Thursday, April 14, 2016

100 Must-See Films! -- Love

“No mysteries?” he says. “What’s love then?”

“A Bordeaux blend.”

He laughs. “I know you like your wine,” he says, watching me sip it, “but surely you can do better than that!”

“Bordeaux is nothing but a word. No Bordeaux grape exists.”

“It’s a region in France.”

“And it’s also a Big Idea. And the idea says that if you blend a combination of grapes – any combination; two or more – from a set of very real varieties: Cab Sauv, Cab Frank, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot – from that French region, yes – you will get a very special complexity of flavour; an intensity of flavour; a special wine; the Bordeaux blend. And that is love: an idea that arises from a special feeling; an intensity of feeling  which is nothing singular but only a combination of real connections, from a large set of possible connections: attachments, dependencies and the like – within the brain. It’s the accumulation of attachment. It’s the weight of them… Love. Which is why every love is different. We like to think that there are different types of love – for the lover, the family member, the dog… No. We are addicted to patterns and programs and labels so we think that way, but no. Every instance of love is a complex unique formula. A special blend.”

42. Ice Castles (1978, USA)
Lynn-Holly Johnson, Robby Benson, Colleen Dewhurst, Jennifer Warren, Tom Skerritt,

Love of sport, father and boyfriend and the extra pressures which weigh on each, pull a sensitive young Olympic figure skating hopeful in different directions, threatening to tear her apart. Is it ultimately too much? How she will escape – or how she will claim her ground?

It could be claimed sappy or schmaltzy I suppose! But for me, and I know many others, it tore at my heart throughout and the ending is strictly unforgettable.

I know the film was re-made in 2010 with new actors and the same writer/director but I have taken a pass. I will stick with this original again and again!

Writers: Donald Wrye, Gary L. Baim (Ice Castles 2010)
Director: Donald Wrye (Death Be Not Proud)
Budget: $9,500,000
IMDB rating: 6.5

43. Juno (2007, Canada/USA)
Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, Olivia Thirlby, J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney

In 2004, young actor Ellen Page graduated from such Canadian television projects as Trailer Park Boys and I Downloaded a Ghost, taking on eight theatrical films in two years, culminating in the starring role here – which “she killed” as youth would say... I think.

Page, armed with writer, Diablo Cody’s arsenal of ticklish kid-slang, would have stolen any show with this performance: at once bold, quirky, clever, down to earth, rebellious only to the necessary degree and miraculously, thank goodness, not the Hollywood stereotype bitch of a teenager. And when the shit hits the fan, so to speak, and she must confess her troubling circumstance to father and step-mom, and Dad says, “I thought you were the kind of girl who knew when to say when,” Page quietly delivers hurt, humility and brave defiance each in subtle, artful measure, quietly stating, “I don’t know… what kind of girl I am.”

Brilliant! She was nominated for all four of the grand slam awards for Best Actress. Cody took the Oscar for best screenplay.

And of course Michael Cera and the meek Paulie Bleeker role were just perfectly made for each other. It seems like every other Cera role struggles to eclipse a mere shadow of Bleeker.  

A rare comedy brimming with laughter, charm, style and substance which helps define an early millennial youth culture; a renaissance of digital communication, unapologetic sexuality, and the eternal uphill struggle that is adolescence.

Writer: Diablo Cody (Young Adult)
Director: Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)
Budget: $7,500,000
IMDB rating: 7.5

44. Lars and the Real Girl (2007, USA/Canada )
Ryan Gosling, Patricia Clarkson, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider

The premise sounds untouchably weird. Yet this is one of the most charming stories ever filmed. It speaks to the great diversity of love, our pitiable fears of love, and the capacity of love within the family and within the community.

This is a comedy which makes you laugh out loud and yet accomplishes so much more than that. I can’t think of any other film which touched me in quite the way that this one did.

Lars Lindstrom: How'd you know…? That you were a man?
Gus: Well, it's not like you're one thing or the other, okay? There's still a kid inside but you grow up when you decide to do right, okay? And not what's right for you; what's right for everybody. Even when it hurts.

Writer: Nancy Oliver (True Blood)
Director: Craig Gillespie (Fright Night)
Budget: $12,000,000
IMDB rating: 7.4

45. Brokeback Mountain (2005, USA/Canada)
Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal was only sixteen the first time he read this script and, in his own words, swore he wanted nothing to do with it. That was 1997; a society already evolved thirty three years beyond that dark age which serves as this story’s setting. And still it took a further seven years before we were ready for this film, and the shooting began. At twenty-three, Gyllenhaal re-read the script and claimed, “It’s too beautiful to say no.”

Though missing out on Best Picture Oscar, any look across the broader film critic and film award landscape reveals Brokeback Mountain the most heralded film of the year.

Hailed by Newsday: “A revolutionary act of cinema.” Said Rolling Stone: “Hits you like a shot in the heart.” It’s an emotional whirlwind. Sad. Sadder. Saddest. The climax is one of the most heart-wrenching moments in modern cinema. Even the joyful moments are laced with fear.

Like Romeo and Juliette: a desperate fight in the name of love, against all odds. I believe this is partly what Bruce Cockburn lamented, in addition to the AIDS crisis, in Lovers in a Dangerous Time, when he sang: Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight; Got to kick at the darkness ‘til it bleeds daylight.

Writers: Annie Proulx (The Shipping News), Larry McMurtry (Terms of Endearment)
Director: Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
Budget: $14,000,000
IMDB rating: 7.7

Short List:
Biutiful (2010, Mexico/Spain) Javier Bardem, Maricel Álvarez, Hanaa Bouchaib
Arthur (1981, USA) Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, John Gielgud
Mask (1985, USA) Cher, Eric Stoltz, Sam Elliot
Out of Africa (1985, USA/UK) Meryl Streep, Robert Redford
The Big Chill (1983, USA) Glen Close, Tom Berenger, Jeff Goldblum, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, William Hurt

1 comment:

martine said...

Oh, yes, Lars and the Real Girl is such a wonderful film, would join you in highly recommending it.
martine @ silencing the bell