Midnight Cowboy (1969), John Schlesinger

A sad and – on its release date – a shocking film, John Schlesinger’s 1969 Midnight Cowboy, tells the poignant tale of two outcasts, adrift in the urban ocean of isolation, alienation and disenfranchisement of the ultimate great metropolis, who can’t help but dig their own graves.

midnight-cowboy-2Can the outsider succeed in the great cities of the world? There’s a paradox in the movement of people towards the bright lights – the most suited of places to receive them are also the least welcoming ones. New York City, with its myriad of opportunities, is where dreamers start over, and yet, by its very nature and sheer size, it also alienates newcomers. The Big Apple of Joe Buck and Ratso Rizzo seems like a private party, in which they have not been invited. Continue reading

Babette’s Feast (1987), Gabriel Axel

A sublime tale of denial, sacrifice and regret in a remote corner of Denmark, Gabriel Axel’s 1987 Babette’s Feast confronts the austerity of two elderly Protestant sisters with Babette’s sumptuous and mouth-watering banquet to expose hard truths about faith and its limitations.

babettes-feast-2How do western audiences at the beginning of the 21st Century, spoilt, overfed and overstimulated as they are, react to a tale of slow austerity and constipated frugality, set in the 19th Century? Babette’s Feast [Babettes Gæstebud] is a masterpiece of sublime meditation on the gulf between the pleasures of the body and the stimulus of the spirit. As the film points at the pertinent ambiguity inherent in such dichotomy, asking intriguing questions in the process, we are served (forgive the pun) a feast of intellectual stimulation. Continue reading

Gone with the Wind (1939), Victor Fleming

Thematically controversial and visually arresting, Victor Fleming’s 1939 Gone with the Wind, isn’t exactly the most accurate of motion pictures, but the scope of its storytelling, and the psychological insights it displays about a flawed but compelling heroine, are admirable indeed.

gone-with-the-wind-2How does one defend a 75-year-old movie that sugarcoats aspects of a nasty legacy in American history? Obviously, one doesn’t – one can’t! In fact, the film does not need defending – unless one, not only has a chip on their shoulder, but lives and sleeps with one at all times. Well-educated people will know that slavery was actually brutal (12 Years a Slave, anyone?). Why does a work of art must agree to certain degrees of accuracy? What kinds of responsibility does a picture bear towards the truth? Is it really so insensitive to love the film for those dresses, those vistas and those characters dazzling in Technicolor? Continue reading