Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Top 100 Films of the 20th Century – Part 9: 65-61


Rank: 65
Release Year: 1973
Genre: Horror
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Plot Summary: Laura and John Baxter are still grieving the recent and unexpected loss of their young daughter. They are in Venice attending a conference, trying to move on when they encounter two elderly sisters, one of whom is a psychic. The sisters give them a warning form beyond that begins to consume both Laura and John in different ways.
What Makes It Special: Leave it to British filmmaker Nicolas Roeg to make a horror film that plays much more like a character drama. Don’t Look Now is unlike almost any other film in the genre. It does not really go out of its way to scare or be suspenseful; rather it takes its time delving into its characters and slowly building tension, bubbling just beneath the surface. The narrative takes on the structure of a mystery needing to be uncovered. And yet, despite its slow pacing and lack of classic scary moments, the film ends up being one of the creepiest in film history (with a brilliant ending).
Trailer: Here
Available on: DVD and Video On-Demand


Rank: 64
Title: Annie Hall
Release Year: 1977
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Woody Allen and Diane Keaton
Plot Summary: The film chronicles neurotic New Yorker Alvy Singer’s relationship with the carefree Annie Hall.
What Makes It Special: Annie Hall is maybe the quintessential romantic comedy. It perfectly balances its humor and entertainment value with its pop-culture relevance and the wonderful chemistry between its two leads. It not only showcases Woody Allen (one of cinema’s most prolific filmmakers) at his best as a writer, but also as a director, as it is maybe his most interesting film aesthetically. Allen essentially throws everything he can think of at the film stylistically, and yet it all works wonderfully, creating something that is kooky, poignant, and really funny (it also won Best Picture over Star Wars).
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

Rank: 63
Release Year: 1993
Genre: Drama
Plot Summary: Julie Vignon de Courcy tries to move on in the face of grave grief and emptiness after her husband (a famous French composer) and young daughter are killed in a car accident.
What Makes It Special: Blue takes full advantage of all film has to offer as a window into deeper human emotion. It is a masterwork of visceral filmmaking. Krzysztof Kieslowski explores the depths of emotional resonance that color and sound can reach. Blue is devastating and liberating. It is an explosion of sapphire tones and grand operatic music pulling the viewer into a turbulent world of loss and rebirth, in which Juliette Binoche is truly astounding as Julie. It is a cinematic experience that stays with you.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray

Rank: 62
Title: Pulp Fiction
Release Year: 1994
Genre: Crime Drama
Plot Summary: The ensemble film tells four intertwining tales of violence and redemption featuring two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and pair of two small-time bandits.
What Makes It Special: Quentin Tarantino more or less changed American cinema with Pulp Fiction. His use of language, violence, and irony felt edgy, vital, and honest when American films had seemingly become generic and anemic (save for a few). Tarantino, in addition to a few other fresh young talented filmmakers, completely revitalized independent cinema in the late 1980s and 1990s. Pulp Fiction finally treated its audience as intelligent. It does not waste a moment or line of dialog. Everything has a purpose and point, all driving the narrative and characters forward. It reminded everyone that yes writing is important, be it a violent action movie, comedy or drama.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

Rank: 61
Release Year: 1944
Genre: Drama/Mystery
Plot Summary: Three unlikely friends (a Land Girl, American GI, and British soldier) find themselves together in a small Kent town on the road to Canterbury where they discover a mystery involving a man pouring glue in young girls’ hair. The three set out to solve the case.
What Makes It Special: A Canterbury Tale is not so much a narrative film, though it does start off that way with an old-time detective plot, as it is a spiritual journey. The film is highly ambitious in its aspirations for its emotional impact on its viewers. If anything, the Archers create a revelatory experience, asking viewers to find what is truly important in their lives, stripping away all the nonsense that seemingly drowns us all. The film (a product of WWII era England, under constant aerial attack by German planes) also strives to be a rallying cry expressing the sentiment and way of life that was being threatened by the Nazis. It is a remarkable cinematic experience, one that is genuinely ethereal.
Trailer: Here
Available on: DVD


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