For those that don’t know I am watching all 700+ Dvd/Bluray films from A-Z which has so far taken me 2+ years to get to the end of G’s!
I thought I should retrospectively review each letter and give my top 5 films from each alpha block and maybe bring your attention to some films you may not have seen, films you’ve not seen in ages or films you should give another try.
Another letter and another bunch of classics I should own and a selection of ones I’m glad to say I don’t own.
A few to mention are Catwoman, Cannonball Run, Cape Fear, Clash of the titans, Cool running’s, City lights, Chinatown, City of God, Cheerleader Ninjas, Cool as Ice, City on Fire and Casablanca. I’ll leave it to you to decide the good and the bad.
The chosen five films below are all different genre’s and all offer something really different. There is a classic Guillermo Del Toro Fantasy, a stunning action adventure, an autobiographical, a documentary and a true legend of a self funded self made independent movie.
Controversially what is missing from my list is Citizen Kane, a film I think is really overrated and doesn’t fully deserve being at the top of a majority of top 10 film lists of all time, It is a stunningly made film of it’s time and so epic and supremely acted by Orson Welles but I can’t watch it all the way through and enjoy it which is what I gage a good movie by, I remember buying it and being excited that I was about to see something special, but it never really lived up to the expectations.
On with my top five films, they are:
Cronos, Written and directed by the amazing Guillermo Del Toro, this is a supreme fantasy tale from 1993 of a device shaped like a beetle that gives ever lasting life after it attaches itself to the holder but the side effect is that you develop a need for blood.
The device was created in 1535 by an alchemist for eternal life and lasted him for 400 years when he died in an accident. The device is then lost and rumored to be in a statue of a archangel where a wealthy cancer stricken Dieter de la Guardia is buying all archangel statues in chance to find it but an antique dealer, Jesus Gris, happens upon the device and unwillingly becomes it’s master and develops a taste for blood.
Dieter sends his burly nephew Angel (Ron Perlman) to get the device by any means necessary and so the story unfolds of the lust for blood, the desire of immortality and the consequences of owning the device. It’s a very well made film, considering the budget of just $2 million which made it the most expensive Mexican film of all time, and it’s the film that launched Del Toro into the big time.
It doesn’t show the imaginative creatures that Del Toro has created since and become famed for but it’s a wonderful take on the vampire genre with outstanding performances from the two lead elderly actors and supporting roles from Perlman and the young Tamara Shanath who played the helpless Aurora, Jesus’s grand daughter. If you want to see where Guillermo Del Toro was first noticed as a director/writer then see this film now, it is slow going but its a fantastic tale of immortality and a true show of what a stunning imaginative writer and director can create. The Hobbit can not come soon enough.
Children of Men , A film that stuns in every way. It has a truly outstanding plot set in England 2027 where the population of the world has been unable to have children for 18 years, a woman is found to be pregnant and it’s down to Theo (Clive Owen) to save humanity by getting her to safety.
The film is directed by Alfonso Cuaron (Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban) and is based on the novel by P.D.James. The film is so striking in its appearance that it just plasters itself all over your brain and you cant remove the images of a dystopian future from it.
There are some absolutely jaw dropping set pieces of action filming in one take shots that will blow your mind which stop you from blinking for ages in case you miss something, it really is what film watching is all about. They are so memorable and really take the film from being great to something truly amazing, and the setting of an unruly London where the look and mood is captured incredibly well with fortified buses and littered streets showing a bleak future that is more realistic than most assumptions shown in film, it’s truly incredible and well worthy of it’s three Oscar nominations.
Clive Owen is on top form with arguably his best ever performance carrying the film perfectly and on top of that there are some outstanding supporting roles from Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Clare-Hope Ashitey and Pam Ferris, with Caine the standout as a dope smoking hippie Jasper that Theo turns to for help.
A classic, and one of my all time favorite films.
Chopper, The film that launched stand-up comedian Eric Bana into Hollywood in the Biographical movie about famous Australian criminal Mark “˜Chopper’ Read and his rise to fame after writing the autobiographical book that the film was based on.
The film first takes place in 1978 and shows Read serving time for kidnapping a judge who was presiding over the trial of his best friend and after a quite disturbing period in prison where he is stabbed by his friend, made enemy’s with almost everyone and has his ears mutilated to get out of prison the character is set of Chopper.
On his release Chopper continues to make friends then turn them to enemies for no other reason than he is paranoid and a tad crazy or in Choppers own words “being a bit schizo or something”. It’s when he learns from the police that there is a hit on him that his paranoia escalates and he eventually ends back in prison where he writes his book and enjoys watching himself being interviewed on TV as a celebrity, whether someone like him deserves that status as a murderer is up for debate but the film has a definite humor about it that makes it a dam fine watch.
Eric Bana produces a performance that is little short of stunning, he changes his physical appearance by adding 30 pounds shaving his head making him almost unrecognizable from the first part of the film and he spent two days with Read to perfect his role (shown in extras on DVD), The change is stunning and the likeness to the real Chopper is brilliant.
The director Andrew Dominik, who also directed the amazing “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” and Eric Bana have created something very different from the usual crime bio-pic which deserves a wider audience for it’s black sense of humor and style.
Capturing the Friedman’s, A haunting film showing the fall of the Friedman Family using their own home videos as the body of this documentary. Obsessed with capturing their lives on camera the Friedman family, Mother and Father Arnold and Elaine and their sons Jesse, David and Seth filmed their lives from the good times to their demise when the father and one of the sons were caught in child abuse accusations after Arnold was arrested for possessing child pornography magazines and then later discovered to have molested students in their basement.
Although a horrible subject matter, the film is a phenomenal watch where the family kept filming during its destruction and you watch it in total shock as it unfolds right to the end where Elaine is outcast from the family and the accused head for trial.
Controversially nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary with interviews with some of the grown up victims, investigators and family members it leaves you wondering who was the guilty party as the director Andrew Jarecki was quoted as saying that he was biased in showing the guilty side of the family.
Containing hours of previously unreleased footage and archival material, the DVD makes it clear that Jarecki decided to maintain a studied uncertainty. He had undeniable evidence that the Friedmans had been railroaded by a criminal-justice system in the grips of hysteria.
A film that will truly weld you to your seat and one of the most incredible self destructive families witnessed on film.
Clerks , The ultimate Indie movie self funded on sold comic books and maxed out 8-10 credit cards that led to a man living the dream to make his kind of movies for a living. Made in 1994 by Kevin Smith and shot almost entirely in the store where Smith worked over 21 straight days costing $27,575 in total. The film shows a day in the life of Dante who is forced to go into work on his day off at the Quick Stop convenience store, he spends his day talking to his friend Randall who works in the video store next door and has numerous humorous exchanges with customers, friends and his girlfriend throughout the day.
The exchanges with these people are what make the film excel, the dialogue is so well written and down to earth and the characters, although understandable not the best actors in the world, all put in the performance of a lifetime. The film was filmed entirely in black and white and roughly edited due to the budget constraints but that takes nothing away from this genius movie, with some incredibly memorable scenes that are now legendary like the 37 dicks and the Star Wars Death Star discussion where Randal and Dante discus the murder of all the innocent contractors who were working to build the 2nd Death Star at the time of it’s destruction by Lando Calrissian, it’s pure comic brilliance.
Also introducing the Jay and Silent bob characters to the screen that went on to appear in all but two of Kevin Smith other films including their own film Jay and Silent Bob Strike back.
A sequel, Clerks 2, was released in 2006 and was a pretty good watch and allowed some closure on our favorite characters.
And so that conclude the C’s, Next up is the D’s.