As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. This week, I tackle IP’s #5 pick, Children of Men (2006, Cuarón)
I’m not going to lie, the beginning of the aughts was not a good time for science fiction. By this time, The Matrix had already killed its goodwill with overtly explanatory monologues by Col. Sanders in sequels, Tim Burton had butchered a classic Planet of the Apes remake by subbing in Mark Wahlberg for Charlton Heston, and for some reason we adapted an Isaac Asimov story starring Will Smith sporting Converse. There were a couple of bright spots but they seemed to fade quickly.
Then in 2006, like a lighting bolt, sci-fi returned. Without a doubt, the biggest release and Christmas present to viewers everywhere was Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men. 10 years from the release, the precise accuracy of the predicted direction of the world makes it an even better science fiction film and all the more important.
As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. This week, I tackle GWC’s #4 pick, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love (2002).
Paul Thomas Anderson is my favorite living and active filmmaker so I was overjoyed to see two of his films make the Ultimate Playbill. His themes of broken people trying to find a place through a makeshift, damaged family always speak to me. It also made my day that Punch Drunk Love, one of his lesser talked about films made the cut.
By 2002, PTA was one of the hottest new voices in film. With Boogie Nights (1997) and Magnolia (1999) under his belt, the film world was at his feet. And as the strongest new director to come out of Hollywood in a very long time, Anderson really could have done whatever he wanted. Instead he chose to make a film that many people at the time considered a misstep: an Adam Sandler movie.
As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. This week, I tackle holybeeofephesus’s #3 pick, Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002).
I’m not going to lie, I was a bit mad and disappointed when Gangs of New York ended up on our favorite movies of the last fifteen years. Martin Scorsese’s tale of of historical revenge set in Five Points of Manhattan was not a favorite of mine. The story is simple enough: In 1846, the Five Points was a gang laden part of New York. People claiming to be Nativist (American born people of British descent) are led by William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), a man hell bent on keeping control over and away from freshly immigrated people. His main rival is Priest Vallon ( Liam Neeson) and his gang the Dead Rabbits, comprised of newly immigrated Irish Catholics. Bill manages to kill Vallon and subdue the war but not before Vallon’s son Amsterdam witness the act and manages to flee. 16 years later, Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio) returns and infiltrates Bill’s Nativist gang in the hopes of killing him for revenge.
The last time I saw it was in 2002 and besides Daniel Day-Lewis, I was feeling very let down by what I watched. I didn’t know what to make of it besides it being a giant mess ending with a horrible attempt by U2 at winning an Oscar. Scorsese was (and still is) a cornerstone of what makes me a cinephile, so I felt very strongly in my opinion that Scorsese made a misstep with the film. Because I hardly ever heard it spoken in film circles in the past 14 years since it was released, I felt validated with my assessment of the film. It lay forgotten in my mind until it was included in the draft, and I was forced to question my opinion of Scorsese’s huge movie.
The beauty of the Ultimate Playbill is that it has given me a reason to reevaluate my past conceptions of films, loved or hated. Rewatches have been all over the map but for some reason I felt excited to rewatch Gangs. I am glad I gave it another chance because while I still have a lot of problems with the film, the final product is something truly cinematic. To understand the film, It is necessary to provide some context to the production and lengths Scorsese and team went to get the film exactly how they wanted.
Hayao Miyazaki is without a doubt one of my favorite filmmakers. I can prattle on and on about his movies but I’ve always liked some more than others. For me he had two movies that I liked but just referred to them as his “delightful” movies. They were great to look at and I had fun watching them but I didn’t find much to unpack after viewing.
One of the two was Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) but I recently had the chance to see it in a theater (in 35mm no less!) I was just going, because, honestly, I could see it for free and I love seeing actual film in a theater. But it knocked me on my ass. It touched me more than I ever thought it could.
A little background on me: last time I watched this movie I was still in high school and living at home. While the idea of striking out on my own like Kiki does at age 13 seemed very cool to me, I just thought the whole film was a pleasant A to B story without much else happening. Flash forward almost a decade later and I am in the huge new city of Los Angeles struggling to figure out my life.