Thursday, March 15, 2012

Goodfellas

I really really like this movie. Honestly I do. But I feel blasphemous for probably not putting this in my top five Scorsese films. Off the top of my head, I would probably put it at number six behind (in no particular order) The King of Comedy, After Hours, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Mean Streets. That being said, nothing he's done since this film (with the exception of The Departed) even comes close to being as entertaining as this film.

I remember seeing this for the first time (I believe with Terry Crummitt at Wheaton Plaza) and my take on it then was somewhat similar to what it was now. The first half is better than the second. That Joe Pesci guy is even better in this than he was in Lethal Weapon 2! Ray Liotta is a weird dude. Robert de Niro is the best! Scorsese's song choices are the best! The editing - wow - the editing! Whoa, they really messed up that guy in the trunk. That paranoid being chased by a helicopter scene is long.

But what am I talking about? This movie is pretty damn incredible. It really is the touchstone of modern gangster films. And there definitely would not have been The Sopranos without this film. The dialogue has become part of the cultural lexicon. This is an excellent movie. There is no shame that it can't beat out Taxi Driver and Raging Bull or two of my all time favorite comedies. And to be honest, I haven't seen Mean Streets in years so maybe that doesn't hold up and this one can squeeze into the vaunted top 5.

And for the record, this concluded the gangster trilogy I wanted to introduce Sujan to after watching the first two Godfather films.

Directed by Martin Scorsese
1990
Blu-ray

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Man Escaped

I saw this years ago while living in Durham. I had a job at a great video store, VisArt Video. During my six months there, I must have watched at least ten movies a week on video. This was the period of time where I watched my majority of the classic foreign films - Fellini, Godard, Bergman, Truffaut, Kurosawa, etc, etc.

And then there was Robert Bresson. I think I watched two of his films but I can't remember what the other one was. One of them I definitely remember and it was this one. And I remember being a bit nonplussed by this. I think that I was tired on the day I watched it and that was a mistake. Upon watching it the second time, I realized just how incredible this film is.

It is a simple story. A French Resistance fighter is captured by the Nazis and imprisoned. Almost immediately, he starts planning his escape. The film is pretty much all about the planning and waiting for the right opportunity. The problem arises when on the same day, he is given a death sentence and is given a new cellmate. Is the cellmate a mole? Can he be trusted?

The film is quiet and restrained. There's very little score to add suspense. But there's plenty of nail biting intrigue if you are willing to give your full attention to it. On a spring day in North Carolina in 1996, I wasn't. But on a winter day in NYC in 2012, I was. I'm definitely older and wiser now and definitely interested in seeing more Bresson films. Especially if I've just had a double espresso.

Directed by Robert Bresson
1956
Film Forum

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Secret World of Arrietty

While not officially a Miyazaki film, it was close enough. He wrote and produced the darn thing. I can kind of see why he didn't want to direct this himself - it does seem a bit minor compared to the craziness of most of his films.

It is gentle and nice and fun to watch. Like all Studio Ghibli films, it looks incredible. It wasn't really for soon to be 3-year-olds though but they stuck it out. Sam said his favorite part was when the little people got stuck in a jar. Otis said his favorite part was when it was over.

Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi
2010, U.S. Release: 2012
34th St.