1994: 5 movies

posted 2016 December 9


Il Postino
Directed by Michael Radford
Written by Furio Scarpelli, Giacomo Scarpelli,
Anna Pavignano, Michael Radford,
and  Massimo Troisi
Produced by Mario Cecchi Gori, Vittorio Cecchi Gori,
and Gaetano Daniele
Music by Luis Bacalov
Cinematography by Franco Di Giacomo
Editing by Roberto Perpignani
Production Design by Lorenzo Baraldi
Costume Design by Gianna Gissi
Starring Massimo Troisi, Philippe Noiret,
and Maria Grazia Cucinotta

   It relies so heavily on Troisi's performance that you feel like his performance is the star, like it's the glue, the backbone, like it's the landing after a gymnastic flying leap. The whole story about the worldly poet and the poor village-dweller is fascinating and well-written. 
   The struggle inherent in this movie is to consider whether Troisi's character would have been better off not meeting Neruda or whether Neruda gave his life meaning and made him a hero. The title translates from the Italian to "The mail-carrier."

Ed Wood
Directed by Tim Burton
Written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski
Produced by Tim Burton and Denise Di Novi
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography by Stefan Czapsky
Editing by Chris Lebenzon
Production design by Tom Duffield
Art direction by Okowita
Set decor by Cricket Rowland
Costume design by Colleen Atwood and Stephanie Colin
Makeup by Carrie Angland, Rick Baker,
Jim Leonard, James McLoughlin,
Ve Neill, and Matt Rose
Hair styles by Bridget Cook, Lucia Mace,
and Yolanda Toussieng
Starring Johnny Depp, Martin Landau,
and Patricia Arquette

   Making a good movie about a man who made bad movies is a complicated affair. It involves understanding the very nature of good and bad in cinema. It involves respecting personal vision, integrity, and perseverance, and it also involves plenty of humor. Somehow, Tim Burton's team was able to find the pitch perfect balance between humor and respect, inspiration, and pity. There is very little mockery, if any. Instead, the movie takes an admiring, amused tone, and that's what makes it good. So does Depp's sincerity, and the breath-taking, classic-Hollywood-styled lighting and cinematography. 
   There's something punk-rock about the movie, the way it laughs in the face of big budget, big money, and instead honors friendship and practicality. This movie makes us wonder what cinema would look like if it was more about having a good time and creating something true rather than seeking a perfect form with no substance.

Una pura formalità
Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore
Written by Giuseppe Tornatore and Pascal Quignard
Produced by Mario Cecchi Gori and Vittorio Cecchi Gori
Music written and conducted by Ennio Morricone
Cinematography by Blasco Giurato
Editing by Giuseppe Tornatore
Production design by Andrea Crisanti
Set decor by Vincenzo De Camillis and Mauro Passi
Costume design by Beatrice Bordone
Hair-styling by Vitaliana Patacca
Makeup by Maurizio Trani
Starring Gérard Depardieu and Roman Polanski

   Spooky as heck, a beautifully woven exploration into the human psyche. The editing is flawless, the writing a dream. The acting sublime. It's an amazing feat of art when something makes you think about the definition of life. It's also a rare treat when a movie so intelligent and psycological is able to come across as suspenseful to the point where the audience bites their finger-nails!
   The title translates from the Italian to "A pure formality".



Léon
Written and directed by Luc Besson
Cinematography by Thierry Arbogast
Editing by Sylvie Landra
Music by Eric Serra
Production design by Dan Weil
Art direction by Gerard Drolon
Set decor by Françoise Benoît-Fresco
Costume design by Magali Guidasci
Starring Jean Reno, Natalie Portman,
 Gary Oldman, and Danny Aiello


   Quirky story of a hit-man and the little girl who develops a crush on him. Chock full of emotion, feelings of injustice, the fight against power, and the fight to remain open to love in a harsh world. There is plenty of violence in the movie, but it is orchestrated in a way that makes it seem like dance. Bullets flying, explosions, people running and using their wits to outsmart the other, this movie is invigorating, and somewhat empowering. It shows life as a a chess-game, or as sport, no room for doubt or equivocation. And by doing so, it presents movement as art, and after all, that is cinema. 
   The three lead performances, the writing, and the cinematography come together nicely to form a classic like a spaghetti western, and yet it all feels very fresh because of the contemporary setting.

Quiz Show
Directed by Robert Redford
Written by Paul Attanasio
Produced by Michael Jacobs, Julian Krainin,
Michael Nozik, and  Robert Redford
Cinematography by Michael Ballhaus 
Editing by Stu Linder 
Music by Mark Isham 
Production design by Jon Hutman 
Art direction by Tim Galvin 
Set decor by Samara Schaffer 
Costume design by Kathy O'Rear 
Makeup by Sharon Ilson
Hair styles by Bunny Parker
Starring John Turturro, Rob Morrow,
 Ralph Fiennes, and Paul Scofield

   A study of honesty, justice, and institutional corruption. Well-acted, produced, acted, and edited. You get the feel of the times. You get the various motives of the parties involved, their characters fleshed out. The dishonest characters reveal a deeper dishonesty, and the honest characters reveal the hope of the world. Truly a masterpiece.

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