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Paul Jensen

Silver Winners: 1-10

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THE EXORCIST (1973) 5 stars

The scariest film ever made. Outstanding sound design. A story that leaves you with a feeling that haunts and provokes your deepest fears. Makes a very convincing argument for the possibility of true evil in this world.

 

Genre: Horror
Director: William Friedkin

 

THE BIG COUNTRY (1958)5 stars

William Wyler's masterpiece. Like many of the classics, it's the story about the end of the west and the coming of society. It's a good 'ol fashioned epic western. Storytelling that seems effortless with Gregory Peck at his most noble and intrepid. Paired with imagery and music that help make this three hour masterpiece soar.

 

Genre: Western
Director: William Wyler

 

MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946)5 stars

Another classic John Ford western. Truly mythic with iconic images. The finest telling of the Wyatt Earp story. Henry Fonda epitomizes nobility.

 

Genre: Western
Director: John Ford

 

A MAN ESCAPED (1956)5 stars

The greatest prison break film ever made. Bresson's attention to detail is mind-blowing. There's also a spiritual dimension to his films that is totally captivating. Not to mention, his brilliant sound design.

 

Genre: Crime
Director: Robert Bresson

 

MINNIE & MOSKOWITZ (1971)5 stars

The screwiest screwball comedy there is. One of the most unique "true love" stories. Seymour Cassel and Gena Rowlands are truly remarkable.

 

Genre: Drama
Director: John Cassavetes

 

PRINCE OF THE CITY (1981)5 stars

Sheer perfection. One of the most underrated and forgotten masterpieces of the 80s. Lumet crafted a truly epic and thorough exploration of police corruption. Not surprisingly, the FBI contributed to the film's "forgotten" reputation. The 'powers that be' felt that it was too accurate a portrayal to be seen by the mass audience. This is Lumet's Godfather. It's amazing how truthful and contradictory this film is. There are no easy answers - only reality. The writing, editing, performances and most especially the direction are all spot on.

 

Genre: Crime
Director: Sidney Lumet

 

THE VIRGIN SPRING (1999)5 stars

A timeless, grim, hopeful and archetypal story with a dark turn of events. At first glance it appears to be one of Bergman's more overtly religious films. However, upon closer inspection it deals more directly with guilt and shame. Max Von Sydow is amazing in his portrayal of a father trying to control his anger. Nykvist's cinematography is shimmering in its simplistic beauty. The performances are at times theatrical but always convincing. Especially considering when it was made, it's astonishing how unflinching the film is. (It was later remade into Last House on the Left.) Another stroke of genius was Bergman's choice to have the majority of the film done in silence. Screenwriters take note! In the end, it remains one of the most emotionally moving and deceivingly simple Bergman films out there.

 

Genre: Foreign
Director: Ingmar Bergman

 

THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING (1988)5 stars

A tender, erotic and sensual masterwork. The performances are top-notch and Kaufman makes brilliant use of silences and subtle sound design. Outstanding contribution from Murch and Nykvist. European in its sensibility, this flawless, emotionally exquisite story, remains one of cinema's best kept secrets.

 

Genre: Drama
Director: Phillip Kaufman

 

THE HOURS (2002)5 stars

An excellent dissection of three generations of women. There's a mysteriousness to this film that makes it continuously watchable. Although, highly cinematic, the most powerful moments are where characters speak and behave with one another. There are at least half a dozen astonishing moments that all actors should study. The script is brilliant, not to mention the score by Phillip Glass.

 

Genre: Drama
Director: Stephen Daldry

 

STAR WARS (1977)5 stars

The original has a magic all its own. Arguably, the most popular film of all time evokes such nostalgia and takes us on a truly joyful odyssey. Like many others, I grew up with Star Wars and it influenced my life tremendously. There's no denying the importance of the original. For the time, it was absolutely flabbergasting. Interestingly, for future generations who see the prequels first, EP4 comes across very simple and a little bit slow. Still, the characters are wonderful, particularly Han Solo and the story still holds up. Major credit must go to the editing and music. Countless sci-fi and fantasy films owe everything to the original Star Wars.

 

Genre: Sci-fi
Director: George Lucas

 

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