Thursday 21 May 2009

Top 50 Favourite Movies Ever - Part 5...

Read Part One here:
Read Part Two here:
Read Part Three here:
Read Part Four here:

Yep, you guessed it, this 'ten block' is listed in alphabetical order.

Top 50: #11-20

* Casablanca (1942):
During my time at university, my eyes were opened to a whole series of different movies (Asian cinema, musicals, Canadian film, and the old classics for example). One of the movies which I discovered (although I'd known of it for many years) was Casablanca. It was included as background study for a course on Classic Hollywood, and I was in awe of it. Plus I was finally able to really get the references to it in the videogame Grim Fandango (an excellent game, by the way). Humphrey Bogart (my classical star of choice) moping around in a pool of heart ache, cigarette smoke and alcohol was something I found very compelling as a main character. It's beautifully written, acted, shot and directed, and quite frankly I don't need to explain to you why it's such a good should know already.

* A Clockwork Orange (1971):
In the UK this film was self-banned by Kubrick after some high-profile acts of violence were blamed on it, and after Kubrick died A Clockwork Orange was soon released to UK audiences for the first time since the early 1970s. It was also at this time that the BBFC had a change of leadership, and I - in my formative mid-teens - found myself in a great position. I was at the age when film fans should be discovering controversial gems, horror flicks and the like, and the BBFC were finally un-banning a variety of titles (many fully uncut). 2000 was the year that I really went mad for this film - I read the book, I got the soundtrack, and I got the video - it inspired me so much (not in terms of ultraviolence though!) that I based my entire GCSE 2-D Art final exam on the film - a piece inspired by the movie, and the artwork surrounding it. I guess I overdosed on it, because I then spent many years away from it, and only recently did I re-discover it all over again, and I was immediately as familiar with it as I had been all those years ago when I was in my mid-teens. Also, as you should all know, it's a bloody masterpiece to boot!

* The Evil Dead (1981):
Again, my formative mid-teens factor in here, and it was at this time that my local post office was selling a run of cheap videos for £5 each. The Evil Dead was, if memory serves, the first one of many that I bought there (well, my Mum did technically). In the couple of weeks prior I had heard friends at school talking about it (some of the lads I now go on frequent cinema jaunts with) and all I got from them in terms of a review was "green mashed potato, and a pencil in the ankle" ... not glowing, and a bit mocking ... but I knew how their taste measured up against my own taste, and I figured this was most likely going to be right down my alley. Needless to say, it most certainly was, and it has since become one of my all-time favourite horror movies. The Evil Dead is of constant inspiration to me as an aspiring filmmaker - sometime soon I would love to be making my first real movie, and if it could be something with as much invention and adventure as this one, then I'd be a-okay with that alright!

* Grindhouse (2007):
Annoyingly it was never released as Grindhouse in the UK - only as the separate releases - but regardless, I got to see the original cut - and I loved it. I have since seen the two films separately several times, and I have to consider them together rather than apart, even when they're in stand-alone mode. I had grown up watching these kind of movies, as well as those of Rodriguez and Tarantino - so, obviously, it was a match made in heaven. Planet Terror is an absolute riot (especially with the lads over for a few cans), and Death Proof is just so super cool - heck, I've written at length about Death Proof on this very blog (have a look down the Blog Tags on the right to find my musings on the flick). Am I looking forward to more Grindhouse entries? You bet your ass I am.

* Heat (1995):
Again, when I first saw it, it was a little before my time. Then I re-discovered it years later on a double-disc DVD and all the pieces fell into place. The beautiful camerawork, the relentlessly gripping performances, the epic feel, the soundtrack and so on - it's all stunning. Throw in one of the best cinematic bank robberies ever (brilliantly referenced in the best mission of GTA IV, as well) and you've got one of those films which just makes me exhale in a stunned, awe-inspired fashion ... nuff said.

* Rocky (1976):
I enjoyed the series when I first saw them as a teenager, but it was only until a few years later that I really fell in love with the franchise, and it all began with the original and best. A great little underdog story, and a source of immediate inspiration whenever you watch it, happen across it, or listen to the soundtrack. Who doesn't love Rocky?

* Scarface (1983):
Epic - that says it all really - but to elaborate further, it's also one of my favourite rise-and-fall tales. Pacino rides high, as do DePalma and Stone. It's such an involving film from the get-go for a myriad of reasons, and I'm sure you know them all. Not even the cheesy and misguided adoration that dime-a-dozen American footballers and rappers lavish on it on MTV Cribs can damage this cinematic classic. It meanders when it needs to, it's sweet when it wants to be, it's epic throughout, and ultimately it's a brash tragedy ... then the superb GTA: Vice City came along and made me love Scarface even more.

* The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974):
Again, cut to me in my formative mid-teens ... it's winter, I'm eating my dinner, and I'm watching - for the first time - the original (and best) Texas Chainsaw Massacre on a fudgy 3rd generation videotaped copy. That's how these movies should be viewed, they're too crisp and safe on DVD, but on a no-labels videotape - a generation of a generation of a generation - bleeding colours on screen, simple and slightly muffled mono audio ... oh yes, this is really how these movies should be watched by first-timers. It's feels a little bit dangerous, a little bit illicit, and it's almost like your own little secret - but one that all your friends know about - and indeed, that's how you get to see it. For years beforehand I had seen clips on horror movie documentaries (such as Clive Barker's A-Z of Horror), read about it and seen lurid stills in books, and then finally - with a background of the BBFC liberalising itself and finally unleashing Leatherface upon the UK - I got to see it. As a side note, on my bedroom wall, I have my own autographed photo - Gunner Hansen as Leatherface.

* The Thing (1982):
There are very few movies which are capable of not only scaring the bejesus out of me, but capable of doing so time after time after time. The fifties version is enjoyable, nostalgic and a little bit quaint, but Carpenter's version of the source material is astounding (and it remains so to this day). The profound sense of isolation, claustrophobia and paranoia-soaked cabin fever are damn-near tangible. The gore effects of Rob Bottin are shocking (again, still to this day). Kurt Russell kicks fucking ass, and Morricone's score could even make a teddy bear's picnic sound terrifying (it was used on the Top Gear Polar Special to excellent effect). Even the videogame was terrifying ... and you know what, I'm still a little bit scared - even after seeing it countless times - to go back into the blizzard. Horror perfected.

* Zodiac (2007):
I'm a major fan of David Fincher, and his methodical examination of what happened to those who tried to solve the crime of 1970s America, never releases its grip upon me in all respects across the entire production. The script shows an astoundingly hardcore amount of attention to detail, as does Fincher's never-more precise directing. Truly, 100%, flabbergasting.

Well, only one more part to go, what will be in my Top Ten of All Time? Find out very soon!

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