Sunday, January 30, 2011

#304: Tabu

Directed by: F.W. MURNAU
1931, TSPDT Rank #227

Tabu won an Oscar for Best Cinematography in 1931, and credit should definitely be given in this area because the cinematography is very good. The movie itself is somewhat a retread of Murnau's earlier film Sunrise, only set in the South Sea Islands, all the parts played by actual islanders and a much less compelling plot. I think the collaboration with Flaherty was what caused this film to misfire. These are two people with almost nothing in common as filmmakers except that they were both somewhat disillusioned with the world of Hollywood. Murnau is the sole director of the film (the two co-wrote the film), but a lot of Flaherty's influence seeps in. Actually, the film is probably at its best at the beginning when Flaherty's type of documentary-like view of the islanders and their lives and the great cinematography blend together before Murnau's heavy-handed romantic tragedy begin. I definitely wouldn't recommend the film, but for fans of Murnau or Flaherty, or those wishing to see beautiful images of the South Seas, it might be worth a look.

(Rating: 4/10)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

#303: Black Narcissus

1946, TSPDT Rank #154

Black Narcissus is a lurid, emotional, intense, and visually gorgeous movie about nuns bringing an extension of their order to an isolated location in the Himalayan mountains. As such a movie, it is as hard to describe as one would expect. It has some of the most beautiful cinematography of all time, and I would say it is the British Technicolor film of the '40s to match The Third Man, the British black and white film of the '40s. Some of the images in this film are extremely haunting, especially those from the final descent into madness at the end of the film, and will imprint themselves in your mind. The film is pretty thin as far as story goes, but the visuals and emotional intensity still very much carry the film. The film is considered a classic, and while its flaws stop it from reaching masterpiece status, it has an allure about it that will cause it to be remembered for as long as there is interest in film itself.

(Rating: 8/10)

#302: The Palm Beach Story

1942, TSPDT Rank #180

A major hit-making director in the 1940s, Preston Sturges turned out a bunch of comedies around this time period that have had a lot of influence on the genre ever since. The Palm Beach Story is definitely one of those films. I was thrown off-guard from the beginning with the lightning-quick, bizarre, and confusing opening sequence played over the credits. This sequence isn't referred to until the end, and after the credits we get right into the main story, about a very attractive woman (Claudette Colbert, very suited to this role) who is not satisfied with her financially unsuccessful inventor husband and decides to get a divorce in Palm Beach and attract some rich men while she's young. The husband (Joel McCrea, hilarious as well) doesn't like this, and chases her all over the place trying to stop her from leaving him. If you've ever seen Sturge's The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, you'll know that he liked to push the envelope with fast-paced and edgy dialogue, and this film is definitely no exception. A bit uneven in parts, to be sure, and not always funny - but it's hilarious when it is.

(Rating: 7/10)

January 2011 Update

The 1,000 Greatest Films has been updated to the new version! This month I've been on low production so far in anticipation to adjust to the new update. Turns out according to, this has been the quietest update year so far, with the least number of new additions and omissions of all the lists yet, but it's still a new update. The order is different, and the changes put me at a different number than before.

I've now seen 301 films from the new list (which is 8 more than I had before the update). My next post will start at #302.

Visit the site at, they have some great material up there related to the list, included a detailed look at (now) the top 500. Highly recommended!

Here's looking forward to a new year of movies!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

#293: All About My Mother

1999, TSPDT Rank #678

This post contains content written for the Internet Film Club.

I didn't feel this film was quite as good as Talk to Her. I felt that it was lacking in emotional depth. That being said, it is still a very good film, and I feel that as far as the screenplay goes, the overall content is better than in Talk to Her. Talk to Her is much more emotion centered, and All About My Mother is much more plot and character oriented. If there would have been more emotional depth to back up the melodrama (especially toward the end) this would really have been a knockout film. But at this point as far as saying which of the two I liked better, I would say that's pretty much an apples and oranges question, because I have different reasons for liking the different films. I think they're both about the same general quality, so I'll give the same rating to both.

(Rating: 8/10)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

#292: Talk to Her

2002, TSPDT Rank #753

This post contains content originally written for the Internet Film Club.

Talk to Her is a very moving film for some reason; very well-made and goes down smooth. Not perfect, but not rough around the edges like Dark Habits, and deserves to be taken more seriously. The way I saw it, it handled very serious and normally heavy themes in a melodramatic, almost campy way. For all of the potentially upsetting things in the movie, it seems a fairly light, if also sad, film about two people who lose their way in life, and need help in various ways. The bizarre "silent film" scene was great, almost delightful in a weird way.
In other words, its a hard movie to describe. ...although I didn't think it was a masterpiece, I really liked it a lot and am looking forward to other Almodovar movies.

(Rating: 8/10)