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Paul Jensen

Silver Winners: 51-60

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FACES (1968) 4.5 stars

Cassavetes' first masterpiece. Incredibly groundbreaking for its time. True hysteria captured with an unflinching eye.

 

Genre: Drama
Director: John Cassavetes

 

THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE (1976) 4.5 stars

The definitive Cassavetes film. His attempt at film noir. Brilliant stuff. To hell with "slick" moviemaking!

 

Genre: Crime
Director: John Cassavetes

 

ROMAN HOLIDAY (1953) 4.5 stars

One of the all-time greatest romantic movies. Watching Hepburn and Gregory Peck run around Rome together is a complete and utter joy. Wyler certainly knows the secret to memorable love stories.

 

Genre: Drama
Director: William Wyler

 

L'ARGENT (1983) 4.5 stars

My favorite french director's final film. Bresson's masterpiece where every image is worthy of the greatest attention. Precise, brilliant and bold in its take on greed, theft and the criminal mind. A true master filmmaker getting inside the head of a criminal.

Genre: Foreign
Director: Robert Bresson

 

THE MIRROR (1975) 4.5 stars

The closest I've seen a film come to the experience of daydreaming. Hypnotic, enigmatic and cryptic.  Recently voted by Sight and Sound as one of the top ten greatest films ever made.

 

Genre: Foreign
Director: Andrei Tarkovsky

 

I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING (1945) 4.5 stars

Another wonderfully inventive story from the Archers. Whimsical, passionate and at times outrageous. Their best pictures borderline delirious. And what is it with their colorful lead characters? One of the most surprising elements of this charming film is how incredibly fast-paced it was for its time. A big city girl discovers Scotland and a remarkable collection of characters. It's a 40's gem that is bold, brash and brilliantly funny. Michael Powell was way ahead of his time, both technically but also with his narrative.

Genre: Drama
Director: Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger

 

THE AVIATOR (2004) 4.5 stars

One of Scorsese's most accessible but no less brilliant films. Apparently, Marty's inspiration was the Greek myth about Icarus who flew too close to the sun - the fake wings melted and he plummeted down to Earth. Great analogy for Hughes. Like many ambitious geniuses, for anyone to reach such heights (literally) a price must be payed. Scorsese handles the epic and the intimate with equal measure. The film is perfectly balanced and astonishingly varied. It's a story that spans decades and Scorsese matches each era with a different cinematic style. It's all in the details. Like Kundun, I love the opening credit. There's something about the elegant simplicity of the image that somehow captures what's to come. Also, De Caprio delivers an outstanding performance which definitely deserves mention. Then of course, the always wonderful Blanchett gives us her Oscar-deserving take on Hepburn. All in all, a masterful film on every level.

 

Genre: Drama
Director: Martin Scorsese

 

BATMAN BEGINS (2005) 4.5 stars

Batman finally done correctly! Superb story and powerful characters help make this film one of the finest comic book movie to hit the screen. The reoccurring theme of Fear keeps things intriguing and the remarkable cast helps firmly place this story in reality. The score is deceivingly simple and all-together riveting. Apart from the irritating fast cutting, it was a joy to watch the Batman mythos get re-born. Thank God they didn't screw up the villains like they normally do.

 

Genre: Action
Director: Christopher Nolan

 

DAS BOOT (1981) 4.5 stars

As nail-biting as cinema gets. Totally gripping and suspenseful for its entire running time (a remarkable achievement considering its length). It is amazing how the film feels epic, yet we hardly leave the submarine. Although, the few moments where we do venture outside are unforgettable. Also, the characters are so well written with such believable conflicts. Lastly, the sound design is also well worth applauding. All around, consummate fimmaking.

 

Genre: War
Director: Wolfgang Petersen

 

THE LIFE OF OHARU (1952) 4.5 stars

The definitive feminist statement in Mizoguchi's career. A classic character study with tragic and emotionally devastating results. It’s long overdue for a proper blu-ray release.  Not since the Criterion laserdisc has it been properly released. Its poetic imagery gives recent films Tree of Life and Melancholia a run for their money. Kurosawa considered him an unparalleled mentor. Dark and cathartic but ultimately beautiful.

 

Genre: Foreign
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi

 

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