Sunday, July 26, 2009

films that I have been incredibly impressed with lately

1. Sense and Sensibility (Ang Lee, 1995)
How can you dislike a film involving Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Hugh Laurie as they put their superpower rings together to create the best Austen film I have seen? No, it is not the most faithful of adaptations, and yes, Thompson was too old for the part (though they did change the age of Elinor Dashwood to late 20s, meaning that she was still too old) but after spending years of labor and love on the screenplay for the film it is crystal clear that she had such an understanding of the character and for me this absolutely shines through. It should be noted that I am biased, as I will defend Greer Garson's Elizabeth Bennett until my dying day. Ang Lee's direction is very understated and I love that, as with his best known work Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, nature has a harmonious place in the world of the Dashwoods. It's also fun to see Hugh Grant playing something other than the cad.

What do you know of my heart? What do you know of anything but your own suffering? For weeks, Marianne, I've had this pressing on me without being at liberty to speak of it to a single creature. It was forced on me by the very person whose prior claims ruined all my hope. I have endured her exultations again and again whilst knowing myself to be divided from Edward forever. Believe me, Marianne, had I not been bound to silence I could have provided proof enough of a broken heart, even for you.

2. High Noon(Fred Zinnemann, 1952)
An Austrian making a Western? The most American of film genres? Who does he think he is, John Ford? And how dare he destroy all the glory in it! Well, potentially now deceased critics who said such things in 1952, the joke seems to be on you as High Noon remains one of the greatest westerns ever filmed. If you want to you can see the anti-Communist witch hunt slant in it (because it's there and it's brilliant), but I was too focused on the gritty style, the anticipation of the shoot-out, and Gary Cooper's increasing anxiety and despair to notice anything else as the story unfolds almost in real time and the clocks tick tock to high noon. This is also the first time I've watched a film without getting annoyed with Grace Kelly and her flippant superiority (sorry Grace Kelly fans, but no me gusta), so I raise my invisible malt whisky to you Fred Zinnemann.

You risk your skin catching killers and the juries turn them loose so they can come back and shoot at you again. If you're honest you're poor your whole life and in the end you wind up dying all alone on some dirty street. For what? For nothing. For a tin star.

3. Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)
I don't think I ever completely appreciated William Holden's talent as an actor until I saw this film. Without a doubt this is one of the greatest films of all time, one of the greatest screenplays of all time, and I wish that in such a time of unrest we would revert to smart, gritty films of the 70s instead of pretty colors and compositions with little substance. This film also proved that Faye Dunaway was an excellent actress, beret or no beret. Watch for Cindy Grover's one big scene as William Holden's wife, it will absolutely take your breath away. This film is a must watch, and is especially frightening in its very accurate prediction of the takeover of reality television, the continued downsizing of the individual, and how ratings and mindlessness have taken over popular culture and our society.

By tomorrow, he'll have a 50 share, maybe even a 60. Howard Beale is processed instant God, and right now, it looks like he may just go over bigger than Mary Tyler Moore.

4. When Harry Met Sally (Rob Reiner, 1989)
For me this film is a perfect example of a script making all the difference in a film. I've never been a big Meg Ryan fan (Billy Crystal is always fantastic in my book) and there's nothing all that artistic about the filmmaking, but I think that's because Rob Reiner knew it was all about the relationship between these two characters and not any weird camera angle he could come up with. It is a chick flick but the well structured, incredibly well written script elevates this film to its standing as one of the greatest romantic films of all time.

The fact that you're not answering leads me to believe you're either (a) not at home, (b) home but don't want to talk to me, or (c) home, desperately want to talk to me, but trapped under something heavy. If it's either (a) or (c), please call me back.

5. The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick, 1993)
I have a special place in my heart for animated films (and Tim Burton), and paired with a catchy musical score and unique premise I found this film irresistible. Not only does it mix together two of my favorite holidays, it has a rather gothic style all its own that is a feast for the eyes and walks an interesting line between the darkness of its design and the lightheartedness of its premise and plot. Great for kids but still enjoyable for adults.

You know, I think this Christmas thing is not as tricky as it seems! But why should they have all the fun? It should belong to anyone! Not anyone, in fact, but me! Why, I could make a Christmas tree! And there's not a reason I can find, I couldn't have a Christmastime! I bet I could improve it, too! And that's exactly what I'll do!


  1. Great choices.

    My sister and I were in Barnes and Noble and she held up the DVD of Sense and Sensibility...

    "Any good?" (that's her)
    "Alan Rickman's in it. Yes. Buy it." (3 guesses who said that)

    And you're quite right about Network. Whenever anyone doubts Fay's acting ability, I show 'em this. Poof-- doubt is gone. :)

  2. alan rickman is really a good enough reason to watch or buy any film! true story.

    basically network=magic on many different levels :)

  3. I only just saw "When Harry Met Sally" this summer for the first time, as I had always shied away from it solely because it was "another romantic comedy." I was utterly surprised at how much I enjoyed it and would love to watch it again in the future -- with a bunch of friends of course. As for the others, you just keep making me add more films to my "Things I need to see" list.

  4. mwahahaha. :D

    and i was really surprised by it as well. much better than i expected it to be.