#32 Late Spring
The final Japanese film I viewed, Late Spring, is an early film from the great Ozu. It is a bittersweet film about a widower who has raised his daughter the best he can, but she refuses to marry out of guilt for her father. The two are best friends, and he encourages her to find a husband, despite her feelings about it. Ozu would blow the world away shortly later with Tokyo Story, one of the finest films of all time, but this film is a good introductory to his dealings with very real scenarios. He is a precise, deliberate, and often beautiful director who makes you cry and smile at the same time.
#33 All That Jazz
Bob Fosse, known best for his signature musicals like Cabaret, directs Roy Schneider in a semi-autobiographical film about a dancer who has some problems in his life. It is darkly comical, has brilliant editing, and has one of the most interesting final dance sequences you might ever see in a film. At times it is pretty dark as Joe Gideon comes to term with the fact that the life he has lived is making him die far too soon and he starts to worry about his well-being, but perhaps it is far too late for him to make a change.
This is a weird little film that probably went far below anybody’s radars this last year. Frank is about a musician (Domnhall Gleeson) who finds himself in a band with the mysterious Frank (Michael Fassbender) who only wears a goofy helmet. It is a bizarre performance for Fassbender, but he takes to it marvelously. Also in the cast is Maggie Gyllenhaal, who has been keeping from the major roles as of late. It is a film about music, passion, and acceptance for who you are. Check it out if you want a weird little indie flick.
#35 Rob Roy
I like to think of this film as the Braveheart that slipped by. Liam Neeson, in one of his earliest roles, plays the titular character. It follows his escapades that lead up to his duel with the Duke of Argyll. Featuring beautiful cinematography, great performances by Neeson and Jessica Lange, and an even better performance by Tim Roth who plays a deliciously evil villain, Rob Roy is a great film for all of those who loved Braveheart but hate Mel Gibson.
#36 Pulp Fiction
This is a film that comes up as one of the best of all time. I have seen it probably 6 or 7 times at this point, and for me it is one that gets better with each viewing. People tend to rank this as their favorite, quite a lot of the time, and I get it but I think it is one of those movies that people see and assume it must be a masterpiece because it isn’t told sequentially. It is a masterpiece for a lot of reasons, one of which is its ability to get better every time. You expect your favorite scenes. Everyone has their own favorite, everyone quotes Sam Jackson, and everyone does the dance that John Travolta and Uma Thurman do. It has become a part of our common film history. People gasp when you have not seen it. It’s just the way it is.
#37 Fight Club
Another film that people say is their favorite, especially those who aren’t film majors. Fight Club is also a film that people gasp at when you say you haven’t seen it. I don’t want to come off sounding pretentious or rude or anything, but it definitely feels like this is a movie people watch and automatically go, “I understand it, I love ‘films.'” And it IS a good movie. The special effects haven’t exactly aged well, but each time you get something different out of it; notice a new little easter egg or something. Knowing the big plot twist could either make or break repeat viewings. At this point, having come out over a decade ago, Fight Club is one of those films that people always talk about (even though you’re not supposed to talk about it.)
Before RDJ got all drugged up and essentially disappeared until Iron Man, he played the greatest comedic actor of all time. We see the life of Chaplin unfold before us. It is good that the film is based on the autobiography, and something less “toot-my-own-horn” because if it had been the case, it would not have been entirely as scathing as it would have been if we only saw Chaplin’s side. Charlie Chaplin was a complicated man. He had a rough childhood, but he grew up to be the most recognizable face on the planet. He basically made comedy, he defied the sound era, and he lampooned Hitler in The Great Dictator. He was a man of many talents, and RDJ does a phenomenal job in easily his best performance ever. Whenever people say RDJ, I think Chaplin, while everyone else thinks Iron Man.
This is the end of my Winter Series, so unfortunately it will be about 6 months before I can do Summer Series again. Be on the look out for my Golden Globe predictions coming up here in a few days. Happy New Year!