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The Naked Kiss (1964)
The Naked Kiss
I liked how the film starts with a wicked pre-credit sequence, where the cameras seem to be strapped to the actors, in which we see an enraged woman beating a man with her handbag. There are some brilliant and meaningful moments throughout the film, sometimes eerie and other times emotional, all in a nightmarish atmosphere. There are some boring moments too which feel cheap and staged and as a result rather laughable. The acting isn't amazing and there are weak moments. It's rather surprising in its gritty treatment prostitution and child molestation. The cinematography was gorgeous in parts, with the lighting and camera work which were sometimes very evocative. It had a little of everything whether it was Noir or psychological, or kind of sexual.
I think all that can be said about this film, like some classics has already been said. Janet Leigh screaming in the shower is the seminal horror film image of all time. The movie has some of the best plot twists toward the middle I've ever seen, the control of climax and character study, their psychology and manners is impressive. There's a pleasurable amount of photographic technique and detail, of precision throughout the film and that makes it lasting. There's very little gore or violence which is great, because it leaves that up to the imagination unlike other films. Some of the actors come across brilliantly in their creepiness and darkness, and their motives aren't always exactly known, the thrill is skillfully and cleverly composed and arranged and released throughout the film, it lives up to its name.
Do the Right Thing (1989)
elvis was a hero to most....but he never meant @!#$ to me
Man what an excellent collage of golden-red-sepia nostalgic tones and Brooklyn colors, humor, hip-hop jams and classic inner city characters. I've worked in a pizza shop myself downtown and I can tell you this is all real, most of these people and situations exist in one way or another, even if they're not as dramatic in actuality. The film was a love note to Brooklyn. You literally felt the sweltering heat throughout the entire film, a number of times I felt like I ought to wipe my forehead. I think it was admirably honest about race-relations, and I liked how it didn't just concentrate on the racism and ignorance of certain white people but also the sad anger and senselessness of some black people and interestingly enough I think we can identify with all of that, there aren't any clear explanations or messages in the film, in fact the ending feels hopeless but it begs our attention and asks us to look around.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
This was pure entertainment. Sure it had gratuitous amounts of violence, sure it was over the top, sure a watch carried in someones butt for a long time is hilarious, sure there was weird and freaky things going on but the film wasn't ever boring or badly told. Tarantino is a master of storytelling, editing and fun. There's never a lost moment, perfection abounds. Samuel Jackson is unforgettable, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, I mean I don't even know what to say, they're all just wonderful. How can you forget the scene with Christopher Walken? I can't remember any of the acting being bad ever, each character was interesting and fun to watch in his or her own way. The dialogue in the film is funny and slick. Pop culture references are tossed around, characters are found in funny situations and conversations, it's a helluva ride.
Taxi Driver (1976)
Robert Deniro committed to history, signed his name, in this film with his acting a masterpiece and nothing less. The way his character was so dreadfully lonely and isolated, and the way his anger and loneliness grew into what it did, and the way the cinematography and jazz music captured that loneliness in the city, of a single man amongst the crowds, the desolation and hunger amongst the people in the city and the people he encounters, the destitution and darkness it's all powerful. What's even more heartbreaking to me is the fact that Travis Buckle is a smart, optimistic warmhearted caring person full of humor and how that sort of shrivels away the longer he is in his environment. I love how his taxi becomes a ghost like figure. I also thought it was interesting how almost everyone was isolated or a depressing figure in some way, how most of the men especially in the film were lonely and how that loneliness effected all the women around them
The Graduate (1967)
I liked how Dustin Hoffman portrayed the clueless and aimless college graduate. I think we've all been his character at one point or another. The humor in the awkward scenes between Misses Robinson and Benjamin were great, so was the tension and excitement. Misses Robinson was damn seductive and sultry and just a sexy lady all around and I love how that changed and how she became an evil sexy woman, she was subtle throughout the entire film. The music was wonderful, and the camera work was hip and smooth, the film felt youthful, it felt lively and sexy and naive all at the same time,amazingly seeing as it's over 40 years old.The story itself was strange and a nice change from the Hay's Code era I'm sure.
Easy Rider (1969)
It's worth watching for the sheer beauty of its rock and roll infused shots of shining choppers gliding across the deserts. The hippie culture and the counter movement are not things I'm personally familiar with, I know as much as the next Y generation kid. But I did appreciate how the film didn't necessarily glorify anything whether it be America, drugs, alcohol, the average Joe or freedom/the American dream. In fact the film seemed to raise a good amount of questions about them. The two characters in the film Hopper and Fonda weren't necessarily admirable people, the freedom of riding your motorbike across America wasn't as great as you imagined it would be, and besides they were doing this to get drugs to a certain destination. I felt as if though the film presented these two characters in such a way which almost veiled what they really were and made them out to be charismatic and likable fellows. I didn't feel as if there was any message in the film which we haven't heard, nothing extraordinary, it was a pretty average film in terms of message. The story itself was simple but it was told beautifully with images and music. I think the film showed how banal and senseless the actual counterculture can be, if you look at the film it never celebrates the hippies in fact it presents them negatively, it also does the same thing with middle America, in fact I didn't feel as if the film ever really showed us who the good guys were.
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
I commend the film for the honesty, openness and courage with which it treats its subject, especially during a violent time full of upheaval when ignorance and racism were more rampant than ever. Of course the sad truth is it's still around and the kinds of people we see in the film still exist. Sidney Poitier was charismatic and interesting, Spencer Tracy was brilliant as well, in fact everyone was great, no less than professional. Some parts were weird but I'll blame that on its age and time period. It was unique how tense and dramatic and even exciting and entertaining moments could come out of something that's more of a tragic and dullingly real fact. The drama they made out of this theme was well done, I'm sure it's not easy to treat and present these topics as drama, but I felt that the right amount of acting ,style, humor, music and gravity were mixed.
Mildred Pierce (1945)
This was a bleak film that depressed me more than anything. The atmosphere was well constructed though because it's one of the few Noir's which contain a darkness in them that's capable of flowing out of the screen and into your living room. The melodramatic heartbreaking story and the way it's told and the acting helped to bring that in a nice package. I assume if there's quality soap operas out there somewhere even though I've never seen one this is what they'd look like. The daughter and Monte were extremely repulsive characters, I felt sorry for Mildred as she kept staring at the camera with that near-cry look. Made you feel like looking out after her and showing her that good people exist. It sure as hell wasn't a film with what I'd consider a happy ending or anything remotely similar to it, in fact it kind of reminded me of Tarantino's Jackie Brown which kind of left you hurt and empty too. I won't give it out but I feel like for Hollywood especially right after World War 2 this was a step in a new direction, I don't know why they made something like this and whether or not it was popular at the time but it's very depressing even for today's standards which actually haven't really changed have they?
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Singin In the Rain
I'm not a fan of musicals but I have to admit this one had some darn catchy tunes. The joy and sense of music was contagious, the colors and the infamous rain scene were delightfully directed and acted. One of my favorite scenes was the dreamlike one in which the woman with the very long white dress flowing danced and the man danced around her and her dress, the camera movements and the choreography not just in that scene but the entire film were awe inspiring. It made you feel like a kid, kind of brought out that sappy youthfulness which was alright. It's a positive feel good film, the technique and wonderful singing and dancing help keep your eyes glued to what's going on because it's so elegant and over the top, and so it's worth watching if you're ever feeling down.