by Daniel Suddes
Taxi Driver (1976) – Dir: Martin Scorsese Original Screenplay: Paul Schrader Starring: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Sybill Shepherd, Harvey Keitel, Albert Brooks, Peter Boyle OSCAR COUNT (0) – Nominated for Best Picture, Leading Actor and Supporting Actress
This is Martin Scorsese’s second entrant in this countdown. To view his other entry see below:
The best art is the art that holds a giant mirror up to society. No film captures the American spirit, crushed by the Vietnam War and Watergate, more than Taxi Driver. The main character Travis Bickle is the embodiment of American weariness and doubt. Throughout the film, he tries to do what is right. However, no one seems to recognize his intentions and shun him. Is it any surprise that Bickle was a Vietnam War veteran? It should not be. Travis Bickle is the American attitude at the bicentennial. It is this attitude that makes it one of the greatest films of all time.
Like Travis’ mind, the film flows frequently into non sequiturs. Taxi Driver does not have a plot in any conventional sense (Scorsese joked that the only film of his with a plot was The Departed). It is meant to be more of a character study. Bickle is an insomniac who takes a job as a taxi driver to keep his mind occupied. He starts dating a woman named Betsy, becomes involved a presidential campaign, and then tries to save a young prostitute. That’s basically it – but the film is not held together by what happens to Travis. It is held together by how Travis interprets what is going on. He sees himself as the sort of hero that people such as the Unabomber thought they were. He talks about how much he wants to clean up the city, but is just as much a part of the filth as what he criticizes. He is racist, misogynistic, socially awkward, under educated, and unstable. Bickle is not meant to be any sort of role model. Continue reading
Brek recently included this Frank Capra rom-com classic in our 100 greatest films countdown and now here is a chance to watch the entire film for free on our website.
by Laurent Kelly
Rear Window (1954) – Director: Alfred Hitchcock Starring: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr Adapted Screenplay: John Michael Hayes OSCAR COUNT (0) – Nominated for Direction and Screenplay
This is Alfred Hitchcock’s second entry in this countdown. To view his previous entry see below:
Rear Window is centred around an ingenious premise which I’m sure many writers which they had considered themselves namely what would happen if you grew increasingly suspicious about the behaviour of a neighbour across the road. Its a simple but perfect idea expertly handled by Alfred Hitchcock. There is a reason why he was given the monikker of the master of suspense and this film is further proof of his delightful cinematic gifts.
The most admirable element of Rear Window is its patient plotting as the potentially whacky scenario thankfully never descends into an elaborate, overblown gimmick. Like the protagonist Jeffrie we begin to gradually piece together the clues and become caught up in the adventure of trying to solve the case. As the characters become immersed deeper into the puzzle some thrilling moments are wonderfully staged such as Grace Kelly’s character Lisa Carol who investigates the killers apartment only for the man himself to return whilst she is blissfully roams around in his home. Jeffrie is helpless, bound in his wheelchair much like we as an audience become completely helpless and can do nothing but watch as it appears as if she will be caught. The use of dramatic irony in this sequence is brilliantly utilised, bringing the audience into the story and heightening the emotional appeal towards her character. Continue reading
by Daniel Suddes
King Kong (1933) – Directors: Merian C.Cooper and Ernest B. Shoedsack Screenplay: James Ashmore Creelman, Ruth Rose Starring: Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot, Frank Reicher OSCAR COUNT (0)
King Kong virtually created the template that all modern Hollywood Blockbusters follow.
It depends on the effects (breathtaking at the time, and for all time) and the ability to transport audiences into new worlds. A world like the one in King Kongcould not exist. But then, film these days depends on exactly that – making the impossible a reality. King Kong was really the first film in sound to truly utilize and build these techniques.
But there is a reason for its enduring appeal. That is a central mystery of the film – why has it lasted for almost eighty years? Its appeal to a younger audience may be a part of it, but I know all types of people who enjoy it. I think there are two reasons for this. One is that the effects still strangely affect everyone who watches it due to their dream like quality. The second is that the film’s theme of man versus nature is a theme that has never really gone away. King Kong is a sort of revenge fantasy, in a way. King Kong, a natural wonder, wreaks havoc against man’s greatest creations and most triumphant achievements. He is nature trying to show civilization how easily it can be destroyed by the things man has spent centuries trying to tame.
Many would say that the stop motion effects look tame by today’s standards. It is true that Peter Jackson’s film looks far more realistic than this one. But I prefer the fantasy look that the more “primitive” effects in this film. It helps Skull Island actually feel like a fantasy world. Obviously dinosaurs and giant gorillas never got into fist fights (unless some paleontologists have been holding out on us) and Jackson’s version seemed to want to change that fact. The original does not bother with that illusion – it is like watching a magician on stage. I know that it is all just a trick, but it is one that becomes fascinating the more you watch it. It presents the idea of a land that time has forgotten – which is more honest than trying to make it real. Continue reading
by Brek the David
Halloween (1978) – Director: John Carpenter Screenplay: John Carpenter, Debra Hill Starring: Donald Pleasence. Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Tony Moran OSCAR COUNT (0)
Lindsey Wallace: I’m scared!
Laurie: There’s nothing to be scared of.
Tommy Doyle: Are you sure?
Tommy Doyle: How?
Laurie: I killed him…
Tommy Doyle: [shouts] But you can’t kill the boogie man!
There are different types of horror. That’s possibly why I love the genre so much. I relish all the various flavors save the trash like Hostel and other gore fests. Now gore itself isn’t bad, it’s the context of the gore that matters. Still, most of the time, I prefer most graphic violence to occur off screen where our imaginations take over. Hitchcock was masterful at this, but so was John Carpenter in Halloween.
What might not be known or realized by today’s youth is that Michael Myers is the first unstoppable killer. Myers spawned countless copycats, some good, some mediocre, but most awful. Myers, like Jason after him, is more force of nature than man. He’s the uncaring, unstoppable personification of death, and death comes to us all in time. Beyond this, while Myers does brutally murder much of the cast, his grisly deeds are never shown in detail. For instance when he kills a boyfriend of one of the female characters, all we see is the reflection of scant light on the knife that does the job. Seconds later we see Myers has pinned the poor bastard to the wall with the knife, but the actual stabbing is never seen. Minutes later Myers shows up shrouded in a sheet, wearing his previous victim’s glasses, giving the girlfriend the worst and last “trick” she’ll ever endure. Continue reading
by Laurent Kelly
12 Angry Men (1957) Director: Sidney Lumet Screenplay: Reginald Rose (story) Starring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Warden, Ed Begley OSCAR COUNT (0) – Nominated for Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay
“It’s always difficult to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. And wherever you run into it, prejudice always obscures the truth. I don’t really know what the truth is. I don’t suppose anybody will ever really know. Nine of us now seem to feel that the defendant is innocent, but we’re just gambling on probabilities – we may be wrong. We may be trying to let a guilty man go free, I don’t know. Nobody really can. But we have a reasonable doubt, and that’s something that’s very valuable in our system. No jury can declare a man guilty unless it’s SURE. We nine can’t understand how you three are still so sure. Maybe you can tell us.”
The case seems crystal clear to the majority of the men in the room. The young Spanish-American murdered his father. Alright, let’s go home. Luckily our heroic protagonist simply known as Juror 8 and played expertly by actor Henry Fonda is not so close minded and easily convinced.Gradually he starts to unravel not just the evidence but also the prejudices of the other men in the room who clearly want the young boy locked up for reasons that havenothing to do with the case itself. Continue reading
by Brek the David
Director: Frank Capra Screenplay: Robert Riskin Starring: Clark Gable, Claudette Golbert, Walter Connolly OSCAR COUNT (5) Best Picture, Best Director, Best Lead Actor, Best Lead Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay – first film in history to win the big five at the Academy.
Let’s face it, It Happened One Night is the formula for pretty much every romantic comedy that’s ever come after it. This isn’t a bad thing though, as this film is kind of a modern retelling as Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. This formula works and it’s basically like printing money. I’m not a big fan of romantic comedies, but I do appreciate them when they’re well done. Since I’m not a big fan, I haven’t seen every romantic comedy under the sun, but I can’t see how they’d be able to match It Happened One Night. Well there is The Graduate, but that film seems more a deconstruction of the romantic comedy.
Obviously, for a romantic comedy to work there has to be chemistry between the leading lady and the leading man. Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert have this in spades. For those that haven’t seen this film, Colbert plays a rich spoiled heiress that runs away from her arranged marriage. Gable is a down on his luck reporter that’s just been fired. On a bus to wherever, the destination not being important, the two meet and it is not love at first sight. He sees her as a naïve awkward woman, and she sees him as a rude, overbearing man. Once he finds out who she is though, he’s stuck to her like glue. It Happened One Night shines the most when the two are locked in a verbal duel. It’s a game she can’t win since she’s been sheltered her whole life, but she often gives as good as she gets. It’s quite fascinating, not to mention entertaining (both humorous and touching), as both begin to see each other’s good qualities that endear them to one another, until they finally realize they love one another. Continue reading