Saturday, February 16, 2008

Eleven Great Films Few Have Seen

Angel Heart Bill Cosby had a cow when Lisa Bonet slaughtered a chicken and had out of the box sex with Nine 1/2 Weeks Mickey Rourke in this spooky black magic voodoo thriller. Not for kids or people with a thing about chickens, Alan Parker's disturbing film takes the viewer on a trip with an unforgettable ending. Fantastic sequences we initially consider dreams are anything but illusions.

The Ice Storm Most people know about Ang Lee for directing the homophobe irritating Brokeback Mountain. Years earlier Lee directed a unique film forecasting the success of many including Elijah Wood, Tobey Maguire, Katie Holmes, and Christina Ricci. The established talent of Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, and Sigourney Weaver just nail the piece to produce a scathing portrayal of the spiritual bankruptcy of 1970's America that led to the backlash of the "moral" majority. Weaver and Kline are lovers cheating on their spouses. Kline starts to talk in bed. Weaver turns to him, "You're boring me. I already have a husband."

The Fog of War Errol Morris made waves and film history with the incredible documentary, The Thin Blue Line that demonstrated the wrongful conviction of Randall Adams by a corrupt Texas justice system and made it into The 50 Greatest Documentaries. The documentary led to the release of Adams.

Morris engages in first rate dialog with former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara whose remorse drives him to share his gained knowledge and wisdom regarding war, conflict, and diplomacy. Discussing WWII, Korea, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Vietnam, McNamara's words could not be more relevant to the current travesties taking place. Everyone elected to Congress should be required to see this film prior to taking oath. In fact, they should have to pass a test.

Speaking of films everyone elected to Congress should see, The Corporation explores the history of the development of legally organizing a group of individuals on a mission to make money with full legal rights and no legal responsibility. Say what? The concept seems to make sense upon initial inspection but deeper analysis shows we have unleashed monsters that will kill us and our children if it helps their bottom line. If they can get away with it, they will take over governments, corrupt politicians, craft legislation favoring their own interests at the expense of everyone else, buy elections, falsify evidence, and even control the presidency to where the nation invades other countries to secure lucrative contracts leading to record profits for themselves and record deficits for the nation.

Through the lens of psychological profiling, they examine the behavior of corporations.

True Romance Tony Scott, brother of the famous Ridley Scott, has used his brother's stature to venture into unexplored territory, producing the exquisite The Hunger that features one of the most remarkable opening scenes of any film ever produced. True Romance features compelling and interesting scenes one can watch a hundred times, such as the trailer scene with Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper, or Patricia Arquette getting primeval bloody with James Gandalfini prior to his Soprano fame. My favorite is the delicious confrontation between Christian Slater and Gary Oldman in the bar. Cinematic poetry.

The Song Of Bernadette (Left - The Real Bernadette Soubirous. Right - Jennifer Jones playing Bernadette in the film) No film slammed your humble blogger like this one, because it simply defies any explanations available. Not only the story, but the story behind the story, and the story behind the writing of the story, and the story behind the film, all transcend what passes for normal. An absolute MUST SEE for true Christians. I remain unable to process this event. On Thursday, February 11, 1858 at about 9 AM in the Basque region of Southern France, a very weak and sickly girl living in abject poverty sets out with her sisters for firewood. She sees something. What unfolds defies physics, but it occurred. The film is 100 percent true. The deeply spiritual with developed souls will find it profoundly moving. For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe in God, no explanation is possible. Have tissue. I used half a box and bought books on the event.

About as far from the prior film as possible, Shadow of the Vampire stars William Dafoe as the best vampire to ever appear on screen, getting under the viewer's skin as a truly creepy creature whose very being makes one squirm. Based on the making of the 1922 classic FW Murnau's Nosferatu about Bram Stoker's classic book, it is a movie about the making of a movie using not an actor, but a real vampire. John Malkovich is also perfect as the director. The monster's body language and expressions really denote something no longer human, "I don't think you need the writer anymore."

The film completely freaked my parents. I'm not allowed to show them films anymore.

Laurel Canyon A Lisa Cholodenko gem starring Christian Bale and Kate Beckinsale as an engaged couple stretching boundaries and exploring new terrain while staying in a bohemian house on the famous Laurel Canyon Road in Los Angeles. The film is meant to capture the Joni Mitchell 60s energy of lives lived without boundaries or obligations. The tension between freedom and fidelity just drips off the screen, and the steaming pool scene alone makes the entire film worth watching. Terrific.

Scenes from A Marriage
Warning - this is an Ingmar Bergman film, the one who made Autumn Sonata, Fanny and Alexander, Cries and Whispers, Serpent's Egg, and of course the famous The Seventh Seal where the main character plays a game of chess with Death. The films that crawl into your head and stay. Not for the superficial, those with the perception to grasp what is happening in Scenes will experience a piece that cuts to the bone and proceeds to marrow without slowing down.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I'm nobody's houseboy now! Set at Dartmouth, Ernest Lehman's production of Edward Albee's Broadway hit created material far ahead of its time, using the electricity between Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor to create an unparalleled masterpiece in cinema. The film captured five Oscars, handing one to Taylor for Best Actress and Sandy Dennis for Supporting Actress. Pre-dating it by 15 years, the film squares My Dinner with Andre, another extraordinary work.

A Hallmark production, The Russell Girl just aired a couple weeks ago. I bought the film at once. My first post about it reflected the grasp of a single viewing. Watching it again produced an infinitely richer experience and shifts the focus from Sarah Russell (Amber Tamblyn), a guilt crippled young woman dying of leukemia, to Lorraine Morrisey (Jennifer Ehle), a resentment crippled woman whose hatred is eating her from the inside out. Ehle's performance is SPECTACULAR. Those needing shootouts, sex, and car chases will hate the film, and those lacking sufficient distinctions will find it painfully slow. I find nothing more moving or rewarding than personal transformation along vectors only accessible in human conversation.

It simply does not get better than being a course leader causing the growth and development of what it is to be human. Watching Lorraine's transformation was delightful and touching. Some results cannot be purchased with money. The price tag can consist of agony, profound suffering, and the alienation of loved ones for years. In some circumstances one must pay most dearly for the ability to say "Eighty nine cents."


Blogger Dustin said...

all I have to say is, true romance dialog between christopher walken and dennis hopper

2/16/2008 7:12 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Excellent choice. At the GOP cigar event, LD-30 candidate Frank Antoneri asked me about the word "eggplant."

In case folks didn't know, the use of this expression for our current fiasco president comes directly from the scene you mention.

"I think I'll have that Chesterfield now."

2/17/2008 2:11 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

I haven't seen any of those movies except for "Virginia Woolf" and "The Fog of War" which is excellent.

I didn't know about eggplant either. I thought X4mr was just choosing an unusual vegetable although it is fairly common in Mediterranean diets. It does not have a enough flavor to stand on it's own and is generally prepared in dishes with tasty ingredients (ex: eggplant parmesan.)

So what happened in that scene that makes Bush an eggplant?

2/17/2008 6:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post.

I think Scenes from a Marriage is one of the best films ever made.

I will always remember watching that dinner table meltdown right at the beginning and thinking, "Oh my God."

The cutting through bone metaphor says it. No film can touch this picture regarding relationships.

2/17/2008 9:09 PM  

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