Archives for category: ImDb Top 250

Have you ever had a conversation about the pros and cons of robbing a bank versus a liquor store versus a coffee shop?

It is just one of the many ridiculous conversations you will enjoy while you watch “Pulp Fiction”.

And this is only the first time out of nine where I will use the word ridiculous to describe this movie. Feel free to give me a thesaurus with other words I could use, it is just so ridiculously appropriate.

Pukp Fiction Poster

Good Ol’ Poster looking like a Pulp Fiction book cover.

What is this film?

Pulp Fiction (1994) is Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece. Not his first movie, and certainly not his last, but the one that ranks highest on the lists and the one that truly defined him as an auteur (at least in my eyes).

I really won’t spoil too much of the plot, mostly because it jumps back and forth in time and is truly difficult to retell, but also because if you haven’t already seen this movie, you should just stop reading right now and either watch it or leave this article all together.

Any amount of reading will only ruin the experience, and if you’re not willing to watch it, then why are you reading this anyway.

As a warning, the word “fuck” is used 256 times. That’s the kind of movie this is. A gangster crime movie. With loads of violence. And look out for the fact that something bad always happens when Vincent (John Travolta) goes to the toilet (and picks up a pulp fiction novel to read).

 

Dividing a people

“Pulp Fiction” is not for everyone. You either love it, or you hate it. And if you’re a hater, you simply don’t get it.

If you don’t like it, then Quentin Tarantino’s sense of humor is not for you. Maybe avoid him all together.

And I can see why. He pokes fun at violence, and he does it by elevating the violence to a ridiculous level of absurd proportions. And then he might put an inappropriate soundtrack on top of it all, just to make the scene even more unbearably awkward and out-of-place . It can be too much for certain people.

But then again, most guys love it, and this movie is the reason why several geeks out there think they can quote scripture. Although you can look for a long time in the Bible to find the passage that Jules likes to quote before he kills.

Still of John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson from Pulp Fiction

The iconic shot from Pulp Fiction

Do I think it’s good?

Let’s get this straight. I love Quentin Tarantino. As a director.

As a person he seems like a bit of a douche, but he makes entertaining movies so why do I care.

Why do I love him? He goes so far over the top with everything that it becomes funny. He is so referential to other films that it is a treasure trove for movie geeks. He makes B-movie plots feel A-movie. AND he knows how to get the dialogue pumping.

So if you like that, you will like his movies. And you will like “Pulp Fiction”. Simple.

 

I Shot Marvin in the Face

Case and point: the “I shot Marvin in the face” scene.

Whilst speaking to Marvin in the back of the car, Vincent (Travolta) accedentally shoots him in the face and kills him instantly, splattering blood all over the car. This is the most ridiculous and most genius scene in crime movie history.

The fact that Vincent and Jules now have to clean the blood out of the car and get rid of an unexpected body, and we get to follow that mundane practical problem from beginning to end, is just hilarity taken to the next level.

And that they go to Jimmy, played by Quentin Tarantino, for help, just makes it even more ridiculous.

Still from Pulp Fiction of Samuel L Jackson driving the car as John Travolta shoots Marvin in the face

“Shit, I just shot Marvin in the face”

Travolta + Jackson = Perfection

It is in fact John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson together having their ridiculous conversations in the most ridiculous of scenarios, that makes this movie one you watch over and over again.

Right next to the fact that you want to watch it over again to see if THIS time will 100% get what is going on. Maybe this time.

And I agree with the voters of Premiere’s 100 Greatest Movie Lines…

You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in Paris? (…) They call it a Royale with cheese

– Vincent Vega (John Travolta) –

…IS one of the greatest movie lines EVER!

In fact, it is one of the greatest conversations.

Interesting, random and ridiculous conversations is actually Quentin Tarantino’s strongest suit. There is no director who can make me look forward to a talk around the table like he can.

 

What is in the briefcase?

Theories out there are abundant on what is casting that shiny, orange glow upon Jules and Vernes faces at the end. It’s apparently “So Beautiful”.

The most likely story out there is the one that says in the script there were diamonds, but since “Reservoir Dogs” had a case of diamonds at the centre of the plot, Quentin decided simply not to show what was in the briefcase. And to great effect.

This simply let’s you decide for yourself what is in the briefcase.

Although I like the theory that it is Marcellus Wallace’s (played by Ving Rhames of Mission Impossible fame) soul that the devil has ripped out from the back of his neck (hence the band-aid).

 

Will it stand the test of time?

There is no reason why this movie shouldn’t stand the test of time.

There are no visual effects that will fade to bullshit, and with so many questions and confusion around what, where and whythefuck, there will always be a new generation who will decipher what happens in their own way.

And let’s not forget the violence. It will never get old.

In other words, “Pulp Fiction” deserves its place high on the list of any kind of “best movies” shoot out. It is special, it defines a generation of movies and it created its own genre; The Tarantino Movie.

 

What mood do you need to be in?

Feeling like something extremely violent but yet hilarious at the same time? Then this is your movie.

And there is no end to the famous people in it, so you can have some fun celebrity watching.

 

Further Watching

The only thing you can move on to after watching a Tarantino movie are more Tarantino Movies.

Go for his early crime movies like “Reservoir Dogs” (1992) and “Jackie Brown” (1997) and you won’t be disappointed. They are about the same thing as “Pulp Fiction”, but still they suck you in and are entertaining as hell.

If you’re not that much of a Tarantino fan, I suggest looking at Guy Ritchie, the Brit who also does crime with a distinct voice. Look at “Snatch” (2000) with a genius Brad Pitt as a tater, “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” (1998) and “Layer Cake” (2004) with a pre-James Bond Daniel Craig.

 

Still of John Travolta and Uma Thurman Dancing from Pulp Fiction

John Travolta and Uma Thurman do an unexpected weird dance to “You Never Can Tell” by Chuck Berry.

Who am I?

I do not work for ImDb, I just have a nerdy need to make sure I watch all the movies people claim to be good. In this way I can make up my own mind about whether or not they are a hype.

This is not a per se recommendation from the ImDb Top 250 list, but rather a statement about the movies on the list that hopefully will make you want to watch the movies again, or watch the movie and make up a mind of your own 😉

Or avoid it like the plague.

 

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as a 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

 

Where can you find the film?

This movie is one of the few Tarantino movies that cannot be found on Netflix. But like any of the movies (at least the ones I like) on the ImDb top 250 list, they should be in your collection.

 

Once a month I will review the top 250 movies on ImDb and determine whether they still deserve to be on the list or not. Have they stood the test of time, or are they just there out of habit or historical significance (which does not a good movie make). I start from the top because there is less change in the top films than at the bottom of the list.

Look here for my judgements on #3 The Godfather, part II and #4 The Dark Knight.

Other Fridays of the month, I will look at “New Releases – is it worth a cinema ticket”, “Guilty Pleasures” and I will also be “Unearthing the Best Movies on Netflix”.

 

I have used several sources in writing this post among them ImDb trivia and some cinema history books in my possession.

Sign up and get a notification next week so that you don’t miss the next blog post or my next ImDb top 250 review. Next month we will have a look at number 6, the classic western  “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”!

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If you’re good at something, never do it for free

– The Joker –

The Dark Knight poster

It’s all very very dark

***minor SPOILERS***

 

What is this film?

The second instalment of the “darker” Batman trilogy by Christopher Nolan (the guy who likes mind twisting you with Memento and Inception). It is definitely, by a solid mile, the best of the trilogy.

This is the first superhero movie to win an Oscar for a creative rather than technical award, namely the Best Supporting Actor award given posthumously to Heath Ledger.

It was nominated for a full eight awards, and is thus the superhero movie with the most nominations, although not for Best Picture, which didn’t sit well with fans of superhero movies.

It is also, interestingly enough, the only movie to rank number one on the ImDb top 250 list only two days after it’s release. It has dropped a little since then, as most movies do, but has remained in the top 5, which is impressive.

 

Do I think it is good?

Just like everyone else, I love this movie.

And to be honest, it takes quite a lot to make me go from “OK” to “Brilliant” when it comes to superhero movies. There are so many of them, and my interest is so saturated that there is no in between. There is only “Meh” or “God-damn-effin -genius”.

“The Dark Knight” is never boring, it always keeps moving forwards at a rapid speed with gadgets, and funny one-liners, and a story that twists and turns in directions you could never have fathomed in your wildest dreams.

And there is one character who makes all of this possible, puts pressure on time and creates a lot of horrendous fun.

 

The ultimate villain – The Joker

Heath Ledger makes this superhero movie more than just another superhero movie. And not all of the credit can go to his genius portrayal of the Joker.

The appealing nature of the movie’s villain is basic and goes as far back as choices in the script. Ask yourself, what does the Joker want? A usual villain will want something. He will want money, power, revenge or all of the above. The Joker doesn’t want anything but the chaos he is already creating and revelling in.

Some men just want to watch the world burn

– Alfred –

Thus he become impossible to stop, you have to kill him. And the number one rule of Batman is; he doesn’t kill anyone.

The funny thing is that we get equally mind fucked by the Joker.

The Joker tells the other criminals how his father put a knife to his face and made a permanent smile on his face. We obviously sympathise. He has been through a lot of hard times and is obviously scarred from bad parenting. Later at the fundraiser for Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), the Joker tells Rachel (the journalist love interest) the story of how he got his scars…

And now it is totally different!

We realise we put our sympathy in a pathological liar. No one knows what is true. Maybe not even the Joker. This betrayal is paramount in building the Joker as the ultimate villain.

 

Will it stand the test of time?

I think it will.

I hope it will.

After six years, it still feels fast, and it is still funny. Heath Ledger’s The Joker still feels iconic and his death has lent it even more eeriness than originally intended.

Heath Ledger himself might be the very reason why this movie has become iconic and the ultimate superhero movie. It has dug out its place at the top of the ImDb top 250 list and will probably stay there for as long as I am alive.

And I 100% think it deserves the spot.

 

What mood should you be in?

You can be any kind of mood really.

Regardless this is a great movie and it will suck you into its vortex whether you like it or not.

 

Further Watching

The other movies in the trilogy, although not up to the same standard as “The Dark Knight” (I mean, they don’t have The Joker so how can they), are definitely worth a watch and specifically in order.

Batman Begins” (2005), the first one, is a bit longwinded as origins stories go, but it has Liam Neeson in it so no complaining. “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012) lives in the shadow of its predecessor, but is an entertaining watch.

Batman” (1989) by Tim Burton is worth a watch, if nothing else to look at the a wildly different take on the Batman universe and Jack Nicholson as The Joker.

Other than this I would watch some more of Heath Ledger. I can particularly recommend the movie that made me love him as a teenager, the guilty pleasure movie “10 things I hate about you” (1999).

Or check out “Brokeback Mountain” (2005). A bit overrated, but definitely worth a watch!

 

Further Reading

For an overview on superhero movies that have been nominated and/or won an Academy Award, check out this article “Oscars Celebrate Superheroes“.

 

Enjoy following the top 250 ImdB review? Subscribe and get a notification for my next blog post.

Next week, I will get my ass to the cinema and watch a new release so I can tell you whether or not it is worth the money to go 😉

 

Why so serious? Poster with the Joker of the Dark Knight

The truly genious element of “The Dark Knight”

 

Who am I?

I do not work for ImDb, I just have a nerdy need to make sure I watch all the movies people claim to be good. In this way I can make up my own mind about whether or not they are a hype.

This is not a per se recommendation from the ImDb Top 250 list, but rather a statement about the movies on the list that hopefully will make you want to watch the movies again, or watch the movie and make up a mind of your own 😉

Or avoid it a movie like the plague.

 

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as a 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

 

Where can you find the film?

You can watch “Batman Begins” (and “Batman”) on Netflix Norway, but none of the other movies. I see what they did there. It might however stream on your local Netflix.

It’s not like you’re going to get tired of watching it, so flesh out the measly £7-£8 and buy The Dark Knight on crispy Blu-Ray for your collection.

 

Once a month I will review the top 250 movies on ImDb and determine whether they still deserve to be on the list or not. Have they stood the test of time, or are they just there out of habit or historical significance (which does not a good movie make). I start from the top because there is less change in the top films than at the bottom of the list.

Look here for my judgements on #2 on top 250 ImDb “The Godfather” and #3 The Godfather Part II.

Other Fridays of the month, I will look at “New Releases – is it worth a cinema ticket”, “Guilty Pleasures” and I will also be “Unearthing the Best Movies on Netflix”.

 

I have used several sources in writing this post among them ImDb trivia.

Sign up with your email and get a notification next week so that you don’t miss the next blog post or my next ImDb top 250 review. Next month we will have a look at number 5,  “Pulp Fiction”!

I’m really trying to like “The Godfather” films. I mean, two of them are at the top of ImdB and they all have scooped heaps of awards (perhaps not so much the third one). But I just don’t get what the fuss is all about.

On top of it all, if you didn’t already think that number 1 lasted long enough, the sequel is even worse, dragging on for a whole 15-20 minutes. Now was that really necessary?

Perched snugly in the top 5 of the ImdB top 250, and scooping in a significantly higher number of Oscars than its predecessor, people seem to think “The Godfather Part II” is genius. I’m here to tell you it’s not!

Michael Corleone has now become The Godfather

Michael Corleone has now become The Godfather

***NO SPOILERS***

What is this film?

The Godfather Part II (1974) is the second instalment of the trilogy about the italian mafia family Corleone. Michael, the guy who didn’t really want to join the illegalities of his family in the first movie (aka the guy played by Al Pacino) is now the head of the family.

We also follow Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando in “The Godfather“, Robert De Niro in this one) and find out how he gets from Sicily and becomes the most feared and respected mobster in New York.

 

Why do people think it’s good?

I think people fell in love with the Corleone family, so when you give them some more insight into that family and the life of the mafia, of course they will love it.

This is pretty much the reason why we are wading around in sequel after sequel and remake after reboot.

Once people love some characters, they will come back for more.

Throw story and quality right out the window.

 

Do I think it is anything against The Godfather?

The biggest problem I have with “The Godfather Part II” is that it’s not one movie, it’s two. Basically you have your standard sequel and the prequel smashed haphazardly into one.

I’m not saying this couldn’t work, it really could work brilliantly. The issue is that the stories are 100% separate. They don’t inform one another or dramatically play off each other. For instance, I don’t need to know anything from Vito Corleone’s past to understand Michael’s current predicament.

And I find that weird.

It’s like they wanted to make a sequel, but was afraid of not having Vito Corleone in it because audience surveys had shown that he was the most beloved character.

So, apart from the fact that it has some of the same good qualities that “The Godfather” had, like a consistent tone and visual style, the story in the sequel is not as compelling and suffers greatly by jumping back and forth in time seemingly without purpose.

(By the way, if any of you has seen some purpose in this crosscutting, please enlighten me!)

 

Is this movie historically significant?

It was the first sequel to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. The only other sequel to win is “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (although technically “Silence of the Lambs” as a sequel although no one knows about that one).

Another Academy Award fun fact is that the character Vito Corleone is the only character to have won an Oscar twice played by two separate actors.

And as always, Godfather movies are significant for their many, quotable lines. This one has brought us:

“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”

and

“If history has taught us anything, is that you can kill anyone”

“The Godfather Part II” is also one of the first numbered sequels and definitely the first US release to sport numbers. Those were the days.

 

Does it stand the test of time?

I’m a bit bias because I am not particularly fond of the 70s look, and although there are some great movies from the 70s, I generally am left unvowed by the drab colours and the wishy washy, unsharp and washed out visual style.

I’m a fan of contrast and bold colours.

And I’ll give “The Godfather” trilogy that, it does have more contrast than other 70s movies, and thus is visually a little more appealing.

But then the long, boring takes start stacking up and my attention span just wanders to a corner of the room and bangs its head against the wall. I get ADHA from watching stuff like this.

I bet you could easily cut this movie down 20 minutes just by removing some seconds at the beginning and end of each shot.

So, no, I do not think “The Godfather Part II” stands the test of time.

To be quite honest, I don’t understand why it is at the top of Imdb Top 250 list at all!

 

What mood should you be in?

You should be patient. That is all you need to be.

 

Further Watching

There are loads of mafia- or gangster movies out there worth a watch. As a person who don’t instantly fall head over heals when it’s a mafia film (I love musicals…we are all different) I can recommend these gangster movies that I actually find entertaining:

  • “Usual Suspects” (1995) Bryan Singer (the one with Kevin Spacey and you shouldn’t know anymore before you watch it)
  • “Reservoir Dogs” (1992) Quentin Tarantino (the one that made it all cool again)
  • “Snatch” (2000) Guy Ritchie (nothing like some epic British humour with loads of violence…and Brad Pitt without a shirt on)

 

Subscribe and get a notification for my next blog post. Next week, I will get my ass to the cinema and watch a new release so I can tell you whether or not it is worth the money to go 😉

 

Robert DeNiro as the young Vito Corleone

Robert DeNiro as the young Vito Corleone

 

Who am I?

I do not work for ImDb, I just have a nerdy need to make sure I watch all the movies people claim to be good. In this way I can make up my own mind about whether or not they are a hype. This is not a per se recommendation from the ImDb Top 250 list, but rather a statement about the movies on it that hopefully will make you want to watch the movies again, or watch the movie and make up a mind of your own 😉

Or avoid it a movie like the plague.

 

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as a 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

 

Where can you find the film?

They actually have all three in the Godfather trilogy on Netflix. But if you are like everyone else, that is you love these movies, you might as well just buy them. They come fairly cheap in Blu-Ray collections these days.

Once a month I will review the top 250 movies on ImDb and determine whether they still deserve to be on the list or not. Have they stood the test of time, or are they just there out of habit or historical significance (which does not a good movie make). I start from the top because there is less change in the top films than at the bottom of the list.

Look here for my judgements on #1 on top 250 ImDb “Shawshank Redemption” and #2 The Godfather.

Other Fridays of the month, I will look at “New Releases – is it worth a cinema ticket”, “Guilty Pleasures” and I will also be “Unearthing the Best Movies on Netflix”.

 

I have used several sources in writing this post among them ImDb trivia and some film history and art books in my possession.

Sign up with your email and get a notification next week so that you don’t miss the next blog post or my next ImDb top 250 review. Next month we will have a look at “The Dark Knight”!

Make him an offer he cannot refuse

Leave the gun. Take the cannoli

All those wonderful quotes. All from one seemingly wonderful and definitely loved film. Does it really stand the test of time at almost the peak of the top 250 ImDb list?

By the way, I have a go at the oranges. And I’m not even sorry.

Marlon Brando as Don Corleone in the classic black and white artwork of the Godfather franchise

The iconic Godfather poster with manipulative puppet strings

What is this film?

“The Godfather” (1972) is the first film in a trilogy about the Mafia family, Corleone. It is based on a novel by the same name by Mario Puzo. Writer/director Francis Ford Coppola wanted the actual title to be “Mario Puzo’s The Godfather” because the script ended up being so similar to the book he felt some credit was well deserved.

Afraid that the story glorified the mafia and unwilling to set such a stigma on his own Italian heritage, Francis Ford Coppola initially said no to directing the film. Some say he eventually did the movie because he needed the money, others say it was because he figured he could make the film an allegory of American capitalism.

I’m going to go for the money one.

Why do people say it is good?

The body count, including the horse, is 18. Maybe that’s why people like it?

Maybe it’s because, like The British Daily Telegraph said so eloquently (in a quote I have only managed to find on ImDb):

[The Godfather is] a vision of the hollowness of American capitalism and its effect on the family – like Death of a Salesman with spaghetti and a criminal empire

That sounds so beautiful.

I believe in basics, and I guess in this case it is our basic instincts that just loves a proper anarchist who takes no bullshit from no one. And obviously we all love Marlon Brando and Al Pacino.

Above all, people love to tell me how the oranges signify death…

The Death of the Oranges

Get over the oranges already!

Even if they were placed at scenes signalling the imminent death of a character. So what?

I have much more faith in the producton designer stating that the oranges were solely used to light up otherwise dark material. The colour palette of the film, which is different shades of yellow-orange amber to orange tinted reds together with black, also goes well with, yes you guessed it, ORANGES.

Why do I lay to scraps this orange theory? Because it doesn’t happen at every death. If this was a thing, it would be every single death. Why wouldn’t it? And regardless, if all of the deaths had some arbitrary act of oranges next to them, what function does this actually have but to wet the pants of people who overanalyse every aspect of their favourite movies?

None! No function.

And if an element of storytelling doesn’t enhance the story, then why bother.

I call bull shit on the oranges!

Do I think its any good?

I will grant the movie this, the first 30 minutes is pure genius in exposition. Not in furthering a story, but in exposition.

The juxtaposition between the pastel coloured wedding outside in the garden and the dark, golden orange shadows of the Dons study and the way the theme of family and tradition perfectly unfold is pure cinema magic.

The introduction of Marlon Brando as Don Corleone is unforgettable. I am not talking about his italian accent, his jawline or any of his mumbling lines. The unforgettable part is how the first meeting with Don Corleone leaves us feeling that he is big-hearted and generous. He did after all give his disrespectful acquaintance his wish of hurting the thugs who maimed his daughter.

We are left slightly puzzled by this kindness, until someone in the wedding states the rule:

A Sicilian can’t say no on his daughter’s wedding day.

Tradition and family rules.

And it’s a proper family film given that Coppola, within the constraints of the book, based loads of the characters on his family members and even used a whole bunch of them as actors in the films.

I think it’s safe to say that there are aspects and sequences of this movie that I have to admit I love and admire. There is just one thing.

It is too effin long!

And that is no joke. The version I watched this time around is 2 hours and 57 minutes.

The first time I watched it, I painfully felt the minutes ticking by. Every elongated take, every uneccesary moment got annoying.

This time around I am more grown up and more patient, but I still had to watch it over two days because when Michael moves to Sicily, I just have to do something else. It all takes too long.

I’ve even been to the beautiful town of Savoca and walked through its pittoresque, cobbled streets and had a frozen lemon granita in the shade by the very bar where Al Pacino filmed, and still this part makes me want to stop and do something useful with my life.

It says something when Coppola first turned in a director’s cut, it was a measly 126 minutes. It was the production chief who insisted on a longer cut with more family oriented scenes. I for my part would have loved to see Coppola’s cut. I might have loved it all the way through.

Is this movie historically significant?

As a 70s “New Hollywood” auteur film  by a 70s auteur director (meaning Francis Ford Coppola wrote and directed the film) “The Godfather” explored and extended a classical genre, the gangster film, which is typical of this era in many genres like the film noir and the western.

But movie history aside, the interesting historical fact is that there were actually trouble with the Mafia during production of this film. Even Frank Sinatra threw up a frenzy over the likeness between himself and the character Johnny Fontane. They actually cut that character’s screentime because of this.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I would have left the semblance between Sinatra and Fontane at caricature if it hadn’t been for the fact that Sinatra actually cared enough to kick up a fuzz.

Must be true that he was Mafia then…

Does it stand the test of time?

At least it is epic and there isn’t a man alive who doesn’t have a Godfather fase on the same line as a Star Wars craze.

The question is whether the next generation will handle the static and slow camera, the washed out 70s look and do what’s proper and have “the fase”. Maybe I should go out and ask some teenagers?

Whether or not I like it, it will always stand as one of the great mafia/gangster films, and I think it will only start fading away if some new movie comes and takes the Mafia spotlight away. But The Don would never let that happen 😉

Further watching

Obviously you can make it a Godfather-a-thon and watch all three instalments, The Godfather II is actually the next on the ImDb top 250 list and managed to win 6 Academy Awards, as opposed to “The Godfather”‘s measly three statues. By this time you will be hooked and watch Godfather III. I haven’t gotten that far yet.

Other films, also part of the same “New Hollywood” era would be the film-noir “Chinatown” (1974) by Roman Polanski or the western-film “The Wild Bunch” (1969) by Sam Pekinpah. They all are perfect examples of the thoughtful, “quality” movies that came out of this era, which resulted in commercial successes such as “Jaws” (1975), “Star Wars” (1977) and “Raiders of the Lost Arc” (1981) by Spielberg and Lucas.

They are also a bit slow and long, like this one.

Oranges splattered on dark asphalt next to the shot and wounded Don Corelone

The oranges brilliantly light up this dark Gods-point-of-view shot

Who am I?

I do not work for ImDb, I just have a nerdy need to make sure I watch all the movies people claim to be good. In this way I can make up my own mind about whether or not they are a hype. This is not a per se a recommendation to you from the ImDb Top 250 list, but rather a statement about the movies on it that hopefully will make you want to watch the movies again, or watch the movie and make up a mind of your own 😉

Or avoid it a movie like the plague.

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as a 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

Where can you find the film?

They actually have all three of the movies on Netflix. But if you are like anyone else, you might as well just buy them. Either you or your boyfriend/girlfriend will love them and want to have a weekend of Godfather-a-thon. This history has proven time and time again.

Once a month I will review the top 250 movies on ImDb and determine whether they still deserve to be on the list or not. Have they stood the test of time, or are they just there out of habit or historical significance (which does not a good movie make). I start from the top because there is less change in the top films than the bottom of the list. I have already done #1 on top 250 ImDb “Shawshank Redemption”.

Other Fridays of the month, I will look at “New Releases – which one is worth a cinema ticket”, “Guilty Pleasures” and “Unearthing the Best Movies on Netflix”.

I have used several sources in writing this post among them ImDb trivia and some film history and art books in my possession. Take a look at this other blog post by Precious Bodily Fluids if you’d like a deeper look into “The Godfather” than shallow little me bothers to do here.

Sign up with your email and get updates so that you won’t miss the next ImDb top 250 review. Next month we will have a look at (can you believe it) “The Godfather II”!

It had to be a Stephen King story line throning majestically at the top of the ever-changing ImDb top 250 list. And so “Shawshank Redemption” has done for quite some time, occasionally surpassed by “The Godfather”, but mostly up top where, in my opinion, it assuredly belongs.

So, why does this movie deserve to be the best movie ever made?

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What is this film?

“Shawshank Redemption” was made in 1994 by Frank Darabont who also made the prison movie (and Stephen King story) “The Green Mile”. Darabont reputedly got the rights for Stephen King’s novella “Rita Heyworth and Shawshank Redemption” for a dollar. Whether or not this is true, I think we can still assert that Darabont got it dirt cheap.

Notably, the title cut out Rita Heyworth because there was a lot of confusion with people in the industry thinking it was a biopic of the actress, who still plays a pivotal role in the film.

The film is about Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins (who played in “Shawshank Redemption” 😉 ) who is put in jail for murdering his wife and her lover. He didn’t do it, although he assuredly wanted to. And so begins the story of how Andy works his way through hardships and evil wardens to survive in the godforsaken prison Shawshank.

All of this is told as seen through the eyes of Red, a standard Morgan Freeman character. And that is where the magic lies. Because you forget very easily that it is Red who tells this story. And Red does not know everything.

In this review, I am presuming that you have seen the movie (if not, shame on you!). There will thus be SPOILERS IN THE TEXT BELOW. You have been warned.

 

What makes it so good?

What makes “Shawshank Redemption” good, for my part, is the intricate plot and the consistency of the chosen style of filming and storytelling. This is an example of excellent use of voice-over narration, where is seduces you and betrays you. I also love the films use of colour.

Everyone always talks about how a good movie tackles an issue that is universal, and the best ones do it in a thorough way that permeates time and space. And this story of redemption, or revenge, on authority, on injustice and on the world in general, has ticked the hearts of the whole world. Notably it was nominated for seven Oscars, but won none.

An interesting fact about “Shawshank” is that it didn’t even make up production costs upon release in the cinema in the 90’s. My guess is that “Shawshank Redemption” is a hard title to sell, the proof being that almost every non-english speaking country has translated it to something completely different (notably Norwegian where it is called “Frihetensregn” or “The Rain of Freedom”).

“Shawshank” did however manage to become the most rented video of all time, according to Blockbuster, and will perhaps be holding onto that title forever more given that rental videos are nigh on instinct.

 

On the use of colour

The Oscar nominated cinematographer of this movie, Roger Deakins, has done brilliant things with colour in this movie that should be awed for its consistency and effect. The pale grey blue of the prison is so omnipresent and emotionally suppressing, it even helps us as viewers empathize with the prisoners.

The consistent use of this particular colour scheme also aids the significant scenes, that usually involves some act of kindness from Andy, to stand out. For instance when he barters a bucket of beers for his mates while they do roof work, there is golden sunshine bathing on their faces. For a few moments. Then back comes the pale grey blue.

More on the use of colour in film can be found in “If it’s purple, someone’s gonna die”, a book on the effect that colour choices have on our emotions.

 

Is it still relevant after 20 years?

Andy works for us like a Gandhi type of character. He doesn’t fight violence with violence, but with intellect. In the same way he doesn´t beat up the guys who rape him in the prison. He makes himself indispensable to the warden and then the guards beat them for him.

And even when the evil warden reveals that Andy will never get out of this prison, because the warden wants him there, Andy fights this injustice with a carefully mastered escape plan. And by taking all of the money he was stealing for warden. And getting the warden and the guards into jail themselves.

It all is perhaps the most perfectly satisfying revenge plot ever. And revenge never goes out of date.

 

Does it deserve the spot on the list?

No argument that this movie has a special hold the first time you watch it. When you watch the sweeping revelation of Andy’s genious escape,  it is like watching Ocean’s Eleven where you beat yourself up for thinking that you knew what was going on. You know nothing.

You can still watch it again and again. I recommend admiring the thoughtful colour choice and the carefully placed pieces of plot that eventually culminates in the ending, and how all those little pieces make you believe that Andy Dufranese could actually have accomplished this most perfect of prison breaks.

The reunion between Andy and Red at the end of the film, is only there because the studio insisted it be there. Like Frank Durabont, who wanted an open ending with Red heading for the Mexican riviera, I do not think this scene needed to be there. I would still know what happened. Because with an open ending you choose yourself, and this ending is the obvious choice.

Either way, I am glad this scene was shot. After so much dreary grey blue, and long minutes of being locked up in a fortress prison, it’s nice to feel the fresh sea breeze and glory in the bright turqouise 😉

This ending is probably why it gets a notch in the feel-good movie post. And to be honest, we all like a movie that makes us feel good.

 

What mood should you be in to watch it?

There is no surpassing the fact that this is a long movie. A full 142 minutes, or 2 hours and 22 minutes. And if you have watched the movie before, you can feel the minutes ticking away. It does get a bit long.

But if you HAVEN’T watched this movie before, it will enrapture you from the first moment you press play. Storylines will unravel and the evil will build in a natural and subtle manner that is elegant and a wonder to watch with new eyes. So wait until you have forgotten the plot, because you will, and watch it again with fresh eyes.

It is a serious drama, with a few entertaining characters and some laughs, but they are always killed immediately by the evils and dangers of prison life, of which there are many to be had.

For my part, the scene when Andy Dufranese locks himself in the wardens office and plays opera (the song is “Canzonetta sull’aria” from Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro”.) over the loudspeakers is one of those pivotal, tear-jerking moments.

When you have a whole prison of scruffy, light-blue clad men stopping in their tracks and listening to an Italian Aria, you have a juxtaposition of culture that truly creates something beautiful. At least in my teary eyes. And I am not even a fan of opera. Yet.

 

Further Watching

If you want to watch more prison break movies, I would recommend some older ones that have far more joy in them. Both “The Great Escape” (1963), where a band of British prisoners of war, gang up with an unruly American to escape the unescapable prison, and “Stalag 17” (1953), a black and white movie which is the funniest of the bunch, have tremendous heart.

Notably they are both on the ImDb top 250 list, so I will talk about them later.

I would also recommend giving “Gilda” (1946), the movie the prisoners of Shawshank watch which has Rita Heyworth in it. It is not the most exciting of movies, but will give you a lot of know how. If you are a nerd like myself.

Don’t miss out on the next ImdB top 250 review. Sign up and get an email update when I post on my blog.

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Who am I?

I do not work for ImDb, I just have a nerdy need to make sure I watch all the movies people claim to be good. In this way I can make up my own mind about whether or not they are a hype. This is not a per se a recommendation to you from the ImDb Top 250 list, but rather a statement about the movies on it that hopefully will make you want to watch the movie again, or watch the movie and make up a mind of your own 😉

 

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as a 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

 

Where can you find the film?

I would recommend to buy this one. It looks good on a shelf and is a wonder for lazy Sunday evenings when you just want something good to watch. You should find it at any web or proper DVD-shop around. I will even give you a link to “Shawshank Redemption” on Amazon 😉 It used to be found on Netflix, but at the time I watched it this week, it was not there?

 

Once a month I will review the top 250 movies on ImDb and determine whether they still deserve to be there or not. I start from the top because there is less change in the top than the bottom of the list. Other Fridays of the month, I will look at “New Releases – which one is worth a cinema ticket“, “Guilty Pleasures” and “Unearthing the Best Movies on Netflix“.

All non referenced fun facts are from ImDb 😉

Sign up your email and get updates so that you won’t miss the next ImDb top 250 review. Next month we will have a look at “the Godfather“!

 

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