We move on from Part 1 to Kubrick, Military Takeovers, Alienation, and Abstraction. A rather crowded line-up to be sure. Lets get started with empathizing with pedophilia! I apologize in advance.
50). Lolita Expresses Sexual Taboos With Unabashed Candor And Humor
“How Did They Ever Make A Movie About Lolita?” was the tagline the studio went with in Kubrick’s 1962 adaptation of the infamous Vladimir Nabokov Novel, and it is as appropriate as any for the highly -controversial but seminal film. A bumbling James Mason is Humbert Humbert a British professor of french literature at Beardsley College in Ohio who while looking for a place to stay runs into the 14 year-old daughter (Sue Lyons) of his landlord (Shelly Winters, again the worst luck with men in her movies) and finds himself disturbingly attracted to her. Satirizing sexual politics in a manner only Kubrick could, the director yielded his first darkly humorous work on a “too-serious-for-satire” taboo subject.
49). Rod Steiger In The Pawnbroker
The great Sidney Lument moved on from 12 Angry Men to depicting a single angry man. A never better Rod Steiger plays Sol Nazerman, a Holocaust survivor who runs a pawn shop in Harlem, New York City. Suffering from Post Traumatic Stress from his experiences he occasionally sees vivid hallucinations about his time as a prisoner in a concentration camp. One of the first uses of re-creating the atrocity in an American made film, the results are still shocking to the core to this day. Filled with resentment and distrust in everyone Sol deals with everyday, the man goes to great lengths to distance himself from the world around him seeing it as an ugly melting pot for prejudice and anti-semitism. One that allowed something like the holocaust and his family’s murder to happen right in front of his eyes. That changes when a young employee of his starts dealing with the local crime-boss and puts him right in the middle of a power struggle. An event that may finally push him to opening up and empathy after years of burying it deep down.
48). The Endless Comedic Carousel That Is Playtime
French comedian and filmmaker Jacque Tati gets a massive city for his comedic stylings in this outing of his Mr. Hulot character. Without a single word of dialogue an adventure in the physical comedy and sight-gags in modern society is rendered through gestures, mannerisms and non-verbal interaction. Dubbed ‘Tati-ville’, the massive city-set that was constructed for the film featured too functioning office buildings as the centerpieces to the constant gags in the foreground and background if the frame. Not unlike Charlie Chaplin’s The Tramp decades earlier, Tati’s own immortal creation Mr. Hulot wanders the busy city-scape, adrift in the growing modernization of society.
47). Seven Days In May Outlines Fears Of The Military Industrial Complex
Not even a full year after the Kennedy Assassination John Frakenheimer returned to the political conspiracy arena to depict a high-ranking military officials plotting the takeover of the American government, suffice to say ballsy is a word that doesn’t quite cover it. Burt Lancaster is a hawkish Joint Chief of staff willing to do anything and everything to prevent the spread of Communism, including toppling the government he’s sworn to protect. Kirk Douglas is the one officer slowly piecing together the unthinkable plan. The gritty action-piece helps to capture the paranoid atmosphere and the fear of a conspiracy in the wake of the unimaginable murder of the President.
46). Alphaville Examines Fears Of Artificial Intelligence
Though the size of large rooms at the time, the technology known as computers were just starting to surface in public conscience and thus the first concerns of Man vs. Machine also began to germinate. Jean-Luc Goodard along with his muse and lover Anna Karina sought to take these fears to their most paranoid level. A detective Lemmy Caution, goes about investigating a computer scientist bent on creating the most powerful A.I to date in Alphaville. Finding the scientist’s daughter (Karina) willing to help him on his mission, Caution finds how intertwined his society is to technology and its applications. A cautionary tale, pardon the pun, ahead of its time in its commentary
45). The Social Commentary In The Exterminating Angel
Surrealist extraordinaire Luis Buñuel brought his unique style to rendering a mind-bending film experiment where a group of high-society members meet one night for a dinner party together and soon find out that they cannot leave a room that they all socialize in. Insanity and hilarity ensue as they try to figure out what exactly is going on with them. The ludicrous situation spins hilariously out of control with the police and emergency teams brought in to aid the “trapped” people in the extravagant home. The guests all adapt to the situation in various comical ways as they respond to the the utterly bizarre and strange. The unique filmmaker always one to go for the esoteric and abstract to get his messages across.
44). The Relationships In Jules and Jim
Francois Truffaut helped to ignite the French New Wave with The 400 Blows, in 1962 he released one of the most seminal movies in the movement with his moving masterpiece Jules and Jim. An examination of friendship and love tested in the harshest of times through war and its aftermath. With the three main characters; Jules, Jim and Catherine, changing with the times but always remaining close in different forms of relationships together. Endearing and loyal to the very end, the bittersweet tale seeks to tell how friendships can survive major social conflicts like war and more interpersonal conflicts as time moves on.
43). Antonioni’s The Alienation Trilogy
Influential Italian maestro Michelangelo Antonioni helped to propel Italian cinema to the forefront along with Frederico Fellini, his masterstrokes in this period are with the three ground-breaking films that comprise his Alienation series. L’Aventura is a distinct and surreal portrayal of remorse, the unexplained and relief, centered around the disappearance of a woman and the after effects felt by those closest to her. L’Eclisse is about a modern Italian woman (Monica Vitti) looking for an deep emotional connection in all the wrong places. But it is with the middle entry La Notte that is the true gem of the trio, finding an Italian married couple (Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau) on the verge of splitting while trying to shy away from that fact. It is the single best depiction of a marriage falling apart I’ve ever seen put to film, no exaggeration. The verbal assaults, passive aggressive stances and spitefulness have never hit as hard as within this film. Alienation has never felt so hard-hitting and harshly depicted when it is expressed by the person you have committed to in matrimony.
42). Easy Rider Depicts The Free Spirited Life During The 60’s
Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper team up to depict the failings of the American dream in the free-spirited 60’s. The buddy road movie has a place in pop-culture for its soundtrack, frank depiction of drug-use and for being the first major role for one Jack Nicholson. Shot while the two stars were under the influence and at some moments it is quite obvious, Easy Rider exemplified the American Dream for the anti-establishment movement at this time. Serving as an time-capsule for a time long gone and one that perhaps passed these two riders far too soon.
41). The Lost Innocence Of Ivan’s Childhood And Mouchette
Poverty and wartime changes people, that effect is compounded with children as they experience the worst of society without experience or enough social context to help them endure the experience. Legendary Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood is his first masterpiece, chronicling the Eastern front of WWII through the eyes of Ivan, a 12 year-old incensed with the need to avenge his murdered family. Robert Bresson’s Mouchette is a harrowing and bleak depiction of a poor village girl’s coming-of-age in times of great economic strife. Both Mouchette and Ivan have some of the greatest misfortunes trusted upon them and both have to adapt swiftly with far more strength than their years would normally allow. Unforgettable and harrowing depictions of the lost innocence in both characters times and settings.
Coming up next: A healthy dose of Richard Burton, another Kurosawa contemporary thriller, and a Bergman Morality tale. Click to continue to Part 3 .