Mr. Holland’s Opus
Richard Dreyfuss stars as Glenn Holland, a highly talented but frustrated musician and composer in this underrated but brilliant film. Holland takes up the job of a music teacher in a school to fulfil his dream of writing a piece of orchestral music which will recognise his talent. Over the next 30 years, Holland through his musical journey learns many things about life and also teaches his students the same. He also deals with a son who is born with a hearing impairment. At last Holland gets his due when his former students come together and honour him. Richard Dreyfuss is remarkable in the role of Mr. Holland.
The Great Dictator
This film of Chaplin’s is one of his best work. It released when the Second World War was on. Through this comic caper Chaplin takes on Adolf Hitler and Nazism in his inimitable style. Chaplin plays the double role of a Jewish barber and ruthless dictator of Tomainia, the character based on Hitler. Only a film maker of Chaplin’s calibre could have made this film. Look out for the scene where Chaplin as the ruler of Tomainia, dances with a globe balloon — a classic scene from a classic film.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
A bold film by Stanley Kramer which deals with the very sensitive issue of interracial marriage in America of the 1960s. The movie tells the romance of a liberal young white girl and a black doctor. When the girl brings her African-American lover home for dinner, her parents find it difficult to accept the doctor as their future son-in-law. After much debate and a reality check by the girl’s father, the issue is finally resolved. Great acting by Spencer Tracy and Sidney Poitier makes this film a masterpiece.
Scent Of A Woman
This film will always be remembered for Al Pacino’s power-packed performance as Lt. Col. Frank Slade, a retired officer of the U.S. army. Slade is blind and foul mouthed, but has a heart of gold. Charlie (Chris O’ Donnell) is at school and is looking forward to going to university; to help pay for a trip home for Christmas, he agrees to look after Slade over Thanksgiving but finds it difficult to deal with him. Charlie saves his life and Slade in turn gets him out of a scrap in school. Director Martin Brest has created many memorable scenes but it’s the climax of the film that is heart-warming, where Slade makes a spirited speech in favour of Charlie at his school.
The Shawashank Redemption
I wonder how this film was ignored by Academy members. It tells the story of Andy Dufrense who crawled through rubbish and came out clean. A convict in an infamous prison, Andy is always on the lookout for an escape route. He counters a corrupt warden and eventually gets the better of him and flees. Tim Robbins does full justice to his role as Andy Durfrense. Morgan Freeman is excellent as Andy’s jail buddy. This drama has a thrilling climax and among the best in Hollywood films. Tight editing, a good narrative and great cinematography makes this film a classic.
Those that almost made it:
Nayagan: Mani Ratnam
Goodfellas: Martin Scorsese
Chariots Of Fire: Hugh Hudson
A Few Good Men: Rob Reiner
Bijan Kumar Mahapatra is a journalist with a private regional news channel in Hyderabad. He loves watching good Hollywood and Indian cinema.