101 Films to Watch Over and Over Again – Part 8

Three Hitchcock films, Roman Polanski and more Woody Allen, Bob Hope, film noir and a truly classic gangster film highlight Part 8. These ten films are a good representation of where my cinematic desires are deepest. If I were to numerically list the films in this series many of them would land in the top twenty-five.

Notorious

notorious-1 Who ever said Alfred Hitchcock was not a romantic? After all, what could be more romantic than the final scenes in Notorious where we see Cary Grant coming to Ingrid Bergman’s rescue just in time to take her away from the murdering Nazi, Claude Rains. True, for the past two hours Grant forced Ingrid to whore herself  by playing a 20th Century Mata Hari, seducing and sleeping with Rains in order to obtain secret information. He then resents her for agreeing to do this and hates himself for forcing her do it. Yep, no one knew how to treat a woman like Mr. Hitchcock, just ask Janet Leigh in Psycho or Grace Kelly in Dial M for Murder. Notorious is a dark perverted love story. It is also a story of espionage, spies, murder and sex with Grant and Bergman as two of the most glamorous spies this side of James Bond, There’s the 180 degree POV spinning shot of Bergman’s Alicia simulating her hangover after an alcoholic binge the night before. There is a superb crane shot during the reception scene at Sebastian’s home where Hitchcock’s camera begins at the top of the stairs and slowly zooms in and down to first floor continuing to an extreme close up of Alicia’s hand and a key (to the cellar) she is holding. Then of course, there is the famous kissing scene where Hitchcock out foxed the censors with their rule of  “no kisses lasting longer than three seconds” which he managed to make more erotic than the most blatantly steamy scenes we see in today’s films. Continue reading

101 Films to Watch Over and Over Again – Part 7

Two Woody Allen films, Hitchcock, Scorsese, Altman, Ford, along with Bob Hope, The Marx Brothers and my favorite holiday film highlight Part 7 in this series.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

libertyvalance2“This is the west sir, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a classic western that stands up against the best in John Ford’s filmography. It’s a work of an elder statement taking a darker, morose look at a period in America he had glorified in earlier times.  The film represents a turning point in the history of the American west, Statehood was on the horizon; the law and civilization were coming. John Wayne’s Tom Doniphon knew his days were over and that James Stewart’s Rance Stoddard and his breed represented the future. A masterwork! Continue reading

Spring Breakers (2013) Harmony Korine

spring_breakers1It’s spring break time and thousands of college age kids have or will be making their way down to Florida’s beaches to have a swinging party in the sun. The Sunbaked State depends on tourism. They love to see young folks partying all night long, spending lots of dough, helping to boost the local economy. So a few years ago when it was announced that a new film, called Spring Breakers, would be shooting in the Tampa Bay area, city officials and others were elated. The film sounded like a fun in the sun Florida sunshine treat. The kind both the tourism industry and politicians like, showing off the Sunshine State at its exuberant beachy best. They soon would find out Spring Breakers was not going to exactly be the second coming of Elvis in Girl Happy. Continue reading

101 Films to Watch Over and Over Again – Part 6

Part 6 of this continuing series contains about seven films that, if I ranked this series numerically,  would land in the top twenty easily. These films have influenced me, taught me and have remained over the years pure orgasmic celluloid pleasures.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

invasion-of-the-body-snatchers-1956An allegory on the infiltration of communism in America? A metaphor for people turning a blind eye to the McCarthyism hysteria that was sweeping the country in the early 1950’s? An attack on the potential dangers of conformity and the stamping out of individuality? Don Siegel’s 1956 gem of a film, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, has been said to “really be about” any and all of these themes since its debut now more than fifty years ago. Siegel, who should know, never mentions any of this kind of subtext in his autobiography, A Siegel Film, so one can assume, all the reading into this classic SF film is just that, critics and filmgoers reading their own thoughts and ideas into a work of pop art. After all, isn’t personal interpretation one of the elements and joys of enjoying art? Continue reading

101 Films to Watch Over and Over Again – Part 5

With part 5, we have reached the halfway mark in this series. I’m still one film over my 101 limit, but have yet to remove it since, as I have mentioned before, titles could be added or subtracted. We shall see, Anyway, here is the next installment…

 The Godfather Part II

MCDGOTW EC001You wouldn’t think it was possible, but Francis Ford Coppola managed make an even better film with The Godfather 2. The filmmaker just didn’t take Paramount’s money and dish out a piece second rate movie making. It’s breathtaking in its scope with its dual storyline and in dep.th characters. Being a third generation Italian-American, I found the Ellis Island scenes fascinating. My grandparents came through Ellis Island and I always imagine them going thru a similar process as young Vito. And I know people whose last name was changed because the Ellis Island ‘reception committee’ could not understand these “foreigners.” There were Italian immigrants who, believe it or not, ended up with German sounding last names or something else as strange for their background. I found most fascinating to watch the contrast between De Niro’s young meditative young Vito and the more power hungry, unsympathic Michael. A study in power gone corrupt. Continue reading

My Best Films of 2014

It’s mid-February, the Oscars are less than a week away, and here I am finally coming out with my best list. The main reason why is due the theatrical patterns here where I live. For example, Still Alice, with Julianne Moore’s superb performance, only opened up here on February 13th. A Most Violent Year opened just one week earlier. If I keep waiting to see every film that should be considered, among them, The Babadook, Inherent Vice, it would be October. That said, here are my top 10, as well as, some honorable mentions.

10. LIFE ITSELF

Life Itself

9. NIGHTCRAWLER

Nightcrawler

8. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL_c371.JPG

7. WHIPLASH

tn_gnp_et_1011_whiplash

6. THE IMMIGRANT

TheImmigrantb

5. BIRDMAN

birdman-be-the-first-superhero-movie-nominated-for-best-picture

4. IDA

IDa

3. SELMA

Selma

2. BOYHOOD

boyhood-poster

1. THE IMITATION GAME

imitation-game-1

Honorable Mentions

(in alphabetical order)

A Most Violent Year

A Walk Among the Tombstones

Big Eyes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Finding Vivian Maier

Gone Girl

Mr. Turner

The Normal Heart

The Skeleton Twins

The Theory of Everything

Top Five

Venus in Fur

5 Shades of Classic Films Sexier Than…

Here are five films that are sexier, steamier than anything 50 Shades of Grey will expose. Due to the Production Code’s innate rules Hollywood’s films of yesteryear had to find ways to express sexually within rules that would not allow nudity, long kisses or even married couples in bed together. Here are five films from the heyday of Hollywood that are sexier than 50 Shades of Grey. Continue reading