Thursday, March 19, 2009

Personal faves: the story so far

It’s a year to the day since I posted my list of 100 Personal Faves. The intention was to write about one a week, a discipline which would have seen me work through the list in just under two years.

A year on and I’ve covered 33 of them. Last year was something of a roller coaster and my attention got a little sidetracked from The Agitation of the Mind for a while. Still, things are back on course now and to celebrate the first anniversary of the Personal Faves project I’m doubling up. I’ve pulled two titles out of the hat – corporate malfeasance in one, Salma Hayek doing a snake dance in the other – and I’ll be posting on them over the next two evenings.

I’ve also spent this evening gazing back through the reviews I’ve posted so far. So if you’ll permit me the laziest post I’ve ever put on this blog, here’s a quick resumé of the Faves so far and what I said about them:

Blazing Saddles
“… quite simply one of the funniest movies ever made, with an inspired ending that's as demented as it is subversive …”
(posted as a tribute to Harvey Korman)

Bowling for Columbine
“… Moore using his acceptance speech for the Best Documentary Oscar to lambast Dubya. ‘Shame on you, Mr President. Shame on you’ …”

Das Boot
“… you never really think of them as Nazis, consequently you quickly stop thinking of them as Germans; ultimately, they’re simply men … thrust into the middle of a war they’d rather not be fighting.”

Charley Varrick
Siegel’s direction finds and maintains a spot-on balance of wry humour, pacy narrative and a handful of excellently staged and edited action scenes.”

Death in Venice
“… acting on another level. Bogarde progressively tears away layer after layer of his character, culminating in a moment of heart-breaking acceptance …”

Deep Red
“… the combination of image, music and camera movement add up to one of the most effective head-fucks in cinema.”

Donnie Darko
“… demonstrates, more slyly and effectively than any other film I can think of, how every act has a consequence.”

“… a film that seeks not to demonise, but neither sympathise; not to try to ‘understand’ Hitler and his actions, but neither deny or obfuscate them; a film, instead, that portrays him.”

Emperor of the North
“… full-on, attitudinous and brutal – of course it is: this is Robert freakin’ Aldrich we’re talking about …”

The Exorcist
“… a film about possession and exorcism, about the testing of faith by satanic evil, that is shot through with such documentary clarity that you can easily forget it’s a horror film …”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film about failure that’s emerged as so gloriously life-affirming.”

It’s unique. A true one-off. It would never get made today, given the prevailing climate of political correctness.”

The French Connection
The best car chase in the movies. Ever. So says I and anyone who disagrees is welcome to accompany Doyle and Russo down the station and talk about it there.”

From Russia With Love
It’s the most un-Bond of the Bond movies ... and, paradoxically, that’s what makes it the best.”

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
“… a film where the Ugly grungily fits the description, the Bad is even badder than bad, and the Good is only the good because (a) he’s marginally less of a bastard than the other two, and (b) Clint Eastwood’s playing him …”

The Incredibles
“… taut and suspenseful, the structure intricate, the writing witty and intelligent, and the whole thing put together with eye-catching visual flair.”

LA Confidential
“… stylish, gripping, intriguing, multi-layered and downright well-directed …”

A Matter of Life and Death
It does everything cinema should do, everything art should do, and speaks to the heart, the mind and the soul with equal intensity and sincerity.”

North by Northwest
“… a masterpiece of narrative propulsion, joining the dots between the set-pieces with such speed and glib humour that stopping to examine the construct under the critical lens would just be bad sportsmanship.”

Ocean’s 11
“… there really is no other way of describing ‘Ocean’s 11’: it’s cool. Suavely, stylishly, seriously cool.”

The Prestige
Does it agitate the mind? Oh, you sweet fucking-A betcha!!

The cooking scenes are so evocative you can almost smell the food.”

Seven Days to Noon
“… a bloody good thriller that … comes across, and does so emphatically with repeated viewings, as years ahead of its time.”

Shadow of a Doubt
“… rich in gallows humour and laced with irony.”

The Straight Story
“… easily the most non-David-Lynch David Lynch film, and yet it’s quintessentially Lynch. No-one else could have put such a quirky and individualistic spin on the story.”

Taking Liberties
“… seek out a copy of ‘Taking Liberties’, watch it, press it on to all of your friends and - god damn it! - get angry.”

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
Never mind that there aren’t that many action scenes, the sheer sense of urgency propels the narrative.”

A Tale of Two Sisters
“… proves that ‘The Ring’ doesn’t necessarily have the monopoly on freaky women with lank black hair creeping slowly towards you …”

That Obscure Object of Desire
“… Buñuel achieves cinema’s most absolute – and phenomenally witty – comment on sexual frustration.”

The Train
“… a shatteringly nihilistic ending … the ostensible villain is passionate, articulate and an aesthete, and the ostensible hero little more than a bull-headed thug.”
(posted as a tribute to Paul Schofield)

Wallace and Gromit in Curse of the Were-Rabbit
“… a series of frenetic set-pieces culminating in a showdown at the vegetable competition …”

Where Eagles Dare
I know that war is hell … but we’re talking about straight-down-the-line action movies here and ‘Where Eagles Dare’ ranks among the best.”
(posted as part of Final Girl’s Hey-Internet-Stop-Being-Such-Cynical-Effing-Douchebags blog-a-thon)

Wings of Desire
“… pure cinema, from its director’s astoundingly realised vision, to the pitch-perfect humanity of Bruno Ganz’s performance, to its captivating romantic heroine.”
(posted as a tribute to Solveig Dommartin)

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