Thursday, August 16, 2007

The T&C 100 - #s 30-39

39 - Citizen Kane (1941)
A movie that, when I finally watched i (not that long ago), pretty much lived up to the hype. I still think, though, that it gets too much credit for doing things first.
Favorite moment: Just because I love Hermann's opera pastiche so much, the aria.

38 - Traffic (2000)
I thought this film did a great job of balancing the many stories, without being either too episodic or too contrived. And I still wish that Harrison Ford had taken the Michael Douglas part, as he was originally going to.
Favorite moment: Benicio del Toro watching that baseball game.

37 - Say Anything (1989)
One of the most convincing and organic portrayals of falling in love ever put on film. Cusack and Skye are so natural together, and so damn good at portraying that awkward stage where you are devoted to this person you really don't know that well or are that comfortable with.
Favorite moment: John Mahoney showing the youngsters how this acting thing is done, with that perfect moment when he realized just what his corruption has done to his relationship with his daughter.

36. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
I must confess that it's the sheer genius and theatricality of what is Alan Menken's finest score that elevates this so in my esteem. I do wish Disney had dared to be a little darker with the film - that the statues were shown to be just in Quasimodo's mind, that Quasimodo display some sadness and anger at losing the girl - but they did allow the filmmakers to go to some pretty dark places nonetheless. The Judge's song, in which he decides that if he lusts after Esmeralda it must mean that Satan is working through her, is pretty dark.
Favorite moment: The wonderfully compact, and tuneful opening, which spews a lot of exposition in a very entertaining way. And my favorite moment within that moment is the unbelievable high D-flat that Paul Kandel, as the Jester, hits in the song's climax.

35. Casablanca (1942)
Like Kane, a film that lived up to the hype. The fatalistic quality to the love story and film, and the weight and melancholy the actors give it, make it more than a simple low-key thriller.
Favorite moment: Sometimes cliches are cliches for reasons. The ending on the tarmac.

34. Back to the Future (1985)
A really perfectly structured film, that makes canny, integrated use of special effects and inspired casting to equal a whole more than the sum of its parts. it's really impressive, if you stop to think about it, that the movie is able to take what should have been a supremely uncomfortable and insurmountable concept - the idea that Marty's mother wants to have sex with him - and make it sweet and charming and funny, and only as creepy as necessary.
Favorite moment: I'm enough of a sap to thrill to George's moment of triumph against Biff.

33. The Green Mile (1999)
Frank Darabont has seemingly given up and conceded that Stephen King adaptations are where he lives as a filmmaker - he's filming King's The mist now. But this adaptation of one of my all-time favorite novels stands as a pulpy, overstuffed, melodramatic, and yet gorgeous throwback of a film. I just rewatched this recently, and what I love about it is how unhurried and leisurely it is. Not afraid to take its time and tell us the story the way it needs to be told.
Favorite moment: The execution of John Coffey, which, melodramatic as it is, earns the moment.

32. Babe (1995)
I've been rewatching this with my kids, and it really is just a delightful, enchanting piece of work. A simple story told simply, in spare, not show-offy, storybook style.
Favorite moment: Come on; it's got to be Babe inning that contest, complete with the sublime visual of the pig leading the sheep across the field in perfect formation.

31. Do the Right Thing (1989)
It's been said many times before, but what makes this film so powerful is how it refuses to cast villains or heroes, but gives us characters caught up in an inescapable net of preconceived notions and hatreds.
Favorite moment: The unresolved, not-really-a-reconciliation between Mookie and Sal at the end.

30. The Last Temptation of Christ (1989)
My favorite Scorcese film. It takes perhaps the most familiar story of all time and makes it new, and not by being blasphemous or glib, but by taking the deeply seated, core notion of the Catholic faith - that Christ was man and God and treating it seriously. That Christians didn't applaud this film, but instead attacked it, saddens me to no end.
Favorite moment: When Jesus realizes what is happening, and rejects the safe, long life that Satan is offering him.

Until Whenever

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