Psycho

A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer’s client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.

For two consecutive Halloweens, I’ve watched a classic horror film that has become so ubiquitous in pop culture that its shocks, twists and scares surely shouldn’t surprise me. It came as no surprise when Jack Torrance went crazy and tried to kill his family. I knew from the opening titles that Norman Bates is dressing up as his mother and committing these murders. And yet Alfred Hitchcock and Anthony Perkins make me doubt myself with every passing minute. Continue reading “Psycho”

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

A senator, who became famous for killing a notorious outlaw, returns for the funeral of an old friend and tells the truth about his deed.

What made the western Hollywood’s blockbuster staple in the middle of the 20th century? In the years after World War II, perhaps American audiences were taking solace in a historical setting that celebrated the young country’s position as a newly minted superpower. I don’t know. But The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance makes me sure it was something more than just a fad. Continue reading “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”

Cool Hand Luke

A man refuses to conform to life in a rural prison.

My first interaction with Cool Hand Luke was actually about ten years ago, watching an episode of MTV’s Jackass that recreated the famous “50 eggs” sequence. Probably for everyone’s own good, I couldn’t find it on YouTube – it’s not an accurate recreation. Unlike the cast of Jackass, Luke manages to consume 50 hard-boiled eggs without throwing up. This is but one of the incredible feats he achieves, and each one entertained me more than the last. Continue reading “Cool Hand Luke”

The Battle of Algiers

In the 1950s, fear and violence escalate as the people of Algiers fight for independence from the French government.

When there’s very obviously an agenda to a film, watching it can be difficult. Because there’s no way of assessing what kind of base knowledge you’re required to possess before the film begins. In my case, Algeria was declared independent thirty years before I was born. It’s a country that crosses my mind almost never. I knew that it had a history of conflict – I didn’t know much else. Continue reading “The Battle of Algiers”

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.

As the final part of Leone’s loosely-woven trilogy of Western films that defy the genre, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly entertained me far more than its origin, A Fistful of Dollars. I’m yet to strike For a Few Dollars More off my list, but it’s clear from the gradual incline in Top 250 positions that Leone learned a lot. Except when to use the Oxford comma. Continue reading “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

The Graduate

A disillusioned college graduate finds himself torn between his older lover and her daughter.

When I started University, I was promised that 97% of graduates entered straight into full-time employment, and that tuition fees wouldn’t go up (politics, amiright?!). If I had seen The Graduate during that turbulent time, with its enticing promise of inter-generational adultery, the sheer number of lies might have been too much for me. Continue reading “The Graduate”

A Fistful of Dollars

A wandering gunfighter plays two rival families against each other in a town torn apart by greed, pride, and revenge.

A Fistful of DollarsWhen I get the chance, I read the IMDb plot summary of a film before I watch it. It’s just common sense. It manages expectations. But by reading the synopsis for A Fistful of Dollars, I may have set myself up for disappointment. Continue reading “A Fistful of Dollars”