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The Killing (1956)
This film really shows you how brilliant of a director Stanley Kubrick was. He knew what he was doing with the camera, with the actors, with the story. The man was perfection. He knows how the film should look and its brilliant here. Its tightly shot, it really puts you in the intensity of the situation but then he knows when to pull it back and to let you observe everything from a safe distance. The camera is used as an all seeing eye. He also knows not to overshadow the events of the story with ridiculous camera tricks but that doesn't mean the camera work here is boring and stale. Far from it actually, as I said, Kubrick was a master of the camera. Sterling Hayden is brilliant here, he is one of the most underrated actors in my opinion. Kubrick knew how to get effective performances here, of course there are the usual stiff old Hollywood style actors here they don't drag the film down. The only complaint I would make would be the narration, I know it fills us in on everything but it just gets distracting. This is a brilliantly intense film made by a genius film maker, this is Kubrick just getting warmed up
pure suspense and unease. This film relies on all sorts of tricks and moods to get you wrapped up in the events that unfold. Certain camera angles leave lots of space within the frame, you keep thinking, somethings going to pop out at any minute. Sometimes the camera gets really close and it feels awkward and disconcerting. There are so many uncomfortable moments in this film. It toys with you. It didn't shy away from taboo subjects. You honestly don't know where it will go until you get there. Anthony Perkins is amazing in this, he's both very human and likable but uncomfortably awkward at the same time. The music really sets the mood, it never lets up in its intensity. This is the perfect thriller because it knows that the best thing to show is almost nothing. Imply everything. Leave it up to the imagination, it'll be much worse that way.
Easy Rider (1969)
Damn good movie. Everything's solid. The acting is great, Nicholson steals the show and Dennis Hopper is great at what he does, being a madman. Peter Fonda is pretty good in this but his character is somewhat bland though he begins to come into his own towards the end. The scene of Fonda in the cemetery is quite good. Jack Nicholson has this film in his pocket. He walks in and steals every single scene. He's funny as hell and he says some profound things. Its a great character, a man who is a bit different than most of the people around him, still hasn't gone as far as Fonda or Hopper. They are all outsiders searching for their place in society. The film presents their quest brilliantly. It doesn't answer questions, it leaves a lot open to interpretation and asks a lot from the audience. Its the kind of film that leaves you with a desire to do some soul searching for yourself. A great film, highly recommended. It can be rather incoherent at times and if you really haven't experienced certain things in life some things may be lost on you. Also be on the lookout for music producer and superstar Phil Spector as a drug dealer at the beginning of the film
The Only film that has ever mattered
Great music, Great story, Great acting, Great everything. This is the perfect musical. Its got a rockin' soundtrack, a fantastic cast, some wild costumes, an even wilder story, sex, anything you could want from a film, its got it all. It doesn't take itself seriously at all. This is a movie about sex obsessed transvestites coming to earth to show humans how to have a good time. This film is a good time. Its even better seeing it in the theater with people. Audience participation will provide some of the most fun you will ever have in your life. Tim Curry owns this film, Frank N Furter is possibly the second best character in film history, right behind Indiana Jones. The music in this is so good. I dare you not to tap your foot during Hot Patootie. I could say more but it would be nothing but good things. This film isn't for the faint of heart or for the close minded. If you're looking for a good time however, look no further
The Exorcist (1973)
solid but not the scariest
This is a very good movie. Its a brilliantly intense and visceral experience. Pay no attention to the lame publicity that surrounds this film. Things that try to enhance the scares. "THE VERSION YOU'VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE". This is all stupid crap designed to force feed you the idea that this is the most frightening movie of all time. Its not. It's a very good and very intense film but don't believe the hype. It will only scare you if you believe in the subject matter, if not it'll still provide a worthwhile experience. This film took guts to make. Considering the fact that this was a major studio film, it has balls. The things that happen in this film hit you like a ton of bricks. The scene with the crucifix or the scene with the statue of the virgin Mary are enough to leave almost anyone's jaw dropped in shock. The camera work is great, it leaves a lot of stuff out of frame and up to the imagination. The lighting is great because sometimes it doesn't try to obscure the scary images with shadows, it shows you the horror in natural light. It enhances the world in which this film takes place. It feels real. The acting is solid, you have some really Oscar worthy performances in a horror film. Everything comes together perfectly in this film to create a solid horror experience. It's a horror movie that feels like a character drama that feels like a horror movie...if that makes sense
Taxi Driver (1976)
This film is dark. Its depressing. Its unsettling. Its violent and brutal. Its real. This film captures a desperate realism perfectly. Everything feels natural yet at the same time unsettling. This is a world we don't want to live in but we all live in it. We don't want to live in this world but we do and there's no escaping it. Thats exactly what Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro) tries to do. He's not a hero, not by any means. This is an incredibly sick man who somehow manages to kind of maybe do something "good". The whole film is just twisted and unsettling. We watch Bickles decent into madness. DeNiro is perfection. He is so good in this movie. Harvey Keitel is brilliant in his smaller role as a pimp. Their scenes together are some of the best in the film. Even when DeNiro is alone his acting is incredible. The camera work is flashy but in a detached and bleak sense. Scorsese gives it his all. This is a film that doesn't feel cut, it flows from one scene to the next. There is nothing bad I can say about this film. Its just perfect
Do the Right Thing (1989)
I never really paid Spike Lee a lot of attention. His films just always seemed a bit over the top. This film is over the top at times. It works. It works really well. This is one of his earlier efforts though so he's probably just trying to recapture the feeling of this film and its just been coming off as forced. Everything just clicks in this film. Its funny as hell in the beginning, then it starts getting a little message-y and then BAM! The ending is so jarring that it feels like you just took a boot to the face. The film builds perfectly to it. This slow burning intensity that has been building throughout and then it just finally explodes. The acting is great, Turturro I think really steals the show though as the racist son of Danny Aiellos pizza shop owner. Danny Aiello does a solid job as well, as does Spike Lee as Mooky the pizza delivery guy who's just trying to live his life the best he can. The soundtrack is amazing. They use Public Enemy's Fight the Power a little too much but it serves a purpose. There is so much going on in this film. Its never dull, it doesn't slow down. Great movie
The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
I love Orson Welles. I love everything he did. The Trial, Citizen Kane, F for Fake. This was a man far ahead of his time. I know that's the cliché they use to describe Welles but that doesn't make it any less true. This film is a great thriller, it doesn't feel like a film noir. It doesn't feel like it belongs to one single genre. It is a suspense film but its shot like a glossy romance movie from the 30s but it has an odd undercurrent flowing through it. There's always something off, with characters and their actions, the music, the camera angles. I mean this in the best way possible. Everything just feels odd, there is a scene where Welles is called to meet with someone on a beach. Instead of him walking off camera or just cutting, he walks straight forward through the water to the people he has to meet with. It doesn't seem like much but it just felt strange. Again I mean strange in a good way. This was a film that was trying to be different but it doesn't feel forced at all. Some of the acting is over the top in this but you get used to it. That hall of mirrors sequence must have blown some minds back in the day
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
This film jumps into high gear from minute one and it never lets up. Its so intensely violent. It hits you like a punch in the face, then it keeps hitting you. Warren Beatty is fantastic here, I think the only movie he was better in was Reds. Faye Dunaway never looked better. Shes absolutely gorgeous in this, she is also excellent in this film. There's a great supporting cast, Gene Hackman, Gene Wilder, Michael J. Pollard all turn in fantastic performances. Pollard and Hackman both have scenes where they almost runaway with the film. The only weak link performance in this would have to be Estelle Parsons. All she seemed to do was run around talking loudly and screaming. She got on my nerves. Besides her however this film is 100% solid. The violence is so bloody and visceral but so beautifully shot. Its like a ballet of carnage. Its also shot in a very interesting, almost documentary style. The camera doesn't shy away from anything. Your in this world and you see everything, death included
The Graduate (1967)
This has to be one of my all time favorites. There is nothing quite like this film. Nothing can ever recapture the feeling of this film. Its completely unique and one of a kind. It captures the feeling of social isolation perfectly. The editing and camera work are amazing, completely off the wall but amazing. So many quick cuts. The sound design is perfection. This film looks and sounds spectacular, its like you can hear every little detail. It really pulls you in, you get wrapped up in this world. Its a world we've probably all been at least once in our lives. Even though its main focus is on the generation gap of the 60s, this film still feels relevant today. Dustin Hoffman is at his best, he's so awkward, dorky, socially inept and charming. He has a lot of flaws but you can't help but root for this guy. This is one of the best films I have ever seen and it is possibly one of the best ever made
On the Waterfront (1954)
I've never been too big a fan of Marlon Brando. He's always struck me as over rated. I've only ever really liked him in the Godfather and Apocalypse Now, that's about it really. This movie however, might be his finest performance. It just doesn't seem like he's acting, he is this character. He's beaten down in every way and he just keeps getting up. Brando is incredible. The rest of the cast varies, Rod Steiger is really good in what little screen time he has. Karl Malden works fairly well with what he has, his character is kind of generic but he does the best he can with weak material. The dock workers all look and feel like real people, people you would see working dockyards. Eva Marie Saint is good too, she also has somewhat of a bland character but she gets more to work with as the film progresses. Lee J. Cobb was not on his a game, he just has one motivation, to be angry and loud. He just yells his way through scenes and scowls, that's it. He was usually a great actor but not so much in this. Despite some cliché' and generic moments in the film, Brando is incredible. Just see this film for him, that's all I really can say.
Criss Cross (1949)
I had never heard of this film before I saw it in class. I probably never would have seen it. Burt Lancaster is a great actor, he's great in this movie. I can seriously watch this guy in anything, he's terrific. This film has a solid noir plot, its dark as hell. The camera work is excellent, everything is very moody and dark. Lots of shadows obscuring acts of violence or characters faces. The film has a very mysterious tone to it. It has an intense flow to it, lots of unexpected moments pop out and hit you in the face. My only complaint has to be the guy who plays Lancasters rival, he's very irritating and annoying. I wanted to punch him in the face anytime I saw him, but I guess that worked because you really weren't supposed to like him. Still he just irked me. This is a very good film, I'd suggest anyone who likes their films dark to check this flick out
Gun Crazy (1950)
circus of violence
This movie is ridiculous. The story is ridiculous. The acting is ridiculous. The dialogue is ridiculous. The action is ridiculous. If you like your films ridiculous then check this one out. If you can't get past the fact that this film is so over the top then I suggest you skip this movie. The acting isn't what I'd call strong but the choice of actors is interesting because they look like real people. This film looks very do it yourself. Its shot with natural lighting and they're shooting on location. Just grab a camera, film something and then go somewhere else and film something else. This was a fun film, I appreciated the ludicrousness of it all, though this film is not without a few weak moments. There are some dialogue choices that are just waaaaay too lame and some of the acting in this is just bad. Still, give it a try. Its not a bad film, well it is a bad film but that what makes it good...well enjoyable
Great movie. This is a furiously entertaining and exciting movie. John Ford directs the first of many westerns set against the back drop of monument valley. This film transcends the usual western formula and becomes something completely new and fresh. Everything is pitch perfect, cinematography, story, pacing, everything. Some of the acting is a bit ridiculous but it actually works and helps fit the films atmosphere. John Wayne puts on his best...John Wayne. He does what he does best, sure he may not be the strongest actor but he has a strong enough personality to carry himself through the film. You can't imagine the film without Wayne, if you were to see his performance when this film first came out you would have know he was going to be big. So many things happen in this movie, it never lets you go. You are locked in and taken on one hell of a ride. Its just building intensity for an hour and a half, and its so enjoyable and so much fun to watch. I highly recommend this movie to anyone.
classic vampire joint
Tod Browning directs this movie well with a very Gothic style that is somewhat detached and has an ethereal feel too it. Most of the acting is pretty ham-fisted and most of the bit players are relics of the silent age blabbering on about vampires loudly, wide eyed and waving their arms around dramatically. Bela Lugosi completely owns the Dracula role, he is Dracula and not even Gary Oldman can take that away from him. Its his role and his role only. He brings a great intensity and theatrical flair to Dracula, he'll reach almost silly heights with his voice and then suddenly he will just change into an intense monster which sometimes can come as a shock to the viewer because this transition happens so rapidly and so unexpectedly that you barely have any time to brace yourself for what happens next. When they go to England in the film the acting gets better and the film begins to move along pretty well.
There is no background music, just an unsettling silence and the silence is only broken by rare background noises or talking. The silence and the almost always static camera shots that linger almost too long on certain disturbing images enhance the creep factor of this movie. The creepiest camera shot I think might have to be the shot of Renfield standing at the bottom of some stairs looking up at the camera and laughing insanely. The film is covered in shadows, huge ominous shadows that slither along the sets or completely envelope characters. Browning also tries for a bit of realism especially in the early scenes with the peasants, they seem to have real accents and some actually speak in Hungarian. The set pieces are pretty big for the most part and creepy as hell. The special effects by today's standards are pretty lame and they tend to rely on using things off screen like a noise or someone talking about something happening off screen. There are also a few instances of blatant cut away techniques, like Dracula walking towards the cobwebs, cut to Renfields shocked reaction and then cut back to Dracula on the other side of the cobwebs.
This is a pretty good movie. Its a little slow at times and some of the acting is either really bland or its really ridiculous. Lugosi keeps things moving along though and steals every scene he's in. Its really a shame that he didn't go on to have a better career because he really was a talented actor who was typecast because of his accent. Its a good movie but not the best Dracula movie though it does feature the ultimate Dracula performance.
His Girl Friday (1940)
so much dialogue
This is a very good film. Its not particularly well shot and its choppily edited but that doesn't matter because this is not a visual film. This is a movie that is all about the dialogue. The dialogue is so fast it pummels the viewer. Every actors timing in this had to be perfect other wise the jokes would lose their impact. Its really hard to catch everything that is said because it comes at you so fast. The story is really well done, it starts off simple enough only to take some drastic turns and venture into serious territory only to swing right back into comedy and then take a few more twists leading up to one hell of a climax. This is a film that just builds and builds, there's so much going on in every scene, its never boring. The story also tackles some heavy issues which were prevalent at the time, things like the red scare. Cary Grant plays such a delightful scumbag who's trying to con everyone into doing what he wants while Rosalind Russell plays off of Grant perfectly matching his sleazy reporter with her sarcastic witty tough girl. Ralph Bellamy is a good straight man, he really isn't given too much to do and its a rather stiff character but he does very well with what he has. The only complaints that people may have with this movie will be a few instances of mildly racist dialogue and if you are from Albany you might not take too kindly to hearing it ripped on by Cary Grant.
I love this movie
Great movie, great music, great story, great acting, great cinematography, great everything. Humphrey Bogart brings his tough but cool persona, Ingrid Bergman brings an elegant but fragile charm, Claude Rains steals every scene he's in with his quick wit and impeccable comedic timing, Conrad Veidt plays the antagonist beautifully and menacingly, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre provide solid support in smaller roles that show off their shadier sides. The story is just perfect, its complicated so it requires constant attention but it moves by so fast and and never lets up that it is a real joy to watch. This film never has a dull moment, it will have you laughing in one scene and in the next it will have wrenched your heart out. Its shot in a romantic but noir type style that is impossible to take your eyes off of. The music is so moody and romantic it fits the music perfectly and it comes in at all the right moments, never taking away from a scene. The acting never goes over the top or anything, it just stays perfect. The person who I think sticks out the most and embodies the feel of this film would have to be Claude Rains. In one moment he can be so riotously funny and in the next he's as serious as he can be, just like the pace of the film. This really is the perfect movie and I strongly urge anyone who has not seen it to see it.
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
I have nothing but praise for this film. It is near perfection. Beautiful cinematography. Amazing acting. Powerful story about survival. Henry Fonda delivers what might be his best performance as Tom Joad a man struggling to get by but who eventually realizes that he is meant for greater things and that there's more to life than just helping yourself. The film is masterfully directed by John Ford and beautifully shot by cinematographer Gregg Toland. The outdoor shots are grand and bleak at the same time, bringing about a feeling of the insignificance of man compared to nature and the grand scheme of things. The lighting will go from very dark and depressing showing the characters in deep moments of suffering only for it to be broken by brightly lit moments where all seems well in the world. See this movie, that is all i have to say. Words almost fail to describe just how great this movie is
Expressionist Horror USA
This movie holds a fond place in my heart. I used to watch it all the time as a kid, I have the worn out VHS to prove it. I haven't watched this movie since I was a kid though so it was interesting to revisit it in class. This is not a horror movie, not in the sense where it's supposed to make you jump. This is more of a tragedy, a man decides to play god and reanimates a corpse. The creation only really seems to want affection and acceptance but it is shunned, it kills only because its afraid or doesn't understand. The creation is basically a giant baby with neck bolts. Boris Karloffs face captures this beautifully, he has a certain worldly quality to his face that really expresses the sorrow and tragedy that the creation is going though. The lighting and set design really set the mood here. It has a lot in common with German expressionism, giant sets that dwarf the actors and dark lighting which cast ominous shadows. The only complaints I have with this movie are a few unintentionally funny moments involving the monster or the Igor character, you'll probably be reminded of Young Frankenstein with one scene in particular. That being said this is a really good movie, I would highly recommend it to anyone.
My Man Godfrey (1936)
This film oozes class
Good old fashioned comedy. They don't make em like they used to. Everything about this film oozes class. From the acting to the cinematography to the music to the story...it's pure class. William Powell commands the screen effortlessly, he has a a dry charm that he never has to play up. Powell can downplay anything and its still fantastic. Lombard is adorable as the "love interest" who wont leave Godfrey alone. The rest of the supporting cast are all solid. This is a film with a crazy story about crazy people yet none of them go over the top, its crazy yet it reaches the perfect amount of crazy and never steps over that line. The stand out of the supporting cast in my opinion is Alice Brady who plays the mother, she has one of the zanier roles in the film and plays it to perfection, her comedic timing is impeccable. The cinematography in this film is amazing, the camera moves like another character waltzing through the set. The lighting of the film is very soft, it is very pretty. The sets are beautiful and massive, if the actors weren't so damn good they could have easily been lost in them. The acting, the lighting, the camera work and the set design all added together equal up to an explosion of high class comedy which is not to be missed. See this movie
Good old fashioned violence
This is a surprisingly violent film considering the time it was made. It may not be as well known as its 80s re-imagining but its still a solid film. Darkly lit compact sets and grimy streets set the mood in this film. This film really set the foundation for film noir. Paul Muni delivers another entertaining performance though he's considerably more over the top in this than in I'm a Fugitive from a Chain Gang. With the acting in this you get what you pay for, mind numbingly over the top performances that really do not take away from the film whatsoever. It's a fantastically entertaining film and the hysterically ridiculous Italian accents only help to make it that way. An interesting note is a certain motif used in the film involving X's but I wont give anything away, I will say that Scorsese paid homage to this film by using this same motif in his film the Departed.
The General (1926)
Buster Keaton is an interesting looking man, he is entertaining to watch even when he does nothing. His face is both expressive and emotionless. It adds another level to his dry reaction. This is a very good movie. It features breath taking stunt work and exciting action sequences. The comedy is also solid, though some bits tend to go on forever. The film gets off to a very slow start but thats just to help develop Keatons character. The only major complaint I have with this film was the soundtrack. Though it was probably just the version I watched the music selections seemed just randomly thrown together. Music selections just didn't seem to fit and took away from what was happening on screen. It just seemed like they took every classical piece that was in the public domain and put it in. Besides the soundtrack and some comedic bits that fall flat I would highly recommend this as a great starting point to anyone trying to get into Buster Keaton.
Tough as Nails!
This is a tough movie. This movie has a tough title, its also probably the most literal and straight forward movie title in the history of cinema. Fast paced, amazingly shoot, very well acted. Paul Muni dominates the screen, a very underrated actor. The beginning is a bit slow but things pick up and just keep rolling. I really have no complaints about this film other then a few bit performances but these roles are so small that you will hardly notice, and also because the focus is never really taken off of Muni. Great story, great ending. You really get attached to Paul Muni's character and you want to see where he ends up. This is an intense and powerful movie. Its gritty and its tough as nails, see it.
The Gold Rush (1925)
Perhaps one of the finest films I've ever seen and one of Chaplins best. The film never lets up, either with moments of comedy or high drama. This is what Chaplin does best, one moment you'll be laughing at a brilliant piece of comedy and in the next scene he'll sucker punch you with some drama and leave you heartbroken only to have you laughing in the scene following. The only complaint I have about this film is the soundtrack to the version we watched in class. Granted it is a silent film but the music just seemed too overbearing and unnecessarily loud at times. When we first see Chaplin strolling through the wilderness and his cane falls through the snow there is an overly loud explosion of sound that really takes you out of the moment. Besides the music this is a very well crafted film and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who could sit through a silent film.