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The Prestige's Prestigious films to immerse you

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I know I know! I'm just..trying to perfect. You know Movieman im like Kubrick in that I have to perfect until im satisfied with it. I'm sorry you and others have been waiting such a long time but I promise it will be finished sooner than you think. Where you been anyway kid?

Living life. Got a job so that's been keeping me pretty busy, lot of stuff to do for school, and my old laptop broke a couple of months back so I had to wait until I got a new one. It's summer now, though, I'll have a lot more free time on my hands.

Good man. I guess that means we will get to see another nice familiar presence around here more often then. Having a full time job can really put a damper on things you like to do. I'm part time now and it helps a lot more. Glad to have you back though.

"Told I ain't going back"


7. Heat (Michael Mann, 1995)

Michael Mann's influential crime thriller is merely a tale of cop's 'n' robbers, but also a study of that ol' ying yang scenario that's been imitated before but a substantial amount of times after the release of this 90's diamond.

Bob DeNiro co leads as the lonely, soft spoken Neil MaCauley, who also just happens to lead a talented and brutal team of professional theives.. His flip side is Pacino's tempestuous and boisterous Vincent Hanna, who's aggressive sarcastic demeanor initially belies what David Simon and co would call 'good PO-lease'. Watch the scene where he figures out that MaCauley is studying him and his comrades during the empty warehouse space.

Heat is, as epic a film I have ever scene if I had to answer 'what's the most epic film i've ever seen'. It's epic in scale, running time and, of course, cast wise. There is just a great sense of power and importance to it that I hadn't really felt before prior to watching it.

The film is noted for being the first to feature American film giants DeNiro and Pacino in the same scene. It's not too difficult to appreciate this bit of casting when all you have to do is reflect on both Pacino and DeNiro's careers. Both have spent most of the very commercial part of their careers playing either a copper or crook. Both have similar fan bases, are of the same age and have Italian sounding names.

Essentially, these two iconic figures parallel each other similary to how Hanna and MaCauley parallel each other. obvious observation, i'm aware, but I cannot recfall a time where two characters from opposite sides of the law felt so convincingly alike.

I first watched Heat when I was about 13 or 14 years old, and even though I never fully understood the complexities of everybody's relationship, I remember being very impressed with how immersive Mann's vision was. And this may sound odd seeing as i've never been, but I felt he captured what seemed like to be the naturalism of Los Angeles. Like a place that I could imagine living in, not just some glossed up Hollywood walkzone.

The city feels alive and you kind of get to know it a lil bit. Those lovely blue skies (my favourite colour) and cold, grayish/blue tint haunts the photography. It's an astonishing style that really caputres the internal torment of the protagonists and their lonely nature - Neil's infamous "30 secs to go speech" and Hanna's refuslal to put his family before the job.

Another thing that amazed me was Mann's complex writing of the lesser but key characters and the situations that they find themselves in. For example, Mann throughout most of the film seems to suggest that it's our choices in life that make us deserve whatever consequences comes our way, and that you make everything your own but it's ultimately those who make the wrong choices who are the people who get what they deserve.

But then he comes out with a sociological argument that's explained through those brief yet sorry Brendan scenes that suggests that Mann really believes that people are often forced into positions in society that they are believed to be the most effective in and benefit greater from doing such things than doing it the hard way. It's Mann's desire to not baby the characters or paint them as 11 dimensional by putting us into the lives of both villains and 'heroes' that makes this film so special. It's ultimately his film and he has yet to better it.

As I said when this appeared on someone elses 100, I really like this film, but I have no idea why. I think, in the end, we came to the conclusion that I just liked to look at it, as I really don't like anything else about it. Other than the two, great, robbery scenes and the dock scene you mentioned. "Gentlemen, we've just been made."

BTW, have ever seen L.A. Takedown?

Heat is a great movie, but like Honeykid I can't really wrap my mind around why. I suppose the acting is pretty good from DeNiro and Pacino and the story really swallows you up and makes you become attached to what will happen next.

As I said when this appeared on someone elses 100, I really like this film, but I have no idea why. I think, in the end, we came to the conclusion that I just liked to look at it, as I really don't like anything else about it. Other than the two, great, robbery scenes and the dock scene you mentioned. "Gentlemen, we've just been made."

BTW, have ever seen L.A. Takedown?
It's definitely a film that's visually pleasing. But did you not find any of the characters sympathetic? I know a lot of people don't like the ending much, but I thought it was great and there really was no other way it could end.

I have not seen LA Takedown. I suppose I should watch LA Takedown seeing as how this film had a big impact on me. How does it compare?

Heat is a great movie, but like Honeykid I can't really wrap my mind around why. I suppose the acting is pretty good from DeNiro and Pacino and the story really swallows you up and makes you become attached to what will happen next.
Sometimes the best films are the ones you can't exactly put your fingers on, mate. It's similar to how people like 2001 (even though I personally think its pants) in that it just charms them. Glad you guys at least like it though

It's definitely a film that's visually pleasing. But did you not find any of the characters sympathetic? I know a lot of people don't like the ending much, but I thought it was great and there really was no other way it could end.
Nope, didn't like any of them. I also didn't care for the acting from Al, couldn't believe the romance between Neil and Edi and really hated the ending. In fact, I think the only character I thought was really interesting was John Voights character, whose name I can't remember.

I have not seen LA Takedown. I suppose I should watch LA Takedown seeing as how this film had a big impact on me. How does it compare?
It's been a long, long time since I saw this, but I liked it more than Heat. Not that it's a better film, but this pared down version worked better for me. However, as someone who loves the epic nature of Heat, I'm guessing that there's little there for you outside of curiousity value. That said, even though it's a tv movie, it's still a well made film and the first robbery in Heat is almost the same as in this. I wouldn't say it's shot-for-shot, but it all plays out in the same way, same vehicles, masks, etc. I wouldn't be surprised if it was shot in the same location.

"I want Cousous.."

6. Fear Eats The Soul (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974)

Fassbinder's incredible tale is another one of his more critically acclaimed work that deals with issues such as, yep, you guessed it, race, ageism and community. First saw this artful piece of european cinema back in 2006 in a Contemprory German Cinema module and it immediately spoke volumes to me.

As those of you who know me may be aware, i'm not one for romantic films. In fact I can't stand most of them, but Fassbinder hit a high with this one. I know most people would call it more of a melodrama than romantic film but I beg to differ. I feel the film is very much about the romance of different individuals and how its their communities that affect their relationship.

For those who are not familiar with Fassbinder's most touching moment, it tells the story of two people with very different backgrounds who fall in love: Ali (El Hedi Ben Salem), a somewhat complex Moroccan immigrant living in Germany and Emmi, (Brigitte Mira) a much older woman who herself is lonely and detached from German society. These two embark on a romance that's met with a lot of disdain by the locals who bigotry clouds their judgement.

I think the reason I love this film so much is probably similar to the reasons why I like the 3rd part of the Three Colours Trilogy. I'm not just talking about the age differences between the characters, but how the film can also be interpreted as an anti-romance even though I would ultimately reject the 'anti' part. For one, the romance depicted between the two leads is, in certain Brechtian sequences, rather 'dull' in that the camera literally just stays on them while they are sitting down on a couch in silence.

There is very little in the way of mushy going ons and 'oh i love you' body language that fans of the romance genre might be accustomed to. Pretentious? Maybe a lil, but I actually like the sequence and interpreted that these two lonely figures happen to be very comfortable doing absolutely nothing with each other, which, in some ways, is how I would interpret true love.

Throughout the course of the film, Ali gradually becomes more accepted by German society, which comes at a price as he becomes a bit less innocent and less charming. It's no secret that Fassbinder isn't a fan of his own country, but the way he darken's Ali's personality a little bit. He has a knee jerk reaction to the way his fellow colleagues poke fun at Emmi, and it just further examines the horrible ways in which society can affect even the simplists of romance. And while it's not unlike Fassbinder to have his protagonists act in a unsympathetic way, it's certainly unsettling to see such real scenarios that many people can relate to. It's brutally honest. Some may say too honest but still honest.

Though it may be worth mentioning that Fassbinder does realistically paint Emmi as somebody who can be nasty herself in that there are few times where the influence of her racist colleagues becomes evident, like her treatment of an eastern european girl at her work place and her use of racial slurs.

Fassbinder himself pops up in the film as Emmi's very racist son in law. It's a role Fassbinder excels at and pretty much knew first hand how to play as he had experienced prejudice himself what with his homosexuality. I think it's significant to mention that Fassbinder had a relationship with Selem and that the story here is probably similar to the romance they had. It's definitely a film that feels very personal and such feelings can only occur when the author is reflecting on themselves.

All in all, this is a poignant and different piece of cinema that one really needs to see beyond words. Stop reading my review and go and order it if you haven't already seen it. Or better yet, if you have seen it, watch it again and watch a highly talented individual at the top his game, getting it all out in extroadanairy performances by two incredible leads.

Just to let you guys know that I have reedited the pictures I have accompanied with the reflections/reviews on my list. I was looking back from the beginning and realised that at least 60% of the pics were not available. I quite like having images with text so I made sure I added the pics, which I think can help one decide whether to check a film out because a visual interpretation gives you an idea if it isn't a film you've already seen. So for those who are new to my list or whatever you can now see it in it's entirely.

I will update the pics every couple of months just so they are always there.

"And why, he so killing people?"

5. A History Of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)

Dave Cronenberg's A History Of Violence is a deliciously teased out mystery thriller that plays out like a cross between an old school western with familiar tropes of film noir. While the merging of such distinctive genres may seem uncanny on paper, the result is a beautifully accomplished piece of work that somehow manages to examine every aspect of the American Dream and it's associations with violence and how it creeps up on even the unlikeliest of us.

I didn't really think too much of violence after my initial viewing 4 years ago. The last film on VHS was not what I expected it was going to be the first time round because I had been led to believe that it was some sort of gory action thriller by some of my friends, and while I did not dislike the film, I did feel somewhat underwhelmed when I didn't get my dose of wham bam thank you mam.

BUT THEN..I did what I often do with most films I watch..I watched it again, and I have to say that never before have I done a bigger U Turn on a film than I did with Violence. My second viewing was surreal in that it felt like I was watching the film for the first time as it made me aware of things and brought out the strangest emotions that never occured the first time. I saw the film for what it truly is and to say I loved it would be like me saying Malin Ackerman is an attractive woman.

One thing that stood out was how subtle and masterful the "is he isn't he" vibe is. For those who have not seen the film, PLEASE LOOK AWAY NOW. as there are going to be big spoilers ahead.

Cronenberg handles these scenes like a maestro of the genre, slyly hinting at Mortensen's brutal alter ego until the big reveal. Mortensen himself is ****ing outstanding, particularly in the scenes were we are forced to read into his thought provoking gazes. He easily convey's Tom/Joey's inner demon by the simple ways in which he holds his face or slightly changes his accent. It really is almost like a double personality and it is to Mortensen's credit that he makes Joey Cusack come across as a twin compare to the soft spoken and somewhat feminised Tom Stall.

Part of the fun of this film is in watching how the the rich backstory affects the film's present setting. The always excellent Ed Harris takes on the difficult task of providing the backstory to the spectator in a way that's not too obvious. His gangster Fogerty is instrumental in planting doubt in the spectator's minds about Tom's existence. It's almost ironic that the villain of the piece, with his creepy facial scars, turns out to be somewhat of a reliable narrator.

Cronenberg is a bit unrecognisable here to the untrained eye. The body horror master channelling Sam Peckinpah and key figures of noir to deliver his own visionary interpretation of the graphic novel adapt. Cronenberg's atheism and obsession with the scientific nature of human beings is on display in a straighter way here than in the past.

See the effects of the very violent scenes in which Joey bursts into near unbelievable athleticism in order to take down the wise guys threatening his family. We are cleverly encouraged to cheer Joey on as he arm locks one unfortunate thug and repeatedly proceeds to thrust the thickest part of his palm up towards his nose. We clap at the bravado of this heroic act, only for cheers to turn into disgust as we see the very disturbing physical effects of Joey's actions etched all over the face of the thugs smashed face. This is where Cronenberg gets to shine the most, using his body knowledge to excite and disgust as while at the same time, intelligently allowing us to consciously acknowledge our spectatorship for violence.

There are two interesting and contrasting sex scenes in the film. The first, a tame one where the characters get to act out their fantasys or whatever with Maria Bello (Her best performance yet) dressing up as a cheerleader seducing and apparently dominating Tom. This is a cute moment in which Edie appears to be force whereas Tom is the passive. It's a moment brought on by pure pleasure.

Contrast that with the scene on stairs, a much darker and more painful sex scene where Edie already knows about Joey by then. It's one of the most interesting scenes in the film because it really brings out different perspectives of the psychology of the characters. In my opinion, I think Edie's inner turmoil is revealed by that point as she can't stop herself from making love with Tom. Inside her, I felt, revealed a desire for somebody strong and more masculine than than Tom. I think she ends up being attracted by Joey's violent skills and hates herself for it.

The film does have a satirical edge and a lil bit of dark humour, particularly in the climatic Philidelphia location, but overall, I would say that Cronenberg is dead serious and his meditation on violence and it's extroadanairy effects have never felt so profound.

It was after Cronenberg's audio commentary, which is fantastic btw, that I noticed deep the theme of violence was explored. There is the hierarchy of violence, as seen when school boy bully of Tom's son, Jack, is seen plotting to do some bully boy antics to the seemingly weak and sensitive kid and sets about doing so just before a monster truck pulls up in front of them, blocking their path. Bobby and his buddy are about to respond via abusive sign language until they wisely consider that the gaze of the truck drivers, (One being the awesome Stepehen McHattie) is not the gaze of a normal person. So then Bobby goes off with his tail between his legs. I love that moment because it shows the noticeable shift in power between random individuals. One moment you could be staring down a guy who might have nearly knocked you over with his car only to accidentially bump into another guy who's physically presence is too powerful for you to freact fearlessly to.

Cronenberg also suggests that such acts are in the blood, which I partially agree with, though im not too keen on the gene thing generally. Throughout the course of the film, Tom's son is shown to use his brain rather than his apparent lack of physical brawn to fight Bobby off, but after being push around one too many times, Jack beats the living crap out of Bobby with very little effort, reminiscent of his father. So Jack, just like his father, naturally knows how to kill people. Would Cronenberg apply this to every aspect of the human condition? Im not sure, but I enjoy speculating and in the case of AHOF, it would seem that he at least believes that inherent in a lot of us in a basic instinct. A need to survive and conquer. The two criminals at the start of the film seem to represent simple animals, out on the prowl. No reason rather than self preservation and the need to succeed. Their motives are very simple, which I think is actually the disturbing thing about it all. Violence doesn't all need a motive in order to be displayed. Some people just need to..I dunno, let it out I suppose. And whilst it's ugly and nasty, it's very human and something I feel the film deals with extremely well.

William Hurt's oscar nominated cameo isn't as special as the nomination may make it seem, but he gets his some pretty funny dialogue.The cinematography is GOLD. It's beautifully photographed by Peter Suschitzky and really helps enhance The American Dream vibe that the film has going on for the first part of the movie. Slight colour tone shifts transform it into a noir towards the end, but it never feels unbalanced, and is some of the best colouring I have ever seen in a film.

I've said way too much and some of it may not have made sense, but this is top 5 for a reason so I had to get it all out. Violence is a way of life, affording to Cronenberg. Sometimes we need it, most times we don't, and while it's not pleasant, there is a necessity to it. Only the strong will survive at the end., and Joey is living proof.

75. Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005)

Ah, someone else who appreciates this film and Levitt. You have quite the list here and have inspired me to pursue a list of my own. I should wish to see The Graduate in your top five.

There's also that great happy ending for a History of Violence, where they all sit down at the dinner table and share a family dinner. Or do they? They are no longer breaking bread with Tom Stall, the soft spoken family man, but supplying Joey, a violent sociopath with a great alibi. He's gotten rid of all the loose ends. He's safe, but are they? You can already see the chill developing between them.

Gave you some rep just for putting so much effort into these write ups on the various films in your top 10. You talk sense too. I too loved A History of Violence and I'm still not sure which cronenburg flick I like best: AHOV or Eastern Promises.

And I think Heat is Mann's most accomplished and enjoyable film.