Cannes Film Festival 1983-1999

Here’s my third list of films screened at the annual Cannes Film Festival. For the festivals held from 1983-1999 I rank the films I’ve seen that screened in competition and give a grade for each of them.

1983

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2. The King of Comedy (USA) D-

1. The Meaning of Life (UK) A

Palm d’Or: The Ballad of Narayama (Japan)

 

1984

I haven’t seen any films that screened in 1984.

Palm d’Or: Paris, Texas (West Germany)

 

1985

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2. Mask (USA) F

1. The Kiss of the Spider Woman (Brazil/USA) A-

Palm d’Or: When Father Was Away on Business (Yugoslavia)

 

1986

1. The Mission (UK) C+ Palm d’Or Winner

 

1987

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1. Babette’s Feast (Denmark) A+

Palm d’Or: Under the Sun of Satan (France)

 

1988

Palm d’Or: Pelle the Conqueror (Denmark)

 

1989

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2. Sex, Lies, and Videotape (USA) A Palm d’Or Winner

1. Do the Right Thing (USA) A+

 

1990

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1. Cyrano de Bergerac (France) A

Palm d’Or: Wild at Heart (USA)

 

1991

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1. Barton Fink (USA) A+ Palm d’Or Winner

 

1992

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5. Of Mice and Men (USA) B-

4. A Stranger among Us (USA) B

3. Strictly Ballroom (Australia) A

2. Howards End (UK) A

1. The Player (USA) A+

Palm d’Or: The Best Intentions (Sweden)

 

1993

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1. Much ado about Nothing (UK) A

Palm d’Or: TIE between Farewell My Concubine (China) & The Piano (New Zealand)

 

1994

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2. The Hudsucker Proxy (USA) A

1,  Pulp Fiction (USA) A+ Palm d’Or Winner

 

1995

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4. Angels and Insects (UK) B-

3. Carrington (UK) B-

2. The Madness of King George (UK) A

1. Ed Wood (USA) A+

Palm d’Or: Underground (Serbia)

 

1996

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2. Secrets and Lies (UK) A+ Palm d’Or Winner

1. Fargo (USA) A+

 

1997

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3. Happy Together (Hong Kong) C

2. L.A. Confidential (USA) A-

1. The Sweet Hereafter (Canada) A+

Palm d’Or: TIE between The Eel (Japan) & Taste of Cherry (Iran)

 

1998

1. Life Is Beautiful (Italy) B+

Palm d’Or: Eternity and a Day (France)

 

1999

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1. The Straight Story (USA)A+

Palm d’Or: Rosetta (Belgium)

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Captains Courageous (1937)

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Some of the most bizarre “news” from the White House was published last week, informing us that our president gets two scoops of ice cream while each member of his staff gets only one. Of course nobody should be surprised to hear of more evidence that Donald Trump has the mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual constitution of a 10-year-old bully, but it it surprising to me just me how much he is like Harvey, the 10-year-old played by Freddie Bartholomew in Victor Fleming’s wonderful adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s Captains Courageous.

Harvey demands his way and is successful enough in his entitled manipulation to usually get his way no matter how much distress it causes others. He stays successful in his narcissistic ventures because of his money. As long as he’s given lots of money, he believes he can buy his way to anything he wants, and he often does. He bribes, he tricks, he schemes. He always has to be right, best, first. Sounds very familiar, right?

The good thing about 10-years, as opposed to a 70-year-old president, is that they are impressionable. Harvey was as unlikable as any child could be. As a result of one of his schemes to try to prove himself superior to others, he accidentally goes overboard on a cruise ship. He is rescued by a Portuguese fisherman named Manuel played by Spencer Tracy in the best performance of his career. Harvey is the way he is because nobody ever taught him differently or modeled anything different for him. His mother died when he was an infant, and his father left him with lots of money while attending to his business matters. The private school he went to didn’t know what to do with him as nobody there was capable of fulfilling the parental roles he needed most. But then came Manuel.

Manuel was the first person to recognize Harvey for what he was (spoiled, entitled, obnoxious, and completely lost within a world all his own where he could buy his way into or our of anything) and to treat him accordingly. This is exactly what Harvey needed and what helped him become a decent human being. Manuel is quickly and easily annoyed by Harvey as anyone would be, but this doesn’t stop him from loving Harvey. He becomes the father Harvey needs. He shows Harvey how to live in reality, how to work for what he needs and what he wants, and how to find real contentment. He demonstrates both his own contentment and Harvey’s lack of contentment in how he loves people, in how he works, in his deep passion for fishing, music, and other things that Harvey doesn’t understand. Most of all, he shows this contentment in how he communicates his faith in and love for God to Harvey. The Christianity lived in Captains Courageous is never the cheesy, lifeless, self-centered so-called Christianity of the TBN/Joel Osteen variety that has more in common with Harvey (before Manuel) and Mr. Trump than with Manuel. It is a life of sacrifice and suffering mixed with great joy and hope that make the sacrifice and suffering worthwhile. It is what allows Harvey accept love, to give love, and to become a good person.

Also directed by Victor Fleming: The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Cannes Film Festival 1965-1982

Here’s week two of my spotlight on the Cannes Film Festivals. I’m ranking all the films I’ve seen that screened in competition each year of the festival and give grades to each. This week, it’s those that the festival showed between 1965 and 1982.

1965

1. The Knack…And How to Get It (UK) C+ Palm d’Or Winner

 

1966

1. Doctor Zhivago (USA) C+

Palm d’Or: TIE between The Birds, the Bees, and the Italians (Italy) and A Man and a Woman (France)

 

1967

1. Blow-Up (UK) B- Palm d’Or Winner

 

1969 (No festival in 1968)

 

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2. My Night at Maud’s (France) A

1. Easy Rider (UK) A+

Palm d’Or: If… (UK)

 

1970

1. M*A*S*H (USA) C+ Palm d’Or Winner

 

1971

1. Death in Venice (Italy) D

Palm d’Or: The Go-Between (UK)

 

1972

 

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2. Jeremiah Johnson (USA) A-

1. The Ruling Class (UK) A+

Palm d’Or: TIE between The Martei Affair (Italy) and The Working Class Go to Heaven (Italy)

 

1973

1. Godspell (USA) C-

Palm d’Or: TIE between The Hireling (UK) and Scarecrow (USA)

 

1974

 

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2. The Sugarland Express (USA) C-

1. The Conversation (USA) A Palm d’Or Winner

 

1975

Palm d’Or: Chronicle of the Years of Fire (Algeria)

 

1976

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2. Bugsy Malone (USA) B+

1. Taxi Driver (USA) A- Palm d’Or Winner

 

1977

2. Car Wash (USA) C

1. Bound for Glory (USA) B-

Palm d’Or: Padre Padrone (Italy)

 

1978

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1. Coming Home (USA) A+

Palm d’Or: The Tree of Wooden Clogs (Italy)

 

1979

 

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4. Norma Rae (USA) C

3. Days of Heaven (USA) C+

2. The China Syndrome (USA) A-

1. Apocalypse Now (USA) A+

Palm d’Or: TIE between Apocalypse Now (USA) and The Tin Drum (West Germany)

 

1980

1. Breaker Morant (Australia) B+

Palm d’Or: TIE between All that Jazz (USA) and Kagemusha (Japan)

 

1981

1. Chariots of Fire (UK) F

Palm d’Or: Man of Iron (Poland)

 

1982

1. Missing (Greece) D+

Palm d’Or: TIE between Missing (Greece) and The Way (Turkey)

First 50 Masterpieces

Yesterday, I published my fiftieth review of a classic movie. Here is a list of links to all of the first 50. They’re listed in order of premier date.

Intolerance: Love’s Struggle throughout the Ages (1916)

The Gold Rush (1925)

Frankenstein (1931)

A Tale of Two Cities (1935)

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Rebecca (1940)

Citizen Kane (1941)

Saboteur (1942)

Casablanca (1942)

The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)

Gaslight (1944)

Rome, Open City (1945)

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Monsieur Vincent (1947)

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

The Snake Pit (1948)

Rashomon (1950)

Sunset Blvd. (1950)

All about Eve (1950)

A Place in the Sun (1951)

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Stalag 17 (1953)

River of No Return (1954)

On the Waterfront (1954)

A Star Is Born (1954)

Rebel without a Cause (1955)

Guys and Dolls (1955)

The Killing (1956)

The Bad Seed (1956)

Ben-Hur (1959)

Psycho (1960)

A View from the Bridge (1962)

David and Lisa (1962)

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather Part II (1974)

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

On Golden Pond (1981)

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

The Right Stuff (1983)

The Color Purple (1985)

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Forrest Gump (1994)

Home for the Holidays (1995)

Fargo (1996)

Joyeux Noel (2005)

The Yacoubian Building (2006)

Rome, Open City (1945)

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Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open City shows the darkest possible side of doing what is right and heroism. The film is arranged in two separate acts, both about lives effected by the 1944 Nazi invasion of Rome. The first tells the story of Pina (Anna Magnani), a pregnant woman joined closely with the priest Don Pietro Pellegrini (Aldo Fabrizi), to protect Italian resisters of Nazi occupation. We are taken into the depths of their passions for the people suffering around them and of their own hurts. They suffer much and are faced with many temptations to risk other peoples’ lives for the security of their own, but they both continue to fight, to suffer, and to sacrifice for others regardless of the cost to themselves.

The second act continues the story of Father Pellegrini but this time closer to the trenches. He and Giorgio (Marcello Palgiero) are detained by the Nazis, and again each one is faced with the choice of betraying his own friend to free himself or continuing to experience the torture that they’re enduring and that they know could kill them. We see the brutality of the torture in surprisingly graphic detail for a 1945 film. In fact, in makes the torture in Zero Dark Thirty look fairly tame.

Watching Rome, Open City can fell almost like an act of torture itself, because it is so unrelenting in telling us the truth about what it was like to attempt to resist the Nazis in their situation. Torturous, yes, but it is nevertheless gratifying. It is so because we see what true heroism is. We watch people willing to sacrifice and to give their own lives for others. Seeing the horrible things that happened before our faces confronts us and forces us to ask ourselves how we would respond in such situations. It shows what it looks like for love to conquer hate, even when by all accounts it appears that hate is winning. Father Pellegrini lives his faith in God and his love for humanity in every scene of the movie. He spreads that to the other people in the movie, especially his main partner in resistance for each act. We get to see what it means to live out a life of faith and love in circumstances that couldn’t be more hostile to faith and love.

Rome, Open City is one of the great examples of the Italian neorealism movement that directors Vittorio De Sica and Luchiano Visconti are best known for. Rossellini holds little back, taking us right in the midst of torment and evil. But because his three main characters so faithfully resist that evil, we see hope that even in the most violent of situations in the world, there are always people successfully fighting against that evil. The movie encourages that type of resistance and helps motivate us to join it wherever we see injustice, regardless of any potential outcome that will be harmful to ourselves.

Cannes Film Festival 1939-1964

With the Cannes Film Festival later this month, my lists throughout May will all be dedicated to this prestigious event. The early years of the festival were not consistent. They began in 1939 and didn’t hold their second until 1946. Not until 1951 did it become an annual event. My lists will rank the movies I’ve seen for each that were screened in competition for each year along with a grade for each and an acknowledgement for the top prize winner (known as the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film from 1939-1954 and the  Palm d’Or since) if I haven’t seen it. I’ll begin with the first 18 festivals

1939

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2. Goodbye Mr. Chips (UK) C

1. The Wizard of Oz (USA) A+

Grand Prix: Union Pacific (USA)

 

1946

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8. Anna and the King of Siam (UK) B+

7. Rhapsody in Blue (USA) B+

6. Beauty and the Beast (France) A

5. Gaslight (USA) A+

4. The Lost Weekend (USA) A+

3. Gilda (USA) A+

2. Rome, Open City (Italy) A+

1. Notorious (USA) A+

Grand Prix: 11 films were awarded including The Lost Weekend and Rome, Open City, among 45 nominees

 

1947

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2. Boomerang (USA) B

1. Dumbo (USA) A+

No Gran Prix chosen in 1947

 

1949

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1. The Third Man (UK) A+ Grand Prix Winner

 

1951

"All About Eve" Thelma Ritter, Anne Baxter 1950 20th Century Fox ** I.V.

2. A Place in the Sun (USA) A+

1. All about Eve (USA) A+

Grand Prix: TIE, Miracle in Milan (Italy) & Miss Jule (Sweden)

 

1953

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3. Indiscretion of an American Wife (Italy) C

2. Peter Pan (USA) B-

1. Lili (USA) A+

Grand Prix: The Wages of Fear (France)

 

1954

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2. From Here to Eternity (USA) D

1. Gate of Hell (Japan) B+ Grand Prix Winner

 

1955

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5. Bad Day at Black Rock (USA) C-

4. The Country Girl (USA) C+

3. Marty (USA) A- Palm d’Or Winner

2. East of Eden (USA) A+

1. Carmen Jones (USA) A+

 

1956

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3. The Harder They Fall (USA) C

2. The Man Who Knew Too Much (USA) C+

1. I’ll Cry Tomorrow (USA) A-

Palm d’Or: The Silent World (France)

 

1957

1. Funny Face (USA) D+

Palm d’or: Friendly Persuasion (USA)

 

1958

Palm d’or: The Cranes Are Flying (USSR)

 

1959

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2. Black Orpheus (France) B- Palm d’Or Winner

1. The 400 Blows (France) A

 

1960

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2. La dolce vita (Italy) Palm d’Or Winner

1. Never on Sunday (Greece) A-

 

1961

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1. A Raisin in the Sun (USA) A+

Palm d’Or: TIE, The Long Absence (France) & Viridiana (Mexico)

 

1962

Palm d’Or: The Given Promise (Brazil)

 

1963

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1. To Kill a Mockingbird (USA)

Palm d’Or: The Leopard (Italy)

 

1964

 

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2. The World of Henry Orient (USA) A

1. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (France) A+ Palm d’Or Winner

Forrest Gump (1994)

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My life as a movie lover began with Forrest Gump. Before Gump, I just watched the same popular action movies and franchises that everybody else did. The extreme popularity of Gump was unheard of in 1994 for a movie that did not fit in one of the clearly outlined genres that always made it big at the box office. I went into it without any expectations, only going because the movie was making a lot of money, which to mind at the time meant it must be good since enough people were paying money to see it.

Since Forrest Gump, I care about the movies I watch. I care about the characters they introduce me to. I care about worlds they take me to. I care about the perceptions they have about the world I live in. I don’t care anymore if they make any money or if a lot of other people like them. Since the majority of the films I blog about were made long before Forrest Gump, obviously I don’t care about when they were made. I don’t care about where they were made. I care about how they’re made and why they’re made.

The “how” of Forrest Gump: I knew about most of the historical backdrops we see in Forrest Gump through family or history classes, but I had never seen or read anything before that places a completely original and unexpected fictional character into those events, both fictionalizing them and giving us an important and realistic perspective into the real events at the very same time. Robert Zemeckis’ brilliant direction seamlessly mixes these important historical events (civil rights, Vietnam War, assassinations, AIDS epidemic) with sociological phenomena (Elvis, the hippy movement, smily-face t-shirts) and its fictional character front and center for everything. Just thinking about Forrest Gump from a technical screenwriting level is mind-blowing. Expecting audiences to believe that a fictional character has impacted all these long strings of events is not reasonable. Expecting them to believe that a mentally challenged character who couldn’t get into a public elementary school could impact them all is downright stupid. Then top this off with the knowledge that it was based on a horrendous novel that had Forrest as all I’ve described for the movie in addition to having him be a drug addict who hung around cannibals!

I don’t know of any movie that ever had more going against it than Forrest Gump. How it got made at all with all these things that look like deficiencies is incredible. How a masterpiece was created out of this seeming mess is still hard to believe 23 years later, but a masterpiece was made. Taking us into the world we know as only Forrest knows it allows us to take a journey with him. We take a wondrous journey into exciting things of the world, frightening things of the world, joyous, beautiful, and grief-filled experiences. We see the world filtered through the same three filters that Forrest thinks and evaluates life through, his relationships with God, his Momma, and Jenny.

The “why” of Forrest Gump. In 1994, Forrest Gump was necessary for the film industry. Around the same time as Pulp Fiction wildly combined many popular film genres into an audacious experience that nobody could have imagined before and The Shawshank Redemption asked us to get into touch with some of the deepest emotions and attitudes about justice, life, and freedom that we didn’t even know we had the capability for before, Forrest Gump was just as groundbreaking. Actually, maybe even more, since it did both of these things that Pulp Fiction and Shawshank did separately, changing and challenging the film industry dramatically.

The most important reason for Forrest Gump‘s success is its love. As Forrest tells Jenny, “I may not be a smart man but I know what love it,” he gives us a picture of what love is. He knows what love is because his Momma showed him. He knows what love is through his belief in a God who loves him. He knows what love is because he is able to give it to Jenny, to Bubba, to those who aren’t very lovable most of the time (Lt. Dan), and even when it means his own life is in danger. Since we enter Forrest’s world, we enter his vision of love. We learn what it means for him to know what love is, we see what love is to him. We see love itself personified through Gump, Forrest Gump.