RE: Chambanzi's Favourite 100 Films (Full Version)

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chambanzi -> RE: Chambanzi's Favourite 100 Films (14/2/2013 10:55:21 PM)

20. Vertigo (1958)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock


The film that trumped Citizen Kane for top spot in 'Sight and Sound’s' most recent poll has stood the test of time. Obsession is a common theme in recent cinema but back in the fifties this film was very unique, so much so it ostracized some audiences who expected a more linear narrative. Hitchcock’s thriller begins with a detective shadowing a woman through a surreal San Francisco dreamscape. Similar to ‘Psycho’ the film begins with a simple plot and then shoots off into an entirely different direction.

Critics define ‘Vertigo’ as Hitchcock’s most ‘personal film,’ this is mere speculation but a director who seemingly always cast blonde leading ladies (whom he allegedly became besotted with) directing a film about a man who falls in love with the image of a woman (who is blonde) only to then try and change that same woman back into this original image, well … that certainly rings a few bells. My theory on this aspect of the film is the idea of falling in love with a dream individual who has the form of someone beautiful you know and are attracted to, but you are not in love with the real life person. I feel Woody Allen touched on this with his marvelous ‘Purple Rose of Cairo’ in which the protagonist falls for a character yet the real life actor is a piece of work. No real man/woman is perfect but a perfect looking person could be adapted into having the personality you want them to, in your mind of course.

The essence of the film is perfectly captured within Bernard Herrmann’s soundtrack. Scotty (James Stewart) drives through the sleepy city spying on Madeline; (Kim Novak) he becomes infatuated with her. At first, as members of the audience, we are wary of Madeleine. She is apparently obsessed and is unpredictable. First viewing of the film does not allow us to realise Scotty is the obsessive one until Hitchcock allows us to see this. With Vertigo Hitch manipulates us from the get go by throwing in the narrative as a red herring. Again, a comparison can be drawn to Psycho except that with Vertigo there is no Doctor character that comes in at the end to explain everything. Details are left ambiguous and it is human nature to dig for answers when we are given none and this is why Vertigo is still being dissected today. Upon initial viewing something about this film resonated with me from the very beginning to the very end. It was as if my sub conscious fully understood the film but my mind couldn’t access or unlock how I understood it or even put that feeling into words. The San Francisco bridge in the distance, the sloping streets, the ghostly scene in the woods, the colour green’s multiple appearances that are either supposed to be markers that highlight something; perhaps Scotty's obsessive, dark nature or perhaps the colour reflects that very ghostly element to the film. Are Scotty and Madeleine the spirits of two souls rather than flesh and blood?

Scotty seems vulnerable from the outset and we sympathise with him when he is fooled. Then we see how horrifyingly controlling he becomes, trying to reenact moments of the beginning of the relationship as he saw it. During my second viewing of the film I discarded the whole ‘pretending to be possessed/fake wife’ plot and came to the conclusion that Madeleine’s deceit was a metaphor for a real life scenario such as being sexually unfaithful to Scotty. He then tried to mentally turn that woman back into the glamorous, perfect and mysterious woman he fell in love with rather than the unattractive prankster she became (but he failed.)
This seemed to fit. On my third viewing I decided to view the ‘fake wife’ plot as what really happened and noticed how theatrical Novak’s acting is when Madeleine is pretending to be crazy yet how sane she seems later on in the film when she is herself. Was the acting just cheesy or was this deliberately executed so on second viewing we could see how obvious the hoax was and how deluded Scotty was for not seeing it? This would mean all of the surreal elements are a product of Scotty’s warped mind and the entire film is shot from his perspective. If we view Vertigo in that way Scotty does not actually change throughout the entirety of the film. This idea is similar to Scorsese’s recent ‘Shutter Island’ in that your opinion of the protagonist changes as a result of the narrative and you believe that they seem to have had a character turn but a re-watch reveals them to have been the same person throughout. In both films the way other characters interact reveals this.
So which of these theories are correct? Most likely all and most definitely about one hundred other ways the film can be interpreted.
And when all this theory is taken away it is still a dazzling film for the senses with some remarkable camera work. Eerily romantic and hauntingly beautiful.


Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Chambanzi's Favourite 100 Films (15/2/2013 5:39:33 AM)

I've only seen Vertigo once and it's way, way down my list of Hitchcock films. I need to try it again.

chambanzi -> RE: Chambanzi's Favourite 100 Films (19/2/2013 10:15:55 PM)

19. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003)

Director: Peter Jackson

Adapting an incredibly long book into a big screen epic is no easy feat. Peter Jackson managed it…three times (and technically as any die hard LOTR fan will tell you it is six books as each book is divided into two.)
Simply writing a review for this film has me scratching my head, where do I begin? What parts can I manage to talk about in such a review? What parts do I miss out? Hell this is how Peter Jackson must have felt…


"It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing. Such a little thing"

So our story begins at the shire where we have the hobbits. Gandalf explains the plot to us and off the hobbits' embark on they’re quest which at first seems nothing more than a camp bit of fun. In fact one thing I am glad of is that Peter Jackson did not fully adopt the folksy campiness of the books, he kept the spirit alive yes, but he toned it down. Along the hobbits journey we get some dangerous encounters with Ringwraiths and meet the mysterious Strider but the film steps up when the hobbits arrive at Rivendell and we meet the fellowship of the ring. Every casting choice was perfect whether it was Ian McKellen as Gandalf or Orlando Bloom as Legolas. Seeing John-Rhys Davies as a dwarf seems comical considering the size of the guy but no man could have played the role better (nor dwarf for that matter.)
The film ends with the death of Boromir (who actually dies at the beginning of the Two Towers in the novels.) This scene is one of the standout scenes of the trilogy for me. Boromir was always a controversial character, one whose lust for the ring could lead him astray but he dies a hero. As for those Lurtzes they are horrible things.


"A red sun rises, blood has been spilled this night"

I remember being very excited about the second film. I had not known what to expect with the first but knowing how much I loved the characters I was sure to love the second. And I did.
What I love about the Two Towers is the camaraderie between Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. You can see how much fun the actors had with the roles given to them and it really casts a positive shine on the movie. Here is not just a collection of films but an experience had by the cast, crew and direction and shared with the world. I particularly love the elf and dwarf’s counting game.
But a three- hour film that is part of a franchise needs to add some new fantastic characters and we get that with the introduction of Faramir who replaces that missing void Boromir left behind as well as the Ents, King Theoden and Saruman’s slimy, slippery spy Grima Wormtongue.
However the real star of The Two Towers is Gollum. I would not have been able to cope with Frodo and Sam’s adventure if not for good ol’ Smeagle. That is not to say I didn’t like Elijah Wood or Sean Astin (they were both suited for the roles) but the characters just drive me up the bend. I can’t decide who is more pathetic. For me Gollum is a spectator (almost like the sardonic narrator from Come Dine With Me) providing social commentary on how tiresome the duo can be. Frodo’s whimpering ‘Sam I’m tired’ attitude and Sam’s puppy faced motherly retorts ‘Dooon’t worry Mister Froooodo’ would be unbearable if not for Smeagle’s ‘STUPID FAT OBBIT’ cries.


"You gave away your life's grace. I cannot protect you anymore"

Return of the King is everything the finale should be; the beautiful cinematography of the first two films is upheld and we are treated to some epic battles. Merry who was always my favourite hobbit by process of elimination (yeah not keen on the ‘fool of a took’ either) really earns his stripes by entering the battlefield and kicking some ass and Aragorn makes a battle speech to rival William Wallace. My only complaint with the final installment is that we have sat there for a large portion of time and invested many hours into the franchise as a whole, things finally seem to be wrapping up, Frodo reaches Mount Doom then we receive a ‘No I can’t do it’.…. JUST THROW THE RING IN THE FIRE!!
Fortunately Smeagle does (albeit not out of the goodness of his heart) and finally the ring is destroyed.
At first I felt the relief then quickly I realised this meant no more Fellowship. Frodo must depart into the land of the undying. Gimli and Legolas will provide no more banter and the legacy of Gollum is over (well not quite because Peter Jackson worked backwards didn’t he?)

Over the years I have returned to each film and gained enjoyment out of each one every time. The beauty of the films being so long is that there is always a scene you may have forgotten. The sheer beauty of the whole experience is overwhelming. Peter Jackson created a world, no a universe. Tolkien is the genius who thought up the idea but Jackson is the guy who came in and made all this. Of course he had a lot of help from some very talented people. Those responsible for the costume design did a remarkable job and the score for the film is overwhelming. Some pieces from the soundtrack haunt you; some themes capture the heroic optimism of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli galloping over the rocks and other scores seem to capture the history of middle earth and help mould it into a real place. New Zealand is the perfect basis for such a fictional world; the forests, fields and streams are simply breathtaking. What a gorgeous country.

After the film the majority of the actors who played characters within the fellowship got a fellowship tattoo. This is because there will never be an experience quite like ‘The Lord of the Rings’ again, ever.

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Chambanzi's Favourite 100 Films (20/2/2013 2:03:17 AM)


chambanzi -> RE: Chambanzi's Favourite 100 Films (2/3/2013 10:51:07 PM)

18. The Apartment (1960)

Director: Billy Wilder


C.C Baxter works for an insurance company that houses so many employees he is simply a number. Rather than work like a robot day in day out Baxter decides to rent out his apartment for colleagues to pursue extramarital affairs. Baxter's dream of a promotion becomes a reality when the boss Sheldrake begins to recognise Baxter and require the services of his apartment.
Billy Wilder's romantic comedy deals with many dark themes. Insecurity, suicide, self-loathing and inadequacy. The character of Baxter is unimpressive, socially awkward and severely lacking in confidence, thus he is unable to win the affections of elevator operator Fran Kubelik. Fran is in love with Sheldrake who loves his wife and is simply toying with her. Both Baxter and Fran are too naive and kind hearted to be involved in the office politics of the seedy, city lifestyle.

What I love about Wilder's classic is Baxter's realisation that his attempted climbing of the corporate and social ladder only heightens his status as a loser. The Apartment turns into a romantic film when Baxter accepts himself for who he is and stops trying to impress 'friends' who see him as a fool who they can exploit for personal gain and instead focuses on his positive traits such as standing up for the woman he loves. It is by not compromising one's character and developing a self acceptance that one can succeed in life and in love. Fran realises the kind of man Baxter is, not a man she is physically attracted to due to his constant self deprecating but a man she can trust, love and tell to 'Shut up and deal' when he chatters on for too long.

chambanzi -> RE: Chambanzi's Favourite 100 Films (2/3/2013 11:50:43 PM)

17. Double Indemnity (1944)

Director: Billy Wilder


How could I have known that murder can sometimes smell like honeysuckle?

Boil some fresh black coffee and cook up some eggs for this hard boiled noir. Insurance salesman Walter Neff is manipulated by the seductive Phyllis Dietrichson into assisting with the murder of her husband. Via staging the death as an 'accident' the Double Indemnity clause is provoked which can pay Phyllis double the amount of insurance.
Neff knows from the outset he is out of his depth but is a sucker for a pretty face. The murder is staged when Phyllis' husband 'falls' from a moving train.

However Neff's older colleague Keyes is not persuaded by the story. He has a gut feeling that he refers to as his 'little man' that tells him when something isn't quite right. Neff's romantic and lustful feelings for Phyllis soon dissipate and he accepts she does not love him. Neff begins to isolate himself from Phyllis and what ensues is a battle of the wits between the older man Keyes and Neff. One of the film's strongest themes is that of masculinity. Keyes is the patriarchal figure and Neff has tried to con the system. The balance of power is represented in the film by the lighting of matches. Whilst Keyes is sussing out the case Neff lights Keyes' cigarette for him and seems to gain pleasure from this. He enjoys playing the role of the provider, he wants to usurp the father figure and gains a deep, voyeuristic pleasure from being so close to an unsuspecting Keyes.
The tables turn throughout the film and the final scene sees one of these men stand tall as they light the others cigarette. Just like Wilder's 'Some Like it Hot' and 'The Apartment' it is the final lines of dialogue that seem to put the whole film into place.

Performance wise this is the greatest noir.
Fred MacMurray is excellent as the fool who we want to come out on top (against our better judgement.) Barbara Stanwyck plays the most memorable femme fatale of all time, an object of male anxiety who can seal a man's fate with one stare. But it is Edward G. Robinson who steals the show as Keyes, a man the audience can pity because of his faith in the system and trust in his work prodigy Neff.
The framing of the characters throughout the film tells us everything we need to know about the way they feel and where they stand in terms of power. A masterpiece of suspense.

Gimli The Dwarf -> RE: Chambanzi's Favourite 100 Films (3/3/2013 12:18:20 AM)

Two amazing films. Excellent choices.

Mr Gittes -> RE: Chambanzi's Favourite 100 Films (20/3/2013 3:17:31 PM)

Ah, ya gotta love Wilder.

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