It’s because of this that we at HeyUGuys (and in this case we is myself and Gary) have decided to set ourselves a project. To watch and review all 250 movies on the list. We’ve frozen the list as of January 1st of this year. It’s not as simple as it sounds, we are watching them all in one year, 125 each.
This is our 35th update, my next five films watched for the project. You can find last week’s update here.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – No. 24 8.6
A rookie FBI agent is assigned to try and bargain information out of notorious cannibal Hannibal Lecter, who is kept in a maximum security prison. Lecter, once a respected psychiatrist, is asked to give insight into an ongoing case following a serial killer at large, a man who is skinning his victims.
Lecterplays cat and mouse with young agent Starling, getting into her head and earning her trust. In the end, he provides Starling with some of the information she needs to bring down ‘Buffalo Bill’, but it comes at a price. Whilst Lecter has gained too much respect for Starling to set his sights on the inexperienced agent, he seizes the chance to gain revenge against those that have incarcerated him for so long.
A bit of a strange one this for me. I’ve seen Silence of the Lambs on numerous occasions now, and always find myself bored by it. There’s no question of the brilliance of Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter. A very well written, fascinatingcharacter brought to life by an outstanding acting performance. Thanks to the mythology built up around him, and Hopkins perfect delivery, this diminutive figure trapped behind a wall of glass comes across as terrifying, and it is this element i believe that is the reason for the movies inclusion on the list.
Jodie Foster does a decent job as rookie FBI agent Starling, but it is only really her exchanges with Lecter that provide the best moments of the film. The rest of the story, revolving around the serial killer Buffalo Bill, and the puzzles Starling follows to track him down, is actually pretty tedious. The movies tense finale is gripping, and allows the tale to end on a high note, but the details of the case are the stuff of an ordinary CSI episode but for Lecter’s involvement.
Silence of the Lambs is only on the list, in my opinion, for the brilliance of Hopkins as Lecter. Whilst you could argue this is what the movie is about, the problem comes when he is not on screen. I haveto give props, though, to any movie that manages to get you rooting for a serial killer. In those final moments, you can’t help but cheer inside when you realise what Mr Lecter is going to do to his former jailer…
Vertigo (1958) – No 41 8.5
A former detective, retired due to his developing Vertigo, is hired by an old friend to investigate his wife Madeleine’s increasingly odd behavior. She believes she is the reincarnation of a woman who died many years ago. The detective follows her and rescues her from an apparent suicide attempt. He gets to know her and falls in love with her. Whilst exploring her claims together, she tragically falls to her death from a steeple.
Several months later, the detective meets a woman who is the spitting image of Madeleine. He tries to re-make her into Madeleine’s image by getting her to dye her hair and wear the same type of clothes. He soon begins to realize however that everything is not as it seems.
I haven’t really got on that well with Hitchcock during this project, and for much of Vertigo the same pattern was emerging. The relationship between Stewart’s detective Ferguson and the mysterious Madeleine was frankly a little too poorly sketched for me. That is, until the pivotal moment when he sees her fall to her death.
It is his subsequent obsession with her doppelganger, and his attempts to make her look like Madeleine that make the brilliance here in my opinion. The genuinely creepy way in which Stewart pushes her to change her appearance is brilliantly played out, and fascinating to watch. The subsequent climax is maybe a bit of a letdown, but overall a fantastic final third just about make up for an almost meandering first hour.
Hitchcock is considered one of the greatest filmmakers in history, and my inability to appreciate his work throughout the project concerns me a little bit. I can’t help but think the rapid nature in which i have been watching films is colouring my ability to truly enjoy some great movies, and it is Hitchcock’s work that i will revisit the most once the project is over.
Forrest Gump (1994) – No. 39 8.5
Village idiot Forrest Gump stumbles through life with low intellect, but his big heart and his knack for being in the right place at the right time see him making huge achievements, figuring in some of the biggest events of American history. All these great periods of his life, however, are meaningless to him, as he spends his time thinking of the love of his life, childhood sweetheart Jenny.
I had forgotten in recent years how much i like Tom Hanks. Whether it be the dull as dishwater Dan Brown adaptations he has appeared in, or the fact that he hasn’t really done much else, i can’t be sure. It wasn’t until the last few months that my appreciation for his work came flooding back.
Hanks does a brilliant job of portraying the running fool that is Forrest Gump. At no point was i seeing Hanks, which meant i genuinely accepted the character of Forrest Gump for the moron that he was. My problem with Forrest Gump is not in the performances. Robin Wright is good as the self destructive Jenny, and Gary Sinise is brilliant as the grumpy Lieutenant Dan.
For me, the problem with Forrest Gump is that it provokes in me no emotional response whatsoever. The story is just a patchwork quilt of several peoples different lives woven together as one mans. The jumping from sketch to sketch destroy any hope of believability, but it took me the whole movie’s duration to realise exactly what it was that was leaving me cold. It was in the final moments, when i actually felt some sympathy for the characters, that i understood the problem. Forrest Gump is so stupid, so unable to grasp the gravity of events in his life, that he cannot be attributed any responsibility for any of his actions. This means that despite the great things he does, the moments of great kindness, or achievement, he cannot be praised for them. Whilst he may be inherently good, his acts are not of bravery or compassion, but an ingrained sense of right and wrong that his poor Mother instilled in him. Almost like a computer programme written to provide the correct responses.
That is why it is only at the very end, when Gump meets his son, that any emotional connection came. He seems to grasp the situation, realises he cannot be a functioning father, but still wants to meet and get to know his son. This is an uncharacteristic response that provides the only real poignant moment of the movie. I can see what the people involved were trying to achieve, and i don’t think its failure is necessarily an indication of their inability. I just think that the experiment didn’t work, and the only response is to shrug and move on. Top 250 films? I seriously just do not get it.
The Grapes of Wrath (1940) – No. 169 8.1
Tom Joad returns home from jail to find his family and others kicked out of their farms, due to unprofitable conditions and subsequent foreclosures. He catches up with them on his Uncles farm, and together they must make a huge decision. With Oklahoma now little more than a dustbowl, they must travel to California, a land of promise.
The journey, however, is treacherous. When they do finally arrive at their destination, they find not a land of dreams at all, but an environment of hostility and exploitation.
As a look at the struggles of mankind struggling to adapt to change, of personal sacrifice, and great bravery in the face of overwhelming odds, The Grapes of Wrath is brilliant. From the opening scenes in which a young man discovers his whole life as he knew it has been destroyed, to the cruelty that is shown by those with towards those without, it is a beautiful and heart wrenching film. Every moment of interaction between the members of the desperate family has an emotional weight to it. The scenes showing the togetherness of the transient families as they try and help and support each other are genuinely affecting, and the constant roadblocks put in the way of a group of people fighting to survive genuinely infuriated me.
Perfectly understated performances, measured pacing and a touching, bitter sweet ending combine to make The Grapes of Wrath, for me, one of the best films i’ve watched for the IMDb250project.
Se7en (1995) – No. 28 8.6
When a man is tied up and found fed to death, it is intially put down to a crazy revenge/dispute killing. But as more murders mount up, it becomes clear to detectives Mills and Somerset that it is the work of a serial killer with a message to deliver. As the pieces of the puzzle are put together, the weary Somerset realises it is a murder ‘project’ meant to cover the seven deadly sins.
The detectives come close to catching the mysterious ‘John Doe’, but he manages to stay a step ahead. It is only at the climax that they realise that their involvement is no coincidence, and that they must play a part in the final part of Does murderous puzzle.
Whilst Seven will probably be best remembered for the big twist at the end, the film is much more than just that. Brilliant performances by Morgan Freeman by the world weary Somerset, and Brad Pitt as the ambitious young detective Mills bring the script alive, and they play off of each other very well.
The movie is well paced, and the unpredictable plot brings about many surprises along the way. The ‘puzzle’ is well constructed, with each horrendous death bringing new depths of horror. Long before the gripping finale, you’ve been put through the mental wringer, but even that isn’t enough to prepare you for the horrifying brilliance of the closing scenes.
Possibly the best crime/serial killer movie ever made, Seven keeps you guessing, on the edge of your seat, for every minute of its running time. A true modern classic of film.
Come back next Monday for update 36. You can follow our progress at www.twitter.com/baz_mann and www.twitter.com/gary_phillips_