Thursday, 9 August 2012

Paul's List...

Next we have Paul's list, AKA Capote from Ferocious Bloodaxe.  You can also check out his blog here.  Enjoy the list:

10)  The Monster Squad (1987, dir. Fred Dekker)
Probably more than even The Goonies, this is the film about a group of kids getting into crazy shenanigans that I love most, and is one of the longest holdovers from my childhood viewings. Kids vs. Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, the Creature From the Black Lagoon and Frankenstein's Monster... how can you not instantly want to see that? You add in the fact that it was written by Shane Black and has an awesomely 80s song... well, that that right there is just greatness.

9) The Flight of Dragons (1982, dir. Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr., Fumihiko Takayama and Katsuhisa Yamada)
It features the voices of John Ritter, James Earl Jones and Harry Morgan; has a gorgeous theme song by Don McLean; is about dragons and knights, science and magic; is one of Hayao Miyazaki's favourite films... and I have only ever met one person who has even heard of it, let alone seen it. Another holdover from childhood, this is a gorgeous animated film that borders on the ethereal. It's also, for a kid's film, very mature, looking at things like death with a concise and steady hand. It's got it's flaws, I know, but I just wish more people saw this, and I wish it would get a goddamn DVD release. Ah well.

8) Blazing Saddles (1974, dir. Mel Brooks)
This may have been the first western I ever saw... it was either this or How the West Was Won. Regardless, this is hilarious on so many levels. It's absurd, satirical, clever, juvenile, and is just downright anarchic. And when I saw it all those years ago, I was a little young to get all the jokes that are in there, so as I got older I found more things to laugh at, and it is so endlessly quotable ("Mongo only pawn... in game of life."). Early Brooks stuff is great (like The Producers and Young Frankenstein), but this goes beyond them just for sheer scope and material. Quality.

7) The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007, dir. Andrew Dominik)
Another western, but a completely different breed. For every 30 westerns that were straight action B-movie oaters, there was probably 1 that offered something of a slower, more elegiac and wistful pace. Things like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance or Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. However, my favourite is the most recent foray, partly because I didn't think they even made them like this anymore. However, the main part is that, when I first saw this film, I wasn't sure I even liked it. I came out of the cinema still quietly mulling it all over. Three days later, I noticed I was still thinking about it. After giving it another watch, I completely fell for the film. The performances, the writing, the direction, the superb music, everything. Sure, it's a long film, but I wouldn't change a second of it.

6) Harvey (1950, dir. Henry Foster)
I first saw this film for one reason: it's my dad's favourite film. He doesn't really have particularly strong feelings one way or another about most movies. He likes some things; doesn't like others. But this, he is very clear on. I'm not even sure I know why it's his favourite film, but that's how I first saw it... and now it's one of mine. Aside from being associated with my dad in my mind, it's such a warm and sweet film and has Jimmy Stewart at his most likeable (more so than in It's A Wonderful Life, as far as I'm concerned). Sentimental reasons, I know, but that doesn't really change my feelings for it. 

5) Rope (1948, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)
Don't get me wrong, I love Vertigo and Psycho and North by Northwest and Rear Window, but Rope just beats them all, and for a few reasons. First is the film's roots as a true crime story, which I quite enjoy (for, I assure you, totally not morbid reasons). I think it's also got something to do my penchant for movies that are mostly just people talking, particularly if they're discussing the murky areas of applied morality and what it means to kill. Adding to that is Hitchcock challenging himself in his usual, more formalist approach by doing the whole film in a series of individual takes. It occasionally feels a bit stagey, but I still enjoy the hell out of it.

4) Brick (2005, dir. Rian Johnson)
I'm not really sure just how big a splash Brick really made when it landed, but I for one was very excited about it before its release. I loved the idea that someone would set a hard boiled detective noir story within a high school, because where better to explore themes of despair, isolation and shady characters than the place where almost everyone first experienced these things. It's a cracking story, handled really well and Joseph Gordon-Levitt continues to not let me down.

3) Die Hard (1988, John McTiernan)
... what do you mean "why?" It's freakin' Die Hard. It's an awesome movie. Bruce Willis at his wise-cracking best, Alan Rickman chewing scenery like a damn champion, great supporting characters, superb action and the catchphrase that beats everything Schwarzenegger has ever done. On top of that, it's a superbly tight flick, so you can learn some of the most rudimentary, but important lessons from watching it, like editing, structure and composition. However, it doesn't change the fact that it's awesome as all hell. "Yippe Ki-yay..."
*points to you to finish the line*

2) Apocalypse Now (1979, dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
Apocalypse Now is legendary in almost every respect. It's ambitious, pretentious, surreal, visceral, technically incredible, unnerving, hysterical, flawed, and batshit insane. Even the story of how it was made is a manic tale of lunacy and genius. For its time, this was filmmaking being pushed to the ragged edge, and it damn near killed several people. For that, I am utterly absorbed every time I watch it.

1) Cinema Paradiso (1988, dir. Guiseppe Tornatore)
This was the first movie that I thought of and is the one that survived every attempt to make a Top Ten. I don't think it's possible to undersell just how much I love it. It's about life, death, love regret, hopes, dreams and, of course, film. Cinema Paradiso makes film as important to its characters as it is to me and there's nothing about it I don't absolutely adore. I recently had the pleasure of seeing it on the big screen and actually found it a rather painful experience, because I spent pretty much the whole film with a lump in my throat. Like I said, I love this film.

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