The long delayed list continues… again again again….
118. Thirty Seconds over Tokyo (1944)
The story of the Doolittle Bombing Raid over Tokyo is reenacted with a great deal of detail in this moving character-based war drama. Rather than focus on the military details, the film chooses instead to focus on following the diverse characters training for the raid. Some of the performances are a bit arch for modern sensibilities, but in general this is a solid piece of war drama.
119. Ryan’s Daughter (1970)
David Lean was on an epic roll, having made 3 of the most artistic large-scale epics of all time (The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago all in a row. Perhaps it was inevitable that his next film would be up against some high odds. Ryan’s Daughter, like those prior films is a 3+ hour epic, this time set on the coast of Ireland in a small village in the midst of WWI. Like those other films, Ryan’s Daughter has powerful cinematography and direction. Unlike those films, though, the story really is quite small, perhaps too small for the huge scale in which the story is framed. Never before or since has such an intimate character drama been blown up into such a huge spectacle. Despite this, Lean fans will find a great deal to appreciate from the visuals, the strong performances, and to witness something wholly unique.
120. Great Expectations (1946)
David Lean’s black and white early films are often forgotten about when compared to the giant epics that would define his legacy. This 1946 film takes Charles Dickens’ blustery “paid by the word” style and simplifies it in remarkable fashion. Boiling the story down to its basics, but with strong performances and a visual style that communicates everything perfectly. I would hazard to say that this is the best way to experience Great Expectations in any medium.
121. 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992)
Before Gladiator, Ridley Scott directed this huge-scale epic about Christopher Columbus which has ironically become more or less forgotten by history. Scott seems to have a career-long problem of focusing so much on visuals and world building that he doesn’t take the time to bring service to the story. This is one of the most glaring examples, as the movie is splendidly orchestrated from a spectacle point of view, but utterly lacking in humanity.
122. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018)
Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood was a rite of passage for many a child in their formative years. His low-key style and comforting demeanor expressed a warmness that Children’s TV shows seldom strive for. Fred Rogers was one of the rare examples of a man who literally lived just as clean-cut of a life as he did as a television personality. This documentary tells his story, and makes a very strong case for our need in these cynical times for another true voice of love and kindness.