Fandango Groovers Movie Blog is having a day were bloggers post about their favorite year in movies. It is not the “best” year as deemed by others, but rather it is my personal choice. I had a lot of fun participating and I think you’ll have fun reading!
Here goes nothing:
Being a very indecisive girl, picking just one year was really hard. I tossed and turned over the decision more than I should have. As if somehow the neglected years would be offended by my choice (I’m a bit odd at times). After much research and thinking about what I really like, it was clear, 1957 is the year for me. It has a little sample of everything I love about film. The following five movies really speak to me, all in very distinctive ways. Here I will post little mini reviews on these films (and link to my longer ones as I write them). Enjoy!
12 Angry Men, Sidney Lumet
12 Angry Men is not an “action-packed” film. 12 men basically just sit around a room and talk for the whole movie. And somehow you are still on the edge of your seat. The level of tension is equivalent to a Hitchcockian thriller. Our hero, Henry Fonda, plays a juror who feels that there is not sufficient evidence to put a defendant to death. The other 11 just want to get it over with and head home, but Fonda takes his duty seriously. Each juror has a distinct personality and justification for their decision. Fonda goes to great lengths to convince these men, performing monologue after amazing monologue. Lumet also does a great job with the direction. Every camera movement is so efficient and subtle that you almost don’t notice how brilliantly it’s done.
Throne of Blood, Akira Kurosawa
While 12 Angry Men is driven by witty and powerful dialogue, Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood does not put the same weight on the spoken word. This film’s visuals make it a masterpiece. Kurosawa took my favorite Shakespearian drama, Macbeth, and transported the narrative back to medieval Japan. He did not worry about translating every line perfectly or making it all in iambic pentameter, but rather he really captures the “feel” and emotion of the Scottish play. The cinematography and mis-en-scene are among the best that Kurosawa has ever done (and if you know his work, you know that is high praise). I love a film that embraces the fantastical and poetic, like Throne of Blood does.
Also, it has Toshiro Mifune in it, how can I not love it?
Witness for the Prosecution, Billy Wilder
This is probably my favorite movie ever. Along with Laura, this film is one of the reasons I am such a film buff today. I watched Witness for the Prosecution when I was little and it really stuck with me. It has a special place in my movie loving heart. It’s not an accurate portrayal of the British justice system, but who cares? Charles Laughton plays a crotchety, old lawyer. He was always a brilliant defense attorney, but now is ill and should not take difficult cases. Of course, that lasts all of 5 minutes and he ends up taking a fascinating murder trial where nothing is what it seems. The film is worth watching for Laughton alone. The rest of the stuff is just icing on the cake. (I do have to give kudos to Wilder, he got great performances out of all the actors, wrote the witty screenplay and captured it all wonderfully)
Seventh Seal, Ingmar Bergman
This is one of those “must see” films for any fan of cinema. Whenever people say things like that it just sounds like a boring, preachy, pretentious film. Seventh Seal, however, is anything but. Believe me, it will be one of the most profound and beautiful movies you will ever see. It is a story of the calamities of medieval Europe and the struggle to find peace between life and death. The visuals are so striking, you will remember them long after the credits roll. After watching it, the most interesting conversations will arise between you are your fellow viewers. You could talk about it for years and not run out of things to say. Even if it just consists of “I need to learn some chess, so I can cheat death, y’all,” you will have a great time.
Nights of Cabiria, Federico Fellini
Guilietta Masina gives a brilliant performance as a naïve, optimistic prostitute in Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria. Her life is one tragic disaster after another, but she keeps moving on. She is so adorable and goofy in the film. You know the men are conning her, but you can’t help but hope that this time around it will be okay. The story will break your heart, yet is somehow inexplicably uplifting. Also, just look at the picture I put up there. It is so beautiful. When I was picking a screen cap I was having a horrible time. There are so many great shots it was overwhelming, in a good way :P! This is the only Fellini movie I’ve seen (I know, it’s bad), and this film makes me want to watch a whole lot more!