Monday, March 31, 2008

Top Biopics - 2 - Lawrence of Arabia by David Lean (1962)

David Lean. These two words are the answer to how a seemingly impossible film to finance was made. T.L. Lawrence was a fasinating man who fought with the Arabs in World War II to help them gain a more formal sense of indepence. Lawrence of Arabia is also happens to be the debut performance of the legandary Peter O'Toole. The picture comes in at just shy of four hours, nothing happens and I could not take my eyes off of the screen, it is a portrait of greatness and a true triumph in American cinema. Pity Lawrence died in a motorcycle accident after surviving the desert.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Top Biopics - 3 - Schindler's List by Steven Spielberg (1993)

All right, seriously, we all knew it was coming. So, here it is: So what if the real Oskar Schindler was more of a capitalist than humanitarian, he still saved a ton of Jewish people in the worst humanitarian tragedy in the 20th Century. Liam Neeson puts a face onto a struggling business owner who decides that he can make money and have a bonus of saving lives. Again, so what if the part when he breaks down to Kingsley about the desk being two more lives and the telephone, etc was slightly revisionist, it was beautiful. Steven Speilberg's film is a triumph on all fronts and that is why there are only two more pictures left on this list.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Top Biopics - 4 - Patton by Franklin J. Schaffner (1970)

General George Patton was a brilliant and mean military man in the midst of World War II. George C. Scott portrays that with ease in his Oscar winning portrayal in the film named after the general. This film goes beyond a typical war film and allows the audience to see inside the man behind the maddness.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Top Biopics - 5 - Born on the Fourth of July by Oliver Stone (1989)

The incredible story of Ron Kovic is heartwrenching. The story is ment to make you question war and especially the actions of the United States in the Vietnam War but its much more than that. Tom Cruise plays Kovic with such conviction he sadly fell into competition with the great Daniel Day-Lewis and lost his best shot so far at Oscar Gold.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Top Biopics - 6 - Goodfellas by Martin Scorsese (1990)

Martin Scorsese's 1990 masterpiece is one of the six biopics that he has made. Goodfellas is about a man named Henry Hill, an Irish-Italian American who grew up in Little Italy. When Hill gets involved with the mafia his life becomes a dream before spiraling out of control with cocaine and sex. Hill is still living under an alias under the Witness Protection Agency. The final act of this film is made with such an intensity that many people have been forced to choose to love or hate this film with little in between. 

*Note* Goodfellas is part of a thematic series with Casino as its sequel for Mafia memoirs written by Nicholas Pileggi and along with The Departed it is the first part of Scorsese's Mafia Trilogy.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Top Biopics - 7 - The French Connection by William Friedkin (1971)

The Academy called it the Best Picture of 1971. Early in Gene Hackman's career he made a living playing cops and men running from cops (see Bonnie and Clyde). This film about 'Popeye' Doyle is a little less of a biopic in the truest sense of the word and more of a memoir about a detective's life during the major heroine trade in the 1960's. It is brilliantly executed and technically flawless. The French Connection is a Cop Drama Thriller for the ages, and here it is.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Top Biopics - 8 - Dead Man Walking by Tim Robbins (1995)

Tim Robbin's Dead Man Walking is more than a biopic, which it is, about Sister Helen Prejean, and based off of her memoirs. What makes this more than an ordinary biopic is that it is also a message film. The message is that there may not be a right answer to the problem of Capitol Punishment and while Tim Robbins may personally be opposed to the issue his film is the most even-handed film about a real political issue. It plays into the hands of those who stand up against the act and powerfully falls into the hands of those who think that it is necessary. It is a beautiful film that transcends political ideology and cuts straight to the human heart.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Top Biopics - 9 - Capote by Bennett Miller (2005)

Capote is all about one man and three names: Phillip Seymour Hoffman. We all knew he was great before, but this performance cemented his name in the top of the current generations acting talents. Hoffman lost an immense amount of weight to personify the person of Truman Capote in all of his glory and all his short-comings.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Top Biopics - 10 - Nixon by Oliver Stone (1995)

Call him a conspiracy freak, call him a liberal and write him off as paranoid, Oliver Stone was pumping out films as good as anyone in the late 80's and the early 90's. Nixon has Stone at the top of his game; and on top of that, one of the bravest and best performances ever given by the brilliant Anthony Hopkins. It is not, however, the acting, direction or any other film making techniques that make this one of the best biopics ever made. What Oliver Stone did with this picture was to take a person who had been made a monster in history and make him not only a human again but made him sympathetic.

Top 10 Biopics

1. Raging Bull by Martin Scorsese (1980)
2. Lawrence of Arabia by David Lean (1962)
3. Schindler’s List by Steven Spielberg (1993)
4. Patton by Franklin J. Schaffner (1970)
5. Born of the Fourth of July by Oliver Stone (1989)
6. Goodfellas by Martin Scorsese (1990)
7. The French Connection by William Friedkin
8. Dead Man Walking by Tim Robbins (1995)
9. Capote by Bennett Miller (2005)
10. Nixon by Oliver Stone (1995)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

American Gangster by Ridley Scott

This review is a little behind being that Ridely Scott's new film hit cinemas in October, but I was not able to make it to the theatre to see it, and it just came out on DVD. Scott's new film is a brutal exercise in filmmaking that rivals the kind of crime films by Michael Mann and Martin Scorsese. Denzel Washington plays Frank Lucas with a viciousness that has been admired by everyone from critics to the real Frank Lucas.