Films viewed in 2011

Posts Tagged ‘60s’

494. 8 1/2

In Foreign Language on August 20, 2012 at 11:51 AM

Dir. Frederico Fellini

A harried movie director retreats into his memories and fantasies.

MY TAKE

Tricky business this film reviewing 50 years after the fact. Frederico Fellini’s 8 ½ (1963) is still widely regarded as a cinematic masterpiece after creating a small firestorm on its release, winning two Oscars along the way. The visuals remain striking and bizarre, and the overall atmosphere manages to capture the chaos of an artistic mind desperately grasping for both creative and sexual releases. But I couldn’t help feeling like more context was required for piecing together this poetic puzzle. The title may refer to the number of times you need to see it before the whole thing really clicks.

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456. If….

In Drama on January 27, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Dir. Lindsay Anderson

In this allegorical story, a revolution lead by pupil Mick Travis takes place at an old established private school in England.

MY TAKE

If you are as eternally enamoured with Malcolm McDowell’s performance in A Clockwork Orange as I am, you owe it to yourself to see his first film If…. Lindsay Anderson’s bitingly satirical send-up to boys schools is packed with wonderful dialogue and sinister undertones that lead to an explosively shocking finale.  Chaptered and sometimes surreal in it’s telling, the counter-revolution narrative is easy to misread by today’s nihilistic standards of school violence. X rated in England at the same time it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, the film is still a riot to watch 44 years later.

449. Z

In Foreign Language on January 25, 2012 at 9:36 AM

Dir. Costa-Garvas

Following the murder of a prominent leftist, an investigator tries to uncover the truth while government officials attempt to cover up their roles.

MY TAKE

Political thrillers don’t get much better than Costa-Garvas’ Z. Although loosely based on a real-life Greek assassination from 1963, the film is set in a nameless Mediterranean city to better capture the general sprit of revolution rampant in the 60s.  The resulting French-Algerian film has a similar energy to The Battle of Algiers, but framed around a more conventional story and common cinematographic style.  But that’s about the only way to apply the words “conventional” and “common” to this otherwise pulse-pounding and thought-provoking thriller.

444. Bonnie and Clyde

In Crime on January 20, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Dir. Arthur Penn

A somewhat romanticized account of the career of the notoriously violent bank robbing couple and their gang.

MY TAKE

The movie that shook Hollywood out of its self-imposed censorship slumber still holds up today as an exciting and entertaining biography. Remembered primarily for it’s ruthlessly bloody final scene, Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde is anything but an exploitation film and earns the emotion that it violently arouses by sending the two fated lovers to their infamous end. Faye Dunaway has looks that could kill in every frame, while Warren Beatty brings an almost “ah-schucks” approach the action that feels appropriately naïve and insecure. Both do a bang-up job that somehow gets away clean at being pretty wicked people.

437. The Battle of Algiers

In Foreign Language on January 9, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Dir. Gillo Pontecorvo

An account of the bloodiest revolution in modern history.

MY TAKE

The Battle of Algiers is so powerful, so incredible, and so realistic that the filmmakers actually felt compelled to put a disclaimer stating that “not one foot of newsreel or documentary film has been used.”  The thousands of rioting people in the streets, the bombings in public places and the entire visual approach still have a devastating effect on the unsuspecting viewer. Particularly effective is the time stamps and episodic storytelling that weave together the conflict and portray both sides as being vicious and indiscriminant in their brutality. Without question, Gillo Pontecorvo crafted one of the most exciting and important works in modern cinema.


310. Le samouraï

In Foreign Language on October 5, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Dir. Jean Pierre Melville

Hitman Jef Costello is a perfectionist who always carefully plans his murders and never gets caught.

MY TAKE

How do you say cool in French? Le samourai. Jean-Pierre Melville’s atmospheric assassin picture literally re-defines a genre usually clouded with noise and unrealistic action. Alain Delon perfectly embodies the methodical focus of a professional gun-for-hire, with face of a ladykiller and calm demeanor that would chill any man. The only part of this film that let me a little cold was the ending, when more options seem available than are ever presented. But overall, this film still stands out from the long line of imitators that have come afterwards.

219. The Hustler

In Drama on September 2, 2011 at 3:10 PM

Dir. Robert Rossen

An up-and-coming pool player plays a long-time champion in a single high-stakes match.

MY TAKE

The Hustler earns it’s name from the opening scene, which perfectly sets up everything we need to know about Fast Eddie and the pool scene. As the games go on and the stakes are raised, watching Paul Newman unravel is a hugely rewarding experience. The marathon match against Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) surely could have been trimmed, but this Oscar-winning classic about pool sharks holds up swimmingly.

191. Midnight Cowboy

In Drama on August 28, 2011 at 8:33 AM

Dir. John Schlesinger

A naive male prostitute and his sickly friend struggle to survive on the streets of New York City.

MY TAKE

I feel like I’ve re-discovered Dustin Hoffman lately. For the past 20 years he’s made mostly mediocre films, but his performances in the late 60s and 70s are absolutely engrossing and empathetic. Midnight Cowboy is him at his slimiest and yet possibly most endearing. Jon Voight is also great here, but looks eerily like his daughter Angelina Jolie.

184. The Wild Bunch

In Western on August 27, 2011 at 12:04 PM

Dir. Sam Peckinpah

An aging group of outlaws look for one last big score as the “traditional” American West is disappearing around them.

MY TAKE

Wild is an understatement. Sam Peckinpaw’s nasty, ruthless and out of control posse of amoral killing machines left the heroic Western genre in tatters. But what a great ride this is. Even by today’s standards, you rarely see women, children and animals chewed up so ruthlessly as collateral damage.

180. A Married Couple

In Canadian on August 25, 2011 at 3:56 PM

Dir. Allan King

A classic exploration of marriage in conflict, Billy and Antoinette Edwards, their son Bogart and dog in 1968 Toronto.

MY TAKE

Funny, shocking and captivating, Allan King’s observational documentary about a bohemian Toronto family is an insightful piece on the strains of marriage right at the crest of second wave feminism. Even with today’s  saturation of reality TV, A Married Couple feels original and revelatory. It’s also a brilliant time capsule for the period, and had me searching for more information when it was over (they divorced, but not before having another child).