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The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2018) 860-841

Introduction

860. My Left Foot (1989) Dir. Jim Sheridan, 103 mins.

It tells the story of Christy Brown, an Irishman born with cerebral palsy, who grew up in a poor, working-class family and despite only having control of his left foot became a writer and artist. Propelled by outstanding performances, particularly the astonishing Daniel Day-Lewis, My Left Foot is both a gritty and inspiring film.

859. Grizzly Man (2005) Dir. Werner Herzog, 103 mins.

Herzog’s documentary chronicles the life of bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell and includes some of his own footage of his interactions with grizzly bears shot before he and his girlfriend were killed and devoured by one of the wild animals in 2003. Fascinating and provocative, the film refuses to judge, leaving the audience to make up their own minds about Treadwell’s mental state.

858. Minority Report (2002) Dir. Steven Spielberg, 145 mins.

The film follows John Anderton (Tom Cruise), a Washington, D.C. detective in the year 2054 who works for “PreCrime”, a specialised police department, that apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge provided by three psychics called “precogs”. Spielberg delivers a visceral and intense sci-fi thriller.

857. Cach√© (2005) Dir. Michael Haneke, 117 mins.

The film follows an upper-class French couple, Georges and Anne, who are terrorised by anonymous tapes that appear on their front porch and hint at Georges’s childhood memories. A creepy Hitchcockian thriller skillfully directed by Haneke.

856. Into the Wild (2007) Dir. Sean Penn, 148 mins.

An adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s 1996 nonfiction book of the same name, Into the Wild follows college graduate Christopher McCandless who abandons his family and privileged life to travel across North America in the early 1990s. Penn’s character study takes a while to find its rhythm but once there becomes an uplifting and poignant tale.

855. Gentlemen of Fortune (1971) Dir. Aleksandr Serjy, 88 mins.

Sery’s comedy Gentlemen of Fortune follows a kindergarten teacher who bears a striking resemblance to a cruel criminal thief. When the criminal and his gang steal a helmet from an archaeological excavation, that belonged to Alexander the Great, the teacher uses his brains and his looks to go undercover and attempt to retrieve the item. One of the Soviet Union’s most popular films.

854. Russian Ark (2002) Dir. Aleksandr Sokurov, 99 mins.

An experimental historical drama that uses a single, uninterrupted, 87-minute take to follow an unnamed narrator, who having died in a horrible accident, is now a ghost who wanders through the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. In each room, he encounters various real and fictional people from various periods in the city’s 300-year history. A hugely ambitious and astounding technical achievement that’s like drifting through a dream.

853. Teorema (1968) Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 105 mins.

Pasolini’s visionary art-house film, a brutal dissection of the typical bourgeois family, follows a mysterious figure known only as “The Visitor” (Terence Stamp) who appears in the lives of an upper-class Milanese household and soon seduces each family member as well as the maid (Laura Betti). Great performances particularly from Stamp and Betti.

852. The Passion of the Christ (2004) Dir. Mel Gibson, 127 mins.

Artistically audacious, Gibson’s controversial and visceral biblical drama primarily covers the final twelve hours of Jesus’ life. This includes the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the grievance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the crucifixion and a brief depiction of his resurrection. Some critics found the brutal violence excessive and there were question marks around antisemitism, but many found The Passion of Christ a powerful and moving experience.

851. Rope (1948) Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 80 mins.

After a string of films for Hollywood producer David O. Selznick, Hitchcock sought independence from the studio system and made the commercially risky and aesthetically and technically ambitious Rope. The film concerns two implicitly homosexual college chums, who, inspired by conversations about Friedrich Nietzsche’s √úbermensch years earlier with their kindly professor (James Stewart), kill a third friend as an intellectual exercise. Hitchcock’s first colour film is particularly notable for its experimental and elaborate long takes that were only interrupted when the camera needed to be reloaded.



850. The Long Good Friday (1980) Dir. John MacKenzie, 114 mins.

The film follows a London east side gangster Harold Shand, who controls the city docks, and is planning a big real estate deal, financed by money from the American mob. However, just as the American mafia’s representatives are about to arrive Shand finds his operation under attack and can’t understand who wants to destroy him. Impressively directed The Long Good Friday is a gripping drama featuring terrific performances from Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren.

849. Ex Machina (2015) Dir. Alex Garland, 108 mins.

Garland’s psychological sci-fi thriller follows a programmer, working for an internet search engine giant, who wins an office competition for a one-week visit to the luxurious, isolated home of the CEO but then finds he’s been chosen as the human component for a Turing test evaluating an intelligent humanoid robot. It’s a clever and thought provoking film with engaging performances particularly from Alicia Vikander as the A.I.

848. Good Bye Lenin! (2003) Dir. Wolfgang Becker, 121 mins.

Set in East Berlin, the film follows a year in the life of a German boy, Alex (Daniel Bruhl), up to just after German reunification in 1990. After his socialist mother sees Alex arrested during an anti-government demonstration she suffers a heart attack and remains comatose through the fall of the Berlin wall and the GDR. Knowing that the slightest shock could prove fatal upon his mother’s awakening, Alex then attempts to pull off an elaborate scheme to keep the fall of the socialist regime a secret from her for as long as possible. Becker’s comedy drama is a poignant and endearing story that critiques western consumerism and socialist authoritarianism.

847. The Birds (1963) Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 119 mins.

Loosely based on the 1952 story of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, the film focuses on a series of sudden, unexplained violent bird attacks on the people of Bodega Bay, California over the course of a few days. Perhaps dented by comparisons to the brilliance of Hitchcock’s previous three films (Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho), The Birds was uneasily received at the time of release, but is now lauded for its masterful suspense.

846. Down By Law (1986) Dir. Jim Jarmusch, 107 mins.

The film centres on the arrest, incarceration and escape from jail of three men, a disc jockey (Tom Waits), a pimp (John Lurie) and an Italian tourist (Roberto Benigni). Arguably Jarmusch’s best film, Down by Law is delightfully funny and stylishly cinematic.

845. Fireworks (1997) Dir. Takeshi Kitano, 103 mins.

Writer/director Takeshi Kitano plays a beleaguered policeman, Nishi, whose life is falling apart around him. His daughter was murdered, his wife is dying of leukemia, and his partner was ambushed by gangsters and paralysed. Nishi further complicates his situation by borrowing money from the Yakusa so that he can quit his job and spend more time with his wife. Fascinating, unique and with brutal flashes of violence, Fireworks helped transform Kitano’s reputation into that of a serious filmmaker in his native Japan.

844. The Circus (1928) Dir. Charlie Chaplin, 71 mins.

The ringmaster of an impoverished circus hires Chaplin’s Little Tramp as a clown, but discovers that he can only be funny unintentionally, not on purpose. Given that the troubled production coincided with the death of Chaplin’s mother and divorce proceedings by his second wife Lita Grey, it’s hardly surprising that The Circus has bitter undertones. However, the film does have moments of cinematic brilliance and hilarious slapstick comedy.

843. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) Dir. William A. Wellman, 75 mins.

With Westerns becoming vehicles for the exploration of moral issues in the 1940s, The Ox-Bow Incident deals with a lynching that exposes the hypocrisy of respectable society. Two drifters (Henry Fonda and Harry Morgan) are passing through a small Nevada town when they hear that a local rancher has been murdered and his cattle stolen. They join a posse with the townspeople and when three men are found in possession of the cattle, the drifters try to prevent an act of mob mentality. Despite technical and narrative flaws it has been acclaimed as one of most important films of the western genre.

842. Shoot the Piano Player (1960) Dir. Francois Truffaut, 92 mins.

Strikingly inventive, Truffaut’s second feature follows a one-time concert pianist (Charles Aznavour) who gained fame but then changed his name and plays honky-tonk in an out-of-the-way saloon. His self-imposed exile ends when two of his brothers get into trouble with gangsters they double crossed and the pianist helps them escape, putting his life and that of another brother into jeopardy. With inspiration from his favourite American directors and employing the hallmarks of the French New Wave, Truffaut blends suspense, humour and a variety of technical styles to create a film noir masterpiece.

841. Castle in the Sky (1986) Dir. Hayao Miyazaki, 124 mins.

Miyazaki’s animated classic follows the adventures of a young boy and girl attempting to keep a magic crystal from a group of military agents, while searching for a legendary floating castle. Blends fable, steampunk and exciting action scenes to create an epic fantasy for all ages.




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The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2018) 880-861

Introduction

880. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) Dir. Hayao Miyazaki, 103 mins.

The film tells the story of a young witch, Kiki, who moves to a new town and uses her flying ability to earn a living delivering for a bakery. A charming, warm coming of age tale that’s beautifully animated.

879. Synecdoche, New York (2008) Dir. Charlie Kaufman, 124 mins.

The plot follows an ailing theatre director (Philip Seymour Hoffman), working on an increasingly elaborate stage production, whose extreme commitment to realism begins to blur the boundaries between fiction and reality. Writer/director Kaufman’s film was lauded for it’s ambition and it does have some brilliant parts but many will it find it uneven and baffling.

878. The Bad Sleep Well (1960) Dir. Akira Kurosawa, 151 mins.

Another entry in the legendary collaboration between Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune, the film follows a young man who gets a prominent position in a corrupt postwar Japanese company in order to expose the men responsible for his father’s suicide. Influenced by the Hollywood crime dramas of the 1940’s and Shakespeare, The Bad Sleep Well is a competent thriller and while it doesn’t quite match Kurosawa’s best work, it’s visually striking and Mifune is compelling as the office worker looking for revenge.

877. Shadows (1959) Dir. John Cassavetes, 87 mins.

Based on improvisations which originated in his actor’s workshop, Cassavetes’s low budget ($40,000), independently produced film is notable for its intense realism and sensitive handling of racial issues. It depicts two weeks in the lives of three African-American siblings on the margins of society, two brothers who are struggling jazz musicians and their sister who dates several men.

876. Wake in Fright (1971) Dir. Ted Kotcheff, 114 mins.

Wake in Fright offers a cutting critique of Australian masculinity through a story of a young schoolteacher from Sydney who descends into personal moral degradation while trapped in a menacing outback town. Seen as a pivotal entry in the Australian New Wave, the film is brilliantly directed by Kotcheff.

875. Eyes Without a Face (1960) Dir. Georges Franju, 88 mins.

Franju’s influential chiller, an adaptation of Jean Redon’s novel, follows a brilliant but crazed surgeon who resorts to horrifying measures to restore the beauty of his daughter’s disfigured face. Was met with disgust by some critics when first released but is now lauded for its visual poetry.

874. Letters From a Dead Man (1986) Dir. Konstantin Lopushansky, 87 mins.

The film takes place in a Soviet village which is devastated by a nuclear meltdown. A professor (Rolan Bykov), a Nobel Prize laureate in Physics, is trying to survive in the basement of the former museum of history with a small group of children and adults. The professor begins composing letters to his son, Eric, who had disappeared shortly after the disaster. Clearly influenced by Andrei Tarkovsky (Lopushansky worked on Stalker) Letters From a Dead Man is an eloquent, powerful and strangely beautiful film.

873. Edward Scissorhands (1990) Dir. Tim Burton, 105 mins.

Burton’s modern fairy tale stars Johnny Depp (in their first collaboration) as an artificial young man named Edward who is built, but unfinished, by an eccentric inventor (Vincent Price). When his maker dies, Edward is left with scissor blades instead of hands. He is taken in by a suburban family and falls in love with their teenage daughter Kim (Winona Ryder). Delightfully charming cinema that is also a visual treat.

872. Brooklyn (2015) Dir. John Crowley, 111 mins.

Set in the early 1950s, the film tells the story of a young Irish woman’s immigration to Brooklyn, where she falls in love, but her past catches up with her, leaving a choice between the two countries. An old fashioned, sensitive period drama bolstered by an excellent lead performance by Saoirse Ronan. Brooklyn was ranked 48th on BBC’s 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century.

871. Glory (1989) Dir. Edward Zwick, 122 mins.

The film is set during the American Civil War and follows one of the first military units of the Union Army (the 54th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry) to consist entirely of African-American men except for its officers. Told from the point of view of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, its white commanding officer, Glory is a visceral, emotive war film and a fitting long overdue tribute to its black heroes.



870. Roman Holiday (1953) Dir. William Wyler, 118 mins.

A romantic comedy that stars Audrey Hepburn as a sheltered royal princess, of an unspecified country, who falls for an American news reporter (Gregory Peck) in Rome. A funny and lovely fairy tale immaculately directed by William Wyler.

869. Suspiria (1977) Dir. Dario Argento, 98 mins.

Full of the stylistic delirious excess that made Argento a cult director, Suspiria follows a young American ballet student who transfers to a prestigious dance academy in Germany and, amidst a series of murders, finds herself battling a witches coven. As well as being recognised as influential in the horror genre, The Village Voice ranked Suspiria #100 on their list of the 100 greatest films made in the 20th century. It was also ranked #312 on Empire magazine’s 500 greatest films ever as well as number 45 on their list ‘The 100 Best Films of World Cinema’.

868. United 93 (2006) Dir. Paul Greengrass, 111 mins.

The film chronicles events aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which was hijacked during the September 11 attacks of 2001. Treating the subject matter with real respect and apparently made with the cooperation of all of the passengers’ families, Greengrass’s film is obviously not an enjoyable watch but is well crafted, powerful and sobering.

867. The End of Summer (1961) Dir. Yasujiro Ozu, 103 mins.

Manbei Kohayagawa (Ganjiro Nakamura) is the head of a small sake brewery company that is in difficulties. As the family patriarch he also has to deal with daughter problems, one, a widow, needs help in finding a new mate and the other needs help making the right choice in a future spouse. Whilst some have dismissed The End of Summer as boring, others admire the beautiful cinematography and witty script.

866. On the Silver Globe (1989) Dir. Andrzej Zulawski, 166 mins.

Falling somewhere between Tarkovsky and Jodorowsky, Zulawski’s weird and visually extravagant sci-fi deals with a group of space researchers who leave the Earth to find freedom but their spaceship crash lands on an Earth like planet. Only one crew member survives into old age and becomes both hated and revered as a sort of demi-God by the new society he and his fellow travellers had created. The film had a hugely troubled production history and was shut down by Poland’s vice-minister of cultural affairs when only 80% complete. Fortunately the film studio and members of the cast and crew preserved the existing reels and the film was eventually released after the end of communist rule. It consists of the preserved footage plus a commentary to fill in the narrative gaps.

865. After Hours (1985) Dir. Martin Scorsese, 97 mins.

After a string of box office disappointments in the early 1980s and Paramounts’s abandonment of The Last Temptation of Christ production, Scorsese decided to focus on a small scale project. After Hours follows Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne), as he experiences a series of misadventures while making his way home from New York City’s SoHo district during the night. A high energy dark comedy that’s also a visual treat.

864. Love and Death (1975) Dir. Woody Allen, 85 mins.

Filled with Allen’s much loved neurotic humour, Love and Death is a satire on Russian literature following Boris (Woody Allen) and his distant cousin, Sonja (Diane Keaton), who are living in Russia during the Napoleonic Era. After Boris accidentally becomes a war hero and Sonja is left a widow, they get married and engage in mock-serious philosophical debates. Silly, very funny and even poignant at times.

863. This Sporting Life (1963) Dir. Lindsay Anderson, 85 mins.

Adapted by former professional rugby league footballer David Storey from his own novel, Anderson’s raw and brutal ‘kitchen sink’ drama follows a rugby league player, Frank Machin (Richard Harris), in Wakefield, a mining area of Yorkshire, whose romantic life is not as successful as his sporting life.

862. The Straight Story (1999) Dir. David Lynch, 112 mins.

The film is based on the true story of Alvin Straight’s 1994 journey across Iowa and Wisconsin on a lawn mower to visit his estranged brother Lyle, who has suffered a stroke, and hopefully make amends before he dies. The slow pace may well bore younger viewers but The Straight Story is a lyrically profound work that features a perfect performance by Richard Farnsworth.

861. Skyfall (2012) Dir. Sam Mendes, 120 mins.

Full of terrific action sequences and memorable performances, Skyfall centres on Bond (Daniel Craig) investigating an attack on MI6, which turns out to be part of a plot by former MI6 agent Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) to humiliate, discredit and kill M as revenge for her betraying him. Thanks to smart direction from Mendes and more brilliant cinematography from Roger Deakins the film has been lauded as one of the best Bond movies to date.




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The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2018) 900-881

Introduction

900. Gangs of New York (2002) Dir. Martin Scorsese, 167 mins.

The film is set in 1864 in the slum neighbourhood of Five Points, Manhattan and follows Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo Di Caprio) an orphan who seeks revenge against gang leader William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), a crime boss and political kingmaker who had murdered Vallon’s father 18 years earlier. Considered a lesser Scorsese work by some critics Gangs of New York is still a terrific piece of film-making with an exceptional performance from Day-Lewis.

899. Flowers of Shanghai (1998) Dir. Hsiao-hsien Hou, 130 mins.

Set in Shanghai in the 1880s the film follows the intrigues of four elegant brothels, each with a madam, a courtesan in her prime, older servants and maturing girls in training. Maybe not Hou’s best film and it does require plenty of patience, but it’s worth seeing for its exquisite imagery.

898. Midnight Express (1978) Dir. Alan Parker, 121 mins.

Based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Billy Hayes, the film is an often harrowing account of a young American student, Hayes, sent to a Turkish prison for trying to smuggle hashish out of Turkey in 1970. While the film received criticism for the depiction of Turkish prison workers as violent villains and for deviations from the book, it has some unforgettable scenes and a powerful performance by Brad Davis as Hayes.

897. The Little Foxes (1941) Dir. William Wyler, 115 mins.

An adaptation of Lillian Hellman’s play that involves the corrupt machinations  of Regina Giddens (Bette Davis) and her two greedy brothers who scheme mercilessly in their attempt to make a fortune on a new cotton mill. In the process, Regina is willing to crush anyone who stands in their way including her own husband who has a serious heart condition. Entertaining, insightful and with innovative cinematography The Little Foxes is a prime example of how well a play can be adapted for the big screen.

896. The New Land (1972) Dir. Jan Troell, 204 mins.

In a sequel to Troell’s 1971 film The Emigrants, Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann star as the Swedish immigrants establishing their home in Minnesota, during the Dakota War of 1862. With totally believable characters and stunning photography The New Land makes for brilliant and compelling cinema.

895. Porco Rosso (1992) Dir. Hayao Miyazaki, 94 mins.

The plot revolves around an Italian World War I ex-fighter ace, who thanks to an unusual curse, has been transformed into a pig, and is now living as a freelance bounty hunter chasing “air pirates” in the Adriatic Sea. More beautiful animation and irresistible, vibrant story telling from the masterful Miyazaki.

894. Hugo (2011) Dir. Martin Scorsese, 126 mins.

Martin Scorsese’s love letter to the magic of early cinema was his first use of 3-D. The film is an adaptation of Brian Selznick’s award-winning, imaginative best-seller, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” and follows a 12 year old boy who lives alone, after his father is killed, in the walls of the Gare Montparnasse railway station in Paris in the 1930s. The boy embarks on a quest to solve the mystery of a broken automation his father has left him. A charming and moving children’s tale that should appeal to all lovers of cinema.

893. Evil Dead II (1987) Dir. Sam Raimi, 85 mins.

The second of three films in the Evil Dead series is part horror, part comedy, with Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) once again battling horrifying demons at a secluded cabin in the woods. Inventive and full of energy, Evil Dead II is very funny and has better special effects and scares than the original.

892. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970) Dir. Vittorio De Sica, 94 mins.

Vittorio De Sica’s The Garden of the Finzi-Continis focuses on an intellectual, aristocratic Jewish family living in Ferrara, Italy in the late 1930s who don’t comprehend the threat of the Nazis until its too late. Moving and tragic it brilliantly depicts a family living an idyllic sheltered existence that is torn apart by the rise of fascism.

891. Crumb (1994) Dir. Terry Zwigoff, 119 mins.

A 1994 documentary film about the noted underground cartoonist Robert Crumb and his family, particularly his brothers, Maxon and Charles, as well as Robert’s wife Aline Kominsky-Crumb and his children. Making the connection between Crumb’s creativity and his eccentricity or perhaps craziness, the film is troubling and disarming with some haunting images.



890. Divorce Italian Style (1961) Dir. Pietro Germi, 105 mins.

Marcello Mastroianni excels in Germi’s hugely entertaining and darkly humorous comedy as an impoverished Sicilian nobleman who wishes to end his marriage to his shrewish but devoted wife because he’s fallen in love with his much younger attractive cousin. While Italian Catholic law prohibits divorce, murder is only punishable by a light sentence if it’s committed to restore family honour. So he plans to find his wife a lover, deciding on a local priest’s godson with long standing feelings for the wife, and shoot them both in a jealous rage.

889. La Chienne (1931) Dir. Jean Renoir, 91 mins.

Bleak, pessimistic and highly controversial (it wasn’t shown in the US until 1975), Renoir’s precursor of Italian neo-realism follows Maurice, a meek bank clerk and aspiring painter, who is trapped in a marriage with an abusive woman who mistreats him. After a work celebration, Maurice sees a young woman, Lulu, on the street being beaten by a man. He protects her and takes her home. Maurice soon falls in love with her, unaware that she’s a prostitute and that the man who was beating her is her pimp, Dede. Janie Pelletier gives a notable performance as Lulu, but didn’t get the chance to enjoy the acclaim, as just weeks after the film was completed she was killed in a car crash.

888. The Burmese Harp (1956) Dir. Kon Ichikawa, 116 mins.

Based on a children’s novel of the same name written by Michio Takeyama, the film tells the story of a group of Japanese soldiers trying to uncover whether one of their number survived after the Burma Campaign of World War II. Could he be the same person as a Buddhist monk they see playing a harp? Notable as one of the first films to portray the losses of World War II from the perspective of the Japanese army, The Burmese Harp remains a powerful and purposeful anti-war film.

887. Collateral (2004) Dir. Michael Mann, 120 mins.

Mann’s neo-noir crime drama stars Tom Cruise cast against type as a contract killer and Jamie Foxx as a taxi driver who becomes Cruise’s hostage during an evening of the hit-man’s work. Helped by widely praised performances from its two leads, Collateral is a stylish and tense thriller.

886. Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler (1922) Dir. Fritz Lang, 297 mins.

Criminal mastermind Dr. Mabuse attempts to gain total control over society by manipulating the stock market. He uses hypnosis, seductive women and psychological terror to drive his wealthy victims to self destruction. Exuberant but uneven cinema art, Dr. Mabuse remains a film to see for the moments of visual brilliance.

885. Time of the Gypsies (1988) Dir. Emir Kusturica, 136 mins.

After several notable award winners earlier in the 80s, Bosnian born Kusterica further affirmed his reputation as a world class European director with a film about a Romani teenager with telekinetic powers who is tricked into engaging in petty crime in Milan’s underworld. Funny, moving and tragic.

884. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) Dir. Danny Boyle, 120 mins.

The film tells the story of 18 year old orphan Jamal Malik, from the Juhu slums of Mumbai, who becomes a contestant on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Jamal looks back on his life so far, showing how he is able to answer every question while dealing with the suspicions that he is cheating. A feel good film that’s often exhilarating, Slumdog won eight academy awards.

883. Fury (1936) Dir. Fritz Lang, 90 mins.

Having escaped Nazi Germany after Hitler’s request that he become head of the fascist regime’s film industry, Lang signed a contract with MGM and convinced the studio to let him make a film about an ordinary man (Spencer Tracey) mistakenly arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and possibly murdering a child. When a frenzied mob of town residents set fire to the jail the man is presumed wrongly to be dead. He then sacrifices his relationships with his family and sweetheart, becoming obsessed with taking revenge on his accusers. Lang’s powerful film shows how the quest for revenge dehumanises the man in much the same way as it did the lynch mob.

882. The Letter (1940) Dir. William Wyler, 95 mins.

Nobody played strong and bitter women quite like Bette Davis. Here Davis is Leslie Crosbie, the malevolent wife of a Malaysian rubber magnate (Herbert Marshall) who is accused of murdering her lover and attempting to cover up the crime. Wyler’s classic melodrama might be a tad predictable but it should be seen for Davis’s powerful performance and the brilliant opening scene.

881. Les Vampires (1915) Dir. Louis Feuillade, 399 mins.

Feuillade’s celebrated underworld crime series was made up of ten feature length episodes released monthly. It follows a journalist and his friend who become involved in trying to uncover and stop a bizarre underground Apache gang, known as The Vampires. Elegantly beautiful and exhilarating, the film was despised by many critics when first released but is now revered, particularly the performance of Musidora as Irma Vep.



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The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2018) 920-901

Introduction

920. Fox and His Friends (1975) Dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 123 mins.

The plot follows the misadventures of a working-class homosexual, who wins the lottery and then falls in love with the elegant son of an industrialist. His lover uses flattery to exploit him and ultimately swindles him out of his fortune. A riveting melodrama that features a strong lead performance by director Fassbinder.

919. The Thief of Bagdad (1924) Dir. Raoul Walsh, 155 mins.

As one of those who formed United Artists, star Douglas Fairbanks had far more control of his work in the 1920s, which led to more technically and aesthetically ambitious films such as this humorous adventure epic. Adapted from One Thousand and One Nights, Fairbanks stars as a thief who falls in love with the daughter of the Caliph of Bagdad. While many will find it too long, it has a captivating story, groundbreaking special effects and Fairbanks is a magnetic presence.

918. Sense and Sensibility (1995) Dir. Ang Lee, 136 mins.

Based on Jane Austen’s 1811 novel of the same name, the story follows the Dashwood sisters, members of a wealthy English family of landed gentry, as they are forced to seek financial security through marriage after falling into sudden destitution. Witty, lively and even a little sad, Sense and Sensibility is a triumph for Emma Thompson who wrote the script as well as starring as the eldest sister.

917. The Butcher (1970) Dir. Claude Chabrol, 93 mins.

Chabrol’s thriller follows a confident, slightly naive young teacher who meets a butcher at a wedding ceremony, and they strike up a close but platonic relationship. The young woman then grows suspicious of the butcher when a series of women in their small town fall victim to an unknown murderer. With something of a nod to a Hitchcockian thriller, The Butcher builds into a gripping and compelling film.

916. Medea (1988) Dir. Lars von Trier, 75 mins.

Based on Carl Theodor Dreyer’s adaptation of Euripides’ play, Medea was shot on analog video for TV. The film is a mythological story that depicts the events folowing the tale of Jason and the Argonauts. Medea, the mother of Jason’s two children, plans a horrible revenge against her husband and the King after she is exiled so that Jason can marry the king’s daughter. A compelling human drama with some haunting imagery.

915. L’Amour Fou (1969) Dir. Jacques Rivette, 252 mins.

L’Amour fou follows the dissolution of a marriage between Claire, an actress (played by Bulle Ogier), and Sebastien, her director (Jean-Pierre Kalfon). Innovative and adventurous, Rivette’s film was a vital component in the career path that led to his opus Out 1.

914. True Romance (1993) Dir. Tony Scott, 121 mins.

Scripted by Quentin Tarantino, the film follows Clarence Worley, a well-meaning but socially unskilled comic-shop clerk, who visits a grindhouse cinema and meets and falls in love with the beautiful Alabama. To Clarence’s disappointment he finds she’s a prostitute paid by his boss. However, Alabama has fallen for Clarence and is ready to get away from her pimp to be with him. With a terrific cast, plenty of humour and violent action, True Romance has earned cult status. In 2008 it was placed 157th on Empire Magazine’s 500 Greatest films of all time.

913. The Piano Teacher (2001) Dir. Michael Haneke, 131 mins.

It tells the story of an unmarried piano teacher at a Vienna conservatory, who is in her 40s and still living with her mother. Trapped in a state of emotional and sexual repression, she becomes attracted to a pupil but in the end repels him by her need for humiliation and self-harm. Some will question the purpose of Haneke’s psychological thriller and it’s certainly not an easy watch but does include perhaps Isabelle Huppert’s best performance as the troubled teacher.

912. A Room With a View (1985) Dir. James Ivory, 117 mins.

An adaptation of E. M. Forster’s novel, the film is set in England and Italy and follows a young woman named Lucy Honeychurch (a terrific film debut by Helena Bonham Carter) in the restrictive and repressed culture of Edwardian era England and her developing love for free-spirited young George Emerson. The film is hugely entertaining, very funny and includes great performances by a talented cast. Critics were particularly impressed by the relative new comer Daniel Day-Lewis as the snobbish and pretentious Cecil given that the part was on another planet to his other acclaimed role of 1985 as a gay street punk in My Beautiful Laundrette.

911. The Innocents (1961) Dir. Jack Clayton, 100 mins.

Based on the novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, the plot follows a governess who watches over two children and comes to fear that their house is haunted by ghosts and that the two children are being possessed. A British psychological horror that is smart, creepy and features a notable performance by Deborah Kerr as the governess.




 

910. Titanic (1997) Dir. James Cameron, 194 mins.

The film is a fictionalised account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912 and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet (both in star making performances) as members of different social classes who fall in love aboard the ship during its ill-fated maiden voyage. Although a technical masterclass, it has become popular to bash the film for its dialogue and melodrama, but putting to one side the dreadful Billy Zane character, Titanic features a tender love story and an ending that should have even the most cynical moviegoer shedding a tear.

909. Women in Love (1969) Dir. Ken Russell, 131 mins.

An adaptation of D. H. Lawrence’s novel of the same name, the plot follows the relationships between two sisters and two men in a mining town in post First World War England, exploring the nature of commitment and love. Perhaps Russell’s most fully realised film, it’s brilliant at times, with great performances and dialogue that’s far more exciting than the once controversial nudity.

908. Serpico (1973) Dir. Sidney Lumet, 130 mins.

An adaption of Peter Maas’s biography of NYPD officer Frank Serpico which covers 12 years of his undercover work to expose corruption in the police force. The film features a powerful central performance by Al Pacino and is thought provoking, gritty and compelling.

907. The Iron Giant (1999) Dir. Brad Bird, 86 mins.

Before moving onto box office success with Pixar, Brad Bird experienced financial failure (probably due to poor marketing) with The Iron Giant despite the sci-fi comedy drama receiving wide spread critical acclaim particularly for its beautiful animation and well crafted characters. Bird’s directorial debut is set during the Cold War in 1957 and follows a young boy named Hogarth Hughes, who discovers a giant metallic robot who fell from space. With the help of a beatnik artist, the boy attempts to prevent the U.S. military and a paranoid federal agent, from finding and destroying the Giant.

906. Django (1966) Dir. Sergio Corbucci, 93 mins.

Corbucci’s Italian Spaghetti Western follows a Union soldier-turned-drifter and his companion, a mixed-race prostitute, who become embroiled in a bitter, destructive feud between a Ku Klux Klan-esque gang of Confederate racists and a band of Mexican revolutionaries. Violent, artistically shot and with a breakthrough performance by Franco Nero.

905. Moon (2009) Dir. Duncan Jones, 97 mins.

Duncan Jones’s feature debut follows Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), a man who experiences a personal crisis as he nears the end of a three-year solitary stint mining helium-3 on the far side of the Moon. Rockwell gives an intense performance in a gripping old school sci-fi that has heart as well as intelligence.

904. Stranger Than Paradise (1984) Dir. Jim Jarmusch, 89 mins.

Jarmusch’s absurdist comedy was shot entirely in single long takes and is a three act minimalist story about Willie (John Lurie), who lives in New York City, and his interactions with the two other main characters, Eva (Eszter Balint) and Eddie (Richard Edson). Some will hate the slow pace, but others will find it an occasionally hilarious and engaging comedy.

903. V for Vendetta (2006) Dir. James McTeigue, 132 mins.

Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, the film is set in an alternative future where a neo-fascist regime has subjugated the United Kingdom. Hugo Weaving portrays V, an anarchist freedom fighter who attempts to ignite a revolution through elaborate terrorist acts, and Natalie Portman plays Evey, a young, working-class woman caught up in V’s mission. While Moore, damaged by previously poor adaptations of his work, wanted his name removed from the production, V should still be seen for its stunning visual style and the thought provoking, subversive narrative.

902. American Gangster (2007) Dir. Ridley Scott, 157 mins.

The partly fictionalised film is based on the criminal career of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), a gangster from La Grange, North Carolina who smuggled heroin into the United States on American service planes returning from the Vietnam War, before being detained by a task force led by detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe). Great lead performances and well executed, American Gangster is an immersive experience even if it does start to lose direction towards the end.

901. An Actor’s Revenge (1963) Dir. Kon Ichikawa, 113 mins.

Visually stunning and profoundly affecting Ichikawa’s Kabuti (one of the theatre styles of Japan) classic is set in 1836, and follows Yukinojo (Kasuo Hasegawa) an actor, travelling to Edo in feminine disguise. On his journey, he recognises three ruthless merchants who ruined his father’s business, driving him to suicide. He follows them along with a mysterious bandit, pledging revenge even if it means the destruction of one of the merchant’s innocent daughters, who has fallen in love with him.




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