“Let us fight to free the world to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all people’s happiness.”
|All the President’s Men||Alan J. Pakula|
|Salaam Bombay!||Mira Nair|
|The Great Dictator||Charlie Chaplin|
These films are not the best perhaps, or even the best 63 films I have seen, though they would be very close to that.
I simply laid them down without prior thought of ordering or listing them in any kind or categorisation of this or that.
The only change was to add Gosford Park by Robert Altman, and to do that I dropped Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay! which should not be left out, but I kept Monsoon Wedding which I adored when I first saw it and still do.
So the filmmakers and films are all great and in no way am I listing them in order of best – first to worst. There are no second-best or best here. They are simply all magnificent for all their own reasons and appeared as I remembered them and wrote them down.
Tell me what you think – offer suggestions – i.e. if you wish to.
|One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest||Milos Forman|
|Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid||George Roy Hill|
|The Last Picture Show||Peter Bogdanovich|
|Apocalypse Now||Francis Ford Coppola|
|Rear Window||Alfred Hitchcock|
|King of Comedy||Martin Scorsese|
|Raging Bull||Martin Scorsese|
|The Good the Bad and the Ugly||Sergio Leone|
|Little Miss Sunshine||Valerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton|
|Pulp Fiction||Quentin Tarantino|
|Reservoir Dogs||Quentin Tarantino|
|Dog Day Afternoon||Sydney Lumet|
|The Godfather||Francis Ford Coppola|
|2001 A Space Odyssey||Stanley Kubrick|
|Blade Runner||Ridley Scott|
|The Thing||John Carpenter|
|Ace in the Hole||Billy Wilder|
|The Verdict||Sydney Lumet|
|The French Connection||William Friedkin|
|The Godfather II||Francis Ford Coppola|
|A Clockwork Orange||Stanley Kubrick|
|Paths of Glory||Stanley Kubrick|
|Lawrence of Arabia||David Lean|
|Easy Rider||Dennis Hopper|
|8 1/2||Federico Fellini|
|La Dolce Vita||Federico Fellini|
|The Conversation||Francis Ford Coppola|
|Out of Africa||Sydney Pollack|
|Annie Hall||Woody Allen|
|Hannah and Her Sisters||Woody Allen|
|Deconstructing Harry||Woody Allen|
|Broadway Danny Rose||Woody Allen|
|Day for Night (La Nuit américaine)||Francois Truffaut|
|La règle du jeu||Jean Renoir|
|Crimes and Misdemeanours||Woody Allen|
|The French Connection II||William Friedkin|
|Thelma and Louise||Ridley Scott|
|American Graffiti||George Lucas|
|Atlantic City||Louis Malle|
|Das Boot||Wolfgang Petersen|
|Monsoon Wedding||Mira Nair|
|Gosford Park||Robert Altman|
|Wild Strawberries||Ingmar Bergman|
|Cries and Whispers||Ingmar Bergman|
|Autumn Sonata||Ingmar Bergman|
|The Truman Show||Peter Weir|
|Fanny and Alexander||Ingmar Bergman|
|War and Peace||Sergei Bondarchuk|
|Paris Texas||Wim Wenders|
|Schindler’s List||Steven Spielberg|
From the moment in Annie Hall when he led Marshall McLuhan out from behind a film hoarding in a New York cinema I have been a huge fan of Woody Allen. He is America’s best writer director of ensemble urban comedies – truly a unique filmmaker.
The Selvedge Yard writes:
“Believe it or not – Joe Strummer actually ran the London marathon in 1983. “I didn’t fuckin’ train. Not once. Just turned up and did it,” Strummer said. His keep-fit regime for success– “Drink 10 pints of beer the night before the race. Ya got that? And don’t run a single step at least 4 weeks before the race.” Got it, Joe…”
Well Selvedge – Believe it or not I ran the London Marathon with him – only I needed a beer so ran on ahead getting to the finishing line and over to Earl’s Court an hour earlier – finishing at 3hrs and 3 minutes.
I didn’t train either … tho’ I did for another one six months earlier
… I heard the Clash were running out of steam and wanted to give some moral support …
… Well partly not true. I didn’t know we were in the same stream of humanity on that given day – tho’ always liked them & their music … London Calling and all that … but then who gives a fuck about me and that … One day I might run the LM again …
Just so I can say Lou Alba died right here on this spot on the road which Joe Strummer ran over too … R.I.P. Joe
Robert Bilott’s ‘auto-documentary’ book, Exposure, on Du Pont’s chemical pollution in Parkersburg, West Virginia, is a sobering look at the immorality of corporate America in recent times.
This searing study of how greed drives so much economic activity in America, Robert Bilott’s story was first revealed to me when I recently saw the film Dark Waters – a Todd Hayes (directed) and Mark Ruffalo (produced and acted) film, well worthy of several nominations in this year Hollywood awards round. It received none. I think we get the picture why.
Bilott tells us the whole story. It begins his ‘unusual’ jumping the fence from his law firm’s usual corporate defence work to take on a plaintiff’s case, for a West Virginia farmer, Earl Tennant, who showed up at his office with a mountain of supporting evidence.
Rob Bilott discovers how Du Pont had been for years dumping poisonous waste from its Washington Works plant at Parkersburg, West Virginia, into landfills which leached into rivers, streams, ponds, killing cattle and compromising the health of inhabitants in a wide area.
This story of corporate harm shows the casual, arrogant and ugly ease with which a powerful corporation can engage in immoral practices, in the name of business as usual. Initially rebuffed by Du Pont, Bilott convinced the courts to order the company to agree to settle, following an independent scientific investigation into the harm done by a chemical PFOA, used for many products, famously in Teflon, gathering huge worldwide profit source and spinner for Du Pont.
It takes years for results from an exhaustive scientific study of the blood samples of nearly 70,000 people in the immediate and surrounding areas, to come back with findings of clear probable cause links to several major life threatening and life-altering diseases and conditions. Du Pont ruined natural water and piped-water supplies meaning that many were already suffering, some dying, from directly associated diseases and conditions.
A jury finally finds for a class civil action against the company – who put up a fierce and at times devious public relations & legal defence – the plaintiffs awarded a 670 million dollar settlement against a corporate giant. Du Pont appealed and appealed then in the face of the unshifting evidence folded and accepted the decision.
This ‘environmental crime’ was aided and abetted by the EPA who worked in tandem with Du Pont to obfuscate key facts of a chemical dumping program from the public, Du Pont carrying on its harmful activities for years in plain sight, abusing the basic trust its economic stranglehold over the small trusting community. As the town’s main employer, Du Pont had the cold, while knowing PFOA was an extremely dangerous substance for all life forms.
In summary, this is a fine book and a necessary read for people who want clean land, air and water and a reasonable chance at living life without corporations poisoning them or providing them with cancer. Also it is for anyone who believes that honest and accountable corporate activities are needed in a properly managed legal environment, held to decnet norms created in a democratically governed society in the 21st century.
Without Earl Tennant bringing this to Robert Bilott’s attention and Bilott deciding to take the career risk of bringing this civil action on behalf of Earl and many others, for so many stress-filled years of his life, we may never have even heard about Du Pont’s malfeasance.
In a run up to the class-action trial, Du Pont spun off its Washington Works plant into a new company, Chemours, in a technique many companies use to limit financial damage by placing the offending product range under another firm, that can easily be tipped in bankruptcy thus preventing a payout. After years of seeing how Du Pont operated Robert Bilott was ready for the tactic.
Reading Robert Bilott’s ‘Exposure’ on Du Pont’s chemical pollution in Parkersburg, West Virginia, the book in giving a great deal of legal and personal background to the story in the film Dark Waters (see below), answered a question that came to me while seeing the film: why wasn’t Bilott removed from his Ohio corporate law firm particularly as corporate defence was its main bread and butter?
I wondered how Du Pont’s power didn’t trump Bilott’s personal and moral interest in the plight of one farmer, Wilbur Earl Tennant, by simply pulling strings to give the crusading lawyer an offer he couldn’t refuse. Get out of town boyo, now. They tried. More power to Rob for his courage and dedication, and to Earl of course who started the whole process.
Rob Bilott in jumping the fence to take the plaintiff’s side against Du Pont uncovers an ugly story of corporate harm done to the community of Parkersburg and surrounding populations. The casual and arrogant ease with which this immensely powerful and rich corporation lied and cheated and eventually killed people in the pursuit of profit is as stunning as it was breathtaking (pun intended).
Working in tandem with weak and complicit authorities to hide the facts of a chemical dumping program, Du Pont knowingly carried on its ‘corporate crime’ for years and years, poisoning water supplies, the air and earth, abusing the basic trust its economic stranglehold over the small community provided by economic default, placing a virtual muzzle on anyone who dared question its activities. And I am still only half way through…more later, COVID-19 lockdown giving me valuable reading time.
What to do?
Take a ruler and pencil to the breakfast table – draw 64 squares 8×8. Get the chess pieces out you always wanted to use.
Close the computer chess game.
Start the game. Happy(ier) days.
As a filmmaker and writer everything I saw and heard in Dark Waters was pitch perfect for me. Is this the point when an already very, very good filmmaker makes something so significant it and he cannot be ignored? On my one viewing I would say definitely yes. So, how did Todd Haynes, and the cast and crew, not receive any Oscar nominations? The answer to that is unfortunately in the film itself.
Mark Ruffalo is exceptional as the initially unsure advocate (should I, shouldn’t I take this case?) the reluctant hero turning crusading lawyer travelling deeper into the lies and cover up world of Du Pont’s immoral practices, as he takes them on in the courts. The journey is long and far from easy.
Based on the New York Times Magazine’s “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare” by Nathaniel Rich, the story is real, the deaths associated with teflon and the poisoned waters from chemical spill run-off are countable, coupled to another important fact—the film narrative is so well managed and un-histrionic in its style and delivery that it makes watching dramatic and very affecting.
The mantra told often to us by lecturers in JD units: ‘a lawyer reads, that’s what a lawyer does’ hit home as I watched the many boxes of incriminating documents and records being wheeled into Mark Ruffalo’s (Rob Bilott’s) law offices.
How was Bilott not removed from his firm? It’s to my relief and all our benefit that he kept his position and kept on fighting the actions. A roomful of long applause for all involved.