A-Z Challenge: Day 26

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.

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44 thoughts on “A-Z Challenge: Day 26

  1. Perhaps as an older person I need to see Zatoichi again. I liked it the first time but was hoping for the action to be bigger. As a fan of The Seven Samurai it let me down but was still a fun night. I’m glad you liked it. Thanks for this series and I hope to catch up on the other posts soon. As you can see I’m struggling to catch up as is and still have so much to write. I don’t know how you do it. As for Zulu…probably my pick. A definite classic that holds up. Most of the cast had actually served in the military and quite a few in combat. No doubt this influenced some of the better choices the film makes.

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    1. I see Zatoichi more as a comedy really. But the non-comedy bits are fun to watch too. I don’t know how many times I have seen Zulu, more than twenty for sure. But I never tire of the action sequences.
      I was up against it with the writing for the film challenge, so did them a few at a time, when I had the chance.
      Cheers, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Marina. Sad news about Irene Papas indeed. Thanks for playing along. There is a ‘numbers’ post today that will be the last in the series.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. This has been great fun. I have been thinking about other ways to utilize this pattern in the future, whether with song titles, book titles, food or old boy friends(but I didn’t have 26 old boyfriends I don’t think unless I count the ones I wished were my boyfriends.)

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  3. I can only add to your fine list with ‘Zero Dark Thirty’. The alphabet has ended and I feel a little sad. You had conditioned me to check in to see what your picks were and for me to contemplate films I enjoyed. A fun game and I’m sorry it’s over!

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  4. Pete, ;I have vague recollections of watching “Zulu” and “Zorba the Greek” back in the mid-60’s when it was on TV. I haven’t seen the other films you mentioned, except “Zardoz” (1974), which I have on DVD. I’m still undecided on that particular film, but I bought it because I’d seen it back in the ’70’s, and was curious to watch it again.

    The only other Z film in my collection is a classic from 1941 that tells the story of three showbiz hopefuls. It stars (women first!) Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr, Lana Turner, Eve Arden, James Stewart, and Jackie Cooper. So this will be my number one pick: “ZIEGFELD GIRL.”

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  5. Great way to end your run of movie choices Pete! Zatoichi is terrific, but a small quibble: “Zardoz” is one of the wildest cinematic rides ever committed to celluloid – 007 in a bright red diaper? A floating stone head? C’mon, Pete, there’s BAD and then there’s “ZARDOZ!”

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  6. Zatoichi looks like a riot. I must catch it.
    Zuba and Zorlu, I’m sorry, Zulu and Zorba are both great classic memorable films.
    Z is a classic I haven’t seen yet (please don’t tell my Greek wife), though it’s in my collection patiently waiting.

    Speaking of which, I was spurred on by your Nipponophilia to get around to watching Ugetsu, though not in time for your U, obviously. It is indeed a classic along the lines of Rashomon and Sansho The Baliff that I think you’d enjoy (mixing the common Japanese themes of bandits, murder, rape, pillage and the odd ghost or two combined with fab b/w photography).

    Given that Zorba and Zelig (not my favourite Woody film) have been mentioned, the only other film I could think of was Zabriskie Point, an Antonioni film that doesn’t really have much of a point, though it was popular for its hippyish obscurantism in the 70s (when I saw it), following the success of Antonioni’s Blow-Up. So I’m only mentioning it, but not recommending it.

    Thanks so much Pete for your alphabetic smorgasbord of cinematic exotica. I’ve learnt a lot about a lot of films and enjoyed everyone’s comments as well.

    And now for the previously unknown 27th letter of the alphabet tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Peter. ‘Zatoichi’ is a fun mix of traditional samurai, and some outright comedy. I have seen ‘Z’, which was very much of its time, though still powerful. I have also seen (but regretted) ‘Zabriskie Point’, which we all referred to at the time (obviously) as ‘Zabriskie Pointless’, although I enjoyed ‘Blow Up’.
      Glad to hear that ‘Ugetsu’ lived up to its fame.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Zulu and Zorba the Greek, of course! And from me, Zemlya…Alexander Dovzhenko’s film about Russian peasants trying to revolt, just thought I would throw it in as something obscure!

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  8. Ahhh, “Zulu” … a fine first appearance in a long and illustrious career for Michael Caine, Mr. Sex-in-Specs. The movie itself was excellent though. And I must rewatch that as well as “Zorba the Greek”. So many good movies made during the 60s.

    Thanks for this series of posts, Pete, and I look forward now to revisiting from the beginning to compile that list for you. I missed the first number of entries as I didn’t catch on to your blog until about a week or so after you began (and I thank Felicity Harley for reblogging each day and bringing you to my attention). I’ll be adding my own suggestions to the beginning of the alphabet and will likely come up with a few other movies further down the letters that I’ve remembered after the fact.

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  9. You hit all the classics……so let go modern….”Zoolander 1 &2″……”Zero Dark Thirty”….”Zoom” with Tim Allen……”Zombieland”…..let’s not forget “Zelig”….and finally my bad SciFi “classic”…..a really bad movie “Zombie Strippers”…..time for a cup of Joe…have a good day….chuq

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  10. Excellent! Looking forward to the surprise post (not so sure about the challenge). I think a whole series on Japanese films must be on the cards. If I had to add one, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, perhaps. I’ve just watched ‘Miss Sloane’ and I have Jessica Chastain very present. (If you haven’t watched it, knowing how much you like films about cons, I’d recommend it. Good script and very clever). šŸ™‚

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    1. Although I am unsure whether or not Bin Laden was actually killed, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ was an exciting film to watch. I will look out for the other film you mention too.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  11. Ooh I’m first! Another one from 1964 from me, though I was too young to get the tragedy of it all at the time, Zorba the Greek starring Anthony Quinn and Alan Bates, as with the Yellow RR from yesterday, a comedy with pathos, and great acting. And who can forget the music and Zorba’s Dance.

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