One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Director: Milos Forman

Writers: Lawrence Hauben (screenplay), Bo Goldman (screenplay), Ken Kesey (novel)

Starts: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, William Redfield

IMDB Rank: 15

I cannot overrate this movie. I watched it last night so I’m writing this review with it still fresh in mind. I had high expectations knowing all the rewards that rained down on it, but the film and Jack Nicholson’s performance in particular still managed to surprise me.

R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is transferred to a mental institution for evaluation after given a short sentence on a prison farm for statutory rape charges. He tries to make the most of his suspected short stay in the hospital and challenges the head nurse (Louise Fletcher) at every chance he gets.

Anthony Hopkins has done a great intelligent psychopath, but no one does crazy better than Nicholson. I loved his performance in “The Shining” and am ashamed to say I have yet to see “As Good as it Gets” (one of three movies he won best actor Oscars for). He delivered an average performance in “The Departed” and isn’t getting any younger, but I do hope he gives us at least one more role that comes close to the show he put on in Cuckoo’s Nest. Watching his interaction with the other patients made me believe on some occasions I was seeing a comedy, but the movie quickly reminds us it can be just as depressing as it is funny.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

It’s hard to find fault with “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. Louise Fletcher did a great job as the leading actress and strong performances by all the supporting characters made the movie brilliant. Good screenplay, good directing and the music by Jack Nitzsche played nicely with the film.

I’ve seen some hate about the ending, but in my opinion it couldn’t have been better. McMurthy could have jump out of the window when he had the chance and I think most of us were rooting for him to do so, but what he does next shows the strong bond formed with his odd friends inside the hospital.

The movie left me emotionally blank for a while and then I just felt sad. I’m not going to drop any major spoilers on this site as I know some of you still haven’t seen it, but it’s one of the few movies that have truly left me staring at the end credits in awe.

Conclusion:

It ranks as one of the best in my book alongside “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Pulp Fiction”. See this movie with the highest expectations and chances are it will surpass them! (10/10)

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

To Kill a Mockingbird

Director: Robert Mulligan

Writers: Harper Lee (novel), Horton Foote (screenplay)

Starts: Gregory Peck, Mary Badham,Phillip Alford, John Megna

IMDB Rank: 76

“To Kill a Mockingbird” centers mainly around three characters: Scout, Jem and their father Atticus, who raises his children to the best of his ability while defending a black man accused of raping a white women.

I first saw “To Kill a Mockingbird” shortly after reading the book in my high school English class. Being born less than 20 years ago I’d lie if I said I was not slightly put off by it being in black and white; how stupid was I. The book itself was great and to my surprise the movie portrayed Harper Lee’s story excellently. To those still wondering whether to watch this 1962 classic, do it! The cinematography is excellent, but what really makes this movie is the performance put on by Gregory Peck; our hero in this movie and perhaps the greatest film hero ever!

There are some powerful scenes which showcases Atticus’s moral outlook on life and the story of how he defends a black man whose fate has already been sealed is sad yet inspiring. One line that stuck to me from the novel is Miss Maudie telling Scout after the trial had been lost: “I thought, Atticus Finch won’t win, he can’t win, but he’s the only man in these parts who can keep a jury out so long on a case like that.” This pretty much sums up Atticus’s determination to give Tom Robinson a fair trial despite what the rest of the community may think.

The child acting was impressive and the characters of Scout and Jem were portrayed as children should. They were naive and silly, doing stupid things and disobeying their father time and time again. But during the three year time spine in which this movie plays off you see them growing, taking more of Atticus’s advice in along the way.  Scout is of course our main protagonist and she and her brother were highly relatable and contributed to the success of this movie.

Conclusion:

I recommend this to almost everyone. Young lawyers, movie-lovers and most importantly to all the fans of the novel who haven’t seen this film: You won’t be disappointed! (9/10)

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Director: Jonathan Demme

Writers: Thomas Harris (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay)

Starts: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Anthony Heald, Ted Levine

IMDB Rank: 24

The Silence of the Lambs

Since this is my first review it is only fitting that I start off with one of the greatest crime thrillers ever…The Silence of the Lambs. Most of you have probably seen it, but let us try and understand why this movie was so successful. Even though I am a big fan of Thomas Harris; this is one of those rare cases were the movie is better than the book and my imagination couldn’t top what I was about to see on screen.

I’m sure all of you are familiar with the plot, but in short: FBI trainee, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is sent to interview the imprisoned Hannibal ‘the cannibal’ Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) in order to try and catch the serial killer known as “Buffalo Bill”.

This film is filled with rich dialogue, which makes you sit up and focus. For a movies dialogue to work a good actor is required; and can anyone top Anthony Hopkins portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter? His first encounter with our young and inexperienced hero Clarice Starling sat in my mind for days after and was what forced me to re-watch this movie; twice! Anthony Hopkins told the director he should look straight into the camera when talking to Clarice in the asylum, to give the audience the feeling that he knows everything. This made the whole scene even creepier and sent a shiver down my spine even during the third re-watch. Jodie Foster’s performance was also nothing shy from perfect and I was disappointed when she turned down her role in the sequel movie Hannibal (2001). This was maybe a wise decision, as the chance of it living up to the standard SotL set was practically zero.

A movie where the audience can connect or relate to the characters is bound to get applause. I can’t say I can relate to Clarice or Hannibal for that matter, but the way these characters were portrayed triggered some emotion and made us question our own system of beliefs when rooting for Hannibal to escape.

In my opinion this movie did everything right from the music to the acting and is ranked as one of the greatest thrillers of all-time alongside The Usual Suspects and Se7en (two of my other favorite movies which I will be reviewing in the future).  The Silence of the Lambs went on to win the Big Five at the Oscars, which included:  Best Picture, Best Director (Demme), Best Actor (Hopkins), Best Actress (Foster), and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) (Ted Tally).

Conclusion:

This is a must watch. If you don’t like scary movies, fair enough, but this is something everyone has to see at least once. I wish I could make this review longer, but I’m having an old friend for dinner. No seriously, a friend of mine is literally coming over and I need to start preparing the food. (10/10)