Wednesday, April 25, 2007

April 25th Log

1946, William Wyler, United States
Repeat Viewing, Turner Classic Movies

William Wyler's award-winning, The Best Years of Our Lives is an honest, deeply moving American landmark that is worthy of all it's praise. Told as a straight-narrative of the lives of three unique WW2 Veterans, it's a classic film that manages to fully engage the viewer throughout it's entire 3 hours. Wyler, who was known as a perfectionist, succeeded in creating a flawless film. From the leagendary Gregg Toland's beautiful deep focus Black and White cinematography, to the incredible acting from the entire ensemble cast, to the touching, dramatic screenplay. The Best Years of Our Lives is ambitious and powerful from the opening longing to return home scene through it's heart-warming finale. The characters and visual details of the film contain rare depth and complexity. Toland collaborated with Wyler on 7 films (more then he did with any other director), and this is truly the finest of them all. In fact, this ranks among the greatest displays of cinematography ever created! Really, The Best Years of Our Lives is perfect in every aspect of filmmaking. A absolute classic, and so much more. Few films offer as much emotional drama as this memorable masterpiece, which stands as one of the truly greatest films of Hollywood's magical era.

2006, Stephen Frears, United Kingdom / France / Italy
Repeat Viewing, DVD

Directed by versatile director Stephen Frears The Queen is a film that succeeds on many levels. Obviously the performance of the always reliable Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II is the driving center of the film. She is absolutely terrific and will undoubtedly be remembered during the awards season (I will go on record as saying she is a lock for at least an Oscar nomination as Best Actress). However, not to be overlooked is the wonderful script of this film (written by Peter Morgan), which delves into many insightful levels ranging from psychological, social, and political. The film uses archive events surrounding the death of Princess Diana as the new Prime Minister Tony Blair (solidly played by Michael Sheen) uses the mass media to mourn the "people's princess". Blair's modernized methods contrast those of the royal family, who's values are held much differently (and ultimately they lose the support of a grieving county). It is this generation divide that lies at the center of this film, which succeeds mostly in its impartial views. Blair is essentially left feeling sympathetic (or is it guilty) for the Queen, and even though she is forced to conform against her will, she never lets her belief and values change (even if her country has). The film examinations a new era of "global modernized", and a society imprisoned or obsessed with celebrities and tabloids. The performances effortlessly capture the emotional essence and they deserve to be highly applauded, but the intelligence and awareness of the material, makes this an important and honest film.


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