It took me a long time to warm up this movie. I saw it when I was really young and I don't know if I was scared or creeped out or bored but it just left a bad impression. I've come around to it now though having seen it again as an adult. Same thing with ET. I absolutely hated that movie for 20 years. I still respect it more than I enjoy it, but I do occasionally watch it voluntarily which is a big step up from running in terror whenever someone else wanted to watch it.
I had this on my list further down as an alternate. While I enjoyed it immensely in the theater and subsequently bought the Blu Ray, it's a a bit one note for me to return to very often. Granted that is a heck of a note!
I actually enjoy the fact that it is a honed-in single-minded prolonged action sequence. "With basic instruction, it's easy to cook up a meal, but no instruction will prepare you for the perfect steam rice." That I give George Miller the utmost respect for crafting one long car chase into a full-length feature film and keep the intensity and excitement throughout.
I chose this film because it reminds me of my childhood, my mother, and my German wife Maria. It is a movie I often return to for the music, the memories, and the ensemble acting from Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, and all of the Von Trapps children. My mother waited in line around the block to see this film in the theater as a 9 year old girl, and often would sing me to sleep as a young boy with Do-Re-Mi, My Favorite Things, and So Long, Farewell. Jack Jack's favorite part is the lonely goat herd puppet show:
Winner of 5 Academy Awards (including best picture, best director, best music, best editing, and best sound recording), The Sound of Music ranks as the 3rd highest grossing film of all time in the United States and Canada.
Maria: Gretl, what happened to your finger? Gretl: It got caught. Maria: Caught in what? Gretl: Friedrich's teeth.
Maria: I'd like to thank each and every one of you for the precious gift you left in my pocket today. Captain von Trapp: Um, what gift? Maria: It's meant to be a secret, Captain, between the children and me. Captain von Trapp: Uh-huh. Then I suggest that you keep it, and let us eat. Maria: Knowing how nervous I must have been, a stranger in a new household, knowing how important it was for me to feel accepted. It was so kind and thoughtful of you to make my first moments here so warm and happy and... pleasant.
[All the while, the children look guilty. Marta starts to cry] Captain von Trapp: What is the matter, Marta? Marta: Nothing.
[Louisa, Brigitta and Gretl join in, while Liesl, Friedrich and Kurt continue to look guilty] Captain von Trapp: Uh, Fräulein... is it to be at every meal, or merely at dinnertime, that you, uh, intend leading us all through this rare and wonderful new world of... indigestion? Maria: Oh, they're all right, Captain. They're just happy.
[All of the girls, except Liesl, continue to cry out of guilt]
Maria: I can't seem to stop singing wherever I am. And what's worse, I can't seem to stop saying things - anything and everything I think and feel. Mother Abbess: Some people would call that honesty. Maria: Oh, but it's terrible, Reverend Mother.
Captain von Trapp: Now, Fraulein. I want a truthful answer from you. Maria: Yes, Captain? Captain von Trapp: Is it possible - or could I have just imagined it - have my children by any chance been climbing trees today? Maria: Yes, Captain. Captain von Trapp: I see. And where, may I ask, did they get these... ummm... Maria: Play clothes. Captain von Trapp: Oh, is that what you call them? Maria: I made them. From the drapes that used to hang in my bedroom. Captain von Trapp: Drapes? Maria: They still have plenty of wear left. The children have been everywhere in them. Captain von Trapp: Do you mean to tell me that my children have been roaming about Salzburg dressed up in nothing but some old drapes? Maria: Mmm-hmmm. And having a marvelous time!
Maria: When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.
More than a little inspired by hrdboild's Se7en pick, I'm using the 14th pick of the 7th round to double up on the Kurosawa quotient of my cabin and nab a lucky number 7 titled masterpiece of my own. The often imitated, never duplicated, immortal monument to cinematic achievement:
Seven Samurai - 1954
"Find hungry Samurai."
This would seem to be a relatively minor and otherwise easily forgettable quote in the opening scenes of an immense three and a half hour epic. Sage advice from the local elder as to how a poor village with nothing but rice to offer could possibly hire Samurai for protection from rampaging mauraders. The answer is as savvy as it is simple: find Samurai who are needy, starving even, desperate to take any job. In some respects, find anyone, indeed, scrape the bottom of the barrel. Anyone is better than no one. A single line highlighting how dire the threat to the village is and who we can expect might actually answer their call. Neither paints a rosey picture.
Yet the reason this quote ends up being among my favorite not just in the movie but all movies, is because it has a double meaning. I honestly can't say if it works the same in the original Japanese, but in English, "hungry" obviously doesn't only mean someone in need of food. Hunger is a passion, a yearning, an ambition. A person can have a hunger for status, honor, pride, comraderie, acceptance, respect, love, justice or any number of things beyond food and money. In this light, it's not a motley crew of gutter trash bottom feeders limping their way to man the defense lines. No, it's seven men who embody the type of hunger described above.
Make no mistake though, this is not the heroic tale of a ragtag group of good guys coming together to face overwhelming odds to protect the just and innocent from unchecked evil. There truly is no good or evil - and everyone, from the villagers, to the Samurai, to even the bandits, are all just people in desperate situations doing their best to survive.
The narrative is masterfully paced with a ocean's worth of depth and that's certainly worth the price of admission alone. But Seven Samurai also has the distinction of being one of the few black and white films I have personally found to have been visually stunning. I know that may rile up some film affecinados and I'm not trying to make any kind of statement about the aesthetics of black and white films versus color. However, as someone who was raised in the neon-drenched shadows of late 20th century sci-fi blockbusters, it's nothing short of miraculous when a black and white film made in the 50s makes my jaw drop with its cinematography. This film is stunningly gorgeous from the intimate close-ups to the grand battles. Kurosawa was a verified wizard.
Oh, and Toshiro Mifune embodies an insane kinetic magnetism that is flat out bonkers. The man had an intensity to his performances that demand full attention. For a while I'd thought that raw animalisim was because he so often played rough and tumble Samurai, but then I saw him bring the same intensity in another Kurosawa film where he played the owner of a women's shoe chain. Wild.
Also Kambei embodies essentially everything I wish I could be as a man.
... I could go on and I feel I'm trying overhard to sell a nearly 65-year-old, black and white, subtitled, three and a half hour movie - because those qualities are why I never can get any of my friends to watch it with me. Seriously though, this film is a gem and famous for very good reasons. It succeeds in ways that its many remakes and "inspired by's" have never come close to capturing. It's worth delving into the original.
Sorry for the delay. Don’t think I got an email but VF21 let me know. I’ve been on a train from Anchorage to Seward most of the day and took a quick hike to the Exit Glacier. Just got back to the cabins we are staying at. Lousy internet and on a cell phone so if VF21 can help out again that would be great.
A wonderful comedy about Cary Grant playing an avowed bachelor (and famous author) who is getting married. On his wedding day he finds out his two wonderful aunts are actually poisoning lonely elderly gentlemen who come to their house for a room to stay in and his uncle who also lives there not only believes he is Teddy Roosevelt but is burying these "yellow fever" victims in the basement (the Panama Canal). Oh yeah, and his older brother (violent murderer on the run with the plastic surgeon who keeps changing his face so the authorities don't recognize him) shows up and finds out that the elderly aunts have as many killings to their name as he does!
Mortimer Brewster: Look, Aunt Martha, men don't just get into window seats and die! Abby Brewster: We know, dear. He died first. Mortimer Brewster: Wait a minute! Stop all this. Now, look, darling, how did he die? Abby Brewster: Oh, Mortimer, don't be so inquisitive. The gentleman died because he drank some wine with poison in it. Mortimer Brewster: How did the poison get in the wine? Martha Brewster: Well, we put it in wine, because it's less noticeable. When it's in tea, it has a distinct odor. Mortimer Brewster: You mean, you... You put it in the wine! Abby Brewster: Yes. And I put Mr. Hoskins in the window seat, because Reverend Harper was coming. Mortimer Brewster: Now, look at me, darling. You mean, you mean you knew what you'd done and you didn't want the Reverend Harper to see the body? Abby Brewster: Well, not at tea. That wouldn't have been very nice. Mortimer Brewster: Oh, it's first-degree. Abby Brewster: Now, Mortimer, you know all about it and just forget about it. I do think that Aunt Martha and I have the right to our own little secrets.
Aunt Martha: For a gallon of elderberry wine, I take one teaspoon full of arsenic, then add half a teaspoon full of strychnine, and then just a pinch of cyanide. Mortimer Brewster: Hmm. Should have quite a kick.
Reverend Harper: Have you ever tried to persuade him that he wasn't Teddy Roosevelt? Abby Brewster: Oh, no. Martha Brewster: Oh, he's so happy being Teddy Roosevelt. Abby Brewster: Oh... Do you remember, Martha, once, a long time ago, we thought if he'd be George Washington, it might be a change for him, and we suggested it. Martha Brewster: And do you know what happened? He just stayed under his bed for days and wouldn't be anybody.
Mortimer Brewster: Aunt Abby, how can I believe you? There are twelve men down in the cellar and you admit you poisoned them. Aunt Abby Brewster: Yes, I did. But you don't think I'd stoop to telling a fib.
[discussing the body count] Dr. Einstein: You got twelve, they got twelve.
[angrily grabs Dr. Einstein's necktie] Jonathan Brewster: I've got thirteen! Dr. Einstein: No, Johnny, twelve - don't brag. Jonathan Brewster:Thirteen! There's Mr. Spinalzo and the first one in London, two in Johannesburg, one in Sydney, one in Melbourne, two in San Francisco, one in Phoenix, Arizona... Dr. Einstein: Phoenix? Jonathan Brewster: The filling station... Dr. Einstein: Filling station? Oh!
[slits throat] Dr. Einstein: Yes. Jonathan Brewster: Then three in Chicago and one in South Bend. That makes thirteen. Dr. Einstein: You cannot count the one in South Bend. He died of pneumonia! Jonathan Brewster: He wouldn't have died of pneumonia if I hadn't shot him! Dr. Einstein: No, no, Johnny. You cannot count him. You got twelve, they got twelve. The old ladies is just as good as you are!
This was my mother's favorite movie. I saw it for the first time in the Alhambra Theatre in Sacramento when I was about 10, I think. The opulence of the Alhambra was the perfect setting to view this classic saga.
Even if you've never seen the film, you probably recognize the haunting refrain of the theme song:
I won't argue the politics of the film or the question of whether or not it could even be made today. All I know is that each time I hear Tara's Theme I think of my mom and that's enough of a reason for me to have this film in my cabin. It's kind of an audio hug from that day long ago when I walked into the lobby of the Alhambra with my mom and dad and spent an incredible afternoon/evening I still remember to this day. This one is for you, Mom.
For the 8th pick I selected Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation (1974).
If you have not seen the Conversation you really owe it to yourself to place it high up in your que. Although this film was moderately successful and critically acclaimed in 1974 time has not been kind to this gem and the film is now mostly forgotten except by film buffs. This is a film about dialectic tensions and seeming contradictions. The film follows Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) a surveillance expert who jealously guards his own privacy while making a living by violating the privacy of others. He is hired to surveil a young couple from a distance yet becomes intimately connected to them. The conflicting duties of work and religion, guilt and responsibility lead to a decent into paranoia.
This is a film that is a once horribly dated and also ahead of it’s time. The plodding and disjuncted pace, hallmarks of the 1970’s drama, the moody jazz soundtrack and 1970’s technology (central to a film about technology) are some to the reasons that this film has difficulty reaching audiences 40 years later. The films concern about the social and individual implications of technology that can rob people of their privacy was ground breaking. The soulful performances are still vibrant and touching. The characters and story elements are repeated in later films over and over
Written, produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola early in his career, the screenplay is brilliant and insightful. As usual Coppola gathered a talented cast of future stars including John Cazale, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams, and Terri Garr.
Write up to come. (Good thing this movie was from 2010, otherwise, after those few good ones are picked by you guys, there aren't many movies from the 2010s left that I would put in my movie collection...)
After a long hiatus from gangster movies Scorcese comes back to the genre where he really shines. However this go-around it is a hybrid of a police/detective movie with some gangster elements mixed in. I read that Rob DeNiro was the original choice to play the mob boss Frank.
Personally, I love the way Jack Nicholsen played the role. Everything about this film is excellent, with the characters all having depth and getting their time to shine. Even the supporting cast of Wahlberg, Baldwin, and Sheen shine in this one. One of my all-time favorite films for sure.
___By the time Steven Spielberg directed this epic WWII adventure tale he'd already visited the time period 5 times in his previous films. He has not come back to it since. I suppose once you do it right there's nothing left to be said. He really pulls out all the stops on this one from the brutal depiction of the D-Day landing at Omaha Beach in the opening minutes all the way to the construction of a bombed-out French city for the squad's last stand, every frame of this movie displays an obsessive commitment to detail that is next level even for Spielberg as if he were preparing his whole life to tell this story. This is one of the first movies I can actually remember thinking "how did the filmmakers get the images to look like that?" as I was sitting in the theater. And so began a lifelong obsession for me.
___Four of the movies on my list up to this point were released before I was born. Two of the others I saw for the first time on video. The experience of seeing this movie on a big screen as a teenager in 1998 though was so powerful that I can still tell you exactly which theater I was in (Century at Arden) and even where I sat in the theater (far right side, next to the aisle, 2/3 of the way back). Nothing could have prepared me for the intensity of that Omaha Beach sequence. It remains the most harrowing 25 minutes of film I have ever witnessed and I doubt it will ever be topped for me. Plenty of movies can shock you but this feels different. This feels real. Spielberg and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski consulted photographs taken at the time of the invasion and sought to recreate the look as much as possible. The point was clear -- decades of Hollywood romanticizations had built up a fictional account of what that war looked like for those of us who weren't there. This was not going to be that type of movie.
___Aside from inspiring me to delve deeper into the technical aspects of photography, I really included this movie in my list because watching it helps me feel closer to both of my grandfathers. This was a high water mark in the career of one of our greatest filmmakers and the story it tells of Captain John Miller's odyssey through the French countryside on an impossible mission that he hopes will eventually lead him back home to his wife is notable not for its grandly staged battle sequences (of which there are several) but more for its boots on the ground approach to humanizing a bewilderingly complex real-life event that doesn't exactly leap off the pages of any history textbook I've read. It doesn't hurt that Tom Hanks is so inherently likable on screen that we adopt him as our father figure and guiding force just as his crew does. There were far too many great images to pare them down to only 4. This one is in memory of my grandfathers and all those of approximately the same age who lived through this unbelievable tragedy I can barely even start to comprehend.
Woman in the Dunes is a microcosm of man's experience with being born into a situation that the soul had no expectations of and the conflicts that arise. In an environment where suffering is unapologetic about who it takes over, the movie deals with both the comforts and dangers of using attachments, habits, sympathy, love, and hope for the future as coping mechanisms. The cinematography makes the most out of a claustrophobic setting, being both beautiful and intimate. Intimate with the characters, and intimate with their surroundings. Overall the movie feels very surreal while taking the viewer on a ride of hope and despair.
Gladiator (2000) is one of Ridley Scott's best films. The 80 years-old English film director made his breakthrough into Hollywood with well-known masterpieces, namely Aliens and Blade Runner, but was Oscar nominated only for his later work, one of which is Gladiator. The magnificent film is a sprawling, enthralling Roman orgy of blood, passion, betrayal and revenge. It is monumental movie-making: visually thrilling, technically astonishing, and emotionally engaging. As Maximus Decimus Meridius, Russell Crowe – in arguably his career-best performance - is required to combine the courage of the empire's finest soldier with political astuteness and the heart-warming sensitivity of a devoted family man; and he does so brilliantly, often with little more than a fixed, laser stare or a barely intelligible growl. It's an epic tale - most of it pure fiction - eloquently told, and its brilliant script (e.g. "At my signal, unleash hell"; "What we do in life echoes in eternity") was mystifyingly overlooked.
Originally I planned to wait until late in the draft to take this film figuring that nobody would be targeting it, but you guys are starting to worry me, so I'm taking it. Blue is literally the movie that got me "into movies". I mean, I liked being entertained as much as anybody, but Blue and Kieslowski in general really opened me up to the fact that the cinematography, the soundtrack, and the screenplay can really be integrated together into a unified whole - and I'm not really sure I've seen it done as well since. Kieslowski intended this film to be a meditation on the concept of freedom, and he did it in a uniquely unusual way. The plot follows a woman who has been injured in car accident which has also killed her husband (a famous composer) and only daughter, the freedom that she now has, and what she has lost. The scene I included above is one of my favorite scenes in all of cinema, and also one of the great "reveals" as well.
If George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road represents a sort of sci-fi maximalism, then Duncan Jones' Moon is its opposite: a low-budget, minimalist science fiction film about loneliness. Thematically and aesthetically, it straddles the line between Tarkovsky's Solaris and Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Its production design is awe-inspiring, considering the film had a budget of $5 million. Yes, you read that right. It only cost $5 million to make. That money was stretched to its limit to grant the audience an authentic understanding of what it might be like to live as the sole human functionary on a lunar base, and what it might be like to lose one's mind in such extraordinary isolation.
With the 124th pick in the TDOS Cabin by the Lake draft, I select...
While I understand how people might be a bit turned off by what the movie becomes near the end, I still think this movie is near perfect. But...why listen to me, when you can listen to Quentin Tarantino wax poetic about it:
90s nostalgia, mixed with intriguing digital effects that have aged gracefully, mixed with guns and martial arts. Welcome to the cabin
Boy: Do not try to bend the spoon, that's impossible. Only try to realize the truth Neo: What truth? Boy: There is no spoon Neo: There is no spoon? Boy: Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself
Morpheus: This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. The question is, which pill would you choose?
Oracle: I'd ask you to sit down, but, you're not going to anyway. And don't worry about the vase. Neo: What vase? [Neo knocks over a vase of flowers, which shatters on the floor.] Oracle: That vase. Neo: I'm sorry... Oracle: I said don't worry about it. I'll get one of my kids to fix it. Neo: How did you know? Oracle: Ohh, what's really going to bake your noodle later on is, would you still have broken it if I hadn't said anything?
Agent Smith: I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure.
Morpheus: What is real? How do you define 'real'? If you're talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then 'real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.
Continuing the recent run on sci-fi by adding the most bonkers pop-art psychedelic spectacle blockbuster I've ever experienced in theaters.
The Fifth Element - 1997
It's love. The Fifth Element is love. Because of course it is.
And Ruby Rod was supposed to be played by Prince. Because of course he was.
To be honest, I said I would add more later, but what else really needs to be said?
I could go on about how Besson drew inspiration from/ripped off one of the most influential and imaganitive comic books of all time, The Incal - itself created from the leftover ideas of a Dune film project that never got past the drawing board. That's the pedigree for The Fifth Element's boldly bright cyberprep universe.
I could mention how much I appreciate a "save the world" plot that doesn't take place in the ubiquitous PRESENT DAY - while still cramming in opening set-up scenes in 1910s Egypt with Luke Perry for some reason.
Or that the "villain" Jean-Baptiste. Emanuel. Zorg. (played with charismatic enthusiasm by Gary Oldman in full scenery-chewing mode) not only never meets the main hero nor is even fully aware he exists, actually inadvertently helps Korben and the crew on several occasions.
Or that the chaotic space sphere of ultimate evil contacts Zorg by phone.
This is a movie that goes full throttle toward the ridiculous and doesn't apologize for it. It's outrageous. It's ostentatious. It's absurd. And it's a blast. As fun now as it was 20 years ago. I find it both charmingly refreshing and wildly impressive that Besson and company pulled this off.
I’m not a huge fan, either. I don’t think it’s aged particularly well. But I was likewise surprised to see it last this long. I mean, Tarkovsky’s Solaris came off the board before The Matrix did! Y’all are making me fall in love with KF.com again.
A LOT of this draft has been "unexpected"...which is one of the reasons I'm so incredibly glad we're doing this. I really like the "personal" insights into some of you whose screen names I've known for a long time. I feel as though I've had a window into Padrino because he shared his poetry once upon a time, but to read WHY you guys like some of the films you do has made you much more human so to speak. I probably won't ever be able to ban anyone who has participated in this draft.
Seriously, thanks to all of you for making this so much fun and sharing some of your personal stories. You all are why KF is such an incredible online community.