‘S’ encompasses everything the movies embody. Sex and superstars. Suspects and sleaze. Story-telling and sci-fi. Sensuality, sentiments, and scars. The sea, the stars, and the sky. A subject with sight and sound. The screen. Not surprisingly, ‘S’ is the most challenging letter in this series because there are simply too many excellent movies.
I shortlisted 30 odd films I liked for this entry. Spellbound and Strangers on a Train from the master of suspense. Billy Wilder’s masterpieces with the irresistible Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot. Al Pacino’s brilliant performances in Scarface and Scent of a Woman. Vijay Tendulkar’s Marathi landmark Shantata Court Chalu Ahe, followed by his script in Sardar, directed by Ketan Mehta of Mirch Masala fame, and brought to life outstandingly by one of the most underutilized, stereotyped actors in India, Paresh Rawal.
There are riveting thrillers like Silence of the Lambs, and Se7en. Films like Sound of Music and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that we loved both as kids and adults. The legendary Star Wars, an institution by itself. Hindi films make their mark as well, with Saraansh, Sparsh and Sadma. And the sensitive, powerful drama of Salaam Bombay! There are hilarious comedies like Silent Movie that make you laugh, to The Sweet Hereafter, a great Canadian film that makes you share the grief of a tragedy. Afterwards, you need the lighthearted Singin’ in the Rain, or the nostalgia of Stand By Me or Summer of ‘42.
The ‘greats’ didn’t spare me. Shakha Proshakha, one of Ray’s last films, and the metaphysical The Seventh Seal by Bergman. Tarkovsky gave us the Russian equivalent of ‘2001’ in the haunting Solyaris, while Brando made history and changed film acting forever by his performance in Kazan’s A Streetcar Named Desire. And yet, I am sure you, my readers, will come up with many more suggestions of excellent films that I must have missed.
Despite so many great films, some still stood above the rest. I think that they are timeless films that will remain great classics for generations to come. As I said in the beginning of this series, the cinematic experience is very subjective, hence my selections are those that I will keep seeing and enjoying throughout my lifetime.
In the interest of keeping the length of my posts manageable, giving me time to write, and retaining the momentum of interaction and conversation, the winners list will be in the next post. I’m sure that with many of the films listed here, you will be able to guess the winners, but the guessing game, though enjoyable, is not the only aspect of this series. Do share your thoughts of the films mentioned above!