Nida Faraz looks at some exceptionally well-made films
Movies appreciated for their brilliance that score well with both audiences and reviewers online should satisfy the majority of viewers. These movies tend to have a few basic characteristics in common: a strong, coherent storyline; richly drawn — and well acted — characters; good cinematography and, if applicable, special effects and a satisfying ending. This mix is not always found but whenever it is attained then it is simply magic. Such movies rate very high on aesthetic perceptions and sense of balance.
Cinema has a long history and the medium has produced some outstanding productions. Such productions have laid down a certain yardstick that most film-makers try to emulate and some do it successfully. All these movies are well worth re-discovering particularly from the angle of viewing the exceptional and deft handling they have been subjected to. These films are without doubt a treat to watch and take the viewers to a fantastic world that is also very close to reality and leaves long-lasting impact.
Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” takes viewers on a wild psychological ride. James Stewart plays a cop who has recently retired from police work because he suffers from vertigo. He agrees to follow the wife of a college friend and becomes obsessed with her. Vertigo was not considered one of Hitchcock’s greatest films when it was released, but it has grown in stature and is now in the pantheon of the director’s works. Critics gave Vertigo a Freshness rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 93% of filmgoers liked it.
The Pianist (2002)
Based on the life of Polish-Jewish pianist and Holocaust survivor Władysław Szpilman, this saga follows the man’s experiences during the Nazi occupation. The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Adrien Brody and Best Director for Roman Polanski, himself a Holocaust survivor. Polanski did not attend the ceremony as he fled the US in 1978 after pleading guilty to statutory rape.
On the Waterfront (1954)
Eight Academy Awards honored this gritty waterfront gangster drama, including Best Picture, Best Director, and, for Marlon Brando, Best Actor. He plays a washed-up boxer who eventually agrees to go up against the crooked union boss. Many movie critics called it a brutal, violently realistic drama that packs a terrific wallop resulting in very high level entertainment.
Raging Bull (1980)
Raging Bull was one of the best movies of the 1980s, a brilliant and disturbing look at the life of self-destructive middleweight boxing champion Jake LaMotta. Martin Scorsese shot the film in black and white, which adds to the grimness of LaMotta’s life. Critics gave Raging Bull a Freshness rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 93% of audiences liked it.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Steven Spielberg’s story about a suburban boy who befriends a lost alien and shields it from the government was one of the most beloved films of the 1980s. It captured four Oscars, including two statues for visual and sound effects. Critic Bruce McCabe of the Boston Globe said that Steven Spielberg’s E. T., The Extra-Terrestrial is the best cinematic fairy tale since The Wizard of Oz.
Double Indemnity (1944)
Billy Wilder’s film-noir is about an insurance man played by Fred MacMurray who is lured into a plot to murder a client by his scheming wife played by Barbara Stanwyck to collect the insurance money. Double Indemnity was written by Wilder and Raymond Chandler and adapted from a novel by James M. Cain. The movie received extremely high viewer ratings and the enthusiasm of audiences has never waned. The movie always succeeds in making the audiences associate with its contents. TW