Matthew Kleebauer (dated 2008)
26 Nov 2009
Matthew Kleebauer (dated 2008)
They ain't plays, they ain't books, they certainly ain't movies, they're films. And do you know what films are? They're for people who don't like movies. "Mad Max", that's a movie. "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly", that's a movie. "Rio Bravo", that's a movie. "Rumble Fish", that's a fuckin' movie"
Clarence Worley in True Romance
I was describing The Wild Bunch to a friend and being the hyperbole monster that I am I went into such detail and got so carried away that my e-mails started becoming a little long-winded, so I thought I'd take the best of them and share them with a wider audience. I fucking love The Wild Bunch. Convention may state that Citizen Kane is the greatest film ever made by an American director, but if one were to argue that The Wild Bunch is superior to it in every respect I'd certainly second that motion. Like Kane, it is a film for people who love film. The technique, particularly in regards to editing, is so breathtaking you'll find yourself reaching for the DVD case to check that this film was really made in 1969. It's painful to watch modern action movies after you've seen this, as director Sam Peckinpah took Arthur Penn's mantle (Bonnie And Clyde, made two years earlier, is very much a spiritual cousin to the Bunch) of using the French New Wave's rapid cutting style and combining it with ultra-realistic violence and raised it to a whole new level. Peckinpah famously fired his special effects technician on the first day of shooting. The man in question, a Hollywood veteran had worked on countless Westerns and brought along what he considered more than enough dynamite and squibs (small explosive charges mounted with fake blood which are used to replicate bullet hits) to last the entire production. Peckinpah got through them all in one day, which tells you every thing you need to know about The Wild Bunch and it's relation to prior Westerns.
The plot is incredibly, and even deceptively simple. An ageing gang of outlaws, situated on the Texas-Mexico border during the Mexican Revolution (the film is set in 1913, the revolution began in 1910) plot one last heist, a bank robbery that begins the film. And what a beginning it is, as the leader of the Bunch Pike Bishop is ambushed by his former partner Thornton and a gang of bounty hunters, resulting in a bloody shootout that even today is shocking to watch. Pike's first line of dialogue, "If they move, kill em!" sets the scene perfectly, but even that doesn't prepare you for the sheer horror of seeing women and children mown down in the street by indiscriminate bullets. The brutal violence, coupled with the intricate editing and use of slow motion was completely revolutionary at the time. The Hays code was a set of censorship guidelines that Hollywood had adhered to since 1938 designed to prevent explicit violent or sexual content being depicted onscreen, but had been abolished in 68 to make way for the MPAA ratings system that remains to this day (G, M, NC-17, R, X etc). Peckinpah, like many of his contemporaries, used this period of uncertainty to push the limits of acceptability as far as possible, and it is safe to say that no film before hand, American or otherwise, had produced such violent and disturbing imagery (during the one and only test screening of the film allegedly more than 30 people fled the theatre in disgust, some even stopping to vomit in the alley behind the cinema.) To quote the great man himself, he wanted to give audiences "some idea of what it is to be gunned down" so much so that at one point during filming he got so exasperated and fired a revolver into a nearby wall, screaming at his crew "That's the effect I want!" Sadly, the controversy surrounding the films violence (and I'm sorry, but anyone who doesn't see the merit in destroying the previously existing façade of sanitised and bloodless gun fights and replacing it with something more representative of what the West was really like, bloody, brutal and sickening is a moron) would overshadow the rest of the film, as beneath the surface lies a surprisingly tender and powerful film about friendship, love, guilt and betrayal.
Thornton you see, had been a member of Pike's gang back in the day, but in one of a number of flashbacks that gives the characters a wealth of back-story we learn that when the law finally caught them Pike abandoned him, fleeing a whorehouse through an open window and betraying his partner who has now been told he must capture Pike or return to prison. Pike is a man apparently without morals, but events of the film, particularly once the Bunch travel to Mexico and witness the debauchery and corruption the Revolution has allowed to conspire, and it's profound effect on one member of the Bunch, the Mexican Angel in particular, changes him forever. The Bunch make an uneasy alliance with the dishonest warlord Mapache, but after Angel is captured and tortured for trying to steal some guns to return to his village (Mapache has been stealing food and money from the people and giving it to his troops) they decide to do the right thing for once ("We're not gonna get rid of anybody! We're gonna stick together, just like it used to be! When you side with a man, you stay with him! And if you can't do that, you're like some animal, you're finished!") and face Mapache down in the films glorious final battle, one of the most outstanding sequences in the history of cinema. The moment when Pike makes his fatal decision (a wordless encounter with a young Mexican prostitute in which Pike's self-disgust and shame almost leaps off the screen at you) and the Bunch's "last walk" as they leave for Aqua Verde to reclaim Angel from Mapache, a sequence entirely improvised on location, will stun you with their tragic grandeur. These are men who know they are facing insurmountable odds and certain death, but take them on anyway. They know there is no place left for them in society, and that their way of life is almost over ("We've got to start thinking beyond our guns. Those days are closing fast."). The question that will haunt you throughout the film is not if these characters who you have grown to love so much will die, but how they will die. This certainty is obvious to those onscreen as well, who become aware of the fact that they can still find some final vestige of honour before their inevitable demise.
Peckinpah, who hadn't made a film in three years after being fired from his previous production, seems painfully aware that, like the Bunch, he needs to make "one good score and then back off", as the entire film has the intensity and determination of a man who knows that this may be his final opportunity to get it right. This is undoubtedly his masterpiece, and tragically instead of opening up all the doors that were previously denied to him it merely narrowed his options further, as the remainder of his career was confined to violent genre movies with very few exceptions. Like the Bunch themselves he is a relic, a walking contradiction, a brutal and violent mercenary who could be truly horrifying to those closest to him (his lifelong alcoholism frequently led to incidents of him beating up his wifes and girlfriends) yet he was a charming and tender man who won humanitarian awards for his charity work and as a child was mocked by his relatives and friends for his love of poetry and the theatre. Though this desciption may make it sound bleak, it is full of warmth and camaraderie and is much an ode to friendship as anything else. The acting throughout is truly stunning. William Holden, playing Pike, Peckinpah's alter-ego right down to the moustahce, deserves mention in the same breath as De Niro in Raging Bull as one of the greatest performances in cinematic history. So much angst and pain is expressed, sometimes without words (a casual glance, a toss away of an empty whiskey bottle) that his tortured expression will stay with you for days. The rest of the cast all give career-defining performances, particularly Ernest Borgnine (one moment in particular, his anguished cry of "Pike!" during the final bloody massacre contians more emotion in that single word that some actors can fit into 2 hours of screen time) but this is Peckinpah's movie, and even if he was never able to scale these heights again let us at least be grateful he managed it once. The Wild Bunch, to papraphrase Clarence, is a fuckin' movie, and one of the greatest ever at that.
The most frustrating thing about Gigantic is that, somewhere underneath the surface is a perfectly decent comedy just screaming to be let out. Sadly, said film is buried under layer after layer of quirky, self-indulgent dialogue, and other irrelevant indie affectations, resulting in an intriguing and unique concept quickly becoming tiresome and irritating. No film with John Goodman in it can ever be all bad (except Blues Brothers 2000), but then no film with a character called Happy who mostly reads magazine ads can aspire to be anything than an idiosyncratic piece of fluff, irrespective of the strength of it’s individual performances.
Gigantic tells the story of Brian (the always excellent Paul Dano), a mattress salesman whose lifelong obsession is to adopt a Chinese baby. Brian’s world is thrown into upheaval by the arrival of the aforementioned Happy (the always beautiful Zooey Deschanel), the unusual rich girl that most lonely and wan guys like Brian dream will one day walk into their life, but Happy is more like an adolescent fantasy than anything resembling a real human being (sample line of dialogue, “Do you have any interest in having sex with me.
The last few years have seen several films of this ilk (Little Miss Sunshine, Juno) containing characters that dangerously flirt between appearing genuine one moment, and a focus-grouped attempt to define “hip” the next, but for her occasionally annoying speech patterns, and her tendency to say things no 16 year-old girl ever would, the difference between Juno MacGuff and Harriett “Happy” Lolly is like night and day. It’s almost as if first-time director Matt Aselton went through his perfectly acceptable first-draft and decided it wasn’t weird enough and had to up the ante. Stalkers? Check. Magic mushrooms? Check. Massage parlours? Check. A single believable exchange by characters you can relate to? Nowhere to be found. Sorry, but as far as disappointments go, this one is Gigantic.
Matthew Kleebauer Trailer:
After the back-to-back success of No Country For Old Men and Burn After Reading, the Coen Brothers suddenly find themselves occupying a unique and exalted position within Hollywood, one that has been denied them throughout their career. Critical darlings ever since their stunningly assured debut Blood Simple, mainstream success has long eluded them, but with two consecutive hits under their belt they find themselves being able to pick and choose the projects they want to make. Rather than waste their moment in the sun, they capitalised on it to make potentially the most autobiographical film of their career. A Serious Man is the tale of Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) a Jewish academic whose life begins to unravel in a modern day retelling of the book of Job. After an inexplicable prequel in which a 19th century peasant stumbles on an old Hasid who is possibly a Dybbuk, we move to Memphis and 1967. The setting may be more contemporary, but the subject matter is still slightly impenetrable. It may have been critically lauded for its many comic moments but make no mistake, A Serious Man is a serious film, surprisingly so in many scenes.
Unlike the two projects that preceded it, this is most definitely a film set within that unique place called the “Coenverse”. Technically there are few surprises, Roger Deakins again works as cinematographer and his wide-angled lens is always in the right place, and Carter Burwell’s minimalist score evokes his work on No Country. Thematically, all the usual hallmarks are there too. Naturalistic dialogue, sudden unexpected violence, bizarre and impenetrable dream sequences, and of course, Judaism. From the Yiddish prequel onwards, this is a film obsessed with its Jewish identity, and some portions may be hard for non-believers to appreciate. What is more surprising though, is that for the first time Joel and Ethan don’t appear to be viewing their upbringing with much in the way of affection. Gone is the affectionate ribbing of Walter Sopchek’s refusal to bowl on Shabbus in The Big Lebowski, the community that Larry and his family inhabit is stifling, repressive, and often incomprehensible. All of this adds up to make a rather unique entry into the Coen canon. It isn’t as moving and profound as Barton Fink or The Man Who Wasn’t There, nor as laugh-out-loud hilarious as Lebowski or Raising Arizona. The most obvious comparison in their body of work would be Fargo, and this feels slight by comparison. The warm humanist message of Marge Gunderson is one of the few times in their career where meaning is explicitly stated in one of their films. A Serious Man is far more ambiguous, even maddeningly so. When a movie spends ten minutes telling you a joke with no punch line don’t be surprised if said movie has no ending. A Serious Man is a witty, well-made and wonderfully acted little movie. Compared with the rest of 2009, it ranks as one of the best, but within the context of a career, it stands out as a serious disappointment.
Cast: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Fred Melamed,
Running Time: 105 minutes
Release Date: 20th November 2009
I remember growing up in a time when games consoles weren’t such an affordable luxury, but instead a symbol of prosperity. Owning a NES or a Sega Master-system normally meant your house had at least two bathrooms and one or both of your parents earned well above the minimum wage. If not then I hate to break it to you but… yours was probably nicked!
For those of us who could only dream of playing Super Mario, we had to use our imagination, playing with Woolworths own brand Transformers and most importantly Lego. Each year I’d get a new spaceship to construct, my dad would sit and watch as I meticulously followed the instruction, dreaming that one day his son would be a great engineer, or at least a mechanic. His disappointment is still apparent to this day. If I’d known though that I could off combined my love of cinema with my childhood toy of choice then who knows where I’d be now.
Below is a pick of the latest ‘Lego’ trailers for some of the most popular films of current time. Nerdy? Yes, Sad? Definitely, but still very entertaining.
The Dark Knight:
Hunger, the debut film from Turner prize winning artist Steve McQueen, tells with astonishing brevity and style the story of Bobby Sands and the hunger strike that he undertook in 1981 within the confines of the Long Kesh prison in Northern Ireland. Any film tackling such a polarising subject is bound to be controversial, not to mention relentlessly bleak and extremely difficult to watch. That is a given. What is not though, is that a first time filmmaker could produce something so astonishing, so overwhelming, that it immediately qualifies as one of the most significant British movies of all time. I use the word lightly, but this truly is a masterpiece. McQueen displays not only a preternatural command of his craft, but also a willingness to experiment, that should hopefully mean one day his name is mentioned in the same company as Tarkovsky, Bergman, and even Kubrick. Anyone who can find the beauty in a close-up on a bloodied knuckle, or a wall smeared in excrement clearly possesses a unique gift. This journey is not for the faint hearted, but those willing to take it will be rewarded in spades.
Hunger contains numerous moments of such beauty and exquisiteness that attempting to convey them verbally is a thankless task, but one sequence, the only dialogue-heavy scene in this remarkable movie, is already destined to become the stuff of legend. Sands meets with his Priest to discuss the impending strikes, and as they sit and smoke the camera remains perfectly still for well over ten minutes, one of the longest single shots in film history. This is no self-congratulatory pat on the back though, or empty moment of artistic pretension. The stillness and clarity that passes through Sands as he reaches the monumental decision to end his own life is captured perfectly. Plaudits too though have to go to Michael Fassbender for playing Sands. His commitment to the role is paramount, and the physical deterioration that he allows himself to endure to successfully convey the scale of Sands’ suffering is truly astonishing. I can only imagine the horror that his friends and family experienced during the films production as he literally allows himself to waste away. This is a performance that genuinely tests the limits of what the cinema is capable of, and the bravery and honesty of it is symptomatic of this film as a whole.
Hunger is a movie that goes beyond politics and religion, and reaches out to something far more important, our humanity. It isn’t interested in choosing sides; it empathises with everyone, successfully articulating the desperation and despair created by these extraordinary circumstances. In any situation where men are prepared to die for their political beliefs there are no winners, only losers, and McQueen captures this perfectly through the non-judgemental gaze of his camera. It is a breathtaking statement, a monumental achievement, and belongs to that rare-category of life-affirming cinema that reminds you why this is truly the most powerful art form known to man. There can be no higher praise than that.
Director: Steve McQueen
Welcome to a world without rules. So reads the tagline for The Dark Knight, and not since the phrase “This Time It’s War” adorned the poster for Aliens has a film been summarised so effectively. To the uninitiated, this is the sixth film to be made in the Batman franchise, and the second since Brits Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale were given the task of reinventing a series that had fallen away critically and commercially since Tim Burton first brought the Caped Crusader to the screen back in 1989. 2005’s Batman Begins was an impressively moody effort, but one that never really got out of second gear. Fortunately it appears that earlier film was merely a test run for Nolan and his collaborators, as this time they have surpassed it on every conceivable level. The Dark Knight represents a new apex for mass entertainment and for the art form of the film blockbuster in general. Not since James Cameron made Terminator 2: Judgement Day in 1991 has the personal and the public been intertwined to such a powerful degree. Be warned, despite the films 12 certificate, this might not be one for the kids.
In a summer where Batman’s position as our favourite superhero has been challenged by Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Hancock and Hellboy, it must have been tempting for Nolan to rest on his laurels, but it takes a brave man to turn what in the past has been little more than an excuse to print money into such a dark and intense political allegory. Make no mistake, The Dark Knight is fiercely contemporary, and over the course of two and a half glorious hours it takes in wire-tapping, RICO predicates, terrorism and torture, as Gotham attempts to come to grips with a sadistic terrorist called The Joker (the late Heath Ledger) who appears to be motivated only by a desire for anarchy and chaos. Fighting him in tandem is the uncomfortable triumvirate of Batman, new District Attorney Harvey Dent (a tremendous Aaron Eckhart, who plays his role with the zeal of a Kennedy or even an Obama) and Lieutenant James Gordon (a returning Gary Oldman), whilst Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Maggie Gyllenhall admirably flesh the other roles out. The sheer talent of actors on display is further indication that this is not your typical summer movie fare. The artistry and commitment involved, from Nolan’s effortless control over the proceedings to Ledger’s career-defining serpentine performance, everything about The Dark Knight points to a level of excellence never before seen in a comic-book adaptation. The Dark Knight must be seen to be believed, and the only way to truly see it is at the IMAX. I have never experienced a film before which starts with a sharp collective intake of breath from the audience, nor one where they break into spontaneous applause on three separate occasions. I felt like I’d wondered into Paris in the 1890s to see one of the Lumiere Brothers earliest productions, or I’d stumbled into the premiere of The Birth Of A Nation in New York in 1915. This is a film that will be remembered for redefining what the cinema is capable of. The Dark Knight is like writing history with lightning. It truly soars above the competition.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman Runtime: 152 Minutes
25 Nov 2009
The White Ribbon though is more than just a social study of pre-fascist Germany. It’s also one of the most effecting thrillers you’ll see all year. The audience is led willingly along through this two and a half hour ‘whodunnit’ amongst an abyss of mystery and subtle horror. The White Ribbon is indeed a film with a message, that gives no answers, but leaves you asking countless questions afterwards.
Haneke has filled his latest epic with all of his usual devices, a chilling score, magnificent actors and his trademark long stationary shots that draw you into the tension, and truly make you feel like you’ve stepped back to 1912 to witness the bizarre incidents that surround this north German village. Filmed in black and white, with impeccable sets and costumes, if it wasn’t for the narrator setting the scene you’d truly believe you’d stepped back in time with Mr Haneke, because this is surely the only way his film could look and feel any more realistic.
Set in a remote village in northern Germany, 1913, a placid yet almost invisibly dysfunctional society is suddenly plagued with some random acts of malice that at first seem coincidental, however soon escalate to a degree that they can no longer be ignored. Starting with a riding accident of the local doctor, it soon becomes apparent that this was no accident. We witness these events with added narration by the local school teacher (now an old man), perhaps the only unflawed and pure character we witness amongst the local populace, including the children who, as sweet as they first seem, all appear to have their own secrets. It’s through this impartial view that we are left to make our own minds up over who’s to blame for these events, and eventually ask ourselves further questions concerning the events that would happen soon after. Indeed the film ends with the announcement that Duke Ferdinand has been assassinated in Sarajevo.
Even though, by the end of the film, there is no solution to the mysterious events that occur, you’re left feeling like many other questions you may of had have been answered, as is the power of Haneke’s observational piece concerning this period of German history. A profoundly sinister riddle, that deserves all the acclaim it gained at Cannes, an instant classic.
Cast: Christian Friedel, Ernst Jacobi, Leonie Benesch, Burghart Klaussner,
Runtime: 144 Minutes
Following the massive critical success of his TV series The Thick Of It, Armando Iannucci, the mastermind behind a host of recent British comedy classics including The Day Today and I’m Alan Partridge, has plenty of expectations to meet with his first foray into the cinema as director of In the Loop. Taking the tried and tested formula of the TV show, which painstakingly recreates the behind the scenes machinations of British government with an accuracy that borders on the documentary, In the Loop expands the template to bring in our brothers across the pond, detailing the confusing rush to an unnamed war which is depressingly familiar.
Nothing less than a searing indictment of ‘the special relationship’ between Britain and the US and the funniest film of the year will suffice for many viewers then. On neither count does the film quite match up, though it probably comes far closer on the latter, with all the expected wit, verbal sparring and imaginative swearing of the TV show transferring effortlessly to the screen, than on the former.
But those viewers expecting an out-and-out attack on Anglo-American politics were always going to be disappointed. Iannucci operates far more within the grey areas of modern life – the politicians within The Thick Of It and In the Loop are far from cartoon villains and more often than not are portrayed as essentially decent people (barring Malcolm Tucker, the Prime Minister’s irrepressible spin doctor, perhaps) who through a mixture of careerism, self-interest and at times downright laziness slide into a succession of cock-ups and embarrassments.
The use of improvisational acting techniques, the nervous hand-held camera work and quick editing shows that the unnamed war is arrived at through confusion and stupidity instead of downright evil (small consolation perhaps). The widening of the net to bring in an American perspective also adds a new dimension to the film and allows the audience to glimpse James Gandolfini, Tony Soprano himself, in comedy mode playing General Miller, a giant ball of unchecked aggression who flip-flops throughout on whether to go to war or not.
Most of the lead actors from the TV series have successfully transferred across, with Chris Addison reprising his role as a bumbling, naïve and at times, duplicitous aide (with a different name however) while Peter Capaldi eats up the screen as Tucker and the audience may even feel a bizarre swell of pride as he curses and spits his way through Washington.
The Bush and Blair years are still worthy of closer examination and greater satirical attack than In the Loop and other recent films such as Oliver Stone’s W can muster. But this film comes closer than any to revealing the realities of modern political life and for that reason alone, it is undoubtedly essential viewing.
Starring: James Gandolfini, Chris Addison, Peter Capaldi
Runtime: 105 minutes (approx.)
Release date: 17 April 2009
24 Nov 2009
So here it is the top ten. Just to keep it in context here’s the previous countdown of 100 – 11.
100. Shotgun Stories (Jeff Nichols, 2007)
99. Snow Angels (David Gordon Green, 2007) 98. Mongol (Sergei Bodrov, 2007)
97. In Search of a Midnight Kiss (Alex Holdridge, 2007)
96. Man From London (Bela Tarr, 2007)
95. 21 Grams (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, 2003)
94. The Dreamers (Bernardo Bertolucci, 2003)
93. Milk (Gus Van Sant, 2008)
92. Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004)
91. Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt, 2008)
90. Serenity (Joss Whedon, 2005)
89. Bad Education (Pedro Almoldovar, 2004)
88. Ratatouille (Brad Bird, 2007)
87. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2006)
86. A History of Violence ( David Cronenberg, 2005)
85. The Hangover (Todd Phillips, 2009)
84. Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin, 2007)
83. Juno (Jason Reitman, 2007)
82. 500 Days Of Summer (Marc Webb, 2009)
81. Road to Perdition (Sam Mendes, 2002)
80. Science of Sleep (Michel Gondry, 2006)
79. Dogville (Lars Von Trier, 2003)
78. Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007)
77. Goodnight and Good Luck (George Clooney 2005)
76. Man Who Wasn't There (Coen Brothers, 2001)
75. The Prestige (Christopher Nolan, 2006)
74. Gommorah (Matteo Garrone, 2008)
73. Frost/Nixon (Ron Howard, 2008)
72. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigalow, 2008)
71. Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood, 2008)
70. Wristcutters: A Love Story (Goran Dukic, 2006)
69. All About Lily Chou Chou (Shunji Iwai, 2001)
68. Angel-A (Luc Besson, 2005)
67. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Shane Black, 2005)
66. Mystic River (Clint Eastwood, 2003)
65. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson, 2004)
64. Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch, 2005)
63. The Wrestler (Darren Aronofski, 2008)
62. Infernal Affairs (Wai-Keung Lau, 2002)
61. In The Mood For Love (Ka Wai Wong, 2000)
60. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (George Clooney, 2002)
59. Dancer in the Dark (Lars Von Trier, 2000)
58. Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton, 2006)
57. The Piano Teacher ( Michael Haneke ,2001)
56. I'm a Cyborg But That's Okay (Chan-Wook Park, 2006)
55. The Host (Chui-Hyun Baek, 2006)
54. Napoleon Dynamite (Jared Hess, 2004)
53. American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000)
52. Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006)
51. Oldboy (Chan Wook Park, 2003)
50. The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005)
49. The Beat That My Heart Skipped (Jacques Audiard, 2005)
48. Battle Royal (Kinji Kukasaku, 2000)
47. The Machinist (Brad Anderson, 2004)
46. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppolla, 2003)
45. Moon (Duncan Jones, 2009)
44. Monsters Inc (Pete Docter, 2001)
43. Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant, 2007)
42. Up (Pete Docter, 2009)
41. Punch Drunk Love (P.T Anderson, 2002)
40. Blame It On Fidel (Julie Gavras, 2006)
39. Amelie (Jean Pierre Jeunet, 2001)
38. 13 Tzameti ( Gela Babluani, 2005)
37. Squid & The Whale (Noah Baumbach, 2005)
36. Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)
35. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)
34. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
33. Wall-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)
32. The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky, 2006)
31. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)
30. In Bruges (Martin McDonagh, 2008)
29. Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005)
28. Friday Night Lights (Peter Berg, 2004)
27. Watchmen (Zack Snyder, 2009)
26. Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000)
25. Superbad (Gregg Mottola, 2007)
24. Beaufort (Joseph Cedar, 2007) *currently on bbc iplayer
23. Anchorman (Adam McKay, 2004)
22. Goodbye Lenin (Wolfgang Becker, 2003)
21. Les chanson D'Amore (Christophe Honore, 2007)
20. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
19. Amores Perros (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, 2000)
18. City Of God (Fernando Meirelles, 2002)
17. The Fall (Tarsem Singh, 2006)
16. Let The Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
15. The Lives Of Others (Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck, 2006)
14. Elephant (Gus Van Sant, 2003)
13. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
12. No Country For Old Men (Coen Brothers, 2007)
11. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
10. Requiem For a Dream (Darren Aronofsky, 2000)
Focusing on the effects of addiction through the lives of four New Yorkers, Aronofskys follow up to his much acclaimed debut Pi was a cult hit. Its fast paced editing techniques started a new direction in independent film making. The score by Pop Will eat Itself’s Clint Mansell was one of the films main highlights. These two achievements combined created one of the most visually stunning, and intence films of the last decade.
9. Hidden (Michael Haneke, 2005)
It is only as the decade draws to a close that it becomes clear just how presciently the Austrian director Michael Haneke tapped into the uncertain mood of the last ten years. In a time surrounded in a sheet of fear Hidden’s twin themes of national guilt and foreign policy resonate perfectly with the defining concerns of our time. in the film it’s France’s occupation of Algeria, but it’s not hard to piece together the parallels with more recent conflicts that involves us all on a global scale. Plus, as round-the-clock surveillance became a part of our daily lives, here was a film that captured the creeping paranoia that resulted from the eyes of unseen strangers invading private life.
8. The Motorcycle Diaries (Walter Salles, 2004)
A dramatization of a motorcycle road trip Che Guevara went on in his youth that showed him his life's calling. However this film is more than an insight into the life of one of history’s most famous faces. Instead its high position in this list is more down to life changing effects it has on you the audience. I dare you to find anyone, who after watching this film doesn’t want to radically change their life from the mundane of the ‘9-5’ and do something different and worth while.
7. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
Miyazaki, Japans master storyteller and animator creates a deliciously loopy adventure for ten-year- old Chihiro, the central character of this, his thirteenth production for studio Ghibli (Japans Walt Disney) when a tedious drive to a new town is interrupted by a deadly detour into the spirit world, the audience is taken on a magical journey that shows the true meaning of family. Like the Wizard of Oz for the naughties. Although not his best work it helped open the world of studio ghibli to a much wider audience.
6. Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly, 2001)
Head-tripping sci-fi set in an Eighties high school environment. This psychological thriller with dark Lynchian overtones came from indie obscurity to take over the mainstream. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the lead a paranoid schizophrenic who may just have the key to time travel. The film opened the eyes of many to the burgeoning American indie film makers that now litter the box office
5. Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. (Andrew Dominik, 2007)
The naughties saw something of a resurgence of the ‘western’, with films like ‘The Proposition’ and ‘3:10 to Yuma’. None though were done with such panache as Dominiks beautifully shot Jesse James. Although staring Brad Pitt this films main strengths lie with its supporting cast. Noteably the performance of Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell and Paul Schneider. Perfectly scored by Nick cave and with some of the best cinematography seen in recent years, this is truly a film that deserves more credit than the modest acclaim it got on release
4. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
Daniel Day Lewis singlehandedly showed Hollywood the importance of acting in this P.T Andersons interpretation of Upton Sinclair’s ‘Oil’. This devastating movie, about oil prospecting in the early 20th century, is endlessly re-watchable. Johnny Greenwoods suspense fueled soundtrack, combined with Andersons eye for a perfect shot and Day Lewis’s Oscar winning spin as Daniel Plainview created an instant classic.
3. Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008)
Provocative London-born artist McQueen directorial debut is not just a great film, but a piece of art in itself. Michael Fassbender shines as Bobby Sands in a movie that’s almost empty of any dialogue, instead focusing on visuals to tackle the infamous 1981 IRA hunger strikes. McQueen doesn’t takes sides, instead deciding to show you an unbiased view from both sides of ‘the troubles’. A bold move by a bold director in an even bolder film. So effecting is the film it’s not one you’ll want to watch again, but one you’ll never forget.
2. Pans Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006)
The darkest era of Spanish history, combined with the darkness of a young girls imagination weave a wonderful mythical adventure. Every shot of this beautiful film is done with such style it’s hard to not be drawn into the magical kingdom Del Toro has created. This film opened up foreign cinema to a whole new audience, which can’t be a bad thing. Truly stunning!
1. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel, 2007)
The true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby who, after a stroke, was left paralysed and able to communicate only through blinking his left eye. Despite this affliction he managed, through the use of a speech therapist to dictate the book he always meant to write. The film takes us inside Bauby's wrecked mind, at times making you feel as locked into his body as he is. Schnabel charms us with Bauby’s rebellious wit and moves you to tears with this well crafted biopic of one man’s trials to overcome the impossible. Like McQueen and Hunger this is another film created by an artist, and it shows. Visually this film is a joy to behold, it pulls you in and never lets go. Some of the most beautiful images put too film you’ll ever see.
Next they’ll be a scientific breakdown of the top 100 and Matthews Kleebauer definitive list. After that we’ll be able to announce the ‘true’ winner of film of the decade from the ‘Last site on the left’ staff.
Until then please enjoy some trailers from the top ten.
There Will Be Blood:
Diving Bell And The Butterfly:
Most people will know, little, if anything about Eyes Without A Face, except maybe that the white plastic mask worn by Doctor Genessier’s disfigured daughter Christiane was the inspiration for Michael Myers in John Carpenter’s Halloween. That is hopefully all set to change thanks to its long-awaited release on Dvd, which offers a whole new generation of movie fans the opportunity to experience a genuine lost classic. After nearly killing his beautiful daughter in a car accident, Genessier’s guilt leads him and his assistant Marie to embark on a series of murders, with the intention of using the flesh of their victims to rebuild her face. The uniqueness of this film comes not only in the truly repulsive concept of an insane doctor and his equally terrifying assistant (who is indebted to him after becoming the first successful recipient of his radical facial reconstructive surgery) performing their grotesque experiments, but also the deliberately slow pacing and sparseness of dialogue will seem foreign to modern horror fans raised on the endless shock and gore of Hostel and Saw. Like Genessier himself, it is cold, clinical and utterly precise. Not a frame of its luminous black-and-white photography is wasted, and though barely a single drop of blood is spilt onscreen it contains moments far more disturbing than anything being made in Hollywood today. What makes Eyes Without A Face transcend so many lesser films are the frequent moments of beauty throughout it. We are haunted by the image of the once attractive Christiane walking alone through the cavernous house in which her father has imprisoned her, only her pleading desperate eyes visible beneath her mask. Juxtaposed with the utterly monstrous scenes of Genessier operating on his victims, her suffering takes on a lyrical quality, particularly in the sequence where she tries to befriend the numerous guard dogs that are kept on their property. Denigrated by the French press when it was released in 1959, and forgotten for years, hopefully now this masterpiece of psychological cinema will be afforded the respect it deserves, and mentioned in the same breath as Suspiria, and The Wicker Man as one of the greatest horrors ever made.
Director: Georges Franju
Cast: Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli, Julliette Mayniel, Edith Scob
Runtime: 81 Minutes
David Lynch’s ‘Return Of The Jedi’
Shortly after completing The Elephant Man’ cinemas most progressive and perverse director David Lynch was offered the position of spearheading the third film in the Star Wars Trilogy, even ahead of George ‘Mr Star Wars’ Lucas. The notoriety Lynch had gained from Eraserhead had caught the eye of many studios, hoping to nurture the talent he had so far shown. Lynch’s dark brooding style could well off added a much needed, darker edge, continuing from where The Empire Strikes Back had finished. If anything you can be assured it wouldn’t of featured so many damn Ewoks. However when offered the job in 1982 he declined claiming it to be, “a Lucas’ thing” instead deciding to work on an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune. The source material however proved to be too much to condense into a 120 minute runtime leaving many of Dune’s fans unsatisfied.
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ‘Dune’
Jodorowsky was the first choice to direct Dune before Lynch. Production was already well under way, with many personnel already attached. Firstly Salvador Dali was signed on to star, a big name for a project that relied on source material that although greatly revered by its fans, had never broken into the mainstream. Another interesting potential addition to Jodorowsky’s crew was the rumour that Pink Floyd had agreed to do the soundtrack. However neither of these big names where what many believed could have turned Dune into a classic, this lays solely with H.R Geiger who had been handled the task of art duties. His vision of the Harkonen world could easily of turned Dune from a cheesy Sci-fi joke to something in the same league as Alien, after all, his unused work was later snapped up to be used in that very film. The project though was too huge and it never happend due to budget problems and script issues. Imagine if it had though, a mix of the original with all the sets that made Alien the classic it is today, combined with one of the most psychedelic soundtracks possible at that time.
Orson Welles & Terry Gilliams ‘Don Quixote’
Orson Welles left a myriad of unfinished works during his 50 years in cinema, however Don Quixote was his most enduring passion. The same could be said Of Gilliam, and anyone who’s watched the documentary Lost In La Mancha would agree with this. Both directors at some point had begun filming their epic. Welles was first though and filmed throughout the 1950s in Mexico, Spain and Italy bringing together cast and crew whenever he could raise finances. So was his obsession that he still spoke of completing the film months before his death in 1985.
Both Directors seemed interested in this great literary pieces idea of the dated virtue of chivalry and the central characters hopeless quest to maintain it. An idea they both seemed to be relevant to their own times.
Gilliam and Welles both completed countless storyboards and shot numerous scenes of their Don Quixotes. Gilliam even enlisted the acting skills of Johnny Depp to add some much needed ‘box office appeal’ to his project, yet it seemed that the curse of Don Quixote was to affect him in much the same way it had Welles. Welles work though did eventually see the light of day in the hastily restored version put together by Jess Franco in 1992, however it didn’t appease any of Welles audience who were resigned to never seeing the film. It was received in revulsion, only revealing occasional glimpses of Welles’s brilliance, and left audiences even more hurt that the project was never completed.
Some though see the worse thing about Don Quixote being the effect it had on Welles’s other work. He indiscriminately accepted other films in order to finance his epic, this was no truer than when at the end of editing Touch of Evil he rushed off to Mexico to film more shots for Don Quixote, with Universal studies taking advantage of this and radically re-editing his dark noir.
However disappointing it seems that neither of these film every saw the light of day, it seems best that no one ever attempt to follow on where both Welles and Gilliam failed, the curse of Don Quixote seems to strong. I’d like to blame it for the poor showing of Gilliam’s Brothers Grimm however I might be over reaching a little bit here.
Stanley Kubrick's Napoleon
One of cinemas, all time greats has also found himself on this list. Kubrick great passion was to make an epic film about the French general. He had even decided on Jack Nicholson off all people to play the historic figure after seeing him in Easy Rider.
He began work on this ambitious biography of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1968, a lifelong obsession of Kubrick, he planned to cover the entire life of Napoleon with full scale reconstructions of his battles, which would of required, he believed, some 50,000 extras, Kubrick had even manged to get the Romanian army to agree to provide 10,000 troupes for the battle scenes.
Kubrick worked on the film for two years, like his previous works he immersed himself completely researching every area of the Napoleonic era, compiling a catalogue of no more than 15,000 images of the period.
However Napoleon never got made. MGM balked at the cost of the epic and combined with the box office failure of Sergei Bondarchuk’s Waterloo pulled out. This resulted in Kubrick moving to Warner Brothers, where he never got to finish Napoleon either, but instead did make A Clockwork Orange. If he had been successful in making Napoleon perhaps we would never have seen his interpretation of Antony Burgess novel. Kubrick eventually used his research in 1975 to make Barry Lyndon regarded by many as his most personal film.
When word first broke off the Batman franchise resurfacing a whole list of directors where rumored to be attached before Christopher Nolan finally got the nod. No one can say he wasn’t the best choice, both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight have breathed new life into what had quickly become a dying franchise, regaining some of the credibility the caped crusader had lost thanks to poor sequals to the Tim Burton films and nipples on the Bat suit.
Before Nolan had been chosen the studio turned to Frank Miller himself and a young director who was currently hot property after his breakthrough hit Requiem For A Dream, Darren Aronofsky. It’s unknown how far Miller and Aronofsky got with their interpretations but the latter was once quoted as describing his take on the film as having “an urban, guerilla flavor” along the lines of such films as The French Connection complete with an ‘R’ rating.
The most notable difference from the Batman films we now know was Aronofskys screwball direction regarding the plot. It focused on an orphaned Bruce Wayne, raised by Alfred in Wayne Manor. Wandering the streets the young Bruce is taken in by an auto mechanic, working in the seedier parts of Gotham by the name ‘Big Al’. Here he grows up watching the violence that plagues the streets of the city he was once hidden from, growing angry and determined to change things.
Aronofsky was also rumoured to want to shot the film in black and white, solely on handheld cameras to give the film a grittier look. Fans of the Batman franchise were undoubtedly excited by this new approach, however the studio were unsure, not convinced that there would be much add on sales from merchandise for an ‘R’ rated film that was both too violent and too ‘artistic’
Dan Aykroyd has been desperate for another Ghostbuster sequal for over a decade. Not surprising considering the actors distinct lack of work over the last ten years. He had written a script entitled Ghostbusters: Hellbentl before linking up with co-writer Harold Ramis and re naming the project Ghostbusters In Hell. The plot focused around the Ghostbusters crew winding up in a version of New York that only exists in Hell. As time went by though the script changed. As the actors grew older the plot became less plausible. Accommodating this they introduced new, younger comedy allstars, apparently including Ben Stiller, to play newly hired ghostbusters.
The main reason it didn’t get made? Well apparently it all leads to Bill Murray. The actor didn’t want to get involved. He had been very vocal about how unpleased he was with how the second movie had turned out. Ever since then he has dedicated himself to making more serious movies (not too sure how this involves Garfield!) He has been reported as saying that although special effects are fun to watch, they’re not so much fun to act with. It appears the aging star was not interested in filming scene after scene infront of green screens covered in slime.
Whilst on the subject, before the original Ghostbusters, Reitman, Murray and Aykroyd were in talks about making a version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy the idea though was scrapped when Aykroyd came up with the idea for Ghostbusters.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Kaleidoscope
Hitchcock’s career wasn’t always the success many remember. In the mid sixties he was suffering from something of a low ebb following the failures of both Marnie and Torn Curtain. It was at this time that he began working on what could have been a remarkable experimental film that would have been a radical change in his, till then basic style.
Kaleidoscope was the story of a serial killer and rapist, initially some kind of prelude to Shadow of a Doubt. Using story details from infamous UK criminal cases including an acid bath murderer and necrophilia. This was certainly going to be his darkest movie to date. However the films ‘darkness’ was its undoing, with even Hitchcock believing it to be too frightening for most audiences, especially with most of the film being told form the murderers perspective, shot on handheld camera and using only natural light. (Hitchcock, later decided to also make the central character gay).
The studios believed the whole thing to be too ‘ugly’ and refused to release it, the only thing that remains of Kaleidoscope is an hour long tape of silent footage.
Finally a film that never really stood a chance, but one which many cinephiles would kill to see; A James Bond film directed by cult hero Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino admits to offering up his services to do a Bond film. The studio however turned him down, seeing his involvement as too drastic a new direction for the franchise to take, believing that life long Bond fans would be not happy, Shame.
Lost In La Mancha (Don Quixote):