Casablanca (1942, Directed by Michael Curtiz) English 9

Starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Conrad Veidt, S.Z Sakall, Dooley Wilson

Casablanca (1942)

(9-Great Film)

Classic. Immaculate. Beloved.

Rick: Here’s looking at you, kid.

Rick (Bogart), as I’m sure you know already, sticks his neck out for nobody. Heartbroken after a lost love affair in Paris, he’s become the enigmatic owner of a happening bar in Casablanca during World War II. While all around him people are scrambling and killing and stealing for a means of getting out of town and over to ally territory, Rick seems in his element. That changes when an old flame, Ilsa (Bergman), the one who broke his heart in Paris, shows up with her husband, Victor Laszlo (Henreid), a hero to the resistance movement. Casablanca is often proclaimed the best-loved or most cherished of Hollywood classics. It’s a strong testament to what the old studio system could do. Premier production values, invisible editing, great dialogue, and a terrific cast of characters matched with the right stars and character actors. Of course, Bogart and Bergman are immaculate but think about how invaluable the supporting cast is, right down to Sakall in his brief moments (The studio system had the best character actors). I resisted Casablanca for many years, perhaps partly due to my innate contrary nature, but also, I think, because its so famous and influential, so often imitated, that its components are almost cliche. It’s impossible for it to feel fresh at this point, but watching it again, I found myself admiring every aspect of its storytelling. It’s a great film, but you probably didn’t need to be told that.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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El Cid (1961, Directed by Anthony Mann) English 7

Starring Charlton Heston, Sophia Loren, Herbert Lom, Raf Vallone, Jon Fraser, Geneviève Page, Douglas Wilmer

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(7-Very Good Film)

Grand. Bombastic. Earnest.

El Cid: You will soon be a King, you must start to think like one, any man can kill, only a King can give life!

Is it possible for a film to be bombastic and earnest? To feel that every single detail was done for effect, but by craftsman and artists who held this man, El Cid, Don Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (Heston), in reverence. After all, some stories do warrant the epic treatment and his story is certainly one of them. During the 11th century, at a time when Spain was divided in war between the Moors (Muslim) and the Christians, El Cid united the country in order to protect it from North African invaders led by Ben Yusuf (Lom). All while personally struggling with the disdain of his wife, Doña Jimena (Loren), whose father he killed, at home. El Cid is dated in several ways, not all of them negative. On the one hand, the cast of Spaniard and Muslim characters is largely filled out by white actors (sometimes in blackface makeup as with Ben Yusuf). On the other hand, a film of this size and scope is a marvel to behold and one that simply will not likely ever be made again; not by Hollywood anyways. There are thousands of extras used and massive sets to admire. CGI is a tool for filmmakers to work with and a useful one, but there are two areas where it simply fails to measure up to the real thing: animals and crowds of people. Some might argue that El Cid is overly serious or even corny at times, but this is a real person and his real story. I was prepared to take it seriously.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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The Caine Mutiny (1954, Directed by Edward Dmytryk) English 9

Starring Humphrey Bogart, Robert Francis, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray, Lee Marvin, May Wynn, Tom Tully, Jose Ferrer, E.G Marshall

The Ace Black Movie Blog: Movie Review: The Caine Mutiny (1954)

(9-Great Film)

Tense. Stirring. Thoughtful.

Lt. Commander Philip Francis Queeg: Aboard my ship, excellent performance is standard, standard performance is sub-standard, and sub-standard performance is not permitted to exist – that, I warn you.

Captain Queeg, in the hands of Humphrey Bogart, is an unforgettable character. With maybe only thirty or so minutes of screen time, Bogart carves out a fascinating performance; petty, insecure, hypocritical, neurotic. If the question was simply is Queeg a bad leader, the answer would be obvious and the film would progress entertainingly but also superficially-much like the various versions of Mutiny on the Bounty. However, the battle in The Caine Mutiny is a legalistic one, and the question is whether or not Captain Queeg is psychotic. If sailors were able to overthrow any leader they deemed unworthy, I think very few ships would get anywhere and war is a bad time for mutiny. Everyone aboard the USS Caine hates Queeg’s guts, but it’s the executive officer, LT. Maryk (Johnson), and Ensign Keith (Francis), that make the fateful decision to relieve him of his duties. They’re court-martialed and stand trial for their lives, defended by LT. Greenwald (Ferrer), who isn’t even sure that he wants to win the case. This is an ultra-taut thriller with no action sequences, which is pretty amazing, and the perfect cast for each and every role. Ultimately though, the success of The Caine Mutiny depends on us despising Queeg as much as his crew does. Bogart was a short man with a massive screen presence. The Caine Mutiny is the first film I’ve seen him in that I thought of him as small. He’s such a perfect twerp, and when the film asks its big questions in the end, we’re forced to consider them through the flood of anger that the preceding hour and a half so adroitly stirred up in us.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Rope (1948, Directed by Alfred Hitchcock) English 9

Starring James Stewart, John Dall, Cedrick Hardwicke, Farley Granger, Joan Chandler, Constance Collier, Edith Evanson, Douglas Dick

rope 1948 이미지 검색결과

(9-Great Film)

Skilled. Clever. Suspenseful.

Brandon: I’ve always wished for more artistic talent. Well, murder can be an art, too. The power to kill can be just as satisfying as the power to create.

Two well-to-do, talented young men-Phillip (Granger) and Brandon (Dall)-believe that some people are fundamentally superior to others and have the moral right to commit murder. They start with a friend from college, David, hiding his body in a trunk in their apartment, and then inviting a small group over for a dinner party, as a game of sorts, but one of the people they invite is their old mentor, Rupert (Stewart), and he shrewdly catches onto them. The critical consensus on Rope seems to be that it’s good, not great Hitchcock, or, as some critic I can’t remember put it, “hardly top-shelf Hitchcock.” They all point to the technical expertise on display-one location, nine actors, and only a handful of shots done in long take. Rope is certainly a shining example of Hitchcock’s technical ability and creativity, but it’s more than just an experiment or a minor credit on the director’s long resume. I think Rope is top-shelf Hitchcock. It’s taut, expertly told, and fascinating, with one of James Stewart’s best performances. The whole ensemble of actors are perfectly matched, but I especially admire Stewart and Dall’s performances. Stewart, for once in his career, is essentially a supporting player whose charisma and presence quickly ratchet up the tension as soon as he walks on the stage. I’m only familiar with Dall from two films-this and Gun Crazy-but they’re great films and he’s tremendous in them both, here, all arrogance and psychotic smirks.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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All About Eve (1950, Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz) English 10

Starring Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders. Celeste Holm, Thelma Ritter, Marilyn Monroe, Hugh Marlowe, George Merrill, Gregory Ratoff

ALL ABOUT EVE: Life Imitating Art

(10-Masterpiece)

Sardonic. Intelligent. Classic.

Margo: Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!

Margo Channing, played by Bette Davis, is a bonafide star of the theater- perhaps its biggest star-but Margo is getting older (past forty), and life for an actress after forty looks pretty bleak to her. Eve Harrington, played by Anne Baxter, is an ambitious, young nothing hoping to have center stage for herself. She works her way into Margo’s inner circle, affecting modesty and innocence, but she’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing, longing all the time to take Margo’s place. The crisscrossing stories of Margo and Eve’s careers make for a classic satire, one that seems like it could be as much about Hollywood as it is about theater. All About Eve’s also a stirring melodrama, beautifully written, beautifully performed, with a handful of classic characters. Bette Davis is a force of nature, Baxter’s breathy manner of speaking serves her pretentious, insincere character well, and George Sanders’ voice and demeanor almost single-handedly give the film it’s indelible, sardonic tone.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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He Got Game (1998, Directed by Spike Lee) English 8

Starring Denzel Washington, Ray Allen, Milla Jovovich, Rosario Dawson, John Turturro, Jim Brown, Bill Nunn, Ned Beatty, Lonette McKee, Leonard Roberts, Jennifer Esposito

He Got Game (1998)

(8-Exceptional Film)

Stirring. Messy. Bold.

Jake Shuttlesworth: I pray you understand why I pushed you so hard! It was only to get you to that next level, Son. I mean, you’s the first Shuttlesworth that’s ever gonna make it out of these projects, and I was the one who who put the ball in your hand, Son! I put the ball in your crib!

There’s a lot more to it, but at its heart, He Got Game is about a father who pushes his son too hard. There have been countless versions of this story. It’s potent material. He Got Game is one of the more moving examples. Denzel plays Jake Shuttlesworth, a convict given a week’s chance to convince his son, Jesus Shuttlesworth (future NBA star, Allen), the nation’s top high school prospect, to play basketball at the governor’s alma mater. Despite the implausibilty of this scenario and the apparent unrealistic moments involving college recruiting, this movie hits home. I think it’s because character is more important than plot, and Jake is one of Denzel’s finest; as flawed as he is charismatic. The final duel between father and son is powerful, and I even enjoyed the grandiose fantastical touches to end the film. Like several great filmmakers that I admire, Lee doesn’t care much for subtlety. With him, it’s bold stories told boldly. He Got Game reminds me of the flamboyant melodramas of the ’50s. I happen to love those films.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Mank (2020, Directed by David Fincher) English 8

Starring Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Tuppence Middleton, Arliss Howard, Charles Dance, Tom Burke, Bill Nye, Tom Pelphrey

Lost In Film on Twitter: "'Mank' (2020, David Fincher). Cinematography:  Erik Messerschmidt.… "

(8-Exceptional Film)

Fascinating. Splendid. Enigmatic.

Herman Mankiewicz: You cannot capture a man’s entire life in two hours. All you can hope is to leave the impression of one.

What impression are we left with of Herman Mankiewicz’s life? He’s a drunkard, it seems, first and foremost; reckless. He’s also brave and full of integrity as played by Gary Oldman in David Fincher’s new movie. A Hollywood hand during the Golden Age, Mank lived in the background rewriting other people’s scripts and never getting credit for it. As this film begins, the Golden Age has passed and Mank’s burnt out. He accepts a deal writing a script for newcomer, boy wonder, Orson Welles, a script that would eventually become the great Citizen Kane. I wonder about a lot of things with this movie. For one, how enjoyable is it if you don’t know these people (Thalberg, Mayer, Hecht, etc.) and this setting (Hollywood’s studio era)? I have a passable knowledge of these things and, perhaps as a result, I found this film fascinating, but it’s one that risks alienating its audience, not just because it’s so specific, but also because I’m not sure yet if it has a point. What’s it saying if it’s saying anything? There’s hints of betrayal but it’s a paltry betrayal if that. There’s moments in the narrative when Mank is asked to sell out, but he never does and it never seems to be any kind of temptation to him either. There’s no conflict that I can put my finger on and single out, but I’ll take this film at face value. It’s a technically astounding, enriching piece of history; an important backstory that often gets treated as a side note if remembered at all.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Babylon (1980, Directed by Franco Rosso) English/ Patois 7

Starring Brinsley Forde, Karl Howman, Trevor Laird, Archie Pool, Mel Smith, Brian Bovell, David N. Haynes

Babylon (1980) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

(7-Very Good Film)

Gritty. Compelling. Foreign.

Alan: You got too much of this.
[mouth]
Blue: Yeah?
Alan: Yeah.
Alan: Especially for a coon. I don’t like moneys who get too clever in my garage.

South London, 1980. A group of young men from immigrant backgrounds live and go about their days as their xenophobic neighbors tell them to get lost. Blue (Forde), their leader, chases his dream of being a reggae DJ while working a menial job at a repair shop. He, along with his group of friends, is about to be pushed to the limit. Babylon unfolds naturally and even though the course of the story follows along the same lines as popular melodrama, it always feels real; authentic. I suppose that’s in part because of the non-professional but excellent performances. It’s also a triumph of direction and writing. This is a fascinatingly foreign culture and setting to me and Babylon captures it well. If the film leads to a familiar conclusion, on the strength of the storytelling, I’d call it inevitable rather than predictable.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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The Conformist (1970, Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci) Italian 9

Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Gastone Moschin, Dominique Sanda, Enzo Tarascio

The man who decided to go along | Far Flungers | Roger Ebert

(9-Great Film)

Mesmerizing. Impressive. Compelling.

Marcello: I’m going to build a life that’s normal. I’m marrying a petty bourgeoise.

At the center of The Conformist, a dazzling feat of style, creativity, purpose, and graceful camera movement, is Jean-Louis Trintignant’s character, Marcello. Mostly stoic and bound by secrets, he is the mystery at the heart of this film. What led him to become a fascist? To kill his former college professor? To marry a woman, who, though beautiful, holds very little interest for him? The main clue is in the title, of course. To be normal. Through flashbacks, The Conformist weaves around Marcello’s life and past traumas as World War II looms, culminating in the film’s finale where he no longer seems like a distinct personality at all but a shell of a man. Equal parts artistic and intellectual. A great film.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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The Ten Commandments (1956, Directed by Cecil B. Demille) English 6

Starring Charlton Heston, Anne Baxter, Yul Brynner, Vincent Price, Yvonne De Carlo, Cedric Hardwicke, Judith Anderson, Nina Foch, Edward G.Robinson, Woodrow Strode, John Carradine, Debra Paget, John Derek

Blu-Ray Review | The Ten Commandments (Blu-ray) | Blu-ray Authority

(6- Good Film)

Involving. Gaudy. Epic.

Rameses: His god – IS God.

One of the most popular and successful pictures ever made, Cecil B. Demille’s The Ten Commandments is not, however, a great film. Being old-fashioned isn’t a sin in my book, but excess is, and The Ten Commandments is excessively old-fashioned. Start with the white-washed cast of Hollywood stars (Vincent Price, Judith Anderson, and Edward G. Arnold, for as great as they are, stand out as unconvincing Israelites and Egyptians), then move to the ultra-soapy dialogue and acting. While we’re at it, I should bring up Demille’s apparent refusal to move beyond an antiquated theater-like presentation for his story. It’s all wide-shots, static and straight-on. I don’t even recall him using any close-ups. The result is a movie that feels more campy than momentous. That being said, it is an excellent story told on the grandest of scales. If I criticize its technique, its only fair to also point out that it’s four hours long and I was never bored.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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