Saturday, January 3, 2015

Interim compendium

And just like that, there has been another lengthy lapse in my blog activity. Funny how time slips away. I didn't mean for the blog to fall by the wayside, but unfortunately school and other time constraints have kept me away. However, since I do still have a backlog of films that I've watched from the list during that time, I've decided to put together a digest post showing the films I've watched over the past few months, along with some brief thoughts.

#511: Night of the Demon
1957, TSPDT Rank #800
-This famous satanic horror film would work a lot better without the disappointing shots of the titular demon inserted at the behest of the film's producer. With these shots in the film, the staunch skepticism displayed by Dana Andrews' paranormal psychologist seem ridiculous, and undermine what could have been a very unsettling and effective horror film.

#512: Point Blank
Directed by: JOHN BOORMAN
1967, TSPDT Rank #507
-A highly stylized and unconventional revenge film, starring Lee Marvin as an escaped convict hell-bent on recovering his share of a heist take from his double-crossing partner. This film is like a double-edged sword - working as both an unflinching study of violence and an electrifying, straight-ahead neo-noir.

#513: Rebel Without a Cause
Directed by: NICHOLAS RAY
1955, TSPDT Rank #536
-James Dean is the quintessential American icon of rebellious youth, and this is the film that cemented his legend. His character in this film is a misunderstood victim of circumstance who has to stand up and prove himself for those he cares about. Another of Nicholas Ray's critiques on American society which rocked 1950s America to the core upon its release.

#514: Seven Chances
Directed by: BUSTER KEATON
1925, TSPDT Rank #734
-Buster Keaton's comic brilliance is once again on display in this film, in which he tries to get a woman (preferably the love of his life) to marry him by 7 p.m., in order to collect a sizable inheritance from his grandfather. 

#515: Gilda
Durected by: CHARLES VIDOR
-This film noir is reknowned mainly for Rita Hayworth's title character, the image of whom became one of the classic pin-ups of post-war America. But the film is anything but a straight-forward film noir. Instead, it's more of a strange, psychosexual melodrama, with many moments that miss the mark. Hayworth's iconic scenes and electrifying screen presence balance out these moments, but the film is still somewhat disappointing given its reputation as a classic.

#516: The Last Detail
Directed by: HAL ASHBY
1973, TSPDT Rank #862
-A rollicking, partially improvisational road movie about two Navy officers escorting a young soldier to military prison for petty theft, eventually deciding to show him a good time along the way. Part of a movement of similar films which Easy Rider was responsible for initiating, it's the kind of film which was unique to the late '60s/early '70s era of American film. Jack Nicholson's performance gives the film an extra spark of rebellion and restless energy.

#517: Odd Man Out
Directed by: CAROL REED
1947, TSPDT Rank #765
-James Mason gives a memorable performance in Carol Reed's supremely atmospheric and suspenseful film noir classic about the wounded leader of an Irish revolutionary group trying to evade police over the course of a rainy and snowy night in Northern Ireland.

#518: Mildred Pierce
1945, TSPDT Rank #876
-Another well-known film noir which entertains, but doesn't fully live up to the towering hype attributed to it. Joan Crawford's performance saves it from being merely ordinary.

#519: Zéro de conduite
Directed by: JEAN VIGO
1933, TSPDT Rank #215
-This absurdist schoolboy rebellion fantasy is like nothing else in cinema history, although people like Francois Truffaut and Lindsay Anderson famously borrowed from its premise and characters. Brief and inexplicable, surreal and beautiful - a crucial component of Jean Vigo's legend.

#520: Day for Night
1973, TSPDT Rank #449
-Francois Truffaut's most famous post-'60s film, for good reason. Its ensemble portrait of the people responsible for the movies we watch is a prime example of life imitating art.

#521: Stolen Kisses
1968, TSPDT Rank #974
-My favorite of the later entries to the Antoine Doinel series. Probably also the lightest and most entertaining of the series as well. Don't miss Antoine as a private detective!

#522: Out of the Past
1947, TSPDT Rank #178
-A quintessential slice of classic film noir, starring Robert Mitchum as an unlucky but perpetually cool private detective. All of the pieces fell into place for this film - which shares a similar premise with films like The Big Sleep, but has a different sort of mood - with a sharp, shifting narrative and steady momentum. An impeccably crafted and extremely entertaining film - rightly deserves its classic status.

#523: Fellini Satyricon
1969, TSPDT Rank #465
-Fellini outdid himself with this film - an impossibly extravagant and surreal depiction of Roman debauchery. I can only imagine how audiences reacted to this film upon its release - it still feels completely insane and unfathomable today. A film which truly could not have been made by anyone else. 

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