Films featuring
Charles Napier

The Blues Brothers

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Regardless of whether or not I like the movie, The Blues Brothers has something serious to answer for. This is probably the film that convinced movie producers that sketch characters from Saturday Night Live could be successfully translated into movies. Therefore “Joliet” Jake and Elwood have to shoulder part of the blame for travesties like A Night at the Roxbury and It’s Pat.

The problem is that the Blues Brothers weren’t sketch characters. They didn’t have a catch phrase and their only “schtick” was a genuine respect for the music that they covered. This gave screenwriters Dan Aykroyd and John Landis the freedom to craft an actual story around the characters. If the story is a little too slight to support two hours and thirteen minutes of running time, that doesn’t matter too much. Like their Blues Brothers appearances on SNL, this movie is mostly about the music.

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Philadelphia

It’s difficult now to even imagine a time, a little more than a decade ago, when Philadelphia was a daring, breakthrough film. In structure and style, this movie is a wholly conventional courtroom drama. In 1993, its frank treatment of homosexuality and AIDS was culturally groundbreaking. That’s probably the true genius stroke of this film, taking an edgy, uncomfortable subject and couching it in a familiar setting.

I have to confess that I didn’t see Philadelphia until this year, largely because at the time the movie was released, my oldest brother had less than a year to live and the subject struck a little too close to home for me. Finally seeing it, a decade removed from the real life events, I could appreciate the movie for what it was without dwelling on the subject matter.

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The Silence of the Lambs

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Silence of the Lambs was a rule breaker from the start. Contrary to convention, its primary relationship is between its diminutive female heroine and an urbane serial killer. It cleaned up at the Academy Awards despite being essentially a highbrow horror film that was released in mid-February, approximately eight months before the start of “Oscar season.” Moreover, Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor despite being on screen for about 16 minutes.

Directed by Jonathan Demme with moody cinematography by Tak Fujimoto, Silence eschews stylistic flourishes for an all-permeating atmosphere of dread. Continue reading