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As film fans have been overwhelmed by all the big blockbusters and epic cinematic franchises, we haven’t had a chance to sit back and reflect on the films that led to Thanos, Jokers, dinosaurs, blue people and cars. All those brilliant, frequently ignored on twitter, classics. So today we are going to introduce our new classics section which should hopefully begin to put an end to this.
A CLASSIC: JURASSIC PARK
Jurassic Park may not be very old, being released in 1993, but there is no denying that this film is a classic. It was the highest-grossing film of 1993, grossing $360m domestically and $1 billion worldwide, and has evident cultural staying power with the sequels still churning out to this day -Jurassic World 3 coming in 2021. But is it still as great as it once was and why am I talking about it?
Well, it’s just an exciting film experience that thrills, entertains, subverts and makes you smile. So, in my opinion, it is still great, and the reason I’m talking about it is that I think people tend to forget that until it is put on.
If you don’t know what Jurassic Park is about, it is an adventure/thriller that focuses on a random small selection of scientists who are trapped in a theme park filled with very-much-alive dinosaurs, that have suddenly escaped their cages. Fun, right?
First things to get out of the way is the cast, who are genuinely charming, fun to watch and human. Sam Neil, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough and the two child actors are all great and embody their characters, with performances that hold up to this day.
Special shout out to Jeff Goldblum who is scene-stealing, iconic and hilarious in this role – if you watch this film for one reason, make it Jeff.
Jurassic Park also features some jaw-dropping and genuinely thrilling moments throughout. It starts when you are first introduced to the theme park itself. You feel the shock and scale of the feat from the get-go and the music is just simply exceptional at blowing up that scale. Then you have the T-rex sequence, which is intense and brilliant still to this day. Then you have a scene that traumatised me as a kid (and even to this day): the velociraptors in the kitchen. Enough said.
It is all just very memorable and all mixed together with excellent character work, funny dialogue, ground-breaking special effects/animatronics and great music and it is endearing as hell.
Basically, this is just a reminder of a great adventure that will be beloved for decades and which is definitively a classic of cinema. If you haven’t seen it, do that and if you have, then just give it another watch.
Available on UK Netflix
A HIDDEN CLASSIC – 8½
Federico Fellini’s 8½ is an exceptional movie. When this film released in 1963, it broke a lot of ground and blew the minds of critics and audiences alike, and it was really worthy of that ripple in our culture. But no one I ask has either seen it or heard about it. So, let’s change that.
The film centres on an ageing and depressed director as he tries to come up with a new film idea, whilst slowly spiralling out of control into his bizarre dreams and fantasies.
It’s a straightforward premise, but the ways the film balances reality and fantasy are addictive. For a movie released in 1963, the film has incredible visual flair, and the cinematography is so grand, impressive and varying. Not only that but many of the themes, characters feel so modern and strange that I was shocked when I found out it wasn’t made in the mid-70s.
The crowning jewel of this film is easily its dream sequences. They are brilliant and creative, brimming with over-dramatisation, whimsical music and haunting visuals. They range from hilarious to tragic and do so with such a poignancy that is incredibly mature. The first 3 minutes of this film is an excellent way of summing up the magic, and it may be one of my favourite openings of any movie in my recent memory.
I’m saying it: Inception wouldn’t exist without Fellini. We wouldn’t have bizarre and surrealist directors/writers like Charlie Kauffman, David Lynch and Terry Gilliam making some ground-breaking films I’m saying it, no Being John Malkovich without Fellini. I’m saying it, no Pulp Fiction dance scene without Fellini.
I don’t have much else to say other than watch it. It is a creative and brilliant vision that is way ahead of its time. It’s a fantastical film that surprises you with its humanity. Easily one of my favourite films and it could be one of yours.
Available on the BFI player.
A MODERN CLASSIC – THE SOCIAL NETWORK
Social Network is one of the best biopics ever made. David Fincher (Se7en, Gone Girl, Fight Club) seamlessly blends stylistic visual storytelling grounded, human and three-dimensional characters and storytelling to create a world that is both gritty and otherworldly, and fantastic.
The film centres on Mark Zuckerberg during the specific events leading to the rise of Facebook. It details the friendships, the betrayals and the hardship that led to the creation and success of the giant social media platform.
The best part of this film is definitely the script. It is ingenious, thoroughly engaging and well-paced. The scenes feel so short but so much happens. Not only that, but it is unique, frequently funny and sometimes heart-breaking. This is one of the best scripts of all time, and there is so much within it to appreciate.
The acting is also exceptional, and it really compliments the material. Jesse Eisenberg got a justifiable best actor nomination for his role as Zuckerberg, but everyone in the cast is great; from Andrew Garfield to Rooney Mara and even Justin Timberlake is exceptional as the arrogant founder of Napster. Andrew Garfield specifically shines in this film as a close friend of Zuckerberg that slowly learns Zuckerberg isn’t the most forgiving of people. It’s a harrowing performance that carries a lot of emotional baggage. One scene, in particular, stuns me every time. He was absolutely robbed of an Oscar.
The film is simply a sucker punch of a movie and one that should be talked about for years to come. Not only for its filmmaking but for the themes it discusses. It shows enough to humanise Zuckerberg but also tells you enough to know that what he did was pretty controversial and problematic. But that’s what he is, and that’s what Facebook is.
Available on UK Netflix