Best films - 61-80
Saving Private Ryan
Director - Steven Spielberg
Writer (WGA) - Robert Rodat
Released - 1998
Genre - Action | Drama | War
Plot - Following the Normandy Landings, a group of US soldiers go behind enemy
lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.
Awards - Won 5 Oscars. Another 52 wins and 53 nominations
Tom Hanks ... Capt. John H. Miller
Tom Sizemore ... Sgt. Mike Horvath
Edward Burns ... Pvt. Richard Reiben
Barry Pepper ... Pvt. Daniel Jackson
Adam Goldberg ... Pvt. Stanley Mellish
Vin Diesel ... Pvt. Adrian Caparzo
Giovanni Ribisi ... T-5 Medic Irwin Wade
Jeremy Davies ... Cpl. Timothy P. Upham
Matt Damon ... Pvt. James Francis Ryan
Ted Danson ... Capt. Fred Hamill
Paul Giamatti ... Sgt. Hill
Dennis Farina ... Lt. Col. Anderson
Joerg Stadler ... Steamboat Willie
Max Martini ... Cpl. Henderson
Dylan Bruno ... Toynbe
To think that Saving Private Ryan didn't win Best Picture is a crime. Director
Steven Spielberg uses all of his talent and resources to give to the world the
greatest war film ever made.
Though it's true that this is not the type of film you want to sit down with
the family and eat popcorn, the emotional drive of the picture, the story's
poignant messages, and the fantastic acting of the cast draws you into a world
that is both dangerous and unpredictable.
Spielberg is able to take you into action and make you feel as if you are a
participant in the film and not just a viewer. This is Tom Hanks' best film he
ever did. Forget his performances in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump (though they
were also good); he should have received another Oscar for the role of Capt.
John Miller, a leader who must act strong in front of his men, and must also
hide his emotions from them. It would have been well-deserved if he won again.
Saving Private Ryan is a film that makes you realize how life is precious and
how honour and duty, though they are deep philosophical concepts that are
praised in war, can put you in jeopardy of losing your life for something you
may not believe in.
This is one of the greatest films ever made.
Director - Roman Polanski
Writer - Robert Towne
Jack Nicholson ... J.J. Gittes
Faye Dunaway ... Evelyn Mulwray
John Huston ... Noah Cross
Perry Lopez ... Escobar
John Hillerman ... Yelburton
Darrell Zwerling ... Hollis Mulwray
Diane Ladd ... Ida Sessions
Roy Jenson ... Mulvihill
Roman Polanski ... Man with Knife
Richard Bakalyan ... Loach
Joe Mantell ... Walsh
Bruce Glover ... Duffy
Nandu Hinds ... Sophie
James O'Rear ... Lawyer
James Hong ... Evelyn's Butler
Everything about the film Chinatown is right. Polanski never directed a
better film. The performers, down to the lowest atmosphere person, are superb.
The editing, the score, the sound, the decor, the dialog, all are just about
flawless. The photography is peerless. The white garden apartments, the terra
cotta roof tiles, the palms and desert sand are all painted with a faint gold,
faintly ripe with false promise, like the oranges that bounce from Gittes'
desperately speeding car in the northwest Valley.
Polanski deserves much of the credit. When Gittes surprises Evelyn Mulwray in
her car, after he follows her to her daughter's house, her face slumps forward
and beeps the horn briefly. Then, so faintly, we hear a few dogs bark in the
background. Not only is the scene itself exquisitely done but it prefigures the
ending, as does Gittes' remark earlier to Evelyn that she has a flaw in her
iris. The film is too good to deserve much dissecting. It stands repeated
watching. Everything came together on this film. It's not only the best
detective film ever made; it's one of the best films ever made. A
marvellous job by everyone concerned.
Director - Joel Coen
Writers (WGA) - Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Released - 1996
Plot - Jerry Lundegaard's inept crime falls apart due to his and his
henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of pregnant Marge Gunderson.
Awards - Won 2 Oscars. Another 52 wins and 30 nominations.
William H. Macy ... Jerome 'Jerry' Lundegaard
Steve Buscemi ... Carl Showalter
Peter Stormare ... Gaear Grimsrud
Kristin Rudrud ... Jean Lundegaard
Harve Presnell ... Wade Gustafson
Tony Denman ... Scotty Lundegaard
Gary Houston ... Irate Customer
Sally Wingert ... Irate Customer's Wife
Kurt Schweickhardt ... Car Salesman
Larissa Kokernot ... Hooker 1
Melissa Peterman ... Hooker 2
Steve Reevis ... Shep Proudfoot
Warren Keith ... Reilly Diefenbach (voice)
Steve Edelman ... Morning Show Host
Sharon Anderson ... Morning Show Hostess
If you haven't seen Fargo, do yourself a favour and see this film. It's very
well put together and the plot is constantly evolving into a deeper shade of
creepiness. At times scary (not in the horror film sense) and quite rich in
camera work is usually quite basic but whoever directed the photography had the
enjoyable habit of giving us interestingly artistic segues between scenes.
William H Macy is always excellent, but when he's in the same film as the
Steve Buscemi, you can be sure it'll be a good film
Director - Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer (WGA) - Paul Thomas Anderson
Tagline - Things fall down. People look up. And when it rains, it pours.
Plot - An epic mosaic of several interrelated characters in search of happiness,
forgiveness, and meaning in the San Fernando Valley.
Awards - Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 18 wins and 35 nominations
Julianne Moore ... Linda Partridge
William H. Macy ... Donnie Smith
John C. Reilly ... Officer Jim Kurring
Tom Cruise ... Frank T.J. Mackey
Philip Baker Hall ... Jimmy Gator
Philip Seymour Hoffman ... Phil Parma
Jason Robards ... Earl Partridge
Alfred Molina ... Solomon Solomon
Melora Walters ... Claudia Wilson Gator
Michael Bowen ... Rick Spector
Ricky Jay ... Burt Ramsey / Narrator
Jeremy Blackman ... Stanley Spector
Melinda Dillon ... Rose Gator
April Grace ... Gwenovier
Luis Guzman ... Luis
Rated R for strong language, drug use, sexuality and some violence.
'Magnolia' seems to divide audiences as much as it bewilders them. Some
people see it as a brilliant exercise in creative, thought-provoking
filmmaking, a film that challenges the notion that modern American cinema is
comprised exclusively of formulaic retreads of earlier films or slick,
mechanical displays of technical virtuosity, devoid of meaning and feeling.
Others view 'Magnolia' as the film of pretentiousness and
self-satisfied smugness. Which of the two assessments is the correct one, or
does the truth lie somewhere in between?
Actually, there is much to admire and cherish in 'Magnolia'. Writer/director
Paul Thomas Anderson has done a commendable job in putting on the screen a
relatively unique vision, a qualification which should be made, because it does
seem patently derived from much of the trailblazing work of director Robert
Altman. Like Altman, Anderson creates a vast canvas of barely-related and
briefly overlapping storylines and characters that come together under the
umbrella of a single major theme and a few minor ones as well. Anderson's
concern is to explore the concept of forgiveness and to examine the part it
plays in the redemption we all seek through the course of our lifetimes. In this
film, dying characters struggle to make amends with the loved ones they will
soon leave behind, while estranged characters grope tentatively to establish or
re-establish the bonds that must link them to other members of the human race.
Anderson presents a tremendously wide range of characters, though for a film set
in the northern areas of Los Angeles, 'Magnolia' provides a surprisingly
non-diverse sea of Caucasian faces. However, in terms of the ages of the
characters, Anderson's crew seems more comprehensive, running the gamut from a
pre-teen wiz kid to a terminally ill man in his mid-60's. Many of these
characters seem to have created any number of facades to help them cope with the
miseries and disappointments of life, and much of the redemption occurs only
after those masks are stripped away revealing the emptiness and hurt that, in
many cases, lurks so close to the surface.
The controversial ending, in which an event of literally biblical proportions
occurs, feels generally right in the context of this film. It seems perfectly in
tune with the quality of heightened realism that Anderson establishes and
sustains throughout the picture.
Anderson has marshalled an array of first-rate performances from a talented,
well-known cast. In 'Magnolia', Tom Cruise provides a wrenching case study of a shallow,
charismatic shyster, who has parleyed his misogyny into a lucrative self-help
industry. Yet, like many of the characters, he uses this facade as a shield to
hide the hurt caused by a father who abandoned him and a mother whose slow,
painful death he was forced to witness alone. The other actors, too numerous to
mention, turn in equally worthy performances. Particularly interesting is the
young boy who, in counterpoint to one of the other characters in the story,
manages to save himself at an early age from the crippling effect of identity
usurpation that it has taken so many others in this film a lifetime to overcome.
In many ways, 'Magnolia' is the kind of film that could easily serve as the
basis for a lengthy doctoral dissertation for a student majoring in either
filmmaking or sociology. The density of its vision would surely yield up many
riches of character, symbolism and theme that a first time viewer of the film
would undoubtedly miss. Thus, in many ways, 'Magnolia' is that rare film that
seems to demand repeat exposure even for those audience members who may not 'get
it' the first time. As a viewing experience, 'Magnolia' often seems rambling and
purposeless, but it does manage to get under one's skin, and, unlike so many
other, less ambitious works, this one grows in retrospect.
The Third Man
Director - Carol Reed
Writers - Graham Greene (story), Graham Greene (screenplay)
Released - 1950
Genre - Mystery | Thriller
Plot - Arriving in Vienna, Holly Martins learns that his friend Harry Lime, who
has invited him, recently died in a car accident.
Awards - Won Oscar. Another 2 wins and 4 nominations
Joseph Cotten ... Holly Martins
Alida Valli ... Anna Schmidt
Orson Welles ... Harry Lime
Trevor Howard ... Major Calloway
Bernard Lee ... Sergeant Paine
Paul Horbiger ... Karl - Harry's Porter
Ernst Deutsch ... 'Baron' Kurtz
Siegfried Breuer ... Popescu
Erich Ponto ... Dr. Winkel
Wilfrid Hyde-White ... Crabbin
Hedwig Bleibtreu ... Anna's Old Landlady
"I never knew the Old Vienna, before the war, with its Strauss Music," opens
Carol Reed's The Third Man, and we catch a glimpse of the New Vienna, with its
Black Market and its Shady Deals. Joseph Cotten plays cheap novelette author
Holly Martins, just arrived in Vienna to meet with long-time friend Harry Lime,
who offered him a job. He instead meets with the mysterious facts surrounding
the death of Lime, learned bit-by-bit from Lime's friends, a woman named Anna
Schmidt, who has problems of her own (played excellently by Valli), and two
British officers, Calloway and Paine. Learning, that there is more to the death of
Lime than there seems to be, Martins begins his investigation for the truth.
This film was shot with some of the greatest, most ahead-of-its-time
cinematography ever, and it creates mystery and deceit. It is complimented by
the excellent use of shadows. The soundtrack is essentially one long song, which
plays throughout the film, changing and stopping as the emotion calls for. It is
a zither composition by Anton Karas made for the film. This is all topped off by
an engrossing storyline, and a great performance by Joseph Cotten, as the
ordinary man mixed up in this web of mystery.
Lawrence Of Arabia
Director - Sir David Lean
Writers (WGA) - T.E. Lawrence (writings), Robert Bolt (screenplay)
Released - 1963
Genre - Adventure | Biography | Drama | War
Plot - Epic rumination on a flamboyant and controversial British military figure
and his conflicted loyalties during wartime service.
Awards - Won 7 Oscars. Another 19 wins and 12 nominations
Peter O'Toole ... T.E. Lawrence
Alec Guinness ... Prince Feisal
Anthony Quinn ... Auda Abu Tayi
Jack Hawkins ... General Lord Edmund Allenby
Omar Sharif ... Sherif Ali
Jose Ferrer ... Turkish Bey
Anthony Quayle ... Colonel Brighton
Claude Rains ... Mr. Dryden
Arthur Kennedy ... Jackson Bentley
Donald Wolfit ... General Murray
I.S. Johar ... Gasim
Gamil Ratib ... Majid
Michel Ray ... Farraj
John Dimech ... Daud
Zia Mohyeddin ... Tafas
Stephen Spielberg has often said that "Lawrence Of Arabia" is one of his
favourite films and it's easy to see why!
Sir David Lean has made a heck of a lot of good films, films
like "Brief Encounter", "The Bridge on the River Kwai", "Doctor Zhivago",
"Ryan's Daughter", and the underrated, "A passage to India".
"Lawrence Of Arabia" is intriguing from start to finish, from the starting credits, to the blowing
of the match, the crossing of the Nefud dessert, finding Gassim and bringing him
back to the camp, the invasion of Aqaba, his torture and rape (?), Lawrence's
laugh after the slap by the "outrageous" guy, his being left alone, to the
final gaze to the motorcycle. It will usually leave the viewer with the
undoubted feeling that "Lawrence of Arabia" is the greatest film ever made.
If we are to classify the two complete different cinematic styles, it would be
those of Hitchcock and Ford. Hitch was a very "confined" director. He captured
his films from the point of view of one character. His films took place, most
of the time, in closed spaces. In a sense, Hitchcock's films were a journey in
people's emotions and a study in people's characters. On the other hand, Ford
was an open director. He wasn't confined to one character, or one location, his
films where actual journeys. His basis was mostly on theme, and his main ability
was to amaze with his imagery. Thus, these are the two different shooting
styles....Well, Sir David Lean combines both.
Which is basically why his best film, Lawrence, is the best film of all times.
But not only in terms of style. Also, in terms of content. The intelligent
script written by Robert Bolt, the powerhouse performances by Peter O'Toole and
Omar Sharif (a shame they didn't get the Oscar), but also, the ultimately heroic
yet tragic figure of T.E. Lawrence, contribute in making this the most visually
and emotionally sweeping film of the last 100 years.
Such a shame that Lean retired for 14 years after "Ryan's Daughter", there's no
way to know where he would have gotten.
The best film of all motion picture history.
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
Director - Steven Spielberg
Writer - Steven Spielberg
Released - 1977
Genre - Adventure | Drama | Sci-Fi
Plot - After an encounter with UFOs, a line worker feels undeniably drawn to an
isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen.
Awards - Won Oscar. Another 11 wins and 30 nominations
Richard Dreyfuss ... Roy Neary
Francois Truffaut ... Claude Lacombe
Teri Garr ... Ronnie Neary
Melinda Dillon ... Jillian Guiler
Bob Balaban ... David Laughlin
J. Patrick McNamara ... Project Leader
Warren J. Kemmerling ... Wild Bill
Roberts Blossom ... Farmer
Philip Dodds ... Jean Claude
Cary Guffey ... Barry Guiler
Shawn Bishop ... Brad Neary
Adrienne Campbell ... Sylvia Neary
Justin Dreyfuss ... Toby Neary
Lance Henriksen ... Robert
Merrill Connally ... Team Leader
Steven Spielberg has made huge popcorn blockbusters that gross more money at the
box office (i.e. "Jaws," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," or "Jurassic Park") and are
more exciting on a visceral level. As he has aged and matured as a director, he
has also made films that are more important and will hold a more solid place in
the chronicles of film as an artistic document of history (i.e. "Schindler's
List," "Saving Private Ryan," and "Munich"). For my money, his best film will
still always be "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." This film is Spielberg's
humanistic and heartfelt answer to Kubrick's intellectual and cerebral look at
man's first contact with life from elsewhere in the universe in his 1968 opus
"2001: A Space Odyssey."
"Close Encounters" came early on in Spielberg's career, made in 1977, and has
all the hallmarks of his later films played just right before he became so
self-referential. Here we have his typical bag of tricks long before they became
so typical: familial strife, coming to terms with something bigger than oneself
that challenges the male protagonist's view of the world around him, little kids
in jeopardy, superb build up of suspense, fantastic visual effects, and a
memorable score from John Williams. From the first UFO sightings in Muncie,
Indiana to the fantastic finale at Devil's Tower in Wyoming, this is grand
entertainment. Lots of films have emulated this film to varying degrees of
success, from Robert Zemeckis' earnest "Contact," to the shameful scam that was
M. Night Shymalan's "Signs," and even Spielberg himself recently did the
dark natured flip-side to benevolent alien encounters with his remake of "War of
the Worlds" (which makes a fantastic double-feature with this). However, nothing
compares to this true original.
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl
Director - Gore Verbinski
Writers (WGA) - Ted Elliott (screen story) and Terry Rossio (screen story)
Released - 2003
Genre - Action | Adventure | Fantasy
Tagline - Prepare to be blown out of the water.
Plot - Blacksmith Will Turner teams up with eccentric pirate "Captain" Jack Sparrow to
save his love, the governor's daughter, from Jack's former pirate allies, who
are now 'undead'.
Awards - Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 26 wins and 68 nominations
Johnny Depp ... Jack Sparrow
Geoffrey Rush ... Barbossa
Orlando Bloom ... Will Turner
Keira Knightley ... Elizabeth Swann
Jack Davenport ... Norrington
Jonathan Pryce ... Governor Weatherby Swann
Lee Arenberg ... Pintel
Mackenzie Crook ... Ragetti
Damian O'Hare ... Lt. Gillette
Giles New ... Murtogg
Angus Barnett ... Mullroy
David Bailie ... Cotton
Michael Berry Jr. ... Twigg
Isaac C. Singleton Jr. ... Bo'sun
Kevin McNally ... Joshamee Gibbs
Rated PG-13 for action/adventure violence.
Although there's expectations (from watching the trailers) that this might be a
good film, it actually is a good film, in fact, one of the best films of
it's type. The story is
actually more complex than expected, involving cursed pirates and their
quest to rid themselves of the curse. Best not to say more than that so as not to
spoil it if you haven't seen "Pirates Of The Caribbean, Curse Of The Black
There aren't as many action scenes as there usually is in a pirate
film, but the ones that are in the film were very fun and enjoyable. It has a
good balance of action and drama. There are also,
of course, a lot of funny bits interspersed between the action and drama. Some
really good special effects also add to the enjoyment of this film.
deserved to win the Academy Award for best actor. It's largely because of his
performance that the film was so good. Most of the supporting cast did
well, mind you, it's just that Johnny Depp stood high above the rest. Some may find Orlando Bloom's performance a bit wooden, but other than that the acting was
good. Basically, it's a really fun film.
Shaun Of The Dead
Director - Edgar Wright
Writers - Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright
Released - 2004
Genre - Comedy | Horror
Plot - A man decides to turn his moribund life around by winning back his
ex-girlfriend, reconciling his relationship with his mother, and dealing with an
entire community that has returned from the dead to eat the living.
Awards - 6 wins and 16 nominations
Simon Pegg ... Shaun
Kate Ashfield ... Liz
Nick Frost ... Ed
Lucy Davis ... Dianne
Dylan Moran ... David
Nicola Cunningham ... Mary
Keir Mills ... Clubber 1
Matt Jaynes ... Clubber 2
Gavin Ferguson ... Football Kid
Peter Serafinowicz ... Pete
Horton Jupiter ... Homeless Man
Tim Baggaley ... The Usher
Arvind Doshi ... Nelson
Rafe Spall ... Noel
Sonnell Dadral ... Danny
Rated R for zombie violence/gore and language.
As far as English films go, Shaun Of The Dead is one of the best English films.
Do you recall the popularity
of the similar film, "28 Days Later"? Well, this film is even better - it's a
hilarious combination of comedy, social parody, tragedy and drama, spiced with
the references to every zombie flick ever made. Some references are pretty slim,
though - for example "We're coming to get you, Barbara!" is a reference to "The
Night of the Living Dead" - a reference that many people (including George
Romero!) didn't get. I hope that films like "Shaun of the Dead" will make big
wigs in Hollywood realize that there are many great English films, and that
integrity is always better than crude remakes which the States are so notorious
for... everybody should see SOTD - the best comedy of 2004.
Director - John Carpenter
Writers - John Carpenter (screenplay) and Debra Hill (screenplay)
Released - 1978
Genre - Horror | Thriller
Tagline - The trick was to stay alive.
Plot - A psychotic murderer institutionalized since childhood escapes on a
mindless rampage while his doctor chases him through the streets.
Awards - 2 wins and 1 nomination
Donald Pleasence ... Dr. Sam Loomis
Jamie Lee Curtis ... Laurie Strode
Nancy Kyes ... Annie Brackett
P.J. Soles ... Lynda van der Klok
Charles Cyphers ... Sheriff Leigh Brackett
Kyle Richards ... Lindsey Wallace
Brian Andrews ... Tommy Doyle
John Michael Graham ... Bob Simms
Nancy Stephens ... Marion Chambers
Arthur Malet ... Graveyard Keeper
Mickey Yablans ... Richie
Brent Le Page ... Lonnie Elamb
Adam Hollander ... Keith
Robert Phalen ... Dr. Terence Wynn
Tony Moran ... Michael Myers (age 23)
Halloween is not only the godfather of all slasher films but the greatest
horror film ever! John Carpenter and Debra Hill created the most suspenseful,
creepy, and terrifying film of all time with this classic chiller. Michael
Myers is such a phenomenal monster in this film that he inspired scores of
imitators, such as Jason Vorhees (Friday the 13th), The Miner (My Bloody
Valentine), and Charlie Puckett (The Night Brings Charlie). It just goes to show you the impact that this
had on the entire horror genre. No longer did a monster have to come from King
Tut's tomb or from Dr. Frankenstein's lab. He could be created in the cozy
little neighbourhoods of suburbia. And on The Night He Came Home...Haddonfield,
Illinois and the viewers would never be the same.
There are many aspects of this film that make it the crowning jewel of horror
films. First is the
setting...it takes place in what appears to be a normal suburban neighbourhood.
Many of us who grew up in an area such as this can easily identify with the
characters. This is the type of neighbourhood where you feel safe, but if trouble
starts to brew, nobody wants to lift a finger to get involved (especially when a
heavy-breathing madman is trying to skewer our young heroine.) Along with the
setting, the film takes place on Halloween!! The scariest night of the year!
While most people are out celebrating Halloween, Michael Myers is looking to carve
up some teenie-boppers. Besides the setting, there is some great acting. Jamie
Lee Curtis does a serviceable job as our heroine, Laurie Strode, a
goody-two-shoes high-schooler who can never seem to find a date. However, it is
Donald Pleasance, as Dr. Sam Loomis, who really steals the show. His portrayal
of the good doctor, who knows just what type of evil hides behind the black eyes
of Michael Myers and feels compelled to send him to Hell once and for all, is
the stuff of horror legend. However, it is the synthesizer score that really
drives this picture as it seems to almost put the viewer into the film. Once you
hear it, you will never forget it. The grainy feel to this film is good.
Nowadays, they seem to sharpen up the image of every film, giving us every
possible detail of the monster we are supposed to be afraid of. In Halloween,
John Carpenter never really lets us get a complete look at Michael Myers. He
always seems like he is a part of the shadows, and, this is what adds up to make
him so terrifying. There are many scenes where Michael is partly visible as he
spies on the young teens (unbeknownst to them), which adds to his creepiness.
Unfortunately for our teenagers (and fortunately for us horror
fans), when they find Michael, he's not looking for candy on this Halloween
night.. He's looking for blood. Finally, Michael Myers, himself, is a key
element to this film's effectiveness. His relentless pursuit of Laurie Strode
makes him seem like the killer who will never stop. He is the bogeyman that will
haunt you for the rest of your life. So, if you have not seen this film (if
there are still some of you out there who haven't, or even if you have), grab
some popcorn, turn off every light, pop this into the old DVD and watch in
fright. Trick or Treat!
2001: A Space Odyssey
Director - Stanley Kubrick
Writers - Stanley Kubrick (screenplay) and Arthur C. Clarke (screenplay)
Released - 1968
Genre - Adventure | Mystery | Sci-Fi
Tagline - Let the awe and mystery of a journey unlike any other begin
Plot - Mankind finds a mysterious, obviously artificial, artifact buried on the moon
and, with the intelligent computer HAL, sets off on a quest.
Awards - Won Oscar. Another 10 wins and 6 nominations
Keir Dullea ... Dr. Dave Bowman
Gary Lockwood ... Dr. Frank Poole
William Sylvester ... Dr. Heywood R. Floyd
Daniel Richter ... Moon-Watcher
Leonard Rossiter ... Dr. Andrei Smyslov
Margaret Tyzack ... Elena
Robert Beatty ... Dr. Ralph Halvorsen
Sean Sullivan ... Dr. Bill Michaels
Douglas Rain ... HAL 9000 (voice)
Frank Miller ... Mission controller (voice)
Bill Weston ... Astronaut
Ed Bishop ... Aries-1B Lunar shuttle captain
Glenn Beck ... Astronaut
Alan Gifford ... Poole's father
Ann Gillis ... Poole's mother
There's four good reasons why 2001: A Space Odyssey is the
greatest cinema experience of all time:
1) It is a visual Odyssey that could
only be told on the big screen. The special effects that won Kubrick his only
Oscar are the most stunning effects before that age of Jurassic Park and T2.
They allow Kubrick to give an accurate (or at least are the most accurate)
depiction of space travel to date. The silence that fills the space scenes not
only serves its purpose as accurate science, but also adds to the mood of the
film (to be discussed in a later point with HAL). The fact that Kubrick shot the
moon scenes before the Apollo landing is a gutsy yet fulfilling move. Many have
said that upon its original release, it was a favourite "trip" film. I can think
of no other film that has such amazing visuals for its time and even of all
time (sorry Phantom Menace fans!)
2) Kubrick's directing style is terrific. As
in all his films, Kubrick likes to use his camera as a means to delve into the
psychology of his characters and plots. His camera is not as mobile as other
greats, such as Scorsese, but instead sits and watches the narrative unfold.
Faces are the key element of a Kubrick film. Like classic films, such as M and
Touch of Evil, Kubrick focuses on the characters' faces to give the audience a
psychological view-point. Even he uses extreme close-ups of HAL's glowing red
"eye" to show the coldness and determination of the computerised villain.
Stanley Kubrick is at the height of his style with 2001: A Space Odyssey.
3) HAL 9000 is one of the most villainous characters in film history. Most of this film takes place
in space. Through the use of silence and the darkness of space itself, a mood of
isolation is created. Dave and his crewmen are isolated between earth and
Jupiter, with nowhere to escape. Combine this mood with the cold, calculated
actions of HAL 9000 and you have the most fearful villain imaginable. If you
haven't seen this film before, on first seeing it, you will probably find your
chest tighten in a
4) The controversial ending of 2001 always turns people away
from this film, but,
the ending serves to leave the film open-ended. Stanley Kubrick always stated that he
intended to make 2001 open for discussion. He left its meaning in the hands of
the viewer. By respecting the audience's intelligence, Kubrick allowed his
to be the beginning, not the end, of a meaningful discussion on man's past,
present, and future. The beauty of 2001 is that the ending need not mean
anything deep, it can just be a purely plot driven explanation and the entire
film can be viewed as an entertaining journey through space. No other film,
save the great Citizen Kane, leaves itself open to discussion like 2001. It is
truly meant to be a surreal journey that involves not only the eye but the mind.
Instead of waiting in long lines for the Phantom Menace, rent a widescreen
edition of 2001 and enjoy the greatest cinematic experience.
Monty Python And The Holy Grail
Directors - Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
Writers - Graham Chapman and John Cleese
Released - 1975
Genre - Adventure | Comedy
Plot - King Arthur and his knights embark on a low-budget search for the Grail,
encountering many very silly obstacles.
Awards - 2 nominations
Graham Chapman ... King Arthur / Voice of God / Middle Head / Hiccoughing Guard
John Cleese ... Second Swallow-Savvy Guard / The Black Knight / Peasant 3 / Sir
Lancelot, the Brave / Taunting French Guard / Tim the Enchanter
Eric Idle ... Dead Collector / Peasant 1 / Sir Robin the
Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir Launcelot / First Swamp Castle Guard / Concorde /
Roger the Shrubber / Brother Maynard
Terry Gilliam ... Patsy / Green Knight / Old Man from scene 24 (Bridgekeeper) /
Sir Bors / Animator / Gorrilla Hand
Terry Jones ... Dennis's Mother / Sir Bedevere / Left Head / Voice of Cartoon
Scribe / Prince Herbert
Michael Palin ... First Swallow-Savvy Guard / Dennis / Peasant 2 / Right Head /
Sir Galahad the Pure / Narrator / King of Swamp Castle / Brother Maynard's
Brother / Leader of The Knights who say NI!
Connie Booth ... The Witch
Carol Cleveland ... Zoot / Dingo
Neil Innes ... First Monk / Singing Minstrel / Page Crushed by the Rabbit /
Bee Duffell ... Old Crone
John Young ... Dead Body / Historian Frank
Rita Davies ... Historian's Wife
Avril Stewart ... Dr. Piglet
Sally Kinghorn ... Dr. Winston
Mark Zycon ... Prisoner
King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table set out on a quest to find the
Holy Grail...as told to do so by a cartoon God that lives in the clouds...
Easily the most hilarious and original comedy ever made, Monty Python and the
Holy Grail claims it's undisputed throne through insanely ridiculous situations
and characters that will very likely never be duplicated. Pure comedic genius
that doesn't go stale with age or decades of competition having been released.
Simply seeing the way comedy films are made today, this film will very likely
have a long reign before anything can even hold a candle to it. An absolute
belly-laugh fest that never lets up.
Only the cast of Monty Python could have pulled this film off, with each actor
playing many different characters...all hilarious! The genius in the actors'
lines themselves are truly to be admired. The comedic style of talking in
circles is one technique that most comedies do not try to do, simply because
they can't compete with the genius of this film, which uses it flawlessly. Those
that do try usually fall flat on their faces. Two particularly excellent
examples of this can be seen in the beginning scene, in which the characters
discuss the origins of coconuts.....and the other when Lancelot breaks into the
swamp castle to save the "damsel in distress." This is merely one technique that
the cast has perfected to conjure up laughs consistently throughout the entire
Another hilarious technique used in the film is the use of comedy in the
background. From people slamming cats against poles for no apparent reason, to
people filling up baskets with mud in the fields....all very strange and
hilarious at the same time. It's also simply amazing that all of the characters
are played by the same group of actors, which shows the great range all of them
have. Some are simply unrecognizable from one character to the other and it
sometimes takes a good eye to pick them out, which makes it fun. This film takes some turns that no sane person
could see coming.
Ridiculous characters in ridiculous situations equals ridiculous laughter.
The epitome of all-star comedy that will no doubt continue to stand the test of
time. Kudos to Gilliam and the rest of the Python crew. If you haven't seen it
yet, make it your first priority in life!
Director - John Carpenter
Writers - John W. Campbell Jr. (story), Bill Lancaster (screenplay)
Released - 1982
Genre - Horror | Mystery | Sci-Fi | Thriller
Tagline - Man is The Warmest Place to Hide.
Plot - Scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that
assumes the appearance of the people that it kills.
Awards - 3 nominations
Kurt Russell ... R.J. MacReady
Wilford Brimley ... Dr. Blair
T.K. Carter ... Nauls
David Clennon ... Palmer
Keith David ... Childs
Richard Dysart ... Dr. Copper
Charles Hallahan ... Vance Norris
Peter Maloney ... George Bennings
Richard Masur ... Clark
Donald Moffat ... Garry
Joel Polis ... Fuchs
Thomas G. Waites ... Windows
Norbert Weisser ... Norwegian
Larry J. Franco ... Norwegian Passenger with Rifle
Nate Irwin ... Helicopter Pilot
This is a great film, and stands as living proof that there were indeed realistic effects
Set on an isolated base in Antarctica, this version seems almost to pick up
where the original version (The Thing From Another World) left off. The American
scientists discover a decimated Norwegian base some miles away. Everyone is
dead, and only the half charred remains of some unidentifiable thing left to
smoulder outside the compound might offer any answers to what may have happened.
The Thing is brought back to the American base and, too late, the scientists
realize that it is alive and lethal. The Thing thaws out and is off, not only
killing anyone and anything that crosses its path, but also absorbing them,
making itself into whoever and whatever it wants. The film then turns into a
brilliant paranoia piece. Everyone is suspect, anyone can be The Thing, and no
one trusts anyone anymore. Gone is the strength and security found when human
beings band together in spite of their differences to battle a monster. The
group splinters and fear rules supreme. Who is the Thing?
The gore effects here are absolutely amazing and messily realistic. Sanity and reason disintegrate rapidly as, one by
one, the humans are taken over by the shapeshifting alien. The power of this
film lies in its paranoia, and although the original version of "The Thing" was
good, I prefer
this one; the real threat lies within, and is scarier for the fact that it
cannot be seen or easily detected. When it is forced out of hiding, it's wrath
is huge and the results are horrific.
This is one of Carpenters best films, right up there with The Fog and Halloween.
All of the actors give strong, realistic performances and the special effects
are so powerful that they stand as their own main character. This film has
something for any lover of the horror genre. Don't miss it.
Director - John Sturges
Writer - William Roberts
Tagline - They were seven - And they fought like seven hundred!
Plot - An oppressed Mexican peasant village assembles seven gunfighters to help
defend their homes.
Released - 1960
Yul Brynner ... Chris Adams
Eli Wallach ... Calvera
Steve McQueen ... Vin
Charles Bronson ... Bernardo O'Reilly
Robert Vaughn ... Lee
Brad Dexter ... Harry Luck
James Coburn ... Britt
Horst Buchholz ... Chico
Jorge Martinez de Hoyos ... Hilario
Vladimir Sokoloff ... Old man
Rosenda Monteros ... Petra
Rico Alaniz ... Sotero
Natividad Vacio ... Miguel
Mario Navarro ... Boy with O'Reilly
Based somewhat faithfully on the Akira Kurosawa classic Shichinin no samurai,
The Magnificent Seven could be mistaken for just another of the many Westerns
that were turned out in Hollywood during this era. But there is a certain
something that keeps The Magnificent Seven unique. Part of it is the concept
borrowed from the earlier Japanese film, but some of it lies in the attitude of
the seven mercenaries referred to in the title.
Much is made here of the difference between fighting for money, fighting for
justice, or fighting for a future. While this version of Kurosawa's epic
contains all the philosophical leanings of the original, it isn't nearly as
long-winded or languid. In fact, one can easily see the difference between American and
foreign cinema simply by comparing Shichinin no samurai with The Magnificent
Seven. One is incredibly dark and downbeat most of the time. The other mostly
has a score that is so major it wouldn't sound out of place in Seven Brides For
Differences in feelings aside, the ultimate question is whether this version of
the story manages to entertain. The hardest challenge any film faces is keeping
the audience amused while all the exposition is laid out. Here, the exposition
is kept to a minimum while carefully inserted between some fast-paced action sequences.
Sometimes, the dialogue ("We deal in lead, friend.") gets incredibly stilted.
Sometimes, it seems incredibly wise. Well, since we have examples of films where
it's all stilted, all the time, we can forgive this one. The film also includes
several textbook examples of how to include a sudden plot element without
seeming contrived. When we learn why Calvera's men just won't go away, it needs
no setup simply because it is consistent with their behaviour throughout the
rest of the film.
In the end, The Magnificent Seven comes off as one of the best western films of
The Great Escape
Director - John Sturges
Writers - Paul Brickhill (book), James Clavell (screenplay)
Released - 1963
Tagline - Put a fence in front of these men...and they'll climb it
Plot - Allied POWs plan for several hundred of their number to escape from a
German camp during World War II.
Steve McQueen ... Capt. Hilts "The Cooler King"
James Garner ... Flight Lt. Hendley "The Scrounger"
Richard Attenborough ... Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett "Big X"
James Donald ... Group Capt. Ramsey "The SBO"
Charles Bronson ... Flight Lt. Danny Velinski "The Tunnel King"
Donald Pleasance ... Flight Lt. Colin Blythe "The Forger"
James Coburn ... Flying Officer Louis Sedgwick "The Manufacturer"
Hannes Messemer ... Kommandant von Luger
David McCallum ... Lt. Cmdr. Eric Ashley-Pitt "Dispersal"
Gordon Jackson ... Flight Lt. Sandy MacDonald "Intelligence"
John Leyton ... Flight Lt. William Dickes "The Tunneler"
Angus Lennie ... Flying Officer Archibald Ives "The Mole"
Nigel Stock ... Flight Lt. Denys Cavendish "The Surveyor"
Robert Graf ... Werner 'The Ferret'
Jud Taylor ... Goff
The film was shot entirely on location in Europe, with a complete camp
resembling Stalag Luft III built near Munich, Germany. Exteriors for the escape
sequences were shot in the Rhine Country and areas near the North Sea, and Steve
McQueen's motorcycle scenes were filmed in Fussen (on the Austrian border) and
the Alps. All interiors were filmed at the Bavaria Studio in Munich.
During World War Two the Germans build a new prison camp, Stalag Luft III,
for the express purpose of housing many of their most troublesome captured
Allied airmen. However, all this serves to do is to pool the resources of some
of the most ingenious escape artists in captivity and fill them with a resolve
to engineer a mass breakout from the camp.
Based largely on real events, this film has assumed classic status over the
years and its easy to understand why. Quite simply, it excels in many
departments. Director John Sturges was at the height of his creative powers and
he keeps a firm grip on the proceedings. Although the film runs close to three
hours it never feels sluggish, while at the same time winding up the tension
gradually and developing the characters. The production design is first rate, to
the point where Donald Pleasance (who had actually been a prisoner of war in
real life) felt quite intimidated
by the vast set on his arrival. Daniel Fapp's beautiful photography shows this
and the picturesque German locations off to full effect. Put these virtues
together with a good script, inspired casting and a classic score by Elmer
Bernstein, and you have an object lesson in how to create an intelligent and
exciting big budget adventure film.
On the subject of the cast; much is made of Steve McQueen's role and Steve
McQueen deserves all the accolades given to him, he was, after all, one of the
best actors of all time, but, some of the other actors in "The Great Escape" are
excellent as well, actors such as, Richard Attenborough, James Garner, Donald Pleasance,
Charles Bronson and Gordon Jackson are all brilliant. Good too are James Coburn,
James Donald, David McCallum and Hannes Messemer as the sympathetic German Commandant.
A genuine timeless classic.
Director - Sam Mendes
Writer (WGA) - Alan Ball
Released - 2000
Genre - Drama
Tagline - Look closer . . . .
Plot: - Lester Burnham, a depressed suburban father in a mid-life crisis,
decides to turn his hectic life around after developing an infatuation for his
daughter's attractive friend.
Awards - Won 5 Oscars. Another 83 wins and 74 nominations
Kevin Spacey ... Lester Burnham
Annette Bening ... Carolyn Burnham
Thora Birch ... Jane Burnham
Wes Bentley ... Ricky Fitts
Mena Suvari ... Angela Hayes
Chris Cooper ... Col. Frank Fitts, USMC
Peter Gallagher ... Buddy Kane
Allison Janney ... Barbara Fitts
Scott Bakula ... Jim Olmeyer
Sam Robards ... Jim Berkley
Barry Del Sherman ... Brad Dupree
Ara Celi ... Sale House Woman 1
John Cho ... Sale House Man 1
Fort Atkinson ... Sale House Man 2
Sue Casey ... Sale House Woman 2
American Beauty is a wonderful psychological drama, a satire about the
American community and about the American life; dark, painful irony and cynicism
in the descriptions of life and characters; deep sarcasm with different types of people in
the community, habits of behaviour such as "...if you want to succeed, you
always have to seem successful..." or "never stop smiling", parasites of the
community, and, most importantly, the treatment of people who are "different",
who are "freaky" to some extent; and eventually, there is no character in the
film that is not odd in its way, although we have to wait for the very ending of
the film, to discover this.
With very deep and accurate exaggeration, (most of) the characters in the
film demonstrate the worst, the darkest sides of their personality, while still
remaining very human, very touching and very involved with the observer. The tragic-comical events, the
little pieces of funny, disturbing irony dripping from almost every episode,
lead the observer to exploration of the American Beauty, the beauty in life,
and the way that we fail to find it, for all our life; the way we hide our
feelings and emotions, even behind sullen walls of our sepulchre.
The acting is truly brilliant, the episodes are built logically, coherently,
the dialogues are deep, thrilling, intriguing; every sentence and every word is
deeply constructed, containing profound irony and intelligent elements of
humours. The plot is very intelligently built, constructing a true indication of
the sad situation of the American society, and an excellent ground for the
A deep, wonderful, penetrating film; extraordinary irony in a psychological
drama about the American life.
An amazing film, strongly recommended
Director - Stanley Kubrick
Writers - Stephen King (novel), Stanley Kubrick (screenplay)
Released - 1980
Genre - Horror | Thriller
Plot - A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and
spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son
sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.
Awards - 1 win and 5 nominations
Jack Nicholson ... Jack Torrance
Shelley Duvall ... Wendy Torrance
Danny Lloyd ... Danny Torrance
Scatman Crothers ... Dick Hallorann
Barry Nelson ... Stuart Ullman
Philip Stone ... Delbert Grady
Joe Turkel ... Lloyd the Bartender
Anne Jackson ... Doctor
Tony Burton ... Larry Durkin
Lia Beldam ... Young Woman in Bath
Billie Gibson ... Old Woman in Bath
Barry Dennen ... Bill Watson
David Baxt ... Forest Ranger 1
Manning Redwood ... Forest Ranger 2
Lisa Burns ... Grady Twin Daughter
The Shining is, without doubt, one of Stanley Kubrick's undisputed masterpieces
and a true classic in horror cinema. It is a film that, over the course of the
years, has managed to scare the living hell out of its audiences (and still
does). The film is an adaptation of Stephen King's original novel, written in
the late '70s, and although the film is not very loyal to the book, it still
stands as a great film of it's kind.
Right from the beginning, as we contemplate the car going to the hotel from
those stunning aerial shots, deeply inside us we know that something in the
film, somehow, sometime is going to go wrong. As we obtain that severe warning,
an almost inaudible voice gently whispers to us 'sit tight', a sense of
unexpectedness invades us all, and it is that very same feeling that makes our
hair stand on end throughout the entire film.
The plot is simple, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes the caretaker of the
Overlook Hotel up in the secluded mountains of Colorado. Jack, being a family
man, takes his wife (Shelley Duvall) and son (Danny Lloyd) to the hotel to keep
him company throughout the long, isolated nights. During their stay, strange
things occur when Jack's son Danny sees gruesome images powered by a force
called 'the shining' and Jack is heavily affected by this. Along with writer's
block and the demons of the hotel haunting him, Jack has a complete mental
breakdown and the situation takes a sinister turn for the worse.
The film, unlike many horror-oriented films nowadays, doesn't only rely on
stomach-churning and gory images (which it does contain, anyway) but on the
incredibly scary music based on the works of Bela Bartok and on the excellent
cinematography (the Steadicam is superbly used, giving us a sense of
ever-following evil), as well. The terrifying mood and atmosphere of the film is
carefully and masterfully woven by Kubrick, who clearly knows how to really make
a horror film.
Jack Nicholson's powerful performance as the mad father and husband is as over
the top as it is brilliant. Shelley Duvall, who plays the worrying wife who
tries to help her son, is also a stand out; she shows a kind of trembling fear
in many scenes and is able to display weakness and vulnerability in a very
convincing way. Undoubtedly, The Shining is full of memorable moments (the
elevator scene or the 'Heeeeere's Johnny' one-liner for instance) and, simply
put, it's flawlessly brilliant.
Stanley Kubrick's direction is pure excellence, giving the whole film a cold and
atmospheric look, thus creating an unbearable sense of paranoia and terror.
There are moments of sheer brilliance and exquisite perfection in this film; the
horrifying maze chase is a perfect example. Every single shot is masterfully
created and there are some genuinely scary scenes which will make you sit on the
edge of your seat.
The Shining is a special landmark in horror cinema which will always be
regarded as one of the scariest films in film history. Overall, The Shining is
incomparably one of the scariest films ever produced.
It is one of the best, unforgettable, chilling, majestic and truly, profoundly scary films
crafted by an eccentric genius who wants to show that the impossible can be
done. The Shining is a sublime, hauntingly intriguing and endlessly watchable
film that shows Kubrick at his best.
A truly brilliant and scary film from Stanley Kubrick.
Director - Michael Cimino
Writers - Michael Cimino and Deric Washburn
Released - 1979
Plot - An in-depth examination of the way that the Vietnam war affects the lives of
people in a small industrial town in the USA.
Awards - Won 5 Oscars. Another 16 wins and 19 nominations
Robert De Niro ... Michael
John Cazale ... Stan
John Savage ... Steven
Christopher Walken ... Nick
Meryl Streep ... Linda
George Dzundza ... John
Chuck Aspegren ... Axel
Shirley Stoler ... Steven's Mother
Rutanya Alda ... Angela
Pierre Segui ... Julien
Mady Kaplan ... Axel's Girl
Amy Wright ... Bridesmaid
Mary Ann Haenel ... Stan's Girl
Richard Kuss ... Linda's Father
Joe Grifasi ... Bandleader
No, this is not the best film about the Vietnam War; it's hardly about Vietnam
at all. The vets who don't like it have it wrong, as do the Vietnamese who found
it racist. It could be any war, with any combatants. This is one of the very few
post-war Hollywood films that shows a sincere reverence for the lives of small
Even now, the Russian Roulette scene (in context, people, watch all that comes
before it first) is the single most intense sequence I've seen; it makes the end
of "Reservoir Dogs" seem like a cartoon. Best Walken performance,
ever!! Meryl Streep glows, DeNiro has seldom been more affecting. A unique
Director - Oliver Stone
Writer - Oliver Stone
Released - 1987
Genre - Action | Drama | War
Tagline - The first casualty of war is innocence.
Plot - A young recruit in Vietnam faces a moral crisis when confronted with the
horrors of war and the duality of man.
Awards - Won 4 Oscars. Another 18 wins and 9 nominations
Charlie Sheen ... Chris Taylor
Tom Berenger ... Sgt. Barnes
Willem Dafoe ... Sgt. Elias
Keith David ... King
Forest Whitaker ... Big Harold
Francesco Quinn ... Rhah
Kevin Dillon ... Bunny
John C. McGinley ... Sgt. O'Neill
Reggie Johnson ... Junior
Mark Moses ... Lt. Wolfe
Corey Glover ... Francis
Johnny Depp ... Lerner
Chris Pedersen ... Crawford
Bob Orwig ... Gardner
Corkey Ford ... Manny
David Neidorf ... Tex
Platoon is generally regarded as one of the strongest anti-war films of all
time. While this is certainly true, what's often overlooked, at least after
only one run through the film, is that it's chiefly a tale of God vs. Satan,
and the war is there to set a perilous backdrop. No doubt, Platoon shows the
Vietnam War was a big mistake, but being a fictional documentary on Vietnam is
far from its purpose.
The story is told from the point of view of Chris Taylor (solidly played by
Charlie Sheen), a middle class kid who goes to Vietnam to do what he thinks is
his patriotic duty. In the first ten minutes, Chris is shown in the
uncomfortable jungle, struggling just to survive in the natural environment, let
alone do any actual damage to the enemy. Quickly we're introduced to the
well-known facets of the Vietnam War: The lack of sense of purpose, the
wraith-like enemies, the obvious prevalence of the uneducated and poor among the
fighting grunts, and, soon, we see how these factors combine to cause
widespread low morale and some actions of more than questionable ethical value.
Chris sees his platoon fragmented into two halves, each aligned with one of two
men, Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe) and Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger). These two
really are the driving force behind the film. They both have nominally the same
enemy (the Viet Cong), but, really, it doesn't take long to realize that Elias
is Good, and Barnes is Evil (the "enemy" does not enter into the moral equation
of this film, at all, it's an outside threat, same as malaria-carrying
mosquitoes or even friendly fire). It can't be denied that it is a very black-versus-white
relationship, but this polarity does not feel contrived. Elias feels the
futility of the war and has respect for life; Barnes fights the war doggedly and
has no compassion, period. Both are efficient soldiers fighting the same enemy,
but really, as is at one point aptly put by Chris Taylor himself, they are
fighting for the souls of the platoon members, as the outcome of the war is
never really in doubt.
Elias/Barnes' hold on the platoon, and the viewer, is developed through several
war sequences. A chilling scene takes place in a village, where our soldiers
find no VC, but they do find a cache of VC weapons. The inhumanity of certain
soldiers, including of Sgt. Barnes, is unflinchingly shown here. It leaves the
viewer with an empty feeling that is hard to shake, reminding of the similarly
empty look on a woman's face after she sees her son killed in front her.
Elias doesn't take kindly to this kind of behaviour. Elias and Barnes come closer
and closer to open conflict, as Taylor becomes a veteran, obviously siding with
Elias. Meanwhile, the fate of the platoon comes closer and closer to them,
culminating in an explosively shot action conclusion. The end is dark, but
Don't watch this film for the action. That's not to say it's not well shot, or
unrealistic. On the contrary. It's quite convincing. There will
be no cheering for the "good guys" or anyone else in this one. Stone succeeds
brilliantly at putting the viewer into the middle of it all, and it's not a
pretty sight (and definitely not for the squeamish, either).
On the other hand, if you want great acting, it's here. Dafoe and Berenger do
incredibly well, with the incredibly good (and seemingly authentically sounding)
script. Barnes is horrific as he challenges three men to kill him, drinking hard
liquor out of the bottle. They don't make a move, and neither will you, though
you'll hate him just as much as them. Dafoe is a ray of light in the dark as
Elias. The cast is rounded out with many characters, all well played, and adding
another dimension to the film.
The technical aspects of the film are superb, though one never thinks about them
much, as the film is completely engrossing. The production values seem quite
good, as well. The most stunning peripheral aspect of this film, however, is the
music. It's emotional and draining, and used to great effect, listen for the
main theme as you watch the village burn.
Once Upon A Time In America
Director - Sergio Leone
Writers - Harry Grey (novel). Leonardo Benvenuti (writer)
Released - 1984
Genre - Crime | Drama
Tagline - Crime, passion and lust for power - Sergio Leone's explosive saga of gangland America.
Plot - A former Prohibition-era Jewish gangster returns to Brooklyn over 30
years later, where he once again must confront the ghosts and regrets of his old
Awards - Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 11 wins and 3 nominations
Robert De Niro ... David 'Noodles' Aaronson
James Woods ... Maximilian 'Max' Bercovicz
Elizabeth McGovern ... Deborah Gelly
Joe Pesci ... Frankie Manoldi
Burt Young ... Joe
Tuesday Weld ... Carol
Treat Williams ... James Conway O'Donnell
Danny Aiello ... Police Chief Vincent Aiello
Richard Bright ... Chicken Joe
James Hayden ... Patrick 'Patsy' Goldberg
William Forsythe ... Philip 'Cockeye' Stein
Darlanne Fluegel ... Eve
Larry Rapp ... 'Fat' Moe Gelly
Richard Foronjy ... Officer 'Fartface' Whitey
Robert Harper ... Sharkey
Rated R for strong violence, sexual content, language and some drug use.
This is one of the finest examples of cinematic art. It isn't a simple,
cut-n-dried 90 minute little package that gets wrapped up with a pretty bow at
the end. You get pulled in by the enigmatic opening that unwinds the threads of
the story to be found later. Once Upon a Time in America is an excellent film,
in the film you follow Noodles through the 'significant' part of his life - the times that
formed him. When the story actually starts, we meet the girl that he always
loved but could never have.
David 'Noodles' Aaronson (DeNiro) was a kid on the very mean streets of Brooklyn
when organized crime was born in America and he grew into and out of it. That's
the simplest synopsis of the plot. The reality is that this isn't a film about
gangsters. Being a gangster is the easiest way for Noodles to survive and get
ahead, but it also alienates and ruins his one love. Whenever he is close to
giving himself to Deborah he always gets pulled back into the gang, in some form
DeNiro's portrayal is of a gangster, through and through, who also has a
conscience that, while not preventing him from being a ruthless killer, rules
his life with regret, remorse and guilt. Leone takes a bit of poet/historic
license by showing the Brooklyn Bridge being built in the background (the bridge
had been built 40 years before), but it symbolizes Noodles' own growth. When the
bridge is just pilings and incomplete towers, Noodles is just forming his
future. By the time the bridge is complete, Noodles is nothing but a gangster
and the bridge is majestic. When he returns 35 years later our view of the
bridge is from under a freeway, the world has moved along, but the Brooklyn bridge and
Noodles are just as they were.
The length: If you're looking for a brief distraction that you'll barely
remember 30 minutes later, this isn't the film for you. However, if you are
prepared and able to be undisturbed for the nearly 4 hours that this film uses
to compress a lifetime, you will be rewarded with many facets of thought and
Mesmerizing and haunting tale of love, greed, regret, betrayal and revenge.
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