Christmas films

With the year winding down, I feel like watching a Christmas film. But not a typical Christmas film. No, I will not watch reprehensible bullshit like Home Alone or Jingle All Way. Nor will I watch The Grinch or the claymation craptacular, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Shamefully, I have never seen A Christmas Story. The Red Ryder BB Gun is just a myth I hear about whenever someone talks about Christmas films.

I pledge, to you few readers, if there are any, that I will watch A Christmas Story by the end of the year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Raging Bull

Raging Bull is the greatest film ever made. It’s not the first great movie I’ve seen and it won’t be my last, but I don’t think that anything will displace it at the top of my “Pyramid of Cinematic Greatness.”

I think it will stay at the top because I have never seen a film be so good in so many aspects. The acting is terrific, with Robert DeNiro delivering the best performance in a lifetime of great performances. The supporting cast is also great, with Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriarty providing foils to DeNiro’s degenerate middleweight champion protagonist, Jake LaMotta.

The B&W cinematography is extremely well done. Rarely will you see such pristine black and white footage as you will in this film. The editing in the boxing scenes is highly impressionistic, with all sorts of quick cuts and zooms, which contrasts with the general stillness of the rest of the film.

The story is perhaps the most polarizing part of the film. It is a great story, of the rise and fall of one of boxing’s toughest legends. What makes the story difficult for some viewers is how unlikeable Jake La Motta is. His jealousy and short temper ensure a film full of tirades and beatdowns against, fellow boxers, his brother, his wife and anyone who comes in his path.

To me, this film is made so well that despite LaMotta’s antagonistic behaviour, Raging Bull is still one of the most powerful and heartbreaking films ever made. The masterful execution by director Martin Scorsese and his crew is so perfect, that I felt great sorrow and pity for Jake and the people he turned against him.

Below is a highlight in a film that is full of highlights.

 

Religion

Now, religion is almost always a subject of controversy when it is brought up today. With issues such as the separation of church and state, evolution vs. creationism, declining religiosity in the western world and Islamic extremism, there are few positive portrayals of religion in today’s media. Religion is often associated with delusion, hypocrisy, ignorance.It is not based on the real or pragmatic, but rather the spiritual and fantastical.

Because of these various issues, I think it is difficult for religious films to be made these days. No one wants to sit in a theatre and watch a film that contains nothing but dogma.

But Hollywood’s insistence on staying away from religious issues has not helped religion inspired films. Exodus: Gods and Kings and Noah are both big-budget, CGI-heavy films. The last thing film viewers need to see is for religious epics to become a dominant blockbuster genre, much like superhero and zombie-related films and TV shows are now.

The state of Modern film

The state of movies today is not as bad as it could be. It could be like music, where the worst songs imaginable dominate every single FM station, leaving anything good for Web surfers to discover. It’s not. Today’s film industry is mostly made of superhero blockbusters and Rogen-type, comedies. As bad as this seems, these are not always bad. There was the Batman trilogy after all.

Hopefully, superhero films die off and Westerns come back, which would improve the landscape tremendously.