When I was a senior in high school, I took a class I thought would be a blow off. Cinema. It was taught by Ralph Amelio and John Mostacci. They were English teachers that understood how stories were translated into film through the use of not only scripts, but camera angles, lighting, the way the scene is set and other production effects that cannot be used in a paper novel.
Up until that time, I had always liked movies but I didn’t understand them.
We watched and discussed movies in the class. We saw a variety of movies. Citizen Kane, Harlan County USA, Amarcord, Movies by Francois Truffaut, Jean Renoir, and the Holocaust documentary, Night and Fog. Movies that you would never have seen in a theatre. Those movies affected me and certain scenes in those movies stay with me today.
It was a tough but enlightening class. When I was at Illinois I needed an English class and took an advanced cinema class. Learned some great stuff in that class too. I will never understand Ingmar Bergman…..
Here is one scene from The Grand Illusion which is sort of replicated in Casablanca
I love the emotion it stirs inside you. Whatever you think about the French, they have the best national anthem.
One thing that is tough; with all the access at home to all kinds of movies all the time, sometimes it’s hard to get to the theatre to watch them. But, even with all the bells and whistles at home, nothing beats seeing a movie on a huge screen with a fantastic sound system. A great movie will envelope you in that environment.
There is a reason dictators always prized good film makers for propaganda. Hitler would not have been able to emotionally move people without Leni Riefenstahl. Stalin made films for his people too. But with the bad comes the good. Films like Schindler’s List show great grace in humanity even amongst the most dire of circumstances. This is why a free and unfettered media that looks at things objectively is important. Film can be so very powerful.
Today, Hollywood has an agenda and that’s one of the reasons its failing. Did you know there is a special carve out for taxes and Hollywood?
I don’t know if I have a favorite movie of all time, but I can list a top fifteen in no particular order. There are others that I’d watch, but these really are interesting for a variety of reasons.
1. Pulp Fiction
3. Night and Fog
4. Saving Private Ryan
5. Ruthless People
6. Rear Window
7. Hoop Dreams
9. Star Wars
10. The Godfather 1+2 (Except number 3)
11. Monty Python and The Holy Grail
12. It’s a Wonderful Life
13. Taxi Driver
14. A Clockwork Orange
My wife and I were remarking the other night that no one makes a good suspense film anymore. The Sixth Sense was the last good one I saw. Inception was decent. They must be terribly hard to write.
I have a lot of others that I like too.
What are your top movies?