Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Favorite Era: Intro and Jaws

Welcome to a new feature for the site, a somewhat in depth (because there are limits to how large a shovel I can wield sometimes), personalized look at some of the best in horror, sci-fi, action and comedy from 1975 to 1994.  Why the specific stretch of time I mentioned?  Basically, we're starting with our subject today and ending with Pulp Fiction.

When I think of my favorite stretches of time in film history, this period is generally what comes to mind.  In this series, we will be looking at 100 of the best in the four genres I have mentioned with the occasional diversion into thrillers and straight dramas here and there. These won't necessarily be traditional reviews.  In some cases, everything has already been said so I'll instead point out some things that I personally am amused/entertained by.

To begin, let's take a look at the movie that truly kicked off this era with a bang... Maybe that should be chomp.
What better way to kick things off than with this legendary horror/adventure movie that I'm fairly certain every person on earth has either seen or heard of.  I don't think I really need to get into a plot synopsis, and in terms of analysis pretty much everything has been said ten times over so let's just get on with some of the stuff that I feel makes this movie great.
  •  The casting and direction is pitch perfect.  You would never guess it was only Spielberg's second movie based on what he delivers and the performances across the board are great.  From our three main guys (Scheider, Dreyfuss and Shaw) to the Martha's Vineyard locals they used as extras, everyone does their job impeccably.
  • The soundtrack from John Williams is a wonderfully sparse, tense work that does a great job of building tension and suspense.  Williams has always been one of the best composers of all time and this is one of his best soundtracks.
  • The shark attacks are simply awesome.  The first one is a great scare scene that still works today; the kid getting munched is one of the most horrific things I've ever seen (not often you get a PG movie where a little kid is bitten in half by a shark) and Quint's death is still one of the most unnerving death scenes I have ever seen.  Robert Shaw really aimed for the bleachers with those death screams.
  • The last hour or so is one of the best extended third acts in film history.  The hunt for the shark has everything a good movie should have.  Character development, action, scares, a few laughs.  Just great.  Robert Shaw's speech about the Indianapolis is still one of the most hypnotic bits of acting ever.
  • A little thing I dig about the end credits is how the last note hits just our heroes make it to shore in long shot.  That's a little touch that really makes a movie like this worth watching over and over.
I am, and always have been an unabashed Spielberg fan.  Does he always hit a home run?  No, no filmmaker does.  Jaws is one of his best movies and it still holds up today.  It's still exciting, still scary, the shark is still effective (sometimes a mechanical disaster can be a blessing in disguise) and the new Blu-ray that came out recently is stunning.  It is what I would consider to be a perfect viewing experience.  There will be several other movies in this series that resemble that remark.  But that is a story for another day.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.