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.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The second film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy accomplished a difficult task, making what is essentially a bridging narrative a complete one. Director Peter Jackson also builds on the enormous scope of Tolkien’s world started by The Fellowship of the Ring. Not to mention, it brought to life one of the most epic battle scenes in movie history.
Considering all the diverse elements that make up Star Wars, its permeation of pop culture is somewhat surprising. Effeminate droids, walking carpets, archaic religions, spaceships, and, of course, lightsabers all make for interesting mix, but one that is greater than its whole. That said, this film’s ultimate merit lies in its ability to tell a tale as old as time in a completely fresh way.
Saving Private Ryan
After surviving the initial landing of Normandy, John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) is tasked with finding Private Ryan (Matt Damon), after all three of his brothers are killed in action. Saving Private Ryan displays Spielberg at his best: creating a thrilling ride, with an engaging narrative, that doesn’t get hung up on gags or tricks. And of course, the first thirty minutes or so might be one of the most riveting battle sequences ever filmed.
When a priest becomes one of fifty volunteers to find a vaccine for a deadly virus, he survives while the others perish. Afterwards, he must deal with his status as a miracle, his strengthened bodily desires, and most importantly: a thirst for blood. With these elements, director Park Chan-wook creates a first rate horror film, but also an engaging morality tale.
Breathlessly exciting for nearly its entire runtime, this is of those rare films that’s all payoff without becoming draining. It follows Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood) as he fights to save his family after being captured by a party of Mayans. His escape includes one of the most intense, and longest, chase scenes recent memory.