Nida Faraz looks at interesting movie portrayals
It is with a sleight of technique that movies condense days and weeks, sometimes years and decades, into an average length of around two hours. The best movies obscure the audience’s sense of the actual time going by while they sit in a dark theater or watch at home. Great short movies, under 100 minutes are especially terrific at making every frame and minute count. Some of the biggest franchise launchers of all time like “The Lion King” and “Toy Story” are short movies. Despite the short duration such movies contain original plot twists, dizzying suspense, and hypnotic intrigue and keep audiences glued to their seats.
To Be or Not to Be (1942)
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch the film runs for 99 minutes. This was actress Carole Lombard’s final film and was a screwball comedy set during the Nazi takeover of Poland. Lombard plays a performer who along with other actors in a theater troupe, becomes embroiled with German soldiers. The movie also stars Jack Benny and Robert Stack, as actors who foil the regime by impersonating the bad guys in order to escape.
Before Sunset (2004)
Directed by Richard Linklater the duration of the film is 80 minutes. This talky sequel picks up nine years after the end of “Before Sunrise” when Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) meet in Vienna, fall in love, and then go their separate ways. They meet again in Paris, where Jesse is giving a book reading of the novel he’s written about their experience. There’s another ticking clock since Jesse needs to catch a plane as the two reconnect.
Beauty and the Beast (1946)
The film runs for 93 minutes and this classic French film, based on the iconic fairy tale and is stunning and poetic as it brims with surreal and expressionistic visual design. The Beast’s castle is lavish and ornate, with human arms holding candelabras mounted in dark hallways, giving the proceedings a sense of foreboding and magic. The Beast himself has poignant humanity beneath the haunting makeup.
This movie runs for 96 minutes and is one of John Ford’s most iconic Westerns launched John Wayne as a major movie star cowboy. Wayne plays the Ringo Kid who joins a motley crew of characters for a besieged stagecoach ride through dangerous territory. The Apache tribes were represented with racist tropes that contributed to the heroics of white characters.
Brief Encounter (1945)
This movie ran for 86 minutes and was directed by David Lean. This affecting love story depicts the tension of romance that’s forever held at bay. Celia Johnson plays a housewife in a staid marriage who meets a married doctor (Trevor Howard) during a brief, random encounter on a train. The two fall for one another, but circumstance thwarts any chance for love in this slow-burning drama about the impossibility of bucking convention.
This film runs for 91 minutes and a vast, harsh space becomes the setting for a one-woman survival drama after a disaster destroys her only way home. Sandra Bullock was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her performance as an astronaut struggling to get back to Earth after an accident in space. Stunning, immersive cinematography creates nail-biting suspense as she struggles to survive in total isolation.
Journey to Italy (1954)
Directed by Roberto Rossellini the film ran for 97 minutes. Roberto Rossellini was married to movie star Ingrid Bergman during the production of this drama about a British couple who travels to Italy and finds themselves drifting apart. George Sanders plays the terse, upper-crust husband, while Bergman is the wife with a suppressed inner life who drifts in her affections as she spends more and more time on her own. TW