In late June of last year I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.
I want to mention two things before we proceed beyond the break to a discussion of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 suspense film Rear Window. First of all, I should let you know that discussion will necessarily include some spoilers for the movie, so if you haven’t seen it I would recommend that you go rectify that situation (it’s available for rent through iTunes) and then come back to read the rest of this article. It’s an immensely engaging and electrifying movie that any film buff should have under his or her belt.
Secondly, I have to say that the version of the poster for Rear Window included in the puzzle which is the inspiration for this entire series is pretty far from my favorite.
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Today’s headliners are a pair of prominent directors, one active and one from the past.
Paul Greengrass celebrates his 61st birthday today. He got his start in British television, and also directed a couple of features during that period. His well-received third film, Bloody Sunday, won several film festival awards for its depiction of some infamous events of the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland. Subsequently, he has become one of the primary cinematic chroniclers of the post-9/11 era, with films like United 93, Green Zone and Captain Phillips, and has received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Director.
Most people, however, probably know Greengrass best as the director of the action thrillers The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Among the most successful action films of the past 15 years or so, they are known for their relatively hard-edged tone, their long, elaborate car chase sequences, and their “shakycam” fight sequences, a style that Greengrass seems to make work better than anyone else:
Joe Queenan liked to take on sacred cows. We have already scene him scrutinize Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen. In the August 1990 issue of Movieline magazine, the columnist took Alfred Hitchcock to task for repetitious themes, lazy plots and his creepy relationship with the fairer sex.