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6 reasons why ‘Casablanca’ remains a unique classic film

by Emily Keen

The greatest love story ever made will forever hold a special place in the hearts of movie buffs. Casablanca is one unique classics which continues to retain its reputation as an iconic film. The masterpiece has transcended the norms of filmmaking. For obvious reasons of incredible performances and a magnificent screenplay, the film went on to win three academy awards since release. Although, not the biggest hit during the initial phase of release, Michael Curtiz’s highly acclaimed Hollywood classic is more than just a love story. This monumental thriller is a journey through the setup of the Second World War and its consequences on normal lives. For those uninitiated, here are six reasons why Casablanca hails as a unique classic film
  1. Rick Blaine
To start with, the variations in character experienced by the Rick Blaine (played by Humphrey Bogart) are rather unconventional. We do not see the world through his point of view. The audience is in fact left to judge the morality of the character through the lens of various other characters. His employees and clientele see him as someone who you cannot easily walk up to for a conversation. He is cold and arrogant. There are times when Blaine comes off quite negative. When the police arrest Signor Ugarte, he says “I stick my neck out for nobody”. His best friend Renault views the man in stark contrast. He thinks of him as an emotional and compassionate being. The cold Rick is nothing but a consequence of his failed love story. These traits are obvious in the character on multiple occasions. For instance when he helps a Bulgarian couple flee to America. The conclusion, in fact, is the greatest testimony to his altruism. Like most Hollywood heroes, the man cuts a dash. And more importantly, he is the one leading the story through various arcs.
  1. Elsa
Elsa is a strong feminine character who is torn between her love for Rick and the respect she has for her husband, Victor. Stuck at the crossroad where it’s either love or responsibilities Ilsa Ingrid finely portrays a heroine who is in no way trying to do anything heroic. She is just a simple woman making her loveless marriage work as a courtesy to her good-natured husband. In doing so, she won’t hesitate to even point a gun at Rick whom she loves so deeply.
  1. Unconventional narrative
The story is presented to us in a disorderly fashion. For those times this was a rather unconventional method of storytelling. The film begins with a shot of Rick’s café and a narrator explaining the background events. The delightful moments of Elsa and Rick’s life are stacked in between the messy present. Moreover, the ending does not resolve any of the chaos, be it the war or Rick’s love life. The War persists and so does the pain of our protagonist’s heart. The film is also a reminder that justice and freedom come with a price.
  1. Separate plotlines
The story perfectly blends in two different plotlines. The first is the love triangle between Rick, Elsa, and her husband. It is the nobility of Elsa’s husband that adds complexity to the narrative. The second plotline is the war and its consequences on the lives of people staying in Casablanca. More importantly, the film has some powerful underlying beliefs and political messages.
  1. The mysterious town of Casablanca
There is always a mystery surrounding the town of Casablanca. The movie is based in a Moroccan setting but there is hardly any reference to Moroccan way of life. It is simply chaotic and reeks of uncertainty. There is a line where a German commander warns Elsa - “human life is cheap in Casablanca”. And people in and around view the city a prison from which they desire to escape. However unsafe, the town does has some fantasy attached to it. It is the brilliant vision of the makers that fuels our desire for mystery and makes us fall in love with the idea of a risky life.
  1. The Remarkable Conclusion
The climax of this poignant tale of love will break your heart but in a very positive way. The climax defies the usual traditions of happy endings or the death of a significant character. But ardent movie fans would not have it any other way. For that is what sets the film apart from others in the league. Besides Rick Blaine’s heartfelt decision at the end is what makes him not just one of the greatest known lovers but also a very noble character. Over the period of its release, Casablanca went on to win three Oscars – Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director. The music is still enchanting to the ears. Can you even listen to ‘As Time Goes By’ and not think of the film? There is nothing and absolutely nothing mediocre about this epic tale of romance. Be it the story, the music or even humor. The film shall forever remain a unique classic in the history of cinema.
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‘The Godfather’ Vs. ‘Goodfellas’. Which Is The Best Mob Movie Ever Made?!

by Kaylen Summers

We all know that Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather and Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas are truly the best gangster movies out there. However, fans of the two iconic flicks often go on debates to find the finest of the two. Undoubtfully both are very excellent movies. Coppola’s The Godfather is adapted from a fictional novel and Scorsese’s Goodfellas is a true-to-life biopic. One follows a traditional timeline and the other is nonlinear with choppy editing. However, these two well-crafted movies define their genre and are touchstones for all mob movies that got made after. For those who are eager to find the best from these movies, here is a comparison of the good, bad and ugly from the two movies.

THE GODFATHER IS ROMANTIC PORTRAYAL OF MOB LIFE

Since the movie is based on a novel, the filmmakers had all the freedom to make The Godfather was free to make their lifestyle look glamorous. The Corleones family essentially picturized as the royalty in the criminal underworld. Even though there were occasional scenes like Sonny getting shot dead at a toll booth, most of the movie had their gangsters very glitzy and fabulous. Gangsters were never this cool until Francis Ford Coppola gave an idealized Hollywood depiction to them.

GOODFELLAS IS THE REALISTIC PORTRAYAL OF MOB LIFE

One of the major differences between The Godfather and Goodfellas is that one is a work of fiction while the other is more of a realistic portrait. While the former glamorize the gangster lifestyle, the characters of Goodfellas are often shown doing the dirty work. The Corleones family is also shown filthy rich, while the characters of Goodfellas don't make that much money. The movie even ends with one of the mobsters ratting out on all of his friends. He secures his family’s safety in the Witness Protection Program. This itself is a nod to how realistic the movie's storyline is portrayed.

THE GODFATHER HAS BRILLIANT PERFORMANCES

Whether the fiction element is good or not, it did help the movie's actors give some of their greatest performances. Surely, Ray Liotta’s performance as Henry Hill in Goodfellas is truly remarkable. His portrayal of the guy who adores the gangster lifestyle and constantly cheats on his wife is phenomenal and intense. However, let not forget that Al Pacino’s turn as Michael Corleone in The Godfather is more nuanced than any performance in Goodfellas. While Henry yells out what he’s feeling, Michael explains everything in a single facial expression. In addition to that, the subtle performances from supporting players like Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, James Caan, Talia Shire, John Cazale, and Diane Keaton only adds extra charm to the whole movie. Though Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci's support in Goodfellas is riveting, it can never be compared to the ensemble of The Godfather.

GOODFELLAS HAS A FASTER PACE

There are many who criticizes The Godfather for being too slow. On the other hand, the pacing in Goodfellas is much quicker. The movie's plot moves at breakneck speed, jumping back and forth along the timeline of the narrative. But, the makers did make sure that we will be getting all the information you need at any given moment. In fact, it is this choppy editing of Goodfellas, that gives it the iconic style. In a way, it throws you right into the story at the deep end.
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How ‘North By Northwest’ pioneered the new breed of action cinema

by Emily Keen

Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest retains its reputation as an inspiring espionage thriller even decades after its release. Contemporary thriller franchises including James Bond, Mission Impossible have unequivocally borrowed the template of this great thriller. But what is that makes this film the pioneer of action cinema? To begin with, no movie buff can ever get enough of the larger than life adventure and glorious set pieces. The film has had a lasting influence on generations of cinema. The glossy backdrop, sensual themes, and high voltage adventures, seen in big franchises like Fast and Furious are all borrowed elements from Hitchcock’s all-encompassing action-adventure. It is said that screenwriter Ernest Leham was tasked with writing a show stopper script to give the fans the best Hitchcock movie of all time. Alfred’s favorite frontman, Cary Grant plays the role of Roger Thornhill an ad exec mistaken for government agent George Caplan. Thornhill is thus forced to make a run from the law and assailants chasing him to death. He is desperate to clear his name of all the charges against him and sets out to find the real Caplan. Except the real Caplan is only a decoy created by the American government to draw the enemy’s attention away from an undercover operation. Alfred considered plot details to be supplementary in his films. ‘MacGuffin’ was a term invented by Angus MacPhail for films but popularized by Hitchcock through his films. It is used to describe a plot device which builds the story but ultimately holds no significance to the audience whatsoever. In the case of North By Northwest, ‘George Caplan’ is the ‘MacGuffin’. The film structure is laid down with a careful arrangement of set pieces to boost the excitement of the story. An interesting fact about North By Northwest, revealed by Hitchcock’s biographer John Russell Taylor was that the film was outlined as an exciting line up of action sequences. A story was later developed to piece all these sequences together. Did you ever think that the action bits of the cinema we consider a decoration to the script could actually be the foundation of the plot? But that is Hitchcock! An expert in multiple genres of suspense including crime drama, murder mysteries, and psycho thrillers, the aficionado had his way of communicating with the audiences through various components in the frame. For instance, smartly fading out voices of a conversation with noises. Just a way to let you know that “Whatever they are saying is not important. Just enjoy the ride” Furthermore, he enjoyed outdoing himself with every film he made. Explains the perfection and originality of his action sequences in every film. In one of his interviews, Hitchcock spoke of the famous crop duster scene in North by Northwest. It rather overthrew the expectations of the audience with the attempt on hero’s life happening in an open field as opposed to usual norms of dark corners of streets and the attackers using a biplane instead of a car. The process of piecing together the action scenes has become a method for thriller foundations since then. And cheat death stunts, cars flying in the air and parachute fisticuffs in franchises like 007 had become the selling point for films in the niche.   Christopher McQuarrie, writer, and director of the two latest MI films admittedly follows Hitchcock and Lehman’s Method to compose his movies. Another factor that adds to the excitement is its elegant protagonists. Cary Grant’s charm in most films makes ladies go weak in their knees. This idea of a suave and witty gentleman was generously replicated for the character of James Bond. It would not be surprising to know that Grant was Ian fleming’s first choice to play Bond in Dr. No. Thornhill’s ability to charm and the handsome grey suit was a direct pick for Sean Connery’s 007. And if you recollect Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, the man depends entirely on his own instincts and wits to survive. The idea of a protagonist who knows exactly what to say to turn a situation in his favor rules franchises like MI and 007. The larger than life experiences weaved by Alfred Hitchcock in North by Northwest kick-started a regime of stylish spies and action heroes. The idea was absorbed and further modified by Bond films. The globetrotting bits from Vin Diesel’s Fast and Furious and Keanu Reeves’ John Wick films also originate from this very Hitchcock romp. Sophisticated themes and sense of humor prevails in action adventures of the modern era. Audiences fancy the characters for the thrill they bring with their near-death experiences and still manage to keep it attractive. No wonder North by Northwest has an enduring effect on cinemas to date.
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Why is ‘It Happened One Night’ a Classic Worth Watching?

by Kaylen Summers

It was on Feb. 22, 1934, Frank Capra's classic road trip film It Happened One Night got released into theaters. The movie was an instant hit and won 5 awards at the 7th Academy Awards, which included the best actor for Clark Gable and actress for Claudette Colbert. Though the iconic movie is running for more than a good two hours, its excellence is that there is not even one dull moment in it. During the post-production, some of it was left on the editing floor, but it is too good throughout that the audiences won't mind having some extra footage kept in. The main reason for this is that It Happened One Night has a charming, coherent and believable plot. The characters are also lovely and human that you will instantly connect with them and events they go through. The movie belongs to an offshoot genre of comedy known as screwball comedy. In many ways similar to the romantic comedy, this sub-genre slowly vanished in the 30s itself. However, It Happened One Night still remains as one of the best screwball comedies and also as an iconic cult classic. It has everything from being a comedy with a kick, drama with a punch, and the acting and direction served at a new high. The lead roles are played by Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. Gable plays the role of a newspaperman who helps Colbert escape from her father. The two embark on a hitchhike from Miami to New York. And eventually, they fall for each other. Both Gable and Colbert are seemingly effortless in their acting. It felt as if they were joyfully being utterly natural and devastatingly human throughout the picture. Adding this with the perfect lines did nothing but sparkle. It is as if the makers of the movie made extra sure that not even one single dull line of dialogue was there in the whole thing, and there isn't a character who is not lively. More than its everlasting charm, this gave the film all its life and personality. Other characters in the movie include Walter Connolly who looks splendid as Miss Colbert's father. Roscoe Karns also amuses the audiences as a traveling salesman. Alan Hale's smaller role is also worthy to be mentioned. But the icing on the cake was from none other than the director of this classic flick- Frank Capra. Along with Joseph Walker's cinematography, the two created a marvel on the screen. Whether you are a fan of comedies or not this one is worth seeing. It's got superb acting, riotous comedy, big names, and perfect direction. So what are you waiting for?! Go watch the movie and let us know how much you enjoyed the movie, in the comments below.
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‘The Wizard of Oz’ Is The Most Influential Film of All Time. Here Is The Reason

by Kaylen Summers

A recent study has found that The Wizard of Oz is the most influential film of all time. The study conducted at the University of Turin selected MGM’s 1939 musical ‘masterpiece’ from more than 47,000 films. Based on L.Frank Baum’s 1900 children’s novel ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, the movie was MGM's biggest production at the time ($3 million). However, the movie turned out to be a failure at the box office initially. It was only with several re-releases that the studio was able to make a healthy financial return from it. How did such a movie end up as the most influential movie of all time?! We also want to find out the answer to that. There are several factors and a variety of combinations that make up the anatomy of a cult film. We will be taking a close look at these elements in The Wizard of Oz.

1. Breaking the Rules

  In order for any art to gain cultural significance, it needs to break the existing rules and produce something better. In the case of cinema, this happens more often, but only a few will pass the test of time to become cult classics. When MGM decided to make The Wizard of Oz, they knew that they were breaking or rather bending some contemporary self-imposed ‘unwritten rules’ of the industry. The production was more of a gamble since it followed the failure of 1933's Paramount production of Alice in Wonderland.  However, what made MGM stand out is the skillful use of Technicolor. And for that, the movie is still considered as an extremely bold and worthy 'rule twister'.

2. The 'Better-Than-Life' Feeling

Cinema has always shaped our reality. It constantly makes us believe that there is something better than life out there. This feeling of leaving the reality behind can be seen even in the most cynical cult movies. When MGM was producing The Wizard of Oz, they made sure that this 'better-than-life' sentiment is provoked in the audience. The makers of the movie deliberately used sepia tones at the beginning of the film and the end, to represent reality. However, in the 'surreal world' they used technicolor (which was a new technology at the time). As a result, we also fell in love with Dorothy Gale's fantasy world.

3. Missing Subplots

Loose ends are mostly considered as lazy writing. But in cult movies, they add an extra charm. The idea that the characters ‘live on’ outside of the finished story itself keeps these movies open for new speculations and theories. The abrupt ending of The Wizard of Oz presents the audience with one such loose ending. Initially, it was planned as Hunk/The Scarecrow (Roy Bolger) leaving for an agricultural college and he would eventually marry Dorothy upon his return. However, this was changed to the ‘Kansas family’ assembling around Dorothy’s bed. Though this change happened as a result of the studio shortening the movie's runtime, it gave the movie its cult appeal.

4. So Bad, It’s Good.

Wait! Are we talking about bad production or the morality of the content?! Unfortunately, The Wizard of Oz has both. Though the movie was made with the biggest budget of that time, it did had many production flaws. The rough ending of the movie is merely the tip of the iceberg. Throughout the film, there are scenes that end a little too abruptly. The Wicked Witch’s instructions to the flying monkeys are cut short almost mid-sentence. This is one of many clunky and disjointed edits in the movie. As for the moral side, we all know how the ‘romance’ between Dorothy and Hunk/the Scarecrow got diminished. What do you think about The Wizard of Oz? Does it deserve to be the most influential film of all time? Let us know in the comments below.
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10 Best Thriller and Suspense Films of All Time

by Emily Keen

We all know that empty feeling when everything in life is normal? It is because, difficult times and tense moments however unwanted, arguably bring a thrill to life. It is in these moments we feel our hearts pounding like it’s racing against time. We feel alive! This is the exact thrill induced by suspense films. But how often do we come across movies that drive you at the edge of the seat or have you jumping with rug pulling twists?  The combination of utterly creepy characters, mind-bending twists and a compelling plot with pace is what makes the best thrillers. But it is definitely another huge task to choose the best thrillers from troves of available cinematic gems. We have narrowed down the list to the 10 movies which remain the best thrillers of all time.
  1. Rear Window (1954)
Ever been so bored you had nothing to do but just randomly build creepy stories in mind? Imagine if that creepy story becomes reality. Scary no? That’s exactly the kind of feeling this film invokes. Rear Window is a masterpiece weaved by the legendary Alfred Hitchcock featuring James Stewart, a photojournalist who is left bound to his apartment due to a broken leg. Since, besides his nurse (Thelma Ritter) and girlfriend (Grace Kelly), the man has no interactions with the world, he resorts to peeping through the windows of the neighbors which leads to unraveling scandalous truths. But what makes this classic even more special is Hitchcock’s art of storytelling and the screenplay that does not involve any action. Just pure humor, suspense souled up by its magnetic cast.  
  1. North by Northwest (1959)
north-by-northwest The master of suspense, Hitchcock strikes yet again! The dashing honcho of sophisticated comedy, Cary Grant is paired up with other usual Hitchcock collaborators James Mason and Eva Marie Saint. Grant’s charm is as usual worth betting all the money on. Grant plays Roger Thornhill who is mistaken for a government agent and hunted by police and assassins. Eva Kendall protects the man and the two develop a tantalizing relationship while hunting for the real government agent. This film is a legacy that inspired numerous thrillers, only a few among which have successfully made an impact. Although not the same as this film.  
  1. Manchurian Candidate (1962)
The-Manchurian-Candidate Based on a volatile plot unraveling secrets of underworld politics, the studio thought it was too risky to produce the film. But with support from John F. Kennedy, John Frankenheimer finally breathed life into a politically charged USSR brainwash thriller. If one wishes to witness the gruesome politics through black and white frames, this iconic film is your go-to. Frank Sinatra plays a U.S. army hero who returns to his homeland from Korea. But the fact that he has been hired by the communists to assassinate a presidential nominee is finally discovered by his buddy who sets on a quest to stop his pal from committing a felony.  
  1. Blood Simple (1984)
blood-simple Written, directed, edited and produced by Ethan and Joel Coen, this is the duo’s breakout movie. The film is a brooding crime classic from the siblings who knew nothing about film sets when they were ready to shoot this dark-humored thriller. Marty(Dan Hedaya) is a bar owner and a ruthless torturer of his wife. Frances McDormand who plays the wife ultimately resorts to cheating with one of the bartenders at Marty’s bar. Marty somehow sniffs the betrayal and hires a detective (Visser) to kill the wife and the lover. Steering moments of pure horror but keeping audiences in the know of everything, in contrast to most thriller this film binds a tale of bleak fatalism which is a recurring theme in most cinemas.  
  1. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
silence-of-the-lambs This Oscar-winning work of art became the third film in American history to sweep five major awards after It Happened One Night and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. To date the horror film remains the only scary film to win The Best Picture Oscar. The film concocts a shrewd serial killer psychology thriller brilliantly brought to life by Jodie Foster, Jack Crawford, and Anthony Hopkins. This is one of those rare movies which has the power to keep you coming back for a re-watch even though you know what it entails. Jonathan Demme indeed crafted a gripping plot to pull the audience right inside the story.  
  1. The Usual Suspects (1995)
the-usual-suspects "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." The iconic line from this movie by the legendary Kevin Spacey says everything about this blazing cult classic. In his Oscar-winning performance, Spacey plays a mysterious con man and plans a million dollar heist with his partners, the usual suspects in the list of police records. The planned heist fails on cosmic proportions and then comes an offer from the Devil himself. Keyser Soze is a criminal mastermind known to people only through stories of his heinous crimes but not by face. The suspects agree for they have little choice left when it comes to dealing with the mysterious face of violence.  
  1. Se7en (1995)
se7en The ending is blowing the minds of audiences even today. If that is not enough to get you excited about the film, David Fincher’s unparalleled obsession with weaving, edgy dark stories will. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman play detectives looking into brutal murders symbolizing seven sins- pride, lust, gluttony, wrath, sloth, greed and envy. A vicious yet epic tale that approaches a twist of stellar proportions at the end. Se7en inspired countless storylines and revolutionized the genre of detective/thriller.  
  1. Memento (2000)
memento Apart from the riveting performances by Guy Pearce and Joe Pantoliano what makes this film so great is Christopher Nolan’s flair of weaving an emotionally charged storyline with equally magnificent twists. The film is a different kind of cinematic experience altogether with reverse storylines and chronological events merge and help you connect with the soul of the character. It gets you curious and more importantly satisfies that curiosity. It reveals the end at the very start defying the fundamental norms of cinematic storytelling. What makes you stick around is just the characters and theme.  
  1. No Country For Old Men (2007)
no-country-for-old-man It’s the ‘once amateur’ siblings again! Imagine if Ethan and Joel Coen can create a masterpiece without knowing things about filmmaking, what could they do with experience? Cormac McCarthy’s novel forms the plot for this thrilling film. No exaggeration intended! It is literally thrilling. It begins with a Vietnamese veteran (Josh Brolin) discovering a huge amount of cash in the wake of a failed drug deal. He flees with the cash and invites being chased by an enigmatic killer. The crisp frames, captivating landscapes, and biblical themes elevate the effect of this ‘almost an action’ feature by the Coen Brothers.  
  1. Prisoners (2013)
prisoners A peculiar touch of David Fincher’s dark and seedy world is the treatment that prevails the backdrop of Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners. Hugh Jackman plays a father whose 6-year-old daughter is missing and the identity of the kidnapper is the obvious mystery they have to solve. The feature is a slow burn of tension intensified with jaw-dropping twists and turns. Jake Gyllenhaal plays detective Loki who is obsessed with his job and Paul Dano is a suspect who is released due to lack of evidence. The stellar cast along with an emotionally powerful storyline makes this movie an absolute work of art.
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Why ‘The Shining’ is the scariest (and best) horror movie ever made?

by Kaylen Summers

Hollywood horror classics will not be complete with the genre-defying movie The Shinning from the maestro Stanley Kubrick. It may be a cinematic adaptation of the beloved novel by Stephen King, but the movie has dexterously scraped away most of the supernatural horrors from its source material. Yet, it still remains as the most creepy, unnerving, deeply engaging horror movie to have come out from the genre. But, how did this movie- without the typical horror genre elements- managed to remain the finest brilliantly-crafted horror movie of all time. Yes! It is directed by Stanley Kubrick and that explains a lot. But, we are still going to take a deep dive into this cult-classic and see what hidden gems are in-store for us.

Jack Nicholson At His Best

Well, this one is actually obvious. The Shining will never be this spooky and eerie without Jack Nicholson's brilliant performance. We don't need some masked, machete-wielding serial killer to bring in the scares. It only took Nicholson’s depiction of Jack Torrance and his slow descent into madness. His facial expressions and line delivery are enough to create monster scares than any amount of makeup or costume design ever could. But let's not forget the other cast of The Shining who gave terrific performances as well, including Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, and even Danny Lloyd.

Fictional Horrors To Explore Real Horrors

There are two ways in which the horror movie genre generates fear in the minds of audiences. One is by the use of fictional elements like werewolves, zombies, black magic or so. The other is by using real devices like death, violence, torture, etc. However, in The Shining, Kubrick skillfully uses the fictional horrors- like the supernatural ghostly presence in the Overlook Hotel, to explore the underlying real-life horrors of abuse and murder. Perhaps, it is this engaging conflict between these two that makes this movie so bone-chilling.

No Cheap Scares

The most wonderful thing to learn from this Kubrik masterpiece is that every scene in the movie needs to be there. There are no out-of-place cliched scenes. Not even a second of the long two and a half hours is wasted with some gruesome horror movie element. Horror classics like Halloween and Rosemary’s Baby maybe some of the best flicks from the genre. But unlike them, The Shining has no fat under its bones. One of the reasons for this might be because the movie was trimmed down in editing to make it more marketable. Whatever the case may be, it ended up as a streamlined horror masterpiece and the genre’s finest.

It's Wide Open To Interpretations

For any filmmaker who is attempting to make a movie from the genre, The Shining serves as a perfect inspiration in every sense. A major reason for this is that it is open to interpretation. However, no matter how much interpretation that we find in this movie, it will still be open for more. For almost 40 years since it was released, The Shining has gone through infinite deconstructions and countless essays and books than any other movie. This Shakespearean element of deciphering meanings has kept us at the edge each time we watch the movie. We still can’t ease into it. We still can't find out the real meaning or end to this incredible cinematic experience. And that makes it a timeless work of art.
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The Dark Knight, 10 Years Later

by Utkarsh Bansal

1931, City Lights. 1941, Citizen Kane. 1957, 12 Angry Men. 1972, The Godfather. 1994, The Shawshank Redemption. 2008, The Dark Knight.

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Every so often, a movie comes out that convinces a large portion of cinephiles that it belongs in the conversation for greatest movie ever made, and sparks a conversation among the rest. Christopher Nolan crafted a masterpiece, in which he was helped by all of his most frequent recurring collaborators. Michael Caine has acted in 7 of his movies, Wally Pfister shot 7, Lee Smith edited 7, Hans Zimmer scored 6 and Nathan Crowley has been the production designer on 7. All of them, plus movie-specific actors Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart, did some of the best work of their careers, leading to this work of exceptional technical skill.   But beyond just how well made it is, the movie's longevity has to do with its cultural impact. 2014's Whiplash was impeccably crafted too, but that's not going to inspire the conversations in 2024 that The Dark Knight does now. So what are these conversations? What makes this movie stand out even among other great films of its decade? Here are some opinions.
  1. Kristopher Tapley, for Variety, writes about the impact the movie had on the the Oscars. In 2009, the film missed out on a Best Picture nomination because there were only five nomination slots, and those were reserved for more Oscar-friendly movies like holocaust drama The Reader. That led the Academy to expand to 10 slots, and while we saw some impact of that decision in the next 2 years, with movies like Avatar and Inception competing for the coveted prize, the number of mainstream entertainment blockbuster nominees has diminished since then. That said, we still see movies like Mad Max: Fury Road and Dunkirk recognised every so often, so the impact is certainly felt. [caption id="attachment_1526" align="alignnone" width="800"] CHRISTIAN BALE stars as Batman in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action drama “The Dark Knight,” distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures and also starring Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Morgan Freeman.
    PHOTOGRAPHS TO BE USED SOLELY FOR ADVERTISING, PROMOTION, PUBLICITY OR REVIEWS OF THIS SPECIFIC MOTION PICTURE AND TO REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF THE STUDIO. NOT FOR SALE OR REDISTRIBUTION.[/caption]
  2. Richard Newby, for The Hollywood Reporter, writes about the lessons studios and filmmakers took from The Dark Knight's success, and how the movie's legacy is tarnished by the fact that these were not the right lessons. It is clear that many other franchises have since tried the approach of rebooting with more realism and grit, and this tactic has been applied often with no regard for whether it suits that specific franchise. While I agree that it's not smart to claim that The Dark Knight was successful simply because it was dark, I do think there are those who have used that approach to great success elsewhere. Newby mentions the Planet of the Apes trilogy as the only good example of this trend, but I'd like to mention that even though Skyfall and Logan are not reboots, they did essentially the same thing to their worlds and characters, and did it well. Both movies would have been very different if they did not live in a post-Dark Knight world.
  3. Alan Zilberman, for The Washington Post, writes about the influence the Joker has had on toxic elements of movie fandom, specifically arguing that modern online trolling might have its roots in people who found something admirable in the villain and emulated his quest for chaos. The most interesting point he raises is the trolls' desire to see people get angry, to the point where they often even say things they don't believe, simply to infuriate. Movies like The Dark Knight, Fight Club and The Wolf of Wall Street always run the risk of making the "bad" persona so charming and alluring that people can't resist the temptation to emulate it.
There are many more thinkpieces, some with the same talking points as these, others dissecting the greatness of Heath Ledger's performance or why no superhero movie since has been able to live up. Still others are discussing the way the movie addressed post-9/11 concerns about the war on terror and how the movie's politics hold up today. And 10 years later, there will be many more articles. Whether you think the The Dark Knight has had a positive impact on cinema or negative, one thing is undeniable: we as a culture won't stop talking about it anytime soon.
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The dark heroism in Taxi Driver, Fight Club and Mr.Robot

by Mishika Goel

The gradual decline of society, unhinged moral compasses, sleazy reality. One man against the rest of the world. Loneliness, the silent killer. Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver paints a world that is sadly not strange to us. We, like the New York taxi cabs, are trying to find our place, our destination amidst the chaotic reality. Or maybe some of us are like Travis Bickle, the anti heroes in our own stories, trying to recover from our loneliness while losing our minds in the process, believing we can save the world, fix broken lives while letting our own get shattered soundlessly. Related image Travis, like Tyler Durden from Fight Club or Elliott Alderson from Mr.Robot is glum with the way things are, media and celebrities making us want to buy things we don’t need, the government and corporations making us pawns in their game of chess, social media advertising us as a product in the market, all of these things destructing our purpose of existence, and making us give in to the bureaucracy. These anti heroes are drowning in their own forlorn world, convinced that they are destined to change the system. Maybe it’s just the loneliness driving them to prove themselves to the world, to make others acknowledge their existence. The end sequence in Taxi Driver, where Travis is shown being celebrated as a hero, being finally appreciated is a testimony to that fact. Had he succeeded in his attempt to assassinate Palantine, the media would have presented him as a deranged anti-national. After all, the media shows us what it wants us to believe. It sells, we buy. Consumerism is literally consuming us, every hour of every day, trapping us into a chasm while we go on believing that it’s the best for us.

 “What is it about society that disappoints you so much? “ “Oh I don’t know, is it that we collectively thought Steve Jobs was a great man even when we knew he  made billions off the backs of children?  Or maybe it’s just that it feels like all our heroes are counterfeit; the world itself’s just one big hoax. Or is it that we voted for this?”  (From Mr.Robot)

Maybe people like Travis get so sick of the world; they start living in a fugue state, like Tyler and Elliott. They detach from reality, thinking that they can change the reality. Ironic, isn’t it?

Travis is aware of the fact that he’s lonely, much like Tyler, who finds his escape in a fight club by venting out his anger and gaining a sense of purpose, or like Elliott, who is just one among the thousands of employees at E Corp, being choked by bureaucracy and political games. “You talking to me? Then who the hell else are you talking to?    You talking to me? Well I’m the only one here.”     (Travis says this as he looks into a mirror)

This scene implies just how lonely he is. It makes us feel sorry for him, but there’s a strange sense of fear too, as we see him descend into madness. Image result for taxi driver you talking These complicated characters represent our deteriorating society. They don’t realize the magnitude of their actions, the impending consequences. What is it that drives them to go for it anyway? Is it just sheer will to revive the morality? Is it because they believe they will only be accepted and appreciated in the society they create? Or is it just because they are lonely and need a change not only in the society but also in their own lives? These vigilantes’ desire to bring a change does connect to us indeed. We realise that we are living in a similar society, the walls are crashing down and there’s a need for a radical change. But unlike them, maybe we are too afraid of losing our control over the Elliot within us and giving way to Mr.Robot instead. These stories appeal to us not only because we connect to them, but also because these characters do what we aren’t able to, putting on the anti hero mask and bringing down the society, even if it ends up changing their own nature.
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