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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I Can Make You Sad

To continue the theme of my last post, I want to share another top five list of mine...my favourite films.

Why not my top ten?...Well in the bottom half of my top ten you do find great films such as movie classics Scarface and the Godfather series and the 1931 defining horror picture Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, but the thing that connects the top five is their portrayal of a version of love that I love...of something that needs work and grows over time as you invest in it.

Passion is like the seasons, it freezes in the winter of life, awakens in the spring and heats up in the summer. But there is another type of love, just as real as the other, which is a testament to the lasting of life, not the passing of it. It is like a mountain which stands still while the seasons play out their dance.

I enjoy watching the type of love I find so endearing develop in a movie, whether it is between man and woman, man and girl or between man and his own humanity.

But beware...these films will make you sad! You'll definitely need tissues with your pizza to watch these movies.

My Five Favourtite Films

5. The Shawshank Redemption [1994]

One of those rare occasions where the film outshines the original book. Initially written as a short story by Stephen King, under Frank Darabont's adaption and direction the tale takes on a whole new dimension. This beautifully crafted movie features touching and sincere performances from the entire cast, with an uplifting message about humanity's indomitable spirit and the redemptive value of hope.

Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and her lover in the late 1940s. However, only Andy knows that he didn't commit the crimes. Sent to Shawshank Prison to do hard time, Andy--a taciturn banker in the outside world--has to learn to get by in the brutal, cutthroat confines of prison life. His quiet strength slowly earns the respect of his fellow inmates--most notably, Red (Morgan Freeman)--and even much of the prison staff. But Andy's seemingly stoic acceptance of his unjust imprisonment hides a fierce determination for freedom.

4. Casablanca [1942]

A timeless classic, this title is found in most people's top five favourites and is indisputably one of the landmarks of cinema. You know what the end is going to be, but you always watch in hope that maybe this time the guy will his gal. An accidental Hollywood masterpiece, this spine-tingling tear-jerker just gets better and better - as time goes by.

Humphrey Bogart is Rick Blaine, an American expatriate and war profiteer in WW II Morocco. He's content to merely run the Cafe Americain until love in the form of a Ilsa, the luminous Ingrid Bergman, returns to his life after breaking his heart years before. Ilsa's husband Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) is the Czech Resistance leader whose only hope of safe transport, and Ilsa's, from Morocco is Rick Blaine. Ilsa offers herself as a bargaining tool to encourage Rick to transport her husband, but he must choose between his own happiness and the lives of others.

3. Dangerous Liasons [1988]

Based on the infamous novel Les Liasons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos and the subsequent Christopher Hampton play, this film is one rare occasion where Hollywood does it better than its European counterpart, thanks to the outstanding acting. The film is brimming with passion, passion that nurtures and passion that kills...

Set in pre-revolutionary France, a cunning Marquise (Glenn Close) and a seductive Vicomte (John Malkovich) mastermind a cruel and complicated game of romantic manipulation. Set against the backdrop of high--society baroque boudoirs, filled with deceitful lovers and cunning sexual gamesmanship the Marquise and the Vicomte agree to a competition involving a virginal young bride (Uma Thurman) and a faithful wife (Michele Pfieffer). When the Vicomte successfully seduces the virtous and faithful wife they unexpectantly fall in love, breaking the rules of the inhuman Marquise's clever parlor game with vengeful results.

2. The Girl With The Red Scarf (Selvi Boylum Al Yazmalım) [1977]

A classic and endlessly watchable love story that never dates, this film was inspired by the novel of acclaimed Soviet writer Cengiz Aytmatov, described by the French poet Aragon as "the world's greatest love story". Turkish director Atif Yılmaz adapts this surprisingly tender love story to the screen with the greatest finesse. The Girl With The Red Scarf stands out for its casting, the polished performances of its three young leads, Türkan Şoray, Kadir İnanır and Ahmet Mekin, the refined direction of Atif Yılmaz and highly effective score of Cahit Berkay.

The story revolves around İlyas (Kadir İnanır), a truck driver who delivers sand to a dam construction, his newly acquired wife Asya (Türkan Şoray) and their young son Samet. But the love affair between Asya and İlyas is soon shaken by jealousy, an alcohol habit and extra-marital affair. İlyas, who genuinely loves his wife but is hampered by an ever weakening character, ends up walking out when job-related problems come to a head. The helpless Asya is left with their son to cope alone. She waits patiently for her husband to return...until she runs into Cemsit (Ahmet Mekin), a sympathetic figure who Samet soon begins to identify as his father. When she finally surrenders to his affections, life takes on an entirely new hue.

But then, years later, İlyas suddenly appears from nowhere, demanding his wife and child back. His arrival rekindles the questions that have preoccupied hearts and minds since time immemorial. What is love? What makes a lover? What makes a spouse? What makes a father? And which is harder: to go back or not to go back?

1. Léon [1994]

Most films portray gangsters and hitmen as characters with disabled souls, handicapped in love and unable to feel it as a healthy and genuine emotion. Léon rises a little above this. It is a combination of thrilling action and heartfelt emotion, and is a remarkably unique and engaging film.

French director Luc Besson tackles his first American movie in this unusual tale of Léon (Jean Reno), a stoic assassin who develops a reluctant relationship with an orphaned 12-year-old girl (Natalie Portman, in an excellent debut performance). When a corrupt DEA official (Gary Oldman) murders the girl's parents in a botched drug deal, the diminutive New Yorker has no one to turn to but Léon, the hit man down the hall.

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