by Daniel Suddes
Rashomon. 1950. Directed by: Akira Kurosawa Screenplay by: Kurosawa and Shinobu Hashimoto. Based upon the stories “Rashomon” and “In a Bamboo Grove” written by Ryûnosuke Akutagawa. Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori. Oscar Count: 0 (Nominated for Best Art Direction – Black and White).
In any “greatest films” list, director Akira Kurosawa will likely have multiple entries. And with good reason – he was the filmmaker who acted as a sort of ambassador to two nations, and in fact is the reason that there ever existed a “foreign” section in any film rental place. Rashomon was the film that introduced audiences to world cinema. The fact that it came from a country still recovering from World War II makes it all the more impressive. It is also one of the few films that has entered the vernacular as a way to describe something. When someone says “like Rashomon” they are describing a situation that has multiple interpretations, but really does not have any “truth” that can be agreed upon. Continue reading
by Laurent Kelly
Sunset Boulevard (1950) – Director: Billy Wilder Original Screenplay: Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett and D. M. Marshamann Jr. Starring: William Holden, Gloria Swonsen, Eric Von Stronheim, Nancy Olson OSCAR COUNT (3) – Original Screenplay, Music, Art Direction
“Celebrity is a mask that eats into the face.”
– John Updike
The birth of sound spelt the end for a golden generation of actors who had flourished within the theatre of silence. They could let their bodies tell the story with their demonstrative movements capturing a wide range of emotions and their heavy handed mannerisms suiting the larger than life appeal of the big screen.
When The Jazz Singer emerged as the first talking picture however in the late twenties it ushered in the start of a groundbreaking new era that would leave behind far more stars than it carried through. Suddenly vocal talent was essential and movement was required to become more subtle and underplayed. Joan Crawford and Greta Garbo were two actresses who famously managed to continue their success within this new regime but most were not so lucky. Continue reading
by Daniel Suddes
The Seventh Seal (1957) Directed by: Ingmar Bergman Written by: Ingmar Bergman. Starring: Max von Sydow, Bengt Ekerot, Nils Poppe, Bib Andersson. Oscar Count: (0)
Is it possible to look at this film with fresh eyes? The premise today of a man playing a board game with Death (or the embodiment of death) may seem like B-grade fodder. It has been used to often in so many different films by so many different people. Everyone from Woody Allen to Bill and Ted has made their own version of this film. Neil Gaiman changed the genders of Death in his landmark Sandman series, but not much else. Can something that has been seen in so many places still be surprising and influential?
Yes, because of the state of mind Bergman was in. The famed Swedish auteur did not really want to make a religious film. Bergman stated many times that he was afraid of death, and made this film in order to conquer it. Now, the film does not examine any idea of what the afterlife (if there is one) may be like. Rather, it is about the journey of those who are seeking meaning in their short lives, at a time when the dead and dying were on display everywhere. The knight Block (who has likely been killed in the Crusades he is returning from) finds his home country has been ravaged by the plague, and many people are trying to figure out why. After all, they have done God’s bidding, going to destroy the heathens in the south. Why have they been punished so? But no answer is forthcoming. Continue reading
by Brek the David
Apocalypse Now (1979) – Director: Francis Ford Coppola Adapted Screenplay: Francis Ford Coppola and John Millius Starring: Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Marlon Brando, Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, Harrison Ford, Frederic Forrest OSCAR COUNT (2) – Best Cinematography, Best Sound
I’m not a huge fan of Francis Ford Coppola’s films save three: Godfather Part I and Part II, and Apocalypse Now. I’m not even sure he intended for Apocalypse Now to be seen the way it is by some. Before delving into this bizarre picture, first praise must set at the feet of the actors of this film. This is one of the best ensemble casts in motion picture history. Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, and a very young and green Laurence Fishburne. Albert Hall as the Chief might be the best of the bunch. Finally, there’s the late great Dennis Hopper as the spaced out photojournalist who believes in Kurtz’s greatness. This film has little middle ground; people seem to love or hate it, but most everyone would agree that the performances of Apocalypse Now are stellar. All the performances taken together as a whole, this is easily one of the best acted films of all time. Continue reading