This wound up oddly being the first year in this retrospective that I didn't have a whole lot of films that I didn't feel really strongly about. Yes, plenty of favorites, but it wasn't wrecking my brain making the cuts, it was more wrecking on what to include or what made its case better. Though, I do have a final list with films I do love. So we're all good there.
An Oscar race you couldn't refuse
WINNER - The Godfather
And my picks that aren't sleeping with the fishes, see
Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes
At one time this was my dear favorite Planet Of The Apes Film. Does it have the darkest ending of them all? Its the original Apes canon, they all sort of compete for that. This one's finale did surprise and shock me as a kid watching it. I also like the weird state of the world or the city with which it is set. Its got some good costuming and set design as well an interesting direction with the ape population and how they are used in the film. If you'll look to you right, I wrote about this film as well as all the Apes films last year.
Fist Of Fury
This was the year I found room to fit in a Bruce Lee film. Fist Of Fury is not to be confused with Fists Of Fury, which was what The Big Boss was called in the United States. Speaking of that, this one was known as The Chinese Connection in the United States. It has nothing in common with The French Connection, but the distributor was trying to reap some box office off title similarities. Of his hometown films, this probably less iconic as Way Of The Dragon, not as notorious as Game Of Death, but still notable in its own right. Many of the scenes in this movie fit Lee's highlight reel and Tarantino even drew some inspiration from it in the first Kill Bill film. And yeah, Bruce drops some bodies with those nun-chucks!
Helloooooo Alfred Hitchcock! The exciting thing about the "Before" series is going to be him showing up! Frenzy was Hitchcock bouncing back after Topaz (And I suppose Torn Curtain) for one last drop of greatness in theaters. While featuring no recognizable faces, Hitchcock has his mark and everything people love about him all over this film. It may be the early years of the 70s, but he's able to infuse this film with the grim and hard tone of the films that would define the decade and also maintain the sort of romantic quality that come from his catalog of films. Many often point to this just being a "good" entry or "solid". I honestly feel its his final masterpiece. Its a little messier than others that it may be held up to, however I find something enjoyable about seeing Hitchcock in a more loose form and a little more free.
I'm the guy who says this is my favorite of The Godfather films. There's just something classic here that just works for me. A big factor in my enjoyment of this one is James Caan, I think both he and the character of Sonny Corleone are great. Its a factor that is missing from the second one if I am to choose. Also, seeing Michael go from an outside to all out dark prince by the end of the film packs sort of a wallop when you get to its conclusion. In this movie, you get to see 3 men take charge of the Corleone family, and all 3 do things differently and meet different ends. For me, it has more of that "family" importance than the other films do. Its also one of the quickest long movies I've ever seen before. In the history of American film, its one of the best, most important, blah blah ever made and belongs on a list of Top 10-20 films that everyone should see at some point in their lifetime because I truly think its a drama that has something for anyone.
One of the science fiction films from this little era between 2001 and Star Wars that I think has been more forgotten than the rest. This one has style and it has purpose. Bruce Dern gives a terrific and charming little performance as a man on a space station in charge of cultivating plants to return to Earth (which is unable to grow its own). There's a lot of cool robots, sets and technology on display here. This film incorporated the set designer from 2001: A Space Odyssey, so things feel not only a little familiar, but they are top notch as well. There isn't a Blu-ray for it here in the US, and I don't know what the Netflix/Streamers are doing, but if you can get ahold of it, check it out, its a neat little movie.
I love Solaris. I'm not sure this movie is for everyone, just forewarned if anyone is taking my picks per year and adding stuff to their watch list. The film is set to be the response or opposite of 2001: A Space Odyssey. One that basis humanity and emotion over hard science. Andrei Tarkovsky was left cold with Kubrick's film and felt it was inhuman and set out to make this film. Solaris, like 2001, is a thing of beauty. What has always drawn me to this movie is how just unsettling, weird and discomforted I feel when watching it. Everything in front of me seems familiar and usual, at the same time its not at all. Solaris goes down as one of the most haunting movies I've ever seen. There's a sense of fear and loneliness this movie conveys that only few films could ever match. Nothing here looks overtly horrifying, its just the unease, abandonment and emptiness that works its way into the cinematography and set design. While Hari never causes any harm or presents any negative intentions toward Kelvin, to this day I always feel she's up to something. Solaris is long, but its captivating and beautiful. Its a film I'm always up for discussion as it offers a lot to talk about it. One of the best science fiction films ever.