Saturday, April 16, 2016

100 Must-See Films! -- Nazis

"One of the struggles of art, in dealing with the holocaust is that the reality exceeds the capacity of the imagination. Had it not really happened, no novelist, writer, thinker could have ever touched this experience without somehow exceeding any bounds of the capacity for art."—Alan J. Pakula, Director

51. Valkyrie (2008, USA/Germany)
Tom Cruise, Bill Nighy, Carice van Houten, Terence Stamp, Christian Berkel, Kenneth Branagh, Kevin McNally

This captivating film of historical intentions celebrates the story of hero Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg and his high-ranking co-conspirators in their hugely perilous, selfless and sacrificial attempt to bring down the most diabolical monster in modern (if not all of) history. Political and financial barriers hampered the effort to produce this film as did Germany’s heightened mistrust of star Tom Cruise’s religious ties. Nevertheless, privileged filming locations were achieved and the quality of this film, and certainly Cruise’s performance, emerged top-notch in every aspect.

It’s a thrilling, tense, suspenseful ride, in some ways despite, and in some ways, because of, our foreknowledge of how it didn’t all work out.

It’s a comfort to be reminded that there were plenty of German good guys in all of that tragedy; including some of mankind’s bravest heroes.

Writers: Nathan Alexander, Christopher McQuarrie (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation) 
Director: Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects)
Budget: $75,000,000
IMDB rating: 7.1

52. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006, Spain/Mexico/USA)
Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi López

A young girl must navigate the creepy unnatural circumstances at a remote mill-come-military outpost in Nazi-occupied Spain in addition to the landscape of a creepy unnatural fantasy world. A sinister presence pervades. Danger lurks at every turn. Where will she find safety? This film drags you into her harrowing journey with deep-chilling button-pushing intimacy. I only saw this intense, visually enchanting film once; nine years ago, but I will never ever forget it.

“Beautiful and exhilarating;” says Ebert, “a fairy tale for grownups.”

Writer/Director: Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim)
Budget: €13,500,000
IMDB rating: 8.2

53. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981, USA)
Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman

Here the Nazis are little more than caricatures, as perhaps the whole cast is. I consider this one of the earliest and most influential flicks that turned the B-film tradition into a mainstream big-budget industry. Did a sinking sophistication of the average movie-goer demand this innovation or did the innovation drive the evolution of mind?

Most unfortunately, the multi-film Indiana Jones enterprise then went on to embrace the celebration of civilization-wide ADHD, dumping loads of subtlety faster than a Boston Tea Party in order to craft a succession of 2-hour action scenes where the climaxes are indistinguishable from any other stage of the so-called-story; the hallmark of the shallow frenetic modern action movies which now clog theatres with lemmings but which put me to sleep.   

Raiders remains magic for sheer fun and for occupying that historical sweet-spot!

Writer: George Lucas (American Graffiti), Lawrence Kasden (The Big Chill), Phil Kaufman (The Right Stuff)
Director: Steven Spielberg (Jaws)
Budget: $18,000,000
IMDB rating: 8.5

54. Sophie’s Choice (1982, UK/USA)
Meryl Streep, Peter MacNicol, Kevin Kline

Sweet, unsettling and finally harrowing. This lead role, among all roles conceived, must be among the most challenging ever to portray. This character has baggage coming out her ying-yang. But along comes Meryl Streep who delivers the most moving and convincing performance I have ever personally acknowledged. Stunning and unforgettable.

The film’s title is a double-blind pit trap. The obvious choice in terms of present circumstance pales in comparison to the real choice, an existential one. But finally revealed is the choice from the past; that which lies at the root of everything; that which can never be recovered from; that which is distressing to ponder: that any human could have imagined it.

Writers: Alan J. Pakula (The Pelican Brief), William Styron (Shadrach)
Director: Alan J. Pakula (All the President’s Men)
Budget: $12,000,000
IMDB rating: 7.7

Short List:
Fateless (2005, Hungary/Germany/UK/Israel/France) Marcell Nagy, Béla Dóra, Bálint Péntek
Lore (2012, Germany/Australia/UK) Saskia Rosendahl, Kai-Peter Malina, Nele Trebs
Island on Bird Street (1997, Denmark/Germany/UK/France) Patrick Bergon, Jordan Kiziuk, Jack Warden

1 comment:

Rhonda Gilmour said...

Thanks for the film recommendations. Of these, I've only seen Indiana Jones. I'll look for a copy of Pan's Labyrinth at my library.
@RhondaGilmour from
Late Blooming Rose