Posts Tagged ‘classic’

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I was searching for the opening scene of Robocop for the previous post, and I stumbled across this-

Scathing review of the upcoming Robocop 2014 (script).  If you believe everything you read on the Interweb tubes.  I know I do!

RoboCop (2014) Screenplay Review

This film is so sanitised and devoid of character, its unreal.

For God’s sake people rent the original, and the very good follow-up Robocop 2.

Excruciating decisions — many lists like this exist, and so what are the criteria? A political movie needs to say something, say it well and deliver theatrically. To me political struggles are about power and injustice, the organization of society. I’ve seen a lot of films, not as many as some but more than most.

Best / Most Impact

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Bob Roberts

This may be the best American political movie of all time.

JFK

This may also be the best American political movie of all time.

Chinatown (Collector's Edition DVD)

Chinatown

Emotional punch, rawness that isn’t apparent until the very end.

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All the President’s Men

I felt obligated to watch this again, but it sure does slice deeply, if a little short on action.

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Full Metal Jacket

The military culture opened up like a festering wound.

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Battleship Potempkin

Classic for a reason, quite useful to study.

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I Claudius

Noticed this on another list, and was instantly sold. It’s a TV production, a mini-series but why not? This deserves to be here.

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The Tudors

Similarly a mini-series, set in the court of Henry VIII, done with such perfection it has to be recognized.

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Caligula

The most chilling, raw film on the entire list. Mad Caesar, the fitting heir to a mad culture, the pinnacle of absolute power and atrocity.

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Dr. Strangelove

The cold war in a nutshell.

Idiocracy

A favorite of mine, and we quote it often. America continues down this path every day, and it is unlikely to ever seem dated, barring nuclear annihilation.

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Platoon

The US military as its own universe.

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The Handmaid’s Tale

The correct take and the correct villains.

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Miss Bala

How a corrupt narco empire intersects with the people under its dominion.

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Brazil

Fascism, absurdism, escapism.

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The Player

Hollywood as a class system.

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American Psycho

Ivy league Mansons: the masters of the universe.

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Cosmopolis

Elite self-loathing, power disparity and the obscenity of unrestrained capitalism.

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The Thin Red Line

Another take on the military, war as conquest and thought the enemy of soldiers.

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A Clockwork Orange

The state vs. crime, an experiment not so difficult to imagine.

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Raising Arizona

Recidivism, ethics, morality and love.

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Election

Ethics vs. morality.

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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

The rot at the center of American politics, pervasive corruption, social manipulation.

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Thirteen Days

Nuclear brinksmanship and the madmen clamoring to wage war at any price.

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The Pianist

Warsaw Ghetto, the politics of survival.

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28 Days Later

At the edge of civilization, humanity is stripped away.

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Robocop

Corporate takeover of policing and government.

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Aguirre: The Wrath of God

Fools rush in.

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How to Get Ahead in Advertising

Society necessitates a personality split, and can only continue in its present form by destroying.

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Heathers

Society as a high school.

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The Road Warrior

The forces of civilization vs. the forces of anarchy, and one man caught in the middle.

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Eyes Wide Shut

Elite depravity and unaccountability.

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Bridge Over the River Kwai

Stockholm Syndrome, myopia, desperation clouds the mind.

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Reviewing Flight (2012) has compelled me to think back and acknowledge where some real self-destruction and cinematic genius had coalesced. Sid and Nancy is as good a place to start as any.

Based on the real life of Sid Vicious, the bass player of The Sex Pistols, we see how raw and unhinged addiction, the music industry and love can all be.  Throw them together and it’s a ride you won’t soon forget (unlike Denzel’s public service announcement for AA).

Roger Ebert was a big booster for the film:

“[Sid] was handed great fame and a certain amount of power and money, and indirectly told that his success depended on staying fucked up. This is a big assignment for a kid who would otherwise be unemployable. Vicious did his best, fighting and vomiting and kicking his way through his brief days and long nights, until [Nancy] Spungen brought him a measure of relief.”

It’s a fascinating descent into complete shyte.  These two, playing off of one another, expose the senselessness of their reckless ideology, its self-destructive mandate.  On a spiraling death plummet, but not without an original stain on the pavement, Sid and Nancy live forever in infamy.

 Trailer From Hell: Sid and Nancy

Other selections in the sub-genre include Johnny Depp’s Blow, a fantastic modern history of the drug trade and one of his most underrated films.  The allure of prohibition is more than just substance addiction.  Drugs have been a thorn in the side of society for so long, and their outlawing provides for a significant underground economy, including the predictable wars and mayhem associated with avoiding capture and prosecution, the creation of warlords and the casualties produced with increasing territory and profit margins.  People get caught up over their heads in so many ways.  Blow is also based on a true story, and Depp’s range is on display here.  Speaking of Depp, what’s a more mind-bending drug fueled descent into madness than Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?

While Blow tackles cocaine, the larger problem today is arguably crystal-meth.  Spun is a twisted indie take on that menace, and also underrated / unknown.  Powerful performances, powerful situations, and the filmmaking is sharp as a shiny new hypodermic.  Spun is an experience, a trip to take, much like Requiem For a Dream.  There are just so many great drug addled explorations once that Pandora’s Box is pried open.

Yet another addiction drama with a twist is Rush, with Jason Patric and Jennifer Jason Leigh.  Undercover narcotics officers get hooked on their own contraband.  The lines between law and outlaw are blurry indeed.  Denzel’s previous drug film Training Day also explored that territory.

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Clicking on the Sid and Nancy imdb page instantly prompted me with Oliver Stone’s The Doors, which is another groundbreaking intense exploration of addiction and self-destruction – and pretty much true, and significant.

Others in this genre include Less Than Zero, with Robert Downey Jr. and Bright Lights, Big City with Michael J. Fox.  I’ve given a nod to The Wackness with Ben Kingsley, and even Charlie Bartlett (Downey again) had more complex characterization than Flight.

Perhaps the crème of them all is Phillip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly.  Mind bending exploration of addiction, prohibition and the images are presented like no other film you would have seen (except perhaps Waking Life).


If you watch all these films, you will instantly see why Flight comes up so banal and inconsequential by comparison.  It’s relegated itself to the cheap, disposable dustbin of obviousness and even preachiness.  Flight is far too simplistic and simple-minded to bother talking about any further.

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If I can warn just one cinephile not to bother with this disastrous pile of insanity.  Steven Soderbergh I’m going to call a “hit and miss” kind of guy.  Same with Gus Van Sant.  For example, Soderbergh’s Che was a miss, and yet Erin Brokovich was a hit.  He has potential, but with Schizopolis – what were they smoking?

This is a Kentucky Fried Movie / Airplane! crazy parody romp styled exploration.  Only it’s not funny.  They’re taking that shit seriously, too seriously.  The Criterion Collection went so far as to include it as some kind of “Classic.”  If that’s what it takes to be called a classic in some circles… oh Jesus.  Note the “Genius” quote on the poster above is from “Film Review.”

Schizopolis has a lot of fun doing very strange things, stretching the audience’s patience and threshold for shtick to the breaking point.  It’s essentially about some kind of L. Ron Hubbard cult organization, but not in a funny satirical way that works.  It’s more about the oddball characters who subvert expectations by doing absurd things constantly.  This is interrupted by other absurd threads, such as a lunatic with no pants and a t-shirt with a message about the film.  An exterminator character quits the film in the middle of the scene to go act in a different action film.  These ideas sound funnier in type than they play out.  That’s the problem.

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The “Idea Missing” insert shot misses the point.  There are tons of ideas.  They’re just mostly bad ideas.  At one point the main guy starts talking in Japanese to his wife, in straight dramatic scenes with no subtitles, and she responds in English as if this is normal.  Why?

There are so many better uses for 96 minutes of your life.  Trust me on that.

Onto Gus Van Sant.  To Die For (1995): Absolute genius (the real kind).  Gerry (2002), the worst piece of shit ever put on celluloid bar none (Damon owes me for my time).  Gerry is the most boring movie, ever.  Nothing happens.  After 7 years of success, the guy got worse?  Did Hollywood steal his talent?  What the flagnod?

 


 

Josh Olson talks about a powerful film that examined the rise of populist media personalities crossing into politics. Film geeks and grindhouse freaks will know the Trailers From Hell series.

 

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

DVD: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Mr. Smith holds up over time better than most of the films shot in the 1980s. This is a “classic,” but that’s not why it’s a top pick on most political film lists. It’s more than a classic; it’s about something real. Jimmy Stewart turns in a tour de force performance the kind that still sends chills 70 years later. And it’s funny, with great comic timing and scenes that sear.
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