On a recent trip to London my wife, Chris, & I visited the National Gallery of Art, home to some of the world's most priceless art treasures. Standing in front of works by Michelangelo, Leonardo di Vinci and their contemporaries I was struck by the beauty, the incredible perfection of their art. How long it took each man to reach his vision – sometimes years for one work alone- is amazing. Their dedication to their art is obvious and we are the fortunate recipients so many centuries later. I translated these ideas to my favorite art-form, movies.
Oh, Charley, Charley
Can a film be perfect, I wonder. Can all the disparate elements be molded into a work of art that will last for many years, eventually centuries? I say, yes. As man has strived for perfection throughout the millennia, from cave-paintings to canvas, from the Pyramids to The Empire State Building, from primitive sounds to Mozart, so have movie-makers. Expressing their view of the world around them, as all artists do, movie-makers must distill multiple images of reality and make them easily
recognizable to us.
As I've attempted to do in previous columns I want to give you my list of choices of what I consider to be cinematic perfection. I'll hit a few, I'll miss a few, I know. My objective is to stimulate your own list. That's what so fascinating about this writing – and so satisfying.
First, some basic premises for these "perfect" movies. Why are some of my choices usually on the "best of something" lists over and over? Watched again and again by so many fans? Are certain topics endlessly interesting? Are certain characters always the source for a story? Are specific actors favored for specific roles? Favorite locations, like New York, London or Paris? Is the audience thrilled with a great story but disappointed by who's playing the parts? Does the score's composer write memorable music? I'll let you set up your own criteria for your personal favorites. So many diverse elements make up a film and
when they blend together.....well, you know the rest.
In no particular order:
The Sting/ Raging Bull
On The Waterfront/ Dear Frankie
Bonnie and Clyde/ Body Heat
City Lights/ The Long Kiss Goodnight
Copycat / Marathon Man
Inside Man / Gladiator
It's A Wonderful Life / Godfather 1 & 2/ Life is Beautiful / 1941
Vertigo/ In The Line of Fire
2001: A Space Odyssey/ To Kill A Mockingbird
Sneakers/ The Guns of Navarone
The Shawshank Redemption/ Sharkey's Machine
Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels/ Black Rain
The Usual Suspects/ My Favorite Year
Lord Jim/ Glory
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert/ The Ipcress File
The Red Violin/ Batman
The Full Monty/ The Thing
Rear Window/ The Maltese Falcon
A Face in the Crowd/ Psycho
A Streetcar Named Desire/ Yankee Doodle Dandy
Citizen Kane/ Dr. Strangelove
Schindler's List / Some Like It Hot
The Silence of the Lambs/ Raiders of the Lost Ark
The Sixth Sense/Victory/
Rocky / Butch Cassidy & The
Sundance Kid/ The Hill/ Code of Silence/ Saving Private Ryan/ Gunga Din
Tom Jones/ You Only Live Twice
Being There / Kelly's Heroes/Twelve Angry Men/Shane/A Fish Called Wanda There are so many more. Think of the ones you consider "perfect." I daresay when many of these films debuted the critics panned them but audiences loved them. When you watch a film what goes through your mind? Is it a "gut" reaction to sights and sounds? Is there a favorite actor or actress up there and you love what they do? Is the dialogue snappy, interesting? The locales and sets add to the story's fascination? The music completes the picture? The director seamlessly weaves all these threads together and we leave the theatre knowing and feeling we've just seen something that will stay with us for a long time.
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My views on an eclectic mix of films and personalties, past and present; emotional interpretations; some laughs, some cries.
I am a former New Jersey native, living in Charlotte, N.C. for almost 30 years. I am a lifelong movie lover with lots of movie trivia knowledge and soundtracks in my CD collection. I enjoy sharing my love of films with everyone and have so many fond memories growing up in darkened movie theaters. I have been married 50 years (as of December 22, 2018) and we both share a passion for film (and each other of course).|
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