#286/ 365 – ‘City Lights’ (1931) – 87 mins
IMDb Challenge #171/ 250 – Ranked #60 – iTunes
Having dissuaded a drunken millionaire (Harry Myers) from committing suicide, The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) sets out to raise the funds for an operation to restore the sight of a blind flowergirl (Virginia Cherrill).
City Lights was the last of 6 Charles Chaplin films I was to encompass on the iMDB 250, though I still have yet to discover much more work of this comic genius outside of the 250. Whilst many Chaplin lovers cite ‘The Great Dictator (1940)’ and ‘The Gold Rush (1925)’ to be his greatest pieces of work. To me on this quest, two of my personal favourites have been ‘City Lights’ and ‘The Kid (1921)’.
Like with all Chaplin’s Little Tramp films, Chaplin uses City Lights as pedestal to masterfully mix humor and sorrow to obtain a wonderful sort of bittersweetness. The boxing scene is an unforgettable moment of comedy genius, whilst the scene where the tramp buys a flower from a blind girl is one of true poignancy in the silent era – Timeless filmmaking.
#287/ 365 – ‘M’ (1931) – 117 mins
IMDb Challenge #172/ 250 – Ranked #58 – Lovefilm
A psychotic child murderer Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) stalks a German city, and despite an exhaustive investigation fueled by public hysteria and outcry, the police have been unable to find him. But the police crackdown does have one side-affect, it makes it nearly impossible for the organized criminal underground to operate. So they decide that the only way to get the police off their backs is to catch the murderer themselves. Besides, he is giving them a bad name.
Whilst this early horror talkie from Metropolis director Fritz Lang, is effective, intense and has great atmosphere in its early opening scenes, the tension that the narrative requires is not sustainable throughout.
#288/ 365 – ‘The Lives of Others’ (2006) – 137 mins
IMDb Challenge #173/ 250 – Ranked #57 – Lovefilm
East Berlin, 1984. State Security begins surveillance on playwright and, on the surface at least, good socialist Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch), and his longtime companion actress Christa-Maria Sieland. But as the operation progresses, Stasi Captain Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe) discovers compassion in his stony soul, to which their lives fascinates him more and more.
In this chilling, but ultimately uplifting human drama which looks into the lives of those trapped within a repressive regime of East Germany.
Every detail is exquisitely captured – the claustrophobic mood, the under currentness of terror, and the symbolic red ribbon of the hidden typewriter with which Dreyman writes with. The true brilliance of the film comes in watching the complexity of the characters who are entrenched in their ways, and the changes they go through. Ulrich Mühe as the meticulous eavesdropper who becomes known as HGW/X77 gives a performance par excellence.
The closing scene which brings not only surprises but one that reverberates as one of the most concisely perfect and profoundly moving. This 2007 Best Foreign Language Oscar winner from Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck deserves all the praise it has garnered, and your attention, to which it satisfies on every level.
#289/ 365 – ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (1962) – 129 mins
IMDb Challenge #174/ 250 – Ranked #56 – DVD Collection
Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) is a lawyer in a racially divided Alabama town in the 1930s. He agrees to defend a young black man who is accused of raping a white woman. Many of the townspeople try to get Atticus to pull out of the trial, but he decides to go ahead. How will the trial turn out – and will it change any of the racial tension in the town?
With a powerful and socially relevant script, flawless acting and beautiful production design this adaptation Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning book of 1960, this Mockingbird sings a sweet song, indeed, to make it a definitive classic in every sense of the word.
#290/ 365 – ‘WALL·E’ (2008) – 98 mins
IMDb Challenge #175/ 250 – Ranked #47 – DVD Collection
Humans have abandoned Earth, leaving a fleet of robots to clear up their mess. The only one of those robots remaining is WALL•E (Ben Burtt), who has developed a fascination with our rubbish. That fascination finds a new target when shapely super-robot EVE (Ben Burtt) touches down.
Perhaps the best part of Andrew Stanton’s Wall.E is the dialogue free first forty minutes which depicts the trash compactor’s infatuation with Eve.