100th Film Review Special! The Worst and Best So Far, Part 2

Now that I’ve gotten the lowlights out of the way, let’s move onto the films that, if you haven’t watched, you absolutely should.


The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1991)

Originally reviewed on: December 4, 2018

Krzysztof Kieślowski is one of those arthouse directors who would effortlessly run circles around today’s auteurs. He wouldn’t even break a sweat doing it, either. While I would argue The Double Life of Veronique doesn’t quite reach the same emotional and intellectual high as Dekalog that preceded it or the Three Colors trilogy that followed, it has got plenty of pathos and logos to spare. Indeed, any film director who fancies themselves an intellectual needs to really study Mr. Kieślowski’s body of work to determine what makes them tick. A modern-day auteur would either inject too much ego into their project, talk down to their audience, or, in many cases, both. Mr. Kieślowski, on the other hand, crafts his story around the premise of a woman having an exact double who is somehow connected to her despite never meeting each other, builds upon that premise, and expects audiences to keep up. I feel if there were more arthouse directors like him, the umbrella term would be thought of much more favorably.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Peter Jackson, 2001)

Originally reviewed on: December 12, 2018

The Lord of the Rings is one of those series I had heard about for a long time, yet didn’t quite get around to experiencing until very recently. I couldn’t tell you why it took me so long to take the plunge, but I was glad when I finally did. Peter Jackson did an amazing job translating what many believed to be unfilmable books into what ended up being the Star Wars of its generation. His adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring does a stellar job setting up all of the important pieces and gets the overarching story off to a great start. The best part is when you realize that as great as this film is, things are only just getting started.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Peter Jackson, 2002)

Originally reviewed on: December 13, 2018

Speaking from experience, the worst film in a given trilogy tends to be either the second or third entry. This does make sense; trilogies have to begin with a fairly strong entry or their prospects of seeing sequels end before they could begin. Strangely, this seems to also apply to trilogies that critics roundly dislike. Anyway, Mr. Jackson certainly had his work cut out for him for this film considering that he was filming what amounts a second act of a larger entity. This means, he had the task of making a film that essentially had neither a beginning nor an end. Admittedly, even after reviewing it, I’m not sure how he made it work, but he found a way. It’s true that as a standalone film, The Two Towers would be mostly incomprehensible, but they were meant to be seen side-by-side, so I’d say such an argument would be moot to begin with. Also, it has Legolas shield surfing. If that doesn’t make you smile, consider getting anti-depressants immediately.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, & Rodney Rothman, 2018)

Originally reviewed on: December 20, 2018

In what was otherwise a fairly drab year for films, Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse was a breath of fresh air the industry desperately needed. I’m sure that the MCU is a little difficult to approach given the sheer amount of good films in that franchise, so I definitely think that this one provides a great alternative for those unwilling to get into the series. The twenty-first century saw the debut of many good Spider-Man films, and this manages to be a fresh take on the famous character. With a style all its own and a lot of clever writing, it is definitely worth looking into.

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Luis Buñuel, 1972)

Originally reviewed on: December 21, 2018

Speaking of arthouse films that would eat contemporary ones for breakfast (and still have enough room for an entire meal), here’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. Considering the kind of material I’ve frowned upon in the past, I can imagine some readers are shocked I would like a film with such an openly cynical tone. While this film is cynical, the key difference between it and today’s arthouse fare is that it isn’t scathing. Whereas a contemporary piece like this would be over the top, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisies treats its often hypocritical subjects with a sense of bemusement. Not many creators can make a film starting with a group of people showing up for a dinner party on the wrong day into a surrealist, absurdist comedy, but Mr. Buñuel wasn’t most creators.

The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

Originally reviewed on: December 29, 2018

If you wanted proof that critics don’t bat 1.000, The Night of the Hunter is a great historical example wherein they completely dropped the ball. To be completely fair, they did more of an excuse to let their emotions get to them than the current wave of critics. A world-spanning war that killed millions of people would naturally want the people to gravitate towards happier fare than a film about a psychotic killer chasing after children. Nonetheless, it’s a shame that Charles Laughton’s directorial prospects had to suffer because they couldn’t keep their emotions in check. We got one great film out of the deal, but one wonders how many masterpieces we were denied because the critics couldn’t keep their personal feelings in check.

The Prestige (Christopher Nolan, 2006)

Originally reviewed on: January 4, 2019

I have to say that The Prestige catching critics off-guard is a little more understandable than most cases. After all, Memento was such an innovative film with a premise so novel that the idea of the same director being able to create something easily in the same league would catch even the most open-minded critics off-guard. Even so, it’s interesting seeing a film that has a fairly modest score on Rotten Tomatoes beat out more unanimously praised works on various “Best films of the 2000s” lists. To be fair, I don’t think it’s quite as good as Memento, but it is every bit as mind-bending. Also, David Bowie.

Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet, 1975)

Originally reviewed on: January 18, 2019

It seems to be a running theme with a lot of the great films of old I’ve seen in that that they somehow manage to tackle a subject far more tactfully than a majority of the praised films today. In some ways, I think current artists attempting to be progressive end up evoking the Centipede’s Dilemma when crafting their narratives. That is to say, by actively trying to be progressive, they come across as more backwards-looking than creators who were progressive without really thinking about it. This brings us to Dog Day Afternoon. While progressive-minded directors today would make one’s gender or sexual orientation A Thing™, Mr. Lumet was content with treating members of the LBGT community as normal people without drawing attention to it. The fact that it’s about a hilariously botched robbery is sure to throw even the savviest of cinephiles for a loop when they discover this film for the first time.

(Federico Fellini, 1963)

Originally reviewed on: February 4, 2019

I honestly could have highlighted when I wrote that article about films the current wave of critics would have rejected.  This is because it begins with a fairly pretentious critic giving its main character advice that seems to parody the impenetrable language they employ. Funny how it manages to be relevant over fifty years later, isn’t it? I’m half-convinced the character in question was actually Owen Gleiberman’s dad. Anyway, is a paradoxical film about a director with severe director’s block getting over it by making a film about a director with severe director’s block. If you wanted a film that highlights all the ups and downs of the filmmaking process, this is the one to watch.

M*A*S*H (Robert Altman, 1970)

Originally reviewed on: February 8, 2019

When I learned M*A*S*H won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, I was immediately convinced they are far more forward-looking than the Academy. The idea of an unapologetic wacky comedy winning Picture of the Year is rather ludicrous, yet a much more internationally-renowned organization went and did it like it was nothing. It’s interesting how Hollywood types tout themselves as progressive when, in practice, what they end up praising is very narrow in scope. Maybe they should take cues from Cannes and loosen up a little. Also, it contains the first F-bomb uttered in a major Hollywood production, so that by itself makes it worthy of admiration.

The Sting (George Roy Hill, 1973)

Originally reviewed on: March 5, 2019

Do you like films that become a vastly different experience the second time you watch them? If so, The Sting is for you. It works both as a great period piece and a great character study, successfully channeling everything that made the New Hollywood era so memorable with its great, charismatic acting performances.

8 thoughts on “100th Film Review Special! The Worst and Best So Far, Part 2

  1. I haven’t seen most of the movies on this list, but I’m interested in the older arthouse ones you mentioned on there. 8 1/2 is a great choice and I would like to see The Double Life of Veronique. I do agree that Cannes is better than The Academy even though I wouldn’t have expect them to be into M*A*S*H. I’ve heard of The Prestige, but I didn’t know Nolan directed it. I have severe issues after he plagiarized Paprika to make Inception, so I’ll pass. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie could be an interesting watch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s too bad. I hope this list ends up pointing you in the right direction! The Double Life of Veronique isn’t quite as good as Dekalog or Three Colors, but it is really thought-provoking just like his other work. Yeah, I have to admit that threw me for a loop, but when I found out, that by itself convinced me that they’re way better than the Academy. I think you’re missing out by passing on The Prestige, but I do sympathize with your sentiments. With game creators and gamers acknowledging foreign efforts, it’s annoying how often English-speaking film directors seem to rip off obscure works and pass them off as their own. And many of them along with their fans accuse gamers of being losers? Yeah, right. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is the only Buñuel film I’ve seen thus far, but I really liked it. The surreal situations the cast finds themselves in are surprisingly relatable. I also have a copy of The Exterminating Angel lying around, so I will probably give that a spin soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sure thing. I’m open to seeing movies I’ve never seen before. It would certainly give me some material on Iridium Eye, too. That’s good to know about The Double Life of Veronique. It certainly is weird, but I do think Cannes has better taste and I like movies that have won awards in that festival. One film was This Is Not a Film by Jafar Panahi which was able to exist because of a smuggled USB inside a cake mailed to that fest where it won (dead serious!). Cannes insn’t perfect, but I respect their opinions on movies more than The Academy. Thanks for understanding when it comes to my issues against Nolan. I saw Paprika not long after it was released in America and I saw the copied efforts in Inception easily when I saw it in the theater back then. It doesn’t help Satoshi Kon (Paprika’s director) died the year Inception came out. Okay, I need to stop now since I can get wound up when it comes to art plagiarism. Yeah, I agree with you on that point when it comes to directors ripping off obscure (normally non-American) works. I’m not a gamer, but even that aspect isn’t deserved towards them. Gotcha. I’m not familiar with that director, but this could be interesting like how I was recently exposed to Ousmane Sebene.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think my feelings towards the LotR trilogy are similar to yours, but I’d bump each of them a grade higher. That is to say, I’d give Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers 9/10, and Return of the King a perfect 10/10 (yeah yeah, spoilers. Whatever). It’s all fantasy filmmaking done so, so right.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: October 2019 in Summary: Milestone Madness | Extra Life

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