12 Angry Men, 1957
Director: Sidney Lumet
Writer: Reginald Rose (story)
Starring: Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Klugman, E.G. Marshall, John Fiedler, Edward Binns, Jack Warden, Ed Begley, Joseph Sweeney, George Voskovec, Robert Webber
If you’ve ever wondered whether justice matters when faced with heavy opposition and pressured for a quick decision,
See the characters in 12 Angry Men argue, sweat and regard one another with increasing respect as they’re forced to introspect,
Because there’s no greater crime than to choose prejudice over thoughtful reflection when consequences affect everyone.
(To watch certainty of judgment turn into a close examination of prejudices and projections is a thing of beauty in the hands of these excellent actors. And just so we don’t miss it, the film is in black and white with Henry Fonda in a white suit!)
Corpse Bride, 2005
Director: Tim Burton, Mike Johnson
Characters: Tim Burton, Carlos Grangels (characters),
Screenplay: John August, Caroline Thompson and Pamela Pettler
Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Tracey Ullman
If you like Tim Burton, no more needs to be said but if you ever wanted to be charmed by devilish good characters in live action,
See Corpse Bride take an old story, make it new and make you marvel at the magic of technology in a day and age when it can be a bit ho-hum,
Because it’s rare to think of death as freedom from constriction – extremely charming and extremely entertaining.
(It’s a short film, 77 minutes, but that leaves time for the Special Features which are SPECIAL indeed – don’t miss them.)
The French Lieutenant’s Woman, 1981
Director: Karel Reisz
Writers: John Fowles (novel), Harold Pinter (screenplay)
Stars: Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons
If you’ve forgotten how good this film is, how mysterious obsession can be and how, once upon a time, woman meant whore,
See The French Lieutenant’s Woman turn a single shot of eye contact into a full blown drama between good sense and passion,
Because yielding to the underworld of dark emotional currents enlivens the psyche but, as C.G. Jung so cautioned, it’s not a choice without risk.
(Great screenplay by Harold Pinter, Nobel Prize-winning English playwright, screenwriter, director and actor who also wrote the film, Betrayal.)
The Man From London, 2007
Directors: Agnes Hranitzky, Bela Tarr
Writers: Georges Simenon (novel), Bela Tarr & Laszlo Krasznahorkai
Stars: Miroslav Krobot, Tilda Swinton, Agi Szirtes
If you ever longed to float deeply, musically in the grey shadows of mystery
See The Man From London cast you spellbound as first hand observer to murder, then as second hand murderer and, lastly, astute investigator
Because hypnotic images moving ritually and deliberately haunt the senses until finally, a resolution without blame brings satisfaction.
(Georges Simenon offers the base upon which this engrossing visualization of the dark side of murder without a stroke of violence takes place on screen. He is the creator of Maigret, the French Sherlock Holmes, and the source of a wonderful film, Monsieur Hire.)
Not One Less, 1999
Director: Zhang Yimou
Writer: Xiangsheng Shi
Stars: Minzhi Wei, Huike Zhang, Zhenda Tian
If you wonder about the roots of the great Zhang Yimou before he filmed epics and orchestrated the world renowned Beijing Olympics,
See Not One Less show the essence of Chinese determination in the personhood of a 13-year-old girl thrown into the job of teaching children,
Because learning comes naturally to children when the teacher is teaching herself and priding herself on keeping all children in school.
(Zhang Yimou is a favorite of mine from Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles. He tells a small story as if it were grand — as if our personal transformation is what we’re living for and what others are waiting for.)
Directors: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Writers: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Stars: Emilie Dequenne, Fabrizio Rongione
If good filmmakers intrigue you, the Dardenne Brothers tell a story so true it could be documentary but it’s fiction,
See Rosetta make getting a job a raison d’etre, a reason for living for a sixteen year old who’s determined not to fall by the wayside,
Because a job may be a way of belonging to society but a friend presents the chance of feeling loved and keeps hope for living a normal life alive.
(This 16-year-old who had never acted in a film won the hearts of Cannes audiences who voted her Best Actress and the film won the Palme D’Or.)
(Don’t skip the Special Feature interview with the Dardenne Brothers. As compelling as the movie to listen to them talk!)
Love and Anger, 1969
Five Directors of Five Short Films:
Marco Bellocchio (Discutiamo, discutiamo – We discuss, we discuss)
Bernardo Bertolucci (Agonia – Agony)
Jean-Luc Godard (L’Amore – The Love)
Carlo Lizzani (L’indifferenza — Indifference)
Pier Paolo Pasolini (La sequencza del fiore di carta – Sequence of the paper flower)
If sampling the finest filmmakers capturing raw emotion – invisibly yours – appeals to you,
See Love and Anger gaze upon societal indifference, gape like a fascinated tourist while a man dies and gawk at enactments of impassioned, impotent fury,
Because when film does what film does best, bring emotion alive simultaneous with observation, it’s a laser beam right into the heart of humanity’s being.
(Bertolucci, documents the end of life, Lizzani lambastes indifference, Pasolini literalizes a flower child, Godard blurs cinematic lines of love and war, and Bellocchio satirizes patterns of discord as civilization collapses. Not only for art cinema fans.)
Herb and Dorothy, 2008 (Documentary)
Director: Megumi Sasaki
Starring: Herb and Dorothy Vogel with artists – Christo and Jean Claude, Sol LeWitt, Chuck Close, Pat Steir, Lida Benglis, Robert Mangold, Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Richard Long, Julian Schnabel, Jeff Koons, Richard Tuttle, Sylvia Mangold, Lynda Benglis, Pat Steir, Robert Barry, Lucio Pozzi and Lawrence Weiner.
If the lives of ordinary people living extraordinary lives lifts your spirits,
See Herb and Dorothy follow their bliss and amass a stunning art collection from little more than good taste, a keen eye and an abiding love of artists at work,
Because packrats who stash the vision of artists for the future are treasures beyond measure.
(Herb and Dorothy Vogle were deal makers – with each other and with artists. One salary to live on, one to buy art. Together, they supported artists finding their vision and bringing a new way of looking into the 20th century. How did they live with 4,000 works of art – 5 truckloads – in a tiny NYC apartment?)
Article Written by Dr. Jane Alexander Stewart
Newtopia staff writer Jane Alexander Stewart, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles who writes essays about mythic themes in film, creates “Myth in Film; Myth in Your Life” seminars for self-exploration and travels a lot. Her film reviews have been published in the San Francisco C.G. Jung Library Journal, Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture and Los Angeles Journal of Psychological Perspectives. Jane’s popular essay on “The Feminine Hero in The Silence of the Lambs” appears in the anthology, The Soul of Popular Culture, and in The Presence of the Feminine in Film as one of its authors. She’s also presented myth in film programs at Los Angeles County Museum, University of Alabama and C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich. A collection of her reviews and other writing can be found at www.CinemaShrink.com.