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Paul Jensen

Gold Winners: 41-50

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HUSBANDS (1970) 5 stars

Cassavetes in his most jaw-dropping and revealing portrayal of flawed characters. Unforgettable.

 

Genre: Drama
Director: John Cassavetes

 

BARTON FINK (1991) 5 stars

Barton thinks highly of himself and claims to write about the common man and for the common man, when in truth he knows very little about the "common man" (he never listens - and he thinks Charlie is a nice guy when he's actually a serial killer). And at any rate, the sad fact is that the common man doesn't care about his "poetry of the streets" anyway. They'd most likely prefer a good wrestling picture.

The box is a metaphor for the ego - the mind. (After all, there may very well be a head inside.) The words "mind" and "head" are constantly said throughout the film. Barton has a big ego at the start of the film but by the end he realizes how naive he is. His favorite writer is even a fraud. When the woman on the beach asks what's in the box, his reply is "I don't know" and "I'm not sure." He's finally been humbled.

The photograph of this woman on the beach represents the inspiration - "the muse" - that he needs to write. (He also seeks a real muse, Judy Davis, to help him.) Once he's been through hell (some say literally) and been truly humbled - lived a little - he can finally sit down and write something real (the irony is that Hollywood doesn't want it). Now that he's enlightened, he sees things as they really are, both himself and the photograph are no longer fake. Ultimately, I think it’s the Coens smartest and funniest script. The characters are hilarious (the producer and studio head kill me) and the sound, music and cinematography are all pitch perfect. A masterpiece.

 

Genre: Comedy
Director: Joel Coen

 

SCHINDLER'S LIST (1993) 5 stars

Deeply moving and very heavy. Technically as accomplished as Citizen Kane. Spielberg proves himself as a "serious" filmmaker and produces his finest work of art. The horror of war is juxtaposed with the goodness that comes from compassion. Schindler states, “war brings out the bad, never the good, always the bad!” He’s lying because it’s clearly brought out the good in him. The film expertly uses visual storytelling and Spielberg is a genius with economy. He can say a lot using very little. The film works both as a holocaust movie but also as a biopic. Voted 7th on AFI’s greatest movies list.

 

Genre: War
Director: Steven Spielberg

 

THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971) 5 stars

The epitome of 70s filmmaking. Dark and gritty with a documentary approach that inspired a decade's worth of brave new filmmaking. It's probably the most realistic cop film up to this point. Hugely influential. So much of the time is spent waiting and watching. Hackman's determined and obsessed cop is hellbent on getting the villain. The sad fact remains, most crimes go unsolved. The final act is breathtaking in its visual poetry. It's like Se7en for real. The musical score is abstract, jazzy and violent. It fits the desperate imagery perfectly. It's a movie that made history and still manages to pack a punch.

 

Genre: Crime
Director: William Friedkin

 

E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982) 5 stars

A masterpiece. A modern-day fairy tale. They sure don't make them like this anymore. The definitive Spielberg movie. It’s extremely difficult to pull off something like this. Its broad strokes are unashamed and emotionally epic.

 

Genre: Sci-fi
Director: Steven Spielberg

 

CABARET (1972) 5 stars

The greatest musical on screen. Dark and completely engaging. The ultimate anti-conformist film. The songs work effectively as a Greek chorus.

 

Genre: Musical
Director: Bob Fosse

 

MANHATTAN (1979) 5 stars

Woody Allen's most cinematic masterpiece. Gloriously shot with stunning music. The romanticized notion on relationships only adds to the charm in this tribute to New York.

 

Genre: Comedy
Director: Woody Allen

 

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST (1975) 5 stars

As emotionally moving as films get. Untouchable cast with outstanding writing. Nicholson has never been better. The epitome of anti-conformity films.

 

Genre: Drama
Director: Milos Forman

 

HOUR OF THE WOLF (1967) 5 stars

Bergman delves into psychologically disturbing material. The closest he ever came to making a horror film. Avante-garde cinema at its finest. How much of it is in our character’s minds and how much is reality? This is explored throughout. Bergman loves tapping into the unconscious and pulling out unpleasant fears and anxieties. After all, hour of the wolf relates to that darkest hour of the night where the worst crimes are committed.

 

Genre: Horror
Director: Ingmar Bergman

 

THE GRADUATE (1967) 5 stars

One of the smartest and funniest films ever made. A movie for a generation of rebellion. Dustin Hoffman was a revelation. Mike Nichols brings major attention to the brilliant mis-en-scene and pioneering soundtrack. It’s ending is timeless. If Hoffman didn’t get the girl, then so what? He represented the youth generation. It wasn’t about getting the girl, it was about rebelling against their parents. If he failed, then the youth generation failed. So clever, provocative and hilarious.

 

Genre: Comedy
Director: Mike Nichols

 

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