So, the final day, and ‘Z’. Look out for not only my extra post, Day 27, but also my blogging challenge conclusion, which follows that.
‘Z’ is a little lacking for titles. I will leave out the Costa-Gravas film, ‘Z’, as too obvious, and go with my own few picks for this letter. I will also be omitting the terrible, ‘Zardoz’, not one of Connery’s finest hours. Feel free to mention it, if you like it.
Just a few then, and a pretty obvious top pick, if you have worked out my taste so far.
I could never have left out ‘Zulu’ (1964). This famous epic not only launched the career of Michael Caine, it covered one of the great moments in British colonial history so well. A small detachment of defenders must hold the mission station at Rourke’s Drift against the attacks of almost 3,000 Zulu warriors, in 1879. A superb cast recreates this real event so well, it is still amazing to behold, in 2017. Not only that, it gives due credit to the Zulu warriors, brave men all. Magnificent.
The ‘Son of Sam’ murders are famous in contemporary American history. So too are the unsolved ‘Zodiac’ murders, that occurred in the late 1960s and 1970s, in the area around San Francisco. David Fincher’s excellent procedural film, ‘Zodiac’ (2007) follows those murders, and the prolonged police investigation and journalistic campaign surrounding them. A superb cast recreates that investigation in fascinating detail, ably assisted by Fincher’s tight and assured direction. Not only Jake Gyllenhall, but also Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jnr, and Brian Cox put real flesh on the many characters involved. Detailed and absorbing, this one will have you frustrated at the end.
Peter Greenaway has long divided the opinion of audiences. It seems that you either love his work, or hate it. I am firmly in his fan club, so his unusual film, ‘A Zed and Two Noughts'(1985) features here.
Hard to describe, this film about identical twins who are studying animal behaviour at a zoo, has to be seen to be appreciated. Without spoiling the plot, all I can say it that is both surreal, and bizarre in the extreme. Not for everyone, for sure, but undeniably inventive.
I think we can all recognise the music from this next film. Just a few chords will cast us back to memories of other times. Mikis Theodorakis supplied some memorable soundtrack music to the film, ‘Zorba The Greek’ (1964). One of Anthony Quinn’s finest and most memorable performances, as the peasant musician Zorba, who changes the life of the traveller, Basil. (Alan Bates) The story of a failed mine, and some of life’s values, is incidental to the wonderful scenery, and the real heart in the performances of all involved. And you get Irene Papas too. Legendary.
Well, another Japanese film takes my final choice today. No Kurosawa or Mifune, but something just as enjoyable. Beat Takeshi (Takeshi Kitano) is well-known in modern Japanese Cinema. Many will have seen him in ‘Battle Royale’, or ‘Violent Cop’. In ‘Zatoichi’ (2003), he returns to the familiar theme of the ‘blind samurai’, and delivers a truly delightful performance. Defending villagers from extortion at the hands of gangsters, his blind samurai includes excellent set pieces, plot twists and turns, some really great humour, and a heartwarming central performance. And there is a terrific ending too, over the closing credits. One to enjoy over again, and a top recommendation from me.