Tuesday, 6 May 2008

250 progress

One of my ongoing quests has been to get through the IMDB Top 250 films of all time. I made solid progress on this in France, particularly while lame during the winter months, and advanced to around 205. I've been slowed a little since, only advancing about 10 films since coming back (its a moving target, so I've probably seen 15-20 films in that time). Yesterday, in an idle space, I got inspired and watched 3.

I have a bunch (about half) of films on the list that are old foreign films. These are intimidating for a number of reasons. They're not colour, the sound quality is often poor, and they're generally in 4:3 aspect ratio, which all combine to mean they're a little less immersive than post-1970 films. Mainly, though, they just require more concentration, either because I need to watch the subtitles, or because I need to concentrate to understand the French (there aren't many French entries left, actually).

Top of my list, then, was Le Notti De Cabiria, by Fellini. The previous Fellini film I'd seen was 8 1/2, but this one was very different, more reminiscent of De Sica's Ladri di Biciclette than of 8 1/2. The plot follows an Italian prostitute through a few days of her life, exploring aspects such as her work, life, religion, and relationships. The lead, Giulietta Masina, really makes the film work with a very charismatic and compassionate performance.

Next up was Stalag 17, by Billy Wilder. Wilder has even more films in the list (7, and it could easily be 8 with Ace In The Hole) than Fellini (4) - by my reckoning, only Hitchcock and Kubrick have more - and I've seen and quite enjoyed all but one (The Lost Weekend) of his others. Stalag 17, though, I found weak. The characters are, in general, thinly drawn, and the comedy really missed the mark for me. The plot winds along nicely enough, but its just lacking anything really substantial for me. Perhaps its greatest contribution is that it seems to have been the inspiration for Hogan's Heroes.

The third film was American Gangster, by Ridley Scott (also 4 films in the list). This was probably the longest film of the bunch, as is the nature of this genre (life-and-times/rise-and-fall film, a la Goodfellas, Blow, Once Upon A Time In America, There Will Be Blood most recently). The performances are pretty solid, although both Crowe and Washington have done better (which is no slight - they are two of the more capable actors working today). The script is solid, although not spectacular, but it does feel a little bit "been there before", and the ending felt a little bit non-sequitur and slightly corny.

I'm currently at 214, with about 16 or so waiting to be watched.


Unknown said...

I watched shooter in Turkish on a bus yesterday, does that count as culture?

Emily said...

Non-sequitur- I like that.
Is that like when you're in a fancy garden (Rennes Thabor) and you want to pick some flowers but don't have the right implement?

Afe said...

I'm finding it hard to cope with old movies. Occasionally I'll find a gem, but it's a risky business, and the chance of boredom is pretty high.