THE 100 GREATEST FILMS OF ALL TIME – 16: STAR WARS

by Daniel Suddes

Star Wars (1977) Written and Directed by: George Lucas  Produced by:  Lucas and Gary Kurtz  Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, and featuring the voice James Earl Jones. Oscar Count: 6 (Best Art Direction, Best Costuming, Best Visual Effects, Best Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound. Also nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Guinness), Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay)

It’s time to state the obvious.  The Star Wars saga is, in many ways, a mess of storytelling and filmmaking technique. The writing is terrible, the acting is weak, and the entire universe is some sort of far-fetched mess. Lucas has spent his entire career editing and changing his masterpiece, and then trying to pretend those edits did not happen.  And this is not even getting into prequels (the first two of which are completely dead creatively).  Also, Star Wars effectively ended the auteur period in Hollywood. Star Wars is an unusual film to critique and is a failure by many standards. Continue reading

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THE 100 GREATEST FILMS OF ALL TIME – 17: L.A. CONFIDENTIAL

by Daniel Suddes

L.A. Confidential (1997)  Directed by: Curtis Hanson. Screenplay by: Brian Helgeland and Hanson. Based on the Novel by James Ellroy. Produced by: Arnon Milchan, Michael Nathanson, and Hanson. Starring: Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Danny DeVito, and Kim Basinger. Oscar Count: 2 (Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. Also nominated for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Picture, Best Music, Best Editing, and Best Sound)

It was a tall order to adapt James Ellroy’s sprawling novel into a film. Much of the satire has been eliminated, which is the source of criticism amongst Ellory fans. But what is left is more than good enough for an examination of illusions in art and human nature. Each of the three main characters (Bud White, Ed Exley, and Jack Vincennes) each continuously cross the line between hero and villain. I am not really sure if the film wants certain characters to be one or the other. Maybe the point is that Hollywood constantly views life and authority in such blanket statements. But the characters are far too complex and morally bankrupt after years of committing violent acts that they cannot be considered heroes, even if their intentions are good. Continue reading

THE 100 GREATEST FILMS OF ALL TIME – 18: ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST

by Laurent Kelly


Once upon a time in the west (1968) – Directed by: Sergio Leone  Original Screenplay:  Sergio Leone and Sergio Donati   Starring: Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Jason Robards, Claudia Cardinale  OSCAR COUNT (0)

Once upon a time in the west is the story of Charles Bronson’s character Harmonica joining forces with Jason Robards Cheyenne in order to protect Claudia Cardinale’s widow from the grips of Henry Fonda’s villain Frank, a man who Harmonica also has a score to settle with for  murdering his brother when he was young.

It is a basic revenge plot which is not unsurprising given that the initial story was co-penned by legendary horror director Dario Argento who within his own directorial work became  far more intrigued by imaginative mastery than characterization. What makes the film stand out in its genre however is its technically outstanding style which coats the film in an unforgettable atmosphere and offers it a fresh vitality that makes it hard to believe that it is just over forty years old. Continue reading