Downfall (Der Untergang)
Downfall follows Hitler’s last days and his decent into madness. It humanizes him without forgiving him; for that alone it is worth watching. Above that, it gives an incredible look into the soul of the Third Reich.
The Seventh Seal
Where most great art asks one strong question, The Seventh Seal asks multitudes. While this might get pretentious in other hands, director Ingmar Bergman makes it work. As each question comes as sharp as the last, this film has the power to change the viewer
The Thin Red Line
Overshadowed by Saving Private Ryan (released in the same year), The Thin Red Line confronts the spiritual effects of war instead of focusing solely on its violence. In addition, director Terrence Malik (as can be expected) explores how our personal experiences come to shape us as humans.
Aiming to explore much more than the origins of any real or fictional cult, director Paul Thomas Anderson exposes the overwhelming power of human relationships. Once friends, Freddy Quell (Joaquin Pheonix) and Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) lose track of whether either are benefiting from the friendship, in addition to becoming paradoxically isolated from others.
Requiem for a Dream
In art we often see bleakness paired with dullness. The unbelievably intense, and masterfully paced Requiem for a Dream masterfully refutes this assumed principle. The final product leaves the viewer feeling both deeply affected and disturbed.
Today Alien is commonly recognized for stunning visuals and seamlessly blending sci-fi and horror. More importantly, the film pushed the boundaries of both genres by leaving us with more questions than answers.
Free of the cliches that burden many Hollywood films dealing with crime, Gomorra offers a focused, realistic, and harsh view of organized crime. But it is the intertwining story lines of its characters that keep the film engaging throughout.
Unlike many films of its type, Drive excels in balancing the different facets of its storyline without any taking control. This is in opposition to the life of the unnamed stunt and getaway Driver (Ryan Gosling), whose life is thrown into disarray when he falls for his neighbor (Carey Mulligan) with a crime troubled husband.
A film watchable for many reasons, but principally for its ability to pull a sweet narrative out of Depression-era images. Also benefitting Paper Moon is the chemistry between swindler Moses Pray (Ryan O’Neal) and swindler-in-training Addie Loggins (Tatum O’Neal) as they make their way through Kansas.
Lady Vengeance follows Lee Geum-ja (Lee Young Ae) and her quest to extract revenge against a man who wrongly framed her for murders he committed. Along the way she meets with those his crimes have affected, most importantly the families of the victims. The most meditative of all of Park Chan-wook’s “Vengeance Trilogy” (which includes Oldboy and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance), it also is the most sympathetic with respect to the main character.
The Third Man
When a writer (Joseph Cotten) travels to Vienna to visit an old friend (Orson Welles), he finds the man proclaimed dead. Bu upon investigating his death, he finds that things may not be as they seem. Hailed as one of the premier classics of film noir, The Third Man benefits from a thrilling story line, expressive score, innovative filming techniques, and Orson Welles. All these come together to make a film still watchable after over half a century.
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
This first in Park Chan-wook’s “Vengeance Trilogy”, Mr. Vengeance plays heavily on the viewer’s sympathies. When a wronged man goes to desperate measures to save his sick sister, he crosses the wrong person and must deal with the consequences. What results is a morality play in the style of Rashoman.
Interview With the Vampire
Although overly dramatic, Interview works well as both drama and horror. The tale of a guilt ridden vampire (Brad Pitt) also benefits from a star strung cast, as well as its strong Anne RIce source material.
Planet of the Apes
Telling the story of astronauts crash landed on a strange world, the original Planet of the Apes works on many levels and is watchable for many reasons. Hopefully the ending wasn’t spoiled for you.
With Watchmen, director Zack Snyder took great care to remain faithful to the film’s source material. This makes for a rather stylized mystery. However, it never manages to overcome the fact this story was meant to be conveyed through a different medium.