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Films ranked 101-1000 
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Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
Veidt had probably the most interesting role in the movie, what with heavy make-up and a mostly enigmatic character, so it's no surprise that he pulled it off (enigma and menace and what not) with gusto. Competent actor, that one.

Anyway, don't take my curmudgeony attitude too seriously. As you've said, everyone and their grandmothers seem to love it, so there's probably a lot of worth there if you don't over-fetishize every aspect of a film's (for lack of a better word) filminess. I'll stand by my opinion to the grave, but there's a lot of interesting elements to Caligari that still make it worth seeing.


Mon May 03, 2010 7:01 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
Thanks for the Veidt reply. And don't you worry, when I eventually watch this I'm going to come back here and tell you just how wrong you were Monsieur Zeppelin.


Tue May 04, 2010 2:14 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
No. 669 - Ace in the Hole

Here's an awesome Criterion essay about how the film fits as a noir:
http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/591-ace-in-the-hole-noir-in-broad-daylight

I have to thank Mr. ed_metal_head for this one. I'd seen this before, and enjoyed it, but his Newspaper Movies thread enticed me to pick up the Criterion edition of the film. It's a shame that this is the only Billy Wilder movie to get a Criterion release.

The film itself is tremendous. Kirk Douglas is cast perfectly in the lead role. By most accounts he had a pretty large personality and was a bit egotistical. Well, if that's the case, he's playing himself here. He's great.

Some stuff I've read said the film was a critical failure when it was released in 1951. I guess I can sort of see why because it is probably more powerful now than it was then. Journalism hadn't yet become the mockery it is currently, so audiences and critics in 1951 probably weren't ready for a scathing indictment of the press.

Wilder fans should gobble this up. It's vintage stuff from the director. The dialogue crackles, the story is compelling, and the performances are terrific. Those are the 3 biggest strengths of Wilder and they're all on display in the film. This is highly recommended. In particular, ed_metal_head, you should check it out. I think you'll really enjoy it.

I haven't been through the special features yet, but the disc has a bunch and they all sound interesting. Instead of lising them, here's the link to Criterion's page with the features for anyone who's interested:
http://www.criterion.com/films/829

There is a booklet with the film with the essays in them that folds out like a newspaper. The cover of the film is front of the booklet which is designed to look like the front page of a newspaper. It's almost as cool as the movie.


Thu May 13, 2010 11:58 am
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
PeachyPete wrote:
Wilder fans should gobble this up. It's vintage stuff from the director. The dialogue crackles, the story is compelling, and the performances are terrific. Those are the 3 biggest strengths of Wilder and they're all on display in the film. This is highly recommended. In particular, ed_metal_head, you should check it out. I think you'll really enjoy it.


Duly noted. You had me at "dialogue crackles". That's enough for me to check out any movie. Strange though that you never hear too much about this one. At least I don't.


Thu May 13, 2010 12:43 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
Damn, we've really neglected this section.

A while back I saw John Ford's The Informer (#765). The plot: a simple minded man informs on his friend (a member of the IRA) in order to collect a reward. The reward happens to be the exact amount he requires to escape to America with his girlfriend. Unbeknownst to the man, several members of the IRA suspect that he was the Informer and follow him while he confirms that the old adage of a fool and his money are soon parted is very true.

The film went on to win several Academy awards including Best Director and Best Actor (Best Picture went to Mutiny on the Bounty).

Overall, I was satisfied but slightly disappointed with the movie. Victor McLaglen makes a very compelling protagonist, but his performance is a bit one dimensional. This happens to be the year where all three (3!) actors from Mutiny on the Bounty were nominated for the Best Actor prize, so I assume that McLaglen was aided by a split in the vote.

My disappointment might have something to do with dialogue difficulties. There are some Irish accents that I had a difficult time deciphering and without the aid of subtitles I was only able to understand about 85% of what was said.

This is a good movie and I encourage others to watch it and make their own decision. I just feel that it falls short of being great. 7/10.


Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:50 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
From family man to perverse Übermensch goes James Mason in the 521st greatest movie of all time, Bigger Than Life. Nicholas Ray's vision of suburban life smack in the middle of Eisenhower's presidency is darkly tinted by Berton Roueché's The New Yorker article "Ten Feet Tall" that catalogs the benefits and risks associated with cortisone.

Mason plays Ed, a happy fellow holding multiple jobs (primarily a grade-school teacher but moonlighting as a taxi dispatcher) while doting on wife Lou (Barbara Rush) and All-American son Richie (Christopher Olsen). When Ed is hospitalized he is prescribed cortisone which takes away his pain (in an unintentionally hilarious diagram replete with exclamation marks) and eventually makes him snap into the Eisenhower MegaFather that writes off childhood whimsy ("Childhood is a congenital disease - and the purpose of education is to cure it. We're breeding a race of moral midgets!") and is eventually moved to an impromptu re-enactment of Mount Moriah's very own Binding of Isaac. Mount Moriah being the unassuming suburban home, naturally.

Criterion recently released this on Blu-Ray and it's a curious choice for a first entry into Nicholas Ray's filmography; the subtext is pure Suburbia! Not All It's Cracked Up To Be! that would hit big in the literary world some 10 years later. While it's safe to assume that Bigger Than Life was a bit of a stunning slap to the Leave It To Beaver image America may have had of itself (at least in popular culture...) the movie is really best viewed as a curiosity; most mainstream movies weren't so challenging to the status quo and the pretense of long-term cortisone use (which can, as the movie shows, lead to psychosis) is a nice bluff to obscure some of the finer points of Ray's critique of 50's America.

That said, this one isn't built from the stuff of greatness. Taken alone, and withholding the gymnastics required to make it "still relevant", Bigger Than Life is an entertaining, well-acted but minor cautionary tale/satire/drama. The disc has a nice bonus featuring Jonathan Lethem espousing the virtues of the film when viewed from the far-off landscape of 2010 -- this is a perfectly good intellectual challenge but the film, when unspooling, doesn't really beg much contemporary analysis outside of placing it at the start of literature's obsession with suburban ennui. There's some real value in the movie as a starting point for discussion on the evolution of American life through the 50s to today (to be fair, the film does have some subtle comments to make on social classes) but it's really more an entertaining ride through cortisone's ill effects (funny how Mason becomes a model conservative at the height of his psychotic break) than examination of what's behind suburbia's veil. The ending, it should be noted, should only be seen as satire -- to take it at face value is to repudiate the movie's finer points. Recommended for fans of Nicholas Ray's work and for those interested in where John Updike got at least a couple of his ideas.


Fri Jun 25, 2010 11:20 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
Currently at #666 (!!!) on the list is The Misfits (1961). On paper, the film has an impressive pedigree. It's directed by John Huston and written by Arthur Miller. It stars Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift and Eli Wallach. Based on that information alone, I'd be interested in seeing this movie. In 1961, a lot of people felt the same way. However, when the movie was finally released it was met with critical indifference and underperformed at the box office.

I can understand some of the indifference. The tone is occasionally somewhat uneven. At various early points I was even bored out of my wits, however by the end it had completely won me over. This is one of those that was a bit before its time.

Briefly, the story (spoiler free) is as follows: Marilyn Monroe is in the midst of a divorce. She's so sexy that she can't even drive her car. Men literally run into her just so that they can talk to her. She meets Eli Wallach and Clark Gable and agrees to hang with them at Wallach's home in the desert, away from all the hustle and bustle of city life. Eventually they run into one of Gable's old friends, a rodeo rider played by Monty Clift.

What I liked most about the story is the interplay between the three (and later four) principles. All four of them are in some way broken people who are looking for mending. At the same time, there's a subtle tension that comes to the surface ever so often as the men compete for Monroe's affection. However, my favourite part would be the end where the men round up wild horses much to the dismay of Monroe. There are a bunch of different interpretations that one can read here.

There's the ageing cowboy who's determined to have his way in a changing world. He refuses to work for "wages" and lose his independence. At the same time I took them trying to tame the wild horses as a metaphor for the men trying to "tame" Monroe. Maybe I'm over-reading things a bit, but I love that the film is rich enough for such speculation.

Of course, it's also finely acted. Monroe was never a great actress, but I think she gives her best performance here. Clark Gable is a real revelation too. Gable rose to fame in the 1930's where the style of acting/delivery of dialogue was much different to what was taking place here. Remarkably, he gives a very different type of performance and is able to hold his own with method actors like the great Monty Clift and the massively underrated Eli Wallach.

It may have helped that apart from the movie's title and cast I knew nothing about the plot. That's probably a good thing because on paper the film doesn't sound that interesting. In reality, I think it deserves to be called "great". 8/10.

-----

I also saw #307 How Green Was My Valley (1941), a movie that is best known for beating Citizen Kane to win the Best Picture Oscar. I'll be briefer about this one because the story is fairly straightforward (nothing really to analyse) and because I can hear the toot of the vuzuvelas beckoning me to watch Spain/Portugal.

John Ford's movie is very attractive, particularly the valley which was surprisingly a constructed set. The acting is also uniformly excellent. That includes a very young Roddy McDowall who for some reason kept reminding me of Anna Paquin. Weird huh?

The plot details the declining fortunes of a large and well respected working class family in their beloved mining town. The film has a few agendas: for instance it's very pro-union (something which I gather wasn't popular back then), but otherwise it's a simple tale.

I liked this a lot too, but it's clear that this hasn't aged anywhere as well as Citizen Kane or a few other movies of that era. I'm between a 7 and 8 rating here, but am in a generous mood so it gets an 8 for now.


Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:40 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
Thanks to handy-dandy insomnia I wrapped up -- wait! I watched from beginning to end! -- #665 on the list, Walkabout. Usually I don't care to admit I need to rewatch a movie in order to fully appreciate it but will do so here; so wrapped-up was I with some of the stylistic choices (spliced-in shots of Civilization during scenes in the Outback, stills that demand "take note", frequent repetition of dialogue and a philosophy-spouting radio) that I was forced to realize that I was watching not a family film but a tour of Dreamland. D'oh!

Excellent movie that it is, Walkabout isn't the simplest nut to crack -- there's a full roster of Big Themes (sexuality, civilization and its discontents, survival, technology, and so many more) that were more challenging than I expected a PG-rated (how in THE HELL??!??! The MPAA has become armor-plated since 1971 -- full-frontal nudity (almost completely non-sexual), at least five animals slaughtered on camera, two suicides) "family" film to have. Why did I think it was a family film? Someone said it was... who?

There were some other distractions. Like this one:

Image

Nicholas Roeg's camera laps up a fully-naked Jenny Agutter during a handful of scenes, the most notable one being an extended solo swim complete with close-ups on pubic hair and... it was distracting and teetering toward lewd but, sad to say, fit that theme of sexuality (never have tree branches been used to quite an erotic effect...) and so has to stay. Or at least has to be rationalized.

Strange movie! Boy and Girl head off into wilderness after Father attempts to kill them, kills himself. Boy and Girl survive on own with canned goods and lemonade before meeting Aborigine Boy on Walkabout who keeps them alive and moves them closer to recognizable civilization. The dialogue is sparse (and about 20% of it is untranslated Aborigine), the photography is outstanding (Roeg was a cinematographer before taking the director's chair) and the movie is pretty damned challenging if you bother to look past the obvious Survivor veneer. The music was great, the acting is very good and it's got some 70s vibe that furthered my bewilderment.

My first impression would be 8/10 but it's almost certainly one notch higher or one notch lower. A second viewing will be ordered just as soon as the first one gets broken down.


Wed Jun 30, 2010 2:33 am
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
^- I like the sound of that one. Really got interested in Roeg after seeing Don't Look Now. This sounds like the plot is a lot looser, but your description (I'll be honest: the screenshot might have swayed me too) is enough for me to check it out.

He's been doing strange work lately. I haven't seen any, but a cousin saw Puffball and couldn't believe it was the same director.


Wed Jun 30, 2010 2:49 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
ed_metal_head wrote:
^- I like the sound of that one. Really got interested in Roeg after seeing Don't Look Now. This sounds like the plot is a lot looser, but your description (I'll be honest: the screenshot might have swayed me too) is enough for me to check it out.

He's been doing strange work lately. I haven't seen any, but a cousin saw Puffball and couldn't believe it was the same director.


I get Nicholas Roeg, Ken Russell and Peter Weir confused -- they all made bizarre, creepy films and they all took risks that I was uncomfortable watching. Russell is the weakest. Check out The Man Who Fell To Earth and Walkabout -- good movies.


Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:24 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
I watched Walkabout last year sometime (I think? I might have been earlier this year) and while I remember the strong mood and some of the imagery, pretty much everything else about it has faded from my memory. You're right that it briefly touched on some Big Themes, but I found it so noncommittal when dealing with anything other than its own dreamy, atmospheric weirdness that none of it really stuck even while watching. Essentially just style-porn. I really enjoyed it (as much as one enjoys such a movie), but I found its aspirations to greatness questionable. If you ever do take that second viewing I'd be interested to know what you think; I'm probably being a bit hasty dismissing a film as dense as Walkabout off hand, but nearly everything I've read on it has been as vague about the movie's urgency as the movie itself, and I'd love to read a good, solid defense of it.

Funny, reading back over this post, I realize I just wrote a paragraph criticizing a film for being vague style-porn, while I usually spend my time championing films with those qualities. Oh, the irony!


Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:50 am
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
I'll preface this post by saying I agree completely with ed's post about the film. There isn't a whole lot more for me to add, but I'll give it a try.

ed_metal_head wrote:
There's the ageing cowboy who's determined to have his way in a changing world. He refuses to work for "wages" and lose his independence. At the same time I took them trying to tame the wild horses as a metaphor for the men trying to "tame" Monroe. Maybe I'm over-reading things a bit, but I love that the film is rich enough for such speculation.


I don't think you're reading into it too much at all. I think that's exactly what the filmmakers were going for. The men in the film were all hiding behind their personal definition of manliness, and it didn't allow them to face their issues and be honest with themselves. They all dumped their problems on Monroe, telling her they wanted this or wanted that, when what they really wanted was her. The movie doesn't paint a flattering portrait of men at all. Monroe is the strong character, although she seems the weakest towards the beginning. The men are just as lost as her, but they're too cowardly to deal with their problems and hide behind being a "man" to justify that.

You messaged me comparing the film to something from Peckinpah, and that's no more apparent than in Gable's character. He's straight out of a Peckinpah movie (or, more accurately on the time scale, Peckinpah's characters are straight out of this movie). The only difference is he isn't completely awful towards women.

ed_metal_head wrote:
Of course, it's also finely acted. Monroe was never a great actress, but I think she gives her best performance here. Clark Gable is a real revelation too. Gable rose to fame in the 1930's where the style of acting/delivery of dialogue was much different to what was taking place here. Remarkably, he gives a very different type of performance and is able to hold his own with method actors like the great Monty Clift and the massively underrated Eli Wallach.


All four of them are fantastic. The writing is great, but it's the acting that makes me love the film. This is only the second Gable movie I've seen (It Happened One Night being the other). He's excellent in both, albeit giving two wildly different performances. Agreed on Monroe, easily the best acting I've seen her do. Apparently, she hated the film and herself in it. I always imagined the real life Monroe to be similar to her character, so maybe it hit too close to home for her. Clift and Wallach were both their typically great selves. Both of those guys could/can turn in a great performance in just about anything.

According to Wikipedia, Gable died 2 days after shooting wrapped and Monroe was dead a little over a year later. Even Clift only made it 6 years longer. Legend has it that the movie was on the night Clift died. He was asked if he wanted to watch and he replied, "Absolutely not!" Check out that page, all kinds of crazy shit went on during filming and the aftermath of the release. Not essential, but interesting stuff.


Thu Jul 15, 2010 9:50 am
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
Glad you liked it Pete. You would have gotten to it eventually anyway. My message just sped things up.

It's by no means a perfect film, but it deserves to be talked about a lot more than it is. Most people don't even have a clue what it's about. I didn't either.

PeachyPete wrote:
According to Wikipedia, Gable died 2 days after shooting wrapped and Monroe was dead a little over a year later. Even Clift only made it 6 years longer. Legend has it that the movie was on the night Clift died. He was asked if he wanted to watch and he replied, "Absolutely not!" Check out that page, all kinds of crazy shit went on during filming and the aftermath of the release. Not essential, but interesting stuff.


I did see that. Apparently there was a lot of in-fighting too. Even some allegations that Monroe had Wallach's scenes cut because his acting was showing her's up. Remarkably, Wallach is in his 90's and still acting. This man needs an honorary Oscar or something. Not a single nomination in his whole career. He's too good for that.


Thu Jul 15, 2010 12:08 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
No. 184 - Nights of Cabiria

Fellini's study of an naive, innocent prostitute might be the quintessential "hooker with a heart of gold" story. After seeing the film I was struck by how similar it was to a Chaplin silent film. I thought that was fairly insightful, but it seems everything I read (including a Criterion essay by Fellini himself) about the movie says the same thing. So yeah, it isn't that insightful, but the movie (especially the first half) does bear a rather strong resemblance to something you'd see from Chaplin's Little Tramp, except there's dialogue.

At it's heart the movie is a story about optimism and how it's something necessary to survive. We see Cabiria go through a myriad of experiences, only to be let down every time. Sure, she's overly optimistic in her approach to things, but she has to be in order to get by in a world that constantly shits on her. She wants to believe in the good, or experience the good. She's naive and innocent in that way. However, there's another side of her that's all defense mechanism. She's a hooker who gets in fights, runs from the cops, and seems as tough as they come. She puts up this facade, seemingly, because the world has forced her to. She's been left to fend for herself all her life. She's had no love or care, and her loud, boisterous persona is the mask she uses to hide from that world.

Time after time Cabiria looks for redemption or salvation, through the church or other people, and time after time she's let down. The whole time I was unnerved thinking about how depressing the end of the film was inevitable going to be. Then Fellini constructs a final scene and set of images that makes everything seem alright, even if it isn't. It's a magical ending that's famous for all the right reasons.

There's a great fantastical scene right after Cabiria is let down by the church where she goes to see a magician who hypnotizes her. The visuals here are pretty great, and you really see the vulnerability and innocence of the character in the performance. What happens as a result is ugly and heartbreaking.

I'd like to thank Zeppelin for recommending to start with Fellini here. It's not an overly demanding film, although Cabiria is a fairly complex character. There's depth and substance here that's all fairly easily digested.

Ebert's review of the film is exemplary: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19980816/REVIEWS08/401010343/1023

I'd like to buy the film's Criterion release, but I checked on Amazon and it's $75 for a new copy. $75! It's out of print, so it makes some sense, but $75?! Christ!


Wed Jul 28, 2010 11:14 am
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
PeachyPete wrote:
No. 184 - Nights of Cabiria

Purty Words.

I'd like to thank Zeppelin for recommending to start with Fellini here. It's not an overly demanding film, although Cabiria is a fairly complex character. There's depth and substance here that's all fairly easily digested.

Ebert's review of the film is exemplary: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19980816/REVIEWS08/401010343/1023


No problem, Peachy Peter. I also watched this one a while back and as expected liked it a lot. I think its biggest flaw is that, as you said, it's not overly demanding, especially in comparison to some Fellini's later films, and that makes it very easy to see where it's going. So, the last hour might not have surprised me, but I still liked it. Masina's performance is one of the all time greats for the way it treads the line between comedy and tragedy, the artificial and the painfully real. What I really wanted to comment on though was the connection with La Dolce Vita, but then I read that Ebert article and realized that I wasn't the first one to connect the dots. One thing Ebert didn't seem to notice though: the structures for the two films are similarly episodic, just reversed in intent. While one covers a person trying to reach out of sin and find a better life, but, time after time failing (or more accurately realizing that the ways out were all fantasy; true love, the spontaneous movie star pick-up, hypnotism, etc.) the other finds someone already well off slowly making his way into a life of sin and decadence. It's an interesting connection, and one that I think goes well with the one's Ebert pointed out. I don't think the connection as any deep thematic implications for either film, but an essay could be written on how the change in viewpoint (blind optimism vs. easy-going ennui) affects the way the audience reacts to the images and structure. Interesting stuff.


Sat Aug 07, 2010 12:54 am
Post Two masterpieces in one flight
Just flew from the Bay Area to Philadelphia and did an amazing Double Bill

DeSica's - Umberto D - For lovers of Bicycle Thieves - this is a heart breaker. I cried at the end.
Gertrud - Dreyers last film. I cried again. This is a hard film to watch about love.

Two absolute masterpieces and instant 9/10's. Both films are slow studies of very different people.

Rob

PS - the guy sitting next to me thought I was very strange!


Wed Aug 18, 2010 1:50 am
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
...I teared up at the end of Where the Wild Things Are...


Wed Aug 18, 2010 3:57 am
Director

Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 8:28 pm
Posts: 1537
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
JJoshay wrote:
...I teared up at the end of Where the Wild Things Are...


I have to admit that it almost made me teary eyed. :)


Wed Aug 18, 2010 3:47 pm
Profile YIM
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
BUMPed because, man alive, is this a good thread.


Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:49 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
Yes! Let's get this mother going again. I loved this thread even if there was only a handful of people posting in it.


Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:41 pm
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