It’s because of this that we at HeyUGuys (and in this case we is myself and Barry) 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 34th update, my next five films watched for the project. You can find all our previous week’s updates here.
No. 171 – Twelve Monkeys (1995) – Rating 8.1
In 1996, a deadly plague kills 99% of the human population forcing the other one percent to take refuge underground. We open the film in 2035 where convict James Cole (Bruce Willis) becomes a hesitant volunteer for an experiment to travel back in time to gather information about the origins of the lethal virus and a group known as “The Army of the 12 Monkeys” that were believed to be responsible for its release.
Initially arriving at the wrong time, Cole is imprisoned and institutionalized due to appearing insane with his ideas and behaviour. Cole meets Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe) and fellow inmate Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt) sharing his stories about their future eventually convincing Railly of his quest. In a race against time, he and Kathryn try to stop the plague from occurring whilst Cole deals with his own sanity.
Twelve Monkeys is a wonderful film with short glimpses into Gilliam’s mind of visual creation with the bleak future shown with the typical Gilliam industrial run down look that always appeals to my tastes. The acting from Willis is strong and he leads the film well from scene to scene; it’s one of his finest roles and most memorable. Brad Pitt puts in a performance that earned him an Oscar nod which came shortly after his turn in Seven that made him one of the best actors of 1995, his crazed performance as Jefferey Goines inhabit some of the standout scenes in Twelve Monkeys, despite being relatively low on screen time, he aids the story by dangling a huge red herring for us throughout.
Madeleine Stowe was ok as the Doctor dragged into Cole’s journey but seemed to lack a substantial role worth caring about and was more of a needed level headedness to Cole’s decreasing sanity but it does all work very well to provide a typical magic Gilliam masterpiece that’s well worth a place on the list.
No. 194 – King Kong (1933) – Rating 8.0
The story is so well known and King Kong is one of the most loved movies of all time and deserves to be higher in the list in my opinion. The film follows Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) who agrees to star in a film directed by Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) and they sail to a mysterious island where along the way Ann falls in love with Jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot).
The natives of the island capture Ann and offer her in a sacrifice to Kong and Driscoll, Denham and the crew head off to rescue Ann but with an ulterior motive to also capture the beast and return with him to New York.
When Kong is revealed to the New York audience he escapes, captures Ann again and scales the Empire State building where he memorably fights for his life before falling to his death. Its movie magic at its best.
The film is so well made for its time with some incredible character design and stop motion that although is now dated, has enough charm and quality to hold up to make it one of the greatest movies ever made. The fights of Kong and the T-Rex’s are some of the best moments in the film and heart wrenching finale on top of the tower is stunningly played out and easily one of the most well known scenes in movie history. The cast really perform well together and it’s incredible trying to appreciate how difficult it must have been filming a movie like this, a film that had never been attempted in the huge scale of King Kong with such ambitious special effects and storyline, it’s remarkable.
The rumour of the notorious spiderpit sequence cut from the film still hangs over King Kong which hopefully will surface someday soon, the thought of giant spiders, crabs and other bugs devouring the crew is something I’m dying to see, the fact it was cut due to being too scary is part of wonderful film lore and that it’s apparently lying somewhere waiting to be found makes it more exciting. Peter Jackson revived the idea in his remake which worked really well but nothing beats wanting to see the original scene.
No. 226 – The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) – Rating 8.0
The film is the classic Robin Hood tale with Errol Flynn as the legend in tights who steals from the rich to give to the poor and it has everything you could want from a Robin Hood story.
Check list: the pivitol shooting of the King’s deer, Robin’s first meetings with Little John (Alan Hale) and Friar Tuck (Eugene Pallette), the classic archery contest trap with a cunningly disguised Robin winning by splitting his opponent’s arrow, Maid Marian romancing and the return of King Richard (Ian Hunter) from the Crusades and it is quite possibly still the best telling of the Robin Hood story.
Errol Flynn is just wonderful as the swashbuckling hero and it’s easily my favourite incarnation of the legend. He leaps, climbs, fights, charms, swings, pounces and flips to deliver everything you could want from an action hero with such great enthusiasm that makes the film more enjoyable at times that it probably should be. The look is outrageous in design thanks to the use of the three-strip Technicolor process that added a bold and bright colour to the costumes and scenery that is way over the top but another charm to the film.
The supporting cast are all equally enjoyable with Basil Rathbone as the evil Sir Guy of Gisbourne standing out and being someone I really enjoyed watching and of course the comedy from Little John and Friar Tuck adding some welcome laughs to even out the action and romance. It’s a classic film, it fully deserves its place on the list and will always hold a place in my favourite films.
No. 157 – Gone With the Wind (1939) – Rating 8.1
I’ve never been a fan of Gone with the Wind and after seeing it from start to finish for only the second time in my life I’m now more of a fan than I was before but I still struggle to enjoy the film for its story, however I am completely in awe of its production.
The film’s story is basically about Scarlett O’Hara’s love and life in the Old South around the time of the civil war. She works her way through men, gets married a few times, gets land, loses land, gets caught up in civil war and gets told where to go by one of the most charming actors of all time. all in a long four hour period with a musical intermission half way through.
The problem I have with the film is despite its long running time I take little from it that sticks with me apart from a few scenes and moments, mainly the wonderful pullback shot that reveals the devastation of the war which fills the screen which is just sublime, the ears of build up to the “Frankly my dear i don’t give a damn” scene is classic and any scene with Clark Gable is noteworthy.
Apart from that I hold little love for the film’s story or performances or even the often dull dialogue that fills it from start to finish from mostly forgettable performances in a truly remarkably designed and produced film, it’s a shame as I always expect so much more from it.
Maybe I’m missing something but for me a four hour film needs a lot more to hold my attention and to be honest I find it a strain to watch. Deserving of its place on the IMDb list? absolutely, but not for the film itself but for how much of an impact it had and how staggering its production is.
No. 248 – Blood Diamond (2006) – Rating 7.9
I could watch Leonardo DiCaprio films all day, for me he is the greatest actor of his generation and I can’t name a film I haven’t enjoyed him in. Whether it’s his early films of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? or Quick and the Dead to recent hits such as Inception or The Departed, he’s the main draw to these films for me and Blood Diamond is no different, but overall I’m not sure it deserves a place on this list.
DiCaprio stars as South African Danny Archer, a diamond smuggler from Zimbabwe who’s on the trail of a rock that’s worth a fortune. On the other side of the story is the diamond’s discoverer, Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou), whose family has been seized in the brutal 1990s Sierra Leone civil war and sent to a refugee camp. The story teams the unlikely pair and plays out a simple plot of locating the diamond with Danny promising to help free his family.
Two sub-plots develop from this story of Archer’s relationship, with the moral compass of the movie, investigative reporter Maddy (Jennifer Connelly) who is desperate for a contact to expose diamond companies from the West for having blood on their hands by exporting the blood diamonds.
The second sub plot is more emotional and hard hitting as it that tells of Solomon’s son being taken, trained and brainwashed by rebels as he is turned into a child soldier. The film loses its balls towards the end as it goes for a Hollywood ending when going for the jugular at the start with a powerful politcal message about the need for diamonds which fades away to just a diamond hunt action movie which is a shame, but still it offers a fine movie that I thoroughly enjoyed.
The performances were on the whole good, Jennifer Connelly was pretty unconvincing as the reporter and was my least favourite character of the film but Hounsou played is conflicted character brilliantly and his on screen chemistry with DiCaprio is the heart of film and very engaging. The standout though is DiCaprio, he puts in a really outstanding performance with a decent and convincing accent and providing an interesting character I gave a damn about, fully deserving of his Oscar nomination.
Not bad but not one of the best 250 films of all time.
You can find Barry’s next update next week, catch you in two.
Don’t forget, you can follow our progress on Twitter at http://twitter.com/baz_mannand http://twitter.com/Gary_Phillips