Full Title: Almost Famous
Director: Cameron Crowe
Comments: Almost Famous is perhaps the greatest portrayl of Rock and Roll ever to hit the silver screen. What I really dig about this flick is that it takes place in 1973 as the era of Great Rock and Roll was gasping for air. We see these last precious moments of rebellion through the eyes of William Miller (Patrick Fugit) a fifteen year old journalist and a devout fan, experiencing this transition from music of the people to “industry of cool,” as real life Rock Critic, Lestor Bangs (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) puts it. With great performances from Kate Hudson, Frances McDormand, Jason Lee, Billy Crudup, (a young) Zooey Deschanel, amongst others, this is a Must See for Rock fans and non fans (but who cares about them?!) alike.
Full Title: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Director: Milos Forman
Comments: This has been a favorite of mine for about six or seven years now and I can’t imagine anyone walking through life and not seeing this at least once. Granted, the novel is better and I can understand why those who love the book would detest this. With that being said, I prefer the adaptation so much more because the brilliant performances of Jack Nicholson and crew truly bring all of these colorful characters to life in ways that for me personally are not as effective in the written form. The classic ending is so triumphant and beautiful that I have rarely seen another film top it; easily one of the greatest final shots in the history of cinema. Funny, passionate, disturbing, and inspiring- what else can you ask for? It should also be noted that after thirty-five years this movie has not dated at all; I watched it in one of my Psychology classes and nearly all of the class appreciated and/or loved it. How a film stands the test of time is to me a major factor of quality and Cuckoo’s Nest appears to be timeless.
Grade: A+ (in my top ten)
Full Title: Do the Right Thing
Director: Spike Lee
Comments: So, it was after 1 A.M. on a Monday night, a school night, junior year of high school, and I’m lying in my bed, watching this Spike Lee joint (bad idea for any first time viewing of a film) struggling to stay awake. Then all of a sudden, as the film is reaching its climax, I rose and walked toward my TV set and stood there for the remainder of the film (a good 15-20 minutes) just glued to the screen. This has never happened to me before. I couldn’t sleep after what I had just seen; my brain was overloaded with numerous thoughts, questions, impressions, etc. The next morning in my Algebra class, I put forth a valiant effort to focus on whatever it was we were covering in the Math world, but my mind was just fixed on DTRT, particularly the ending (one of the greatest I’d wager). If you haven’t surmised already, this is an extremly thought provoking film and unleashes the most heated of debates, even amongst its participants (disagreements have risen between Lee and some of the actors). To spare the suspense, the movie depicts the lives of those in a Brooklyn neighborhood on the hottest day of the Summer and like the heat, the racial tension between blacks, whites, hispanics, and asians is driving everyone crazy. Though, this a black film, Lee does not shy away from portraying black characters with many flaws (there are also several black characters that fight prejudice and are quite respectable) as well as both racist and non racist characters of other ethnicities. Lee’s perspective as black director is essential to this film as it distinguishes itself from other race related films such as American History X (1998) and Crash (2004), which have less of a point of view, in this respect. I could go on all day about all the various, super factors that make this a terrific film, but in short, it’s the little things that Lee incorporates that makes this joint Spike Lee’s distinctive piece- from Rosie Perez (ready to go with her boxing gloves) dancing to Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” (1989) over the opening credits to DJ Mister Senor Love Daddy (Samuel L. Jackson) listing off the roll call of the radio station’s many, essential, black artists “that make the day just a little brighter.” Suffice to say this film makes you think.
Three great dramedies (though they are more than that) to check out!
Next: A Full Review of I Am Legend (2007) or a Mini Classic Review of Born On the Fourth of July (1989) and others