420. Providence (1977) Dir. Alain Resnais, 110 mins.
It explores the processes of creativity through a portrayal of an ageing novelist, played by John Gielgud, who imagines scenes for his latest novel which draw upon his past history and his relationships with members of his family. A magisterial and deeply moving incursion into the fantasies of a dying man.
419. Yol (1982) Dir. Serif Goren, Yilmaz Guney, 114 mins.
With political views against the ruling Turkish military, filmmaker Yilmaz Guney was in prison when he wrote the script for Yol. Directed for him by longtime assistant Serif Goren (with explicit instructions from Guney), the film follows five prisoners given a week’s home leave during the aftermath of the military’s 1980 coup d’état. Probably the most internationally acclaimed and influential Turkish director, Guney was able to edit the film himself having begun exile in Switzerland. A powerful expose of oppression, it won the top prize at the Cannes film festival.
418. Dunkirk (2017) Dir. Christopher Nolan, 107 mins.
Dunkirk portrays the evacuation from three perspectives: land, sea, and air. Although a visually powerful film, the narrative structure will annoy some and as often goes with Nolan films it’s a little weak on the human drama.
417. Birdman (2014) Dir. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, 119 mins.
The story follows Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), a faded Hollywood actor best known for playing the superhero “Birdman”, as he struggles to mount a Broadway adaptation of a short story by Raymond Carver.
416. Doctor Zhivago (1965) Dir. David Lean, 197 mins.
Funded by an American studio, British director Lean’s epic stars Omar Sharif in the title role as Yuri Zhivago, a married physician whose life is irreversibly altered by the Russian Revolution and subsequent Civil War, and Julie Christie as his married love interest Lara Antipova.
415. Casino (1995) Dir. Martin Scorsese, 178 mins.
Based on a true story, Casino follows Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro), a Jewish American gambling handicapper who is called by the Italian Mob to oversee the day-to-day operations at the Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas.
414. The Virgin Spring (1960) Dir. Ingmar Bergman, 89 mins.
A medieval film that retells a legend of murder and expiation. Set in medieval Sweden, it is a rape and revenge tale about a father’s merciless response to the rape and murder of his young daughter. Underlying the film is the search for meaning in the face of suffering and despair. This existential angst is dramatised through the famous rape scene.
413. Spies (1928) Dir. Fritz Lang, 178 mins.
Rudolf Klein-Rogge plays a master criminal aiming for world domination.
412. Lolita (1962) Dir. Stanley Kubrick, 152 mins.
After the creative battles with Spartacus, Kubrick enjoyed full creative control over his adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel by moving to Borehamwood Studios in England. The film follows James Mason’s middle-aged literature lecturer who becomes sexually obsessed with Sue Lyon’s young adolescent. Kubrick turns the tragic tale into a sharp satire on the pathology of sexual frustration, but was widely criticised for making Lolita a teenager rather than pubescent nymphet of Nabokov’s novel.
411. Pinocchio (1940) Dir. Hamilton Luske, 88 mins.
Disney’s lavish animation reached its pinnacle in Pinocchio’s story book realism. The plot involves an old wood-carver named Geppetto who carves a wooden puppet, Pinocchio, which is then brought to life by a blue fairy, who informs him that he can become a real boy if he proves himself to be “brave, truthful, and unselfish”. Pinocchio’s efforts to succeed involve encounters with a host of unsavoury characters.
410. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) Dir. Elia Kazan, 125 mins.
It tells the story of a southern belle, Blanche DuBois, who, after encountering a series of personal losses, leaves her aristocratic background seeking refuge with her sister and brother-in-law in a dilapidated New Orleans tenement.
409. Midnight Cowboy (1969) Dir. John Schlesinger, 113 mins.
A con man and a Texas hustler try to survive on the tough streets of New York.
408. 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.
407. Red Desert (1964) Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, 120 mins.
Written by Antonioni and Tonino Guerra, the film is about a woman trying to survive in the modern world of cultural neurosis and existential doubt.
406. Ninotchka (1939) Dir. Ernst Lubitsch, 110 mins.
Frivolous perhaps, but Lubitsch’s satirical romance was acclaimed at the time of release as a poignantly balanced comedy. The film opens in Paris during the aftermath of the Russian revolution. A trio of Russian delegates (Sig Rumann, Felix Bressart, and Alexander Granach) are sent to the French capital to sell the Imperial Jewels for ready cash. After some problems the Russians dispatch no-nonsense diplomat, Nina Ivanovna “Ninotchka” Yakushova (Greta Garbo) to ensure the sale of the jewels. Still notable for its wit and the marvellous performance of Garbo, for some the film now looks contrived and surprisingly heavy-handed for a director such as as Lubitsch.
405. The Blue Angel (1930) Dir. Josef von Sternberg, 124 mins.
Directed in Berlin by the Austrian-American von Sternberg, the film was a co-production of Germany’s Ufa and Hollywood’s Paramount. Emil Jannings, back in Germany after his brief but highly successful stint in Hollywood silents, stars as the respectable straitlaced professor who transforms into a cabaret clown and descends into madness. Jannings is good but it’s Marlene Dietrich who steals the show as the magnetic temptress who ensnares him. The film made Dietrich an international superstar and remains, over 85 years later, an enthralling tale of love and obsession.
404. Cabaret (1972) Dir. Bob Fosse, 124 mins.
The film is set in Berlin during the Weimar Republic in 1931, under the ominous presence of the growing National Socialist Party. It follows American singer Sally Bowles who performs at the Kit Kat Klub.
403. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) Dir. Tobe Hooper, 83 mins.
The film follows a group of friends who fall victim to a family of cannibals while on their way to visit an old homestead.
402. Brokeback Mountain (2005) Dir. Ang Lee, 134 mins.
The film stars Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, and Michelle Williams, and depicts the complex emotional and sexual relationship between Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist in the American West from 1963 to 1983.
401. Il Posto (1961) Dir. Emanno Olmi, 93 mins.
An extension of Italian Neorealism, it explores many of the dehumanising practices of Italian corporations from the viewpoint of an Italian adolescent.