2011-08-20

Today Is Thy Day

Just to say that today is my wedding day... So no blogging or whatsoever activity here!

Fred Astaire in Royal Wedding (Stanley Donen, 1951)

And from Monday August 22nd to Sunday September 4th I'll be away on my Honeymoon in Hawaii, I know! So don't send me hate messages if I don't comment here or on any other blogs... I'll be out surfin' and doing other stuff in this Heaven on Earth!

See you all!

2011-08-18

Top 100 Films

As I was invited by the fine folks at A Band Apart blog to contribute in their colossal task of assembling yearly Top 100 of the greatest films of all-time. I decided to join, first because I love to help fellow cinephiles and second, because I love to make lists of films.


I already did a Top 100 of my favourite films, but this task is a never-ending work. I imposed myself a rule that was supposed to help me but instead made the choices even harder and painful. Let’s call it the “One film per director rule”. The 75 first choices were pretty obvious since they are all directors/films I love and would watch anytime. But the last 25 were difficult, let’s say nearly impossible to determine in which order and who should be in and who should be left out?

However, it was a great opportunity to sit back and make a retrospective of the movies that let a mark into this cinephile’s mind. Sometimes you will finish a film and immediately say that it is the greatest film of all time! But five years later your opinion can change positively or negatively. Films like Renoir’s La règle du jeu just seem to be better and better with time. While Von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark, in my opinion, will seem lesser than the first impression I had.

Enough of this already here’s the list:



Top 100 films – Michaël Parent

“One film per director rule”



1. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

2. Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1963)

3. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)

4. Modern Times (Charles Chaplin, 1936)

5. Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)

6. 8 ½ (Federico Fellini, 1963)

7. La règle du jeu (Jean Renoir, 1939)

8. Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)

9. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)

10. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Sergio Leone, 1966)

11. Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979)

12. Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)

13. There Will Be Blood (P.T. Anderson, 2007)

14. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1963)

15. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)

16. Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau, 1922)

17. Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)

18. The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)

19. Pierrot le fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965)

20. Fargo (Joel & Ethan Coen, 1995)

21. Blow-Up (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966)

22. Rebel Without A Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955)

23. Aguirre: The Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972)

24. M (Fritz Lang, 1931)

25. The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1948)

26. Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean. 1962)

27. Ma nuit chez Maud (Eric Rohmer, 1969)

28. Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman, 1984)

29. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)

30. The General (Buster Keaton, 1927)

31. Red Shoes (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1948)

32. Dog Day Afternoon (Sydney Lumet, 1975)

33. Lola Montes (Max Ophüls, 1955)

34. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)

35. Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)

36. Solaris (Andreï Tarkovsky, 1972)

37. Jules et Jim (François Truffaut, 1961)

38. The American Friend (Wim Wenders, 1977)

39. Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1988)

40. Hatari! (Howard Hawks, 1962)

41. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)

42. The Set-Up (Robert Wise, 1952)

43. The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970)

44. Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie (Luis Bunuel, 1972)

45. Singin’ In the Rain (Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen, 1954)

46. Diaboliques (Henri-Georges Clouzot. 1955)

47. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)

48. Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1978)

49. Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967)

50. The Producers (Mel Brooks, 1968)

51. La belle et la bête (Jean Cocteau, 1946)

52. Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky, 2010)

53. Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985)

54. Ed Wood (Tim Burton, 1993)

55. All The President’s Men (Alan J. Pakula, 1975)

56. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

57. Germany Year Zero (Roberto Rossellini, 1946)

58. To Be or Not To Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942)

59. It’s A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)

60. Ordet (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1955)

61. The Social Network (David Fincher, 2010)

62. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)

63. Altered States (Ken Russell, 1980)

64. Make Way For Tomorrow (Leo McCarey, 1937)

65. Blow Out (Brian De Palma, 1972)

66. Evil Dead (Sam Raimi, 1982)

67. The Flavour of Green Tea Over Rice (Yasujiro Ozu, 1952)

68. All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

69. M*A*S*H (Robert Altman, 1970)

70. Videodrome (David Cronenberg, 1983)

71. The Killer (John Woo, 1988)

72. Winchester ’73 (Anthony Mann, 1950)

73. Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale, 1935)

74. Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)

75. The French Connection (William Friedkin, 1972)

76. Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969)

77. Anatomy of A Murder (Otto Preminger, 1959)

78. The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach, 2004)

79. The Man Who Would be King (John Huston, 1975)

80. Possession (Andrzej Zulawski, 1981)

81. Heat (Michael Mann, 1994)

82. The Naked Kiss (Samuel Fuller, 1964)

83. Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)

84. Kwaidan (Masaki Kobayashi, 1965)

85. The Deer Hunter (Michael Cimino, 1976)

86. Freaks (Tod Browning, 1932)

87. Horror of Dracula (Terrence Fisher, 1958)

88. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)

89. Greed (Erich von Stroheim, 1924)

90. The Naked Jungle (Byron Haskins, 1954)

91. The Shootist (Don Siegel, 1976)

92. The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)

93. An American in Paris (Vincente Minnelli, 1955)

94. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)

95. A Time To Love and A Time To Die (Douglas Sirk, 1958)

96. The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940)

97. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Jim Jarmusch, 1998)

98. The Birth of A Nation (D.W. Griffith, 1915)

99. The Mummy (Karl Freund, 1932)

100. The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1919)



Films that were sadly left out:

Le voyage dans la Lune (George Méliès, 1902)

Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

The Man With the Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)

The Scarlett Empress (Josef von Sternberg, 1934)

Le Million (René Clair, 1931)

L’Atalante (Jean Vigo, 1934)

Ivan the Terrible I & II (Sergei M. Eisenstein, 1944 & 1945)

The Sword of Doom (Kihachi Okamoto, 1966)

Au hazard Balthazar (Robert Bresson, 1966)

Teorema (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1966)

Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1968)

Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson, 1970)

Lacombe Lucien (Louis Malle, 1974)

Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1978)

Being There (Hal Ashby, 1979)

Amadeus (Milos Forman, 1984)

Angel Heart (Alan Parker, 1987)

Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992)

The Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1994)

Dancer in the Dark (Lars Von Trier, 2000)

Elephant (Gus Van Sant, 2002)

I’m Not There (Todd Haynes, 2007)

Che (Steven Soderbergh, 2008)

2011-08-12

Entourage Season 8


On Le Mot du Cinephiliaque, there aren’t that many posts or discussions around television shows but this one is one of my favourites lately and I would like to know your thoughts so far since this is the last season and until now, episode 3, I feel like if we, the viewer, haven’t really had something to get our teeth in. Even Season 7 was okay and some moments were better while others were lesser I think the show is getting tired. I always said that when a show must introduce new characters on a regular basis is because the central ones have been exploited enough.

During Season 7, Eric was absent, Sloan is a talking prop, Johnny had to struggle with himself and got small and lesser parts while Turtle is the one who got the best of this Season. By the way, Jerry Ferrara lost like 30 pounds since 2 or 3 years, just like me 5 years ago... And Vince has more dramatic turns of events with his porn star girlfriend, drug addiction, etc. On the other side Ari has a biggest part in the process but seems to be fooling in the same place with the recurring themes of the unsatisfied wife and the never letting your guard down attitude. And there’s the return of one of my favourite characters; Billy Walsh.

What gets on my nerves in the current season so far, is the tendency to erase everything from the previous seasons and even things: Vinny gets back on his feet and is like a Role model, Turtle lost is girlfriend and his Tequila job, E is no longer with Sloan, Drama still struggles with his quest to have/keep a job. Moreover, Ari and the separation with his wife is just so not Ari! There is also the additional characters of Scott, Dice, Carlos, etc. They just get in the way... It might be too early to call anything but since Season 7 wasn’t as good as the first 6 I just hope that they are setting things up for a great farewell and a great film. Because, what it lacks is the chemistry between the four boys when they are together and call themselves names. Since, a while they are all isolated and yes there is more than the four guys together, there is producing, managing, acting, in their lives but since the show was built on the relationship of this modern family of “dudes” I hope the show will get back on his feet and give us those moments we all liked very much.

So what do you all think of it so far?

2011-08-05

Recommended Readings - Just One More Thing

In memoriam to Peter Falk, an actor who I've seen some ganster flicks and the many Colombo's I've decided to discover a little more about his life by reading his memories. This is not an Autobiography in any way. There are chosen moments by the man himself, some that make you laugh others that make you wanna meet the man but they are all written in an modest and humble way that makes the man human, kind, and thankful for the life he had the chance to live with his peers and the famous investigator.

I'll always remmeber on friday nights watching the TV movies with my dad waiting for the next "just one more thing m'am" or to see his old car, his basset hound dog and the famous coat. The stories were original and the little details were so important that in each case you thought you knew how he'll catch the vilain but still, Colombo did think about every aspect he always came surprising us.

I know I am late but I'd like to salute this unique actor that worked with many greats (Gena Rowland, John Cassavetes, Wim Wenders, etc.)  and that reminds me of many childish memories. R.I.P. Peter Michael Falk.

2011-08-04

A Clockwork Orange


A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971)

The films of Stanley Kubrick became the references of the modern day Cinema. He was the ultimate “auteur” within every genre he explored. Kubrick’s own particular vision and exploration of narratives characterizes his oeuvre. Subsequent viewings of all his films makes every experience richer and more meaningful to the spectator.

A Clockwork Orange may be the most famous film made by Stanley Kubrick, the ultra-violence depicted, the scandals, the banishments, and the aura around it makes it one of the most popular film of all-time. In this critics’ opinion, every Kubrick picture is a masterpiece. A Clockwork Orange is no less.

Alex (Malcolm McDowell) a young man lives by night getting high on “shakes”, violence, rape, and stealing. He dresses as a dandy by day and as some kind of punk with army boots and white clothes by night. As the leader of his droogs Alex fulfills their need in drugs, sex, and brawls. One day his lead of the gang needs to be reinforced, so he decides to give them a good lesson. Formed of three other droogs; his gang, evidently exasperated by Alex, plans a trick to be sure he will get in for good by a stronger authority than his mild mannered parents and the weird/pederast principal of his school to reform his behaviour. Later after ending up in prison, he’ll offer himself to get a treatment that cleans the brain from “bad” or “wrong” thoughts from his nature. He’ll then be able to get back into society with a normal/passive temperament. This treatment will dehumanize Alex and rehabilitate him to the society.

One part exposing Kubrick’s fear of America (he left New York for England because he was afraid of the violence and the nuclear menace in the USA) and one part the demonstration of the nature of humans that couldn’t be castrated or sedated. Humanity must have a choice of its actions and it should be moral. We can’t brainwash someone and erase his entire personality. Human nature is formed of good and evil and both must get into our minds to fully balance themselves. Sometimes in society we have to be clever and be better but other times we must fight and stand our guards. Be passive in some situations just makes us bland as sheep. The meanings of A Clockwork Orange are interesting and one must notice that this is a masterpiece as for its content so for its visuals.

Every frame of this film is composed of superb imagery and as a perfectionist as Kubrick was it shows how he took so much time working on a film refining a particular idea. The scene under the bridge where the droogs beat up a drunk bum is lit like a Film Noir with such a mastery that even if this is a cruel scene this is one of the most beautiful scenes of Cinema. Visually the colours, the frames and the movement of camera in A Clockwork Orange doesn’t have any flaws.

Adapted from Anthony Burgess’ novel by the same name, this feature is way much better than the original material and I think the same for Kubrick’s version of The Shining. The symbolism and the psychological/philosophical depth of Kubrick’s films can’t really be described, you have to see/live those films to fully appreciate every aspect of them all. The differences between Burgess and Kubrick are that the film success in bringing an entertaining story with the most unfriendly character ever presented. This is one of the most pessimistic films and one of the most ironic too. Nobody would want to live in this kind of world where everyone is ugly and inhuman. The dehumanization of Alex is done by vicious scientists and his rehabilitation is the action of political manipulations. Evil is everywhere and irony reigns. The roles switched in many cases, the writer who got beat up and got his wife raped by Alex and his gangs gets his revenge by torturing the mild dehumanized Alex without any remorse.

On a technical aspect, the use of classical music, especially Beethoven’s, Alex’s favourite compositor, sets the standard that Kubrick already did with 2001: A Space Odyssey. Those classical masterpieces were remixed and are characterized by the perfect use of music in films. When I hear Beethoven my mind automatically will remind me of the accelerated threesome scene, the record store just before, or the morning when Alex puts on music in his room. This is a celebration of the magnificence of Beethoven’s oeuvre. The first time we discover this film, the music of Beethoven makes a clash because this is such a beautiful, elegant, and passionate piece of art that Alex isn’t the type of individual who’ll connect with this kind of music. You would think that in this near future he would listen to some distorted guitar à la Black Sabbath or The Stooges, something dark and heavy, but still. Kubrick probably choose those masterpieces that transcended time and imagination, like his other pictures he needs something that doesn’t reflect a time period but that evokes and awakes many layers of emotions. A Clockwork Orange is an example of mastery in the use of a soundtrack and demonstrates how a score should fit with the imagery it presents.

Like any other masterpiece, A Clockwork Orange has its detractors. Some say it’s too violent, others say that it depicts a surreal world of nonsense and coldness. The violent aspect of the film is there and the weaker hearted may find some scenes unwatchable but still, this is a film that denounces this kind of gratuitous violence. On the other hand, sure this is a surreal world, this is a science-fiction movie that projected the world of tomorrow just like George Orwell’s 1984. The last argument of the detractors, the most justified in my opinion, is the cold approach of Kubrick towards the story and the characters. Kubrick is not a warm director and his characters are more pieces of chessboard than the players of a John Cassavetes movie. He uses them to tell the story. The objective of the camera always seems distant to the characters and they are shot with blissful movements of camera. It creates some sort of objectivity through the subjectivity of the story. Unlike Hitchcock, for example, we are not pulled into the story as the wrong man. We are the watchers of the story, Kubrick uses other tricks to interpel his public. His favourite director, Max Ophüls and his always moving camera influenced the work of Kubrick. The uncommon camera angles and unique framings destabilize the viewer in his experience.

As you may have guessed this is a film I love with passion. I have seen it a dozen times and each viewing has showed me a different aspect of the film. When I think about the perfect director I always put Stanley Kubrick in number one. Even if it’s not my favourite Kubrick or my favourite movie of all-time, A Clockwork Orange will always have a special place in my cinephile heart.
















2011-08-03

Star reviewer of the Month

Please be ready for this great announcement: Michaël Parent has been named the Star reviewer of the month of August 2011 at 7tavern. This is a platform where I also publish my reviews.

Now it's time for this speech I always make with my bottle of shampoo in the shower. First I'd like to say that I am truly honoured to be the satr of the month, after so many years of struggling through the lower obscure depths of movie blogging, film reviewing, low traffic and few comments I am truly happy to see that the tears and the sweet were worth the reward!

I'd like to thank my girlfriend soon-to-be my wife in 18 days exactly, who always believed in me, my dreams, and who supported me by reading my reviews and being always straighforward and honest. You give me the inspiration and the motivation to surpass myself and be better at what I love everyday!
I also want to thank one of my best friends the filmmaker Christian Audet, with who I can exchange about our common passion: Cinema. Our discussions always put another log into the fire of this love for Films.
My influences are: François Truffaut, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Kevyn Knox, Jeffrey Anderson, and many others but you four are great models to look up to!

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who reads my post and don't comment. But an even bigger thanx to the ones who did leave a comment: you all give me the swing to continue this nice little blog that could.

Follow this link if you want to discover more about this wonderful announcement!

2011-08-02

It's my birthday! Here are the Top 5 films of 1983 - Redux

Top 5 of 1983 aka The Year I Was Born - Redux

Taking from a MEME I've seen this year on some Blogs I've dig through my film memories to try to find all the films I've seen that were made in 1983 aka the year I was born. Well, the first I've seen from this year is without a doubt The Return of the Jedi directed by Richard Marquand(!?!), by automatic mistake we always think it's from George Lucas, it's mostly but he's not credited as the director. I remember the first time, and I'm pretty sure it was the only time, I've seen The Return of the Jedi; my dad and I rented it with the two other episodes on a hot rainy saturday evening of the 1990's...

Well, cinematic memories are very important and I think the context of the viewing of a film is very important to appreciate it. The rest of my family, my brother was too to stay up until the third movie of the evening and he isn't as a cinephile as we are so is my mother. I'll always remember those evenings of watching movies with my dad, as long as I can remember we were fans of the Back to the Future the trilogy, Tom Hanks & Chevy Chase comedies, every Spielberg picture around and every action movies too. Well before passing judgments you have to remember that I was around 8-12 years old at the time...

Now you're thinking why does he talks about all those childish memories? First of all, I don't want to brag or anything but it's been three years since I haven't seen my father, it relieves me to talk about it, but mostly because my number one spot is Andrei Tarkovsky's Nostalghia.

Below you will find my long awaited Top 5 films of 1983, starting from number 1 to number 5.


1. Nostalghia (Andrei Tarkovsky)
A wonderful film from a director who made so few movies. The cinematography is awesome and the story is spiritual and meaninful and it as this mysterious feeling to it.


2. Videodrome (David Cronenberg)
Cronenberg's vision of the modern world and all its addictions to television, pornography, violence, and how they are possessing our minds and bodies. Those obsessions are presented in Cronenberg's own uncensored approach to Cinema. I also can't wait to see his next project with the always excellent Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud and the underrated extraordinary Michael Fassbender as Carl Jung: A Dangerous Method.
3. The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese)
Well, this is almost cheating, I know. On IMDb it says 1982. But for Marty Scorsese, one of my favorite director, I can cheat a little. The King of Comedy isn't a real comedy but I think the study of character and the presence of Bob De Niro is amazing. I like this little film without pretention.



4. Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (Terry Jones)
Here's a fact: I love comedies. I dig them and I am a good receiver of jokes. Monty Python are hilarious and I don't think there even was a group of talented actors and comedians that could have made such funny films as they did. Please read my review of it here.


5. Vivement Dimanche! (François Truffaut)
In my admiration for Truffaut's work there is this hommage to Hitchcock (a director I also worship) called Vivement Dimanche!. It became an instant classic to the master of suspense and a complete success as a simple but enjoyable film with Fanny Ardant and Jean-Louis Trintignant.


Runner-up: Prénom Carmen (Jean-Luc Godard)

Since I cheated with my number 3, I will give a little place for this Godard picture that I discovered last year. Love him or hate him the man is stil Godard, another master from the Nouvelle Vague that I greatly admire. Although, opposed to Truffaut, Prénom Carmen lacks in narrative and demonstrate how Godard reinvented himself after his successful 1960's years. An erotic/thriller movie that will challenge your mind.

 
The fims I want to see that may change the order of this list:
Zelig
(Woody Allen)
L'argent
(Robert Bresson)
Rumble Fish
(Francis Ford Coppola)
The Right Stuff
(Philip Kaufman)
Sans Soleil
(Chris Marker)
Pauline à la plage
(Eric Rohmer)

...and maybe your suggestions for 1983!

2011-08-01

Bride of the Monster

The following is my contribution to Forgotten Classics of Yesteryear's Monster Movie Mania Blogathon.




 Bride of the Monster (Edward D. Wood Jr., 1955)

This Science-fiction meets horror meets Monster flick extravaganza by the infamously worst director of all time, Ed Wood, tells the story of a mad scientist, played by the always frightening Bela Lugosi, who lives in a dark manor with a stupid assistant, Tor Johnsson, and a “monster”. The so-called monster is a giant octopus living in the swamp near the manor. This is also the story of a policeman who wants to find the truth about the many disappearances around the swamp and a stand-up woman on the same trail.

This film reveals a lot about how Wood worked and how he perceived Cinema and the society. The work of Ed Wood has often been criticized for his amateurism and flaws. Always perceived as the worst director of all-time, which by the way I think Michael Bay or Brett Ratner could easily hold that dishonour, Wood deserves some kind of respect because he made films the way he liked them and in his own very particular way. Like them or not he has left a name behind him and his films will stay.


First, you have the presence of the strong woman who wants to clear the mystery around the monster of the swamp. Wood emphasized those characters of stand-up women that wanted to participate in the action of the film instead of being relegated to the supporting props they are typically casted. It reminds me of how the great Howard Hawks used to cast upfront and bright women. He was one the first directors to actually use feminine characters in a very affirmative way especially when you look at His Girl Friday.

Let’s get back to Bride of the Monster, the world of Wood is very strange and some aspects of his vision are simplistic and even stereotyped. Especially the scenes with the policemen who look like stupid investigators, reading papers and bird lovers... Those characters are one dimensional. The professor is also a simple version of every professor or scientist found in our childhood perception of life. This perception of life by Wood is clearly influenced by comic books for his “mise en scène” and the kind of plot he worked with.

However, Bride of the Monster isn’t a turkey or a complete failure, within the genre it’s almost a comedy, you have action, jokes and very hilarious dialogues. Ed Wood’s film is a lot of fun and even if it’s not deep and meaningful as The Day the Earth Stood Still or The Thing From Another World it has this retro/kitsch signature of a good old Monster movie.

Bride of the Monster 
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