If You Meet Sartana, Pray For Your Death (Se incontri Sartana prega per la tua morte), dir. Gianfranco Parolini (1968) ★★★★★
Sometimes when I find it hard to pick out a movie or I struggle to get beyond the first few minutes of a new one, I fall back on old favorites. They are usually ones I have on Blu-ray or DVD; my Laserdisc and VHS players are still back in Chicago. If You Meet Sartana, Pray For Your Death or its Italian name Se incontri Sartana prega per la tua morte holds a special place in my heart as being my first Gianni Garko film. He has since become one of my favorite actors up there with the likes of Robert Redford and Kurt Russell.
The only word to truly describe this film is "bonkers." The plot give you whiplash with the number of double crosses while still charming you with magical elements. Fantasy mixed with westerns isn't entirely uncommon and is often referred to as "acid westerns," but this was a pioneer in the genre before big names like El Topo and High Plains Drifter came along.
Paper Moon, dir. Peter Bogdanovich (1973) ★★★★★
I talked about Paper Moon in my very first post for this blog and it really was one of the movies that helped me fall in love with film again when everything seemed to only be done for a grade in college. I was watching films because I was assigned to not because I wanted to. I rewatched Paper Moon somewhere around four times that week and shared it with all my friends. I still haven't found a film that matches the atmosphere and charm of it.
I feel like this is also one that is easy to call my favorite film. I get asked that question all the time and depending on my mood and my judgement of the person I give different answers. Older people that ask I usually tell them something like Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (dir. George Roy Hill, 1969). I usually tell younger teens about the latest horror flick I have seen or fall back on Re-Animator (dir. Stuart Gordon, 1986). I talk about The Bloodhound (dir. Patrick Picard, 2020) with more modern film lovers and true film geeks get The Night of The Hunter (dir. Charles Laughton, 1955). The one film that seems to be universally loved though is Paper Moon. Never fails.
A Hard Day's Night, dir. Richard Lester (1964) ★★★★★
Another film that never seems to fail (also the one my mom thinks in my favorite) is this classic Beatles flick. From the music, to the cast, and to the screenwriting...well, everything is basically perfect. It is a film that is quotable and exciting for all ages. I've never met someone that has seen this film and has disliked it.
While it was their lesser loved film Help! (dir Richard Lester, 1965) that I wore out on VHS, this is the one that has aged better and is easier to show to a wider audience. I don't know what it is about the train sequences in this that sticks out but watching it on the big screen at The Fest for Beatles Fans with always stick out as a core memory from my childhood.
Pink Floyd: The Wall, dir. Alan Parker (1982) ★★★★★
Now, this is a very different type of music based film. This rock opera combines live action, animation, and musical sequences to create a film experience that it like no other. While similar films like Tommy and Lisztomania were released around the same time, this one had a much more dark and edgy aesthetic to it.
This is also the movie that introduced me to Bob Geldof and his band The Boomtown Rats. While sometimes considered a one-hit-wonder with "I Don't Like Mondays", I fell in love with the band in high school.
The Adventures of Robin Hood, dir. Michael Curtiz & William Keighley (1938) ★★★★★
Back during COVID, me and my friend Hannah would do 24-hour movie marathons where we would pick out ten movies based around a theme and work our way through the list during those hours. The Adventures of Robin Hood was the last movie of the night and I don't know if it was the relief that the marathon was almost over or the vivid colors but I fell in love and I fell fast.
Toby Dammit, dir. Federico Fellini (1968) ★★★★★
There are a few variations of this film, including it originally being part of an anthology movie. Now it's often separated from the others as it was certainly the stand out picture. Besides the length, the language varies. The version that features a combination of French, English, and Italian is my favorite. Some things are lost, literally, in translation including the fact that the titular character doesn't understand the majority of things people around him are saying and the inclusion of his translator in certain scenes.
Sleeping Beauty, dir. Eric Larson, Wolfgang Reitherman, Clyde Geronimi, Les Clark (1959) ★★★★★
I closed out my week of rewatches with my childhood favorite. Besides that copy of Help!, my VHS of Sleeping Beauty was really put to the test. Every night I would pick a movie to slip into my box TV that my dad found in the trash or on the side of the road. I needed sound to fall asleep to and having it be a familair sound was even better. Replaying the same movie over and over again was common as a new tape was pretty expensive until the library started selling theirs to replace them with DVDs.
This is one of the movie I plan on screening for our Film Freaks program one day because I truly believe it is the best animated Disney picture. It['s combination of art styles and beautiful backgrounds stand the test of time.