surely be symbolic of him taking no pleasure from life, just subsisting. I also noticed that a couple of scenes involving Pentangeli definitely appear to be edited out of order. All this nitpicking makes it sound like I don't like GF2 but really I love it, it's just that I've seen it many times and can see it's not perfect. Al Pacino has never been better, a totally monstrous performance without hardly ever having to raise his voice to achieve it.  You can see the rage physically building inside him, with no dialogue, as Kay is dropping the final revelation on him.


With parts 1 and 2 rewatched, I'm ready to see the new version of GF3!

<hr style="border: 1px solid white;" />

50760238667_1c7e41d393_o.jpg


Chinatown (1974)
Director: Roman Polanski
Country: United States
Length: 131 minutes
Type: Noir, Crime, Drama

I couldn't remember if I'd seen this before, or if I was just familiar with the more iconic scenes (I think it's the former). Roman Polanski's film is stylistically a fairly traditional Film-Noir, updated for the 70s with even more violence, cynicism and darker themes than were permissible back in the heyday of the genre. Robert Towne's script cleverly uses our expectations of certain Noir character tropes to throw in a few twists and it's a solidly structured mystery, unlike some other convoluted/nonsensical detective films. It occurred to me that Leonardo DiCaprio sometimes does a close imitation of Jack Nicholson's style of acting in this film. If you loved 1997's 'L.A. Confidential', then you are sure to like this too.

 
Top Bottom