A couple of months ago Mettel created an exquisite blogathon entitled My Movie Alphabet. My participation is a little late, but still this is too good an event not to be part of. I suppose “movies” means anything cinema related — still, I’ll break that rule twice, and choose something TV related. Without these two treasures, this alphabet would not be mine. Be sure to check out her entry as well as the ones of fellow bloggers. I get tired towards the end, so there will be a couple of one-liners. Have fun, after the break!
The first Fellini, and the second italian film I’ve ever watched (the first being Tornatore‘s Cinema Paradiso), 8½ was a huge game changer for me. Though admittedly it took me a while to get into it, once I understood its rhythm and style it became a mesmerising journey through an artist’s mind. One of my favorite use of black and white in film, and the responsable for what I think will be a life time of swooning over Marcello Mastroianni.
Competition was hot for the letter A, so I ended up using mechanism I started in my Valentine’s Day post, and that may be very helpful to all of you who love too many things and are unbearably indecisive: for example, since I already feature Hitchcock and American Psycho related picks latter on this list, those two options could be excluded.
Thus choosing Anna Karina wasn’t that hard. Being Jean-Luc Godard‘s muse and lover, it’s hard not to link the two; together they’ve created pure works of art that redefined cinema, and whose influence is still felt today. Vivre Sa Vie, Alphaville, Bande à Part and Pierrot le Fou are just a few examples of that. Karina was the ultimate new wave french girl: carefree, unconventional, spontaneous, sweet – distancing herself (or her onscreen self) from the standard woman figure that was conveyed on mainstream cinema at the time. Not afraid to look silly (clearly, note the picture above), she was a new kind of icon, ranging from fashion to film, and even music – and a talented one. For all this, she will always be a precious source of inspiration.
Some say we’re either a Chaplin or Buster fan; it may not apply to everyone, but to me it is quite clear that Buster Keaton is cinema royalty. I was in awe with him before I saw even a single movie of his. It was that picture, of him walking in the rain all wet with his umbrella opened by his side, that made laugh and relish in its brilliance. With Buster it’s always the tiny, unexpected details that stand out. It’s the desolation in his eyes that makes us wonder if we’re bad people for laughing at one’s miserable existence. But no matter how unfortunate the lead character may be, there will always be a warm, happy ending ahead, leaving us smiling, feeling and uplifted. It is the remedy for all evils, I guarantee you.
There was a time when every woman longed for Cary Grant, and every man wanted to be Cary Grant, even himself. I’m glad I didn’t live in that time, so many miles between us would be unbearable. Born Archibald Alexander Leach (and let me assure you this is the ugliest it gets with him), this british actor carefully built what will be forever known as the Cary Grant persona: an eternal role model for men, the ultimate gentleman with a modern twist: he was handsome, perfectly dressed, with impeccable posture, an articulate speech, a sharp sense of humour and, of course, immensely talented; that was Cary Grant, but was it Archie? Probably not, who cares.
We can look at this persona as both a clever career move and a personal shield – Grant kept his private life to himself, having most of what we know today been written after his death, like with all great stars.
For us he left a outstanding repertoire of seventy-eight performances, not without flaws (period films do not suit you Archie), but still smashing: His Girl Friday, Bringing Up Baby, Notorious, An Affair to Remember, Suspicion, North by Northwest, Holiday, The Philadelphia Story, The Awful Truth, Arsenic and Old Lace, Charade, Monkey Business, The Bishop’s Wife, To Catch a Thief… the list is endless. Mastering fast-paced screwball comedies and peculiar dark humour, thrilling action sequences, passionate romance and heart-stopping suspense with equal dexterity, Cary Grant’s talent went far beyond what was expected of him.
Simply put, my all-time favorite actor.
David Lynch is not for the faint-hearted. However, if you’re prone to nightmares or disturbingly uncanny dreams, rest assured that his are far worse. Dwelling in the realm of surrealism and the bizarre, Lynch has become a cult filmmaker, quite literally – I believe he’s worshiped in some obscure, underground facility. His style is forged in every detail of his work – be it paintings, sculptures, music, soap operas, documentaries or films. How unique is this style of his? It’s called Lynchian, that’s how unique it is.
Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Dr., Twin Peaks, Wild at Heart – all better seen than talked about.
It takes a special kind of talent to be the worst, and Ed Wood most certainly had it. His passion for the seventh art drove him blind, unable to see the cracks in every shot he took, and the demise of his childhood hero. If anyone in history has lived la vie en rose, it was Ed Wood. Yet the love that drove him to live in such a fantasy is what made him the object of our compassion: instead of laughing at him and dismissing his work, we look at him with adoration, for we can all identify with Ed Wood.
Tim Burton must’ve felt the same way about the director, for he dedicated a whole film to this peculiar man’s life. Ed Wood is not only a fitting portrait of the worst director of all time, it’s also one of Burton’s best films to date, and my personal favorite. Johnny Depp is infinitely great in it, with a strong supporting cast surrounding him, amongst which Martin Landau, who received an Academy Award for his outstanding performance as the immortal Bela Lugosi.
It’s a fascinating story that perhaps not many know about, and an absolute treasure for film lovers.
Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your life making someone else’s dreams?
Orson Welles, in Ed Wood
A timeless romantic comedy that combines the charm of romanticism, the beauty of friendship, and the best of british humour. Fuelled by talented actors such as Hugh Grant and Kristin Scott Thomas, and superb script, Four Weddings and a Funeral is one to watch many, many times.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
Funeral Blues, by W.H. Auden (read by John Hannah)
Grace Kelly. Eternal beauty, real-life princess, fashion icon, majestic presence, talented actress. Can someone please point out a flaw. Please.
I now realize Hud was my gateway-drug to classic hollywood, and my introduction to Paul Newman, now a favorite actor of mine. I guess you can say that from the moment I pressed play I was doomed to live in the past for the rest of life. A great american tale about a selfish young man, said to have a barbed wire soul (Paul Newman) and the troubled relationship with his father (Melvyn Douglas). Filled with intense scenes where Newman is bursting with raw emotion, Hud is an aesthetically prodigious film shot in black and white, and a timeless classic. Also, what a thrilling trailer.
One of my favorite artists, Bob Dylan, is not an easy man to undertand. His work throughout the years has had ups and downs, but mostly twists: Dylan refused to settle, altering his musical style, always one step ahead (or against) his audience. Such drastic changes could only be portrayed by a superb actor, but it is much more clever, creative, and fresh to have the many sides of Bob Dylan embodied by six of them. In I’m Not There, Todd Haynes submersed himself in Dylan’s world, and took an outstanding cast with him: Cate Blanchett, Ben Whishaw, Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, Marcus Carl Franklin. With musical covers of some of Dylan’s best songs by Cat Power, The Black Keys, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and others.
Here’s a man who stirred the world with solely three full-length features and a dozen of small tv appearances, only to shock us all with a much too sudden, sad, and ironic death. His last breath was the birth of a legend, who would soon be unfairly exploited for vast years. James Dean was the personification of a generation who felt deeply estranged from the ones before them, and who longed ardently for recognition. In is acting we found uncommon fragility and fierce energy, all but a glimpse of what Dean could’ve become.
Katharine Hepburn was an exceptional woman on and offscreen. Quick-witted, unconventional, with an iconic accent and some plain old don’t-give-a-damn attitude, Hepburn was bouncing from Hollywood to Broadway and leaving behind trail of dropped jaws, both in admiration and in shock. With The Philadelphia Story stage production she gained the credibility to finally make it in Hollywood; she returned to the silver screen for a film adaptation of the play, co-starring with Cary Grant and James Stewart. It was a smashing hit that boosted her career, for good. Then came the years of collaborations with Spencer Tracy and numerous awards – Hepburn was finally recognised for the film goddess she had been all along.
The first rule breaker on this list is Lorelai Gilmore, a character from the tv show Gilmore Girls. In the hands of talented writer Amy Sherman and actress Lauren Graham, she took center stage as a peculiar and captivating woman with a strange sense humour. Her character flaws were all on display, like the ones of a real person would be: impatient, indecisive, at times insecure, with periodic stages of terrible judgment and constant mood swings. But there was a warmth and goodness about this unbelievably fast speaker (I swear some episodes were like a modern screwball comedy) that had me hooked, and more often than not felt like a mirror.
For God’s sake, it’s Scorsese, you know why.
An essential part of Hitchcock’s early works, Notorious was one of the director’s attempts at film noir, and arguably his best. The film is littered with talent: not only was Hitchock directing a script written by the great Ben Hecht, but also actors Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant were co-starring in it, with Claude Rains in a supportive role. It is also graced with many iconic and highly symbolic shots, accomplished with the help of cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff.
It was a controversial film that was in many ways ahead of its time: the heroine (Alicia) was an alcoholic with a not so discreet fondness of man, daughter of a convicted nazi and now the object of affection of an american intelligence agent (Devlin). After knowing Alicia was assigned to infiltrate a group of nazis suspected of fabricating nuclear weapons, and that for it she would have to become romantically envolved with Sebastian (one of them who has lusted over Alicia for a long time) Devlin turns cold and cruel in an attempt to control his love impulse, and the two lovers grow further apart.
It’s a promising premisse that plays out brilliantly: the love triangle takes center stage, but the espionage game has its moments of grandeur, and both are filled with heart-stopping tension, whether motivated by suspense or burning passion.
It’s simply too cool a trilogy, with an insanely famous, talented and gorgeous cast, and a wicked soundtrack. Sometimes I wonder if it really happened.
Favorite book of all-time, second favorite film of all-time, one of my top favorite actors of all-time. I’ll write a passionate post about these three gems in the near future. In the meantime, Patrick Bateman may very well be one of the best characters of all-time as well.
I’m running out of compliments for this guy. I guess, above all, I adore and appreciate the passion Tarantino has for movies, and the fact that it shows in every thing he does.
Why would a man leave his apartment three times on a rainy night with a suitcase and come back three times? There. That’s all it takes for suspicion to arise: a series of events perceived subjectively by a spectator with limited knowledge. Jeff, the journalist who thinks one of his neighbours has murdered his (the neighbour’s) wife, has a broken leg and thus finds himself confined to his tiny apartment in New York. His trained curiosity makes him observe the life of his neighbours – at first he’s just innocently staring out the window, but soon Jeff will be hiding behind his long-distance professional lens.
Thanks to Hitchcock’s superb camera work that smudges the line between the main character and the audience, Jeff’s obsession becomes our obsession; his excitement, our excitement; his fear, our fear. Everything Jeff feels, we feel it too – even Grace Kelly’s tantalising seduction. All of it makes Rear Window one the most gripping films I’ve ever seen, fuelled by two of the most powerful suspense ingredients: doubt, and suspicion.
text taken from the Five Hitchcock Masterpieces post
Haha, cheated! Oh it was too perfect, I couldn’t resist. The former was the king of cool, the most handsome bad boy of the 60s, and you can fully enjoy his iconic ways in The Great Escape, Papillon, Bullit, and The Thomas Crown Affair. The latter is one of the most exciting directors working today, author of Hunger, Shame, and Twelve Years a Slave.
And why didn’t Steve McQueen II get a different artistic name, anyway? It’s making a mess out of my tumblr tags.
My introduction to british cinema remains one of the most impressive film experiences so far. This is England is a funny, disturbing and powerful film. Also worth a watch is the mini-series, simply spectacular.
I’ve already written two rather lengthy posts about this one – I think that speaks for the quality of it, and for how much I love both the film and the novel. brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.
RUNNER-UP: VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA
Vertigo is often regarded as Hitch’s best and was recently voted Greatest Movie of All-Time. I only hope I can still catch it in the big screen next week.
RUNNER-UP: WES ANDERSON
Another director who has forged his own unique style is Woody Allen. You can go ahead and watch one of his films, expect a mere variation of his early works and still call it a hit, but Allen has managed to improve and innovate with films such as noirish Match Point and the recent Midnight in Paris. Whether he has become a travelling agent or not I don’t really care. His latter works still pull some good laughs, and I’m sure sooner or latter he will please those of us who feel let down. And if I feel like reviving some his finest artistic moments, all I have to do is turn to Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and her Sisters, etc, etc, etc.
Second and last rule breaker: The X-Files. Technically, this is a half-breaker, for there were three X-Files movies. Admittedly, this is not about them, but you can’t blame me (they’re not exactly great).
The X-Files was a unique and spectacular show that I adore to death. Though I’m far from being a science geek or a close encounters believer, every episode about the paranormal was, and still is (of course I’m re-watching it) an absolute delight. It’s incredibly clever in the way it counterweights Scully’s and Mulder’s beliefs, and the fact that it lasted for an enticing nine years never fully acting on the love relationship between the leads until the very end just speaks to how there was so much more to this show, and most importantly, to how one can build a captivating relationship that is far beyond love and friendship. Let’s just say certain modern shows could learn from it.
As for the cheesy, outdated graphics, they’re now seen as classic, my friend.
RUNNER-UP: THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS
Yann Tiersen is a marvellous french musician and composer. My favorite of his works is the soundtrack for Good Bye Lenin.