Psycho (1960), Alfred Hitchcock

A quintessential horror movie and arguably the most iconic of all of his films, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 Psycho kills its protagonist half way through the story, replaces her with a mama’s boy and transforms itself from a mystery tale into a poignant psychological study.

psycho-2There is no shadow of a doubt as to Alfred Hitchcock being one of the greatest directors of all time. His films have by now transcended the realm of cinema and become part of a wider cultural milieu – icons on themselves. As the movies reach an ever-expanding demographic and their whodunnit aspect subsides, it gets harder to be shocked by their themes and storylines, slightly diminishing the experience of watching the films, but paradoxically also adding new undiscovered pleasures to it. Continue reading

Entranced Earth (1967), Glauber Rocha

Essentially a parable of 20th Century Brazilian politics, Glauber Rocha’s 1967 Entranced Earth, with its poetic metaphors, psychological insights and personal perspective, demystifies both the right and the left and shows us what rises from the ashes of political destruction: ecce homo.

entranced-earth-2Within Glauber Rocha’s tour de force of Cinema Novo (Brazilian New Wave) there lies every Brazilian who has ever lived. For the film speaks of what typifies people’s feelings towards politics: a historical disenchantment. Paulo, the protagonist of Entranced Earth a.k.a. ‘Land in Anguish’ [Terra em Transe] is the epitome of Brazilian disillusion with the political class, and more pertinently, with political life in general. Perhaps, it is to do with the centuries of entrenched inequalities and the blind ignorance of some pressure groups. Or maybe it comes from a fatal flaw in the people’s DNA. What is certain however is that this masterpiece contains the story of Brazil. Continue reading

The Apartment (1960), Billy Wilder

A poignant and profound study of loneliness and conformism, Billy Wilder’s 1960 The Apartment showcases two actors – who would eventually become stars – at the top of their games, with Lemmon as naïve and vulnerable as much as MacLaine is smart and luminous.

the-apartment-2The two leading actors in this Billy Wilder’s masterpiece – these two great performers and iconic stars – transform two common lives into case studies of uniqueness. C. C. Baxter and Fran Kubelik might be suckers for authority, deeply conformist and self-interested people, but they aren’t your regular guys. Lemmon and MacLaine manage to bring to the fore their characters’ idiosyncratic traits while maintaining the overall feeling that these people are like those office colleagues who annoy us for their unashamedly deference and blind submission. Continue reading

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

The Graduate (1967), Mike Nichols

Told from the perspective of its bored and aimless anti-hero, Mike Nichols’ 1967 The Graduate juxtaposes a bleak view of suburban conformism and youth alienation to a background of green grass, white picket-fences and orange Californian sunshine.

the-graduate-2Despite Ben’s middle class background, anyone should be able to relate to his predicament – he has just finished studying hard and expectations are really high. Though now he can breathe a little, Benjamin feels like a pressure pan, ready to explode. Who has never felt like that? Who, at the outset of adulthood, never felt that the world was expecting too much from them? Though many viewers might find Ben too much of a spoilt brat, surely they still can feel for him and the typical troubles of a rebellious and confused young man. Continue reading

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Stanley Kubrick

A richly allegorical and visually striking masterwork, Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 2001: A Space Odyssey is for some, pretentious and uneventful, and yet for others, it is the ultimate work of art which deals with some of the most fundamental philosophical questions.

2001-a-space-odyssey-2Since The Killing, his breakthrough movie, Stanley Kubrick could not put a foot wrong. He made one great film after the other. Just a few other filmmakers (perhaps, auteurs like Tarkovsky or Malick) can rival his ratio of masterpieces-to-films-made. In other words, it is hard to decide on his ultimate masterwork: the movie that defines his legacy. So, as 2001: A Space Odyssey stands tall in his oeuvre, maybe elbowing past Paths of Glory, A Clockwork Orange and The Shining to the top, it deserves to be called a special film indeed. Continue reading

São Paulo S/A (1965), Luiz Sérgio Person

A masterpiece of existentialist cinema, Luiz Sérgio Person’s 1965 São Paulo, Sociedade Anônima tells the tale of one man and his quest to desingage from modern society, the trappings of material success and the people around him, whom he seems unable to connect with.

sao-paulo-sociedade-anonima-2To be surrounded by millions of people and to feel alone. To have several sexual encounters and be disconnected from anyone around you… To live in modern times and paradoxically feel like a slave to the god of technology – to be entrapped within the mega-machine… Carlos, the protagonist of São Paulo S/A, aka ‘São Paulo, Sociedade Anônima,’ is the modern man par excellence. Continue reading