The holy grail of production design and cinematography, Blade Runner is magnificent, brilliant and spectacular — to look at. The most compelling scenes are the moments when you can see the replicants thinking about their humanity and their existence. If more of the film had lived up to the potential in those scenes, Blade Runner would be a great film, not just a great-looking film. Still, if you haven’t seen it for a while, it’s worth revisiting. It’s never looked better than it does now.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind is one of the best science fiction films ever made, and worth revisiting if you haven’t seen it for a long time. Steven Speilberg’s directorial style quickly became what you might call obvious later in his career, but in this early film he allows plenty of room for interpretation. He shows us but doesn’t tell us anything.
The final encounter with the aliens is spectacular and mysterious (communicating through music is pretty darn cool). Too bad they don’t make movies like this anymore.
The 400 Blows, François Truffaut‘s first feature film, does a wonderful job at capturing adolescence — and every minute of it will ring true for people who weren’t always on their best behaviour when they were kids. It’s one of Roger Ebert’s Great Movie picks: “The 400 Blows (1959) is one of the most intensely touching stories ever made about a young adolescent. Inspired by Truffaut’s own early life, it shows a resourceful boy growing up in Paris and apparently dashing headlong into a life of crime.” (Don’t read the whole review unless you’ve already seen the film.) Whether or not you relate to the main character, it’s difficult not to feel sympathy for him because although he gets into trouble, he’s not a bad kid; he’s just surrounded by stupid adults, at home, at school, everywhere. There isn’t much story to The 400 Blows, but it’s so well directed and acted and it all feels so genuine, it’s perfectly enjoyable just the way it is.
I’m talking about the original 1933 version of King Kong. It is a great movie and a hell of lot more violent and gruesome than I ever thought. It must have shocked and scared the crap out of audiences in 1933. I never realized what an incredible movie it is.
The stop-motion special effects are executed with style and drama that are so expressive, “the beast” comes across as a sensitive guy. There isn’t much of a story until Kong comes into the picture — and then you can watch the movie with the sound down if you feel like it because everything unfolds in broad strokes: 1) Island natives capture Fay Wray for sacrifice to Kong; 2) Kong runs into the jungle with Ms. Wray, protecting her instead of eating her; 3) A rescue party runs into the jungle and are killed off one at a time by Kong; 4) Kong is captured and brought back to the US… and so on. Although King Kong is sometimes considered a B-quality monster movie, it’s operatic and poignant as well. I’d love to see it in a theatre someday.