Monday 18 May 2009

Top 50 Favourite Movies Ever - Part 2...

Read part one (including an explanation of my list) here:

Note: As there's no real order, within these "blocks of ten", I'll write about the movies in alphabetical order.

Top 50: #41-50

* All The President's Men (1976):
I have a real soft spot for 1970s cinema - the 'New Hollywood' movement as it is often referred to as - and while (at the time of writing), I've only seen this film once, it made an immediate and lingering impression on me. I love the feel and the look of the 70's newspaper office, I love the representation of true journalism being conducted (something which we, pretty much, no longer have - sadly) and beneath all the film's standing as an iconic film, at the heart it has two powerfully gripping lead performances and a quality script to match. This film is one which defines not only cinema, but America in the 1970s.

* American Psycho (2000):
I would dearly love this film to be longer - that's how enjoyable it is to watch. Christian Bale is absolutely electrifying as a Yuppy version of Norman Bates via Leatherface - Patrick Bateman. It exudes a genuine upper-crust menace, at the same time as acting as a Wall Street-like nostalgia trip. It is also, a genuinely good adaptation of the source novel - which in itself is a brilliantly dark piece of fiction. I saw the movie long before I ever read the book, and bloody nora - I thought the movie was edgy at the time, but the book is damn near pornographic in its brutality, flair and cultural awareness.

* Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter (1984):
Of all the big-name slasher-masters, Jason is my favourite, and of all the Friday 13th movies I would have to say that Part IV is my all-round favourite. The characters are entertaining, Tom Savini returns to deliver the splatter, it features the best non-Hodder version of Jason, and the look and style of the movie is one that takes me back to my formative years when I was first seeing a variety of horror classics at a time when here in Britain, we were on the cusp between draconian censorship and liberal viewing.

* Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956):
There are few movies which can routinely send shivers up and down my spine with every viewing, but this is one of them. The crisp black & white visuals, the McCarthyism/Communism backdrop is fascinating, and the simple terror in being at home with the ones you know and love, but who you know are no longer who you knew them to be - and all the while, nobody like you left will believe you.

* The Money Pit (1986):
I have fond memories of when I was a mere boy sitting in the TV room, on my favourite sofa, watching my VHS recording of Tom Hanks wrestle his way up a collapsing staircase. At the time I wasn't much interested in the plot or the characters so much as I was purely and simply entertained by a couple's comedic battle with their collapsing house. As such it became one of "the few" - a series of movies I would watch repeatedly as a child with absolute fascination.

* No Country For Old Men (2007):
While I'm not a rabid Cohen Brothers fan, the films of theirs I have seen have never failed to impress me. I never saw their apparent fall from grace with the likes of The Ladykillers remake, but indeed - this film saw them strike back with all the cinematic skill that they possess. As a student of film the movie is a fascinating watch - the mechanics and the construction of it are ideal examples of filmmaking methods - but as a movie-going audience member, the film is a real treat to watch. The cinematography on it's own - by Roger Deakins - is an absolute pleasure to behold. Indeed, in the same year The Assassination of Jesse James (also lensed by Deakins) was released, and was equally beautiful ... as if the filmmakers had used oil paints, rather than celluloid to compose their visuals. The slow-drawl accented leads, the obsession over practical operations in the pursuit of acquiring the money in the suitcase throughout, and the melancholly meander of the plot are all superb.

* Rambo (2008):
This movie is one of those which has become something of continued fun for my male friends and I. In 2008 it was the first film that really kicked off our very regular cinema trips, and that in itself had its own little adventure - a last minute dash from Newport (which was closed with no water) to Cardiff, running to the city-centre cinema and parking our butts literally as the distributor logo faded in. But in and of itself, Rambo is simply ideal movie viewing for the blokes out there - plus the true-to-life ballistics are stunning, and it ticks all the right action movie boxes. Rambo has become a movie for my circle of cinema-going chums of constant reference.

* Sunshine (2007):
I was never really aware of this movie before it came out, and even then I didn't know a lot about it, except the basic plot and that it was from Danny Boyle. However, when I was sat there in the cinema, in the dark, with the surround sound effect in full force ... I have to say that I've rarely experienced a film that has had such a visceral and physical impact on me. The music, the editing, the pacing, the stunning visuals - they all grew together in choice moments to leave me literally gripping my chair rests, my heart actually thumping through my chest, and my eyes welling up due to me being so transfixed on the screen. The impact of these moments left me trembling, and still do.

* United 93 (2006):
Of the few films which have come out that are about the horrible events of September 11th, it has only been Greengrass' restless-camera, docu-like, minute-by-tense-minute punch to the face that has left any real and tangible impact upon me. The film masterfully crescendoes in the final moments thanks to meticulous pacing and suspense building - and it was in those final moments - with me just sat there watching it in an office chair on my computer screen one afternoon - that I involuntarily punched the air and screamed "get those motherfuckers!". Not in a dumb-dumb xenophobic way, but in a way that I almost felt like I was on the plane charging the terrorists myself - the sheer rush of adrenaline totally consumed me and left me quivering for minutes after the stunning cut to black. This wasn't a one-time feeling, having re-viewed that one final scene on its own, I had the exact same feeling and rush of emotions. Truly, genuinely, and honestly powerful filmmaking.

* WALL.E (2008):
One of my childhood favourites is Short Circuit, which features a cute, loveable, bug-eyed robot. At the age of 24, I was again able to tap into that same sense of fun and emotional investment with an even cuter, even more loveable and bug-eyed robot - WALL-E. Pixar have produced many great animated films over the years - but recently Cars and Ratatouille just didn't do it for me, they looked great, but that was it, I wasn't laughing and I wasn't emotionally invested - but WALL-E came along and changed all that and took me back to, not only classic Pixar, but my own childhood. Also, from the perspective of a student of film, WALL-E is a fascinatingly beautiful piece of work. The attention to detail in the visuals, as well as the CGI camerawork (helped by instruction from Roger Deakins), and the simple-but-effective plot have all left distinct and long-lasting impressions on me.

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