422 - A Man Escaped - 2 stars
A French prison film that is based on the memoirs of Andre, a real French POW. It is methodical and repetitive in its accounts of Fontaine's escape attempt, analysing with exacting detail the time and effort that go into a prison escape.
Imagine this film as the missing act from The Shawshank Redemption and you are on the right track.
My problem with the film was that with the film being called A Man Escaped, escaped as in the act has been completed, and the film is being told in the past tense so it doesn't have any sense of tension to it which I feel is kind of necessary in a great prison film.
147 - Notorious - 3 stars
Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Nazis, Warm Climates. It must be Casablanca. No wait, that's not Bogart, it's Cary Grant with Hitchcock directing this tale of romance, deception and espionage in sunny Rio.
It is a neat little thrller and Hitchcock builds the tension nicely as he always does but something about this left me a bit hollow.
Bergman has to seduce Claude Rains character in order to get into his life and spy on his nefarious activities yet she is conflicted as she loves her government contact Cary Grant. The problem is that we never really see the romance. They arrive in Rio and suddenly it's eight weeks later and they are in love. Although Grant does the classic 'pull in and smooch' he does so well in other movies, I never felt the heart of the relationship that should drive them back together.
441 - Being John Malkovich - 4 stars
The most original film on the list? Quite possibly. Spike Jonze, creator of such classic music videos as Sabotage, Weapon of Choice and Praise You, meets king of the quirky screenplay Charlie Kaufman to create a story where a man working on the 7 & 1/2 floor of an office building finds a secret door which is a portal into the head of John Malkovich.
Central to the story is a unique love square (I know you get love triangles, do you get love squares?) between puppeteer Craig, his wife Lottie, his colleague Maxine (played with an amazing sensuality by Catherine Keener) and Malkovich. Craig loves Maxine but Maxine loves Lottie but only when she is in Malkovich. Are you keeping up? Best to just watch the film, it is too complicated to describe.
I truly believe that Malkovich should have got an Oscar nomination, for his performance and for being such a good sport and delivering one of the most surreal scenes in cinema history as Malkovich goes inside his own portal and enters a world where everyone and every word is Malkovich. Not only does he play a caricatured version of himself but also Craig Schwartz controlling Malkovich. One of the best moments is when Malkovich expresses his concerns to his best Hollywood friend... Charlie Sheen of all people, genius!
I heard a story that when the film was being pitched a studio executive asked if he couldn't have chosen a more high profile actor, "why couldn't it be Being Tom Cruise?". Ridiculous at the time, but given Tom's habit for bizarre outbursts over the last couple of years, it might have made for a very interesting film!
Days remaning - 211 Films remaining - 277