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Paul Jensen

Gold Winners: 31-40

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CASABLANCA (1942) 5 stars

The ultimate Hollywood feel-good movie. The single most romantic movie ever made. Perfect on every level.

 

Genre: Drama
Director: Michael Kurtiz

 

CHINATOWN (1974) 5 stars

The greatest film noir, setting a benchmark in screenwriting. A perfect collaboration of artists in their prime. Its “sadder but wiser” ending perfectly epitomizes that there are some evils in this world that you can’t possibly hope to go up against them. Huston as the villain is a fine tribute to Maltese Falcon (the one that started it all) and Goldsmith’s score has become an archetype. “Chinatown” becomes a metaphor for the futility of good intentions. This was one window Nicholson shouldn’t have poked his nose into. A true classic.

 

Genre: Film Noir
Director: Roman Polanski

 

THREE COLORS: RED (1994) 5 stars

Among the finest European filmmaking of the 90s. Captivating, intriguing and enigmatic. What a trilogy. It manages to capture the theme of the millennium, wake up to the world around you. Brotherhood and fraternity is explored, while fate, destiny, coincidence and karma are examined. Is the Judge a metaphor for the filmmaker or perhaps God himself? It’s like some ancient Greek God who falls in love with a mortal woman and manipulates things to be with her in another lifetime. But it’s also about engaging with humanity, believing in good and trying to make a difference.

 

Genre: Foreign
Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski

 

FEARLESS (1993) 5 stars

This obscure existentialist film released in the 90's stars Jeff Bridges in one of his best roles. It balances tragedy and enlightenment in equal measure and the initial impact left me on a spiritual high for about a month. (The book is phenomenal - the writer adapted his own source material). It may be the single most underrated film I've come across. Cathartic, moving and profound. Few films have made such an impact on me in my lifetime. Peter Weir is a filmmaker who always deals in substance and spirituality.

 

Genre: Drama
Director: Peter Weir

 

THE RULES OF THE GAME (1939) 5 stars

Complex, politically savvy, entertaining and technically brilliant. Some regard this as the greatest film ever made. I can understand why. The brutal slaughter during the hunt is a brilliant statement on the upcoming horror of WWII.

 

Genre: Foreign
Director: Jean Renoir

 

UNFORGIVEN (1992) 5 stars

My favorite western. A deconstruction of the western myth among incredible characters and brilliant screenwriting. Eastwood hits a home run with his swan song to the west. It’s a statement on violence against women, gun worship, masculinity of men and racial discrimination. Rarely, do westerns get this layered and complex.

 

Genre: Western
Director: Clint Eastwood

 

THE SEARCHERS (1956) 5 stars

The most classic of all westerns. John Ford has never been better. Archetypal and iconic. John Ford explores this racist character with thoughtfulness without ever losing sight of the entertaining story. As the door shuts on him, a chapter close on this type of hero archetype. He has no place in our modern world. His racist views are gone and he’s doomed to wander the wastelands alone - cursed, just like he cursed the Comanche Indians.

 

Genre: Western
Director: John Ford

 

THE 400 BLOWS (1959) 5 stars

Truffaut's autobiographical debut marks the beginning of French New Wave's popularity. Touching, honest and simple. Truffaut was the first to portray children as they really are. His care for humanity shines through in this understated and tremendously emotional masterpiece. The milk bottle scene gets me every time. The final sequence remains a landmark due to its groundbreaking length and insight (breaking the rules and liberating both the protagonist and cinema itself.) It also has an open-ended nature that provokes the audience to ask, what now? The limitless horizon line illustrates the potential in cinema while stating the ocean as a place that Truffaut went to himself, without the help of his forefathers. Lastly, the final freeze frame is like a snapshot - a portrait - of a life. An ordinary kid who is both alone and searching. Our own lives deserve to be up there on the screen. Truffaut lead the way and countless followed.

 

Genre: Foreign
Director: Francois Truffaut

 

THE KING OF COMEDY (1983) 5 stars

Truly disturbing and cringe worthy. De Niro has never been better and Scorsese has never been so uncompromising. Absolutely brilliant and ahead of its time. A scathing attack on the mediocrity of TV. In fact, Scorsese mimics the dull saturated colors and framing of 80’s television. De Niro plays a character so obsessed with becoming famous, that he doesn’t seem deterred by the fact that he has no talent. Sound familiar? Worst of all, audiences ultimately like him because he’s on TV, not because he’s funny. It’s as if Scorsese was predicting where we would be heading in the upcoming decades. By the end, it’s only real for our protagonist until he’s seen it on TV. He’s so delusional that he can’t tell the difference between reality and his fantasies. The illusion takes precedent.

 

Genre: Comedy
Director: Martin Scorsese

 

LAST TANGO IN PARIS (1973) 5 stars

Sexuality explored in a unrelenting and brave new way. Brando is astonishing. The film is riveting.

 

Genre: Drama
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci

 

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