Thursday, June 2, 2011

1953 ... What a Year!

Because I have been busy watching some classics on the big screen, I really did not have time to see anything new at the cinema lately - and honestly, the latest Pirates debacle will take some time to recover from.

Having previously only experienced these films on television screens of varying sizes, they were even more impressive this time around. Surely, despite the convenience home viewing provides, nothing beats seeing a film at the cinema. I could have written reviews or some reflections on these cinematic pilgrimages, but I didn't for a couple of resons:
  1. What can I possibly add to what has already been said about Earth, Man with a Movie Camera, Taxi Driver or Apocalypse Now?
  2. I am not feeling particularly inspired to write anything that doesn't read like it came out of my left nostril after a heavy night of drinking.
So, I go back to these lazy posts of lists. I sincerely apologise for this funk. But I think this new idea may actually be something interesting to do for weeks to come (and hopefully will ignite some inspiration along the way). I am not abandoning reviews and other film-related articles. "What a Year!" series will complement the usual content that appears on these humble pages.

Here's the gist: I went through all of the films that I have ever seen and came up with a top 3 list for each year.

Hold on. Why does it start with 1953? Did you not see any films that were released before that date?

Yes, I did. But I had to establish a basic rule: I had to have seen at least 10 films from that particular year. And that is why we are beginning with 1953 - the earliest year from which I have seen at least 10 films. The years will not be fully contiguous, of course, as we will skip a couple here and there. The films will be listed in ascending order (i.e. 3,2,1), with a small blurb and hopefully a meaningful video. Are we cool?

Cool. Let's begin.

1953, year one:

3- Tokyo Story (dir: Yasujirô Ozu; wri: Yasujirô Ozu, Kôgo Noda)
Ozu's most famous (and accessible) film is a marvellous piece of minimalist film-making. A wonderfully underplayed emotional story, this family drama of clashing generations is still powerful to this day. Don't worry - this is not about rebellious youth fighting the oppressive parents, but about how both generations handle conflict and strained relationships. Regularly appears near the very top of the all-time-greats lists.

2- Stalag 17 (dir: Billy Wilder; wri: Billy Wilder, Edwin Blum)
Criminally underrated war film (!) from Billy Wilder, Stalag 17 perhaps suffers from not really belonging to any one genre. Original promotion emphasised the comedy aspect, but it is darker and more sinister than it first appears. William Holden probably gives the performance of his life in this tale of World War II POWs trying to escape from the infamous German prison camp 17.

1- Wages of Fear (dir: Henri-Georges Clouzot; wri: Henri-Georges Clouzot, Jérôme Géronimi)
Wages of Fear is an intense experience. It drains all energy out of you long before the end credits. It is loud, brash, and unashamedly nihilistic. It is one hell of a ride, a gem of the French cinema and one of the greatest thrillers of all time.

Next up is 1957.

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