|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|
Raymond Depardon and Claudeine Nougaret’s Journal de France, a quiet, inquiet, incisive and drifting study of their fifty-year collaboration and life in photo and cine-journalism.
Journal went straight through the eye to the heart, reminding me of all the driving I have done throughout France on the way to Italy, the footage I have filmed around the globe. The best art reminds of ourselves and our own lives always.
Some of the most arresting cine-images and moments were not North Africa, Venezuela or Czechoslovakia in political turmoil but the still images taken in quite places along French roads.
From one of cinema’s earliest experimental films, Luis Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou (1929), to Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), winner in 1947 of Cannes’ Grand Prix Internationale for 16mm experimental film, on to the films of Cocteau, Godard, Tati, Fellini, Lynch, Cronenberg and others, the notion of the film experiment inspires admiration, distaste, love and hatred in film audiences. Commercial movies (frantic pacing, hackneyed surprise, worn-out tropes, special effects barages), with their hero and quest driven narratives, seem diametrically opposed to the whimsical, subjective, interior, asymmetric, disjointed, dream-state inspired plotless, timeless, amoral, and often carelessly created worlds of the film experiment. Yet most if not all conventional cinema depends entirely on the concept and nature of experimental film. It’s axiomatic: without the experiment there is no convention. Experiment lies at the heart of cinema not only because early cine-cameramen experimented with moving images and celluloid film created art (even if art wasn’t the intention); experiment is the fundamental ancestor of all cinema.
Commercial filmmakers often reconfigure ideas and approaches from earlier films, all art in fact, but they owe their largest debt to the spirit of film experiment in all its disguises.
Cannes encourages filmmakers to exhibit their experimental works in Un Certain Regard. 2012’s lineup includes sons of the famous in twenty chosen films. The route of an art film to the festival’s screens is not simple, with the spirit of today’s Deren or Buñuel struggling to shine in the annual failed attempts of filmmakers with ‘unexhibitable’ projects we never see, but without which we would know little of the true scope of cinematic experimentation.
Watching the video of the Guardian’s group of UK film critics on their annual junket to Cannes, sitting around a half empty glass of blanche, un bicchiere di bianco, mezza affogata nell’alcol doing the Guardian’s wrap up video Cannes film festival roundup: ‘A year of Prophets and Basterds, scandals and stars’, watching them get it so completely and utterly and horribly wrong on what and who would win, with at least one expert exhibiting an ‘Oh oh I’m gedding a liddle tipthsy’ half giggle, was one of the best laughs at Cannes 2009 in a year that seemed notably spare of the real thing up on screen.
The film hardheads guarding our take and hold on the fourth dimensional art form, displayed zero-none insight into the Cannes Festival Jury’s collective mind or political process of selection. It had me wondering if they ever got out of the UK film village at all over the two weeks. They weren’t idiots, don’t get me wrong. Intelligent, personable, likable almost – they just didn’t know anymore than you or me, their comments about as good as yours or mine on any given film at any given glassy-eyed moment. I mean who really knows what’s good or not in cinema? God only knows why or how anyone wins awards at these events – what really does go on behind those draped windows? Can you imagine the jury, sorry, The Jury, sitting around seriously trying to be serious about their role. I mean it’s a junket, an annual film publicity junket in a lovely breezy May-warm part of the French Mediterranean. Time to get the sunglasses and floppy linen out and the dingly-dangly things and say words from romance languages almost as the French do…okay, simulate the French.
But after being there and getting back and seeing the Guardian get it horribly, no, miserably, wrong, I thought I’ll have a go at being a film critic too. I went and sat through Synecdoche at the Rio Cinema and here’s my review:
It was an interesting film, an interesting two hours plus of my time spent indoors on a warmish rainless spring afternoon in London. I left the cinema thinking: real life aint so bad after all.
For me Charlie Kaufman is a genius, or the closest thing to true genius that film, well, the closest thing to true genius that American film… well, there’s also Woody Allen, an influence on him and his work Kaufman said. So who’s first and who’s better? Well…See it all gets very silly, very quickly, not just the genius tagging bit but film criticism all round.
Synecdoche is an uncompromising portrait of a human being doing everything but slip down the toilet before your eyes, all written and directed by someone who wrote Being John M, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine – we are talking serious film writing ability here. But Synecdoche is tough to watch. Not impossible, not horrible or miserable, well yes it is miserable – and between Woody Allen’s division of the world, “miserable” or “horrible”, this is Kaufman’s “miserable”.
It brought Woody Allen to mind, it brought Fellini back to me, Coppola, really anyone who made a film that was a tough ask, a tough sit, at least once, in their hey or other days. Bring on the heh heh days I say, because there seems to be a moment in many famous filmmaking careers when the auteur inside says screw the audience, screw entertainment, screw the laughs I’m going to give them a piece of my art, one from the heart ART.
It also brought to mind a scene in Woody Allen’s Anything Else, David Dobel (Woody Allen) and his protege Jerry Falk (Jason Biggs) walking, nutty Dobel giving Falk some more sage advice.
DOBEL What goals.. wh-what are these goals?
FALK I want to write a novel, Dobel, a novel about man’s fate in the empty universe, no god, no hope, just human suffering and loneliness.
DOBEL Yeah well I’d stick to the jokes if I were you, that’s where the money is.
….Okay I’m a philistine, so what else is new.
– The Big Time
You’re in the south of France.
You arrive on the TGV, in a bit of a blur…
Right, where’s your place then. Christ, you hope you haven’t been conned. You walk out of the station, get lost in two minutes. How do you get lost in Cannes when you’ve been there ten times. You just do. But up the hill you go, eventually, get there, find the place…believe you me, well away from the hoy palloy.
Not bad, you think, for something off the Internet, okay, away from the action, on the other side of the train line, but it has a beautiful garden…
A bit Graham Greenish, even. But you are here to work, not to sit in a garden deck chair, sip pink gins, complain about being an Anglophone abroad all day long. You are here to take photos. You get started right away..
Get the writing tools set up…
Right then, down to the Croisette..
To do what? Gawk at the stars…
Where are the stars anyway? Up on bill boards or hiding in hotels. Maybe the key is to be a star yourself…get yourself somehow onto one of these bill boards even…but how do you do that?
You could simulate the process..
Or take a leaf out of the books of others, mix in with the media..
Wait, maybe you don’t look the part. Do you need a special pair of shoes, a hat even?
At these prices, forget it. But you know how to climb all over the competition, get head and shoulders above the crowd.
But what are you looking for anyway, or at, what do you hope to see?
Is cinema just another empty business?
Or is that all just a bit too serious.
What to do? You could dress up, give someone a laugh, at least..
Or get drunk…
…or find yourself an empty chair.
Stare at the scenery..
…yr mind all out to sea.
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