Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Dark Knight (2008)
Great But Not the Greatest Film Ever!
Please, let's not get carried away. I have a major problem with this being at the top of the 250 list. There are far too many films that are truly better than The Dark Knight. I say that having enjoyed this film too. Not that I can alter the voting habits of fellow cine-files, but I'd like to offer out the need for perspective when it comes to acknowledging this film's place in film history. So I'd offer this: If you are willing to give this a 9 or 10, as I am, then do your due diligence to study the hundreds of films that predate this that are at least worthy of a 9 or 10 and vote on them too. I'd hate to look at the IMDb top 250 and see a popularity contest. Then again most of the highest grossing films of all-time have been produced this decade, so they must be the best ever. In a few years Shrek 4, Iron Man 3, Batman 5, The Hobbit, Watchmen and the S.H.I.E.L.D. superhero all-star film will all be in the top of IMDb's illustrious Top 250! If this site is to retain it's status as the place for film lovers to go I'd love to see people who know film and it's remarkable history make an effort to vote on the many films that are equally and especially those better than The Dark Knight. Thanks.
The Savages (2007)
Wonderfully acted family story
If there was a 7.5 rating available I'd give it. But I round up instead. I saw this at a screening in the Fall of '06, and had a good time, it is a well done, hearty family story. The opening scene-should it remain-in the convalescent home is poignant and funny. Philip Bosco is fantastic here. In fact, all of the acting is terrific. PS Hoffman and Linney are comfortable together as siblings, and their relationship is exciting to view. From the time when they live together and write together, there is a warmth to the humor of the picture. As a statement on the American family Tamara Jenkins has wonderfully covered the landscape, from Arizona to Buffalo, and layered that with the complexities of parents/kids, intimate relationships and careers. But Philip Bosco stands out as their aged father. Truly. In fact, Philip Bosco may deserve an Osco.
The Wind and the Lion (1975)
See The Man Who Would Be King for better Connery, (plus the real) John Huston and Middle East intrigue
I didn't like this one. Here is why: -It is unevenly paced and slacklydirected. Heavy on the action/swash-buckling, lite on the substance. -At no time was Sean Connery anyone but Sean Connery. He is surely an"international star" but I still cringe when persona overwhelms character. -Candice Bergen was annoyingly bland. The romance of the film is weak and always on the verge, leaving the tension unrealized. -The hyper-patriotism, something like Milius' hyper-masculine forte,overwhelms any nuance or adroitness that a scenario such as this requires. Any research into this story will yield that the reality was that an Englishman and his son were kidnapped, and that no military force was used. This is only an issue because using the basic story as an adventure tale of American thuggery-diplomacy is less than exciting. Unless you are a fan of rousing heavy handed mythos. -I have never seen this many horses fall as their rider is shot or bombarded. It looks real, and accurate, but I found it distracting. -While the violence is unremitting, almost all the lead characters are as well. This left me uninterested in them. Except Brian Keith's Teddy Roosevelt.
It's not all bad. Here's what I did like: -Brian Keith. He's the best Teddy Roosevelt I've seen in film. That he wasn't nominated as a best supporting actor is unfortunate. -Jerry Goldsmith's score is rousing and epic, very good. He was nominated, deservedly. Predictably, he lost to John Williams and Jaws. -Billy Williams cinematography. Shot in Spain, doubling for Morocco -the scope and terrain are gorgeous and epic. -The stunt work is fabulous.
Miami Vice (2006)
Leave now, life is short, time is luck
This is regarding the Rated /Theatrical version
As another Michael Mann and Miami Vice TV lover, my initial response to this was disgust. The fact that they didn't use the opening theme alone was too bad, but the missed opportunity to revisit the 80's and then the casting of Farrell kept me out of the theatre. But thanks to On Demand cable, and the knowledge that a Director's Cut is available too, I figured to see this, then the Cut and compare. Ultimately I am amongst the disappointed, but not for lack of certain appreciation. Mann is a master of movement, and like few directors can unify style with grace and substance. He also uses wonderfully exhilarating music. I am a sucker for this skill, and when he uses it here, I enjoyed the film. The supporting cast, Luis Tosar as Jesus Montoya and John Ortiz as Jose Yero were standouts. There is also some very impressive masculine hair (beards, goatees, burns, etc.) in this. Otherwise, it lacked in many ways. The Gong Li subplot was terrible. The lack of relationship between Farrell and Foxx angered. Then messy accents and inaudible dialogue confused. In ending, Mann's m.o. of "Leave now, life is short, time is luck," gets sucked away by Farrell and Li's foolish relationship. Mann's heroes are loners and operate within certain codes. Here Crockett ignores these codes, thus the pride and thrill of Crockett and Tubbs and their vice crew's bond (what made the TV series cool and quirky-remember the van with the bug on top?) is nonexistent. I really give it 6.5 stars, but round up for Mann.
Save the Tiger (1973)
We only have 556 signatures.
In keeping with my awesome love for the 1970's era of American film, Save the Tiger delves into the anxiety of the time as experienced by a man waring down and disillusioned. Much, much, much respect to Jack Lemmon as Harry Stoner. There are no less than half-a-dozen scenes of considerable tonal/emotional difference in which he is palpably fabulous, so moving and edgy. He truly is throughout though. His Oscar is well deserved for this film, much less an awesome career that by then was 20+ years full of terrific work. Jack Gilford's Phil Greene, is Lemmon's business partner-a man morally anchored and disassociated from the weight of Stoner's tumultuous anxiety. His performance is equally compassionate, true and grounded. The relationship between them-Eastwood + Morgan Freeman in Million Dollar Baby comes to mind-as old friends, partners and confidants, is beautiful. "It costs me $200 just getting out of bed," (a paraphrase) Stoner says to his wife, while preparing for the day, this after waking up after another nightmare. And through the day his life and mind become intermingled with the dread and uncertainty of getting by. No answer is clear, or convenient. In a fickle yet brutal world, there is no rest for the weary. Save the Tiger is not a direct indictment of business or success in America. Nor is it morally weighted. Like so many other films of the time, it is a unflinching/raw/honest character study of an everyman in the mix, troubled by bills, taxes, the past and the future. It is also a rendering of what post-traumatic-stress/war can do, irrespective of time, to the mind and heart of a person. The touch of WWII adds a gravity and understanding to the film. I highly recommend Save the Tiger. Not too long, interesting, and full of great acting, especially from Jack Lemmon.
Le mystère Picasso (1956)
I've finally seen A Picasso being created
This is a remarkable, swift, simple, beautiful, profound, fun and candid vision of the blank canvas turning into A Picasso. Director Henri-Georges Clouzot does just enough to infuse himself and the documentary presence of film, allowing the master to riff a couple dozen times. Simply watching the images appear and then evolve is a treat, scored with music. Picasso too brings some of himself to the film, but the dialogue is minimal, again focusing on the images he creates. This is a very memorable work. It could succeed in a classroom for elementary, high school or even college students. It could play on a loop at a party. An artist could play and rewind a particular sequence, perhaps wanting to copy Picasso's brilliance. Great.
The Big Knife (1955)
The Realist, the Philistine and the Idealist....You figure it out.
There is very much room for debate on The Big Knife. The casting of Palance and Steiger, good 'ol whinny Winters, the stage-related lack of locales, etc., etc. Each of these can be parsed to illuminate why the film works or doesn't. In a way that's a sign of a good film, one that has made bold choices, and risks it's essential qualities. I liked it. The thing that stood out for me though, was the seeming-multiple-endings. About three times I felt an ending, only to have another character enter, another scene. This may be Odets the writer, or Aldrich the director. In any case I loved Palance. I am a fan of his, and in a lead, a somewhat straight lead, his casting is inspired. I felt he was emotionally resonant, quickly rising and falling with the clipped Odets' poetics. I watched it last night on TCM, and Robert Osborne remarked in the opening that this was a film about "weird people, Hollywood types" (paraphrase). I think that poorly sells the story, limiting it's scope and personality. Palance as Charlie Castle is a wreck because of his life in Hollywood, sure, but he isn't weird for it. His close relationships with his trainer/masseur and his publicist, among others, highlights his isolation and need for loving contact. Which makes Ida Lupino, as his possibly-leaving wife Marion, and her dilemma such a good parallel to Charlie's wanting to leave Hollywood. And Rod Steiger....Over the top? Yes. But it a beautiful thing to watch. I love his commanding physical presence, his melodramatic crying, his hand-wringing. It may be scene-chewing and distracting to some, but again, it works within the story and the character. His psychological make up is so apparent, especially when he fears Castle will strike him, how he crosses his arms and tucks in. Ida Lupino, who looks like she could be Stockard Channing's mother, was strong and poised despite her rancorous life, and I appreciated her for it. Her character was winning because of the strength she debated having to exert. Again, a Hollywood consequence. Character actors, one and all, Smiley, Connie, Shelley Winter's wonkie Dixie, Hank (who could be Grey Davis' father), Nat (his slapping of Stanley Hoff's glass was awesome) , they all embody the inherent lack of stability in Hollywood. The message is clear, and the execution (pardon the pun), was dramatic and interesting.
The Hand (1981)
Liked the psychological demons of Michael Caine
As a psychological thriller this actually works. In large part because of Michael Caine. As a B movie about a killer hand or a schizo cartoonist it features Olive Stone's tortured man, driven to ruin by a woman, whose lack of self-knowledge and unchecked rage propel him to violence. I kind of agree with another reviewer's disappointment at the ending not wrapping it up, but The Hand is enough of a thing that I feel neither way about the end. Stone's vitriol for women, a characterization many have stuck on throughout his career, is very apparent here. Caine as Johnathan Lansdale is comfortable in his beautiful country home, crafting a semi-popular syndicated cartoon. But his yogic wife Anne (Andrea Marcovicci) wants to do something with her life and demands a move to NYC. This ends up undoing him, but not before he struggles with having his writing/drawing hand severed. Without saying more, I'd recommend this for Caine's gradual unraveling, an engrossing trip into The Mind and even a good Oliver Stone cameo.
The Proposition (2005)
Still has me reeling
A marvelous, haunting, brutal, tortured descent into the outback of right and wrong, The Proposition is as good, no as great a "Western" I've seen since Eastwood's Unforgiven. A beautiful evocation of a time and a place, cinematically stunning, musically spare and poetic, unremitting in it's executions of the will of violence and the struggle of men. But to me, The Proposition is a rumination on White Man's Burden, a fraught incursion into the moral morass of Australia's Aboriginal genocide and Christian hypocrisy, ignorance and fear. The disregard for the Aboriginies is pivotal to Arthur's (Danny Huston) madness, while Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) must toe a line, one which nobody seems able to comprehend, in pursuit of civilization. Biblical homage can't get too much closer than one brother's murder of another, and the paradoxical simplicity/majesty of the basic acts resonates vibrantly throughout The Proposition. So, while I am less familiar with director John Hillcoat, I do know Nick Cave, so I can more easily attribute my visceral movements to his artistry, with no disregard to Hillcoat's direction. Nor any toward Guy Pearce, a chilling Huston or-(one of my absolute favorite actors)-Winstone. This is truly one of the best films of recent memory.
Edmond Burke, WM47
I am a Mamet lover. I thought Edmond was a terrific read as a play, and would be very interested in seeing it performed on stage. I was pleasantly surprised after watching this Edmond, that it retained the swiftness and grit of his paradoxical spiraling-into-the-depths- of-depravity/transcending-of-himself-in-the-world.
Without a doubt William H. Macy, who for anyone who doesn't know this, is along with cast mates Joe Mantegna and Rebecca Pidgeon (Mamet's wife), an expert in playing Mamet. His presence as Edmond Burke gives the film as much cache as the fact Mamet wrote the screenplay. His scene with Mantegna early on is one of the best too.
As for my pleasant surprise I am reminded that I have been disappointed by some of Mamet's original films (Heist, Spartan and State & Main were all overstuffed, not lean enough, with too many twists and turns) but have enjoyed the adaptations of his plays (Lakeboat, American Buffalo, Glengarry Glen Ross). This maybe due to the unity of his spare style and the limitations of space a play, even one adapted to screen, must exist within.
This film's use of recognizable faces in single scenes was perhaps a consequence of Mamet's respect in the industry, and maybe an attempt at marketing a sordid and deep story beyond any expected attention. All performers get the chance to needle Macy's Edmond, with the acceptable duplicity of routine interactions, propelling him deeper into the ecstasy of ridding himself of himself. The brilliance of the story is that he must become everything he never wanted to (john, racist, murderer, homosexual) in order to be where he belongs. Constantly being lied to has rendered him inert, thus a double time dose of truth or passion or rage or unconsciousness must be his salvation. That's what Mamet is able to create and convey, the ancient philosophical paradox of achieving bliss or something like it, by destroying the existence one has spent so much energy creating, here amidst the dark places of our modern world (bars, tarot readers, strip joints, back alleys, dingy apartments, prisons, subways....remember, he never does enter the church)....