The Greatest films of all time: 66.The Godfather (Part I) (1972) (USA)

Introduction:

Although “The Godfather” is not much original and technical in a general sense on a cinematic world scale, there is no doubt of its impact on others, from critics to filmmakers and is on top of many lists of the greatest films of all time, including ranking second on AFI’s list of the American greatest films. The film at least boasts to be an original new gangster style in American cinema, introducing Italian Mafia to the screen. That also invigorated American Italian cinema in Hollywood to dominate part of the American cinema with the second and third parts of The Godfather trilogy and Martin Scorsese’s future films, starting with “Mean Street”.

Adapted for the screen from the Mario Puzo’s novel of the same name who collaborated with Francis Ford Coppola on the script. First major feature of Coppola who until then had mainly worked on screen writing, the film and its sequels were major box office hits and pleased both the critics who were mostly appalled a few years before by the violence and praising gangsterism with “Bonnie and Clyde” and just a year before with “Straw Dogs”. Perhaps by the pressure of the audience who received both previous films and also adjusting to the new American wave cinema of sheer violence, the critics not only received this film greatly, but worshiped it to this very day. Winning the best picture, best actor for Marlon Brando (who declined the award) and the best adapted screenplay for a mafia film depicting the organized crime in US was historically a surprise.

The film that is the part one of a trilogy, starting from the middle of the life story of Vito Corleone or the Godfather of an Italian Mafia family when he as an older man having a stronghold organized crime business with four grown up children. The part two that was released two years after in 1974, starting the life story of Vito Corleone who as a victim of mafia, back in Sicily of Italy, escapes the prosecution after his father, brothers and even mother were all murdered by the head of the local gangster, Don Chicho and seeks refuge in America. The beginning of the story is more empathizing to Vito who starts an honest simple life in America as a new immigrant, getting married and having children, before the victim or prey becoming a perpetrator and leading an organized crime establishment.

Already deep in an all illegal crime business in the part I, while the film stresses on the family values, that’s all about an organized criminal family. Like any non-righteous man in power to protect his kingdom and his large family, being not only a father to his own children, but a Godfather to many, Vito Corleone has to keep doing whatever it takes to keep his position strong and stable. Therefore the film is original in introducing to the screen, the life story of organized crime in America, though they were not in majority family oriented as in this story. Other than great unusual acting style of Al Pacino without his common theatrical exaggeration, in fact and despite winning Oscar, Marlon Brando in the same year performed better in “Last tango in Paris”.

Read the full text here:

The Greatest films of all time: 66.The Godfather (Part I) (1972) (USA)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Greatest films of all time: 64. State of Siege (1972) (France)

Introduction:

Being a graduate of law, Costa-Gavras in his political films, disclosing different dictatorships and unjust governmental systems around the globe, by using the best form of a fast paced judicial inquiry in the search for the truth. From his major film “Z” in 1969 that he disclosed the dictatorship in his homeland Greece to his last film “Amen” in 2003, blowing the lid of the Catholic Church’s knowledge of the Jews genocide by Nazis in the World War II, Costa-Gavras like an expert lawyer in the court, through powerful inquiry get the disclosure of the dictatorships well. In this process he either contradicts the political criminals or corner them to confession. This cinematic technique is only unique to Costa-Gavras that accompanying with the music score of his great country composer, Mikis Theodorakis create such powerful films that get the attention of even non-political crowds.

 

Other than the inquiry method with the fast tempo of events, shot after shot that is Costa-Gavras expertise, the depiction of political tortures and murders around the world by different dictators is only seen in his films. While others specially in Hollywood then and now depict non-political, mostly gangsters violence and tortures in their films that hailed and awarded by their pals, Costa-Gavras’ films carry on a humanitarian agenda. His films as if documentaries made by an organization such as the “Amnesty International” the principal agency disclosing the political tortures and imprisonments around the world by different dictatorships. Though his films that mostly were well recognized in Europe, in fact humanitarian organizations owe him recognition for a life time achievement in this cause.

 

State of Siege: State of Dictatorships

The story of the film that runs in Uruguay is the story of all Latin America under different dictatorships at least in the second half of the past century. The Uruguay Liberation Movement, Tupamaro mostly consisted of university students and intellectuals fighting for democracy against the dictatorship dominating their country, kidnap three diplomats on the demand of freedom of their prisoners. One of these diplomats is the American Philip Michael Santore (Yves Montand) who under the cover up of USAID (United States Agency for International Development) is an agent aiding the local police in their struggle to knock down the revolutionary and democratic movements such as Tupamaro.

The story of the film that is based on the true story of an actual incident of kidnapping the US embassy official, Dan Mitrione in 1970 who was killed at the end. Through the skilled, court-like interrogation of Santore by the guerrillas, the film discloses numerous incidents of governmental violence, arrests, tortures, and mass murders and executions of the democracy fighters without any judicial process. The film also discloses the extensive training of all Latin American police and counterinsurgency agents under USAID in their country and in US in different torture and murdering methods. The two sides of dictatorship of the government and the revolutionists, is intercepted all along by the press in the search for the truth and disclosure of what happening behind the curtain to the public.    

 

Read the full text here:

The Greatest films of all time: 64. State of Siege (1972) (France)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Greatest films of all time: 63. Straw Dogs (1971) (England/USA)

Introduction:

A film that broke so many standards of Hollywood at the time and still to this day remaining controversial and degraded by some critics, who called its director Sam Peckinpah, “Bloody Sam” is a major breakthrough in the cinematic history. While the more accredited Stanley Kubrick in the same year of 1971, made “A Clockwork Orange” depicting uncalled and unusual violence and abuse towards ordinary people by psychopaths, “Straw Dogs” portrays the real and usual violence that could be seen all around us even to this very day. The subject of racism, hatred, defensive animosity to un-likes, invasion of privacy, bullying, abuse and rape, that all depicted well in the film was not in the imagination of Peckinpah to like or dislike, but it was and it is a simple reflection of a bitter reality in the western society.

With a brief career and life (died at age 59), Peckinpah created such novel cinematic great works such as “Ride the High Country”, “Noon Wine”, “The Wild Bunch”, “Junior Bonner”, “The Gateway”, “Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia”, “Cross of Iron”, and his masterpiece “Straw Dogs”. The sheer and ruthless violence that Peckinpah introduced to the screen, shocked many and led to dislike and controversy of his films for shaking the moralistic standards of the time, that nowadays already a reality of the screen too and seen all over even on television and children’s films. It took the American society decades to adapt to such depiction of the reality of violence in their land of freedom and brave! The present portray of violence on the screen is empty without any background ideology, interpretation or enlightening, but sheer violence for the sake of entertainment, that in fact desensitize the viewers to such behaviours. Similar violence in the defense of invasion to our privacy in the family films such as “Home Alone” that now makes us laugh without any moral or judgmental surprise, all started with Peckinpah and his films such as “Straw Dogs”, but with an underlying meaning and enlightenment that many unfortunately did not grasp at the time.

Exposing A Violent Society:

Peckinpah serving in the second world war as a marine in the occupied China by Japan and witnessing the war violence, while traumatized and drawn to alcohol and drug use, used his gifted talent of creating great films to depict such societal violence. But instead of making war films where the violence could be justified, he portrayed the violence of the everyday life in the western society. He stepped deeper and analyzed the roots of violence that’s hatred, discrimination, racism, masculinity and in the land of freedom, anarchism. These all were shown at once beautifully in “Straw Dogs”, where he also showed bravery even out of superficial cowardice, through protection of the honor and righteousness in one’s hands when the society and its law are incapable of such. With his unique talent in visual and cinematic techniques and bringing out the best performances of the actors, Peckinpah and “Straw Dogs” have become a landmark not only in the American but the world cinema.

The film starts its title credits in black and white with a blurry background that will reveal to be a color film, as there will be bloodshed and better in color. An American mathematician David (Dustin Hoffman) with his British gorgeous wife Amy (Susan George) move to a small English town where Amy was raised to write his new research book. From the outset, the couple are welcome as strangers with contempt. Charlie, the head of a group of local men who has dated Amy in the past is all over her from the start while the husband David is a subject of ridicule and mockery for being an educated American coward and a quiet geek. Charlie offers fixing the roof of a building in their house where they will be staying with his local gang, as a plan to be close to Amy and cause the couple trouble from the first day of their arrival.

Read the full text here:

The Greatest films of all time: 63. Straw Dogs (1971) (England/USA)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Greatest films of all time: 62. Love Story (1970) (USA)

Introduction:

The most popular and memorable love story on the screen with the most simple and common title of “Love Story” is the film adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name by Erich Segal who wrote the script as well. Directed by Arthur Hill, starring Ryan O’Neil and Ali MacGraw, this film one of the highest grossing films of all time, took the three up to fame, so that Ali MacGraw was voted in 1972 the top female box office star in the world. This actress who could not go higher than what she had achieved in “Love Story” with her somewhat unusual and novel role in love approaching conquered the hearts of the viewers across the globe and when her character died in the film, burst their tears and broke their hearts.

Despite the world-wide reception of the film by the public, as if some critics at the time could not handle it out of jealousy critiqued the film negatively and compared it with “Camille with bullshit” (Los Angeles Times), and with playboy love affairs in “Love Affair” and its remake “An Affair to remember” (The New York Times). Perhaps these negative critics of the film related to its script and dialogues, specially delivered by Jennifer Caville (Ali MacGraw) that were frank, funny, critical with some obscenity at the time, such as using the words “Stupid” and “Bullshit” to her lover. In fact the script of the film and such dialogues, other than being out of place for the time and reactionary, made the film and Jennifer more appealing and with her mischievous smile while saying those words. Her unusual or modern for the time approach to a love affair was a novelty and step up in Hollywood films and altogether made the film an iconic landmark of romance and tragedy in cinema.

  

A Love Story to Remember:

This film was a touchable love story and not like the love affair of Leo McCarey to remember forever. While a love story and the greatest of its kind, the film was a story of rebellion of rich father’s son, Oliver Barrett (Ryan O’Neil) like “Rebel with a cause” who hated his father for his dictatorship control and aloofness, not valuing his son’s independence mind and way of life. The film opens from the end, with its famous soundtrack by Francis Lai, and with Oliver sitting outside in a snowy winter back to the camera and talks about the tragic death of his love, Jennifer Caville: “What can you say about a 25-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant? That she loved Mozart and Bach? The Beatles? And me?”

Then the film flashes back to the start of the love story of Oliver as a Harvard student and Jennifer a student of music and also working as a librarian. In their first encounter, Oliver asking Jennifer at the library desk for a book that she refuses to lend it, telling him to go to his own library and calls him “preppy”. Then she puts him down as a rich and stupid boy, and describes herself as poor and smart. He asks what makes her smart that she says because I won’t go out for a coffee with you, that he says he has not even asked her out, that she responds that’s why it makes him stupid! This kind of conversation goes on between the two for a while during the formation and consolidation of their relationship. Jennifer with a mischievous smile while obviously attracted to Oliver, keeps mocking and putting him down all the time. But her style of conversation is not a bit throwing the viewers off, or to dislike her, but she is likeable on the screen despite her harsh tongue.

Read the full text here:

The Greatest films of all time: 62. Love Story (1970) (USA)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Greatest films of all time: 61. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) (USA)

Introduction:

This film adaptation of the true story of the famous couple bank robbers, Bonnie Parker (1910-1934) and Clyde Barrow (1909-1934) during the American Great Depression of the 1930’s by Arthur Penn, has become such a classic of its genre, affected so many later films and filmmakers, and more importantly popularized positively this couple gangsters that could hardly be ignored on any great films of all time list. Fay Dunaway as Bonnie and Warren Beatty as Clyde played their best film roles ever and Gene Hackman as Buck Barrow was introduced the arena of cinema as a serious actor, while the acting of Michael J. Pollard as C.W. Moss and Estelle Parsons as Blanche Barrow (Buck’s wife) were memorable.

The great and artistic direction of Arthur Penn created such a prototypic romantic gangster film with thrills, horror and violence that had hardly been equaled though adapted and copied part by part many times. Bringing some of the French new wave or Avant Garde cinematic techniques to Hollywood, such as its fast pace and choppy editing, Arthur Penn assisted by Charles Strouse with his fast beat music score and Burnett Guffey with his great cinematography, they teache Americans at the time and in the future how to make influential gangster films.

The writers of the film, David Newman and Robert Benton influenced by the French new wave writers and cinema, first approached the popular French filmmaker Francois Truffaut who made some suggestions to the story, then Jean-Luc Godard who agreed to make the film, but oddly wanted to shoot it in New Jersey that was refused by the writers as the real story happened in Texas. Then while Warren Beatty was visiting Paris at the time and learnt about the project from Truffaut, he bought the right to the story and convinced the writers that an American director is needed for an American film though the story is of French new wave style. Beatty offered the script to quite a few directors such as George Stevens, William Wyler, Karel Reisz, John Schlesinger and Sydney Pollack who luckily all refused. Arthur Penn initially refused to direct the film as well, but Beatty’s insistence convinced him to get on the project that finally brought him fame as a capable filmmaker. It must have been a great regret for Beatty himself who goes on to become a great filmmaker himself with great classics such as “Reds” that he did not make the film himself.

While Beatty wanted to play the Clyde’s part himself, choosing the actress for the Bonnie’s part was not easy and that was refused by Natalie Wood, Jane Fonda among others, and Faye Dunaway begged for the part and all were lucky for her playing the part. Bonnie and Clyde brought so many accolades and awards for all participants in the film, with 10 nominations at the Academy Awards, and ranking 27 in AFI’s first edition in 1998 and 42 in its edition of 2008 and ranking 5th in its top gangster film list among many other lists and awards.  

A Classic in its own Genre:

The film opens with a brief text bio-introduction of the real characters of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow before getting together, and starting a life-long love and adventure relationship. In the first visual scene, Bonnie is seen in her bedroom half naked and bored. Then she looks down outside through the window and sees a young man, Clyde trying to steal her mother’s car. She gets dressed fast and goes down to confront him and scorns him to be ashamed stealing an old woman‘s car. He claims that he has been browsing it to buy the car. All these happening in a mellow, friendly and somewhat comic way, with both the couple from their looks and ways of conversation seem to have already been drawn to each other.

Read the full text here:

The Greatest films of all time:61. Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penne) (USA)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Greatest films of all time: 60.A Man and a Woman (1966) (France)

Introduction:

“Like our voices that sing ba da ba da…our hearts see..like a chance, like a hope..everything starts again, the life starts again..how much joy..many dramas..it’s a long history..a man and a woman have forged the frame of chance like us..one more time we fill our hearts with joy and we make the choice in our romance and chance for you and me.” This is the lyrics of the popular song of the film, “A Man and a Woman” by the French filmmaker, Claude Lelouch that since its release has been as great and memorable as the film by the French composer, Francis Lai that adds to the melodramatic flavor of the story.

“You and I, we live in the city, Our hearts for so long, so long, know the rhythm of the streets, amid all these glances, that cross and slip away ours, by chance, stop being unknown. Today it’s you, Today it’s me Today love has taken us in hand. And too bad if it’s going too fast because love is inviting us to live with abandon whatever awaits.” is another song of the film, “Aujourd’hui c’est toi” (Today It’s You). The film has a few other romantic songs that adds to its heartwarming feelings, such as “Plus fort que nous” (Stronger Than Us); “A l’ombre de nous” (In Our Shadow); and “A 200 a l’heure” (200 Km Miles An Hour) that all are the part of the acoustic beauty of the film adding to its great visual and sensational magic.

As a Jew hiding in movie theatres by his mother to escape the prosecution by Gestapo, Claude Lelouch became interested in cinema, so when his father bought him a camera, he started filming around like “a man with a movie camera”. His first film in 1960, “Le Propre de l’homme” threw off the “Cahiers du cinema” who wrote “Claude Lelouch, remember this name well, because you will not hear it again”! His next film, “La femme spectacle” followed prostitutes, women shopping, fixing their noses, etc. was censored for its content. It was not until “A Man and a Woman” that Claude Lelouch wrote and directed that changed his fate in filmmaking.

A Classic Love Story:

Read the full text here:

The Greatest films of all time: 60.A Man and a Woman (Jean-Claude Lelouch) (France)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Greatest films of all time: 10. Persona (1966) (Sweden)

Introduction:

In the history of cinema and in the love for this medium and creativity nobody stands above Ingmar Bergman, except perhaps Charles Chaplin, though Bergman has even superseded this legend of cinema in productivity and variety. While many great filmmakers before him followed one line of work or stuck in the same style, subject or ideology, e.g. John Ford in westerns, Kurosawa in samurai, and Chaplin in his tramp, Bergman followed variety not just in films, but in the theatre and radio. His early fixation with religious/existential topics and the question of God in relation to humans, affected by his religious upbringing under his father as a Lutheran minister, soon changed to addressing earthy and daily life humans’ issues. This matured and flourished in content and techniques to an optimum level beyond his previous works, even his earlier masterpieces in “Persona”.

Bergman: A Cinematic Icon

Bergman started career in film, at age 24 in 1944 writing the script for and assisted in directing the film “Torment” with Alf Sjoberg that brought him a success, so to begin his own filmmaking. For the next 10 years, Bergman experimented on several films until in 1955, the “Smiles of a Summer Night” that was recognized worldwide and nominated for Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Since then this iconic filmmaker had been so productive, creating some years more than one film, such as in 1957 when he made two masterpieces, “The Seventh Seal” and “Wild Strawberries”, both won numerous awards across the globe and are in the list of the greatest films of all time here and elsewhere. Bergman’s fixation with the religious and God subjects continued into 1960’s with other great films such as the trilogy of “Through a Glass Darkly”, “Winter Lights”, and “Silence”, though the last one started taking off to the more earthy human’s issues and was hailed and critiqued for its sexual content. It was not until “Persona” that Bergman really flourished and showed his talent in filmmaking not limited to existential matters, but he is a master of analyzing the human’s psyche as he did somewhat before in the “Wild Strawberries”.

Persona: A Personal Exploration of the Psyche and Mind  

In an interview and explanation about the film, Bergman has mentioned the prompt to make the film was an experience of split or space out in his mind, cognition, or feeling of non-existence that he had briefly while in hospital due to a sickness before the film. It is futile often to ask explanation of a masterpiece from any creators in any art formats and Bergman is not an exception as the film explores more the psyche of two women, a nurse Alma (Bibi Andersson) and an actress patient Elisabet Volger (Liv Ullmann) who could be and in fact the duality of one person.

The film’s Opening scene is one of the most unusual though chilling, beautiful and thoughtful visual short cut shots that have ever been imposed on the silver screen. A series of film reel shots are followed by a black spider (in Bergman’s vocabulary meaning God or the monster side of God) then a hand crucifixion, and killing a lamb (silencing) before the shot of a young boy wakes up in a hospital bed or morgue. The boy sees a large screen with blurry images of two women, Alma and Elisabet that he tries to feel them by touch of his hands. The title credits after is intercepted with flashing images of these two women. In the next scene, the sister nurse Alma enters the master nurse office where she is offered a new task of nursing a famous stage actress, Elisabet who has gone silent or mute recently.

Read the full text here:

The Greatest films of all time: 59.The Knack…and how to get it (1965) (England) 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Greatest films of all time: 59.The Knack…and how to get it (1965) (England)

Introduction:

In the mid 1960’s when Italian and French Avant Garde cinema falls too deep in the crack of self-absorbent intellectualism with Antonioni following Godard-type film of “Blow Up” in 1966 and Godard making another failed cinematic experiment with “Pierrot le fou”, a novel masterpiece comes out of England. Richard Lester an American living in England hands on film experiment late in his life for the first time at age 27 with a sketch comedy short film “The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film” in 1959co-directed with Peter Sellers. He goes back to the basic and moving pictures that was silent films and experiments and learns it as it started. This 11 minutes short film experiment attracts the Beatles at the time who hired Lester to direct their film “A Hard Day’s Night” in 1964 and after “The Knack…and how to get it” (“The Knack” for short from now on in this article), their second musical film “Help” in the same year of 1965.

Lester innovates and introduces a comedy/farce film style with “The Knack” that will be adapted by most British and American comedy filmmaker in later years. After making a few other alike, e.g. “A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum” in 1966 and “How I won the war” starring John Lennon in 1967, from early 70’s he turns into adventure film making “The Three Musketeers” in 1973, “Juggernaut” and “The Four Musketeers” in 1974 until in early 80’s when he gets into making “Superman II” in 1980, later “Superman III” in 1983, then back to “The Return of Musketeers” in 1989, before his final film, a return to the Beatles with “Get Back” in 1991 filming Paul McCartney’s concert tour of 1989-1990.

 

Knack and how to invent it

The film is itself a “Knack”, a skill and talent that Lester showed to own it in many of his films from the two films made for the Beatles to a few other innovative comedy like “The Knack” to his later adventure and other genre films. In “The Knack” the avant garde cinema of Godard and Antonioni is mixed well with art of silent filmography, Russian-style camera work, cinematography and editing to create an innovative intellectual farce comedy. Hope and fantasy in exaggeration all the way in between the hours of reality in daily life is depicted from the start to finish. Colin (Michael Crawfors), a bachelor clumsy in the art of attracting women, in jealousy of his friend and housemate, Tolen (Ray Brooks) a womanizer, daydreams in his imagination, a line full of young girls waiting on their staircase for what seems to be fashion models audition to be tempted and used by Tolen upstairs, while he is in despair of having only one.

The film starts with a slab comedy style of silent era like Chaplin’s in the above opening scene and later with the scenes of the people rushing down off a bus , picking up their newspapers and digest books, while Nancy (Rita Tushingham), a young woman off the bus trying to put her luggage in a locker and closes it in the bus station, but the locker’s door keeps opening. This style of farce slab comedy continues when Nancy takes self portrait photos in a photo booth, when another woman with her man getting in and starts undressing behind the curtain and passing on her clothes including her undergarments piece by piece to the man and taking nude photos.

 

Read the full text here:

The Greatest films of all time: 59.The Knack…and how to get it (1965) (England)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Greatest films of all time: 9.8 1/2 (1963) (Italy)

Introduction:

Finally Federico Fellini after his efforts in the 1950’s on neo-realism with films such as “La Strada”, and partly realistic, partly intellectual, and partly Avant Garde “La Dolce Vita”, and reading Carl Gustav Jung’s collective psychology and experimenting LSD, he creates the “8 ½”. The title of the film refers to its being Fellini’s eighth and a half film as a director, with previous six features, two shorts, and a collaboration with another director, Alberto Lattuada, as a “half” film. A surrealistic, symbolic, satirical drama-comedy of real life mixed with dreams and imaginations, “8 1/2”, is a film that marks Fellini not as a great filmmaker, but brings out a style in cinema that’s totally Fellini’s. Borrowed from other previous surrealistic works on the screen such as Luis Bunuel’s, and symbolic and allegorical films of Bergman (Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries), and intellectual neorealism of Antonioni (L’Avventura), adding Jungian’s cultural psychology, Fellini creates a style of his own in “8 ½”.

 

Opening with a dream scene, the protagonist, a film director, Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni) stuck in a traffic jam, choked by the smoke in his car and unable to get out, while watched indifferently by other commuters, the film introduces its exaggerated critical symbolism. When wakes up, he looks sick in a huge medical spa, examined by a doctor, while his film assistants all around him. The remedy prescribed by the physician, “spring water and mud bath, and suspension of all the treatments after a week for two days”, soon injects the comic feature of the film. Then walking in a spring water park, he is browsed and looked by others, mostly women oddly. Walking to get his spring water in a glass like others, when the water is offered to them from a fountain tab, is a scene of comic ridicule.

 

Guido who is stiffed in his creativity and does not yet have a script, and jumps from his dreams to illusion, allusion and in between to his real life, goes to the train station to pick up his mistress, Clara (Sandra Milo). Both married but in an affair, she bringing five suitcases with her and expecting to have party all the time, is faced with Guido’s cool and spaced out mind and attitude. In the evening at the hotel room, he demands her to put on heavy make up and act like a whore, go out in the hallway and come back to him in bed. Again while in sleep on the hotel bed, and his mistress up and reading, he dreams of his deceased parents. His father does not seem happy with him who’s failed in life, and farewells him while he goes down back to the grave.

The real life scenes mixed up with Guido’s night and day dreams are often hard to tease apart. Soon in the film studio, he is flooded by questions of his associates in an exaggerated manner. Then in the evening, there is La Dolce Vita’s type party, when at a table the director is questioned about the connection between communism and Catholicism and if Italy is a catholic country. Here the intellectual food for the thought is added to the surrealistic and symbolic comedy-drama of the film. On the stage there is a telepath who with an old lady assistant, they read the party people’s minds. After reading a few others, they read Guido’s mind of thinking the mysterious “Asa Nisi Masa” word that takes us to his early childhood to discover its meaning. Living with his siblings, all taking bath in a huge tall barrel of water, attended by their unhappy and brawling grandmother. When all in bed, the siblings say the magic words “Asa Nisi Masa” to have a man on the picture in the bedroom, to move his eyes and shows where the treasure is.

 

The film is somewhat autobiographical and reflection of own Fellini’s struggle to find his style of filmography. Throughout the film, he confesses of hard search for such a style to reveal the hidden façade of life at least of Petite-bourgeoisies’ with symbols, allegory and dreams mixed in real life situations in an exaggerated, mocking and comic style. A novel and innovative existentialist as well Avant Garde, Fellini stays away from too much intellectually meaningless show offs like some other Avant Garde’s works in Europe at the time. In the film, Fellini critics such Avant Garde works through the comment of his hired film critic, Carini (Jean Rougeul) who comments on his ideas for the film as being “intellectually weak, spineless and confusing”.

 

Keeps going back to his dreams, visions and introspections, he sees none of the females characters in his real life relationships and his actresses as ideal, but an unnatural young beautiful woman, Claudia (Claudia Cardinale) who keeps appearing to him in his daydreams at times. In the search of purity, beauty and spontaneity in his personal life and work, he sees Claudia such a symbol. In other words, now more mature and thoughtful, Fellini in “8 ½” cannot imagine the real life we’re living in without its spices of symbolism through the dreams, daydreaming, illusions and allusions. Therefore he is not only surrealist, existentialist, neorealist, Avant Garde, or intellectual, but perhaps a mish mash of all! Through Claudia, he is into “creating order and cleanliness”, but he fails as he creates confusion, and ponders it would be better after all going to the village museum and find “all beauty of the classic arts”!

Read the full text here:

https://cinemarevisited.com/the-greatest-films-of-all-time/the-greatest-films-of-all-time-9-8-1-2-1963-italy/

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

76th Golden Globe and 91st Academy Awards

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock (9307697ch)
Laura Dern, Nicole Kidman, Zoe Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley – Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television – ‘Big Little Lies’
75th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Press Room, Los Angeles, USA – 07 Jan 2018

The 76th Golden Globe awards were presented on January 6, 2019. The list of nominees and winners in major categories are listed in the following. Unfortunately last year of 2018 as in recent years had not produced any great films, even worse than last year as it has at least one great film, “The Shape of Water”. Until the Oscar awards presentations on , since it is usually influenced by the winners of Golden Globe, two films here will be briefly discussed. One a good one, “Roma” a foreign film (Mexican) by that was the best film of last year and beat all Hollywood productions, but yet not great. The second film that will be reviewed briefly here as an example of bad film that Hollywood keeps producing, “First Man” perhaps to learn a lesson, stop such foolish productions.

 The following list of nominees by Golden Globe in major cinematic (not television) categories are marked as no star (Bad), one star (below average), two stars (average), three stars (good) three and a half stars (very good) and four stars (Great) (Last year only for Capernaum from Lebanon), out of five stars that only belong to the greatest films of all time.

Best Pictur-Drama:

Bohemian Rhapsody*
(Winner)

BlacKkKlansman*

If Beale Street Could Talk*

A Star Is Born*

Black Panther*

Best Pictur-Musical or Comedy:

Green Book**(Winner)

Crazy Rich Asians**

The Favourite*

Mary Poppins Returns*

Vice** 

Best Actor-Drama:

Rami Malek* for Bohemian Rhapsody (Winner)

Bradley Cooper* for A Star Is Born

Willem Dafoe** for At Eternity’s Gate

Lucas Hedges** for Boy Erased**

John David Washington* for BlacKkKlansman 

Best Actress-Drama:

Glen Close* for The Wife*(Winner)

Lady Gaga* for A Star Is Born

Nicole Kidman* for Destroyer*

Melissa McCarthy** for Can You Forgive Me**

Rosamund Pike*** for A Private War

Best Actor-Musical or Comedy:

Christian Bale** for Vice (Winner)

Lin-Manuel Miranda* for Mary Poppins Returns

Viggo Mortensen** for Green Book

Robert Redford* for The Old Man and the Gun*

Jack C. Reilly** for Stan & Ollie** 

Best Actress- Musical or Comedy:

Olivia Coleman* for The Favourite (Winner)

Emily Blunt* for Mary Poppins Returns

Charlize Theron* for Tully*

Constance Wu* for Crazy Rich Asians*

Best Director:

Alfonso Cuaron*** for Roma (Winner)

Bradley Cooper* for A Star Is Born

Peter Farrelly** for Green Book

Spike Lee* for BlacKkKlansman 


Adam McKay** for Vice

Best Screenplay:

Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly** for Green Book
(Winner)


Alfonso Cuaron*** for Roma


Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara* for The Favourite


Barry Jenkins* for If Beale Street Could Talk

Adam McKay** for Vice

Best Foreign Language Film:

Roma*** (Mexico, Alfonso Cuaron) (Winner)

Capernaum**** (Lebanon, Nadine Labaki)

Girl** (Belgium, Lukas Dhont)

Never Look Away***½ (Germany, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)


Shoplifters** (Japan, Hirokazu Koreeda)

 

The following list are the nominees for Oscar by the Academy Awards only in major categories, that will be presented on February 24, 2019. After the list that’s more or less the same as Golden Globe’s as usual with a few exceptions, a few suggestions of what and who deserves the awards and a few films of last year will be reviewed briefly.

 91st Academy Award Nominees:

Best Picture:

Bohemian Rhapsody*


BlacKkKlansman*

Roma***

A Star Is Born*

Black Panther*

The Favourite*

Green Book**

Vice**

Best Actor:

Rami Malek* for Bohemian Rhapsody

Bradley Cooper* for A Star Is Born

Willem Dafoe** for At Eternity’s Gate

Viggo Mortensen** for Green Book

Christian Bale** for Vice

Best Actress:

Glen Close* for The Wife*

Lady Gaga* for A Star Is Born

Nicole Kidman* for Destroyer*

Melissa McCarthy** for Can You Forgive Me**

Yalitza Aparicio** for Roma

Best Director:

Alfonso Cuaron*** for Roma

Spike Lee* for BlacKkKlansman

Yorgos Lanthimos* for the Favourite

Spike Lee* for BlacKkKlansman 


Adam McKay** for Vice

Best Screenplay:

Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly** for Green Book



Alfonso Cuaron*** for Roma


Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara* for The Favourite


Barry Jenkins* for If Beale Street Could Talk

Adam McKay** for Vice

Best Cinematography:

Cold War for Łukasz Żal***

Never Look Away for Caleb Deschanel***

Roma for Alfonso Cuaron**

A Star is Born for Maththew Libatique

Best Foreign Language Film:

Roma*** (Mexico, Alfonso Cuaron)

Capernaum**** (Lebanon, Nadine Labaki)

Cold War**1/2

Never Look Away***1/2 (Germany, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)


Shoplifters** (Japan, Hirokazu Koreeda)

The best picture, directing, cinematography, editing and male acting that on this site goes to “Capernaum” and its maker, Nadine Balaki and its actor Zain Al Rafeea have not been nominated by the Oscar, but only in the foreign film category that hope at least to win that one. The best female acting by Rosamund Pike for “A Private War” is neither nominated. In the following, first a bad example of a film of last year, “First Man”, then the major winner of Golden Globe, “Roma”, then a very good film of last year “Never Look Away” and finally the Great film of 2018, “Capernaum” will be reviewed briefly.

Roma:

“Roma” of Alfonso Curaon is a good and beautiful film, depicting the ordinary moments of life with its love, family, bonding values and above all a tale of interconnection and sacrifice, that is a recollection of the director’s own childhood. In black and white cinematography, the film due to its slowness (often like the opening scene) with no reason, and lingering for 135 minutes still cannot impress as a great film, specially when compared to another this year’s nominees “Never Look Away” by Florian Henckel von and Donnersmarck from Germany, and the great film of Nadine Labaki “Capernaum” from Lebanon that will both be reviewed briefly here. But before that, an example of bad films that Hollywood keeps producing, the “First Man” of Damien Chazelle will be briefly discussed.  

 

“Frist Man”: A Bad Example of Recent Hollywood Filmmaking

“First Man” by Damien Shazel is a bad film from the start to finish with mostly being filmed in studio. Such an important historical subject and mostly so for the Americans, the first launch and landing of man on the moon, that should have been filmed mostly outdoors, specially the space parts has been all done indoors and in the studios. This has been done either to lower the cost and still having a big profit, so cheating on the viewers, or the director has not been able to do more than that, which could be probably both.

The film from the start that shows Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) riding an airplane in 1960 is shot indoor with the shakes and rattles of the airplane and the pilot. Moreover in this scene and throughout the film t times, there are jump cuts and even jerking one shot to the other, even when there are no airplane or spaceship riding and launching at times. This has been either bad editing by or it has been the choice of the director. Neil Armstrong and his wife who had lost their first daughter at the young age of on this screen is totally emotionless depicted by both, which perhaps has been the director’s choice as this lack of emotions by both ran throughout the movie, for example when Neil is chosen to fly to the space and later on to the moon, and at the end when in quarantine after return from the moon, visited by his wife.

The film bad editing or jump cuts are not limited to shots, but to scenes such as a jump in the storyline from the flight of Gemini 8 stranded in the atmosphere unable to return to earth suddenly to a press conference on the subject questioning the pilots and NASA. When there are rarely good shots such as Neil and walking in the moonlight, that was quite picturesque, talking before his Appollo 1 launch, the faces are off focus. There are also defects in the storyline that could be from the novel, for example at the time of the test of Appollo 1 and its disaster of killing the three astronauts including, Neil’s friend, he is at a dinner in the White House. Again after hearing the sad news of his colleagues and friends deaths, no emotional reaction by Neil, only breaking a wine glass in his hands. When Neil fails and is injured with cut and blood on his face from failing the landing on the moon exercise on earth, his wound is not treated at NASA and he goes home to his wife with bloody face that seems to be unreal in real life.  

The fear of communism and their advance in every directions including the hegemony in space, that makes the US government and NASA in 1960s to race with them in space and landing on the moon is not well addressed in the film either. More so the public protest on the space race and the government’s overspending was marginally depicted in the film. An almost two and a half hours slow and boring film to show the events of the time, that is all focused on one man, Neil Armstron, close to the end perhaps realizing the length of film by the director, suddenly jumps from Appollo 1 to Appollo 11 and launch to the moon. Perhaps not seeing even any recent more beautiful similar space launch films such as Appollo 13 by, Intertsellar by and Martian by , Shazel avoids outdoor space shooting even on the center topic of the film, the launch and landing on the moon. When Neil finally steps on the moon, he walks easily with full gravity like on earth, that is a major flaw of the film then after a few minutes walks with bouncing up and down free of gravity on the moon.

Finally such a historical moment when the shuttle lands on the moon and even when the “first man” steps on the moon, that is the title of the film, there are no reaction or showing of such at the NASA, and in the public that have been huge in real life at the time.

Never Look Away (Germany)(3 ½ *):

“Don’t look away Kurt. Everything true is beautiful” that’s what his aunt, Elisabeth (Saskia Rosendahl) when naked sitting on playing piano, told the five years old Kurt (Cai Cohrs) when he enters the room, and afterwards she starts hitting her head with a glass to the point of bleeding and will be taken away soon to a mental hospital during the Nazi’s era. Kurt as a young man (Tom Barnert) carries the advice in his mind throughout his life as an inspirational and fighting for freedom artist, trying to create beauty in his paintings. Obliged to paint at the service of the people and proletaria in the Post-war East Germany where he is living with his family. Later on in an art school in Dresden, East Germany, Kurt meets and dates Ellie (Paula Beer) who later seeing his painting talent, encourages him to escape together to the West Germany where he could find more freedom in his art creation.

The film directed by Florian Henckel von and Donnersmarck has a beautiful script written as well by both, carries on an eye catching cinematography by Caleb Deschanel with excellent editing of Patricia Rommel, is completed by an exceptional casting and an unforgettable and complementing music score of Max Richter. The film is great for its portray of love, searching for expression of freedom and beauty in an art format, in a background of inhumanity of war (WWII), crimes (of Nazis and Ellie’s father as a Nazi eugenics who also arranged to put away Kurt’s aunt as a psychotic to a mental asylum and order to kill later on), love, and humanity. All these are shown beautifully on the silver screen as it should be so to be hailed by Variety as “A epic, intergenerational tale of art, love, tragedy and politics” and by The Hollywood Reporter “A marvel luminous cinematography. The score is lusterous and warm”, and by Roger Friedman in showbiz “A stunning masterpiece. One of the best movies, I’ve ever seen in my life”.

Capernaum****: The Great Picture of the Year:

Finally a great movie in 2018, though not from Hollywood, but in the category of foreign film from Lebanon. Already the winner of the best picture in many film festivals around world such as the Calgary International, Cannes, FICFA, Film Fest Gent, Hamptons, International Antalya, Leeds International, London, Melbourne, Mill Valley, Miami International, Norwegian International, San Sebastian, Sao Paulo International, Sarajevo, St. Louis International, Stockholm International, Toronto, Zurich and more pending film festivals, in fact this film is testing the Academy Awards this year if it fails in recognition of a great film like her sister Golden Globe. The third feature film of Nadine Balaki, an actor-director with no training in filmmaking aboard, but all at home, is a modern “The Bicycle Thieves”. With no professional actors, the cast led by a young boy of 12 years old Syrian refugee who from the danger of loss of life, poverty and hunger gets to fame overnight by the film. Appreciating the art of filmmaking, still precious as an art format, not centering on the story plot, politics or trend of time, the film is a visual beauty and celebration of moving picture as it should be and came to existence.

 

So for the real lovers of the art film, “Prepare to be blown away” Emily Yashida of “Vulture” described it in surprise. The young boy Zain (Zain Al Rafeea), a product of poverty and war to this world, while gentle and compassionate to his own kind and age, rebels against those who brought him to world, including his parents. When asked his age in the court by a judge, he says “I don’t know, ask them!”, pointing to his parents, and when questioned “Why are you attacking your parents?”, he answers “For giving me life”! Representing the poor children of the war zones, the victims of our greed and conflicts, Zain is the voice of them all that are never heard, at least on this side of plentiful world. “A Stunning Piece of Cinema” as Pete Hammond of “Deadline” hailed it, the film while awakens us, mesmerizes the audience with its magic visionary.

 

While like “The Bicycle Thieves” is a modern neorealism, Balaki incorporates whatever the camera without any fake digital effect could do, a reminiscent of the Russian masters of cinema, long lost into oblivion. “A Filmmaking Miracle that Boggles the Mind” as described by Ben Croll of “The Wrap” is a good lesson of camera work, and cinematography, plus the intelligent application of score to complement our sensual pleasure and mental awakening. Exceptionally achieved in camera in different angles, set and location design, not just with the physical surroundings that is the best to see the war stricken Lebanon, but more with the human milieu. While a heartbreaking drama, the film has its heart lightening moments too such as when Zain, opens up the breasts part of the huge female statue while the cleaning black lady laughs. In fact “Nadine Balaki has made a Knockout” as Alex Billington of “First Showing” commented on.

 

Overwhelming emotional, the film reaches humans’ hearts and souls and interconnects them even in a war torn zone, so to be hailed as “The Film attains a Real Emotional Sweep” by Caspar Salmon of “Sight & Sound”. When asked by the judge “What do you want from your parents?”, Zain responds “I want them to stop having children”! This is the voice of many children in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other war devastated precious pieces of our earth that has to be recognized. Zain and the film may make put us in shame, guilt and sorrow, but it was not meant that way, but a call to awaken our souls, hearts and minds of thinking that at the moments of our comfort, happiness in the land of plenty, there are sad and inhumane life conditions elsewhere.      

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

A new Cinema site