Best Films of 1960
Best Films of 1961
Best Films of 1962
Best Films of 1963
Best Films of 1964

Best Films of 1965
Best Films of 1966
Best Films of 1967
Best Films of 1968
Best Films of 1969

La Jetee

Les Biches
Once Upon A Time in the West

BEST FILMS OF 1969 - List in Progress
by Mike Lorefice

Age of Consent
Michael Powell

Sublime, blissful, comical escapist fantasy of disillusioned NY painter Bradley Morahan (James Mason) returning to nearly uninhabited island in Australian homeland seeking scenic solitude only to stumble upon a nubile teen beauty that reinvigorates him. Trapped in paradise, the only home the free-spirited orphan living with her bitter old bag of a drunken grandmother has ever known, crayfish and oyster catching Cora (Helen Mirren) longs to secure enough money to escape to Brisbane to become a hairdresser. Trying a lot harder to be honorable than he did as Humbert Humbert in Stanley Kubrick's Lolita, Mason simply helps her attain her dream by paying the underage girl to model - in the nude - transforming a ragged old shack into a vibrant tapestry that celebrates the possibilities of art at least as much as the female form. Based on a semi-autobiographical novel by artist Norman Lindsay, the subject of the movie Sirens, Age of Consent is a celebration of liberation on many fronts for both artist and model. Nearly finished due to the backlash of his voyeuristic masterpiece Peeping Tom, Michael Powell was making low budget films in Australia since no one in the UK or USA would back him. Despite their popularity in Australia and the fact the film, along with his previous They're a Weird Mob, were major inspirations for the 1970's Australian new wave, Age of Consent was about the end of the line for him even though he lived another twenty plus years. It's a least a fitting conclusion, with the leisurely pace, atmospheric style, and colorful photography perfectly fitting the escape from stifling commerce to the inspirational basics of nature theme. Filmed at Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the initial scene of underwater photography by expert Ron Taylor is particularly stunning. There's not much plot with the seedy sponger Nat Kelly (Jack MacGowran) tracking Bradley better than any detective and the imprisoning thieving dependent granny Ma Ryan (Neva Carr-Glyn) serving as the main character's anchors (as well as comic relief), but the point is to depict the physical struggle and internal strife of artistic creation without falling back on obvious explanations and cliched stumbling blocks. [6/15/08] ***


Blind Beast
Yasuzo Masumura


Full Movie Review


Take the Money and Run
Woody Allen

Woody Allen's first true directorial effort may not be one of his better known works, but it did more to influence the direction of comedy films than any of his others. Picture the comedic sketches of Monty Python meeting the mockumentary of Christopher Guest, with both styles being totally fresh since Woody beat them to it. Highly influenced by the Marx Brothers and silent comedy, the film is basically a bunch of skits that Allen and editorial consultant Ralph Rosenblum eventually figured a way to put in some kind of order. An anarchic self-deprecating mix of often hilarious scenes and some embarrassing flops that, unlike more recent Woody, parody and plays off his vast wealth of film history rather than simply mimicing a 1960's art film. Allen plays born loser Virgil Starkwell, a bumbling small time thief who has never done anything that didn't backfire. Despite botching such hopeless escapades as trying to sit and play the cello in marching band, rob an armored car with a gun-shaped lighter, and escape prison with a bar of soap he's carved into a gun only to have it begin to dissipate in the rain, Virgil remains as optimistic as he is inept. Allen plays the role with total seriousness and Jackson Beck provides a strictly factual police procedural style narration that lends the feeling of authentic reportage. Every scene upsets the documentary seriousness in some way, creating an uneasiness that's the basis of the comedy. One problem is Woody thinks anything that disrupts the illusion of realism is funny, but no one is stupid enough to still think it's a documentary 90 minutes later, so, as always, in the end good comedy is good comedy and bad comedy is bad comedy. Virgil's embarrassed parents disguising themselves in Groucho masks is funny the first time, but most of the formal documentary scenes don't work because the attempted psychological satire is bogged down by Allen's Freudian pretenses. Allen was a standup comic and TV writer at this point, and his jokes are so good it often doesn't matter that he seems to be finding ways to film his standup routine. Broadway Danny Rose is a better overall film because Allen had figured out how to render his comedy and make it work on the big screen, but Take the Money & Run might be the funniest thing he ever did, or at least it plays like a greatest hits collection of anything Woody ever thought was funny. [3/18/07] ***

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