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The question is, should the millennial marketing professional of today, be concerned in any way shape or form, by the popular sociological and creative developments made in the 60's, 70's and 80's? Those glorious moments in time, that shaped so much of our creative heritage and gave birth to a multi dimensional, multi cultural creative renaissance, that today finds itself being repeated to such an alarming degree that someone somewhere, thought it would be a good idea to remake Ben Hur!
This, like so many "new" things, falls between two pillars. On the one hand the filmmakers are banking on the new audience not even knowing or caring that this is a remake and on the other, tempting an audience who remember the golden age of cinema, back into the megaplex for an updated refreshed rebooted version accompanied by popcorn and hashtags.
To a certain extent this parallel thinking can be seen as much in the film industry as within the music industry. It is then for this reason that those taking positions of responsibility, certainly those that play on the wavelength of any individual remotely educated in popular culture, should have a basic understanding of how we got where we are today because it most certainly wasn't by accident. Not knowing for example, the importance of "The Velvet Underground & Nico" and its influence upon just about everything from Damien Hirst, Lady Gaga, Vivienne Westwood, Green Day, David Lynch and everything in between, is certainly not a crime. Nevertheless, for any to have grown up not listening to “Sunday Morning” on a Sunday morning, clearly have not lived a full and complete life.
This is not to be confused with some form of high art music snobbery. This is a call to action! There is so much to explore and even with the relative accessible ease of streaming services, one can't help but feel that the exploration of inspiration seems to matter less than it once did. I can remember the day, when a senior branding director chastised my choice of in car music when upon hearing 'Kashmir" she voiced her dislike of Puff Daddy.
The same arguments apply to film! Sure they take up more of our time and yes sometimes, films are not in color or even presented in our native language but this search for inspiration cannot be based purely upon the mono dimensional progressions of the last ten years. So, in no particular order, here are 10 things that you should look at before Adam Sandler makes Wedding Singer II!
Those with inside knowledge of Kubrick's production process will know the importance placed upon attention to detail and a narrative distilled on a finely tuned balançoire of emotions and visual tricks. Jack Nicholson was never any better at being Jack Nicholson that when he was being directed by Kubrick and this enormous piece of cinematic history is just one more reason why Stanley Kubrick is one of only a handful of film directors to be truly deserving of the title "genius". Notwithstanding the magnificence displayed in Barry Lyndon, 2001, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut, in The Shining, Kubrick bought the cinema going public to its knees in fear when he coaxed Nicholson with comparative ease to gently persuade Shelley Duvall out of the bathroom with an axe. For more informed look into the life of this curious fellow and some of the people that surrounded him watch.
Peter O'Toole would never recover fully from his turn as David Lean's Lawrence. Made at a point in time when filmmaking could not have been anymore troublesome, David Lean created one of the most important films in the history of cinema. The place to watch this film is in the repertory cinema of your choice and bask in the 70mm brilliance of this wider than widescreen experience.
Ridley Scott, who would later in life go one to make Alien and Gladiator to name but a few, pulled out all the stops when making Blade Runner. Released in numerous versions, with voice over, without voice, with unicorn or without unicorn! If you have never watched it, it does not matter which version you see, just save yourself for Rutger Hauer's career defining moment and Harrison Ford’s unavoidable clumsiness, repurposed and repackaged as the performance of his life. Many have attempted to replicate the attention to detail displayed in Blade Runner and many have failed miserably. Scott's vision of the future as a polluted, over populated asiatic nightmare has never been bettered.
A blistering account of life inside a Parisian communications agency, spoiled only by a troubled ending. Complete with a cocaine munching hamster, this cautionary tale displays excess and stupidity in plentiful amounts. Based upon Frédéric Beigbeder's book of the same name, Jean Dujardin plays the creative genius you love to hate with alarming accuracy.
Francis Ford Coppola's extraordinary take on Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness", takes the viewer on a trip into the darkest reaches of man’s cruel excess, with the Vietnam war acting as a backdrop and Marlon Brando outperforming every other participant just with his voice. Complete with the infamous Ride of The Valkyries scene and Jim Morrison's refrain "kill, kill kill" lifted from "The End", this film nearly took the life of its leading man and the Director's sanity.
Giuseppe Tornatore's hand crafted celebration of cinema is a glorious ode to the majesty of the art form and the magic and wonder that cinema continues to bring the world. Sure you can watch La La Land if you want but if you really want to feel the majesty of the silver screen over the generations this is where you should go. Backed by a poetic Ennio Morricone score, Cinema Paradiso steers clear of banal Americana in favour of small village, childhood dreams.
Peter Sellers closing moments in this magical exploration of political numbness coupled with an unlikely innocence, make for a film that plays us much upon the New York elite as it does on Sellers eventual end. Hal Ashby captured one of cinema's most heart rending performances as Sellers attempts to make sense of like outside the confines of his home for some sixty years. The sadness that followed shortly after with Sellers passing, made the film all the more transcendent and an essential addition to any film library.
Picking a Woody Allen film for this list was no less challenging than choosing Kubrick's The Shining over A Clockwork Orange or, Apocalypse Now over Coppola's Godfather Trilogy. Let this be then, an invitation to explore rather than a definitive shortlist. With that in mind, Manhattan is Allen's salute to the city he loves, and the love that consumes him. Whilst many of Allen's trademark ticks are present here, this look at Allen's life imitating art, imitating life, would never again be quite so eloquently delivered.
History has trouble remembering Chinatown without finding itself playing devil's advocate for a a director wrapped in remorse and eventual scandal. The fact is Chinatown would become a genre defining meisterwerk and in a cannon of impeccable films, one of Roman Polanski's finest moments. Littered with quotes and Jack Nicholson's wry style, Chinatown serves both as film noir and historical drama, as the fate that would become the City of Angels unravels before the audience.
David Lynch's sugar consuming, writing process coupled with a talent for making the uncomfortable and unpleasant, entertaining and engaging, played tricks with his audience time and time again. Subjecting his stars to humiliation in the name of art, everything about Blue Velvet revolves around Dennis Hopper's prince of darkness in search of gratification witnessed by an overly curious teen. Lynch would go on to make better films than Blue Velvet but nothing since has been quite as demonic and depraved as the performance he managed to extract from Hopper.
So that’s it! Nowhere else are you likely to be entertained and educated quite so well, as when you are watching, not just these films, but the films that they will lead you to. It's a wonderful journey, just don’t leave it too late before starting. Enjoy...
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HQ 220 W 30th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10001
154 Grand Street, New York, NY 10013
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