This is not a greatest films list, it's a personal favourites list (I don't know how to make a greatest films list). The first 100 movies in the list have my notes by them, I hope to write notes for the rest of the movies that don't have automatic summaries or pictures, so that you can see more than just a title and a date, but it's is an extremely laborious process and so I hope you'll bear with me. Some of the films I last saw a long time ago, and so to write my notes I've had to look at my reviews from the time, or have a real scrabble around in the toolbox to remember exactly what triggers ignited my passion for the film in question so markedly. I hope you'll forgive me if a few of the comments are therefore slim. I've tried to make them as personal and conversational as possible. As a whole document I hope the reviews and this intro make clear why I absolutely adore films, and if you don't already share this passion, why it could be for you. Roberta Flack once sung (and the Fugees later covered) a song called Killing Me Softly, a lyric of which goes, "Strummin' my pain with his fingers. Singing my life with his words. Killing me softly with his song." That's a great deal of the appeal of the movies to me, as well as trying to reach a better understanding of life (of mine and others' emotions in particular), and attaining sensations of grace.
Types of films and aesthetics I have a penchant for.
There's several types of films here, classic auteur films from the likes of control freaks von Sternberg/Lang/Welles/Borzage/Bresson; films that programmers clunkily refer to as artist's film and video/experimental film/avant-garde cinema, by folks like Dorsky/Hutton/Klahr/Jordan/Bokanowski/Fischinger/Deren; films that I'd call Amerarkana (low profile, minimalist, enchanted, anonymous American crime/horror), The Music of Chance/The Kill-Off/Liebestraum/Crawlspace/The Passion of Darkly Noon; dreamlike films, such as La Nuit Fantastique/Dementia/Amer/Judex/Fascination/The Alphabet Murders; film noir; films with unrequited love, particularly The Unsent Letter and Les Enfants du Paradis; films portraying outsider experiences, films about the art of living (these are mainly French); portrayals of ecstatic experiences; westerns; films dealing with the fact of the human body (as opposed to cerebral films) and human lifecycle such as the Cremaster Cycle, False Aging, Stereo, Belly of An Architect, and Seconds; well-handled treatments of Buddhism (Kim Ki-Duk films); films regarding existential folly such as Youth Without Youth and the Shanghai Gesture; films with fairy-light-style diegetic lighting (this means lighting that comes from within the fictional world of the film as opposed to huge lights behind the camera) such as This World, Then The Fireworks; films showcasing great/interesting interior design, like David Lynch films or Crawlspace, White of the Eye, or Vampiros Lesbos (not usually felt to be the primary merits of these movies of course!). I was a teenager in the '90s so there are quite a few '90s genre movies in the mix, particularly '90s action movies, that I love, if taken at face value these can be hard to understand, but they're all visually beautiful and generally have something clever going on under the surface, examples being Wes Craven's Shocker, Richard Stanley's Hardware, Albert Pyun's Adrenalin: Fear the Rush and Russell Mulcahy's Silent Trigger. Emotionally-resonant film treatments of metanoia, or the process or realising that you never knew yourself, or that your conception of the world is/was entirely wrong, for example Pasolini's Oedipus Rex, The Shanghai Gesture, Night Sun, and Shutter Island (The Truman Show wouldn't qualify because it's other people fooling Truman rather than himself). Films within the tradition of Bildung, or a film version of the Entwicklungsroman, that is to say stories of hard won personal growth, such as Adam and America America, and perhaps the opposite, "what doesn't kill you makes you weaker" (my little joke treatment of Nietzsche's famous phrase) type stories such as Apartment Zero, or even films where these ends are shown as beginning as a forked path (Franklyn). Escapism is an obvious one that I share in common with everyone! Films that deal with perception or the nature of the mind, such as Memento, The Prestige, La Nuit Des Traquées. Recently highly aesthetic treatments of people discovering their sexuality (not for erotic content) such as Lewis Klahr's Pony Glass, Philip Ridley's The Passion of Darkly Noon or Steven Shainberg's Secretary. All sorts of films really. In another person's words, IMDb User Ear_Poisoner pointed out to me on the List and Recommendations forum, "your interest tends to more visual and tonal experience rather than narrative based.". I also like for films to be intriguing or interesting, I want lots of secondary neural detonations after the movie has ended. Speaking of explosions I think the idea for me has always been that a movie should blow my mind, so I sometimes find the distinction between entertainment and art movies moot in that they're just different ways of achieving the same end.
A note on availability, and how to see more of these should you wish to.
A lot of the films in this list are not available on dvd or blu-ray in your region, or just not available on dvd or blu-ray at all. Here's some suggestions. Hack your DVD/Blu-ray player so that it plays whatever you want it to play, this is usually dead easy with DVD. I drew the short straw and bought a hard-to-hack player, but for a small fee and a remote control in the post, this obstacle was overcome. I still buy and watch VHS tapes all the time where the dvd is out of print; the last batch of VHS players made will play SECAM, PAL, NTSC, anything you want, though you have to buy these off restorers now. Other outlets. There are websites all over the world selling official dvds that you won't find in chain stores or just any store if you don't live in a capital city in an affluent country: the German Filmmuseum website, Re:Voir, FNAC for Spain, the Danish Film Institute, the University of Massachussets (DEFA archive films), Amazon has various branch outs in other countries, even the Japanese Amazon is usable to non-Japanese speakers, with a little patience and thought. You can get Minerva Classics and Raro Video films off of Italian Amazon, and many more! Some directors even sell DVDs on their own websites, like Jon Jost, Ken Jacobs, Frederick Wiseman, Barbara Hammer, and Barney Platts-Mills (and I'm sure many others). Travelling to see films is not an unreasonable thing if you are able. I am happy to travel over 100 miles to see a film that I'm dying to see and can't be seen any other way. If you'd do the same to see the Mona Lisa, why not do it for the film equivalent? Go to a good film festival. All sorts of amazing films play at film festivals and nowhere else, if you complain about the quality of contemporary films, this is the shot in the arm you need! Cannes requires a special effort (you would need press accreditation), however large urban festivals such as London, TIFF, NYFF, are just as good in terms of quality, and will take the cream of the Cannes, Berlin, and Venice crop. All sorts of other amazing niche ones are around such as Pordenone for silents and Oberhausen for shorts. A large majority of the short films mentioned are on Youtube, Vimeo, Google Video, or UbuWeb, don't miss out! Rental/streaming services like Netflix, MUBI, LoveFilm, they're all there for you. Phone a friend for more info on this, but there are also invitation-only websites where members download genuinely unavailable movies, these are a treasure trove. Blind buying. An expensive habit, but can be eye-opening. Making sure you understand your taste is good for blind buying, this means that you will do well more often than not when you buy, get used to knowing what sorts of elements in a film you like, and who is good at recommending them. If you recognise that you've never enjoyed a portmanteau film, don't blind buy one! Local cinemas you don't know about. They are often around, and the folks inside will not bolt the doors and eat your entrails (unless they do). Often they can be a bit grungy and dilapidated, and there's not fifteen different varieties of cokey cola, abbattoir slurry in a bun (hot dogs), and buckets of million percent mark-up popped corn; however these facilities often offer alternatives like absinthe and apple pie (at least mine does), and they show different movies.
Warnings and confusions.
The list can be confusing to mainstream fans (I've no beef with people whose dreams are mirrored by the blockbuster makers, but also not much in common). I often get a response from people who have seen the say 20 mainstream movies on the list (and nothing else), where they just tell me the entire list is rubbish because the movies mentioned aren't much kop by mainstream criteria. I tend to enjoy these movies when they become zany and unabandoned, examples being The Spirit and Bad Boys II. The gradual process where I came to really enjoy movies mostly involved realising that I disagreed strongly with the implied values in mainstream film (promiscuous people generally dying first in horror movies would be an example of an implied value, i.e. promiscuity is bad).
To avoid confusion it's worth pointing out that although I enjoy irony in every day conversation, none of the appreciation of films listed below is ironic. There are five Roger Corman movies on the list, but they're there in earnestness, that particular gentleman was fond of subtext, in my opinion he was a bona fide auteur, and a socially comitted filmmaker.
Miscellaneous notes and typically requested statistics.
**The average IMDb rating of these films at the current time is 7.1/10. The highest is 9.0/10 for The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, the ones under 5.0/10 are:
Adrenalin: Fear the Rush (Albert Pyun) 3.5/10
Gas! -Or- It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It (Roger Corman). 3.7/10
The Young Racers (1963 - Roger Corman) 4.1/10
Supergirl (1984 - Jeannot Szwarc) 4.2/10
A Hole in My Heart (Lukas Moodysson) 4.5/10
Cyborg (1989 - Albert Pyun) 4.8/10
Hell Boats (1970 - Paul Wendkos) 4.9/10
This World, Then The Fireworks (1997 - Michael Oblowitz) 4.9/10
The Brown Bunny (2003 - Vincent Gallo) 4.9/10
Always take the IMDb rating with a pinch of salt!
**Whenever publishing something like this before I always get asked about the director count, so here it is to pre-empt the question. It's slightly spurious in the sense that, with only three films extant (and only one available on dvd), no matter how much I like Sadao Yamanaka's work he can't ever get to the top, whereas, Fritz Lang must eventually triumph with such a large filmography.
3 films: Alain Robbe-Grillet, Robert Aldrich, Alex Cox, Erich Rohmer, Frantisek Vlácil, Guy Maddin, Jean Delannoy, Jonas Mekas, Albert Pyun, Andrzej Zulawski, Josef von Sternberg, Roman Polanski, Alain Tanner, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Matthew Barney (taking Cremaster 3 and 4 as two separate films), Monte Hellman, Michael Powell, Nathaniel Dorsky, Werner Herzog, Sergio Leone, and Stanley Kubrick.
4 films: Manoel de Oliveira, Lars von Trier, Dario Argento, David Lynch, Michaelangelo Antonioni, Oskar Fischinger, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Orson Welles, René Laloux, Roger Corman, and Walerian Borowczyk.
5 films: Lewis Klahr, Peter Greenaway, and Fritz Lang.
6 films: Marguerite Duras.
** If you are thinking of using this list for recommendations, people who like the list and have used it for recommendations have told me in the past that they don't like Vampiros Lesbos being on it. I'm a big fan of the interior design in the movie and the general mise en scène, but it's not really titillating, I'm not putting it forwards as an erotic classic.
** There are several films here which are particularly subjective personal choices, the main example is The History of Mr Polly, I've feel a very close personal similarity to the character of Mr Polly. This probably bought the film to life for me a lot more than for another viewer. This is as opposed to Les enfants du Paradis where pretty much anyone is going to associate with at least one of the characters.
** A hopefully diminishing list of films that are on my top 500 but not on IMDb is below. Usually I try and get these films added to IMDb and antnield of criterionforum has also helped with this.
289 Well Then There Now (2011 - Lewis Klahr)
Please don't be afraid to leave me recommendations if you have any, no-one alive has ever watched more than a fraction of the good stuff!
Piel, a 7 or 8 year old boy, is alone on the desert planet Perdide, only survivor of an attack by giant hornets... (78 mins.)
“ I first saw this film when I was a little boy in its English-language dub. It haunted me for years later, and all I could remember was that there was a this little boy like me lost in a strange forest with glowing red and yellow fruits. I came across it quite by chance in it's French-language version, which is what you should see if you're an adult. It has the most amazing upbeat but weird soundtrack and is staggeringly beautiful in every single way you could think of. It works for all ages and has themes regarding the importance of individuality, and the possibility for redemptive acts, the nature of childhood and loss, the passing of time, and metanoia. It is scary and tender, and wonderful and I am very grateful to all the artists involved. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
The Satin Slipper
During the century of the Spanish Gold, Doña Prouhèze, wife of a nobleman, deeply loves Don Rodrigo... (410 mins.)
“ The Satin Slipper is a near seven hour metafictional trans-continental theatrical epic, realised by Manoel de Oliveira from the staged period drama of Paul Claudel. It is weighty, inspiring, and exquisitely beautiful. The movie opens with two quotes, which frame the film, regarding the mysterious ways of God, the second of which, "etiam peccata", "even sins", is a reference to St Augustine, who added this to a then famous phrase, giving, "Omnia cooperantur in bonum, etiam peccata", which is to say that everything happens for the glory of God, even sin.
The opening scene contains an exhortation by a dying priest, that his brother, Don Rodrigo, who has given up his studying for the priesthood, in favour of an exploration of power, for yoking the world to his will, be led back onto the path of righteousness, and that his sins be Augustinian in nature. Rodrigo's journey provides a skeleton for the movie, which however contains numerous supplementary stories and messages.
After the introduction, I do not think that you could watch straight the next nearly seven hours of this film without going mad, or rather it would be like holding a cup and letting the continuous pouring of wisdom and beauty overflow and go all over the floor. The Satin Slipper has seven hours of content, of talking where it pays to listen.
There will be home truths for everyone here, but for me Dona Prouheze's condemnation of her husband Don Pelagio, "Or it may be he is so proud, to make me love him, he disdains to appeal to anything other than the truth.". I also liked pearls of wisdom such as couples only loving what they build together, and descriptions of love, such as the feeling of regret for the time you did not know your lover.
The excesses of God's plan seem often to be exorbitant, even for One so mysterious, twice a whole ship of people drown in aid of details of the destinies of two of the main characters, and highly winsome characters often exist on this earth only as auxiliaries to the blithe. The message here may well be about tyranny, but also that the vast majority of people on earth can only expect to hear stories and get used, with the implication that they should prepare for the next life. The fruits of Rodrigo's labour, a tremendous gift, are rudely compensated for by his humiliation. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
A young Anatolian Greek, entrusted with his family's fortune, loses it en route to Istanbul and dreams of going to the United States. (174 mins.)
“ I've never personally experienced migration. However Elia Kazan's highly personal project America America had me fighting back tears all the time, with it's depiction of the peregrinations involved in searching for a safe life for yourself and your family. We're not talking about a small film here though, it's got it all going on, meditations about what it is to be a man, and how to become one, passion buried deep inside, screaming to escape, quiet desperate lives, friendship, the possibilty of altruism. It wasn't shot by any old chump either, double Oscar laureate Haskell Wexler here revelling in his first big budget shot at the big time. Over three hours of souls etched on film, buckle up! ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
(1978 Short Film)
“ Cesarée leaves me speechless with every watch, Duras' voice is magnetic. Rosenbaum has described her as a narcissist, if that's so, Cesarée is a splendiferous fragrant tiger-lily of narcissism. It's narrated by the inexorable and love-wracked voice of Marguerite Duras herself, the Prix Goncourt winning novelist. Duras, high priestess, prostrate at the altar of Venus in this film. How curious is cinema that, what would be my favourite film on another day, should prove to have been made from unused shots of another? That it should be made by a writer who considers the images secondary to the narrated text? The images themselves are mostly lovely tracking shots of the Tuileries Gardens, and the Malliol sculptures inhabiting it at the time. Amy Flamer's violin score is a harrow to the soul, making you wonder if there is any difference between love, longing, and grief.
Suetonius records in his "Lives of the Caesars" that Emperor Titus had fallen in love with Queen Berenice, but against both of their wills he had found it necessary to expel her from Rome. They never met again, this is the story Duras relates. On the subject of the images being leftovers from Le Navire Night, I have read that huge-hearted Marguerite, on occasion, cooked for the crew of her films, I bet she made a mean bubble-and-squeak! ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Children of Paradise
The theatrical life of a beautiful courtesan and the four men who love her. (190 mins.)
“ I saw a re-release of Les Enfants du Paradis at a film festival and the announcer introduced it by saying, "If you have seen this film before, it needs no introduction, if you have not seen it before, I have only this to say, I envy you.". There are not many films that a hardened programmer might say this about, and I totally agree. Although I abhor objectivity Les Enfants du Paradis, is probably the greatest film ever made. The title refers to the section of a theater auditorium, paradise, which is at the rear of the theatre and is the cheapest part. The children of the paradise are the merry masses who make up the audience in this area of the theatre (the characters and the action revolve around a variety theatre). The movie covers love and heartbreak from many angles, there are many characters to associate with however for me Baptiste is the one, poor oversensitive Baptiste who does not apprehend the simplicity of love. Watching his emotions tearing him apart is perhaps the most savage thing I have seen in the cinema and speaks to the audacity of the filmmakers, so realistic it verges on the profane. The stage act he performs after his initial letdown made me feel that I was not watching a movie, but that some strange alchemist had distilled life and poured it on the screen, I was literally rapt with agony and ecstasy. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Ferdinand the Bull
(1938 Short Film)
Little Ferdinand the bull is stung by a bumblebee when men come to pick a bull for a fight. When he gets in the arena, all he cares about are the flowers in the matador's hands. (8 mins.)
“ This is a 10 minute Disney short that neatly points out that you should not be afraid of being different. Ferdinand the Bull likes sitting under his cork tree and smelling flowers whilst the other bulls butt heads and jump around. He has beautiful brown eyes, black velvet back, cream undercarriage, and a tuft of blue hair on his smiley head. I have fairly uncanny connections with this short, I was always bigger than the other kids, and I'm still taller than anyone I ever meet, always kept my own company, never wanted to be competitive, had a mother who was worried that I didn't play along with the other kids, have a childish grin, and I specialised in botany at university. It is hard for me to watch this and not cry. Ferdinand the Bull is a thoroughly lovely short and won the Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons) in 1938. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Club de femmes
A hotel for women-only and catering to working girls is the setting for not being able to get a USA PCA seal-of-approval for this French-film... (106 mins.)
“ Club de femmes is a story about a stylish modern hotel run for women in Paris. The young lady lodgers pay a nominal rent amount and the balance is picked up by a charity/league of decency that is trying to stop them being exploited (lured into prostitution or dishonored by men of ill repute). It's a loving and sympathetic film that follows a variety of these women during a formative period in their lives. It's as camp as you like. It is as elegant as you would want a film to be. The scene where Alice falls in love with Juliette, sketching her as she swims, is the most beautiful moment I have seen in film. Claire (Danielle Darrieux) kissing her boyfriend whilst he wears her pyjamas is somewhat blissfully confusing. It's just a wonderful film, directed by Patrick Deval and assisted by Jean Delannoy. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Eden and After
A group of French students are drawn into the psychological and sexual games of a mysterious Dutchman. Once they sample his "fear powder" the students experience a series of hallucinations. (93 mins.)
“ A metafictional film where a group of bored French students who play out theatrical games of sex and death are visited by a gent who offers them "poudre de peur" or powder of fear, a drug which removes their inhibitions and sees them off to Tunisia for real games of sex and murder and sadomasochism, or is it all just more theatre / hallucination? Although arguably you would provoke fear responses from anyone who caught you watching this, it's actually fundamentally chaste and geometric, the fantasy of a bookworm and maths student. Much of the spirit of the Zanzibar filmmakers may be here, in a twisted and warped form; the idea of the film more being to provoke recognition of ideologies and conditionings in which the viewer exists. A very bad idea for a watch if you're not used to freethinking (freethinking is seen as a meliorative word, but I'm here to tell you of it's neutrality, freethinking is by no means a good plan). Its high position on this list is a testament to its power. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Meshes of the Afternoon
(1943 Short Film)
A woman returning home falls asleep and has vivid dreams that may or may not be happening in reality. Through repetitive images and complete mismatching of the objective view of time and space, her dark inner desires play out on-screen. (14 mins.)
“ Maya Deren's lasting legacy, shot with her first husband Alexander Hammid, and scored by her second, Toru Takemitsu, this film has had many interpretations. I've no real interest in rational interpretations of the film, for me it's title says it all. Why not the dreams of a woman sleeping in a house with a carbon monoxide leak, or on an acid trip. I know that from the instant I saw the first scene, from the moment the sunflower is handed down in front of me, that I had fallen in love with the film. It strips absolutely everything away, it is an animal film, I think about what I imagine a fox in a forest thinks when it skulks through the undergrowth and the pools of light, feeling and instinct only. The phone is off the hook, the connection to all this crud that makes humans so grotesque, the bills and the self-control and the conditioning. An Attenborough documentary on plants once showed an emerald-eyed black panther rolling around in the jungle, drunk on catnip, that's what this movie makes me for just a few minutes. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
(1988 TV Movie)
Medea is in Corinth with Jason and their two young sons. King Kreon wants to reward Jason for his exploits: he gives the hand of his daughter... (77 mins.)
“ As a child I was obsessed by the Greek Myths, my copy of Grimal's Dictionary of Classical Mythology fairly fell to pieces, though Graves' The Greek Myths fared better because my school put a protective plastic jacket on the hard copy of it that I stole. Every year that goes by they get stronger to me emotionally. Medea's is the ultimate of these stories, she is a knowledgeable, capable, powerful, emotional, mystical woman who is not afraid of putting her cards face down on the table and putting all her chips in the middle for love. I aspire to be worthy of such woman.
Von Trier filmed Carl Theodor Dreyer's script of Medea for TV. It is a beautiful piece of video art, astonishing in it's use of experimental techniques. Kirsten Olesen's portrayal of Medea, seems to take Falconetti as inspiration. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Three key moments, all of them sensual, define Ana's life. Her carnal search sways between reality and... (90 mins.)
“ Amer is the French word for bitter. It is a plot-light study of the life of Ana, as a girl, a teenager, and as a young women. To call it impressionistic would imply a superficial capturing of moments in her life, however the film is deeply inside her experiences. Amer is a sensorium. I have a lot of connection with it, in that my strongest memories involve kaleidoscopic childhood nightmares, and fleeting encounters with members of the opposite gender wearing highly sexualised clothing.
In terms of lineage, it comes from giallo, and indeed uses classic giallo film scores, and had colour-explosion cinematography tracing from Bava and Argento. I think it is not sufficient to call Amer a homage though, in that I think it improves upon the aesthetic, and is essentially the best-looking movie I have ever seen.
It's a tough film in that it's really not clear what happens in the last segment, potentially a descent into madness, potentially pursual by a maniac. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
“ The Soundtrack of this stop motion collage short is indeed Satie's Gymnopedie #1. The movie is all footage of old engravings/etchings tinted blue. I absolutely love the innocence of the whole thing, such as an androgynous angel with a fig leaf fluttering along the screen. It's a sexless affair that luxuriates in naive Victorian fantasies of the world beyond the boarding school and the library. It's also about the protean nature of thought streams and the beauty of ideas and dreams. Something that I massively enjoy in terms of technique is seeing reversals in motion, which is why the micro-short Newark Athlete of 1891 (William K.L. Dickson) is more than a curiosity to me and indeed a pleasure (the movie shows a gent swinging Indian clubs, played forwards and then reversed back mid swing, at the current time both movies are available on YouTube) ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
The Bat Whispers
A master criminal terrorizes the occupants of an isolated country mansion. (83 mins.)
“ So this is just a joy to watch, pure comfort viewing, a mystery thriller about a highly skilled criminal called the Bat. Some of the camerawork is so lovely, there are two points where a camera does a huge swoop along sets that are models and then there's a match cut into a life-size set. You can just have these extremely elegant moments on rewind. This beauty and craft in special effects, I would argue got lost a long time ago. This despite it being much cheaper than modern techniques and more satisfying, I'd argue that the only visually interesting part of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull was the model shooting, where there's a temple purchased above the Nazca Lines.
It turns into an Old Dark House movie. I have to admit that this is my very favourite genre of movie, however it's one with a history of imperfect realisations, and this a very rare good one. Sometimes you have to admit that in very fanciful films with little higher pretensions, the dialogue can shame much more serious-minded films, and this is the case in this one where a maid scolds her lady.
There's something refreshing in the visual format of this film, I doubt there are many films floating around that were shot on 65 mil and in an aspect ratio of 2:1 ! ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Denis is distracted: he's studying all day for philosophy exams and working all night at the flower market; plus... (103 mins.)
“ A student dreamer who works in a flower market falls asleep and has a wonderful dream about a lady in white whom he falls in love and must save from a rotter, it's nonsensical and beautiful and makes me really appreciate all over again the terms fantastic and night, finally not being abused. This movie is an asylum into which you can climb, it is an impervious haven where the bastards can't get you. It has an American dvd release, but it's gone out-of-print and new copies are retailing at about $100. Should anyone who is filthy rich be grateful for the steers on this list, it would put a smile on my face that a chisel couldn't remove if you bought me the beautiful original poster! ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
In 1954, a U.S. marshal investigates the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane. (138 mins.)
“ Shutter Island is many things to many people. For me it was a story of a man hiding from himself who undergoes a metanoiac transformation that I hugely identified with. It's got other elements that go in my favourite cooking, a music literate soundtrack to die for (I have literally wept to Dinah Washington singing "This Bitter Earth", and then there's all sorts of goodies from avant-garde composers like Adams and Cage) and unrestrained voluptuous visuals. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
The Spanish Civil War in the year 1936. Five brigadiers are singled out to stay behind in the Spanish... (87 mins.)
“ The time of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), at least in this movie, is a time of idealism and solidarity, when soldiers of conscience came from all over the world to fight in the International Brigades against the Fascists of Spain, Italy, and Germany (and the American corporations who eagerly supplied Franco and his rebels). In reality, whilst I'm sure there was a large flavour of comradeship, there was also a great deal of factionalism on the Republican side, fomented in part by the Soviet sponsors.
As to the story, Commissar Wittig, five volunteers and a radioman stay behind in the trenches of the Jarama front to cover the retreat of the Republican forces to the Ebro river. They spend a witching hour in the deserted trenches, using up all the heavy machine gun ammo on the enemy before fleeing into the hills. They are chased and chased again, and over again, until their bodies and their ideals are brittle, will they shatter? ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Cat burglar Henry Clarke and his accomplices the Moreaus attempt to steal diamonds from the château of millionaire Salinas. However, Henry's partners in crime aren't the most emotionally stable people. (120 mins.)
“ Deadfall is one of the great underrated movies, and I'll tell you why in a bit. What everyone seems more than appreciative about, is the greatness of the piece that John Barry wrote for it, Romance For Guitar And Orchestra, which he appears during the movie personally conducting, intercut with scenes from a robbery. People are mostly happy that the robbery scene is great as well.
What really chills my bones in that robbery scene is the triumph of the will (a phrase unfortunately robbed of it's awe by Leni Riefenstahl), how Henry bends matters to his will, and you can feel the bruises and lacerations that came with that in the scene.
It's unfortunate that the art house crowd haven't get round to this one, and it's more Michael Caine completists and genre fans, because it's truly exceptional. It probably has my favourite joke in a movie, deliciously dark, "What's the use in happiness, it can't buy you money.". Nietzsche's idea that, "Man does not strive after happiness; only the Englishman does that." always brings a smile to my face.
The movie is full of jaded, weary, and intelligent people, into whose web falls jewel thief Henry. The thing about these people is that they do actually all love, they have hearts, it's their great secret. It's really, despite the crazily beautiful robbing, a movie about love, bitterness, and youth versus growing old. I liked a lot of things in the movie, how Fé sees through the fatalism of the men, how facades come crumbling down, how there's all this lovely turquoisey colouring going on. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
In the Midst of Life
This Civil War anthology adapts three Ambrose Bierce stories "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," "Chickamauga" and "The Mockingbird." (95 mins.)
“ This compendium of three Ambrose Bierce US Civil War short story adapatations is primarily know for the part "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge", which has often been shown separately. This part is probably the strongest of the three, and has a yearning for life that is very accessible. Chickamauga and A Mockingbird are the other two parts and are very special indeed. It is very strange to me that the two most authentic looking American Civil War movies were made by Europeans (the other is American Torso, directed by Gábor Bódy), and both use Ambrose Bierce as source. These are eerie, macabre and sublime stories that are perfectly realised. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Picnic at Hanging Rock
During a rural picnic, a few students and a teacher from an Australian girls' school vanish without a trace. Their absence frustrates and haunts the people left behind. (115 mins.)
“ A beautiful unsolved mystery. A group of Australian schoolgirls and one of their teacher go missing forever on a field trip to Hanging Rock. It's just that simple. Something makes me feel that the girls just turned into sunshine, that youth so giddy and guileless scintillated into light. The hard thing about this movie is that it has to end and you have to get off the sofa and get back to living. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Three Colors: Blue
A woman struggles to find a way to live her life after the death of her husband and child. (98 mins.)
“ I learnt about having ice cream "affogato" from this movie, and Kieslowski uses it metaphorically, to portray a woman hurting herself, guilty to take pleasure in life after the death of her husband, desperate for surcease from grief. I watched this as a youngin and was transfixed by this rapacious performance from Juliette Binoche, who gave her all in this movie, physically hurting herself for the famous ivy scene. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
The Spiral Staircase
A serial killer (circa 1916) is targeting women with 'afflictions'; one night during a thunderstorm, mute Helen feels menaced. (83 mins.)
“ A fundamentally perfect corker of a horror movie, with more emphasis on tension, suspension and implication than any actual violence. I absolutely adore Old Dark House movies, and will happily watch even bad ones, but this is not just for the likes of me. The premise of the movie is pretty nasty, there's a guy who likes to kill women with disabilities, which is quite unforgivable one must admit. The conceit here is that the girl who is mute (the protagonist) cannot scream when he comes for her. It's a gen-yoo-eyne old fashioned hide-behind-the-sofa cuddle-your-loved-ones horror movie that can set the hairs on your back standing up. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
The Pumpkin Eater
Film screenwriter Jake Armitage and his wife Jo Armitage live in London with six of Jo's eight children... (118 mins.)
“ Anne Bancroft's grave has a statue of an angel weeping perched on top of it. There can be no doubt that this is merely a faithful representation of what was happening in heaven as the gift of her life left the earth. She was in my opinion a truly estimable person who makes the modern era's idols looks unutterably ridiculous. The Pumpkin Eater is a movie about a relationship and a family, of Jo and Jake Armitage (Anne Bancroft and Peter Finch). Jo is one of those wonderful people who shame you by comparison, a self-sacrificing mother, full of soul and passion, denying herself even the most minor of pleasures, an entity that exists only to give. Jake is a serial adulterer who tries his level best to stop this from damaging his marriage, but at the end of the day can only follow his nature. On a personal level, Jo reminded me very much of my mother. No less than Harold Pinter wrote the screenplay for this one. Yes, once upon a time adults went to see adult films like this at the cinema, deep films, though you can scarcely believe it if you see what they go and watch now. The only film approaching this in modern times that I can think of is Revolutionary Road. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
A pimp with no other means to provide for himself finds his life spiraling out of control when his prostitute is sent to prison. (120 mins.)
“ Accattone is a Roman pimp who lives off his girlfriend Maddalena's earnings. Pasolini's cheeky aim is to put forward this young man as a modern saint. To this end he lathers Bach's St Matthew's Passion (inspired by the Apostle's experience of the crucifixion of Christ) over scenes of Accattone's life. In one of Accattone's first scenes he's shown devouring a slice of tomato, displayed horizontally as if a cardinal's galero, whilst an sculpture of perhaps a guardian angel can be seen over his shoulder in the distance (an anti-clerical pro-Christ stance seems to be a consistent theme for Pasolini). Later, a prophecy regarding Accattone's descent is eerily similar to Christ's pronunciation of Peter's forthcoming triple renunciation.
Whatever Accattone is, he's not sunless; when he tries out the world of work (legitimate work involving labour), he becomes Vittorio, his Christian name, and the light goes out. The film reminds me very much of Fassbinder's Gods of the Plague in that sense, young men with brio but no skills or education who, given the choice between drudgery or crime, choose crime. Both films polemicise against urban post-industrial capitalist societies, which have become increasingly removed from the milieu in which humanity evolved and is "designed" to cope with. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Eyes Wide Shut
A New York City doctor, who is married to an art curator, pushes himself on a harrowing and dangerous night-long odyssey of sexual and moral discovery after his wife admits that she once almost cheated on him. (159 mins.)
“ Jocelyn Pook worked out that if she played Romanian liturgical chant backwards it sounded like the primal deranged hymn of a secret society of Nietzschean master moralists. How did she do that? How did Stanley "Special K" Kubrick manage to pick out Shostakovich's Waltz from his Jazz Suite #2 as the perfect psychosexual mood setter for a Schnitzler adaptation? Kubrick's vast mastery makes Otto Muehl's attempts to open the same doors look positively peasantish. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
The Sword of Doom
Through his unconscionable actions against others, a sociopath samurai builds a trail of vendettas that follow him closely. (119 mins.)
“ The Sword of Doom is about a Samurai, Ryunosuke Tsukue, who is brimful of contempt for society and its compromises, a one man army he ruthlessly murders anyone he sees fit. A man of extreme integrity, one senses that his fate could have gone either way depending on chance alone. As it is he turns his hand against every man, becoming an inhumanly isolated monomaniac who takes ostracisation and loneliness to its limits in his quest for purity. The Sword of Doom is an awe-inducing film about a man who cultivates his rage until it turns into a forest he becomes lost in. One cannot watch this film other than with respect and a sign to ward off the evil eye. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Residents of a coastal town learn, with deathly consequences, the secret shared by the two mysterious women who have sought shelter at a local resort. (118 mins.)
“ This is the first vampire movie I ever saw where I felt I connected with the concept of a vampire, with cold knowledge and enhanced instinct. Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan are revelatory here. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Army of Darkness
A man is accidentally transported to 1300 A.D., where he must battle an army of the dead and retrieve the Necronomicon so he can return home. (81 mins.)
“ Ash is fundamentally someone who copes, he's got this crappy hopeless life, he gets transported into a terrible world where he has a hopeless task to accomplish, absolutely no-one is one his wavelength, all he can do is be an audience for his own stand-up comedy. He throws himself at his life and his task with aplomb, and there is nothing about that which is not admirable.
Unlike the other two Evil Dead movies, I actually find this one incredibly scary, particularly when he's fighting versions of himself, but also when he finds the three Necronomicons. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
The life, times and afflictions of the fifteenth-century Russian iconographer. (205 mins.)
“ A titanic film that hardly requires any introduction or recommendation from me. A film of scope, ambition, technical virtuosity, and unparalleled genius. It shows you the lives of folks back in 15th century Russia, and lets you know all about the purpose of creativity and the relationship between artists and power structures. It's a film of almost appalling weight by one Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky, a man who had the creativity of one hundred thousand people crammed into his one poor cranium. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
“ The film stays with a group of five men sat in a room at night in lamp-lit darkness puzzling over a series of documents and images. Their task is to understand the documents, understand their unifying theme, understand who prepared the documents. Erasure awaits them should they fail this task; they have three nights to complete it. A weary yet sympathetic clerk watches over them, supplying them with supplementary information and advice where required. The film is heavily allegorical, perhaps bitterly so. The men are somnambulists, blindly following baseless conventions, focusing on irrelevant minutiae, bickering, endlessly deliberating without coming to any action or conclusion, mentally blocked. Life itself as three nights.
Khittl made no fiction films save this one, perhaps he managed to say it all in just one go. What I haven't mentioned is that it's a deliriously beautiful film at times, lots of luscious photography from all over the world that serve as the documents for the individuals to study. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
“ As with Cesarée, Les mains négatives ("Negative Hands") is made of unused footage from Duras' Le Navire Night project. The footage is of Paris at dusk, Durassian images passe-partout (tonal images). The voiceover concerns ancient cave art, in particular petrogylphs of hands. Amy Flamer's violin score produces a feeling of intense longing, which is what Duras is all about. Les mains négatives is fundamentally a gesamtkunstwerk, a universal art work where several art forms are utilised. The narration unites literature with film: that which is fundamental to literature, is the quality where the reader has the liberty to conjure up their own mental images in response to the author's directions. The actual images on the screen, are tonal in nature. The images you develop yourself in your mind's eye are the real images of the film. So the film is about people leaving behind their hand prints in caves eons ago (the paint goes around the hands, so they are literally negative hands, only viewable because of their absence). Why did they do this, why is this something that Duras wants to draw attention to? For me they're simply recording their existence, standing up against immensity, against the unknowable. It's about equality, every hand print looks the same, everyone equal in eternity. Duras attempts the impossible, she attempts to bridge the gap between people, to reach out to the sea of souls of the past in the spirit of love. I've written more in a user comment on the relevant IMDb page. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
“ Hours for Jerome is a serene recording of beautiful moments in the lives of a handful of people over a period of a few years. It is currently Nathaniel Dorsky's longest movie, and was the first in which he gave up on sound. His cinema from then on relied on images alone, trying to encapsulate an inner state of calm and splendour, which arises from public spaces shot in silence, at a speed only subconsciously perceptible as slower than real time (18 frames per second versus the 24 at which it was shot). What's different here compared to his later films is that there's some razzmatazz editing, more of the energy of youth. The Hours of the title are named after the medieval book of hours, which were illuminated collections of psalms and prayers. Jerome is Jerome Hiler, Nathaniel Dorsky's partner.
Nathaniel Dorsky turns the cinema into a temple. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
For a Few Dollars More
Two bounty hunters with the same intentions team up to track down a Western outlaw. (132 mins.)
“ So it turns out that Clint wasn't the man with no name here, because he's called Monco, even if you only hear that once! Anyway, the second two dollars movies I love the best, because they are so fluid. A Fistful of Dollars is all set in the same place, it's a static film, I have little interest in it. Why not watch Eastwood's own High Plain's Drifter instead, or the oneiric remake with Bruce Willis, Last Man Standing?
Monco and Colonel Mortimer, bounty hunters extraordinares, are out for el Indio's hide. The movie is ritualistic, features expanded time, and has one of the great soundtracks. Movies can save your life, and at university, when everything was caving in, I would slide the VHS of this in and everything was alright. I've watched this one tens of times, and it never loses anything. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery. (161 mins.)
“ It's more the bad guy that you sympathise with, the bad guy who's a sadist so you don't sympathise with, and the guy who's there for comic relief, but that's not such a catchy title. This film doesn't need much selling, arguably having the greatest soundtrack, it's pure comfort watching. Analysis can be like acid, and I prefer not to analyse storytelling, however plot elements that I'm very keen on in this movie regard food, Angel Eyes stew-stealing at the start of the movie and Tuco's nervous eating in the Andersonville camp (Onibaba and Kuleshov's Po Zakonu are other great movies that capture the viscerality of our fellow primates stealing and protecting their grub). This seems to tap into something primal, much like the greasiness and unshaved look of the characters.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a miracle, a syzygy, all the elements that make a movie lining up in perfection, even the out of synch dialogue of minor characters seems to positively bring something to the party. Leone's background in sword and sandal movies stood him in good stead here for the civil war battle scenes, which bring a dimension to the film that no other spags have. The soundtrack is an experimental bizarrerie of unusual sounds that has no right to be so astonishingly successful on every level. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Le grand jeu
Pierre (Pierre Richard-Willm), a young lawyer, has enormous debts due to his mistress Florence (Marie Bell)... (120 mins.)
“ Very few movies for me have captured the tragedy and pageantry of life in one fell swoop, the other two are Les Enfants du Paradis and The Satin Slipper, supernatural titles which must be uttered only in awe. These are decidedly Promethean movies, which beg a thunderbolt from above for their creators. Such movies through their genius seem sacrilegious.
Exuberant, blithe and foolish, Belle Époque nitwit Pierre lives a pampered lifestyle with a sinecure at the family bank. Innocently in love with a man eater, he throws more and more "borrowed" money into the fire of her greed in the hopes of putting it out. Years of disgrace follow where Pierre must learn to be a man like other men, to silently put up with being un raté, to watch his life slide out of view, to take his pleasures where he can in exile with the Foreign Legion.
Le Grand Jeu is a film that makes one to wonder if God didn't conflate lust and love when He created the world. The filmmakers create their own world in miniature here, a world where people live with the ghouls of their pasts sat on their shoulders, loving without being loved back, cursed by lust unattainable, or attainable and consuming, damned one way or the other. It was a refreshingly raunchy movie with quite the most triple-x-rated cabaret song, from La môme Dauville (Lyn Clevers). Whilst lust does seem to inhibit the possibility of true love, male lust in particular is treated as something natural and not to be ashamed of.
So the world is a casino and our fortunes dictated by Fortuna (the great game of the title). One's only weapon against all this seems to be morale. That seems the key message of what is I would say, a perfect movie (it's probably also pretty similar in that regards to Les Enfants Du Paradis, and no surprise to find out that Marcel Carné was an assistant on this movie). Marie Bell and Pierre Richard-Willm act their hearts out here. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
A harried movie director retreats into his memories and fantasies. (138 mins.)
“ Slightly shamefacedly I must admit to having only seen this movie once, and I was drunk at the time. However I proffer perhaps a seed of a consensus, having spoken to other like-minds, that this movie is a good one to watch drunk. Outside of the pretty much unparalleled cinematography (the floating off stuff is perfect drunk), I was staggered by the fantasy scene where Guido is with the harem of all the women he has loved/fantasised over in his life, with certain women being sent to a room at the top of the stairs when they've outlived their beauty. Men aren't all like that, but I think this scene is real high art, a gestalt insight into human sexuality that's quite unparalleled. The only other thing that comes to my mind in terms of having similar quality is Marcel Duchamp's picture The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors. The fact that I haven't watched it again may well be due to it being just so intimidating in terms of mastery of film, Fellini literally just embarasses the rest of the auteurial Pantheon with his work here. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
(1972 Short Film)
Egyptian gods summons the angel Lucifer - in order to usher in a new occult age. (29 mins.)
“ Lucifer Rising is one of the great short films, but you have to be some sort of extreme enthusiast to come by even the great short films these days, and so I won't assume you know all about it. Inspired by Aleister Crowley and the Occult, it is about the feeling of being a God, the occult, creation and ritual. Crowley is represented in this one scene and a docrtinal representative of his attended the making of the movie. Crowley wrote a poem called the "Hymn to Lucifer" where he explained Lucifer's significance in his religion of Thelema. The poem points to the fallen angel Lucifer as a bringer of knowledge and love, things that folks were cast out of Eden for, Crowley explains. Thelema gets rid of the Golden Rule, and suggests that people should do as they will, a sole ethical princple, which is not to say that they should wallow in bestiality and egoistic impulse, but that they should fulfil their purpose. Knowledge and sexual desire (both forbidden in Eden), are what it's all about. Lucifer was "sun-souled", and I thin you definitely get that in this film.
If you read my explanation of why I like Meshes of the Afternoon, you will see that I talked about the separation of the conscious from the subconscious, of the dissolution of superego. That's what Thelema is all about to, and this movie. Definitely another one to add to the list is Acéphale.
I am a moralist but I definitely find this stuff valuable and worth savouring. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
After a puritan youth, a young English woman discovers her sensuality in North-Africa. (86 mins.)
“ Cahiers du Cinema is not the only magazine where critics have taken up the gauntlet and gone onto filmmaking. Gavin Lambert of Sight & Sound directed this his only film, about a repressed englishwoman in Morocco, journeying into fugue. The psychological enormity of a tight-laced englishwoman of this era vanishing into Morocco is awe-inspiring to me, especially as it's not some cop-out blossoming into a higher conciousness or gregarious new personality, but rather represents an erasure of roots in favour of scorched adobe and desert purity. The night after watching this, when I went to sleep I could hear feel the dunes outside my window. Like Paul Bowles, who was a personal friend of Lambert, and who inspired the films, I've felt the call of Morocco, and of fugue. See also The Sheltering Sky, also on this list. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg
A couple uses extremely black comedy to survive taking care of a daughter who is nearly completely brain dead... (106 mins.)
“ Quite without being aware of the fact beforehand, I noticed during A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, that the film was shot in my home town of Bristol, so I don't know how much of its placement is what the Americans call a "hometown decision". But the way it brings my skin alive and makes me want to cry probably suggest otherwise.
It's a movie about two parents who are both attempting to have careers whilst bringing up a child in what is called a permanent vegetative state. They're two beautiful people who try their best to keep their spirits up and look after their unresponsive daughter (the Jo Egg of the title). I think what the film, most simply is about, is being human, about love and altruism and looking after one another even in the face of nil return. The scene where Elgar's Nimrod is played whilst the parents tend to Jo still brings tears to my mind just thinking about it. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Invisible aliens in a tiny flying saucer come to Earth looking for heroin. They land on top of a New... (112 mins.)
“ Liquid Sky is probably the coolest film ever made. A wildly unhinged soundtrack to die for includes of all things an electronic recasting of Orff's Trionfo di Afrodite. Liquid Sky by the by is a slang for heroin. The characters are mostly New York scenesters with attitude and androgyny. All this is hyped up enough but then comes a UFO of miniature aliens from far far away and photography that would give Stan Brakhage a stiffy. The type of thing your daddy would have sent you away to military school for if he caught you watching. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
(2008 Short Film)
“ Nathaniel Dorsky makes short films with no narratives or actors, visual works that have some sort of thematic coherence only. Visual poetry is a cliche that doesn't go far enough to describe his work. He often ends up using focus and framing to produce abstract images from what he's photographed whose origins are hard to decipher. Unfortunately his works are limited to playing at festivals and special screenings. He hinted in a talk he gave that he may allow dvd released after he is dead, but for now he sees himself as more like Vivaldi, prefering to accompany his work when it is displayed. Winter is quite a magnificent piece where "peace comes dropping slow" in the words of Yeats. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
King Vano rides bravely off into battle, but only after ensuring his passionate Queen is safely locked in her chastity belt. (129 mins.)
“ I am waiting to see a bad Georgian film although once when I spoke to a Georgian director (Levan Koguashvili) he said to me that Georgian domestic cinema is very mundane and panders to the lowest common denominator! In any case Brigands is part of the very fine internationalist tradition of Georgian film. Its idea is fairly simple, that all the historic rulers of Russia have always been brigands, whether they be warlords, commissars or oligarchs, this is expanded upon at length in a series of historical vignettes, comic in their banality. William Lubtchansky does the photography, which of course means that the entire film is a sheer pleasure to watch. One of my favourite scenes in film history is the extremely comic scene in this film where a Stalin-type character crawls up the carpet in a Tsarist official's office and emerges from behind his desk to dispatch him. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Walter Faber has survived a crash with an airplane. His next trip is by ship. On board this ship he... (117 mins.)
“ So Homo Faber (Latin for a man who forges his own destiny) is Walter Faber, a prodigal engineer, who seems like a laid back cross between Fitzcarraldo and Brunel. He's too caught up in his romance with engineering to seize the moment and the girl. He is reminiscent in this sense of Dominic in "Youth Without Youth", and Zetterstrøm in "Allegro" (excellent films), both love-blind men caught up in their pursuits (linguistics and piano playing). As Cupid is the real God and reigns over drama, these men must be punished.
Highly beautiful high concept high production values globe-trotting noir about a man who didn't understand being human. I watched this with my mother and I think she wanted to throttle the guy at one point. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
The History of Mr. Polly
Quiet and somewhat direction-less, Alfred Polly uses the money he inherits from his father to marry and to set up shop in a small town... (95 mins.)
“ A very personal choice from me here, based on a story by HG Wells. Mr Polly is a Victorian shop clerk with no place in life, he spends his days in reverie, daydreaming on the job and reading Chretien de Troyes. He is spat out and must begin his long journey to find a place where his sensibilities are welcome, and he can finally put down roots. I have so many tears for this film. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
The Belly of an Architect
An American architect arrives in Italy, supervising an exhibition for a French architect, Boullée, who is famous for his oval structures... (119 mins.)
“ Haha, so I had been suffering for about a year from chronic pain in my digestive tract when I saw this, and Stourley Kracklite (indigestion in a name) portrayed by a corpulent and majestic Brian Dennehy also suffered belly pain in the film, so there was something particularly poignant for me about the experience of watching this film. It's about an architect who decides to setup an exhibition relating to his idol Étienne-Louis Boullée, an architect who is famous for his outlandish but unsuccessful project submissions.
I like films about lifecycle, and there's a sense of that here, of a man looking for completion. Greenaway likes to portray outsider artists and also stories which contrast males in different stages of their lifecycles, I really dig that so this film is all gravy for me.
It's filmed in Rome as well, so you can imagine it's a very aeshetically pleasing movie. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
“ This is the first giallo I ever watched (often seedy Italian murder mysteries, with as many hallmarks as film noir). It's as good as it gets so far, according to my discoveries. The centerpiece murder at the start moves me a lot, the sense of mystery and powerlessness of the main character to intervene. What I really like with Argento murderers is their sheer insanity and pain. The really good giallo are also just plain odd. The lighting is also a critical thing, deserted Italian streets in the 70s at night just seem to have something about them. I like the white telephones too (there is actually a genre of Italian comedy called "white telephone" films). ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
The Artist and the City
A painter wanders around the city of Oporto painting what he sees: old and modern buildings, people arriving and leaving work in the factories, children playing. (26 mins.)
“ Oliveira's first colour movie is a wordless dialogue between a filmmaker and a painter. Each portray the city of Porto according to their own ability. It very much comes off as a synergistic process where the images are informed by each of the techniques. There's a "motion painting" scene at one point that is almost as beautiful as you can get, showing the light changing over the city. I felt as I watched the movie, seeing the city in the round, that God was perhaps involved in the planning. It has been a source of interest for me that Oliveira was making films during a dictatorship, and yet none of them are known for their criticism of Salazar. And yet the only time I saw people who looked out of place was when there were policeman around. I think he took a render unto Caesar view. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Five stories by Luigi Pirandello set in turn-of-the-century Italy. (188 mins.)
“ Moments of intense joy always seem to me to be fleeting and unexpected, even unrecognised when they're happening. In life they can be so rare that they have an intensity that they last down the years, even if you sometimes don't realise their power at the time. The Taviani brothers capture what is probably the most glorious scene in cinema history, an unpper class family undergoing forced migration from Sicily to Malta after political disturbance, experience a moment of peace in the Aeolian Islands, the children careening down a pumice chute to the sea.
Kaos contains a collection of five stories from the Tavianis, of slightly varying quality. As a leftie I particularly admire the poltical ones, The Jar, and Requiem. The stories are all from Sicily's past. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Forced to trade his valuable furs for a well-educated escaped slave, a rugged trapper vows to recover the pelts from the Indians and later the renegades that killed them. (102 mins.)
“ I have a huge admiration for Burt Lancaster and his films. There is no actor I know of who had such spirit, humanity and plain good vibes as Burt Lancaster. He's alwas bursting with energy, and you can often sense his roots as an acrobat in the movies. If a movie encapsulates his spirit more than The Scalphunters, let me know. This one has fallen through the cracks somehow, because it has no real categorisation, it is a Western in a sense, but it's so zany and experimental and joyous that it comes across like no other film. The feel of it to me was more like a William Morris novel. You've got at least three actors in this movie competing to have the most fun, and enough reversals in stereotype that it makes Johnny Guitar look staid.
One of the great movies, but far ahead of its time. In definite need of more exposure, pretty much an open secret amongst buffs that this is one of the great sleepers. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Nazis are forced to turn to a Jewish historian for help in battling the ancient demon they have inadvertently freed from its prison. (96 mins.)
“ People usually apologise for this film when they write reviews of partial admiration. The studio cut the movie from Mann's 3 hours to one and a half. Let me be clear that this movie requires no apologies from me. To to me it's really great how things happen fairly spontaneously and it doesn't need so much explanation. It tackles religious matters with audacity, and is about as atmospheric as a movie can be.
The plot is about a band of Nazi stormtroopers who awake an ancient devil in the Carpathian mountains. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
“ The movie shows two different recordings, each a different type of epileptic seizure. The people shown are volunteers under medical supervision, Sharits uses the recording of their brain waves to generate different colouration patterns of their seizures. It is a unique and utterly mesmerising experience, humane and empathic or terrifying according to the viewer's wont. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Family and friends gather in a decadent house to party. Despite their delusive distinction a raw passion for sex and violence comes to light. (110 mins.)
“ Sokurov's incredible and hermetic adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's play Heartbreak House. It has all the dolorous feel that the title Mournful Unconcern implies. What is heartbreak here? It is quite a hard concept to understand these days, as almost everyone is heartbroken (or is that just my view from inside the bell jar?). There was once abroad the spirit of self-improvement, of a thirst for knowledge, of loving every man. Who knows if this was just the case for a microcosm of Victorian society, or whether it was something to be found at large all over the civilised world? Matthew Arnold once wrote "The Sea of Faith / Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore / Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled. / But now I only hear / It's melancholy, lone, withdrawing roar...". That was some time ago so I suspect anomie ebbs and flows.
There's a part of Cries and Whispers where Bergman shows the transformation to heartbreak in Marie, the doctor (David) who has come to see her dying sister describes Maria's change in countenance to her,
"'Come here, Marie. Come. Look at yourself in the mirror. You’re beautiful. You’re probably more beautiful now than before. But you’ve changed a lot too. I want you to see how you’ve changed. Now your eyes cast quick, calculating side glances. You used to look ahead, straightforwardly, openly, unmasked. Your mouth has taken on an expression of discontent and hunger. It used to be so soft. Your complexion is pale now. You use makeup. Your fine, broad forehead now has four wrinkles above each brow. No, you can’t see it in this light, but you can in broad daylight. Do you know what caused those wrinkles?’
‘Indifference, Marie. And this fine line that runs from ear to chin isn’t as obvious any more. But it’s etched there by your easygoing, indolent ways. And there, by the bridge of your nose. Why do you sneer so often, Marie? You see it? You sneer too often. See, Marie? And look under your eyes. The sharp, scarcely noticeable lines of your impatience and your ennui.'"
This is a good one for a double bill I think. Sokurov, as well as Tarr, Bartas, Tarkovsky, and a whole generation of Eastern European filmmakers have perhaps filmed the cinema of heartbreak. It's something that's happened to me in my lifetime, the thirst for knowledge has led to acquaintance with the ideas of Marx and Kropotkin, of Marcel Mauss and Guy Debord, of a stream of intellectuals who have proposed great ideals that have been annihilated by historical events of the twentieth century, or latterly who have pulled back the stone of society and let us see the woodlice crawl. Faced with the hijacking of the Marxist-Leninist movement, with the failures of '68, with the ideas of Milton Friedman running wild, a generation of filmmakers produced the cinema of heartbreak. So what do heartbroken people do? We make money and we amuse ourselves, and now I don't even think we know that we are heartbroken.
In terms of what you see in the film, it has a strange anaesthetic quality that renders you almost unable to recall any particular scene in the movie, or an idea of any general direction of plot. A house of the heartbroken in the midst of nowhere contains refugees from a war going on outside and heartbroken aesthetes, they don't even acknowledge the war is happening. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Six complete strangers of widely varying personality characteristics are involuntarily placed in an endless kafkaesque maze containing deadly traps. (90 mins.)
“ The best way to experience this horror movie is probably to not know anything about it beforehand. However should you be curious:
Seven strangers named after famous prisons awake in an infernal cube-shaped environment. Together they must attempt to harness their different strengths in order to escape. Each room they enter appears the same, however some hide deadly traps.
To an extent the movie is a philosophical one, which suggests that we are doomed as individuals in a modern self-perpetuating unregulated technological environment unless we act together. However if you have a gruesome tooth / macabre sensibility and like Grand Guignol (scenes of elaborately staged theatrical murders strung together) this is for you too. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Mory, a cowherd, and Anta, a university student, try to make money in order to go to Paris and leave their boring past behind. (85 mins.)
“ Mambéty has been called the African Godard, but there's also the spirit of Buñuel and Fellini in Touki Bouki, really stuff on a parallel too, not cheaply imitative.
Mory and Anta are boyfriend and girlfriend who want what basically anyone wants, safety, prosperity and personal fulfilment. They're cerebral folk who find it hard to fit into traditional Senegalese roles and yearn to emigrate to France. So the film is about their struggle to migrate. It's fascinating though because, the footage of ordinary people in Senegal is clearly sentimental, and the French in Senegal are shown as having little regard for blacks, regarding them as children. What Mory and Anta want is basically mythical. This film is so universal as well! How many people yearn for the acceptance of a group of individuals that couldn't care less about them and that they're better than? How many people suffer looking upon the gulf between the way the world is and how they'd prefer it to be?
The Fellinian flights of the mind really catapult this film into the pantheon of the great films in my opinion. Watcher beware, there are extremely graphic scenes of animal slaughter in the movie! ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
After falling in love with a courtesan, Rikiya is blinded by ash during a fight in a brothel. Believing the blindness permanent and his opponent dead... (74 mins.)
“ Kinugasa is famous amongst the community of silent filmgoers for his film A Page of Madness. There's no reason why the name wouldn't apply to this fever dream of a film just as admirably.
The English release title was something like Shadows of the Yoshiwara, the Yoshiwara district of Edo was an area that shogunate decree had set aside as a red-light district in the 17th Century. Inside this district, expressionistically depicted in a permanent nighttime, live a young man and his seamstress sister. The young man has developed amour fou for O-yume, an uber-vamp courtesan. When I think of her I'm reminded of a 12th century sculpture I saw in the Victoria and Albert museum, you can find it using a search engine, "Mahakala", who is the vengeful face of Lord Shiva. Mahakala has fangs and a belt of severed heads, really a gruesome sculpture. O-yume is no less wild and ferocious, she has not a feeling in the world for the young man who pursues her, she uses him for whatever cash value he can provide, he is a milking cow. The young man neglects his meek sister who provides for them, and sprints down the path towards ruin. Will he be saved?
Scores for silent films can be fairly crucial, a piano accompanist is often no good, especially for highly expressionistic material like this. This was made most clear to me when listening to old Frank Borzage western shorts and hearing an ole time banjo accompaniment. The accompaniment whilst I was watching Jujiro was a duel between experimental electronic musicians Matthew Bourne and the Birdman of Alkijazz. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
A strong-willed young peasant girl becomes the affection of two men. (186 mins.)
“ Roman Polanski's marvel. Why Tess doesn't trust in herself more is an eternal mystery. The character that I really connect with is Angel Clare, a reminder that young men often fail to be natural, being spoiled by abstract ideas. A sorrowful reminder. Contains several Elysian moments. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
An evil force from a 1000 years in the future begins to destroy an idyllic paradise, where the citizens are in perfect harmony with nature. (78 mins.)
“ Gandahar gets compared with Time Masters a lot, because both films involve a similar plot device (don't worry I won't spoil that!). I think that whereas Time Masters is light on animation, but with a copper-bottomed story, Gandahar is a feast of animation, but relatively speaking hasn't got a particularly memorable story. The animation is very smooth and has, at times, a devotion that reminds me of the paintstaking early experiments in film animation, such as Gertie the Dinosaur (1914).
What it is very successful at doing is creating a genuinely alien environment where people live in harmony with nature and there's a particularly inventive xenoecology.
Agent Sylvain (archangel would be more appropriate, somewhat less M.I.B. !) is called into action when metal robots attack the borderlands and threaten to destroy peaceful Gandahar. Alone he travels out into the unknown, there to find romance and adventure and to save Gandahar. This sort of cinema once was and can never be again. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
A lonely barfly falls in love with a married bar singer. (120 mins.)
“ The struggle against barbarism is what I take from this movie. How to get out of bed every morning and do more than just exist. Karrer loves a singer from the local bar, but she finds him a drag and wants to try for success. The key point about this film is that Karrer's hopelessness, his barbarism, comes from within, it is not of his environment.
Damnation will be remembered for many years to come because of an iconic scene in the Bar Titanik where the lady croons, in my opinion, more hauntingly than Marlene Dietrich.
It's a film in black and white with long takes, and I was first drawn in by the glasses in the tavern of all things, piled up on the bar, just like a Sebastian Stosskopf painting bought to life. Bela Tarr was absolutely not averse to lingering on such things. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Historical evocation of Ludwig, king of Bavaria, from his crowning in 1864 until his death in 1886, as a romantic hero... (235 mins.)
“ Visconti's epic about the high-strung King of Bavaria is summed up neatly by the movie poster, "Ludwig. He loved women. He loved men. He did not care what the world thought. ... He was the world". I have the poster from the 1983 re-release (cut to the director's taste this time) and it's my favourite poster, it has Romy Schneider's Sissi superimposed on Ludwig's forehead. In the movie Ludwig loves his cousin Sissi the Empress of Austria, but although she was fond of him, she did not want to be the object of his amour fou. The politicians prefer to run the country themselves, enabling his baroque indulgences in the countryside. An oversensitive man it appears he never managed to sleep with a woman, being altogether too awestruck. Romy Schneider and Helmut Berger made perfect choices, and Visconti's opulence deeply impresses as always. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
An unhappy middle-aged banker agrees to a procedure that will fake his death and give him a completely new look and identity - one that comes with its own price. (106 mins.)
“ Seconds is one of the great psychological horror movies. Many have dreamed that if they could only rejuvenate their bodies, they could relive their youth properly. The revelation here is that your mind grows into decrepitude just as your body does, and your spirit fades. Now if that's not horror, I want to know what is!
I do not like to fawn overly regarding actors as I'm very suspicious of charm, however this movie contains one of the great acting performances from Rock Hudson as an old man in a young body.
Perhaps my favourite scene is a pansexual gathering of folks trampling grapes in a huge vat, youth lost, a paradise that never could have been, never achieved. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
A man takes up residence with a mysterious marquis and is soon persuaded to enter into an asylum for preventative therapy. Things are not what they seem, and the marquis may be even more sinister than what the young man may've predicted. (118 mins.)
“ When Jan Svankmajer introduced this film he announced that art was dead, and that it was no longer possible to produce art. This sort of malaise permeates Sílení / Lunacy. Svankmajer shows two forms of organising humans, either a Draconian one where people are severely punished for their own good, or one where people are given freedom to do whatever they want. These are shown as two forms of treatment in a mental asylum. Svankmajer's idea is that under the Western liberal system we have inherited the worst aspects of both systems. We are encouraged to be free and behave just how we want, and then punished when we do so. I think the idea is also that this system is the enemy of art. You can produce art under a highly disciplined system, suffer the throes of apprenticeship, and produce the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, or you can freely express yourself without having to suffering absurd puritanical critical reaction.
Live action asylum scenes are interspersed with stop motion animation of lumps of meat cavorting. You may find these particularly hard to bear! ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
“ The Cremaster Cycle concerns very simply the human lifecycle, the development and senescence of the individual. Matthew Barney is someone who is fundamentally in connection with this process, with its baroqueness and shock. Cremaster 3 is the most substantial and well regarded, this is the adult phase, where potential is realised or squandered, where the Entered Apprentice cheats in his development by casting an ashlar (they are meant to be carved), where the Architect completes his legacy. Cremaster 4 is the most heady, and it's sketching out of adolescence made me relive that intenself frustrating, emotional, and sensual time. Cremaster 5 is about elegy, about the crystallisation of potential, about ossification and death. Cremaster 1 marvels in the sheer mystery of creation. Drawing Restraint 9 acts as some sort of codicil, marvelling in the sacrament of love between two people, the most important part of the lifecycle.
There is no-one working in film who has anything remotely like the vision of Matthew Barney. Unfortunately I have a feeling he's mastered film and moved onto other territories, since De Lama Lamina he's been involved in what sound like absolutely staggering pieces of performance art. Blood of Two, a performance from 2009 sounds like it would have been the watch of a lifetime. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
A Lizard in a Woman's Skin
A young woman is accused of murdering her debauched neighbor after dreaming it. Was she set up, or did she really do it? (104 mins.)
“ This movie actually contains in it a very detailed copy of one of the worst and most unusual nightmares I ever had. For those of you that have watched it, it's the vivisection scene. It's an anxiety dream I had when I was a scientist, albeit I was not involved in vivisection, however for me it represented I think my unease at the disregard for the sanctity of life that science has. Quite an unreal coincidence I'm sure you'll agree. I'm mad for colourful movies with dream scenes, so you'll not find it unreasonable that this great London-set giallo makes it to my list. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
A woman in an unhappy relationship takes refuge with a friend's family on holiday in Tuscany. (100 mins.)
“ Unrelated is about a group of wealthy English people on holiday in Tuscany. An uncomfortably realistic parade of emotional retardation is on show. Joanna Hogg's film is more convincing than anything I've seen from Mike Leigh who specialises in these type of movies about Brits. Anna is the unrelated one, she has no family, and is unlikely to, perhaps missing the boat, her friend Verena appears to have made a ghastly compromise with her marriage to the pompous George. All of their emotional existences are buried deep. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Carefully picked scenes of nature and civilization are viewed at high speed using time-lapse cinematography in an effort to demonstrate the history of various regions. (43 mins.)
“ Chronos is the least famous of a genre of hypnotic time-lapse films such as Baraka, Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi and Anima Mundi. It's the most formal and academic, made by Reggio's cinematographer, Ron Fricke, branching out on his own, literally a meditation on the passing of time over the aeons. Michael Stearn's soundtrack is staggering, and he even created an instrument to make the sounds he required for it. This film invokes awe. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
You, the Living
You, the Living is a film about humankind, its greatness and its baseness, joy and sorrow, its self-confidence and anxiety, its desire to love and be loved. (95 mins.)
“ The only movie that has caused me to laugh so hard at the cinema that I have fallen off of my seat. I feel that this is a less severe version of Andersson's earlier Songs From The Second Floor, which was holier-than-thou and overtly religious. You, the Living is a pageant composed of vignettes on the subject of angst, egotism and hypocrisy, politically, socially, and inside relationships. He's managed to turn self-pity into an art-form. Politically speaking, something that Andersson goes back to quite a lot is a section of the Swedish ruling elite's warm attitude to National Socialism.
It's also a very pretty movie, with what I'd call a Whistlerian feel for hue, chroma, and colour combinations. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Le signe du lion
A French-American in Paris lives by sponging off his working friends, and throws a party using borrowed money when his rich American aunt dies, believing firmly in his horoscope. (103 mins.)
“ I haven't been through the archives and programme notes from the time, nor do I know what the production schedule was, but some claim that this was the first French New Wave film. It was shot in 1959, but apparently did not make it's screen debut for a while longer. I'm more interested in the shooting date, because obviously film history is about influences, and categorising this as being in anyway influenced by say Breathless would be going wrong.
I feel kind of guilty that this isn't higher up because I'm fascinated by fate and I wish I was more mystic. Pierre Wesselrin, an American dreamer, a musician, a sponger, lives in Paris. Through a combination of bad circumstances quashing his heretofore unprecedented luck, he ends up a vagrant on the streets of Paris. But even this as it turns out, is just another facet of his luck.
I kind of like how the stars conspire to cradle Wesselrin for his life. I like how he's got this one song inside him that he has to get out, a realistic picture of how a person's creativity normally is, he's not someone who can knock off a piano quintet before dinnertime. He reminds me of Giuseppe Tartini, a baroque composer who is basically known for one piece, the Devil's Trill, which came to him in a dream.
He's a blithe, clumsy, but generous individual, whose journey in this movie astonishes me. I kind of see the machinery of fate, and how it destroys some and elevates others, and it leaves me speechless.
The movie is a great insight into Rohmer's later works. Although this movie is decidedly more jazzy in style, in a wider aspect ratio, and less conversational, there are future echoes of his mature work, and along with Rivette, he basically outs himself as a mystic, something which you can only glimpse in movies like The Green Ray. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
(1995 Short Film)
“ The most intoxicating of Lewis Klahr's collage shorts that I have seen. A night-blossoming alcoholic noir dream set to moonlight and "Lullaby" from Stravinsky's 1919 version of "The Firebird" Suite. Lewis is a collector-supremo of ephemera, he gets cut-outs from old magazines, comic books, and odd little found items and animates them using stop motion photography. Altair is set in the post-WWII era (the Bernstein recording of Stravinsky would put it at 1957 if used alone), and is full of strange glamour, romance, power, luxury, and pain in the night, images of cocktail menus from the day, and passé liquor bottles fly by (Old Forester being the most evocative for me). False Aging from 2008 comes off as the most meaningful, heartfelt, and worthy of Klahr's films, but Altair is where my heart is at. One of the great things about Klahr's films is that he shows off his taste in music which ranges all over the place from Rap to Ravel and always seems to be just right. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future. (146 mins.)
“ I'm selling ice-cream on a hot summer's day again, but anyway:
The movie works pretty much straight up, as a haunted house movie, and so I've always loved it since I was a kid. As always with Kubrick, there's more going on, and the movie seems to be a comment about history and the imperial attitudes which wiped out Indian civilizations. The conflict between Danny and his father, between someone who expresses himself via drawings, and someone who expresses himself via writing is mirrored by native American Indian populations, who often wrote in pictures (as an example the beautiful Lakota Winter Counts), and the colonists who were more abstract. I absolutely love the soundtrack, including the elements from Ligeti and Penderecki, composers I love.
The whole movie is really creepy. If you can believe it, most of it was filmed in England. Everything about the movie is right really, it's embarassingly brilliant. Top quality juju. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
The Music of Chance
Two men face the consequences of gambling after playing with men beyond their league. (98 mins.)
“ So I think you can just take this film straight up if you want, a weird story of two unlikely friends meeting up durng some sort of Ozzie-style walkabout time and getting themselves into one helluva mess.
It's an adaptation of a Paul Auster novel which very much takes its own tack. I once heard someone describe how they hated living someone else's dream, at the time they were talking about how they were living the the dreams of Cheney and Bush. The two drifters, Nashe and Pozzi, here live out the dreams of rich men Flower and Stone. The creepiest point of the film is when Flower and Stone show the two their model city. That's what this film is about really for me, the idea that all the structures we have in place, are the dreams of other people. That's nice if it's a nice dream - Georigan types wanted to create paradise on earth when building, created sanatoria where the mentally ill were treated with music and painting therapy (a sweeping generalisation). ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
“ Acéphale means headless. This film is one of a truly revolutionary movement, the Zanzibar films. It must have been one helluva thing to be an artist or student in Paris in the late 60s. To fructesce in such a crucible of ideas and belief! For me the pinnacle of this stuff, of pure cinema, is Zanzibar. Zanzibar was a movement at the time with people like Serge Bard, Philippe Garrel, Jackie Raynal, and Patrick Deval. These guys believed in change and revolution and not just political revolution, but personal revolution, "it is no longer enough to just be educated and reasonable", is a phrase that comes up in Acéphale. A film of Serge Bard is literally called, "Detruisez-vous", a cry to "Destroy yourself".
I feel (rather like was pointed out with the protagonist in Can You Bake A Cherry Pie? - which is on the list as well) that I have too much of my energy trapped in my head, so Acéphale was a welcome release to me, and instantly became one of my very favourite films. The actual footage in the movie involves folk ridding themselves of self-consciousness (a human aberration), and becoming animals, modern people are shown living in caves they have created, warming themselves with fires, going mad in the forest.
I felt so unburdened by this film, primal, sexual. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
The Red and the White
In 1919, Hungarian Communists aid the Bolsheviks' defeat of Czarists, the Whites. Near the Volga, a... (90 mins.)
“ A very simple movie about the fight between monarchists and revolutionaries in Civil War era Russia. Really very much more timeless than that though. In the ancient Christian versions of the tales of Arthur, God would help guide the lance of the righteous knight against the wicked knight. In the Red and the White randomness is the key, life and death happens according to whether someone turns left or right, hides or doesn't. It highlights that in war there is never any justice. The camera goes on a random walk through the random violence. The whole movie is a distillation of this point. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
A band of medieval mercenaries take revenge on a noble lord who decides not to pay them by kidnapping the betrothed of the noble's son... (128 mins.)
“ Not typically seen as a comedy, but it makes me laugh my head off. I would claim that the effect is intentional. All Verhoeven's movies are survivalist, they're about riding the tiger's back in a mad world. This one is the quintessence of his auteurial preoccupations. It's a bit of a romp around an area of Mediaeval Europe. What I like is that there's a group dynamic going on with all the cast, it's rare that a director can tap into not just a performance from an actor, but the group atmosphere and social manipulation. Rutger Hauer as Martin is having a whale of a time, a social genius manipulating his group as if they were his toys. It comes off a bit like a game of musical chairs, but where anyone without a seat when the music stop dies a nasty death. I can hear Verhoeven laughing in the darkness.
I would point out that there is a rape scene in the movie, which to many people will mean it's a no-go. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
A young Catholic priest from Boston confronts bigotry, Naziism, and his own personal conflicts as he rises to the office of cardinal. (175 mins.)
“ Right up there in terms of opulence, The Cardinal is a lavish Preminger epic with no expense spared. At a running time of three hours it takes a relatively deep dive into a lot of religious issues of consequence and there's a great turn from Romy Schneider, as magnetic as ever. It's based on the life of Cardinal Francis Spellman and there was considerable liaison with the Catholic Church over the details of the film. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as distress call, their landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform. Continuing their journey back to Earth with the attacked crew having recovered and the critter deceased, they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun. (117 mins.)
“ I always like the idea that Alien played on male fear of pregnancy, with the chestbursters, and of rape with the facehuggers. Ultimately it's about as disturbing a film as I have seen. I think it can do what it wants to in terms of violence without morally offending because the perpetrator is an animal. Similar acts performed by humans would be unfilmable acts of sadism.
You could well elaborate on one of Barthes' theories regarding intertextuality, "the death of the Author", with a look at the origins of Alien, which are that writer Dan O'Bannon basically looted all the great science fiction movies to make this one.
It's probably one of the few films there are left that would have me checking the windows are shut and the doors are locked. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Kiss Me Deadly
A doomed female hitchhiker pulls Mike Hammer into a deadly whirlpool of intrigue, revolving around a mysterious "great whatsit." (106 mins.)
“ Kiss Me Deadly is an extreme noir from the 50s. Mike Hammer, private detective, burrows his way into a rabbit hole of an investigation for little more reason than because the authorities have told him not to. He's a sadist and a bully, his secretary is involved in a twisted love story with him. But somehow he seems to care about a dead woman with a penchant for Christina Rossetti poems and scratching around in his rotten head, who he meets only in a flash. A dark movie where everything is wrong, even the credits scroll in the wrong direction. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Brilliant researchers Lillian Reynolds and Michael Brace have developed a system of recording and playing back actual experiences of people... (106 mins.)
“ Brainstorm is an indecently beautiful and deliciously scary slice of 80s aspirational cinema. Chris Walken and Natalie Wood co-star as married scientists Michael and Karen Brace, who are part of a team that invent a device that records and can re-transmit experiences. The film looks great, every shot is carefully framed, and an effort made. When Michael is in hospital, he has bright red jello on his lunch tray, there's a Vasarely serigraph and some great abstract sculpture in the corporate environment. Everything is controlled. I would love to know how they got some of the shots they did.
Even though it's such a beautiful movie, there's some nice messages there. One of which is about seeing yourself through the eyes of others, and rekindling lost love. I actually felt lucky to be alive watching the movie - at the time it was a long time since I had felt any such thing.
It's quite a reflexive movie in that the initial corporate use of the technology is to get someone to do a grand prix, and then peddle the sensorium of that, but the movie is also in many ways about experiencing something beautiful yourself, what it's like to live the life of a genius and feel true love.
I had suspected when watching Silent Running, particularly the opening glide over a quite artificial forest, that Trumbull loved "look" imagery, but I still wasn't prepared for Brainstorm. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
“ This is on my list for much the same reason as Lewis Klahr's Altair, it's a melange of post war glamour, mystery and murder set in a plush hotel, and it always seems like night-time. I feel a strange overwhelming sympathy for Lou Costello's character Freddie Phillips, an incompetent bellhop, always hoping that something good happens for him. There's some weird scenes set in a system of grottoes near the hotel that takes this to the next league of heartbroken nocturnal zaniness. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
The Night of the Hunted
A woman is taken to a mysterious clinic whose patients have a mental disorder in which their memories and identities are disintegrating as a result of a strange environmental accident. (87 mins.)
“ Rollin's films are somewhat marginal. I think this is because whilst the French are known as producers of emotionally intelligent arthouse movies, France doesn't spring to mind when exploitation movies are mentioned. Furthermore his films are sometimes pretty clever as well, he's genuinely not a hack. It doesn't help to get appreciation at the hoity toity cinematheques of the world if you're including hardcore porn in your films. La nuit des traquées comes in versions with and without (I've only seen the pared-down version), but even the truncated one is pretty steamy.
Given that most of the stars are from the porn movie industry, it's still a profoundly touching movie for me, it speaks of memory, existence and the nature of sex, and growing older, in a way that's emotionally penetrating. Given that it's not really natural fodder for the exploitation or arthouse crowd, it has somewhat fallen between two stools.
As a filmmaker Rollin gets a lot of kudos from me simply due to the fact that he can make one helluva good-looking film without any sort of appreciable budget.
I've got quite far without mentioning the plot, apologies. The rather minimal plot is just that a group of individuals are being kept in a prison that looks like just another a financial district skyscraper. They're subject to some sort of disease that leads to the erosion of their mental and physical faculties, and also abuse from the people controlling the facility. It's pretty allegorical, existential stuff.
IMDb reviewer Dries Vermuelen describes the key scene in the movie well: "That deterioration is not solely limited to the mind becomes painfully clear when they are served lunch and Catherine's unable to control her movements in trying to eat a spoonful of soup. It's also Catherine who gets to voice the filmmaker's compromise with the demands of commerce as she urges Elisabeth to get naked and hold her because sex is all they have left now that both mind and physical faculties have deserted them." ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Last Year at Marienbad
In a strange and isolated chateau, a man becomes acquainted with a woman and insists that they have met before. (94 mins.)
“ Often mentioned as a conundrum of a movie, the label always surprises me. Robbe-Grillet (along with fellow noveau roman writer/director Marguerite Duras) was a human being like you and me, and you can't wipe that out of your writing. This would make a very good double-bill with Detruire dit-elle, also on this list, both noveau roman films are about having the will to live, and the will to love. I have never seen anything by Duras and Robbe-Grillet that wasn't plain on the nose on my face. Maybe people are treating the films like thousand piece jigsaw puzzles of raindrops. But the solution is written on the box.
I talk of Robbe-Grillet, but Alain Resnais directed it for him. It's a story of a couple of people trying to remember where they met, in a massive castle full of indolent wealthy types. The game that appears, nim, is unlosable if you start second and know a simple mathematical formula.
Delphine Seyrig is undoubtedly one of the great beauties of cinema, and her presence is critical. I saw this movie whilst at university, and it made me realise the power of cinema, I could watch the camera go through the Marienbad corridors the whole night long. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
“ A wonderful short Soviet cartoon about a Ballerina who travels onboard a white steamer and sends the crew all a-fluster with her precarious and transcendent dancing. The towns at the start and end of the trip are reminiscent of the Miyzaki's riffs on Taiwan's Jiufen and Sweden's Visby for his movies Spirited Away and Kiki's Delivery Service. The music is by Schnittke and is choreographed with the cartoon. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Murder, My Sweet
After being hired to find an ex-con's former girlfriend, Philip Marlowe is drawn into a deeply complex web of mystery and deceit. (95 mins.)
“ This is one of those films that I used to stick in the player at low points, the cinema equivalent of comfort food. Even though I've seen it about a hundred times I'm absolutely struggling to relate back to you what the plot actually is, as it's so complicated, but also because I fundamentally don't care. It may strike as an odd comfort choice, what with all the thuggery and two-facing, but the movie is like a dream, Marlowe gets sapped a lot, but it doesn't really matter, anxiety diminishes a lot when everything seems pre-ordained. I guess what Marlowe is, is someone who is plucky in the face of whatever comes along, I like that. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Aguirre, the Wrath of God
In the 16th century, the ruthless and insane Don Lope de Aguirre leads a Spanish expedition in search of El Dorado. (93 mins.)
“ So I must sell the appeal of Aguirre, Wrath of God, what next, must I outline the appeal of chocolate? Are its delights so obscure?
Werner Herzog has always been fascinated by individuals who respond to their own obscure magnetic poles. Latterly he has maybe parodied himself by mythologising a penguin's departure from his group and wandering off into an icy desert, however in Aguirre the mojo is really pure. It opens with a group of conquistadores and slave porters carrying their armor and equipment over a vertiginous Andean pass, down to the jungle. It's less artifice, than a recording of performance art, a truly Herculean project. What drew men into the uncharted jungle? Popol Vuh's soundtrack is perfectly matched with Herzog's vision. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne
In 19th century London, a sex maniac sneaks into the engagement party of Dr. Henry Jekyll and Miss Fanny Osbourne, turning the event into a nightmarish whirlpool of murder and debauchery. (92 mins.)
“ There's an often-repeated story that Robert Louis Stevenson's wife read the first manuscript of Dr Jekyll, and threw it into the fire in disgust. Walerian Borowczyk's adaptation tries to be closer to the spirit of the burnt words. There's a scene in the movie where a metal tipped cane is introduced to party guests as having being the weapon used in child murders and a group of women caress it lovingly. It's another old dark house movie, though under Victorian gaslight. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Youth Without Youth
A love story wrapped in a mystery. Set in World War II Europe, a professor is changed by a cataclysmic event and explores the mysteries of life. (124 mins.)
“ Aha such a simple film, and so misunderstood, it's all in the title, what is it to live through your youth without that which is great about youth, which is to say young love, that exotic substance that makes sherbet and barbiturates seem positively bland. One pop of this tab and you wake up twelve months later. One should require a license to film in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and Coppola will be the fellow handing them out. He films in luxurious orange and teal, a much maligned colour palette, which again one should require a license for, with guess who handing out the licenses. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Set in the 25th century, the story centers around a man and a woman who rebel against their rigidly controlled society. (86 mins.)
“ The scenes where LUH wakes up THX from his control state and he asks her why are very beautiful to me. I think the movie has a really good grasp of the basic building blocks of human affection. I just think it's really pure and true to life. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
“ The movie starts off as Marguerite Duras's version of Last Year in Marienbad early on in the film. The characters are in an existential limbo, a comfort zone, staying in a hotel in the countryside that seems to be outside things somehow. There is the Marienbad feel initially that the characters need to break out by a supreme effort, that they need to have the will to love. They are perhaps Beckettian slouches, avoiding the local forest although they constantly resolve to go there; why go into the forest when we can stay in the park they reason. There definitely is that going on but more as well. It seems that some characters are able to exert psychological control on others. I think it all falls under the heading of the pitfalls of choosing to be childless and concentrating on sex. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Antoine and Helene drive to South France to return their kids from a holiday camp. The traffic is dense... (105 mins.)
“ Claude Debussy's Nuages (Clouds) forms the major soundtrack to this movie. Sometimes in life, you drift along making little progress, nothing makes sense, and things become inchoate, formless; there's a beauty to this, and a beauty to clouds of the same origin, that's what the Debussy music absolutely successfuly encapsulates, and it's what's happened to the lives of Antoine and Hélène, who might as well be bourgeois out of a Claude Chabrol movie.
They're travelling down to the Basque country during the French summer holiday rush to collect their children. The boredom of life, the obsolescence of masculinity, of spontaneity, of gender solidarity and camaraderie, all have taken their toll on Antoine. Men's understandings of their wives have generally been required to be an act of intuition and empathy, perhaps on the superstition that talking about matters as sacred as love would be to smash them. Lovers maybe, should talk through their eyes. Antoine has lost contact with this empathic bridge. One example of this is his ill-founded jealousy, which Hélène half-heartedly explains, as if talking to herself.
The trip brings catastrophe, a separation, and for Antoine a connection with a more atavistic reality. As with a lot of noir there's a sense that the presentation of this movie is somewhat unreliable, it's like a dream that you wake from and can't distinguish from reality.
Red Lights is also a very funny movie in a dark way. There's also a Christmas flashback scene that took my breath away, and I felt was quite a privilege to see. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
(1992 Short Film)
Reworked and colored images of people playing at the seashore. (14 mins.)
“ I like landscapes that are symbolic particularly in a religious context, and so I have a vice where I end up comparing movies to Caspar David Friederich paintings. But I really think that's appropriate with this film. It's simply scenes of people on a beach by a cliff and a glittering sea. The director uses superimpositions so that sometimes the people look like they're walking in the sky, and also lenses that bend the light, kind of like looking through pebbled glass. There's a sense of community in the film that's so much more beautiful than you can achieve via narrative. The thing about community is that it's about protecting each other from common threat, and there's that in this movie as well, threat from strange sea phenomena, gaping water maws and cresting wave walls where the people have vanished. Ferdinand Hodler's famous painting "The Night" may well be my favourite painting, and is all about a threat visiting people sleeping together in a large group. I get the same feeling from this movie. I suppose for me the ocean in the movie represents the afterlife, the unknown. People inhabit the shallows, but have only the vaguest understanding of the ocean and its depths. La Plage makes a Terrence Mallick film look like an exercise in brute force. It is so much more beautiful than real life that you could be forgiven for walling yourself up with your memories of it. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
An agit-prop documentary marking the death of Vietnamese nationalist leader Ho Chí Minh, using found footage to link his work to worldwide political movements including the Cuban revolution and resistance within the USA to the Vietnam war. (25 mins.)
“ 79 Springs is a Cuban communist film, which presents a chronology of Vietnamese conflict scoped out around the lifespan of Ho Chi Minh. The dates of the establishment of particular Asian sub-cliques of the international Communist party are shown with references such as 32 springs.
Ho Chi Minh is shown as the will of the Vietnamese personified, he fights off the Japanese fascists, French colonialists, and finally the American imperialists. This is the perspective of history you will never see elsewhere, it is a celluloid protest. I was not alive at the time and I will never know the truth of these wars. What I do know is that this film 79 primaveras, is a film of pure belief.
The health warning is that the film contains footage of Vietnamese children with napalm burns that is too extreme to make it into Western movies, especially from this era, without censorship. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Mother Dao, the Turtlelike
In a span of ninety minutes the film aims to show how the Netherlands administered its colony as a colonial... (90 mins.)
“ This is a found footage cine-poem which uses footage from literally hundreds of documentaries shot in the Dutch East Indies between 1912 and 1933. Over the images there is a soundtrack which combines sound effects to match the previously silent images, and some poetical narration.
The movie is quite shocking at times, there's a callousness and disregard for life and saftey that reminds you that the past definitely was a very different place. The crocodile cull is perhaps the most extraordinary thing I have ever seen. This is where totally unprotected natives with long poles are made to corrall a thrashing bask of crocs into a shallow area of the river to kill them. Members of local tribes don't walk around parading the franchises of western sports teams! They're more like the type of people that Joseph Conrad wrote about, primal. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
(2008 Short Film)
A family's place in the wilderness, outside of time; free-range animals and children, junk and nature...
“ Non-narrative film about boys and their dogs spassing about on a farm in what looks like the middle of nowhere, playing with machinery and masks, accessing primal states. This makes me nostalgic for my childhood. The title says it all. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
The Passion of Darkly Noon
After the death of his strictly religious parents, forlorn young Darkly gets lost in the woods. A truck driver... (100 mins.)
“ Darkly (Brendan Fraser) is a guy who escapes, dazed and confused, from some sort of catastrophe at a sect hideaway deep in the forest. Confused between the ultra-repressive sexual mores of his upbringing, his attraction for Callie (Ashley Judd), and his jealousy towards the relationship between Callie and Clay (Viggo Mortensen), he eventually reaches a state of huge anger and metanoia. Very beautiful movie with some great surreal moments. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
(1967 TV Series)
Traces last 5 years of the life of Frederick Delius through the eyes of a young composer called Eric Fenby.
“ Ken Russell manages to make a movie without bombast and excess, indeed a disciplined highly moving and brilliant film. Who would have thought it after watching some of his quite insane and sprawling later work?
It's part of a series of movies he made about famous composers. Here the tension comes from the relationship between disabled and pagan Delius, a wracked libertine and his amanuensis Eric Fenby who believes in his music, but is a sensitive and religious man. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
In this black-and-white Hungarian version of James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice, a wife and her lover plot to kill her older husband. (155 mins.)
“ The point where your temperance crumples, when the current takes your legs away and errancy takes over and shivering starts, that's what this movie is about. There's only a handful of movies that I've watched that have good sex scenes, this is one, and Pont de Varsòvia would be another good example. Pont de Varsòvia has caring experienced sex that breaks my heart, Szenvedély has the animal type.
It's a version of The Postman Always Rings Twice that distils the lust aspect. The very last few frames go a bit awry, like some Hungarian league of decency analogue hoodwinked in a biblical fortune cookie, but these can be effectively ignored.
People with an interest in Béla Tarr may note that this is a film shot in an extremely similar manner to his later works. I was in an audience at a film festival where he introduced this work (this and American Torso were his selections as favourite Hungarian movies), and he suggested that he had a creative role in the making of Szenvedély, although he was typically reticent to flesh his comment out. Tarr later directed The Man From London, which seems to be some effort to capture the same sort of pulpy feel and emotional strength. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Young nobleman Baron Sergio Giuramondo, after discovering that his bride-to-be was the king's mistress... (112 mins.)
“ This is a film about a man who is good, beautiful, capable, and intelligent. Although he has all the capabilities to master it, life disappoints him ferociously and so he withdraws into a monastic existence. A woman tries to see if her sex appeal will outweigh his faith in God and the strength of his vows, but fails. Very plangent for me. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
An uncompromising, visionary architect struggles to maintain his integrity and individualism despite personal, professional and economic pressures to conform to popular standards. (114 mins.)
“ Ayn Rand is probably the most hated intellectual that there has ever been, certainly amongst liberal forumites. There was once an idea of Godwin's Law, "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.". For a while Rand replaced Hitler as the person you would get associated with if you ever got into vituperative discussions. The Fountianhead is an author-approved adaptation of her famous novel, and has long been a favourite of hep film viewers who appreciate the movie in an ironic manner.
My viewing is not ironic whatsoever, though I acknowledge huge contrivances that Rand goes to to make her points, including creating a newspaper, that has not one, but two architecture critics, involved in a rivalry. I also do not subscribe to or condone Objectivism, which has influenced many huge scumbags, not least Milton Friedman.
I've always tried to save things from the fire though, and just as you will see Leni Riefenstahl's Tiefland on the list, I believe that Rand isn't for burning. Hopefully the following point doesn't lead to burnt fingers, but I think Rand's value is that she has an appreciation of self, as something that is not subordinate to any collective, as something worth exploring and nurturing. The central character Howard Roark is a genius architect who makes things on his own terms and has an integrity of self that is inspirational to me. Good things can happen when people come together, as you can see in any Busby Berkeley musical number. For people for whom the only value in life comes through amplification in a group, the film is probably more mystifying than the Voynich Manuscript. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?
Zee is walking up and down Manhattan streets, talking to herself and to the husband who has just left her... (90 mins.)
“ Can She Bake A Cherry Pie? is a true gem, a sweet, quirky, happy, upbeat, talky, fun, intelligent, artistic, edifying, and visually beautiful New York romantic comedy, with interesting and unusual characters.
This beautiful film is about a relationship between two mismatched misfits. It's charming in that neither of the leads are stereotypical romcom characters, Eli (Michael Emil – director Henry Jaglom's brother) even has a comb over! Here's one film where a lack of physical beauty refreshingly doesn't equate to stupidity or subordination.
Zee is a kooky and extremely emotional woman, who suffers from paranoia and relationship withdrawal symptoms. She describes Emil, almost a polar opposite, as follows, "Well, you seem to have a lot of energy and it gets stuck in your forehead… it's like thinking instead of flowing". I also like about Eli's character that he's got such a rich back history in terms of relationships, and things he's tried in life, and given up. The film is appropriately nostalgic regarding this personal tapestry.
There's a lot of ways in which this movie is very different from the normal romantic movie, it really acknowledges many things that Hollywood has always denied, that men have emotional needs on the same scale as women and are actually the weaker sex in empirical terms (more likely to suffer from mental illness, more likely to suffer physical injury, shorter lifespan etc – Zee refers to this directly when reading a magazine article in bed), also that your life can alter abruptly, like a set change at a play, where your plans go out of the window and even any sense of fate, it even lets a woman have an uninterrupted monologue where she talks about herself, where she's not an object, or in feminist terms "the other". Zee gets to sing about her love for Sara Lee puddings at one point, just not on the male agenda at all. Jaglom was all for this sort of thing and has gone on record to say, "Hollywood so neglects women's real stories and real lives and indulges in male fantasies about women that have little to do with the reality of women's lives". ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
In the Alpine village of Tolzbad in the 1800s, the townsfolk talk quietly and restrain their movements lest they incur avalanches... (100 mins.)
“ Where better to escape than the mountains? Guy Maddin latterly became overtly auto-biographical in his work and I think the magic went, but his early features, are brilliant homages to old movies, Bergfilme here. This started a whole kick for me, Der Heilige Berge, Das Blaue Licht, and Die weiße Hölle vom Piz Palü. The duel scene is particularly memorable. The peculiar situation in this film is that everyone in the village up in the mountains, Tolzbad, has to be quiet the whole time in order to avoid avalanches. The situation is allegorical regarding repressed sexuality. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
A Man Escaped
Captured French Resistance fighter Andre Devigny awaits a certain death sentence for espionage in a stark Nazi prison... (99 mins.)
“ I had initially found Bresson absolutely impenetrable, and carried on with his films pig-headedly as I thought that there must be something in them for people to carry on so about them. I believe I must have attempted to watch this film at least ten times before I managed to get to the end. Which is not to say that others have found the film inaccessible, but I did!
However on the umpteenth watch I fell madly in love with the film. It portrays a man who is captured by the Nazis and condemned to death. In prison he carefully plots his escape.
So it's a film about the power of will, the level of will and concentration and discipline he requires to escape is exacting. He must also have faith and trust in others whom he can only ever exchange a few words with every day, or communicate through laborious morse. So it's about how difficult it is for humans to come together and trust one another, how tortuous it is to escape one's prison, but that this escape becomes practically a sublimation. It is a truly astonishing film and I'm so glad I stuck with it. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx
“ This had a gallery exhibition at BFI Southbank. It's a collage film made from the old east german national archives. You could look at it either as a vision of utopia or as an eerie false record of a failed state. I've come to believe that, in the developed countries, we're victims of prosperity, in that the spirit of competition takes over from the spirit of cooperation once there's food in everyone's mouth and a roof over over everyone's head. That's essentially why communism can't work. But it must have been a glorious dream for many for a time, and this is a record. What an amazing thing it must have been to tread the streets, incandescent with an ideal. ” - oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddie_Merckx