After today we will find ourselves in fall. Summer is over, school is starting, and I will now post my final Summer Series article. 106 movies were watched this summer, which I calculated to be 101 days. So, that means I watched about 1 movie per day, but most of the time it was more than that. I feel like it was very accomplished compared to last summer where I almost reached 100. There were some great movies, some not so great, and everything in between. From the solid box-office hits, to films like Boyhood and Begin Again, there was a great range of films coming out. But my watching didn’t stop there. I watched films from every decade, from multiple countries, and many directors. So, here we go for the final set of films.
Das Boot is one of the best German films ever made. It also sympathizes with the Nazi’s, which is rare, because it shows them as human. Wolfgang Petersen directed this epic U-Boat flick that thrusts us deep underwater with the camera in the claustrophobic environment. Reaching over 3.5 hours, it really makes you come to feel for the soldiers cast into the northern waters of the Atlantic, living in constant contact and fear. Any WWII movie fan should check this one out.
The Sting, the other film starring the dynamic duo of Paul Newman and Robert Redford, was also a Best Picture winner. It is a con-man caper featuring one of the most recognizable scores in history and also having plenty of humor and twists to keep you guessing and smiling. The film follows two con-men trying to get back at criminal banker, and it leaves you wanting another film starring the duo, but sadly that is no longer an option.
Richard Attenborough took on the monumental task of making a film about the life of Gandhi. His efforts were rewarded with 8 Oscars. Watching the movie again makes it even more sad knowing that he is no longer with us. Ben Kingsley was the perfect Gandhi. I wasn’t alive back then, but surely there was some criticism of him playing an Indian, even though he was only technically partially Indian. The film is a huge epic covering all of the major moments in Gandhi’s life and it is the most recognizable of any film actually featuring Gandhi. It cast thousands of extras for the recreation of his funeral too. Interestingly enough, Attenborough would later make a biopic of Charlie Chaplin, which doesn’t seem interesting until you know that Chaplin and Gandhi actually met when the latter was in his prime.
Nymphomaniac is another epic (sexpic?) released in two parts due to it’s 4 hour run time. It surprisingly though is not truly about sex, though there is plenty of graphic content that is borderline pornographic. Charlotte Gainsbourg plays “Older Joe,” who is found beaten in an alley by Stellan Skarsgard. She begins to recount her life-story to him, and we learn of her tumultuous life as a self-proclaimed nymphomaniac. Her younger self is played by Stacy Martin, who is shy and innocent but utterly sexy at the same time. While the movie is largely about sex, it is told in a way as a sort of cathartic experience. Joe, in recounting her story, is trying to come to terms with her sexuality and deciding if she is really a bad person or not. It is a powerful film, but it does contain some rather explicit sexual scenes and moments.
Full Metal Jacket was the last film Kubrick made for 12 years. He had already made an impact on horror, sci-fi, and political comedies. So, it would only be appropriate to move onto the war film, specifically the Vietnam War-film. The movie is essentially about the dehumanizing process of training for and fighting in a war. From the ubiquitous shaved heads, to the matching rifles, to the same uniforms, people lose their identities, and sometimes their selves, when they enter into the war. The movie also furthers the notion that the Vietnam War has the best soundtrack. R. Lee Ermey will forever be known as the cruelest drill sergeant, and all you need to do is watch about 30 seconds to know why. He, along with Kubrick’s signature style help make this one of the best war films ever.
American Gangster was marketed to be a huge Oscar contender, but sadly never really caught fire. It was only nominated for two Oscars despite the great performances by Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, as well as the excellent direction of Ridley Scott. Washington plays Frank Lucas, a drug-lord in New York during the Vietnam Era. It is a sprawling film, covering many locations and over a decade more. It also shows a true story that is never really discussed. Frank Lucas was real unlike The Godfather, and he is still alive! It is really crazy to think about, and it also a really great movie.
Finally, a comedy to balance out all of the tragedy and bloodshed. Pineapple Express is the first film to show that James Franco could really be a funny actor. Sure he was in Freaks and Geeks, but despite its rekindled flame on streaming sites, he is more known for this. It also helps that the movie is constantly referenced because of its marijuana usage. The movie is a bit crazy at times, and going into it blind will leave you in for a surprise because it ends up being more of an action flick and less of a stoner one, though there is no lack of weed.
Anyway, here we are at the end of the road. Summer is now over and fall has begun, but that does not mean I am going away, it just means Awards Season and a bunch of excellent films to look forward too.
As always, thank you for following along on this journey. It will be continued in 2015.