Dear Big Screen Starers,
I stumbled upon Spike Lee’s list of must-see movies. Spike Lee is an actor, director, producer and screenwriter from New York. He has been a professor at NYU Film School for 15 years. To be honest, I haven’t seen anything that he has produced, but this list he’s come up with looks really good. This is the list of what he considers to be the best movies of all time that he hands out to his students at the beginning of the year. I’ve watched two of them so far. Apocalypto and City of God.
This post is just a quick look at what I’ve watched in the past few days.
Mel Gibson starts this film with a hunt in the jungle and a humorous exchange between brothers. Things soon escalate however when their village is ravaged by Mayans and men are led away to an unknown fate. I don’t want to give anything away because this is really a barebones, in your face movie. I didn’t watch the trailer or read anything about it before hand, so I didn’t have any expectations or predictions.
The screen shot above is not even one of the bloodiest or saddest scenes, but one of the grimmest in any case.
There was controversy surrounding the portrayal of the indigenous cultures in this film, but I think Mel Gibson and his partner for the project Farhad Safinia accomplished their goal magnificently:
“We wanted to update the chase genre by, in fact, not updating it with technology or machinery but stripping it down to its most intense form, which is a man running for his life, and at the same time getting back to something that matters to him.” -Farhad Safinia
City of God (2002)
I watched The Bang Bang Club sometime last year, and found it fascinating. It dealt more with historical event (Apartheid in South Africa) and the controversy surrounding photographing people in need instead of helping them. There is a chilling scene where the main character takes a photograph of a child on the ground with a vulture stalking behind. This photograph, modelled after a picture taken in real life ends up being the big break for the photographer. Another blogger reviewed the movie here, and shows the real life photo side by side with the one from the movie.
Pictures in National Geographic and the like have always interested me. Pictures of places and people so far removed from the peaceful West. Their untold stories captured in some way through a snapshot.
City of God was directed by Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund. It tells the story of a drug war in 1960’s Brazil through the eyes of Rocket, an aspiring photographer whose brother was killed for his involvement with drugs. It is entirely in Portuguese, I watched it with English subtitles.
The most disturbing thing about this movie I think is the involvement of children. In our Western culture, we are all about censorship and protecting the young. In this movie, it is the young who learn to kill, make their own way through theft and murder. Perhaps that is what made the movie so powerfully tragic. I think about the children in my life– my heart skips when they trip and skin their knee. The children in this film have guns and smoke joints and are plotting how to move up the ladder of power from the age of 6.
I really enjoyed this movie, I felt it was filmed in a very genuine way. It definitely stirred up things in me. I think for a movie to be good, it has to make you feel something, it has to make you ask questions. This film did both for me.
Dumb & Dumber (1994)
I’m assuming most people have seen this movie, so I’m not gonna talk about it much. I watched it for the first time a couple days ago, when I really needed the laugh. It did the trick.
I’d like to see more reenactments by Jennifer Lawrence. She claims to know every word of this movie. Watch here.
I also seriously want to use this line if I ever get the opportunity:
Cop: “Pull over!” // Harry: “No, it’s a cardigan, but thanks for noticing!”