Thursday 12 January 2012

My Top 50 Personal Favourite Films of All-Time (2012) - part 2 of 3...

Go to: Part One or Part Three
Top 50: #21-30

Clerks (1994):
Not only is it hilariously funny with sharp dialogue, but it’s a great slacker flick, and a great indie flick. The further into my twenties that I’ve got, the more it’s spoken to me, and as illustrated in the excellent making-of documentary “The Snowball Effect”, it’s one of those flicks that I enjoy even more because of the story behind its production.

Day of the Dead (1985):
After that 1997 issue of SFX, this was my first introduction to the films of George A. Romero. Bought on VHS from a local Woolworth’s (long before they went bust), my first viewing was one of awe. I’d never seen such tremendous gore effects before, Captain Rhodes proved to be an enduring screen villain, the score kicked arse, and it features the best on-screen zombie of all time – Bub. It’s a terrific zombie movie (as I often say, AMC’s The Walking Dead is the best thing in zombies since 1985) and it’s one that I saw at the most explosive time in my formative film-viewing years.

Die Hard (1988):
My favourite Christmas movie of all-time, and one of the best action movies ever made. It’s tough, sweary, violent, and it stills holds up to this day with ease.

Heat (1995):
The first time I saw Michael Mann’s epic and stylish ‘cops and criminals’ thriller, it was all a bit ahead of me if I’m perfectly honest. Then years later I rediscovered it on DVD and suddenly the appeal was there. Beautiful camerawork, perfect performances, and one of the best movie bank robberies ever shot, make this simply splendid.

High Fidelity (2000):
I always dug this flick, but it wasn’t until several years later that I really came to value it. It’s got a cool script, excellent performances, and it’s a tip-top ‘hang out’ movie. What’s more, the way the protagonist organises his life and his memories around his music very much appeals to me, as I do the very same thing, albeit with cinema.

Pulp Fiction (1994):
Achingly cool, this was one of those flicks that gave you immediate cred in the school yard when you could say you’d seen it. Upon its initial release it whipped up a bit of a storm here in the UK due to one particular sequence of drug use – so it had an air of danger about it – and that just made it all-the-more appealing. However, beyond all the elements that tempted all of us kids in high school to see it, it’s just a really damned good flick.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010):
When I saw it in the cinema I was aware of the graphic novels, but that was it. As such it mostly flew over my head, but after I read the books and got the flick on Blu-Ray, I got absolutely obsessed with it. Edgar Wright’s inventive style blends seamlessly with O’Malley’s slacker-action genre-meld, and while it’s disappointing to see it didn’t do stellar business at the box office, it did become one of the best cult movies this side of the millennium. Brash, stylish, and with brilliant sound design, it’s a genre-splicing arse-kicker with heart and an unbreakable sense of appeal.

Shaun of the Dead (2004):
It may be a comedy, but this Wright/Pegg/Frost runaway success was the best thing to happen to the zombie genre in a very long time indeed (well, until AMC’s The Walking Dead came along). Chock-full of zombie movie references for the die hard fans of the genre, it combines a dizzyingly good script with charming performances, gore, and even genuine heart.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974):
Picture the scene – it’s the middle of winter, I’m eating dinner, and for the very first time I’m watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on a fudgy 3rd generation dubbed copy on VHS. That’s how these movies should be viewed – during those mid-teen years of cinematic discovery on a scruffy copy from a friend – it has a sense of illicit, rebellious danger to it. This viewing experience, for me, sums up why I’ll always be a child of the video era.

Tremors (1990):
I saw this early enough in my childhood that I sought to emulate it – recreating scenes in Lego while dressing similar to Kevin Bacon’s character Val – and over the years it’s become not only a fond memory of my youth, but also an example of perfect screenwriting. Like Back to the Future, no scene is wasted – everything drives the plot forward with new information – the pacing is spot-on, it’s quotable, and it’s utterly and totally enjoyable. Plus – Burt!

Top 50: #31-40

American Psycho (2000):
The source novel was a brilliantly dark slice of satire; it cut the decade of excess to ribbons with a disturbed glare and a vicious wit. Christian Bale’s performance as Patrick Bateman – a Yuppie version of Norman Bates via Leatherface – is as chillingly cool as the film itself.

Apocalypse Now (1979):
A journey into madness both on and off-screen, Francis Ford Coppola’s re-mixing of Heart of Darkness for the Vietnam era is an extraordinary filmmaking achievement. Its journey to the silver screen was a long and arduous one, but it unleashed a vast war movie for the ages.

The 'Burbs (1989):
A favourite from my childhood that has endured countless viewings over the years, and as such it is imprinted on my mind like only a few others. To those of a certain age it’s a fond trip down memory lane with memorable quotes galore, but what’s more when I think about it, it was really my first introduction to the horror genre. I was fascinated by a clip of a chainsaw-wielding maniac, and an infamous gushing of pea soup – which in later life I discovered were clips from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and The Exorcist respectively.

The Devil's Rejects (2005):
A sleazy, down-and-dirty, yet blackly comic punch-in-the-face horror movie. The opening siege and shoot-out kicks the doors open with gusto in Rob Zombie’s best filmmaking effort thus far, which goes on to boast graphic violence, terrific characters, magnificent editing, and the best use of Lynard Skynard’s “Free Bird” to date. After the onslaught of Scream-clones in the late 1990s and very early 2000’s, Zombie’s gut-punch was a lurid, nasty and extremely good antidote.

Escape From New York (1981):
John Carpenter at the height of his game, Kurt Russell as one of his most iconic characters (Snake Plissken), and featuring Dean Cundey’s neon-smeared photography, this future dystopia action flick is a 1980s genre classic.

Grindhouse (2007):
It was never released in-full in the UK after a less-than-stellar box office run in the USA, but eventually I got to see it in its ‘double bill version’ (before which I had watched Planet Terror and Death Proof in their extended, separate forms) and I absolutely loved it. As a big fan of Rodriguez and Tarantino’s work this was a delight for me – especially as I’m a huge fan of this kind of cinema anyway. Planet Terror is a bloody blast, the fake trailers are an adrenaline rush of tongue-in-cheek nostalgic sleaze, and personally I absolutely loved Death Proof (which divided audiences).

Hobo With A Shotgun (2011):
Jason Eisener’s 1980s-grindhouse-cinema-inspired crimson-choked arse-kicker is a bloody good time from start-to-finish, especially for fans of this kind of flick. What’s more, the genuine indie spirit and heart behind the making of the movie makes it all the more entertaining and indeed meaningful – here we have a bunch of genre fans from Nova Scotia getting the chance to make their own spiffing genre movie. Without a doubt it’s my favourite movie of 2011.

L.A. Confidential (1997):
Curtis Hanson’s deeply cool 1940s-set detective thriller didn’t initially appeal to me when I first saw it, however like a few entries on this list, I came to greatly appreciate it upon a second and third viewing several years later. Everything about this sumptuously shot film is luxurious – the superb cast and their performances, the labyrinthine script, and the sharp direction. It’s one of the very best high quality prestige pictures to come out in the last twenty years.

The Matrix (1999):
After a couple of bloated back-to-back sequels, the initial impact of the Wachowski Brother’s influential milestone action sci-fi outing may be somewhat diminished. However, casting my mind back to 1999 and watching it in my local independent theatre with my Dad, it was a cinema-going experience not to forget. It was the film to see that year and it blew the doors off seemingly everything at the time.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994):
In the original 2009 list, and then in the 2012 update, I forgot to include this flick. It's one of those movies that never fails to hook me in when it's on TV – I intend to just watch a few minutes, and I'll end up watching the whole thing. Iconic, memorable, quotable, and beautifully realised on the screen, Frank Darabont's adaptation is simply incredible.

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