FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Stanley Kubrick |||
Stanley Kubrick

A filmmaker of international importance, Kubrick was one of the only directors to work within the Studio System and still have full artistic control over his films from scripting through post-production, prompting Time Magazine to compare Kubrick’s early independence with the magnitude of Orson Welles.

An uncompromising antiwar film, this gut-wrenching drama depicts a World War I officer as he labors with an ultimately futile defense for three painfully sympathetic men tried for cowardice. Kubrick artistically utilizes a beautifully washed-out black and white photography to represent the muddied boundaries of right and wrong, and the many gray areas that lay between.

A fabulous and inspiring adventure, this visually stunning epic stars Kirk Douglas as the heroic slave who fights to lead his people to freedom from Roman rule. Although a clear departure from Kubrick’s oeuvre, “Spartacus” is an all time classic helmed by a man with a precise vision who is equally capable of crafting colossal spectacle, tense tête-à-têtes, and a tender moment between lovers.

This film is so stylish it’s easy to forget it’s a horror film at heart. Considered to be the thinking man’s thriller, Kubrick molds this very particularly “Stephan King” material into the portfolio of his films about human failure, as the hero’s desperate desire to become somebody ends in frustration and tragedy.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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Hail, Hail, Rock ‘N Roll

By CarrieSpecht

June 21st, 2006

At the Egyptian Theatre Hollywood Saturday, June 24 at 7:30pm. Following the screening Director Taylor Hackford (and surprise guests) will appear in person for a discussion and to reveal some surprise extras, some of which appear on the upcoming new DVD release of the film.

Hail, Hail, Rock ‘N Roll

The tagline proclaims, “The whole world knows the music. Nobody knows the man”.

Director Taylor Hackford ("Ray") rectifies this situation in his wonderful expose of preeminent musician Chuck Berry who was a prominent pioneer of the idea of singer as songwriter, and a highly influential leader in the infancy of rock 'n' roll. Berry is explored and exposed as never before in this revealing, inspiring and energizing documentary.

Filmed on location at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri, Hackford's earnest and attentive documentary is an all-star extravaganza revolving around a concert given in Berry’s hometown on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

This lovely and personal account of Chuck Berry is told in the usual documentary fashion, with Berry the man revealed through his own words and those of his friends and colleagues through an entertaining mix of interviews, some vintage behind-the-scenes clips, and live-concert archival footage.

The film abounds with a multitude of guest appearances by many legends and luminaries in concert as well as in interviews, including Etta James, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Robert Cray, Julian Lennon, Linda Ronstadt, legendary musicians Bo Diddley, Little Richard, the Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen who once opened for Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis early in his career.

Although standard in it’s presentation Hackford does an impressive job of capturing Berry's charismatic performances, his humor, and the uncompromising standards he has set for himself, often presenting Berry as a difficult character, avoiding the trap of idealizing or idolizing him. By showing the enigmatic showmen in all his humanity makes this one of the best and most honest rock films of all time.

With its charm and exuberance it’s no wonder that this film has long been a fan favorite and it’s DVD release has been so greatly anticipated.

My rating: A-