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Paul Jensen

Silver Winners: 41-50

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SIGUR ROS: HEIMA (2007) 5 stars

Is there a more beautiful documentary? The exquisite and lyrical music is perfectly matched by the sensitive and delicate images. Not only is this a stunning love poem to Iceland, it's a celebration of the genius that is Sigur Ros. But beyond that, the film evokes an ancient beauty that unites people in a way that is transcendent and euphoric. To quote Radiohead, "For a moment there, I lost myself." This film should be sent in a time capsule into outer-space as a testament to how beautiful our species can be.)

 

Genre: Documentary
Director: Dean DeBlois

 

THE LUSTY MEN (1952) 5 stars

Despite the cheesy title, this film is absolutely superb and completely original. Robert Mitchum gives us one of his greatest performances and demonstrates why he's a legend. Simply put: it's the STORY that is so remarkable. It's Ray's masterpiece.  As Godard would say, “Nicholas Ray IS cinema”.

Genre: Drama
Director: Nicholas Ray

 

ANDREI RUBLEV (1966) 5 stars

Tarkovsky's second film is an epic achievement deserving of a grand master filmmaker. What imagery! Where did he get such talent? It reminds me of the story of the young kid who builds the bell...

 

Genre: Foreign
Director: Andrei Tarkovsky

 

A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (1946) 5 stars

An astonishing and masterful film from the Powell & Pressburger team. Wildly outrageous and inventive in its use of color and black and white photography. Truly cinematic and original. They have a talent at making every scene memorable, fast-paced and quite genius. Their offbeat and quirky choices are free from cliches (similar to the Coen bros.) and their stories are filled with humanity without being naive. The dialogue, acting and editing was so ahead of its time. They manage to be both profound and funny without missing a beat. It's a heartwarming and brave film about love and war set on both earth and heaven. The technicolor imagery is breathtaking and you'll never be able to predict just where this wonderful film will lead. A truly magical film experience.

 

Genre: Drama
Director: Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger

 

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962) 5 stars

There are very few films that audiences remember with such respect, fondness and emotional resonance. It's one of the most beautifully told stories with unforgettable characters and gorgeous black and white cinematography. Even Bernstein's score deserves separate acclaim. Although, it's Gregory Peck that stands out the most in our memories. One of the all-time greatest roles, played with such grace, intelligence and humility.

 

Genre: Drama
Director: Robert Mulligan

 

THE CRUCIFIED LOVERS (1954) 5 stars

Another masterpiece by Mizoguchi that is criminally under-seen. A 50's Japanese film that rivals Kurosawa's best work. Poetic imagery that makes you wonder, how did they capture this? The story is gripping and the characters completely empathetic. Each scene seems to begin at just the right moment and somehow ends with a feeling of inevitability that is both poetic and profound. The shots almost unfold like a scroll. There's a natural assurance to every scene that can only come from wisdom and experience. After all, Mizoguchi was Kurosawa's mentor.

 

Genre: Foreign
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi

 

RED BEARD (1965) 5 stars

If you can get past the long running time and occasional overt sentimentality, this is one of the most rewarding films in Kurosawa's canon. This marked the end of an era for him; his final film with Toho company, his last collaboration with the great Mifune, his final black-and-white film (his second last film in cinemascope) and most importantly, his swan song to optimism. After this remarkably hopeful story, Kurosawa's world view would turn much darker. Financial failure, Hollywood blacklisting, extreme illness and attempted suicide would follow. With that in mind, Red Beard remains an extremely emotional experience for me. The sheer humility and supreme goodness of this film is so utterly inspiring. It's an honorable movie, with many memorable characters, photographed in a way that makes every mis-en-scene look like a painting. Clearly, Kurosawa was in his prime and no other film in his body of work holds melancholy and hope in such equal measure.

 

Genre: Foreign
Director: Akira Kurosawa

 

THE HUSTLER (1961) 4.5

A character study that somehow manages to feel both modern and relevant, yet classically orchestrated during the final years of Hollywood's golden age. Paul Newman gives the performance of his career (and that's saying a helluva lot) and the black and white cinematography is timelessly beautiful. The entire first act is one epic pool game and it's a movie in and of itself. The rest is equally brilliant, filled with melancholy and wisdom. A true classic.

 

Genre: Drama
Director: Robert Rossen

 

THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (1971) 4.5 stars

Peter Bogdanovich's knowledge of old movies payed off with this remarkable and timeless classic. It seems to have appeared as if from a different time and place. How he achieved this with his first film, is awe-inspiring. The mature and provocative approach to the story is highly intriguing. Beautifully shot in black-and-white. Even back in '71, it was clear this was an instant 70s classic.

 

Genre: Drama
Director: Peter Bogdanovich

 

THE VERDICT (1982) 4.5 stars

A Sidney Lumet masterpiece. Paul Newman is unforgettable and the script by David Mamet is awe-inspiring. Even the cinematography has such richness. A first-rate character study and easily one of the finest of the decade.

 

Genre: Drama
Director: Sidney Lumet

 

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