Sunday, August 30, 2020

My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project - THE END!

For good or ill, six years ago I came across a book called "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" and, for some reason, decided that as a devoted movie lover, if I wanted to die happy, I had to see all of those movies.


When I started, I had already seen 685 of the films listed so it was a mere (I am being sarcastic here) 315 I had to make my way through.  Who knew what a task that would be?

I wrote about some of the difficulties back when I started... and then documented my progress on my Friday movie review blog posts every week for the last six years.  Every week I would make sure I watched one of the "1001 Movies," and then I would review it along with a new feature film and some DVDs I had seen that week.  All progressed nicely, but, wouldn't you know,  "they" kept coming out with new editions of the book with even more movies I needed to see,


but I weathered that storm and then, along came this year's sheltering in place order. 

So six years later, with just 30 to go, I decided I had better hurry up with this project before yet another edition came out.  What better time than when we are all doing our couch potato thing?

Now the project is over.  I have come to the end.


With that said, here are the last of the films I am supposed to see before I die (you are supposed to see these too!), and if you want to go back to my original post and track my reviews from there, be my guest. It's been a mostly fun project, but I'm glad it's over because it had it's ups and downs.

As I made my way toward the end of the project, movies became harder and harder to find.  Some were on YouTube, but often, not with English subtitles and some of the films I had to buy.  I have ventured as far afield as Greece to get a film from someone on EBay and been ripped off by some (avoid "The DVD Lady").  But despite my efforts, of the 30 I had left during this last leg, there were 12 that I was not able to see, because, wouldn't you know...some of those movies just aren't out there. Why would those so-called critics put together a book with films we are supposed to see that WE CAN'T GET?


There were some that were on YouTube but not with English subtitles; there were some that were not playable on American DVD players (read about region codes for DVDs); there were some I could buy but the prices were exorbitant; and, then, there were some I just could not find anywhere, no matter how hard I tried, zilch, nada, couldn't find 'em...

But, my peeps, I can now die happy because I saw all of the (available) 1001 movies that I needed to see before I died.  I think that counts, don't you?




So let the countdown begin!




30. Dr. Mabuse, Parts 1 and 2 
(1922 and 1933)


Dr. Mabuse is a bad guy who wants to take over Berlin.

You know when there is a Part 1 and a Part 2 that the movie is going to be LONG.  And this one was.  Can you imagine a five hour SILENT film?  I can't either so I didn't watch the whole thing. I kind of sped through it.  Let's say, thank the lord for the remote and the ability to fast forward.  But I got the gist.

Basically, Dr. Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) is a bad guy who makes his money by scamming people and making counterfeit money.  He takes on disguises depending on what his next scam will be, one of which is to scam a young millionaire out of his money, but prosecutor von Wenck (Bernhard Goetzke) gets wise to him and gets in his way.


Fritz Lang directed and he was certainly a director ahead of his time. His "Metropolis" was groundbreaking and "M" started the whole film noir movement, both made before he became a famous director in the U.S.  Dubbed the "Master of Darkness," he came out of the German Expressionism movement and went on to make some classic film noir films here in America.


I can appreciate the filmmaking, but this film is an early example of a director so in love with his own work that he can't cut anything.  No film needs to be five hours long to tell a story. I can only think that in 1922 movies were still so new and television hadn't been invented yet that the movie going public had more tolerance than we do today.


Like most films of this era, the acting is overly dramatic with big eyes, women fainting and being carried off and bad guys going mad.


Why it's a Must See: "...[this film] was intended not merely as flamboyant thriller but as pointed editorial, using the figure of the master-of-disguise supercriminal to embody the real evils of its era."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...did I need to see this before I died?  No. But now I can say I did...sort of...
(In German with English subtitles. Available on YouTube)




29 and 28.  Ivan the Terrible, Parts I and II 
(1944 and 1958)



Ivan (Nikolay Cherkasov) becomes Tsar, Ivan gets married, Ivan loses his friends, Ivan gets betrayed, but despite all of the palace intrigue, Ivan just wants everyone to get along as he tries to unite his people. More of the same in Part II, except Ivan's enemies try to dethrone him which doesn't make Ivan very happy. In fact, he kills them. They didn't call him "the Terrible" for nothing.

Sergei Eisenstein directed this film commissioned by Joseph Stalin. It was supposed to be a trilogy, but Eisenstein only made it through the first two before his death.  Stalin was a big fan of Ivan, but when Part II came along, Stalin wasn't so happy with how Ivan was depicted, seeing the film as a critique of his rule, so Part II was banned, which might explain why I had such a hard time finding Part II.  Part II was finally released in 1958 after both Eisenstein's and Stalin's deaths and I had to buy that one from Ebay and it turned out that it wouldn't play on my DVD player (it was from a non-U.S. region) but it worked on my computer (note: VLC Player will play any DVD on your computer no matter where it's from).


Most famous for his silent films, especially "Battleship Potemkin," which Sight and Sound Magazine pronounced the 11th greatest film ever made, Eisenstein was a pioneer in the theory and practice of montage and this film, along with "Alexander Nevsky," were his only non-silent films. In these two films, the black and white cinematography was beautiful, but for films made in 1945 the acting was incredibly overdramatic and staged with the big eyes and extreme close-ups we have come to associate with silent films of the 20's, almost laughable, the acting was so extreme.


Why it's a Must See: "In Part II, a curiosity can be found in the use of two color scenes in a movie that is mostly black and white."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die."

Rosy the Reviewer says...if that is the best the "1001 Movies" critics can say about these films, then faint praise.  I think the only reason these films were included was because they were directed by Eisenstein. For me, the best thing about the films was the score by Prokofiev.  Otherwise, no, I didn't need to to see these films before I died.  If you want to see Eisenstein, see "Battleship Potemkin!"

(In Russian with English subtitles. Part 1 Available on YouTube, Part II I had to purchase from Ebay and turned out it was a foreign version that I could only play on my computer, so if you buy DVDS online, be sure they are for Region 1, playable on North American DVD players or that you have VLC Media Player installed on your computer.  It will play anything)



27.  City of Sadness (1989)


The film follows four brothers from 1945 to 1949, the period after the end of 50 years of Japanese colonial rule and before the establishment of a government-in-exile in Taiwan by Chiang Kai-shek.

This was the first motion picture to deal openly with the “White Terror” in Taiwan, the suppression of political dissidents after Taiwan was turned over to China from Japan. From 1949 to 1987, Taiwan was under martial law. After their arrival from Mainland China, the Kuomintang government (under Chiang Kai-shek) rounded up, imprisoned, and/or shot thousands of Taiwanese people. 

The story focuses on four brothers who are members of the Lin family who live in a coastal town near Taipai, Taiwan. Wen-heung (Sung Young Chen), the oldest of four Lin brother, is trying to keep the family together by turning his Japanese bar into a family restaurant called “Little Shanghai,” but he is being undermined by gangsters. The second brother, Wen-sun, has disappeared and is assumed dead. Brother, Wen-leung (Jack Kao) in in the hospital with PTSD and Wen-ching (Tony Leung) is a deaf-mute. He runs a photography studio and has collaborated with anti-government forces.

Tony Leung made a big splash in the wonderful "In the Mood for Love," one of my favorite films and is the best thing about this movie,which is slow-moving and, considering the subject matter, not much happens.

Why it's a Must See: [This film] is not only a masterpiece, it is a model for all those films that intend to show the major events of a country, most of the time becoming boring monuments instead."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...sorry, I thought it was kind of a "boring momument."
(In Taiwanese, Japanese, Cantonese, Shangheinese and Mandarin. Available on YouTube)




A political activist is exiled to a remote Italian village.

Carlo Levi (Gian Maria Volonte) is an artist/writer who also has a medical degree.  He has been exiled to a remote village because of his political views against Mussolini's Fascist government. Lucania (now called Basilicata) is so godforsaken that Christ wouldn't even go there.  He would stop short of it and stop only as far as the nearby town of Eboli. Hence the title. Get it? Likewise the people in the village are remote and forsaken, mostly peasants, who are looked down upon. Doctors won't even treat them so Levi is called upon, though he has never practiced medicine.


Based on a true story and Levi's memoir, actor Gian Maria Volonte acts as a sort of observer of village life rather than a participant, though he eventually endears himself to the villagers.  There is the alcoholic priest, the pompous cop, the nutty grave digger, the debt collector who soothes his guilt by playing the clarinet, and then there is Guilia, the woman hired to look after Volonte played by Irene Pappas.  She doesn't appear until halfway through this long film (two and a half hours), but when she does, it picks up. You just have to get through the first hour. Her fiery character, something she perfected as an actress, perks things up but not enough to save Volonte's one-note performance with consists of much looking off into space and the proverbial navel gazing.


Why it's a Must See: "...a stately, picturesque drama that captures the cadence of pastoral life in a small, rural village in southern Italy during the 1930's...[Director Franceso] Rosi's film underpins the political, cultural and economic rift between the country's wealthy north and its struggling south."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...it was too long and a bit of a political diatribe which doesn't make for great movie watching.

(In Italian with English subtitles. Had to get this from Greece via Ebay)




25. Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974)


One of those surreal plots that defies description.  It's a sort of modern day version (c. 1970's) of "Through the Looking Glass" starring a couple of nutty women.

Celine (Juliet Berto) comes stumbling past librarian Julie (Dominique Labourier), dropping her belongings as Julie sits reading in a park.  Intrigued, Julie follows her for a long 14 minute intro where no dialogue is spoken.  The two eventually meet, and in short order, inextricably move in together and embark on a series of adventures that involve taking on each others' personas and being transported to a mysterious mansion via eating some magic candy.  The mansion is inhabited (or haunted?) by some mysterious people, two beautiful women, a man, a nurse and a child who is mysteriously murdered. Celine and Julie have basically fallen down a rabbit hole. Is any of it real or is it all a dream?

The film becomes a movie within a movie as Celine and Julie transport themselves to the mansion via their magic candies and watch the action in the mansion over and over until they figure out how to create their own narrative and become part of the story. They try on each other's lives, too - the more staid Julie takes on Celine's magic act and the adventurous Julie has a rendezvous with Julie's proper childhood sweetheart. In the end, it looks like they even exchanged their lives for good.  Or that's what it looked like.  Who knows?  The whole thing was nutty. I kept waiting for them to go boating, which they eventually did at the end of over three hours but I guess "boating" was a metaphor for the film.  Metaphor or not, the film could have been called "Celine and Julie go nutty."

And speaking of nutty. Both Celine and Julie were nutty, and there was a lot of extraneous improvisation that went on and on.  Director Jacques Rivette, one of the founders of the French New Wave, was one of those directors who didn't seem to know how to or cared not to edit himself.  The movie is over three hours long and, worse, made little sense.  It's one of those films that makes you wonder if the director is messing with you, as in you torture yourself trying to figure out what it all means, the symbolism, only to discover it has no meaning at all. But then there is that French thing. Maybe the jokes were lost in translation. 

However, on the plus side, the film is original, beautiful to look at and captures the ethos of the 1970's, and if I had seen this film back then when I was in my 20's, I probably would have loved it.  But I am no longer in my 20's.

Why it's a Must See: "This is a film by one of the most demanding and delicate of film critics, Jacques Rivette, who became a remarkable explorer of the nature of cinema through the questioning of its relations with the real world and with other forms of art. Rivette's magnificant work has always been made with a joyful taste for telling tales...magic."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...too long and nutty for me.

(In French with English subtitles.  Had to purchase this on Ebay and I couldn't play it on my DVD player but thanks to VLC Media Player, watched it on my computer.  But watching a three hour movie on the computer is a slog)



24. Three Lives and Only One Death (1996)
(Orig. title: "Trois Vies et Une Seule Mort")
(


Marcello Mastroianni plays four different roles in this strange and surreal film by experimental filmmaker Raoul Ruiz.

Another film that defies explanation, because it's all very strange, but generally speaking, the film begins with Pierre Bellemare, a French radio personality, who appears to be telling four different stories, all of which star Marcello Mastrianni (in his penultimate role before his death) playing four different characters - a man who believes in fairies; a professor at the Sorbonne who becomes a beggar overnight; a butler who only responds to the sound of a bell; and a businessman who is surprised by the arrival of his wife, daughter and sister - surprised because they don't exist. See what I mean? Strange. As these kinds of films do, the characters and stories all converge at the end but it's getting to the end that's the problem.  


Whenever I see that a director is considered "experimental," I know I'm not going to like it.  And I didn't, much as I usually love French films and the handsome and charming Marcello, who at 58 was still handsome and charming, but who, sadly, died soon after this film was released.

Chilean director Raoul Ruiz was an experimental filmmaker who directed over 100 films and worked mostly in France.  He is probably one of the most famous film directors you have never heard of.


Why it's a Must See: "Perhaps the most accessible movie of the Chilean-born Raul Ruiz...[this film] provides a sunny showcase for the charismatic talents of the late Marcello Mastroianni."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...even Marcello couldn't save this film for me.

(In French with English subtitles. Available on YouTube)




23.  The Horse Thief  (1986)
(Orig. title: "Dao Ma Zei")


It ain't easy making a living in Tibet.

Basically as per the title, Norbu (Rigzin Tseshang) is a horse thief, the seemingly only way for him to provide for his family and...that's it.  He's a horse thief and it doesn't end well for him. They don't like horse thieves in Tibet!


Derek Adams from the magazine Time Out gave the film a good review, stating: "It offers the most awesomely plausible account of Tibetan life and culture ever seen in the west. It's one of the few films whose images show you things you've never seen before."


Why it's a Must See: "...a breathtaking spectacle in scope and color..."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...yes, co-directed  by Zhuangzhuang Tian and Peicheng Pan, the film was beautiful to look at and a glimpse into a little known culture but it was still boring. There was little plot and little dialogue.  Not a big fan of that.

(In Mandarin and Tibetan with English subtitles. Available on YouTube)





22. The Man Who Had His Hair Cut Short (1966)



A teacher in a girls' school falls in love with a student.  It doesn't end well for him.

The film begins with a close-up of Govert Miereveld (Senne Rouffaer) as he gets a haircut, complete with head massage.  He is a middle-class schoolteacher/lawyer with a wife and children, but he has his issues, one of which is an obsession with going to the barber and appearing to be "clean." In addition to that obsession, he also has the unfortunate obsession with Fran (Beata Tyszkiewicz), one of his students, and that fact is taking a toll on him. However, he keeps it to himself, and when Fran graduates, he decides to leave teaching and work as a lawyer instead, but over time he is unsuccessful and is forced to take on a lesser job as a court clerk.  Meanwhile, Fran has become a famous singer. Then the film takes a turn and we find Govert attending an autopsy, which starts to unhinge him and when he crosses paths with Fran again and finally tells her he loves her, she shares some things with him that he didn't want to hear and that really unhinges him.


Directed by Andre Delvaux, this is a sort of Lolita story based on the book by Johan Daisne.  The black and white cinematography and the haunting soundtrack create a noir feel, but I can't really fathom why this was an important film to see before I died.  It was slow moving and dark and took place mostly in Govert's mind which doesn't necessarily make for a satisfying movie experience.  The message of the film was also a downer.  It seemed to be saying "Don't try to reach too high for happiness. You will just get slapped down."  Not the message I need to hear right now.


Why it's a Must See: "[This film] marks the arrival of Belgium's own national cinematic style, magic realism -- a unique blend of reality and eerie fantasy, addressing the surreal melancholy of everyday life."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...the best thing about this film was the haircut!

(In Dutch with English subtitles. Available on YouTube)





21. Red Psalm (1972)
(Orig. title: "Meg Ker a Nep")


In the late 19th century, a bunch of Hungarian farmers go on strike and demand rights from a landowner.

A sort of costume reenactment, this is part musical and part mess. Soldiers show up to try to get the striking farmers back in line, women take off their clothes and a troubadour wanders around singing folk songs.  The best part of this film was when that damn troubadour gets killed.  

Why it's a Must See: "The picture may well be the greatest Hungarian film of its time, summing up an entire strain in [director Miklos Jancso's] work that lamentably has been forgotten in the United States."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...there is a reason why it's "been forgotten in the United States."  It's awful!
(In Hungarian with English subtitles.  Had to buy this on Ebay)




20. The Mother and the Whore (1973)
(Orig. title: "La Maman et La Putain")



It's all about a menage a trois! Hey, it was the 70's!

Alexandre (Jean-Pierre Leaud), a rather disaffected twenty-something, who is unemployed and spends his days hanging out in cafes, drinking and playing pinball, lives with Marie (Bernadette Lafont) but falls in love with Veronika (Francoise Lebrun), and the three find themselves in a menage a trois. Well, two and a half hours into the movie they do. You might think that Alexandre has died and gone to heaven. I mean, two women at once? Think again.  

This is your classic French New Wave film about the disillusionment of French youth post 1968, and sadly, a rather chauvinistic film. Marie is the "mother," as in Alexandre lives with her and she pays the bills. She works.  He doesn't.  Veronika is the "whore," but only because she is sexually promiscuous and she hates herself for it.  She really wants to get married and have a baby, to be a mother. Ugh. But that was the times - the sexual revolution was relatively new and we women weren't completely liberated yet (and still aren't). There was even a scene where Alexandre talked about "women's lib" and Veronika didn't know what that was! However, Alexandre was happy to tell her, because even way back in the 1970s' "mansplaining" was already a thing.  Alexandre just never stops talking!

It's all very 70's French - Gauloises, wine, Edith Piaf and Sartre.  Lots of hanging out in cafes (Cafe de Flore, Les Deux Magots, both of which I have been to, by the way), talking about nothing (in one scene Alexandre riffs on the fact that no one uses the word "lemonade" anymore!) and everyone seems to be waiting for something to happen. I sure was.  Absolutely nothing happened for over two hours and then finally there was at least some sex!

But the film, written and directed by Jean Eustache, has that something, that je ne sais quoi.  After three and a half hours of watching and listening to people talking to each other (Alexandre doing most of it), you feel like you know these people. And you do. And you don't just see them in Paris. You see them everywhere. This is how twenty-somethings act. 

Speaking of which, this film brought back many memories of my youth. Loved all of that navel-gazing talk back then.  Not so much now. However, the film was over three hours long, and you know how I hate overly long films, so you would think I would not have been able to tolerate this, but I just had to know if Alexandre was ever going to shut up (he didn't)! He was fascinating in his narcissism. 

Why it's a Must See: "...deeply of it's time... Renowned French Magazine Cahiers du Cinema declared the movie to be the best film of the 1970s."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...yes, truly a French film of it's time. 
I can't tell you how many of those I saw back in the day. Yack, yack, yack, but all in that beautiful French (with subtitles, of course)!  
(Note: if you are like me and have a hard time with really long films, take it in parts.  I watched this a half hour at a time.  That's about as long as I could take Alexandre)!
(In French with English subtitles.  Available on YouTube)



19.  Yol (1982)



When five Kurdish prisoners are granted one week's leave, it's hardly a vacation from prison, it's more hardship, disappointment and oppression when they get back home.

And writer/director Yilmaz Guney wrote this film and based it on the men he met when he himself was in prison. In fact, it was his assistant Serif Goren who worked from Guney's notes to direct the film, but Guney was able to escape from prison to participate in the editing and postproduction.  The film went on to win the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival and called attention to Turkey's right-wing dictatorship and prisoners' human rights in Turkey.

When the five men are released, one has to go back because of a petty, bureaucratic rule; another is called upon by his family to perform an honor killing on his unfaithful wife; a third convict comes home to his fiance only to discover his family has chosen him a different wife; a fourth discovers his entire village wiped out; and the fifth prisoner has similar hardships but some hope exists in his life.

Sheesh.  It was grim, and the direction had an almost soap opera feel with dramatic extreme close-ups of concerned and anguished faces. It was slow-moving, one of those films with long segments where we watch someone walk up a mountain in real time, and I've decided I'm not a fan of movies that are mostly about men, especially when the women are oppressed and face honor-killings if they mess up. To make matters worse, the subtitles on the copy that I watched seemed like literal translations and had all kinds of misspellings and gramatical errors. I had to buy it on Ebay and it was cheap which made me think that perhaps I had a bootleg copy. Maybe that's why it was so cheap! 

Why it's a Must See: "Few better examples of engaged political filmmaking exist."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...Zzzz.  I think I would have been more engaged if the film had been about why [director] Guney himself was in prison and how he happened to escape and then finish this film.
(In Turkish with really bad English subtitles.  Had to buy this one on Ebay)


18.   Mediterranee (1963)



A 45 minutes French film documenting the Mediterranean Sea.

There is no plot, just images of the Mediterranean Sea and the countries it impacts interspersed with pictures of an unconscious girl preparing to undergo an operation, a bullfight, a fisherman going out to sea, a women getting dressed and more incongruous stuff all narrated by an irritatingly unctuous voice.


Why it's a Must See: "...the most influential of [director Jean-Daniel Pollet's) experimental films...[and] inspired one of [film director Jean-Luc] Godard's most poetic critical texts..."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...all I have to hear or see is "experimental" and I will know I won't like it.  I didn't.

(In French with English subtitles. Available on YouTube)





17.  Manila in the Claws of Light (1975)





It's the 1970's and an innocent young man from the "provinces" of the Philippines arrives in Manila, the Big City, to find his girlfriend.

Julio (a young Bembol Roco), a poor fisherman from the a small village in the country, has lost touch with his girlfriend, Ligaya (Hilda Koronel), who went off to the Big City lured by the promise of a job.  Well, you can imagine what that "job" turned out to be.  And poor Julio...he has no money, no education, no skills but when he arrives in Manila is able to find a construction job.  However, it's a job where unfair labor practices abound so he is eventually lured into a male prostitution ring for a time. He eventually finds Ligaya only to discover that she was being kept by a man who won't let her leave and when Julio tries to rescue her, it doesn't end well for Ligaya.  Likewise, it doesn't end well for Julio, either.  The ending is something out of "The Day of the Locusts."

The story, written by Clodualdo del Mundo Jr. and based on a novel by Edgardo Reyes, was filmed during the Marcos era, and director Lino Brocka captures the struggles and exploitation that the poor faced in the Philippines during that time. But it's also an "everyman" story that is easily extrapolated to today. Brocka, who was briefly imprisoned by Marcos, died young in a car accident at the age of 52 but managed to make 60 films in his 20 year career, though few are available today outside of the Philippines.

Roco carries the film and has one of those poignant faces where you can read everything.

Why it's a Must See: "...is still often regarded as the best Filipino film of all time."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...an engrossing but grim melodrama that highlights the anguish of poverty.





16.  Man of Marble (1977)
(Orig. title: "Czlowiek z Marmuru")




A young Polish filmmaker sets out to find out what happened to Mateusz Birkut, a 1950's bricklayer - a 'worker-hero of the state' - who mysteriously disappeared - in life and in the history books.

This is a film within a film as Agnieszka (Krystyna Janda), a young student filmmaker in 1970's Poland, tries to track down Mateusz Birkut (Jerzy Radziwilowicz), a bricklayer who in the 1950's less-free Poland, had led a team of other bricklayers to lay 30,000 bricks in one day, thus proving himself to be a steadfast hero of the communist state and a proponent of free housing for all. She wants to make a film about Birkut as her university thesis. However, as Agnieszka does her research into Birkut, she discovers that in turbulent, repressed times, it's easy to be a hero one day and an enemy of the state the next. 

Agnieszka is a plucky heroine (which I always like), who won't take no for an answer in her quest to discover the enigma that is Mateusz Birkut, and I have to say that Radziwilowicz was certainly a handsome hero.

Director Andrzej Wajda was a prominent member of the Polish Film School, filmmakers and screenwriters during the fifties and early sixties who were greatly influenced by the Italian Neorealists (Visconti, Rossellina, DeSica) and were the first to openly oppose the propaganda of Socialist realism. Wajda has been awarded the Palme d'Or, four of his films have been nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and he was given an Honorary Oscar in 2000.

Why it's a Must See: "One of the best movies ever made in Poland...[and] an important testimony to the power of cinema...An absolute must..."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...okay, I liked this one, much more than Wadja's other film included in the "1001 Movies," "Man of Iron," even if this one was three hours long. 

(In Polish with English subtitles. Purchased on Ebay) 




15.  The Spider's Stratagem (1970)
(Orig. title: "La Strategia del Ragno")


A man journey's to his father's hometown to find out how and why his father was murdered.

Thirty years ago, Athos Magnani was a popular hero and the leading anti-fascist in his town, but then he was killed and things were never the same in his town again. Now his son (Giulio Brogi), who looks just like him (probably because the same actor plays both father and son), has returned to the town to find his father's killer and seek closure, but instead finds himself in danger.

So sounds like a straightforward plot, right?  Wrong!  This thing was all over the place and difficult to follow. Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, who gave us "Last Tango in Paris" (now that one I understood), it was very slow-moving and I just couldn't get into it. 

Why it's a Must See: "...for many, the definitive European art film...a baffling film...but we are being manipulated by the hands of a master."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...don't like baffling and don't like being manipulated, even if it is Bertolucci.

(In Italian with English subtitles. Available on YouTube)



14.  The Smiling Madame Beudet (1923)



What do you do when you are a wife with no options?  You dream of killing your husband.

Maybe hard for us to believe that even in the 20's - the 1920's, that is - there was some feminist consciousness not associated with getting the vote and also a female movie director. Hence this film.

This story is about Madame Beudet, played by the quite lovely Germaine Dermoz, a bored housewife, who fantasizes about getting rid of her husband (Alexandre Arquilliere).  In those days, divorce wasn't usually an option because women had nowhere to go, no career, no money. The production values are strong in this 38 minute silent film and it doesn't sport the usual big eyes and over-acting that we have to associate with silent films of that era.

Hubby has this suicide joke he does, a sort of Russian Roulette with an empty pistol.  He thinks it's hilarious.  Thirteen minutes into this film I had it figured out how Madame was going to get her freedom, but it didn't quite end as I had thought.  In fact, it ended much worse.  Let's just say Madame Beudet is not smiling.

Why it's a Must See: "...one of the earliest examples of both feminist and experimental cinema...Using radical special effects and editing techniques, [director Germaine] Dulac incorporates early avant-garde aesthetics...Dulac not only addressed the oppressive alientation of women within patriarchy but more importantly, uses the medium of film to offer views a radical and subjective female perspective."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...one of the few silent films in this project I liked.  And it was mercifully short.
(English subtitles.  Available on YouTube)




13.  A Question of Silence (1982)



Three women, who are strangers, come together in a clothing boutique and, for no apparent reason, kill the male owner.  A female psychiatrist (Cox Habbema) assigned to the case sets out to find out why.

Andrea (Henriette Tol), Christine (Edda Barends) and Annie (Nelly Frijda) encounter each other in a clothing boutique.  Christine is accused of shop-lifting by the male owner.  She has put some items in her purse.  But instead of being sorry when confronted, Christine boldly places another item in her purse.  Annie and Andrea observe what is happening and also put some items in their purses in solidarity, all while being observed by a few other women in the shop.

Through a series of flashbacks, we see the evolution of the crime but no real reason is given except to say, hey, it's 1982, the height of the feminist movement and these women are oppressed and depressed. 

Andrea is a secretary enduring sexual harassment at work; Annie is a seemingly jovial waitress but lives alone after her husband and daughter left her; and Christine is a housewife with three children and a husband who can't understand why she can't keep the kids quiet since "she has nothing to do all day."  Christine has thus allotted to stop talking because, why bother?  No one is listening to her. A seemingly happily married and successful female psychiatrist is assigned to the case to see if these women are sane.  Oh, they are sane, alright.  They are just full of rage.

At the end of the film, there is a courtroom scene where all of the male judges confront the psychiatrist and question her assessment - that these women are sane.  I guess men can't fathom that women would kill a man for all of the crap they have had to put up with unless they were insane.  Hilarity ensues.

Written and directed by Marleen Gorris, the movie has a documentary feel, almost like a Dutch version of "Dateline (and you know how much I love "Dateline") as well as some black comedy and, for sure, political allegory.

Why it's a Must See: "A key moment in women's filmmaking..."
---1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...now you're talkin'.  An awesome and compelling example of early feminist filmmaking and a reminder that not that much has changed since 1982.  My kind of film!  Right on! A must see, especially for you women out there!
(In Dutch with English subtitles. Availabe on YouTube)




Sadly, I am going to have to end this project with 12 films I did not see. 

I just could not find the following films, or if I did find them, they were going to cost me an amount of money I wasn't willing to pay, so I say to these films what I hope will be said to me when I die, "Rest in Peace." 

But I will leave you with why the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book thinks you need to see the ones I didn't see in case you have better luck finding them.




12.  The Great White Silence (1924)



A silent documentary about the 1910 British Antarctic Expedition led by Capt. Robert F. Scott who sought to become the first to reach the South Pole.

Rosy the Reviewer says...wasn't willing to spend $20+ for a 1924 silent film about making it to the South Pole.




 11.  Lucia (1968)





The stories of three Cuban women all named Lucia, one during the Cuban War of Independence, one in the 1930's and one in the 1960's.

Why it's a Must See: "[This film] is undoubtedly one of the landmark works of modern, postrevolutionary Cuban cinema...[It] explores the consciousness-raising possibilities of film as well as the link between postrevolutionary Cuban cinema and the new waves of Europe and South America."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...only parts 2 and 3 were available on YouTube but no English subtitles so sorry...didn't see it.





10.  Black God White Devil (1964)
(Orig. title:  ("Deus e o Diabo na Terra do So")



Wanted for killing his boss, Manuel flees with his wife Rosa to the sertão, the barren landscape of Northern Brazil. 

Thrust into a primordial violent region, Manuel and Rosa come under the influence and control of a series of frightening figures. Sebastiao, a fanatic preacher who promises utopia but practices massacre and a band of bandits called Cangaceiros led by Corisco. Shuttled between the “Black God” and “White Devil”, Manuel and Rosa’s struggle for survival escalates when Church authorities hire a hitman named Antonio das Mortes to hunt down every combatant in the region. 


Why it's a Must See: "After attending an early screening of [this film], one Brazilian critic was overheard marveling, 'Oh my God, Eisenstein's been reborn...and he's Brazilian!"

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...nothing with English subtitles on YouTube and could not find a Region 1 DVD version that would play on American DVD players and wasn't willing to buy a DVD to watch on my computer. After watching three hours of "Celine and Julie Go Boating" on my computer (see above) decided I didn't want to do that again.




 9.  Vinyl (1965)


Andy Warhol's version of "A Clockwork Orange."

Why it's a Must See: "[This film's} brilliance is largely due to Warhol's framing of the action...most striking of all, a silent Edie Sedgwick sparkling at the right corner of the screen."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...I really, really wanted to see this one but not willing to pay the $40+ price to purchase it.




 8.  Through the Olive Trees (1994)
(Orig. title: "Zire darakhatan zeyton")


A comedy about the making of a movie and the efforts of a young actor trying to woo an actress who won't even speak to him.

Why it's a Must See: ...[director Abbas] Kiarostami -- one of the greatest filmmakers alive and certainly the greatest in Iran [and] this is an excellent introduction."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...sounds good but too bad I couldn't find it anywhere!





  7.  The Mad Masters (1957)
(Orig. title: "Les Maitres Fous")


A short documentary depicting a group of West African Hauka participating in their yearly ritual, one where the participants go into a trance-like state, becoming possessed by the spirits of Western colonials.

Why it's a Must See: "One of the masterpieces of ethnographic cinema."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...in French but could not find this with English subtitles and just as well.  It might be a "masterpiece" but sounds awful.





  6.  Napoleon (1927)


A silent film depicting Napoleon Bonaparte's early life and career.

Why it's a Must See: "...it's a measure of [director Abel Gance's] brilliance that [the film] still brims with energy and invention today."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...two reasons I didn't see this one.  First, I couldn't find a Region 1 version for less than $168 and two, it's 333 minutes long.  No way!





  5.  No Fear No Die (1990)
(Orig. title: "S'en Fout La Mort")


Two men from Africa living in France training roosters for illegal cockfights.

Why it's a Must See: "...an intense intimate experience of a facet of human behavior triggered by circumstances in which all men, whatever their race, color or origins, are capable of anything and everything."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...strange that I couldn't find this anywhere but just as well, because not into cockfighting.



  4.  Passenger (1963)
(Orig. title: "Pasazerka")


While aboard an ocean liner, Liza recounts two versions of her past as an SS officer at Auschwitz, one sanitized and hopeful, the other tangled, obscure and obsessive.

Why it's a Must See: "[Polish Director] Andrzej Munk's most famous film..."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...not available anywhere, but okay, sounds depressing anyway.



  3. Dear Diary (1994)
(Orig. title: "Caro Diario")


Director Nanni Moretti plays himself as he travels around some Italian island on his motor scooter, seeking peace to finish his new film but also consulting doctor after doctor to cure his annoying rash. 

Why it's a Must See: "[Director]...Moretti has attracted the label of the 'Italian Woody Allen' but this description is woefully inadequate...[This] is a glorious movie about everyday experience...Few films give such a grounded and joyous sense of what it is to live in the material world."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...I would like to have seen this one, and I could have gotten it for a minimal price from Korea via Ebay but it wouldn't arrive until November.  Rumor has it that it will be released on DVD and available from Amazon in September.  I just might purchase it!




  2. Flaming Creatures (1963)


An experimental film that features graphic sexual imagery, an earthquake and a lipstick commercial.

Why it's a Must See: "...a gorgeous flickering series of cloudy images, featuring [director Jack] Smith's friends in various forms of exotic, low-budget drag. Eschewing narrative continuity the film instead presents a number of sequences and disconnected tableaux..."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...all I have to see is "experimental" and I am not motivated. I could have purchased this from Amazon for $22.40 but it sounds dreadful so not going to.  I have seen enough "experimental" films doing this project to last me what's left of my life!




 And finally this one -



  1.  Satantango (1994)


An award-winning film about a failed farm collective.

Why it's a Must See: "...among the most impressive films of the 1990's."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...I actually could have watched this one, because I think it's on YouTube, but no way in hell am I watching a SEVEN HOUR MOVIE! Seven hours about a farm collective?  Zzzz.  But I don't care what it's about or how "impressive" it is or who says I can't die happy if I don't see it, not going to.


So was this six year project worth my time?

The answer is yes and no.

Like I said, I had already seen 685 of the films I was supposed to see, many of which had affected me greatly for good or ill - life-changing movie experiences: "Gone With the Wind (I know there are issues surrounding this film, but at the time, it had a huge impact on my young, uneducated self)," "Citizen Kane," "All About Eve," "The Deer Hunter," "West Side Story" and "In The Mood For Love," to name just a few.  I could go on and on. 




On the plus side, during this project, I saw some brilliant films that I might never have seen on my own, such as "Ikiru" or the "Apu" trilogy.  But on the negative side, I also saw some films that were either egregiously disgusting and/or disturbing ("Salo, or 100 Days or Sodom" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre") or dumb ("Blonde Cobra," "Heaven and Earth Magic"...I could go on and on so let's put most of the experimental films in this category) or left me saying "Huh? ("Wavelength" or "Hold Me While I'm Naked" - yes, that is a real title and a real movie), and I say huh? as in why in hell did I need to see this film before I died?  And let's just say that there were several films that even the critics in the "1001" book didn't really have any good arguments for why the film was so important.

But all in all, it's been an interesting journey where I had to be disciplined and open-minded. And that's a good thing.

After all, film is an art form and art is subjective, but the bottom line is that movies matter.  For good or ill, they explore the human condition; they are cathartic; they inspire us; and they tap into the collective consciousness. 

Movies matter.
(See one of my earliest posts: "Why Movies Matter.")

So yes, this project was worth it.

But even though I have experienced some great movie moments, I'm glad this long project is over.  Much as I love movies, the project just started to feel too much like a job...and, hey, I'm retired!


And so my movie-going friends, as they say in French films, as far as "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" is concerned: 

"C'est Fini!"


But perhaps Porky Pig said it best...






But it's not "that's all" for this blog, so stay tuned for more of my movie and book reviews and my reviews of life itself! 


Thanks for reading!

Hope to see you soon!


If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer 




Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database).


Go to IMDB.com, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll down below the synopsis and the listings for the director, writer and main stars to where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics" - If I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.

4 comments :

  1. Hey there Rosy. Thanks as always for your reviews.

    I came to this page because I will be re-watching Celine and Julie Go Boating again soon, and I thought I'd look at some reviews. It's one of my all-time favorite films.

    So I was a bit disappointed to find that you dismissed it as nutty and confusing. In truth, it seems to me that you may have approached this last batch of movies as something akin to homework. And who needs that....

    If you consider though that C and J are just two free-spirited girls who like to *make their own fun*, then the whole film makes a lot more sense. And indeed, this film does one particular thing better than any other film I've seen: it realistically depicts the creative process. The girls combine found objects, a haunting locale from their (Julie's) past, and flashes of inspiration. They act out a boudoir drama of their own invention, adding and removing bits, including a damsel in distress at the end (perhaps a niece they're babysitting), and after they've explored all the possibilities that occur to them, they put lampshades on the players' heads to turn it into a farce, before calling it a day.

    And then, in the final scene, they're getting ready to embark on another adventure of their own creation, but with the initial roles reversed.

    ...yes, it's long...too long. A common failing in Rivette films. But, it might just be worth giving another chance.

    Anyways and FWIW....

    Ken

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Ken.  I think you are right.  The "1001 Movies" project fatigue set in...because in general, I like these kinds of films. I own the film so I will indeed give it another chance.

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    2. Wonderful! I look forward to your updated review.

      ...no pressure, of course....

      I have not seen any of the other movies you reviewed on this page. I have seen a few Bela Tarr films...kinda-sorta...I think I may have fallen asleep partway through.

      (And now a Bela Tarr fan will stop by and criticize both of us!)

      Anyways. Always look forward to seeing your reviews, don't always agree with what you write, but always find it worth reading.

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    3. And, agree 132%, Ikiru and the Apu trilogy are wonderful....

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