C’era una volta il West (Once Upon A Time In The West)

A buzzing fly, a train whistle, the wind blowing through the desert, and harmonica –

After “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly”, Italian maestro Sergio Leone came up with this brilliant story, wrote by himself, which he described as “a fresco on the birth of a great nation”. Leone emerges a 300-page treatment which was eventually distilled into the script, penned by Leone and Sergio Donati in this meticulously-plotted screenplay.

In fact, he builds a myth with modest elements, an organ mouth, a blue-eyed glance, long coats. He introduces lyricism and immoderation, to sublimate the manners of this specific spectacle. The daring of realization, inverted or encircling shot, and artistic choice express an authentic will to break the common rules, in order to confer sensible density on characters and an aesthetic energy on his scenery. Paradoxically, this glittering vision of Redemption, which was hesitating between homage and parody. Looking for ruins poetry and contemporary commencement. Insignificant details become epic. The fly and the dripping water for instance, are given real significance, and are integral to the pace of the scene. Not a word is said but the pacing and magnification of the smallest details add human depth to the scene, the director has created an absolute.

Henry Fonda plays the psychotic gunslinger Frank hired by a railroad contractor to scares stubborn redheaded Irishman Brett McBain (Frank Wolff) and his family.  In the meantime his beautiful new wife Jill (Claudia Cardinale) comes for the wedding announcement who turns into a funeral ceremony. And for that circumstances, she inherited that altercation land. Nevertheless, the central figure in this film are, crafty-mysterious antihero harmonica player (Charles Bronson), search vengeance to the mighty Frank. And fortunately Cheyenne (Jason Robards) teamed up with him in the middle of the hunt.

Leone brought us a series of flamboyantly choreographed set-piece confrontations. While characterisation suffers slightly under the weight of the visual theatrics, astonishing script, astute dialogue, combine with an exquisite score, a tight matching of soundtrack and visuals, remarkable.

It is one of the greatest Westerns film ever made. Outstanding.

The Lady Vanishes

Marking the peak of Hitchcock’s British period –

It is an exquisitely crafted cinematic treasure, played by the equaly brilliant casts. And for obvious reason you’ll see how Hitchcock set his point of view for a film.

Set in pre-WWII somewhere in Europe, A group of people board a train bound for England after having spent the previous night in an overcrowded hotel. Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) befriends a kindly old governess, Miss Froy (Dame May Witty). When Iris is struck by a falling flowerpot, Miss Froy promises to take care of her as they board to the train.

The film spends 20 minutes or so just introducing it’s characters, but they are all so great, especially the two men so obsessed with returning to a cricket match that a case of disappearance and possibly murder is relatively unimportant, that it hardly matters. Once on the train, the ensuring mystery and sleuthing are riveting, and full of fantastic little details, the name on the window, the nun with high heeled shoes, the fight in the magician’s stuff. The final shootout is excellently staged and still quite exciting. The laughs are constant, with some hilarious lines, but they never detract from the suspense.

The Lady Vanishes is a wonderful piece of fluff, the culmination of Hitchcock’s British period, after which he started to explore more serious themes in his American films. Of course the basic plot is absurd, centering around the most ridiculous way to get a secret message through one can think of, it’s the handling that matters, and Hitchcock achieves a near perfect balance here of humor and suspense that he only really matched on one other film.

Hitchcock had countless classics to come, including such complex masterpieces as Vertigo and Rear Window, but the delightful, hugely enjoyable The Lady Vanishes is a little masterpiece of it’s own.

L’Argent

L’ Argent, the last directorial effort of Robert Bresson, is unfortunately, in my opinion, seems also to be his least ( I adore Au Hasard Balthazar and A Man Escaped. but really, this film is plain forgettable). Forgive me all the Bresson fans out there, but i just didn’t find anything special in this film.

Once again, the things that bugged me the most is the acting. Yes, it is true that Bresson always thought that acting is secondary. He prefer to cast an unknown on his film, and let the images and the music do the talking. But unlike Au Hasard Balthazar, in which there are beautiful black-and-white cinematography in every second, accompanied with a wonderful Schubert sonata as a background music, in L’Argent, those aspects are nowhere to be seen.

If there’s one thing to salvage of, it is the story., which some might call, very Dostoyevsky-an. But too bad, that credit has to go to Tolstoy, not Bresson. So all in one, i had to regret that Bresson ( A man that has crafted a lot of masterpieces ) had to end his career, with this inferior film.

 

 

Ladri Di Biciclette

A portrayal of a working class men struggling in this post war so-called world –

An unemployed man Antonio Ricci is given a job putting up posters, however a condition of his employment is that he needs a bicycle, eventually he manages to buy one from a pawn shop, but on his first day at work it’s stolen and thus the man and his young son begin a desperate search through the back streets of Rome to find the missing bicycle.

Director Vittorio De Sica chose to film in the crowded streets of Rome and use non professional actors to capture the mood appropriately. This neo-realist approach works almost as a filmed documentary of Italy and the existence forced upon it’s citizens. When Antonio loses his bicycle he loses so much more and his desperate search in the overcrowded streets is one of cinema’s most emotional exploration of a man trying to capture his dignity that was taken from him. The bicycle was his job, his sense of purpose and it ensured a good livelihood for his family.

Antonio and Bruno

This film may not be for everyone, but anyone who appreciates film will understand its greatness and the realness of life along the story. There are allusions to the class struggle, but the film falls short of directly calling for a radical social change, instead portraying the working class of Italy as hopelessly divided by its own poverty, unemployment and greed . While that in itself may suggest De Sica’s desire for a proletariat united against injustices posed by the system, it’s still a comment the film never makes in a literal form – if it’s there, it’s hidden away somewhere in the narrative for the audience to decipher themselves. In that respect Bicycle Thieves quite clearly differs from many other Italian neo-realist movies, because it does not directly criticise the capitalist system, instead preferring to remain ambiguous and leaving the audience to arrive at their own conclusions about the fate of Antonio (Lamberto Maggiorani), his beloved son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) and of Italian society in general.

In a way it’s probably for the best that De Sica has chosen to portray the message of the film in an ambiguous light instead of patronising his audience with lectures, since it enables him to portray social injustice without running the risk of alienating his audience.

Astonishing, that might be the best word to describe this film. A beauty in it’s way, human way. Highly Recommended, worth the accolades.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

Based on a novel by Ken Kesey, and later a play by Dale Wasserman, this film won 5 Oscars including; Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress.

Though, the film’s stand-out of many strong points is the acting. Within a large and extensive cast, there is not a single bad actor and a handful of outstanding ones. Jack Nicholson, playing the hot-tempered convict R.P. McMurphy, and his usual psycho routine are as convincing as ever. As is, Louise Fletcher in her role of Nurse Ratched, without a doubt one of the greatest film villains of all time. She’s callous, unpredictable and a role not many actresses would be able to succeed in doing so to any positive effect. Of course, the supporting cast are outstanding. It’s brilliant to see pre-stardom talents, such as Christopher Lloyd, Danny DeVito and the undermined Brad Dourif really go into there roles. Some lesser known actors, such as Sydney Lassick as the child-esque Cheswick, William Redfield as the opinionated Harding and the mesmerising performance of Will Sampson as the unforgettable Chief.

The screenplay and directing of the film is sensational, and the scripting is quick-paced, but this never becomes it’s downfall and simply adds to the sheer insanity of the film itself. Even though, the pace’s of the film itself does halt when need be, even better, it actually conveys the more tragic, dramatic scenes even more touching and heartbreaking. The directing, from the excellent Milos Forman, is also something to shout about very much.

I did find this film a little bit like watching a play at times, but inevitably it was very well made, particularly those featuring Jack Nicholson, being improvised to some extent. I really enjoyed the scenes, as they were allowed to evolve. In my humble opinion, it’s a magnificent film that deserves all the awards.

Rear Window

A Nation Of Peeping Toms – When you have times to waste and a pair of binoculars, what would you do?

In 1954 Alfred Hitchcock delivered this film out of the world with John Michael Hayes (screenwriter). Rear Window is a deep and entertaining classic. A fine suspense story combined with romantic tension in the main plot, and there are numerous sub-plots, some humorous and some moving, all with many psychological overtones.

Disguised as a comedy-thriller, Rear Window serves as a meditation on voyeurism and film spectatorship, for like the immobilised central character, the viewer is trapped in a restricted space and forced to sit and watch other people’s lives from a distance. As Ritter’s character exclaims: “We’ve become a nation of Peeping Toms. People ought to get outside and look in at themselves”.

James Stewart plays the freelance photographer (Jeff) holed up in his Greenwich Village apartment, nursing a broken leg sustained on a work assignment. Visited by his no-nonsense nurse (Thelma Ritter) and his fashion-model girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly), he whiles away the hours by watching the goings-on in the courtyard opposite with a pair of binoculars. And soon he becomes convinced that one of his neighbours Thorwald (Raymond Burr) has brutally murdered his invalid wife…

A strangely dream-like quality pervades Rear Window, with its frequent fades, the repeated shots of a slumbering Stewart, and the implication that what’s happening up on screen is merely the projection of the protagonist’s anxieties about romantic relationships. Everything from the masterly opening sequence to the ambiguous final shot indicates that this is the work of a superbly talented director.

As one of many Hitchcock’s masterpieces this film brilliantly wooed you into an indescribable pleasure you never had before.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick, siapa yang tak kenal dengan sosok sutradara legendaris yang satu ini? beliau merupakan si jenius film diabad modern ini. Karya-karya yang dibuatnya begitu luar biasa, nyaris sempurna. Salah satu karya epic nya adalah, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Dirilis pada tahun 1968 silam dibawah komando bendera perusahaan film terkemuka MGM2001: A Space Odyssey adalah sebuah film bergenre Sci-Fi yang pada akhirnya menjadi salah satu pelopor film-film Sci-Fi saat ini juga. Film ini menggunakan teknik-teknik special effects yang luar biasa hebat untuk seukuran film pada masa itu. Tak hanya itu saja, kemasan Cinematography nya juga mempesona untuk dilihat. Menurut beberapa polling, karya Stanley Kubrick yang satu ini masuk dalam list film terbaik sepanjang sejarah. Woww menarik bukan?

Film ini terbagi atas empat chapter story line yang berbeda, yang nantinya dari kesemua chapter itu akan menyatukan inti dari semua cerita. Di awal cerita, dibuka dengan adegan blank screen yang terpampang sekitar 3 menitan diiringi alunan musik “Also Sprach Zarathustra”. Mungkin anda akan mengira film ini macet, tapi kenyataannya memang seperti itulah scene yang disajikan Kubrick. Lantas, setelah beberapa menit kemudian, scene dibuka lagi dengan kegiatan sehari-hari kumpulan monyet primitif di zaman purbakala yang masuk di dalam chapter pertama, The Dawn of Man. Di dalam chapter ini, monyet-monyet yang berkeliaran secara tidak sengaja menemukan sebuah balok berukuran besar yang tertanam di tanah, balok ini adalah MonolithChapter selanjutnya bersetting di jutaan tahun kemudian, tepatnya tahun 2001, disitu kaum manusia sudah menjelajahi angkasa luar dan mendirikan tempat bernama Clavius di bulan. Nah, Dr. Heywood R. Floyd (William Sylvester) si ahli Astronomi pun diutus ke Clavius dari bumi untuk menyelidiki sebuah kasus aneh yang terjadi ditempat tak biasa itu. Berangsur angsur story line pada chapter berikutnya menceritakan perjalanan di planet Jupiter oleh Dr. David Bowman (Keir Dullea) dan Dr. Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) yang disuatu saat menemukan Monolith-Monolith lainnya.

Di 2001: A Space Odyssey pastinya akan menarik perhatian anda, bagaimana tidak? lo pasti akan berdecak kagum begitu melihat kecanggihan futuristik yang ditampilkan sang jenius Stanley Kubrick. Kebayang ga ngeliat manusia berhasil mendarat di bulan, super computer, layar LCD yang terletak di kursi pesawat, perangkat iPad, teknologi hibernasi, video chat, serta alat-alat dan interior dalam pesawat luar angkasanya yang dibuat secara detil. Hal ini membuat teknologi futuristik di film ini terlihat canggih untuk dilihat pada masa sekarang. Gila nya si Kubrick udah memprediksi semua teknologi edan di film ini jauh sebelum itu. Hasilnya terbukti kan? semua prediksinya itu bener-bener terjadi, gokil men. Tapi tetep aja ada hal yang membosankan di film ini, yaitu alurnya yang begitu lambat sungguh membuat penonton, bahkan bagi pecinta berat film sekalipun akan dibuat menguap seketika. Cerita yang dikemas juga tergolong super duper berat, gue yakin film-film berat masa kini sebangsa Donnie Darko, Inception, hingga Shutter Island pun ga ada apa-apa nya dibanding dengan film Kubrick yang satu ini. Serius, sampai sekarang gue juga masih ga ngerti inti keseluruhan dari cerita film ini, damn!. Overall ini film bakal jadi favorit list film sepanjang masa di otak gue. 2001: A Space Odyssey LEGEND!