If you want to check out the previous weeks 1 – 7 click here for a rundown of our previous progress in the project but for now I bring you my next five films for the project of which three I had never seen before, one I haven’t seen since I was very very young and the final one is such a phenomenal a personal favourite movie of mine that I wish I could watch it again for the first time so I get that feeling I had when I first experienced it.
Of the five films, The Apartment was my favourite and how I’ve never seen it is a mystery. I suppose a lot comes down to what I grew up with as a majority of the older films I’ve seen in my life were ones I viewed with family during my youth and if my folks didn’t own it then our trusty VHS recorder would copy off the TV a limited selection depending on my families taste. I couldn’t afford to buy films for myself until I started working in the mid 90’s and by then a lot of films passed me by and I started my own taste in movies, but now I’m so glad I have the chance to see these incredible films, Old and new.
No.98 – The Apartment – Rating 8.3
Dark comedy really doesn’t get better than this. The brilliant Jack Lemmon memorably stars and Billy Wilder directs one of the best films on the list so far, It’s just one of the most wonderful films and although some would choose the perfect comedy ‘Some Like it Hot’ or the deliciously dark ‘Double Indemnity’ as their Billy Wilder movie of choice, I will now always say The Apartment is mine.
Lemmon stars as CC ‘Bud’ Baxter a bachelor who unknowingly makes the unethical attempt of climbing the corporate ladder by ‘loaning’ his apartment to members of his management chain so they can entertain their ‘women on the side’. As he makes friends in the right places he falls for elevator operator Fran Kubelik played by Shirley MacLaine who turns out is the mistress of his boss Jeff Sheldrake, the superb Fred MacMurray. Baxter climbs to Vice-President but is tormented by Miss Kubelik being an other women to his boss and has to choose his career or his dignity especially as Miss Kubelik attempts suicide in his apartment.
The film just works perfectly with the entire cast stunning, especially Jack Lemmon in the self pitying tormented Manhattan apartment owner who adds a perfect contrast of humour and compassion that makes his character so brilliant and endearing to watch. The dark humour is some of the best around and the chemistry between Lemmon and MacLaine is wonderful especially after her suicide attempt as they bond in his flat as he brings her back from the desolate mood.
There is a wonderful scene, and one of my favourites, where Lemmon gets drunk in a bar on Christmas eve and eventually brings back a lady to his flat, it’s such a great moment as the drunken depressed pair stare into a mirror at each other making empty hilarious small talk in the bar, dancing cheek to cheek and then heading back to his place where he finds the lifeless Fran Kubelik, it’s just great cinema.
The Apartment is just one of those classic films you just have to see and with Lemmon putting in arguably his greatest performance, and should have won the best actor Oscar for it, and Wilder winning Best Director and Best Picture in 1961 it fully deserves its place for all time in the best 250 films.
No.16 – City Of God – Rating 8.7
City of God or its real title of Cidade De Deus, Another first time film for me and one I have always wanted to see since its Oscar nomination for Best Director in 2002, unluckily up against Peter Jackson (Return of the King), Sofia Coppola (Lost In Translation), Clint Eastwood (Mystic River) and Peter Weir (Master & Commander) that year, so he never realy stood a chance which is a shame as I think it was the best film out of the five release that year.
The basic story is straight forward but it’s explained using fascinating multiple interweaving story-lines that is based on actual events that occurred in Rio de Janeiro during the 1960s and 1970s. A young boy named Rocket who narrates the film lives in the slums of Rio De Janeiro and is determined to make it as a photographer, fear and an instinct for self-preservation keep him from joining the gangs that rule his neighbourhood but a childhood neighbour named Li’l Zé (Leandro Firmino da Hora) grows into the ghetto’s godfather and the film follows these two and the different paths their lives take.
For all the stylish camerawork, amazing locales and incredible entertainment value, the movie is grounded by its true to life origins which is taken from Paulo Lins fact based novel, the brilliant performances of an almost entirely non-professional cast is nothing short of incredible as a majority were recruited from the streets. The stark realistic horror of life on the streets of Brazil is perfectly captured and the complex journey the film takes is mesmerizing as we are introduced to numerous characters that all impact on the lives of Rocket and Li’l Zé and how the two’s lives eventually meet again at the end.
Shocking, thrilling, entertaining and at times funny, City of God has it all and never stopped pulling me in and it’s easy to see why It has been described by some as the Brazilian Goodfellas, movies don’t get more exhilarating than this.
No.140 – Into The Wild – Rating 8.1
Directed by Sean Penn, Into the Wild is one of the lesser known movies of the list for me, I had never heard of it never heard anything about it or know anything on the origins of the movie.
Taken from the Jon Krakauer’s best-selling novel Into the Wild the film tells the remarkable true story of Chris McCandless, an honors graduate who walked into the Alaskan wilderness in 1992 to find himself but the film turns into a truly sad journey of discovery but also a beautiful journey into nature and self dependence.
Into the Wild is Penn’s most accomplished and emotional work as director and screenwriter and was just wonderful to watch especially for the stunning performance by Emile Hirsch (Lords of Dogtown) who gets so far into Chris’ psyche that it’s one of the finest performances I’ve seen from the IMDb list so far. During the film’s long two hours and twenty odd minutes, Hirsch gives an award wining performance of incredible depth and humanity that made me believe in his character and emotionally bond with which made it all the more difficult to watch as it reaches its harsh ending.
Nicknaming himself Alexander Supertramp, Chris sets off on his journey making stops at a farm in South Dakota run by Wayne Westerberg (Vince Vaughn), Taking a kayak trip down to Mexico, meets similar trailer trekkers Jan (Catherine Keener) and Rainey (Brian Dierker) who he connects with deeply, has a romance with underage Tracy (Kristen Stewart) in Slab City, an RV camp in the California desert, and most movingly of all a short relationship with a widower called Ron Franz (Hal Holbrook) who was nominated for an Oscar for his short and emotional role. Chris finally heads to Alaska and endures the final four months of his isolation there until his starved body, Hirsch actually lost forty pounds for the visually impacting scene.
The film was beautifully shot in the same locations that Chris travelled to which adds to the stark reality of it all and although being a deeply upsetting movie as it reaches the end, the journey getting there is a truly remarkable story.
No.190 – Harvey – Rating 8.0
James Stewart makes yet another appearance in the IMDb250 List and in Harvey he gives easily one of his finest.
Harvey is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Mary Chase and brought to the screen by Henry Koster in 1950 where Elwood P. Dowd (Jimmy Stewart) and his best friend Harvey, a white rabbit that only Elwood can see, entertain us through 104 minutes of this brilliant film.
Elwood P. Dowd’s wacky insistence on the real existence of his rabbit friend have driven his sister Veta (Josephine Hull with an Oscar winning performance) and his niece Myrtle Mae (Peggy Dow) into despair as they fear that Veta will never be accepted into polite society she craves and Myrtle wont find a husband with her crazy uncle in the background of their lives and so decide to have him committed to a sanitarium.
The film follows the ladies trying to convince people Elwood is crazy but he comes across as one of the most charming and incredibly nice people they’ve met. Elwood proceeds to offer his card to everyone he meets and puts everyone at ease with lovely comments which makes them feel better about themselves, it really puts a smile on your face watching James Stewart perform and definitely the defining part of the film.
James Stewart said the role of Elwood P. Dowd was one of his favorites and when watching his Oscar-nominated performance as he acts against thin air in his conversations with Harvey, you the viewer can’t shake the notion that the rabbit is as real as Elwood believes and I doubt that any actor could have done it as well as he. A truly wonderful film
No.69 – Pan’s Labyrinth – 8.4
Guillermo Del Toro’s masterpiece. Pan’s Labyrinth is everything you could want from a film and one that would be in my Top 25 films of all time easily.
Pan’s Labyrinth is set in Spain in 1944 and stars the young and incredibly talented Ivana Baquero as Ofelia, a girl who moves to an isolated military outpost with her pregnant mother (Ariadna Gil) and her new stepfather, the horrible and probably one of the greatest movie villains of all time, Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez).
Whilst exploring her new home and searching the nearby area Ofelia discovers a stone labyrinth and finds a faun (played by the stunning Doug Jones), who promises her that she’ll be returned to a magical land if she can complete three magical tasks as she is the reincarnation of a princess. Ofelia attempts the tasks but fails to follow the Faun’s rules for the second task where she ventures into lair of the Pale Man, one of the most visually striking and scary characters in any fantasy film i’ve ever seen, and she eats from his table of food when told not to, this awakens the child eating Pale man who chases her. It’s one of the most well crafted and memorable scenes of the film and Doug Jones portrayal of the Pale Man and even the Faun gives the characters an elegant and dominant presence.
The film continues with Ofelia seeking a return to the apparent fantasy world whilst her step father battles the rebels as well as being desperate for the birth of his son from Ofelia’s desperately ill mother. As Ofelia’s mother dies from birth the movie heads to a shocking conclusion as the Faun demands Ofelia to bring her newly born brother to him as the final task which will let her escape the real world to her fantasy one forever and as she flees and the rebels draw in the evil Captain Vidal gives chase that leads to a fitting and heart breaking ending.
The set design is incredibly imaginative, particularly during the fantasy sequences and Guillermo Navarro’s stunning cinematography creates a powerful and intense atmosphere that makes it so visually gorgeous throughout. Del Toro has created something truly special and a film that deserves to be higher in the list. Roll on the Hobbit!
That concludes my five movies, check out the site next week for Barry’s next five films.
Don’t forget you can follow our progress in this project at www.twitter.com/baz_mann and http://twitter.com/gary_phillips_