The other four films all offered something enjoyably different with High Noon being a particular standout which has kick started my love for the Western movie genre. I revisited Avatar for the third time which was interesting to see again since the hype has died down, ventured again to Edgar Wright’s perfect Zombie movie “Shaun of the Dead” and had a surprisingly enjoyable watch of Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. Again another fine week of movies that all deserve to be in the Top 250 and still Mulholland Drive is the only film that I’ve watched that for me has failed to live up to its placing in the list.
No.81 – Der Untergang (Downfall) (2004) – Rating 8.3
Der Untergang has quite possibly the finest individual performance from any actor in all the films so far in the Imdb250 project and probably the finest performance I’ll see in the entire project, It’s mesmerizing, unforgettable and completely dominating from start to finish. Bruno Ganz plays the Fuhrer and never has he been played more memorably than this.
Set during the final explosive days of the Third Reich Der Untergang is a truly incredible epic depiction of the fall of Hitler. Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel and based on the books Inside Hitler’s Bunker: The Last Days of the Third Reich by Joachim Fest and Until the Final Hour by Hitlers personal secretary Traudl Junge, Der Untergang amazingly details the last days of Hitler’s Nazi regime.
Bruno Ganz studied Parkinson’s patients to enhance his performance of the ailing Hitler and his raging tantrums to his followers trying to keep Berlin from being invaded followed by a kind hearted offerings to his close colleagues makes Hitler all the more terrifying to watch knowing his history but seeing a human side to the character. The rest of the bunker’s cast of Hitlers comrades are equally and shockingly well depicted with Goebbels (Ulrich Matthes) arranging for his children to be killed in the final hours by his wife in a horrible and upsetting scene, Eva Braun (Juliane Köhler) being committed to the cause till the end and all the Fuhrer’s other followers shown throughout the film building on the gruesome history of the war.
It’s a long film at around 3 hours in length but every second is a claustrophobic, chilling, educational and remarkable example of film making that is so so powerful. I’m not big on my history and knew very little other than that he committed suicide in the bunker with his wife so the film was a real treat learning more of the history of this infamous character and seeing it depicted in such an incredible way. This was the year Jamie Foxx won the best actor Oscar, Bruno Ganz was not even nominated ! How, i don’t know.
There is no doubt Hitler was the most evil man on the planet and the film doesn’t hide that. Getting to know what the real Hitler was like and seeing him in his final days makes him such an interesting character to watch in a story that was so incredible and engaging that it’s hard to believe these things actually happened but all the more horrific they actually did.
No.230 – Shaun of the dead (2004) – Rating 7.9
I love Shaun of the Dead so much, it’s easily one of my favourite films of all time and it’s the most wonderful take on the Zombie film genre. Although not the first Rom-Com-Zom as promoted, Peter Jackson’s Brain Dead surely comes under that category, Shaun of the Dead is definitely one of the most enjoyable and well crafted comedy horror films ever made.
Inspired from a five minute scene in an episode of the brilliant British TV series Spaced, Shaun of the Dead uses a zombie outbreak from an unknown cause as a background to the breakup of Shaun and his girlfriend Liz and Shaun’s attempt to sort out his life to get her back battling to escape traditional Zombies in the process.
En route to the Winchester Pub, Shaun’s choice of the ideal anti Zombie fortress, He and best friend Ed (played by the the hugely funny Nick Frost) pick up Liz, her friends and other British comedy icons and lead them to safety. However things don’t go as planned as they struggle to survive as the hord of zombies grow bigger and surround the pub leaving the survivors in a desperate bid for survival.
Shaun of the Dead is incredibly funny from start to finish with some wonderful satirical moments and highly original jokes. It has some of the most memorable moments like the Zombie fight to the sound of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”, Sorting through Shaun’s LP collection to pick appropriate poor ones for missiles and Shaun’s walk to the local shop through clearly dangerous zombie riddled streets oblivious to it all to get a cornetto for Ed. Shaun of the Dead also has some wonderful graphic gore that moulds perfectly with the humour throughout and despite some slightly rough emotional moments they are quickly forgotten due to the exceptional quality of the humour and plot and the fantastic and highly enjoyable partnership of Shaun and Ed.
Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s careers took a huge step towards Hollywood due to Shaun of the Dead and there is no doubt they fully deserve it in one of the best comedies on the list.
No. 127 – High Noon (1952) – Rating 8.2
I have a special affinity with High Noon as it stars Gary Cooper who has the same first name as me and as a young kid I remember seeing a bugs bunny cartoon called “Bugs Bunny Rides Again” where Bugs slowly walks up to Yosemite Sam uttering the line “Just like Gary Copper, Huh?” and from then on I had a fascination with all things Gary Cooper, especially High Noon. I don’t know why, maybe because it was the first time I heard my name mentioned on the TV but every time I see Gary Cooper I always think of that Bugs Bunny scene.
Meanwhile, High Noon is a Western classic as Gary Cooper stars as town marshal Will Kane whose about to retire from office and go on his honeymoon with his new bride Amy (the beautiful Grace Kelly). But his honeymoon is short lived when he gets notice that the Miller gang, whose boss Frank Miller Kane had arrested and was due for execution, is due on the Noon train. Kane chooses to stay and defend the town and has until Noon to find deputies to help him fight the deadly Miller Gang.
It’s a wonderful film and an excellent concept as the film runs in real time so the clock counting down to Noon and all the tense events that lead up to it play out by the minute, a modern day 24 if you will. It works brilliantly as Kane attempts to recruit his so called friends from the town but all decline the offer leaving Kane on the strike of Noon to face off against the Miller Gang alone in a stunning shoot out that has forever been copied and parodied (Bugs Bunny) in many films since.
Gary Cooper is awesome and easily the greatest sheriff to ever grace a film, the setting of the small town with the impending doom hanging over it is superbly realised by the cast of the town folk including the Dudes Dad, a very young Lloyd Bridges, as deputy Harvey Pell desperate to step into the role of Sheriff when Kane planned to leave town and angry when plans to stay.
One of the best westerns ever made, Gary Cooper is wonderful and the real time added a wonderful anxious atmosphere. Not the highest rated Western but definitely worthy of its place in the list.
No.26 – Avatar (2009) – Rating 8.6
Avatar needs little words to introduce or explain it. It’s the biggest grossing film of all time with $2,700,278,683 so far in worldwide takings beating the previous holder Titanic whose takings are $1,843,201,268. It’s a phenomenal and an unprecedented success that has divided opinion but overall was a quite stunning visual experience never ever seen before.
Avatar is the story of a Marine called Jake Sully who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic life forms. As an Avatar, a human mind in an alien body, he finds himself torn between two worlds in a desperate fight for his own survival and that of the indigenous people the Na’vi. He falls in love with Na’vi named Neytiri and then chooses his side for a battle to save the world of Pandora. The battles are incredible, the world of Pandora is stunningly brought to life and hard to remember that it’s almost entirely computer generated, the motion capture is the best ever seen and the 3D is subtle at times and completely immersing at others and easily the best ever seen that added so much to the films success.
The story isn’t the best, the acting was pretty vacant in places but never-the-less it was a truly wonderful experience to see it again for the third time. It did feel a whole lot slower paced this time round and definitely lacks any appeal to see it at home on Blu-Ray until 3D TVs have really taken off. The only reason for me to look forward to a home release version is the making off Avatar which will be incredible to watch, the technology used is truly outstanding and revolutionary and something I can’t wait to see in the behind the scenes extras.
What ever your opinions on Avatar it is a truly incredible experience, it could have been far shorter for some but also it could have been far longer for others. It’s a film that has been watched by more people than any film in history and although never worthy of a few of the Oscar nominations it received like Best Film and arguably Best Director it did fully deserve the Oscar’s it did win Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects and Best Cinematography.
Avatar will be one of the most unique film experiences from the IMDb 250 film project I’m going to have this year but whether the film will still be there in one or two years will have to be seen.
No.91 – Braveheart (1995) – Rating 8.3
Mel Gibson’s epic movie of the Scottish hero William Wallace (Gibson), a hero whose legend has no doubt surpassed fact but basing it on fact would have made the film a lot less fun and Wallace less of a character to route for.
The film is long at around 3 hours but is magnificent in its telling of romance, political intrigue, and some of the most exciting and well filmed battle scenes committed to film. Wallace is of course played by Mel Gibson who comes off as such an awesome likable hero that you cant help route for him despite his at times hilarious accent.
Braveheart does incredibly well to make the English seem so overwhelmingly evil that you the viewer have little choice in taking Wallace’s side in everything he does and the evil leader of the English, King Edward (Patrick McGoohan), adds the perfect villainy to proceedings with a no remorse attitude to ruling the Country as his ruthlessness is equalled by his intelligence.
We follow Wallace as a child witnessing his fathers death, to his marriage to his one love and then her execution by the English that leads Wallace to fight for his country till his betrayal by his own people and finally to his horrible execution. It’s a wonderful film that really entertained me, I remember seeing it years ago and seeing it again was a real pleasure despite some discrepancies from the real history of Wallace’s character it’s a film that has almost everything with the battles in particular being the highlight and Wallace’s friends Hamish Campbell played by the superb Brendan Gleeson and Stephen the psychotic Irish fighter played by the excellent David O’Hara, both being brilliant sidekicks to Wallace mayhem.
Overall an excellent watch that suffers from some slow slow moments but it’s Mel Gibson’s Direction and acting passion that makes the film work so well and so memorable.
That’s the end of this weeks round up, Next Week is Barry’s five movies and week 13 of our IMDb250 movie project.