Day 357: Twelve Angry Men/Schindler’s List

#372/ 365 – ‘12 Angry Men’ (1957) – 96 mins
IMDb Challenge #243 / 250 – Ranked #8 – DVD Collection

A cut and dry guilty verdict in a Jury-judged murder case is brought into doubt by one lone voice in the shape of a concerned juror. Can he break through the prejudices of the other 11 to force them to take a fresh look at the evidence?

Who would have thought that a film which almost entirely takes place in one room, consisting of 12 very angry juror members interacting between each other would be such an entrancing experience.

For a film like 12 Angry Men, the acting is of paramount importance and there is a highly talented ensemble to play out this brilliant war of words. Standout performances come from Henry Fonda putting in a tremendous central role as the lone concerned Juror #8, who, using softly spoken words and calm balanced reasoning, tries to convince the other 11 this isn’t an open and shut case against the accused, who will be sent to the electric chair. However Lee J. Cobb ensures it isn’t a one-man acting show with incredible force as the extremely opinionated, biased, forceful and loud-mouthed Juror #3.

It is incredible to think that 12 Angry Men was the first directorial effort of the brilliant Sidney Lumet (‘Dog Day Afternoon’, 1975 and ‘The Verdict’, 1982). Through varying camera angles and some great cinematography coupled with a razor sharp and intelligent script he creates an claustrophobic energy with emotion that subtly draws you in and refuses to let you go.

If there’s one thing that there is beyond reasonable doubt, if you haven’t experienced 12 Angry Men before then you owe it to yourself to see it now. It is a classic and an undisputed one at that.

#373/ 365 – ‘Schindler’s List’ (1993) – 195 mins
IMDb Challenge #244 / 250 – Ranked #7 – DVD Collection

Czech born, Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) owns a factory in Poland where he exploits the cheap jewish labour found there. When he witnesses the atrocities of Aushwitz he creates a list of workers whom he is able to save – turning his factory into a safe haven and rescuing over 1,100 Jews.

“Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”

In 1993, the greatest filmmaker of our time and one I consider as a god in this industry did exactly what we expected, and then he turned around and completely surprised his audience. That year and for the third time in his career, Steven Spielberg proved he could still capture the summer box office which was no surprise as he broke the record for the highest-grossing film of all time. Big, grand, exhilarating and with incredible special effects, ‘Jurassic Park’ was your typical Spielberg film.

But whilst Jurassic Park was breaking these records, Spielberg was making a Holocaust drama. This was a surprise and proved that cinema’s biggest kid was growing up.

Schindler’s List centers itself around the true story of Oskar Schindler (with Liam Neeson giving a performance of great depth), a self-indulgent and opportunistic businessman purely motivated by money. He hires Jews to work in his factory so he can capitalize on their low wage rates. But Spielberg’s film tells of Schindler’s perspective changes as he risks losing everything to save as many of the lives he has previously exploited as possible.

Spielberg also gives us a second story of Amon Goeth, Nazi commander, a monster of a human being who murders Jews at will as sport. In one truly unnerving scene we see the pure evil of Goeth as he takes pot shots and kills Jewish workers from the balcony of his spectacular villa. Ralph Fiennes gives an extraordinary performance in this role that both mesmerizes and repulses at the same time. Ben Kingsley in the role of Itzhak Stern, Schindler’s Jewish accountant gives an impressively understated performance.

Spielberg elected to shoot the picture in black-and-white, and his decision was indisputedly an excellent one. Janusz Kaminski’s (now a regular Spielberg collaborator) cinematography is meticulous as he makes effective use of shadow and light to help create the appropriate mood.

Schindler’s List inspires, touches you deeply, and yet simultaneously horrifies as Spielberg pulls no punches in presenting brutal and realistic images of the unspeakable atrocities of the Holocaust.

Some films, quite simply, aren’t meant to entertain. They are designed to compel on a much grander and important historical level. Spielberg’s crowning masterpiece ‘Schindler’s List’ for which he finally won the Best Director and Best Picture Oscars that were long denied him, is one of those films.

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Day 356: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest/ The Twilight Saga

#370/ 365 – ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ (1975) – 133 mins
IMDb Challenge #242 / 250 – Ranked #9 – DVD Collection

McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) thinks he can get out of doing work while in prison by pretending to be mad. His plan backfires when he is sent to a mental asylum. He tries to liven the place up a bit by playing card games and basketball with his fellow inmates, but Nurse Ratched is after him at every turn.

Over the years there have been a few films to have been nominated for the ‘Big Five’ Academy Awards, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay but only three have ever won all Five, ‘It Happened One Night (1934)’, ‘The Silence of the Lambs (1991)’ and this richly deserving effort from Milos Forman.

At its heart One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is an epic battle of wills between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched. From top to bottom, the casting is spot on. Jack Nicholson as the free spirit and rule breaker commands the screen every time the camera lingers upon him. Louise Fletcher is every bit his equal as the strait-laced by the book Nurse Ratched.

The film is full of great moments. The scene where McMurphy reenacts the play-by-play excitement of a World Series baseball game for the other patients, and a heart-wrenching finale being the most memorable.

With a great script and great direction, Forman is masterful at balancing the outrageous humor with the seriousness of the asylum. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is an all-time classic for a reason. It is a moving, funny, thoughtful and uplifting piece of filmmaking.

#371/ 365 – ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1′ – 117 mins
Cinema Challenge #126 / 115

Even though I was on holiday in Savannah, Georgia visiting my sister and family, I still managed to get a trip to the cinema in. Though it was more a case of my sister being a fan of the Twilight saga that she wanted to see the latest installment.

Human Bella (Kristen Stewart) and vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) finally tie the knot. But when she becomes pregnant, they face a life-threatening dilemma. The neighbourhood wolf pack circles, determined to prevent the birth of a potentially uncontrollable bloodsucker, and Bella’s admirer, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), tries to protect her.

The plot is wafer thin and straightforward. It is all about Bella – the wedding (some excellent production design on show here), lots of chess playing before they consummate, and the demon birth. That’s essentially what you get, and all this becomes one incredibly long drawn out yawn fest scenario for two hours. The story lacks any real depth and suspense especially during the birth and wolf pack attack scenes. All of this is mixed with lots of moody staring contests throughout between Jacob and Edward and some laughable dialogue from the pair.

In a nutshell if you’re not a Twilight fan, don’t go and see this film; you will have a horrible time. On the other hand if you’re a Twilight fan well of course you will love it. Even though I haven’t watched any of the previous Twilight films, I went in with an unbiased mind but this evidence suggests that I won’t be playing catch-up with the previous installments anytime soon or if at all.

Bella, remember birth control next time and you could have prevented this nightmare.

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Day 352: Batman Begins/The Dark Knight

#368/ 365 – ‘Batman Begins’ (2005) – 140 mins
IMDb Challenge #240 / 250 – Ranked #111 – DVD Collection

Billionaire down-and-out Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), traumatised since the murder of his parents, is recruited by The League Of Shadows, ninja assassins devoted to eradicating society’s ills. Rejecting their methods, he returns to Gotham and embarks on a one-man war against crime.

Needless to say, director Christopher Nolan is the real hero of Batman Begins. Sure, Christian Bale dresses up as the giant bat and brilliantly dominates the screen time, but it’s Nolan working from behind the scenes who really makes this back-to-basics Batman work exceptionally well.

Nolan uses Batman Begins as the opportunity to carve out a proper origin story about the caped crusader, something that hadn’t been done in the 80’s and 90’s manifestations of the franchise. This is a hard-core, down-and-gritty story that through flashbacks takes us to the dark corners of the life of billionaire, Bruce Wayne.

There are exciting action scenes, scorching stunts, and of course, the Batmobile which impresses as it skids and screeches over skyscrapers and screeches. Nolan understands how to elevate the adrenaline level. The dialogue is sharp and intelligent, but ultimately, Batman Begins works because you believe in the character. This Dark Knight is definitely here to stay.

#369/ 365 – ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008) – 152 mins
IMDb Challenge #241 / 250 – Ranked #10 – DVD Collection

Batman (Christian Bale) hopes to hang up his cape and hand over crime-fighting duties to District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). But the arrival of clown-faced master criminal The Joker (Heath Ledger) forces the masked vigilante to question everything he stands for.

“You can die a hero or live long enough to be a villain”

The Dark Knight goes beyond the fascinating gothic visuals and harsh realistic tone founded in ‘Batman Begins’ to give us an even richer and multi-layered story, to make it arguably the moodiest superhero film ever to grace to screen.

Opening up with the greatest bank robbery since Michael Mann’s Heat, visually, the film is luxurious, expensive, sophisticated and with awesomely staged stunts throughout, with a huge truck which Batman lassos proving to be the highlight.

All the original cast of Batman Begins are back. Christian Bale continues to own the role as our caped hero. It is always a pleasure to spend time in the company of Michael Caine as Bruce Wayne’s ever-loyal butler Alfred and Morgan Freeman as Lucius, Batman’s version of ‘Q’. One of the major new characters to join the ranks is Aaron Eckhart as Gotham’s charismatic, District Attorney Harvey Dent is Gotham’s Knight ‘White Knight’, and that’s how Eckhart plays him – an individual who makes his own luck. Maggie Gyllenhaal has replaced Katie Holmes as the assistant D.A. Rachel Dawes, but the change is a welcome one as Gyllenhaal is a better actress and makes the character her own from her first scene.

However, it is the Joker who is the biggest and most welcome addition. Heath Ledger’s posthumous Oscar winning performance is one of pure revelation; he drives the entire movie as Batman’s seriously disturbed “why so serious?” nemesis. He is the embodiment of terror and rage, who takes a disturbed pleasure in twisting the city and its heroes. It is impossible to go away after watching The Dark Knight without feeling a sense of poignancy in Ledger’s performance.

For me The Dark Knight is the greatest superhero movie ever made and being a huge fan of the genre, I don’t say that lightly. It is a truly an outstanding and unforgettable achievement from Nolan that works on every level. Whether he will ever top what has been accomplished here remains to seen, but on July 20th, 2012 the world will get to find out if he can with concluding part in this epic franchise – ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

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Day 350: Goodfellas

#367/ 365 – ‘Goodfellas’ (1990) – 146 mins
IMDb Challenge #239 / 250 – Ranked #16 – DVD Collection

The story of Irish-Italian American, Henry Hill, and how he lives day-to-day life as a member of the Mafia. Based on a true story, the plot revolves around Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) and his two unstable friends Jimmy (Robert De Niro) and Tommy (Joe Pesci) as they gradually climb the ladder from petty crime to violent murders.

“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.”

There are 3 films out there that are frequently and justifiably so, cited as ‘the best gangster movies ever made’, they are ‘The Godfather’, ‘The Godfather: Part II’ and this stylistic masterpiece from Martin Scorsese.

One of the factors which makes Goodfellas, adapted from Nicholas Pileggi’s 1985 non-fictional book ‘Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family’ so unforgettable is that Scorsese finds the perfect balance between style and substance. Every camera move is dazzling; every scene is made more intense. But at the same time, the absorbing character work and compelling drama are never sacrificed for the easy thrill of this style. The film also seduces you in much the same way that gangster life seduces, Henry Hill. It draws you in with the attraction and excitement of crime and power.

There are too many great moments to talk of, but Tommy’s explosive tirade in the restaurant would have to come out on top – “You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe, but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”

As for the casting. Robert DeNiro’S sixth collaboration at the time with Scorsese was another that highlighted this director\actor perfection. Ray Liotta gives a career-defining performance in the anti-hero role. Though it’s unquestionably Joe Pesci’s intense Oscar-winning performance as loose-cannon Tommy that leaves the films strongest mark.

Some films hit you so hard with their flawlessness that once the final credits roll, you know that you will have to see the film again and soon – this is one of those films.


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Day 343: Once Upon a Time in the West/Star Wars: Episode IV/V/Fight Club

#362/ 365 – ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ (1968) – 175 mins
IMDb Challenge #234 / 250 – Ranked #20 – DVD Collection

A mysterious stranger (Charles Bronson) with a harmonica joins forces with a notorious desperado (Jason Robards) to protect a beautiful widow (Claudia Cardinale) from a ruthless assassin (Henry Fonda) working for the railroad in this long frontier epic. Mysterious pasts and the strength of loyalties are explored amid lightning fast gun battles…

Once Upon a Time really isn’t a film about plot, it is a film that firmly revolves around character. Sergio Leone, the Italian filmmaker, arguably with his roughened style defined the spaghetti western genre and this style is abundantly on show in Once Upon a Time in the West, never more than during the what is probably the longest credit sequence in movie history. It unfolds with a soundtrack that is entirely full of atmospheric noise; the camera follows three gunfighters so intensely that by the time the train arrives you feel as if you have lived and breathed with them for days, only to….well, if you’ve seen the film you know what happens.

It may not be the best Western I’ve viewed but it is a brilliantly choreographed piece of action film, a fantastic character study, beautifully photographed with a distinctive score by Ennio Morricone. It is a sombre and thoughtful piece that you simply want to enjoy more than once.

#363/ 365 – ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’ (1977) – 121 mins
IMDb Challenge #235 / 250 – Ranked #14 – DVD Collection

Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) is held hostage by the evil Imperial forces in their effort to take over the Galactic Empire. Venturesome Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and dashing Captain Han Solo (Harrison Ford) team together with the lovable robotic duo, R2-D2 and C-3PO, to rescue the beautiful princess and restore justice in the Empire

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

What can I possibly say about the first installment of the ultimate space saga that hasn’t already been said a thousand times before? George Lucas’s Star Wars must be one of the most discussed and most examined films of the century, which everyone on the planet as seen at least once, correct? Hands up who hasn’t?

This is an old-fashioned fairy story of good vs. powerful evil, a damsel princess in distress with a brave yet young hero facing impossible odds but whose faith carries him to victory, told in such a straightforward manner. Even though the characters have no real depth to them they bring life to the story with their unique traits.

For a sci-fi film released in 1977, the special effects from Industrial Light and Magic are absolutely phenomenal, even by today’s standards. From a stunning opening shot, where the Empire chases Rebellion forces in their mighty warships to laser blasts to alien creatures everything is breathtaking to look at.

Then there is John Williams epic and iconic score. From the opening theme to the ceremonial piece in the final scene, the music excites and without it, Star Wars would not be as grand of a film as it still is today.

I will never tire of Star Wars. It is a touchstone of my childhood and my fascination in it will never end.

#364/ 365 – ‘Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back’ (1980) – 124 mins
IMDb Challenge #236 / 250 – Ranked #11 – DVD Collection

After receiving a vision from Obi-Wan Kenobi and fleeing the ice world of Hoth with his friends after an Imperial attack, Luke Skywalker travels to the marsh planet of Dagobah, where he is instructed in the ways of the Force by the legendary Jedi Master Yoda. Meanwhile, Han Solo and Princess Leia make their way to planet Bespin, where they are greeted by Han’s old friend, a shifty gambler named Lando Calrissian. Ambushed by the Empire shortly after their arrival, Han and his friends are imprisoned by Darth Vader

Taking over directing duties from George Lucas, the late Irvin Kershner did the imporbable on where so many sequels simply fail. He and Lucas followed up a bona-fide classic in ‘Star Wars’ with a sequel that is finest and most mature of the trilogy. Disposing of the more lighthearted adventure tone outlined by Lucas in the first film, they created a more dark and sophisticated central theme with a lot more depth in character, and and with that, the performances also matured, notably those of Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill.

The visual effects deployed in The Empire Strikes Back are far more superlative than those of Star Wars. From the approach of the Imperial Walkers, the asteroid field to the rescue from the Cloud City, all are strikingly vivid and exciting sequences

The defining moment of The Empire Strikes Back occurs in the final twenty minutes. The scene that begins with the Luke and Vader’s lightsaber duel and ends with our young hero’s despairing decision to allow himself to plummet out of Vader’s reach represents a truly compelling moment – “No. I am your father.”

#365/ 365 – ‘Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi’ (1983) – 134 mins
IMDb Challenge #237 / 250 – Ranked #108 – DVD Collection

Darth Vader and the Empire are building a new, indestructible Death Star. Meanwhile, Han Solo has been imprisoned, and Luke Skywalker has sent R2-D2 and C-3PO to try and free him. Princess Leia – disguised as a bounty hunter – and Chewbacca go along as well. The final battle takes place on the moon of Endor, with its natural inhabitants, the Ewoks, lending a hand to the Rebels. Will Darth Vader and the Dark Side overcome the Rebels and take over the universe?

There’s an old saying out there about leaving the best for last. Sadly George Lucas certainly didn’t follow that adage when bringing the original Star Wars trilogy to its conclusion. Return of the Jedi, is undoubtedly the weakest of the trilogy.

The dark, eerie atmosphere that oozed from every scene of The Empire Strikes Back has disappeared and been replaced by cuteness, mainly in the unbearable race of those teddy bears, the Ewoks. That said Return of the Jedi does have some interesting elements. The Luke, Vader and Emperor battle scenes are tense and well-acted. There’s some terrific chemistry shared between Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher who have all now wholesomely matured into their roles.

Unfortunately I felt this was one film too many in the saga and it was the only the beginning of the demise of an unforgettable journey.

#366/ 365 – ‘Fight Club’ (1999) – 139 mins
IMDb Challenge #238 / 250 – Ranked #15 – DVD Collection

A ticking-time-bomb Narrator (Edward Norton) and soap salesman (Brad Pitt) channel primal male aggression into a shocking new form of therapy. Together they create a new “fight club” where young men come to relieve their frustrations by beating each other to a pulp. Their concept catches on, with underground “fight clubs” forming in every town, until a sensuous eccentric (Helena Bonham Carter) gets in the way and ignites an out-of control spiral toward oblivion.

The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is, you DO NOT talk about Fight Club – ok, well that was an easy review.

If you follow these simple rules, the chances are like me you’ll be blown away by Fight Club and will want to keep going back in for more and more. With its unique style, it is a violent explosion of brave ideas that meet the subconscious fantasy from David Fincher whose one of the boldest and most innovative filmmakers working in Hollywood today.

Our isolated insomniac protagonist The Narrator and devious soap salesman Tyler Durden suck you into the wacky and the weird, bare-knuckle fights and urban terrorism whilst spewing compelling dialogue – “We’re consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear.”

Don’t even try to place Fight Club in a genre or even try to work it out at times. Just take in the ride. It is a film that explodes at you with invention, energy and excitement.

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Day 342: Apocalypse Now/The Seven Samurai/Casablanca

#359/ 365 – ‘Apocalypse Now’ (1979) – 153 mins
IMDb Challenge #231 / 250 – Ranked #36 – DVD Collection

Troubled veteran Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) is recuperating in Saigon when he’s offered a new mission. His task is to travel deep into the Cambodian jungle to locate and assassinate Colonel Walter Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who appears to have gone insane and now commands a renegade native army. After witnessing the destruction of a village by Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall) and his airborne cavalry, Willard and his crew embark on a dangerous journey upstream towards Kurtz’s outpost.

“The horror! The horror!” – Apocalypse Now was a horror to make for director Francis Ford Copolla, and in the 1977 press the wildly ambitious project was often rumoured to be a total disaster. Martin Sheen only 36, suffered a heart attack during filming. The production, mostly on location in the Philippines, was also besieged by extreme weather that destroyed several expensive sets. The shoot was meant to be 6 months but ended up taking 16 months to complete. In addition, the release date was pushed back several times as Copolla struggled to come up with an ending amongst the astonishing 200 hours of footage he had shot.

Featuring some unique and unforgettable cinematography, the breathtaking chopper scene that beats to a pulsating score of Wagner’s “The Ride of the Valkyries” – this and other scenes are masterfully paced as each one flows into the next it makes for this feeling that everything is running together seamlessly.

The acting in Apocalypse Now is absolutely phenomenal. Martin Sheen gives some deep and powerful narration from Willard’s perspective of the harrowing events he is experiencing. Marlon Brando, even though he turned up late, overweight and unprepared gives an astounding performance as the deranged Kurtz with his nonsensical philosophies. Although limited in the screen time he was given, Robert Duvall steals the show by giving a commanding performance as Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore, the surfing-obsessed officer whilst declaring the unforgettable line: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning”.

Having watched both the theatrical and the Redux version (brings an extra 53 minutes to the table) on several occasions, I can safely say this is simply one of the greatest war films of all time and it brings about a surreal experience that holds you with intense focus. Apocalypse Now is a rare work of genius in Francis Ford Copolla and it should always be appreciated for not only being a pure piece of cinematic art but also one of unique ambition.

#360/ 365 – ‘Seven Samurai’ (1954) – 207 mins
IMDb Challenge #232 / 250 – Ranked #13 – Lovefilm

A village is constantly attacked by well armed bandits. One day after an attack they seek the wisdom of an elder who tells them they cannot afford weapons, but they can find men with weapons, samurai, who will fight for them, if they find samurai who are in down on their luck and wondering where their next meal will come from. They find a very experienced samurai with a good heart who agrees to recruit their party for them. He selects five genuine samurai and one who is suspect but the seven return to the village to protect it from the forty plus bandits.

Another first time watch, and to say that I was highly anticipating watching Seven Samurai after many a recommendation from friends would have been an understatement. Like me if you’ve never seen The Seven Samurai, you’re probably familiar with the basic outlines of the story that so often shown up in the many films it has influenced – ‘The Magnificent Seven’ being the most notable.

Acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa really lets you slowly experience the film, in the opening act you sucked in hypnotically into the 16th century farming peasants lives and the way of the Ronin (masterless Samurai) and this act is crucial to defining the characters and their relationships.

All of the characters are richly textured. With Toshirô Mifune as Kikuchiyo stealing the show. He’s a quirky, loud, stumbling drunk, a brooding man who meditates on his unhappy past, but he’s also completely lovable and a character that dives right into your heart, especially when he acts as a playful clown in the company of the towns children.

With a running time of 3 hours and 27 minutes, you would think Seven Samurai would have a lull, but it doesn’t include a single dull second. With its sweeping cinematography, engaging story, simple but effective dialogue and a flawless climatic epic battle scene, it is a film of the highest order from Kurosawa and one that will surely excite any film lover.

#361/ 365 – ‘Casablanca’ (1942) – 102 mins
IMDb Challenge #233 / 250 – Ranked #17 – DVD Collection

In World War II Casablanca, Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), exiled American and former freedom fighter, runs the most popular nightspot in town. The cynical lone wolf Blaine comes into the possession of two valuable letters of transit. When Nazi Major Strasser arrives in Casablanca, the sycophantic police Captain Renault does what he can to please him, including detaining Czech underground leader Victor Laszlo. Much to Rick’s surprise, Lazslo (Paul Henreid) arrives with Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), Rick’s one time love. Rick is very bitter towards Ilsa, who ran out on him in Paris, but when he learns she had good reason to, they plan to run off together again using the letters of transit. Well, that was their original plan….

What can I say on another film I’ve watched and immensely enjoyed on more times than I can remember, and one that just continues to get better and better with every viewing?
Everything is in the storyline, which is the perfect blend of romance and drama mixed with tension, and all of this partly down to Michael Curtiz’s fantastic direction, but it’s also down to the unforgettable performances that Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman convey, and its they who bring ‘Casablanca’ to life and the sizzling chemistry they share just flies off the screen.

Bogart is spectacular as Rick as he delivers his lines with an iciness, almost bitterness as he runs Ricks, his beloved bar. But then the second Isla (and Bergman truly lights up the screen) walks into the bar that coldness is melted and feelings start to rise up. What makes this perfect is that Bogart makes Rick extremely likeable and remarkably easy to understand. Then theres Claude Rains as Capt. Renault, who stands out and delivers a magnificent performance which is as strong as those of Bogart and Bergman. In an impressive career, it’s a damn shame that Rains didn’t win the Best Supporting Oscar here for which he was deservedly nominated.

Casablanca contains a slew of instantly quotable lines, “Here’s looking at you, kid”, “The problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world” and “We’ll always have Paris” are just several to mention in what probably is the most quotable film ever.

I could forever talk about Casablanca all-day long as it is a masterclass of filmmaking and a film that will always reside in my Top 10 films of all-time. But what it all boils down to is that for me Casablanca is the greatest romantic story ever to grace the cinematic screen and if you’ve never seen it then you’re truly missing out on something special. Watch it today with someone you love.

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‘1 Man 365 Films 365 Days’ – Day 341

#358/ 365 – ‘City of God’ (2002) – 130 mins
IMDb Challenge #230 / 250 – Ranked #18 – DVD Collection

Brazil, 1960’s, City of God. The Tender Trio robs motels and gas trucks. Younger kids watch and learn well…too well. 1970’s: Li’l Zé has prospered very well and owns the city. He causes violence and fear as he wipes out rival gangs without mercy. His best friend Bené is the only one to keep him on the good side of sanity. Rocket has watched these two gain power for years, and he wants no part of it. Yet he keeps getting swept up in the madness. All he wants to do is take pictures. 1980’s: Things are out of control between the last two remaining gangs…will it ever end?

Wow I’d never seen ‘City of God’ before today. Narrated by Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues) its powerful and haunting film that chronicles a myriad of stories that lie deep within the teen gang slums of Rio de Janeiro. At times the violence in City of God is extreme and disturbing, I found it almost too hard to watch the scene when a boy is forced to kill one of two young children crying in the gutter. To make things worse, he has to choose which child to kill.

Though despite its grim and serious subject matter, with its frenetic but effective cinematic technique, energy and vitality whipped in with a pulsating soundtrack its exhilarating ride that roars at you – an experience to savor.

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