Movies That Made A difference #3
Movie business has also gone through upheavals. With the advent of the VCR, DVD, cable programming, streaming video, and big-screen home entertainment system, more people can and prefer to stay home to watch movies. Hollywood studios counter by making big-budgeted films loaded with special effects and out-of-this-world computer-generated images that can best be enjoyed inside theater-sized screen with Dolby surround sound. Since the movie theaters are now dominated by multiplexes some of which have more than 20 screens, the total number of available screens that a movie can be shown in the first week can reach 5000 in the U.S. Audience no longer needs to stand in-line to watch a popular movie. In 1976, I remember that I watched the premiere of Earthquake in the Chinese Grauman’s Theater in Hollywood after standing in a line that snaked around the block.
With a large number of screens to show on, a film’s life in the open market is also shortened. A new film is normally premiered on Friday. By Monday, the film’s total box-office receipts are already tabulated and available to the public. If a film is popular enough to last into the 3rd week, almost everyone who wants to watch it has already done so. The film is then destined to the DVD rental or the cable programming.
What’s Up Tiger Lily? (1966)
Woody Allen first successful attempted at comedy. He utilized a ready-made full-length Japanese spy film, substituted with his own English dialogues and story, and turned it into a comedy with lots of laughs. He probably got the inspiration when he watched a badly dubbed Japanese movie in English. His effort was innovative and a flash of genius and had not been duplicated since. He has written and directed at least one movie a year since 1971 till the present day (Midnight In Paris in 2011). It is a remarkable feat that has no peer in the past, present, and most likely, future as well.
The Wild Bunch (1969)
A violent but beautiful western that made ingenuous use of slow motion to prolong death and destructions. The technique was so successful that it was widely use in films ever since. The movie is delibrate and thoughtful in following the destructive journey of a bunch of lowlifes who chooses friendship and honor above all else in their moment of destiny . The movie climaxes in a finale with a seemingly never-ending gun battle where the bunch fought and died against a guerilla army of several hundreds strong. Even though director, Sam Peckinpah, was not able to follow up another film with the caliber that even came close to The Wild Bunch, he will forever be remembered to have make one of the best movie ever.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
A complex and bloody crime story is broken into four parts and shown from four vantage points in different orders. It was masterfully assembled together in a very entertaining and intriguing sequence. It introduces the audience to a shady and seldom-seen world of the sadist, the desperate, the weirdo, and the clean-up specialist. The movie established the then new director, Quentin Tarantino, as one of the best in the business. He also made the original, ultra-violent but also non-stop talking crime film, Reservoir Dogs.
A dark, engaging, and complicated sci-fi that blends sophisticated special effects and realistic Kung-fu fighting. It also features numerous scenes taken with more than 10 cameras to achieve 360 degree view. The technique has since been employed by other films to emphasize and impress the importance of a scene or image. After watching the movie, the audience will irresistibly ask themselves if they are also living a simulated life or a dream that they cannot wake up from.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The first of the indiscriminate and motiveless slasher movie. It was made based on a good script and elaborated setting in the rural area where reclusive folks took the law into their own hands as nobody could hear the victim’s scream. The movie boasts the longest foot-chase scenes of a chainsaw-swing madman after a scared shitless and screaming girl. The most unnerving and terrifying images are the madman’s butcher room with body hanging from a meat hook and freezer filled with human parts. The bloody, violent, and atmospheric movie scared, thrilled, and also made the audiences sick. But, the audience wanted more. Several sequels followed along with new franchises in Halloween, A Nightmare On Elm Street, and Scream. Unfortunately, none of them can match the intensity and heart-grabbing tension of the original film. The final scene, where the madman with the human-skin mask still roaming the road with a buzzing chainsaw raising high in his hands, will make vacationers think thrice about travelling to the sparsely populated countryside.