Tuesday, 10 August 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 329

106 - A Man For All Seasons - 3 stars
Not my kind of film by any stretch of the imagination but certainly has a lot to admire, in particular a great central performance by Paul Scofield as Thomas More, a man who would ultimately give his life rather than betray his religious beliefs.
It asks the question of what you would sacrifice for your ideals. Job, family, friends, even your life? More gives up all of these by refusing to acknowledge Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn as he feels it goes against the word of God.
John Hurt plays a right slimy bastard in this film and deserved getting an alien burst out of his chest a few years later as punishment.
I can't help thinking that a little more could have been made of the relationship between More and Henry VIII as they are only seen together once, and it would have heightened the impact of their decisions if we had seen more of them together.
Also Robert Shaw as Henry VIII unbalances the film slightly with his OTT drunken, boorish King.

17 - Taxi Driver - 5 stars
This nearly lost a star because of one minor niggling point that annoyed me. There is a scene where Cybil Shepard and Albert Brooks are talking in the campaign headquarters for a couple of minutes before Travis comes in. However the whole movie is from Travis's point of view so that brief scene should not have been in the film because it didn't come from his POV. Anyway, that was the only flaw that I could find in what I would consider to be Scorsese's masterpiece.
The cinematography shows us a New York that is a million miles away from the bright and breezy tourist attractions that feature in a film like On The Town, Schrader's words really bring the character of Travis Bickle to life, and one of Bernard Hermann's final scores helps give the film a dark, grimy feel that is as sleazy as the movies that Travis Bickle enjoys watching.
Speaking of those movies, that really has to be one of the worst first dates in cinema history as DeNiro takes Cybil Shepard to a porno movie. Can anyone think of worse cinema date?
I'm pretty sure that I had stated earlier on in the challenge that DeNiro's performance in King Of Comedy was his best, but now that I've seen this again I'm swinging back to Travis Bickle.
Bickle is a completely 3D character. You get a real sense of his background, current state of mind and his hope that Cybil, then eventually Jodie Foster''s Iris might be his chance at salvation.
Jodie Foster has this ability to play well beyond her years despite being so young as her performance her and in Bugsy Malone proved, even if it did cause a hell of a lot of controversy... just ask Ronald Reagan!
She has the tough nut exterior of the girl forced to work as a prostitute but then there is a scene where she is having breakfast with Robert DeNiro and her real personality and the scared girl wanting to just be a kid comes through. There was something in her performance in that scene that made me think of Chloe Moretz aka Hit-Girl from Kick-Ass. I think that she has the potential to be as good as Jodie Foster or Natalie Portman, with an ability to combine a childish innocence with a maturity well beyond her years.
That has slightly digressed from the main topic but suffice to say that Taxi Driver is fantastic!

Days remaining - 36 Films remaining - 35

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