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Film: Thief (1981)
Director: Michael Mann
Oscars: 0

 

 

A well settled thief in trying to achieve his dreams doubles up on risks and therefore consequences. An intelligent neo-noir action film. 

 

  • Story/Screenplay:  The story is based on the novel The Home Invaders: Confessions of a Cat Burglar by Frank Hohimer. The high stakes safe cracking is shown in detail relatively speaking. The builds up nicely towards the explosive end. (9/10)
  • Acting: Acting is typical of gangster type films. The main villain is nice and friendly at first but turns nasty when people do not do what he wishes. Micheal Caan is good as usual. The supporting cast does its job. (9/10)
  • Cinematography: One of the best cinematography for a city based film. The use of neons, shadows, shimmer of the water pool on streets, flames at night, framing, camera angles, etc. are all nicely done. It watched the restored transfer where the contrast and black levels made the colors pop. (10/10)
  • Background score: Nominated for a Razzi for the worst score but it does the job in the film. In 2021, the score appears different. (7/10)
  • Direction: This is Michael Mann's feature film debut. Earlier he did TV films. Impressive debut. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: A unique neo-noir action thriller. The heist planning and safe cracking are nicely done. The action at the end is raw. An intelligent film as well.  Cinematography is among the best for a city based film. (9/10)

 

Overall score: 54/60 = 90% = 9.0/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

 

 

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Film: Ninotchka (1939)
Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Oscars: 0

 

A disciplined comrade travels to Paris tasked with selling jewelry of Russian aristocrats to fund government projects. Despite her dislike for the capitalist society, she falls in love with a count.

 

  • Story/Screenplay: Masterfully written with superb sequences and witty dialogues. (10/10)
  • Acting: Greta Garbo as Ninotchka is brilliant in her comic role. Melvyn Douglas is witty. The supporting cast is likable. (9/10)
  • Cinematography: The focus here is keeping things simple, which works for the film. (7/10)
  • Background score: Does its job. (7/10)
  • Direction: Solid direction to craft a memorable film that stands the test of time. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: Garbo's performance may have inspired Arnold's in Red Heat. Overall, Greta Garbo in a comedy film, fine performances by the rest of the cast, and witty dialogues make it a memorable experience. (10/10)

 

Overall score: 53/60 = 88% = 8.8/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

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Film: Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)
Director: Zack Snyder
Oscars: Not applicable 

 

 

Superheroes unite to fight a decisive battle. A 4-hour superhero epic. 

 

  • Story/Screenplay:  Adheres to DC's relatively serious tone, moving away from unnecessary humor.  With so many characters, it can be difficult to do justice to some of them but the 4-hour run time allows Snyder to develop characters. (9/10)
  • Acting: Actors play their parts per the requirement of the superhero genre. (8/10)
  • Cinematography:The 1.33 aspect ratio suits the film. It has got the Snyder look with dark, gritty and desaturated elements. Nice use of framing techniques as well. Overall, the film has a great visual style. (10/10)
  • Background score: A new score was done for the film rather than using the one from the mostly Joss Whedon directed 2017 theatrical Justice League. The new score works well with the tone of the film. It is impactful. (9/10)
  • Direction: After Whedon replaced Snyder on the theatrical Justice League (2017) to give it a Marvelesque touch, through a social media campaign fans requested Snyder to put out his version. Additionally, $70M were allocated to reshoot/add-to parts of the film that would be premiered on HBO Max (no theatrical release). Snyder puts everything into it to create a superhero epic. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: A 4-hour superhero epic film. It puts Justice League back on the track. The action sequences are nicely done. Snyder's style and tone of the film make it stand out. The film makes you want to read a comic book. (10/10)

 

Overall score: 56/60 = 93% = 9.3/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

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Film: Apocalypse Now Final Cut (1979)
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Oscars: 2

 

 

"Heart of Darkness" played out in Vietnam. A soldier is tasked with a classified off the book mission to terminate the command of an insane colonel. 

 

  • Story/Screenplay: A brilliant adaptation of "Heart of Darkness", transplanting the story to Vietnam. (10/10)
  • Acting: Overall, there is solid acting in the film esp. where many characters have to go through various emotions and change. (9/10)
  • Cinematography: Breathtaking with the use of camera angles, locations, smoke and fog. Most images leave a lasting impression. (10/10)
  • Background score: Works nicely for the film. Once the boat crosses into Cambodia, the background score reminds us that things are going to get more serious. (9/10) 
  • Direction: Coppola has crafted a unique film that combines various elements including war, adventure, horror and philosophy. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: Best film on Vietnam period, providing a great aural-visual impact. (10/10) 

 

Overall score: 58/60 = 97% = 9.7/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

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Film: Persona (1966)
Director: Ingmar Bergman 
Oscars: Not Applicable 

 

 

A psychological drama involving an actress, who has stopped speaking, and her nurse. 

 

  • Story/Screenplay: It is a film that you may need to revisit multiple times to decypher various elements. Covers a wide range of topics such as insanity, adultery, abortion, maybe even vampirism, and so on. In short, it is metaphysical. (10/10)
  • Acting: Bibi Andersson and  Liv Ullmann carry the film on their shoulders. Their interplay makes the film engaging. (10/10)
  • Cinematography: Sven Nykvist presents some of the best emotive B&W photography. If you are into candid photography, this film can provide you with ideas. (10/10)
  • Background score: Uses sound effects and "silence" more which works for the film considering the subject matter. (8/10) 
  • Direction: Ingmar Bergman has created a work of art. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: This enigmatic film continues to leave its impression on various films including Mulholland Dr. Considered among the best works of Ingmar Bergman. (10/10) 

 

Overall score: 58/60 = 97% = 9.7/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

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On 8/25/2021 at 11:00 PM, zen said:

Film: The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976)

Director: Blake Edwards

Oscars: 0

 

Inspector Clouseau has driven former Commissioner Dreyfus literally mad. On the day when Dreyfus is to be evaluated as normal and discharged from the asylum, an unfortunate encounter with Clouseau has him locked up again. An enraged Dreyfus escapes from the asylum, gets hold of a doomsday weapon, and holds the world at ransom. His demand - either the world powers assassinate Clouseau (not an easy task even for the world powers) or face annihilation.

 

  • Story/Screenplay/Concept: The film has madness built-in at every corner. There is one memorable gag after another including the Egyptian being mistaken as Clouseau and the dentist segment. Some parts such as where Clouseau attempts to break into a castle may feel slow/not that hilarious today. (9/10)
  • Acting: Acting, especially by the two key characters, is spot on. Peter Sellers (Clouseau) and Herbert Lom (Dreyfus) are made of each other. A mad Dreyfus is one of the most memorable villains. (10/10)
  • Cinematography: The job gets done. (7/10)
  • Background score: Henry Mancini's Pink Panther and Inspector Clouseau themes are famous. The score is playful. Memorable tracks include the Evil theme, Along Came Omar, Come to Me, and so on. (9/10)
  • Direction: Blake Edwards is remarkable at putting out such an "insane" package. Edwards made 3 Pink Panther films before this one, therefore, probably needed to dial everything up to the max. (9/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: Films such as these are rare gems (just thinking about the film can make one laugh). Pink Panther's footprints are on various such films including Johnny English. (9/10)

 

Overall score: 53/60 = 88% = 8.8/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

Have seen this almost 10 times now.

the scene in the Beer garden is so funny.

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1 hour ago, Vijy said:

P.P. strikes again is indeed a most funny movie. worth rewatching multiple times

yeah i have seen all the 5 movies of Pink Panther.. So much fun to watch.

There is a transvestite scene also, cannot recall in which part... and Closeau goes to jail for that.. 

the fights with his servant were so random.. Awesome movies.

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Film: Marathon Man (1976)
Director:  John Schlesinger
Oscars: 0

 

 

A Nazi war criminal hiding in South America creates a mayhem in New York when he thinks that his loot of diamonds could be robbed from him by his associates. 

 

  • Story/Screenplay:  The story is based on the novel by William Goldman. The story has chilling segments such as the dental torture scene and the emotional impact of Nazis on Jews and the desire to seek revenge. You also feel for Roy Scheider's character. (10/10)
  • Acting: Sports a variety of bankable actors including Dustin Hoffman, Roy Scheider, and Laurence Olivier. Olivier was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting role. His chilling portrayal of the White Angel, inspired by the real "Angel of Death", lifts the overall acting level of the film. (9/10)
  • Cinematography: Adequate relative to the gritty topic.  (8/10)
  • Background score:  The score focuses on pain and also creates a chilling atmosphere where applicable. (8/10)
  • Direction: Overall, the director presents a smart package. (9/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: One of the memorable chilling thrillers involving ex-Nazis. (9/10)

 

Overall score: 53/60 = 88% = 8.8/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

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Film: Suspiria (1977)
Director: Dario Argento

Oscars: N/A

 

 

A ballet student gets more than what she bargained for at a prestigious German dance academy. 

 

  • Story/Screenplay:  A straightforward attempt to cover the supernatural horror-thriller genre. Involves the "three mothers" storyline. (8/10)
  • ActingNothing earth shattering but does the job for the genre, which is good enough. (7/10)
  • Cinematography: One of the two stars of the film. The vibrant colors and art direction create a memorable atmosphere. (10/10)
  • Background score: The other star of the film. An absolutely fantastic score by Goblin and Argento. (10/10)
  • Direction: The director uses cinematography and score to create a unique environment for its genre. One of the best works of Argento. (9/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: The film is a brilliant example of stylish cinematography and score for the genre. It was remade by Amazon in 2018. (9/10)

 

Overall score: 53/60 = 88% = 8.8/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

 

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Film: The Omen  (1976)
Director: Richard Donner 

Oscars: 1

 

 

The birth of the Antichrist.  

 

  • Story/Screenplay:  Brilliant use of the biblical concept of #666. The screenplay keeps the viewers on the edge. (10/10)
  • ActingVery good for the genre whether it is the kid, the scary Mrs. Baylock, and even the dog. (8/10)
  • Cinematography: A standard affair which captures locations in Italy and Israel well. (8/10)
  • Background score: It has a hair raising score, Ave Satani. Received an Oscar for the best score. (10/10)
  • Direction: The director uses and mixes various elements to create moments that keeps the viewers hooked in anticipation of the impeding horror. (9/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: An iconic horror film that spawned a series. Remade in 2006. Just thinking about it can raise a few hairs. (9/10)

 

Overall score: 54/60 = 90% = 9.0/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

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Film: Ben-Hur (1959)
Director: William Wyler 

Oscars: 11 (The most by any film, along with Titanic and The Lords of the Rings: The Return of the King.)

 

 

Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish nobleman under Roman rule, and his family are ruined by his childhood friend, Messala, a Roman. Judah Ben-Hur takes a long journey to seek revenge. 

 

  • Story/Screenplay:  Based on the book Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace published in 1880. (10/10)
  • Acting: An ensemble of good actors give a solid overall performance. Messala is among the best villains. (9/10)
  • Cinematography:  Framing, art design, actor positioning, etc. suit the epic. Shot in 65mm using 1.25 Anamorphic translating into the extremely wide and rare 2.76:1 aspect ratio. (9/10)
  • Background score: The memorable theme and its versions play throughout parts of the film to make the film a good one to listen to as well. (10/10)
  • Direction: William Wyler has conjured up a great epic. However, from the 2021 perspective, the need to integrate various biblical stories/angles and playout the drama can create pacing issues in some of the segments. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: One of the best biblical epics. A remake of the 1925 film but the 1959 film continues to remain the best version of the story. (10/10)

 

Overall score: 58/60 = 97% = 9.7//10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

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Film: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Director: Stanley Kubrick

Oscars: 1

 

 

A peak into an AI infused future. 

 

  • Story/Screenplay:  Builds on Arthur Clarke's "The Sentinel". Clarke and Kubrick teamed up to write the screenplay. Clarke later released a novel as well. (10/10)
  • Acting: The film is less verbal than a regular film, relying more on visuals. However, the characters play their roles. "HAL" is one of the best villains. (8/10)
  • Cinematography:  Art design, space, framing, camera angles, lighting, visual effects, etc. make the film a great visual experience esp. when you consider the period it was released in. (10/10)
  • Background score: Sports a popular theme - "The Blue Danube". The sound effects add to the aural experience as well. Interestingly, classical music is blended with futuristic space exploration visuals. (10/10)
  • Direction: Kubrick is an innovative and sophisticated director. In 2001, he showcases his groundbreaking work. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: While Metropolis (1927) provided the visual grammar for Sci-Fi films, 2001 filled in the other details including the influence of AI on our future. The film appears to have inspired today's technology such as iPads, video calls, concept of space tourism, and so on. 2001 could be a crystal ball. (10/10)

 

Overall score: 58/60 = 97% = 9.7//10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

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On 12/12/2021 at 9:15 PM, zen said:

Film: Ben-Hur (1959)
Director: William Wyler 

Oscars: 11 (The most by any film, along with Titanic and The Lords of the Rings: The Return of the King.)

 

 

Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish nobleman under Roman rule, and his family are ruined by his childhood friend, Messala, a Roman. Judah Ben-Hur takes a long journey to seek revenge. 

 

  • Story/Screenplay:  Based on the book Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace published in 1880. (10/10)
  • Acting: An ensemble of good actors give a solid overall performance. Messala is among the best villains. (9/10)
  • Cinematography:  Framing, art design, actor positioning, etc. suit the epic. Shot in 65mm using 1.25 Anamorphic translating into the extremely wide and rare 2.76:1 aspect ratio. (9/10)
  • Background score: The memorable theme and its versions play throughout parts of the film to make the film a good one to listen to as well. (10/10)
  • Direction: William Wyler has conjured up a great epic. However, from the 2021 perspective, the need to integrate various biblical stories/angles and playout the drama can create pacing issues in some of the segments. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: One of the best biblical epics. A remake of the 1925 film but the 1959 film continues to remain the best version of the story. (10/10)

 

Overall score: 58/60 = 97% = 9.7//10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

I am glad that you gave Ben Hur a high score. It has become "fashionable" to overlook it these days.

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Film: No Time to Die (2021)
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga

Oscars: To be decided in 2022. Currently on 4 nominations after the first round 

 

 

Master spy James Bond is forced out of retirement to pursue a deadly mission. 

 

  • Story/Screenplay:  A mini-series like Bond film that covers various elements including having to make sense out of some of the story blunders of the previous film SPECTRE. Incorporates the difficult (thought to be almost unfilmable) concept of the poison garden from the book "You Only Live Twice". (9/10)
  • Acting: Sophisticated acting for the genre helped due to having a collection of competent actors and extra run time that allows them to display their talent. Rami Malek portrays chilling danger and passion while remaining understated in the last act. His performance could get more appreciation in the future much like how Dalton as Bond is appreciated now. (9/10)
  • Cinematography:  A Bond film therefore the locations, action sequences, life-style elements, etc. are all captured superbly. (10/10)
  • Background score: Again a Bond film so the score plays an important role. Hans Zimmer pays tribute to John Barry including in the use of elements of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" soundtrack in various segments. The score during the last act on the poison island helps Rami Malek appear chilling while remaining understated. (10/10)
  • Direction: Fukunaga is well adapted to making great TV series. He displays a good understanding of Bond's legacy and moments while utilizing his strengths to craft a mini-series like Bond film. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: This is the 25th Bond film so many things have been said and done before. This film has the longest run time for a Bond film and also dwells on the emotional and relational aspects of the super spy. Bond handing his sweater to the little Mathilde could be an emotional moment for fans. The film "You Only Live Twice" (which btw does not have much in common with the book apart from the title, characters, and location) has a legendary final act. No Time to Die's final act on the poison island comes close to it. (9/10)

 

Overall score: 57/60 = 95% = 9.5/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

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Film: The Ten Commandments (1956)
Director: Cecil B. DeMille

Oscars: 1

 

 

The biblical tale of Moses, referred to as the Prince of Egypt. 

 

  • Story/Screenplay:  Based on a variety of books including Prince of Egypt (1949), Pillar of Fire (1859), On the Eagle's Wings (1937), and the Book of Exodus. Sports poetic dialogs. (10/10)
  • Acting: Great star cast. A unique experience of watching a stage inspired acting in conjunction with poetic dialogues.  (10/10)
  • Cinematography:  Shot in VistaVision and colored by Technicolor, the restorated version has among the best colors seen in a film. Forget the excellent set pieces, locations, framing, and so on, the rich colors alone make the film's cinematography stand out. (10/10)
  • Background score: A pleasant score that works well for the film - Link  (8/10)
  • Direction: Cecil B DeMille made a silent version in 1923 but this one is the definitive version of the biblical story. Some visual effects can come under scrutiny today but nothing can be done about it because of the technology available at that time. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: Colors, stage like acting, poetic dialogues, and a skilled cast, this one is a unique film and still remains the best version of the story. A work of art. (10/10)

 

Overall score: 58/60 = 97% = 9.7/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

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Of the films reviewed here so far, the below are available in 4K UHD DV/HDR discs (either on disc only or disc + digital): Citizen Kane, The Ten Commandments, Lawrence of Arabia, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Suspiria , Apocalypse Now Final Cut , Zack Snyder's Justice League, & No Time to Die. 

 

Titles in 4K SDR or 4K HDR/DV on digital (iTunes, etc.): Amores Perros (in selected regions) and The Omen (4K SDR so no HDR/DV). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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