‘1 Man 365 Films 365 Days’ – Day 315

#311/ 365 – ‘Paths of Glory’ (1957) – 88 mins
IMDb Challenge #190 / 250 – Ranked #52 – iTunes

France 1916: the French and German armies are dug into trenches in stalemate. Impatient French Generals order a suicidal assault on a strategic hill but when the operation ends in inevitable retreat the same Generals demand that three men are executed for cowardice as an example to others. A decision that brings former defence lawyer Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) into conflict with his superior officers…

Paths of Glory, is an all around excellent WWI drama which examines some of the absurdities of war. Kirk Douglas is excellent as Colonel Dax and brings some great dry wit and firm presence to the role of a tough man who has a clear affection for his troops. George Macready is great as the sniveling General. There’s some stellar direction by Stanley Kubrick, which is highlighted superbly as presents a harrowing, nightmarish battle sequence which proves to be the visual centerpiece of the film. But then his flair is equally compelling during the courtroom drama scenes.

Paths Of Glory is undoubtedly an important picture that ends on a very somber note as it poses a war-related question that is still very relevant today, and is a film that should be at the top of your Kubrick to watch-list.

#312/ 365 – ‘Alien’ (1979) – 117 mins
IMDb Challenge #191 / 250 – Ranked #46 – DVD Collection

A cargo spaceship intercepts a signal of unknown origin from a nearby planet. When the crew investigates, they inadvertently bring a highly dangerous alien lifeform on board that picks them off one by one.

Whilst the visuals are stunningly impressive in Ridley Scott’s, Alien. The film works best as a suspense piece. By shooting the film with a deliberate unhurried pace. Scott gradually builds up the suspense with a great sense of claustrophobia into its long, drawn out sequences that slowly ratchet up the tension before delivering any scares. Then the pace dial is turned up a notch during its truly heart-pounding half-hour climax, when Ripley starts the self-destruct sequence.

The death scenes are some the best ever filmed in horror, with the ‘chestburster’ being the most iconic – which still holds the power to shock.

With Alien, director Ridley Scott came up with one of the most terrifying films of all time. Two classic genres in sci-fi and horror brought together, this is a tense and frightening experience you’ll never forget.

#313/ 365 – ‘Aliens’ (1986) – 137 mins
IMDb Challenge #192 / 250 – Ranked #61 – DVD Collection

57 years after her ordeal and the only survivor of the Nostromo, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is discovered in deep sleep by a salvage ship. When she is taken back to Earth, she learns that a human colony was founded on the same planet where the aliens were first found. Ripley is offered a chance to team up with a group of marines to descend on the planet and investigate the alien presence. Determined to end the memories of the alien creature, Ripley agrees to the offer and is once again thrown back into her living nightmare.

Director James Cameron, fresh from making his groundbreaking ‘The Terminator’, did the improbable on where so many sequels simply fail. He followed up a bona-fide sci-fi horror classic in ‘Alien’ with a sequel that lives up if not slightly betters it by maintaining same the perfect balance of suspense, action and story. That said, Aliens has more action and adrenaline to take it in a different and exciting direction and slightly less horror than the original, but it’s no less of a gripping and downright exhaustive experience.

Cameron assaults the viewer with shocks abound to keeps us on the edge of our seats for well over two hours. Backing up this terrifying, claustrophobic mayhem is James Horner’s Academy Award nominated score, which is haunting, thundering and bombastic.

The final showdown between Ripley and the towering, no-nonsense, Queen Alien is one of the best sequences ever filmed – “Get away from her, you BITCH!”

If you’ve never watched any of the Alien films, I recommend them to you in an instant. It’s just a shame we had to be served with the third and fourth inferior sequels.

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