One of my goals for the coming year is to take in more art. That means read more and watch more high quality (especially foreign) film. Stuff that’ll make you think. I’ll be periodically posting reviews or commentary on what I read and watch going forward.
Here are three films I’ve recently enjoyed:
Available on Netflix, Foreign Film, Germany
Downfall is the movie that gave birth to all those “Hitler Reacts To¦ clips on YouTube. The film itself has been hailed as one of the best war movies of all time. It gives a realistic view of the final days of the Third Reich and life inside the Fƒ¼hrerbunker.
Bruno Ganz’s performance of Hitler is masterful, filled with all kinds of little idiosyncrasies. The secondary characters are also strong. Ulrich Matthes does a very good job portraying Joseph Goebbels, who was probably the scariest looking Nazi of the upper-echelon.
The film very clearly shows just how bad things were for German soldiers and civilians at the end of World War Two. There are people being amputated on the spot with saws. There are also countless suicides shown on-screen, as many of the most ardent Nazi’s prefered to die than to face the oncoming Soviet conquest or to live in a world without Nazi ideals.
It’s a heavy film, but definitely worth watching if you have any interest in the Second World War.
A Prophet (2009)
Available on Netflix, Foreign Film, France
A gritty prison drama about a young Arab who learns the harsh realities of life on the inside, eventually rising through the ranks to become a gangster boss. The film shares some similarities with the early parts of The Shawshank Redemption, so if that film appealed to you this one should too.
A Prophet features one of the most graphic and realistic murder scenes that I’ve ever witnessed in any film or TV show. It involves a razor blade, that’s all I’ll say. You’ve been warned.
The film was a nominee for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Directed By Stanley Kubrik
I had never see this one before. Having said that, it came out in 1999. I don’t think I would have really been able to understand it at 12 years old. The film follows Dr. Bill Harford (played by Tom Cruise) through a wild, sexually-charged journey in New York City, which eventually sees him stumble upon a gathering of secret society types performing satanic rituals and engaging in orgies. A younger Nicole Kidman (I didn’t realize she was that good looking back in her prime) plays the role of Harford’s not so innocent wife, Alice.
I enjoyed this film so much, I watched it twice. There was a great deal to take in and lots to analyze. I needed to go back and re-examine again. It’s a film that is rich in symbolism and hidden messages. There are also unresolved questions that are never answered and leave you thinking about the film long after it has reached its conclusion.
Film critics and cultural commentators have been writing detailed analyses about this film for years. There’s lots to consider. Click here for an in-depth analysis of all the symbolism portrayed in the film.
Eyes Wide Shut was Stanley Kubrik’s ‚ final film, as he died five days after showing Warner Brothers his final cut. This too, has touched off all kinds of debate and conspiracy theories.
Have you seen any of these movies? What did you think? Do you have any recommendations for films I should see?