Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Thieves), 1948
I have to admit I was afraid this was going to be one of those films that everyone understands it a work of genius but doesn’t understand much else. ‘Italian neorealism’ that’s a scary phase. But you don’t need to get to caught up in big theory books and what the delicate significance are supposed to be because this is a film where it was very easy to just get immersed and follow the feelings. And when you did it was incredible.
I knew vaguely what the film was supposed to be this slow build up of desperation after a man’s bike is stolen, a bike he needs or he’ll lose his job, until he hits rock bottom and becomes the thief himself. But I had no idea how beautifully crafted that build up would be. Antonio stood in the rain with him son at the market while dozens of bikes cycle past and he realises finding his will be like looking for a needle in a haystack - worse actually like looking for a particular piece of hay in a haystack. Or the way in which you’re made the feel torn with him at the end of the film as you almost want him to take the bike because you can’t see any other way out for him either.
Beautiful film, deservedly a classic.
Jack Nicholson & Stanley Kubrick on the set of The Shining
La Pointe Courte (dir. Agnès Varda - 1955)
Persona (dir. Ingmar Bergman - 1966)
Love and Death (dir. Woody Allen - 1975)
Mulholland Dr. (dir. David Lynch - 2001)
In Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft’s first encounter in the hotel room, Bancroft did not know that Hoffman was going to grab her breast. Hoffman decided offscreen to do it, because it reminded him of schoolboys trying to nonchalantly grab girls’ breasts in the hall by pretending to put their jackets on. When Hoffman did it onscreen, director Mike Nichols began laughing loudly offscreen. Hoffman began to laugh as well, so rather than stop the scene, he turned away from the camera and walked to the wall. Hoffman banged his head on the wall, trying to stop laughing, and Nichols thought it was so funny, he left it in.
Good film, illustrates quite well the careful and witty film making of the Cohen brothers when working in perfect sync. Also demonstrates their cheeky side in pretending it was a true story which is probably the thing about it which will stick with me most.
Anyway it’s a nice twist on the standard crime thriller format. The highlight of the film for, as for everybody, is Frances McDormand.
Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman with their Oscars for Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979
The Beach, 2000
Not a flawless thriller, I still felt myself drifting in sections and my interest in the characters wavered. With so many characters to introduce, establish and then injure or kill it was clearly always going to be a challenging screenplay and it was about as good as it could be.
Elements of it were unnecessary. My mum, who’d read the book, told me afterwards that she didn’t think any of the affair with Sal took place originally and when I thought about it it could lift out of the film easily which exposes some blatant commercialism where they were clearly looking for a way to write more sex into the film.
It was a good film worth watching but it hasn’t stayed with me in the way I think it would have liked to.
Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
Completely illustrates the point that all a romantic comedy really needs is to have it’s audience wanting the couple to get together. It gave me what I wanted and I loved it. The protagonists were both true to life and lovely in a way they almost never are. It was completely satisfying in every sense. Classic Hughes.
London River (2009)
This is pretty much the majority of low budget British films. They do always manage to look very made-for-tv so it’s no wonder really that you only find out they exist when they pop up on BBC iPlayer but I suppose you can’t say they don’t have heart.
It was sort of your standard person A defined by the following words meets person B defined by the following words kind of plot. I felt very aware of the character development work that had gone on behind the scenes - I could practically see the mind-map. But fair enough, even with this slight frustration it could be forgiven in the light of the incredible acting and reasonably natural dialogue. The story had a nice progression that neatly encouraged the audiences emotions to follow the characters. It made me cry so I suppose it got it’s point across.