Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The top 100 films

I was casually scrolling through Empire magazine's 100 Greatest Movies (published June 2017) and came across Avengers Assemble at No.65, Drive at No.45, Guardian’s of the Galaxy at No.34 and the Dark Knight at No.3. I knew something had gone seriously wrong with cinema. Still, this was the reader's top 100, so I imagine it's a bunch of male teenagers who don't know their Kurosawa from their Kaurismaki – which is fine; even though I can watch, say, Ozu's sublime Toyko Story for free on YouTube, there's no reason why most people would. Apparently the internet narrows people's tastes rather than expands them. So their top hundred is mainly recent American mainstream cinema, some of which is great, of course. But films are made in other countries too. Thankfully the BFI Top 50 includes a broad range of foreign and American films from the 1920s onwards.

Anyway, the Empire magazine list compelled me to do my own top hundred. Actually, I'm surprised at how mainstream/American my list is. Those who still insist on calling me pretentious, see here, in the last few weeks I have seen A Star is Born and Mamma Mia: Here we go Again (though it's one of the worst films I’ve ever seen; a vacuous, lacklustre, extremely dull prequel and sequel in which nothing is added to the original film – in fact, with all the flashbacks, all that actually happens in the present day is a storm. And a party. The central character – Meryl Streep – is killed off with no explanation whatsoever (wisely, Streep wasn’t interested in doing a sequel, though was dragged in for a scene at the end; the original writer and director also didn’t want anything to do with the sequel, so in came… Richard Curtis. Could it get any worse? No, but it does); leaving a cast of cardboard cut-outs (including Cher, technically I guess appearing in her first film with Streep since 1983’s Silkwood), two blonde leads (a young Streep, played by Lily James, in flashback and her daughter, Amanda Seyfried; I sincerely hope she works out what to do with her life now that acting and singing haven’t worked out) looking and sounding like they work in the marketing department of a B2B magazine publishers, and a ‘loving’ yet mainly absent boyfriend who looks and sounds like he works in the sales department of said B2B magazine publishers. Just horrific.) Naturally, I’ve also seen some decent stuff: the extraordinary Close-Up (Kiarostami, 1990), the moving Eagle Huntress (Bell, 2016) and the kinetic Man with a Movie Camera (Vertov, 1929).

(Accusations of scenes being acted or staged in the documentary Eagle Huntress (unfortunately the first item you come across when Googling the film is a BBC article asking if it is a documentary – a strange question to ask in the digital, post-Catfish era when all media is to some extent fabricated, and documentaries certainly have since the time of Robert Flaherty – Nanook of the North was made in 1922 – and Jean Rouch) fall by the wayside when compared to Close-Up, which takes the minor, true-life case of a man who impersonates Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an Iranian film-maker, and is eventually arrested. Close-Up films the trial as it happens, i.e. as a documentary, then uses all the actual people in the case (the impersonator, the family he fooled, the police, etc) and gets them to re-enact scenes which led up to the impersonator's arrest. It's probably easier just to watch the film than explain it.)

Anyway, here's the alphabetical list which, like all good lists, would change daily.

Aguirre, Wrath of God (Herzog, 1972)
Alien (Scott, 1979) 
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Fassbinder, 1974) 
The American Friend (Wenders, 1977) 
Andrei Rublev (Tarkovsky, 1966) 
An Angel at my Table (Campion, 1990)
Annie Hall (Allen, 1977) 
The Apartment (Wilder, 1960) 
L'Atalante (Vigo, 1934) 
Badlands (Malick, 1973) 
Belle de Jour (Bunuel, 1967) 
Blue Velvet (Lynch, 1986) 
Le Boucher (Chabrol, 1970) 
Brazil (Gilliam, 1985) 
Battle of Algiers (Pontecorvo, 1966) 
Bonnie and Clyde (Penn, 1967) 
Brighton Rock (Boulting, 1948) 
Celine and Julie Go Boating (Rivette, 1974)
Un Chien Andalou (Bunuel, 1929) 
Chinatown (Polanski, 1974) 
Claire's Knee (Rohmer, 1970) 
Closely Observed Trains (Menzel, 1966)
Come and See (Klimov, 1985) 
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Lee, 2000)
Dawn of the Dead (Romero, 1978) 
Death in Venice (Visconti, 1971) 
Deep End (Skolimowski, 1970) 
The Deer Hunter (Cimino, 1978) 
Deliverance (Boorman, 1972) 
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Bunuel, 1972) 
Do the Right Thing (Lee, 1989) 
Easy Rider (Hopper, 1969) 
Elmer Gantry (Brooks, 1960) 
Les Enfants du Paradis (Carn√©, 1945) 
Les Enfants Terribles (Melville, 1950) 
Eraserhead (Lynch, 1977) 
Fantastic Planet (Laloux, 1973) 
Fat City (Huston, 1972) 
Five Easy Pieces (Rafelson, 1970) 
Freaks (Browning, 1932) 
The French Connection (Friedkin, 1971) 
Get Carter (Hodges, 1971) 
The Godfather Part II (Coppola, 1974) 
Gone with the Wind (Fleming, 1939)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Leone, 1966)  
Goto, Isle of Love (Borowczyk, 1969)
The Graduate (Nichols, 1967) 
The Grapes of Wrath (Ford, 1940) 
Groundhog Day (Ramis, 1993) 
Hannah and her Sisters (Allen, 1986) 
His Girl Friday (Hawks, 1940) 
If... (Anderson, 1968) 
It's a Wonderful Life (Capra, 1946) 
Kill List (Wheatley, 2011)
The Last Picture Show (Bogdanovich, 1971) 
Lawrence of Arabia (Lean, 1966) 
Lola (Demy, 1961) 
The Long Goodbye (Altman, 1973) 
Loulou (Pialat, 1980) 
A Matter of Life and Death (Powell/Pressburger, 1946) 
McCabe and Mrs Miller (Altman, 1971) 
Mean Streets (Scorsese, 1973) 
Mephisto (Szab√≥, 1981) 
Mulholland Drive (Lynch, 2001) 
Night of the Hunter (Laughton, 1955) 
Night of the Living Dead (Romero, 1968) 
One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Forman, 1975) 
Onibaba (Shindo, 1964) 
Pather Panchali (Ray, 1955) 
Peeping Tom (Powell, 1960)  
Performance (Cammell/Roeg, 1970) 
Point Blank (Boorman, 1967)  
Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960) 
Rosemary’s Baby (Polanski, 1968) 
Scorpio Rising (Anger, 1963) 
The Searchers (Ford, 1956) 
Seconds (Frankenheimer, 1966) 
The Seventh Seal (Bergman, 1957) 
The Shawshank Redemption (Darabont, 1994) 
Spirited Away (Miyazaki, 2001) 
Stalker (Tarkovsky, 1979) 
Sweet Smell of Success (Mackendrick, 1957) 
Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1976)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Hooper, 1974) 
The Thing (Carpenter, 1982) 
The Third Man (Reed, 1949) 
This is Spinal Tap (Reiner, 1984) 
Touch of Evil (Welles, 1958) 
Tree of Wooden Clogs (Olmi, 1978) 
The Truman Show (Weir, 1998) 
Trust (Hartley, 1990) 
Two-Lane Blacktop (Hellman, 1971) 
Under the Skin (Glazer, 2013) 
Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958) 
Walkabout (Roeg, 1971) 
Weekend (Godard, 1967) 
Withnail and I (Robinson, 1987)
The Wizard of Oz (Fleming, 1939)
Woman of the Dunes (Teshigahara, 1964)
Les Yeux Sans Visage (Franju, 1960)

It's too difficult choosing just one hundred. Here's a bunch which didn't quite make the list, though come back tomorrow – they might be in there: Crumb, Blade Runner, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, The Matrix, Housekeeping, Aliens, Black Narcissus, A Canterbury Tale, Carnival of Souls, Le Samourai, Silent Running, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Planet of the Apes, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Day for Night, Journey to Italy, Repulsion, 12 Monkeys, Dimensions of Dialogue, Grease, The Lady Vanishes, The Holy Mountain, Jules et Jim, Bill Douglas Childhood Trilogy, Out of the Past, Gummo, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Alice of the Cities, Uzak, Tampopo, Babette's Feast, Elvira Madigan, Mr Vampire, Jeux Interdits, Sunset Boulevard, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Conformist, In a Lonely Place, The Warrior (2001), Couscous, Timbuktu, Bad Company, Kiss Me Deadly, Star Wars, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Rocky, LA Confidential, 8½, Rashoman, Phase IV, Alphaville, Les Amants du Pont Neuf...

Previously on Barnflakes:
My childhood just flew by
858 films in two years 
Top ten greatest film trilogies 
Top ten films about film-making 
Top 10 film directors

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