Casablanca (1942) Directed by: Michael Curtiz Produced by: Jack L Warner and Hal B Wallis Screenplay by: Julius J Epstein, Phillip J Epstein, and Howard Koch. Based on the play “Everybody Comes to Rick’s” by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, Conrad Veidt, and Arthur “Dooley” Wilson Oscar Count: 3 (Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Also nominated for Best Actor (Bogart), Best Supporting Actor (Rains), Best Editing, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score).
In many ways, it’s fascinating that Casablanca has had the success that it has with everyone. Most modern viewers, when looking at a film like this (or any old film) thinks that it is standard fare, when, in fact, all other films have copied its influence. Continue reading
by Daniel Suddes
Brazil (1985) Directed by: Terry Gilliam Written by: Gilliam, Tom Stoppard, and Charles McKeown Produced by Arnon Milchan and Patrick Cassavetti Starring: Johnathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Robert De Niro, Michael Palin, Ian Holm, Katherine Helmond, and Jim Broadbent Oscar Count: 0 (Nominated for Best Art Direction and Best Original Screenplay)
Terry Gilliam’s Brazil is a film that has had its reputation expand enormously since its release twenty seven years ago. When it was first released, this story of a lowly bureaucrat trapped in a vast, soulless world, who dreams of something more for himself was certainly acclaimed, but was not widely seen in the U.S. In part, this was due to a feud between the director and studio, which was almost as famous as the film itself. But it remained in the public consciousness, and is now recognized as the masterpiece that Gilliam set out for it to be. Continue reading
Vertigo (1958) Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock Screenplay by: Alec Coopel and Samuel A Taylor Based on the Novel D’Entre Les Morts by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac Produced by: Herbert Coleman Starring: James Stewart, Kim Novak, and Barbara Bel Geddes Oscar Count: 0 (Nominated for Best Sound and Best Art Direction)
After the initial critical and box office failure of Vertigo, famed master of suspense, was never allowed to make another “film.”
Don’t get me wrong. Hitchcock made plenty of crowd pleasing films, that were successful critically and commercial. But except for Psycho, Hitchcock was never free to experiment again (and he only got away with that slasher shocker because it was cheap to make). The rest of his films were fairly standard, designed with the studio’s bottom line in mind. They also conform to the rigid standards of a thriller – good vs evil, intense action sequences, and the use of the Cold War or the media obsession with violent crime in the background. There was never an exploration of humanity or with analyzing what makes us tick.
by Daniel Suddes
Chinatown (1974) – Directed by: Roman Polanksi Written by: Polanski (uncredited) and Robert Towne Produced by: Robert Evans and C.O. Erickson Starring: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Houston, and Diane Ladd Oscar Count: 1 (Best Original Screenplay for Robert Towne. Also nominated for Best Actor (Nicholson), Best Actress (Dunaway), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound, and Best Picture.)
No one really understands Chinatown.
Most modern critics view the film as the last of the classic film noirs (released two decades outside the time period) and view it as the final word on noir. Everything that has come after Chinatown is only trying to be ironic and make a knowing film noir. Certainly, everything from Se7en to Who Framed Roger Rabbit have borrowed elements from this film, and have been blatant about what they were trying to do. Chinatown is not. Continue reading
by Laurent Kelly
Crimes and Misdemeanours (1989) Directed and written by: Woody Allen Starring: Martin Landau, Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Alan Alda, Anjelica Huston, Claire Bloom OSCAR COUNT (0) – Nominated for Director, Original Screenplay and Supporting Actor (Landau)
Crimes and Misdemeanours portrays two loosely linked stories which each show how life affirming notions of virtue and morality serve no real function in a world ruled by the rich and powerful. What makes the film outstanding is that its narrative leads one to anticipate that a sense of justice will prevail only to then to subvert this tone with a cruel ending that mirrors the harsh nature of everyday society. That Allen’s script also manages to incorporate deft comedy within these tragic tales without nullifying the impact of the drama speaks volumes about how masterfully it is crafted. Continue reading
by Laurent Kelly
Jaws (1975) – Director: Steven Spielberg Adapted Screenplay: Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss OSCAR COUNT (3) – Best film editing, Best original score, Best sound.
Jaws represents Spielberg at his finest, blending warm characters with exhilerating set pieces that make an art form of all the technical aspects of filmmaking. Evidence that Spielberg was born to make such high concept blockbusters can be seen in his mostly futile attempts at serious minded filmmaking which nearly all feel artificial in their attempts at conveying emotion and overly sentimental when trying to establish the grim subject matter. Continue reading
by Dan Suddes
Apocalypse Now (1979) Produced and Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola Written by: Coppola, John Milius and Michael Herr Based on the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad Starring: Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Lawrence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, and Marlon Brando. Oscar Count: 2 (Best Sound, Best Cinematography. Also Nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Duvall),Best Art Direction, Best Editing, Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay)
Apocalypse Now, for all intents and purposes, should have been an outright disaster a la Heaven’s Gate. Indeed, that famous bomb’s shoot tried to emulate Now as much as possible. But Cimino’s flop turned into one of the most incomprehensible films ever made; a film that so recklessly tried to be the definitive statement of a shameful time in America that ended up feeling like a drugged teenager’s graffiti mural painted on the side of the National Museum of The American Indian. Continue reading