Quite a few movies this time, no “new” movies from theaters too. Also, we are fast approaching the end of summer, but as you can tell I have almost reached my goal. When I reach my goal, I won’t be stopping, so do not fear for a lack of content.
In honor of Robin Williams’ death, I took some time to watch some of his movies, though I will be watching more. Two of his most famous, Dead Poet’s Society and Good Morning, Vietnam, both have gone down as his best some of his best work. He earned an Oscar nomination for both, with his role in the former containing one of the most known movie quotes, “Carpe Diem.” Once Williams broke into his more dramatic roles, he must have blown people away. Since rising as a comedian with his zany personality and constant humor, his dramatic skills were surely a surprise at first. Vietnam probably showcases his comedic skills best out of both of these because it is more of a comedy with a bit of drama thrown in. Dead Poet’s Society is the opposite, with intense emotions and little bits of comedy to balance it out.
Whether you love it or hate it, Gladiator was up next. There are those who don’t think it should have won, and some of you may be right. In a sense, it is really just a glorified action-film. But it also has more emotion than most action films. It also has better performances than a lot of the action films we see today thanks to Russell Crowe, Richard Harris, and Joaquin Phoenix. Gladiator is one of those movies that is just purely entertaining. It has its high notes like the gladiatorial combat and the music, but it also has some rather blatant historical inaccuracies. It’s up to you to decide whether it is as good as it actually is.
Up next is a war film many people may not know about. While many know about The Thin Red Line, most may not have heard about The Big Red One, which is about a company of solider’s that we follow from Africa to East Europe. It was a passion project of director Samuel Fuller, and like many great movies, it was cut down to a length that was far less than the director wanted. Featuring great performances from Mark Hamill, Lee Marvin, and Robert Carradine, any fans of WWII movies will not want to let this one go by unnoticed.
Leon (The Professional), the big screen debut of Natalie Portman is also a great action movie with Jean Reno and Gary Oldman. In a great action movie, Reno plays a quiet and serious hitman who takes Portman under his wing after her family is murdered by Oldman, a corrupt cop. I think Oldman has one of his best roles here as a crazy cop who has a drug problem and is also exceptionally violent with a love of Beethoven. Leon has aged exceptionally poorly since it’s 90s debut though, and its soundtrack is very reminiscent of Goldeneye.
An Academy Award winner up next, and that would be the possibly inaccurate Deer Hunter. Also containing some potential historical inaccuracies, it is a very moody and somber flick about the Vietnam war. It was the first movie to actually bring recognition to PTSD after the war, and also spawned many others. But, one has to appreciate Walkens’ performance as a psychotic lover of the thing that almost killed him, Russian Roulette. It is a very emotional war film, one to leave a lasting impression on you.
Now we come to the sci-fi film that predates Star Wars, and is considered one of the greatest films of all time according to Roger Ebert: 2001: A Space Odyssey. At times it is a haunting masterpiece, another it feels like an experimental film. Kubrick never did wrong in his filmmaking, and it is one of the few films that actually garnered any actual awards. 2001 is one of those movies that people will always debate. What does the ending actually mean? Is it actually a masterpiece or is it an ambiguous piece of garbage? It’s up to you, but I think it is a glorious film.
Up next, the first of two excellent films starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The other film, The Sting, will be watched relatively soon. Both films were directed by George Roy Hill, and both feel significantly different. They are two films that have had significant impact on history. One is a great Western comedy while the other is a con-man caper that won best picture in 1973, between the two Godfather films. Newman and Robert and excellent, and it has some great moments in it.
Next is a film that everything thinks won Best Picture but actually didn’t. Saving Private Ryan revolutionized war films for a new generation. What The Deer Hunter did for the Vietnam War, Saving Private Ryan did for all films concerning the invasion of Europe. What is most depressing about this film is it lost Best Picture to Shakespeare in Love, which is nowhere in the same category as Private Ryan. It contains many brief scenes containing actors who would go on to great things, like Paul Giamatti, Bryan Cranstion, Vin Diesel, and several others. It is one of the best war films ever, but it surprisingly lost Best Picture despite winning Best Director and Best Editing. It will forever remain one of the most tragic moments in Academy Awards history.
Finally, a wine fueled drama-comedy: Sideways. Again with Paul Giamatti, and also starring Thomas Hayden Church, Virginia Madsen, and Sandra Oh, Sideways is a very true and funny comedy with some pretty serious undertones of depression and divorce. It also is directed by Alexander Payne, who most recently directed Nebraska. I think it is his best film, with some exceptional performances. I also think it will make you want to drink wine, and if you have seen it you should surely drink wine while watching it again.
So that covers it for this time, and we are almost to the summer goal. So be sure to check back as we reach the glorious milestone of 100 movies in less than 2 months.