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Miranda’s Favorites: 1. Annie Hall

By Miranda (missjazzage)

Endearing, sweet, subtle, and reflective, this film holds all the elements that allow me to say “Yes, yes this is my film.” I’m not quite sure how to describe it, but when you watch a certain movie there is something about it that appeals to very part of your personality that it, in essence, IS your personality. If that’s not true for you, then it is for me. Actually most of the films on this list I feel about the same but Annie Hall does so more than the others.

I was completely engrossed in this film right from the very moment it began when it started. The first thing the viewer sees is a medium close-up shot of Alvy Singer (Woody Allen), placed in front of a tarnished gold backdrop, he tells two jokes that describes him and then proceeds to tell the audience in essence what the film is about: his relationship with Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). Even in these first few minutes, Singer’s personality shows and the viewer already can begin to characterize his being. The only thing we know about Annie at that moment is that she is completely different from Alvy’s personality.

And, indeed, Annie Hall is completely different than Alvy. The viewer is given an introduction to Alvy’s early life and into his present day life. Where Alvy is paranoid, cultured, and a bit judgmental, Annie is relaxed, naive, and open to new things. I suppose one way to contrast the two is in their clothing: Annie wears the loose fitting clothing (especially the outfit known as the “Annie Hall” look) and Alvy wears more fit clothes. I would believe that in one way it would express their personalties while also expressing the contrast of the two.

Overall the two of them are on such different levels from one another that they can’t be together.

A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.

They don’t move forward because together they cannot function. It still makes me sad to be honest. In that last scene where they’re saying good-bye. The sun is setting and, rather than being up close with Alvy and Annie, the camera is inside a restaurant looking out onto Alvy and Annie saying good-bye. This indicates the end of their relationship and that perhaps the true good-bye is almost too painful and sad to watch. The lingering of Alvy watching Annie walk away, the crosswalk’s signal “DON’T WALK” and Alvy’s short, lower tone of voice evokes the true love and emotion he has for Annie. Then, once Alvy leaves the frame and the story is Annie and Alvy is complete, the crosswalk changes to “WALK.”

After watching a few of Allen’s other movies, I feel that this one is truly a masterpiece. It’s quirky unity somehow seems to fit nice and snug that the viewer is satisfied with the overall form. I highly recommend this film to any person new to film as I believe, especially for those who’ve experienced their first love, could relate. For me however, I don’t think that’ll be for quite some time! :)

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Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2

Uma Thurman as ‘The Bride’ in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill

Quentin Tarantino is always full of surprises, and when I watch his movies I never know what to expect, aside from a lot of blood and a great soundtrack. Kill Bill more than delivered on the blood factor, but also on the high quality factor I’ve come to expect from Tarantino. It’s a stylish revenge film that somehow manages to be a western, samurai film, and martial arts movie all at once.

Uma Thurman is the Bride, who is out for revenge after (almost) being murdered by her former lover (Bill, played by David Carradine) and his team of dangerous killers known as the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, to which the Bride used to belong. Determined to deliver justice to her would-be assassins after waking up from a four-year coma, the Bride works her way down a list of Deadly Vipers: O-ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox), Budd (Michael Madsen), Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), and, of course… Bill.

Kill Bill is fast-paced, violent, and absorbing, with Tarantino’s typical super-cool, perfectly integrated soundtrack and quick, well-written dialogue. It’s a mind-bogglingly brilliant blend of genres that Tarantino–obviously a lover of film himself–pays homage to with perfect execution.

The O-Ren Ishii plotline is probably the most memorable of the series, ending in unrealistic but engrossing violence with a mix of classic elements borrowed from Asian film. Lucy Liu is fantastic in the role of the ruthless assassin/underground crime leader of Tokyo.

Although probably not my favorites of Tarantino’s movies, I immensely enjoyed both Kill Bill vol. 1 and Kill Bill vol. 2, and highly recommend them. I think the most accurate way for me to describe this is that they were fucking awesome.


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Top 5 Terrence Malick Films

By Erin (mortimerbrewster)

Funny story about my personal Top 5 Malick Films: there are only five Terrence Malick films that I can review. But I decided I would put them in order of my personal preference, because I have much love for the enigmatic, seldom-seen director.

Terrence Malick is one of my favorite directors because of the quiet beauty of his films. Visually, they are stunning. Emotionally, they always draw some kind of reaction from me. With pensive, philosophic voiceovers and the inevitable scenes of tall, waving grasses, Malick’s films reflect the beauty of things on a broader, universal scale and always manage to make me feel calm and at peace.

5. The Tree of Life (2011)

“The only way to be happy is to love. Unless you love, your life will flash by.”

I have The Tree of Life to thank for my love for Jessica Chastain (the sweetest, most beautiful actress) who stars alongside Brad Pitt and Sean Penn in this slow but entrancing film. The Tree of Life follows a relatively average family in Texas through tragedy and internal conflict, as the eldest son Jack grows up and experiences life. As an adult, Jack (Sean Penn) questions life and faith.

The film features some mind-bogglingly beautiful images, and there are even some dinosaurs that make a brief appearance. That might sound like a joke, but it’s not. Dinosaurs.

It’s been over a year since I watched this film, but I still haven’t fully sorted out my feelings about it. The images that The Tree of Life presents are what struck me the most, and lingered with me weeks afterwards. I was a bit bewildered by this film, but affected nonetheless; The Tree of Life is a beautiful, fluid painting of all life that moves like gentle-flowing water across the screen.

4. The New World (2005)

“What else is life but being near you?”

The New World gives us a glimpse of a swampy but intensely beautiful, untouched Virginia–‘The New World’–in 1607 at the time of the founding of Jamestown. The film is a retelling of the Pocahontas story, actually a lot like the Disney animated movie that we have probably all seen. Terrence Malick’s story follows Pocahontas (Q’orianka Kilcher) as the world around her changes with the arrival of the Europeans in North America, and shows her love for Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell) and eventual marriage to John Rolfe (Christian Bale).

The New World and The Tree of Life could easily switch places in this list, because there are things I like and don’t like about both. The New World is a pretty underrated film that I like mostly because of Colin Farrell, if we’re being real here. The alternate title could be Colin Farrell Wandering Through Tall Grass.

3. Badlands (1973)

“Little did I realize that what began in the alleys and back ways of this quiet town would end in the Badlands of Montana.”

Malick’s first feature film is faster-paced than his others, but still distinctively Malick. Based on a true story, Badlands is the Bonnie and Clyde-esque tale of smooth-talking former garbage collector Kit (Martin Sheen) and his young, naive girlfriend Holy (Sissy Spacek), who narrates their killing spree across states and sprawling stretches of the badlands. Kit is charming, sociopathic, and, as an inexperienced Holly reflects, “He was handsomer than anybody I’d ever met. He looked just like James Dean.” Soon Holly becomes caught up in Kit’s web of reckless killing as the two turn their backs on the rules governing society.

2. Days of Heaven (1978)

“Nobody’s perfect. There was never a perfect person around. You just have half-angel and half-devil in you.”

Days of Heaven is an astoundingly striking film–so much so that you almost forget about the story when you get lost in the sweeping imagery. A chronicle of love and jealousy, Days of Heaven follows lovers Bill and Abby (Richard Gere and Brooke Adams) and Abby’s younger sister Linda’s flight from Chicago to a Texas farm. There, the couple poses as brother and sister and work for a quiet farmer (Sam Shepard) who falls in love with Abby. When it is discovered that the farmer is dying, Bill encourages Abby to marry him in order to secure a fortune. However, things do not go as planned, leading to a swell of jealousy and rage that eventually become too great.

Days of Heaven is not only one of my favorite Malick films, but one of my favorite films in general. The imagery of golden fields of wheat, swarms of locusts, and a solitary, picturesque house combine to make a wonderful film.

1. The Thin Red Line (1998)

“Love. Where does it come from? Who lit this flame in us? No war can put it out, conquer it. I was a prisoner. You set me free.”

The Thin Red Line is an incredibly powerful war film that carries a quiet intensity and entrancing reflective quality that contrasts with scenes illustrating the carnage of war in a manner more beautiful than I have ever seen. Mixed voiceovers of the film’s many stars mingle with images of life, death, and destruction as a group of soldiers fights for an insurmountable ridge on Guadalcanal during World War II. Terrence Malick again skillfully highlights the beauty of landscapes and the small details in nature and in life, creating a stark juxtaposition with the destruction brought to that landscape over the course of the film.

I will cry over this movie forever. The soft, thoughtful narration woven quietly throughout combined with a chillingly magnificent score by Hans Zimmer make The Thin Red Line.