A Christmas Story (1983)

“Mothers know nothing about creeping marauders burrowing through the snow toward the kitchen where only you and you alone stand between your tiny, huddled family and insensate evil.”

Lines like this one, muttered by narrator Ralphie Parker, who tells the story of his most memorable childhood Christmas, are what give such compassionate life to what many consider the most funny holiday film ever recorded.  Continue reading

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Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Just last week, my wife, two children, and I walked down Main Street in our small town.  Such walks—weaving ’round fire hydrants and passerbies with our bulky double stroller on the narrow sidewalks—have become a favorite pastime of ours since moving to this historic hamlet in western Virginia.   Continue reading

The 102 Greatest Movie Songs

With the recent post on The Wizard of Oz, as well as the journey we’ve been taking through movie music in the context of the year 1939 (which has included lists of the great composers, scores, and songwriters in film history), I thought that a list of the greatest movie songs is worth putting together. Continue reading

The 30 Greatest Movie Songwriters

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As stated in my “Brief Exposition on Movie Music”, there is more to movie music than just a traditional score.  There is also the incorporation of classical place-setters and the addition of music-and-lyric type songs (whether they be original or recycled, diegetic or non-diegetic).  So, while my recent reviews on Gone With the Wind and Wuthering Heights have led me to spend some extra time on the great scores and composers of moviedom, it is still requisite that we journey through movie songs on our quest for film competence. And, considering our last two reviews of American movies from 1939 will be particularly important when it comes to this very topic, the divulgence into these lists seems all the more important.  These movies are, The Wizard of Oz and, to a lesser extent, The Roaring Twenties. So, like we did with the lists on traditional movie score, we will begin with a list on the writers of this great music.  Enjoy!

*Note: special thanks to Chow Kim Wan, a commenter, who made a couple corrections on my 1990s Disney songwriters.  There were some inaccuracies.  They have since been updated.

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30 Best Film Composers

As I stated in my “Brief Exposition on Movie Music”, 1939 was one of several watershed moments in film history, not only because of the sheer amount of great films that were pumped out of Hollywood that year, but also because it introduced forever the “thematic” elements of movie scores.  In particular, the Alfred Newman’s score in Wuthering Heights and Max Steiner’s work in Gone With the Wind were key players in this movement. Continue reading

Ninotchka (1939)

“This picture takes place in Paris, in those wonderful days when a siren was a brunette and not an alarm—and if a Frenchman turned out the light it was not on account of an air raid!”

So begins the riotous story of Ninotchka and Leon in Paris, penned by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett. Continue reading

The Road Home (1999)

The Road Home is Yimou Zhang’s sweetest film.  It introduced another person with the Zhang surname (as far as I’m aware, they are not related), the beautiful and talented Ziyi Zhang.  Ziyi Zhang might be the most recognized Chinese actress in the world, with such roles as those in The Grandmaster, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, House of Flying Daggers, and Memoirs of a Geisha under her belt.  But, her role in this movie will always be my favorite of hers.  It is Ziyi Zhang at her youngest, playing a child caught up in childish things. Continue reading

The Samurai Trilogy (1954-1956)

In an unprecedented move, I am going to review three films at once.  So, while I will technically only write four reviews on samurai film to accompany my recent essay on that genre, I will actually be reviewing six movies.  The three movies that I will be reviewing today make up the masterful trilogy from director Hiroshi Inagaki and actor Toshiro Mifune called, simply, The Samurai Trilogy.  This trilogy is made up of three films, Musashi Miyamoto (1954), The Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955), and The Duel at Ganryu Island (1956).  The release of these films marks an important moment in the development of the samurai film and its role as not only the predominant genre of Japan, but as Japan’s most exported film-type in world cinema. Continue reading