700. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) Dir. Woody Allen, 103 mins.
Hannah and Her Sisters tells the intertwined stories of an extended family over two years that begins and ends with a Thanksgiving dinner.
699. Days of Being Wild (1990) Dir. Wong Kar-Wai, 94 mins.
Although a box office flop domestically, Wong Kar-Wai’s second feature maintained his reputation as one of the best up and coming art house directors on the international scene. Set in 1960, the stylish drama centres on the young, boyishly handsome rebel, Yuddy (Leslie Cheung), who learns from the drunken ex-prostitute who raised him that she is not his real mother. Deciding to trace the Filipino who gave birth to him, he leaves behind, with heartless disregard, two woman (Maggie Cheung and Carina Lau) who have fallen for him. With an intricately structured narrative and striking cinematography by Christopher Doyle, Days of Being Wild is probably Wong’s most underrated film.
698. The Big Heat (1953) Dir. Fritz Lang, 89 mins.
It centres on a cop who takes on the crime syndicate that controls his city, after the murder of his wife.
697. The Cranes Are Flying (1957) Dir. Mikhail Kalatozov, 94 mins.
It depicts the cruelty of war and the damage suffered to the Soviet psyche as a result of World War II.
696. RoboCop (1987) Dir. Paul Verhoeven, 103 mins.
Set in a crime-ridden Detroit, Michigan, in the near future, RoboCop centres on police officer Alex Murphy (Weller) who is murdered by a gang of criminals and subsequently revived by the megacorporation Omni Consumer Products (OCP) as a superhuman cyborg law enforcer known as RoboCop.
695. The Sword of Doom (1966) Dir. Kihachi Okamoto, 119 mins.
A bloodthirsty young fighter (Tatsuya Nakadai) kills a man in competition and is pursued by the slain warrior’s brother.
694. Avatar (2009) Dir. James Cameron, 150 mins.
The film is set in 2154, when humans are mining a precious mineral called unobtanium on Pandora, a lush moon of a gas giant in the Alpha Centauri star system. The expansion of the mining threatens the continued existence of a local tribe of Na’vi an indigenous humanoid species. We’ve seen this type of story before (Dances With Wolves and The Last Samurai are just two that come to mind), but never looking like this.
693. Breaker Morant (1980) Dir. Bruce Beresford, 107 mins.
While maybe lacking in subtlety, Bruce Beresford’s film touches a nationalist nerve by portraying Australian positivity against the pompous arrogance, conniving and incompetence of the British, who needing scapegoats for war crimes committed during the Second Anglo-Boer War, court martial three Australian Lieutenants Harry Morant (Edward Woodward), Peter Handcock (Bryan Brown) and George Witton. Set in 1902 and based on one of the first war crime prosecutions in British military history, the film offers historical insight from a time when Australia’s nationhood was being formed and still resonates with contemporary audiences thanks to its powerful sense of injustice.
692. Babette’s Feast (1987) Dir. Gabriel Axel, 102 mins.
A Danish film based on a short story by Karen Blixen (portrayed by Meryl Streep in Out of Africa) about two middle-aged sisters who take in a refugee as their housekeeper.
691. Goldfinger (1964) Dir. Guy Hamilton, 110 mins.
The quintessential Bond film follows Sean Connery’s 007 investigating gold smuggling by bullion dealer Auric Goldfinger and eventually uncovering his plans to contaminate the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox. The third entry in the series was a huge commercial success and features Shirley Bassey’s marvellous theme song and terrific action sequences.
690. Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) Dir. Michael Curtiz, 97 mins.
The film chronicles the fictional rise and fall of the notorious gangster William “Rocky” Sullivan (James Cagney). After spending three years in prison for armed robbery, Rocky intends to collect $100,000 from his co-conspirator, mob lawyer Jim Frazier. All the while, Father Jerry Connolly tries to prevent a group of youths from falling under Rocky’s influence.
689. Seven Beauties (1975) Dir. Lina Wertmüller, 115 mins.
Written by Wertmüller, the film is about an Italian everyman who deserts the army during World War II and is then captured by the Germans and sent to a prison camp, where he does anything to survive. Through flashbacks, we learn about his family of seven unattractive sisters, his accidental murder of one sister’s lover, his imprisonment in an insane asylum, where he rapes a patient, and his volunteering to be a soldier to escape confinement.
688. Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) Dir. Ingmar Bergman, 108 mins.
Although Ingmar Bergman had been directing films since the mid 1940s, it was not until Smiles of a Summer Night that he achieved substantial international recognition. Somewhat indebted to Mozart’s ‘ The Marriage of Figaro’, the film follows four people who indulge in a sexual rivalry during a wild weekend at a resort. A sophisticated comedy, the elegant ironies temper the film’s sense of the transience of love, happiness and enlightenment. The film inspired Woody Allen’s A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy.
687. Casque d’Or (1952) Dir. Jacques Becker, 96 mins.
One of the great films of the French classical era, Becker’s Casque d’Or is set in the turn of the century milieu of pimps and prostitutes. Not a popular success when released, perhaps because of its understated style, it has since been lauded for Simone Signoret’s performance and its heartbreaking romantic narrative.
686. War and Peace (1967) Dir. Sergei Bondarchuk, 453 mins.
An epic adaptation of Tolstoy’s novel that centres around the lives of two families during Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia.
685. Jurassic Park (1993) Dir. Steven Spielberg, 127 mins.
Based on the novel by Michael Crichton, Spielberg’s dinosaur epic is set on the fictional island of Isla Nublar, located off Central America’s Pacific Coast near Costa Rica, where a billionaire philanthropist (Richard Attenborough) and a small team of genetic scientists have created a wildlife park of cloned dinosaurs. When the park’s technology breaks the dinosaurs are set loose. While the film has a ferocity which sits uneasily alongside its tidy moral lessons, Spielberg manages to combine the bitter horror of his early work with state of the art special effects to create some awe inspiring moments. The film surpassed the earnings of E.T. to become, what was then, the biggest grossing film of all time.
684. Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974) Dir. Jacques Rivette, 192 mins.
The film begins with Julie sitting on a park bench reading a book of magic spells when a woman (Céline) walks past, and begins dropping (à la Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit) various possessions. Julie begins picking them up, and tries to follow Céline around Paris, sometimes at a great pace (for instance, sprinting up Montmartre to keep pace with Céline’s tram). After adventures following Céline around the Parisian streets, at one point it looks as if they have gone their separate ways, never to meet up again, Céline finally decides to move in with Julie.
683. Halloween (1978) Dir. John Carpenter, 91 mins.
In the film, on Halloween night in 1963, Michael Myers murders his sister in the fictional Midwestern United States town of Haddonfield, Illinois. He escapes on October 30, 1978, from Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, and returns home to kill again. The next day, Halloween, Michael stalks teenager Laurie Strode and her friends, while Michael’s psychiatrist, Samuel Loomis, pursues his patient, knowing his intentions.
682. 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.
681. Koyaanisqatsi (1982) Dir. Godfrey Reggio, 86 mins.
The first of Reggio’s trilogy of non-narrative examinations of landscapes and people-escapes with non-stop musical backing from Philip Glass.
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