My "20 Greatest Films" countdown.

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Re: My "20 Greatest Films" countdown.

Postby john-5 » Sat Dec 27, 2003 9:31 pm

3. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (KUBRICK, 1968)

If ever proof were needed of Oscar idiocy: this most majestic, ambitious and awe-inspiring of big-screen experiences lost out to Oliver! No doubt the Academy were as perplexed as many moviegoers then and now as to its meanings. One couple who had travelled miles to see the film wrote to Kubrick demanding an explanation. Such questions miss the point. Thanks to a celebrated jump cut, the not altogether convincing device of mysterious black monoliths, exceptional set design and a quantum leap in special effects, 2001 tackles nothing less than human evolution from ape to astronaut to "starchild". Daring to conceive the inconceivable, it projects, through astounding, psychedelic visuals, the wondrous destiny- to infinity and beyond- that should await us.

Re: My "20 Greatest Films" countdown.

Postby john-5 » Sun Dec 28, 2003 2:04 pm

The more i want to say about a film the harder it gets.


Delayed by the Russian authorities for 3 years before its premiere at Cannes, Tarkosky's epic, episodic and partly imagined account of the life of the icon-painting monk has justly been chosen by the Vatican as its #1 recommended film.

Beginning with a fearless attempt at flight and filled with memorable set-pieces, "Andrei Rublev" captures a vivid and credible sense of the medieval period and its savage upheavals with an imperious authority. The pagan ceremonies, crucifixion, Tatar sack of Vladimir and atrocities witnessed by Rublev lead him to years of self-imposed silence, only broken by the creation of a giant cathedral bell through a youth's simple act of Faith.

The sublime finale- embers bursting into glorious colour icons, and horses swishing their tails in a rainy green meadow- seems to suggest that spiritual serenity and artistic freedom not only can triumph over horrific inhumanity, but remain as relevant as ever.

If my description, the subject matter and message seem less than enthralling, don't be deterred. I was left reeling for weeks in a state of lovesick bewilderment that gave nature, light and even the rain a new freshness and beauty. I haven't remotely done the film justice. In the words of Nigel Andrews; "action, human spectacle, poetry and thought: the cinema can offer no more" .

Re: My "20 Greatest Films" countdown.

Postby nina* » Sun Dec 28, 2003 3:49 pm

So, I'm not the only one who saves the receipts...;-)

Re: My "20 Greatest Films" countdown.

Postby john-5 » Sun Dec 28, 2003 4:57 pm

Just the one receipt as a keepsake!

Re: My "20 Greatest Films" countdown.

Postby john-5 » Sun Dec 28, 2003 7:41 pm

And then there was one. To quote Rolf Harris, can you tell what it is yet?

One last little tease. The following came close to the 20;

Maborosi, Ulysses' Gaze, Paris Texas, Pather Panchali, La Grande Illusion, Night of the Hunter, Mulholland Drive, Man with a Movie Camera, The Searchers, Raging Bull, L'Atalante, Persona, Ordet....

Which leaves:

some personal favourites- Alice in the Cities, The Green Ray, Abraham Valley, Letter from an Unknown Woman, Tales of the Taira Clan, The Band Wagon

famous Oscar winners- The Godfather 1&2, Lawrence of Arabia, Gone with the Wind, Schindler's List, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Silence of the Lambs, Ben Hur, The Sound of Music..

international classics- Les Enfants du Paradis, Bicycle Thieves, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Passion of Joan of Arc, The Seventh Seal, Ugetsu, Breathless, Metropolis...

popular favourites- Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Pulp Fiction, Jaws, Fight Club, Psycho, Goodfellas, The Shawshank Redemption, Blade Runner, It's a Wonderful Life, The Wizard of Oz, Taxi Driver..

silents- The General, Intolerance, The Gold Rush, City Lights, Napoleon..

ah yes, but which one? And all but one of these missed the top 20? The man's a fool!!.

Re: My "20 Greatest Films" countdown.

Postby john-5 » Sun Dec 28, 2003 8:49 pm


I had to be true to myself. The supreme, most exquisite and poignant masterpiece of the "Shakespeare of film", Kenji Mizoguchi, is the film i carry closest to my heart. Even without the acute personal feelings raised by its engrossing and sometimes harrowing tale- of the cruel misfortune befalling the wife and children of an exiled provincial governor in feudal Japan- it would still have been an overwhelming viewing experience.

With its ravishing landscapes, painterly compositions, Kazuo Miyagawa's radiant silvery cinematography and peerless smooth camerawork (keeping a discreet distance that shames the sentimental manipulation of lesser artists), it aches with humanity, emotion and longing. A few ripples carry more impact than a Hollywood tidal wave. Only the very greatest of masters can deliver without ostentation. The purest distilIation of Zen wisdom and over 30 years of expertly honed craftsmanship, "Sansho"'s final crane shot gently moves away from its individual story to reach for the universe beyond.

Do see it.


Re: My "20 Greatest Films" countdown.

Postby gratefultiger » Sun Dec 28, 2003 9:47 pm

Fine list JOhn I love them all."Sansho"is in my top 20 on ymdb list,but i can't argue with your choices in the main. Also Vertigo is a masterpiece,having seen it again & again it always gets you in, a guy want's to have sex with a dead women,what would cronenburg do with it? cheers

Re: My "20 Greatest Films" countdown.

Postby groom_daniel » Mon Dec 29, 2003 5:53 am

I'm impressed by your love for the cinema, and I thought you argued each film's case with passion and enthusiasm. The hardest part of these lists are the exclusions, and I personally wouldn't include two films by the same director, but Story of the Late Chrysanthemums is a stunning film, so who's to argue? The only films I'd feel comfortable as listing as the 20 best are Tokyo Story, Sansho the Bailiff and The Rules of the Game.

Re: My "20 Greatest Films" countdown.

Postby HenryGinsberg » Fri Jan 02, 2004 6:24 pm

Wow. I'm suprised you've included Sansho the Bailiff!

Seriously though, great list, with the possible exception of Casablanca and Some Like It Hot. They're both good, but I wouldn't consider them top 20 meterial. Other than that, all the films you mentioned are either among my favourites or on my must see list. Slightly disapointed not to see The Godfather though.

Re: My "20 Greatest Films" countdown.

Postby frenchdisko » Sat Jan 03, 2004 2:23 am

I applaud you for your effort and passion. Rather than recycling a list of your favorites, you gave some explanation for your picks. I haven't seen a couple of the films you listed, and cannot agree on a couple- i hated pierrot le fou despite anna karina (whom i adore, irrationally perhaps) and have never enjoyed l'avventura (although respected its' place in film history)- but i thought you did a great job conveying why you felt those films are important to you and the medium as a whole.

now if i could do the same.


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