In an effort to rejuvenate my thirst for film I have partaken on an ambitious endeavor. I have decided to compile my list of 100 favorite films, rewatch them, and write a brief review. I encourage you to follow along.

96.

Adventureland (Mottola, 2009)

For those of us who are junkies for nostalgia we often find ourselves in a indescribable paralysis. The smallest prick to our senses can lead us into the cob webs of our past where we feel the moments, places, and people we’ve left behind. And we ask ourselves, are we better for them? And were they really as good as we feel they were?

Adventureland is a homage to the nostalgia junkie. Everything is blanketed in a warm dreamy light, and even the bitterness of heartbreak has a romantic reflection of sweetness and naivety. The characters have soft, rounded edges, there worst sins eroded by memory. Everything is viewed through a bittersweet haze until the only thing that remains are the faint traces of emotion that stick our skin like phantom needles in haystacks. This film has its flaws, most notably a ‘take no chances’ ending that betrays much of the film’s sentiment, but, Greg Mottola, does what he can to capture those pins that find our searching hands, and in many ways he comes close.

– James Merolla

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In an effort to rejuvenate my thirst for film I have partaken on an ambitious endeavor. I have decided to compile my list of 100 favorite films, rewatch them, and write a brief review. I encourage you to follow along.

97.

The Limey (Soderbergh, 1999)

A loss can lead one down a bizarre and twisted path where reality bends like light through glass, and we find comfort in repeating ourselves. The half smile memories play on fuzzy faded film over and over until they aren’t memories at all, but habits to remind us to remember. And there are cold comforts found in our anger and confusion, and a desperate logic we reach for. And while burning our crazed effigies, we scarcely stop to wonder what ends we’ll meet.

There is an immortality in great sorrow, and Terrence Stamp’s character of Wilson finds it briefly in The Limey. He is a man in a desperate search for redemption. His eyes are flooded with rage, but beneath his rage is the heavy blue of regret and melancholy. He is on a personal twisted path of mourning. Nothing can touch him but the faded memories of a daughter he never really knew.

Steven Soderbergh’s almost erratic style in this film seems to capture the erratic nature of Wilson’s journey. He plays out the entire film directly through the perspective of Wilson. Sometimes we aren’t clear as to what is happening in “reality” and what is happening in his mind. Often we will see brief flutters of characters seemingly unaware of the gazing eye, as if these moments are happening exclusively in the mind of Wilson. They are his impressions of them, they are what he sees them as.

Soderbergh strikes at the heart of an angry man foolishly yearning to make up for all of his mistakes, and he captures the sentiment buried deep within this yearning beautifully through colorful flashbacks, and moments of quiet sadness alone with Wilson.

– James Merolla

In an effort to rejuvenate my thirst for film I have partaken on an ambitious endeavor. I have decided to compile my list of 100 favorite films, rewatch them, and write a brief review. I encourage you to follow along.

98.

Daughters of Darkness (Kumel, 1971)

The first of many horror movies to appear on the list Harry Kumel’s deliciously stylish film is a piece of camp brilliance. Kumel however ignores much of the inherent camp that comes with the horror genre, and instead drives this film with the heavy hand of a romance melodrama. It is a struggle, not of fear or terror, but of power and obsession. Each character longing for control. Some play the sheep, and some play the wolf, and all of them are at the mercy of nature.

There is a hypnotic aura in this film, as if it were an elaborate seduction, not only are the characters seducing each other, Kumel seduces with his constant use of deep reds, dark shadows on smooth skin, and the magnetic performance of the great Delphine Seyrig. She is completely aware of every word she speaks, they all cross her lips with a careful deliberation, and every movement is like a hand sliding over silk. Despite Kumel’s style and camp, his film would be empty without Seyrig’s performance. However, Seyrig has an even more haunting performance in a film we will see later on the list.

– James Merolla

In an effort to rejuvenate my thirst for film I have partaken on an ambitious endeavor. I have decided to compile my list of 100 favorite films, rewatch them, and write a brief review. I encourage you to follow along.

99.

Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, 1994)

In the years since its release Pulp Fiction has become the cool kid from high school all grown up. After graduating, he had a brief stint in college, where he met many other cool kids, and suddenly he realized he wasn’t as cool as he thought. After a long bout with denial he shuffled back to his parents house, enrolled in a trade school, and eventually carved out a nice living as an electrician. He is humbled now, his thick wavy hair is thinned, his once lean frame is carrying a lot of extra weight, and his eyes are not the gleaming blue they once were. But occasionally, if you catch him in the right moment, you’ll see a brief flash of his former glory, the brilliant light that still has so many lonely mouths whispering his name through smoke cloud memories.

In 1994 Pulp Fiction was a sharp bolt that cut through the American cinematic world. But as time has passed it has been lapped repeatedly and left as a sort of parody of itself. But, one cannot deny the overwhelming energy and iconography that it will forever possess. The story of Vincent and Mia is most notable, to watch their forbidden love unfurl before us, more being said in their silence than their words, and the hand of fate delivering them from their serendipitous collision. It is this moment, along with many others in the film that helped, for better or worse, spawn a new generation of cinema. Tarantino was one of the few American directors at the time reminding us that film should be punctuated with style and mood.

– James Merolla

 

 

In an effort to rejuvenate my thirst for film I have partaken on an ambitious endeavor. I have decided to compile my list of 100 favorite films, rewatch them, and write a brief review. I encourage you to follow along.

100.

Eva (Losey, 1962)

There is a strange and muddy wasteland in the frontier between where our ego ends, and reality begins. It’s a place where we all speak with forked tongues, have perfect hair, and lay enslaved to the unattainable flesh and glitter. It’s what looks back at us from every mirror.

Tyvian, the main character in Joseph Losey’s Eva, has broken free of the boundaries that had kept him prisoner of the wasteland. Perhaps it was when his brother died, handing him the lie for Tyvian to make his fraudulent name from, but more likely it happened much earlier, a young man tired of living in the shadows of better men found a way of escape? It is greed and lust that fuels him, and until he met Eva he had the game all figured out. It’s Eva that wriggled her fingers into him and massaged his heart into a cold and lonely death.

Tyvian feels nothing now but the longing for Eva’s gaze. It is a bitter purgatory for the man with no identity left.

– James Merolla

Amarcord (Fellini, 1973)

Remember all your clumsy poets with fluttering hearts, your whimsy in red dresses, and the music of your click clacking heals. You mourned with the stone faced lovers, bored and unwanting, waiting under gray skies for the flood of passion, so long overdue. You can still smell the grass you picked from your hair after you tumbled with the maniacs. They were doomed to the long-held beliefs of their poison tongued fathers, and their fathers before them, their wrists held bare in their ill-fitted clothes. Remember the frustrated air escaping your lungs as you slumped into your grandmother’s favorite chair, feeling the years of habit climb you like ivy. You long for Sunday afternoons, and the lingering smells of your family in the purple light of dusk, the uneven sidewalks of your town, and the names that come to you now by accident accompanied by faces blurred by the clouds of age. Remember the laughter that splashed the walls and flooded the shoes of the careless dancers. It made your makeup streak, and it tore your dress, but it mattered little, because no one held a mirror to your beauty within the comfort of home.

Twin Peaks (David Lynch and Mark Frost, 1990-1991)

She rested her head on his shoulder as the car drifted down the lonely night path. She thought of the many different ways she dreamed of this moment, listening to the fuzzy tones on the radio. She never asked where they were going, and occasionally she’d look up at his stern face fixed to the road, and she’d smile at the display he put on for her.

“You know exactly what I like.” She’d whisper, and he’d let a smile crack his cheeks.

She named him Dean, and he gave up arguing. He saw that they together were the perfect ripples to distort their reflections. They were the beasts in bird’s clothing that fluttered wounded from their restless bedroom windows. And he swelled his chest with pride while she tightened her grip on his arm. He was Dean, the greasy rebel who made women bloom in the breeze of his walking by.

No one knew Dean, but she did. She, the girl wearing the wicked smile and saddle shoes, floating from one breath to the next, peeling the frustrated lust of men off her fingers like bubble gum. Oh, her careless heart spun with the speckles of a mirror ball while everyone danced with her in the spotlight of their minds. But, no one in that town moved her like Dean could, that quiet boy that never smiled.

She closed her eyes and saw her past in flames. It started at the wretched white picket fence, and reached across the yard to the crooked apple tree that cast haunted shadows on her walls, and mother and father, showing no emotion, even as they burned.

They were a cannon ball barreling down the road, glowing hot, waiting to explode. The dreams of sparks they saw, the charred earth they’d leave behind, a black epitaph of their love. One more dance was all they needed, one more dance to sway, and to lose a little more of themselves in this clouded reality.

She buried her face against his jacket and smelled the leather. She smiled again, that wicked smile. He finally looked at her.

“This is something beautiful.” She said. “It will live forever on this stretch of road, the ghosts of our love.”