520. Floating Weeds (1959) Dir. Yasujiro Ozu, 119 mins.
This 1959 Ozu production centres on the likeable but fallible leader of an itinerant acting troupe (“floating weeds” being the Japanese name for such groups), Kimajuro, played brilliantly by Ganjiro Nakamura.
519. Nostos: The Return (1989) Dir. Franco Piavoli, 85 mins.
At the end of the war, Odysseus, the wandering hero, with his companions begins his sail back home to the Mediterranean. The conclusion of his adventure is delayed by many natural obstacles…
518. The Usual Suspects (1995) Dir. Bryan Singer, 106 mins.
The plot follows the interrogation of Roger “Verbal” Kint, a small-time con man who is one of only two survivors of a massacre and fire on a ship docked at the Port of Los Angeles. He tells an interrogator a convoluted story about events that led him and his partners in crime to the boat, and about a mysterious mob boss known as Keyser Söze who commissioned their work.
517. The Long Goodbye (1973) Dir. Robert Altman, 112 mins.
Based on Raymond Chandler’s novel but set later in the 1970s, the film follows smart-aleck, cat-loving private eye Philip Marlowe (Elliott Gould) who is certain that his friend Terry Lennox (Jim Bouton) isn’t a wife-killer, even after the cops throw Marlowe in jail for not cooperating with their investigation into Lennox’s subsequent disappearance.
516. Pixote (1981) Dir. Hector Babenco, 128 mins.
The plot revolves around Pixote (Fernando Ramos da Silva), a ten year old boy living on the streets of Sao Paulo, who is used as a child criminal in muggings and drug transport. Babenco delivers an hallucinatory vision with an uncompromising realism that offers no easy solutions to the plight of Pixote and his fellow street boys. The story takes on further resonance with the knowledge that six years after the film da Silva was killed in a shoot out with police.
515. Amadeus (1984) Dir. Milos Forman, 160 mins.
The film follows Italian composer Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) at the court of Emperor Joseph II, and his jealous vendetta against his younger rival, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
514. No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005) Dir. Martin Scorsese, 208 mins.
Scorsese traces the life of Bob Dylan, and his impact on 20th-century American popular music and culture. The film focuses on the period between Dylan’s arrival in New York in January 1961 and his “retirement” from touring following his motorcycle accident in July 1966. This period encapsulates Dylan’s rise to fame as a folk singer and songwriter, and the controversy surrounding his move to a rock style of music
513. Leon (1994) Dir. Luc Besson, 110 mins.
Film about a French hitman (Jean Reno) who is befriended by a girl (Natalie Portman) who’s parents were killed by corrupt police officers. An engaging actioner with art house pretensions.
512. Heart of a Dog (1988) Dir. Vladimir Bortko, 130 mins.
This Soviet film tells the story of Preobrazhensky (Yevgeni Yevstigneyev), a surgeon, who is a professor of medicine in Moscow. After the Russian revolution is thoroughly in place, he is visited by the housing committee, who feels that he should share the spaciousness of his “big” five-room apartment with several others. Meanwhile, in an experiment he implants a dog with the heart and brain of a tramp. The dog gradually transforms into a man (Vladimir Tolokonnikov), but still has some doggy attitudes.
511. Heat (1995) Dir. Michael Mann, 188 mins.
A surprisingly literate action film from the master of stylised drama, where Robert De Niro plays Neil McCauley, a professional thief, while Al Pacino plays Lt. Vincent Hanna, a LAPD robbery-homicide detective tracking down McCauley’s crew. It’s an influential and engrossing crime thriller that also provides insight into the psychology behind the actions of those on both sides of the law.
510. I Knew Her Well (1965) Dir. Antonio Pietrangeli, 115 mins.
A young woman from the Italian countryside experiences the dark side of the business after she moves to Rome to become a star.
509. Limelight (1952) Dir. Charles Chaplin, 141 mins.
Something of personal indulgence from Chaplin, the film is set in the theatrical London of his childhood and deals with the difficulties of making comedy and the fickle nature of the audience. Chaplin plays a washed-up drunken comedian who saves a suicidal dancer (Claire Bloom) from killing herself and nurses her to success. The film appears to be both a reflection on Chaplin’s damaged reputation (thanks to an FBI smear campaign) and a retreat into the past. Its nostalgia is never more evident than when Buster Keaton appears in a brilliant cameo. (He’d been largely forgotten by the public at that time).
508. Taste of Cherry (1997) Dir. Abbas Kiarostami, 95 mins.
Mr Badii (Homayoun Ershadi), a middle-aged man, drives through a city suburb looking for someone who can burying him after he commits suicide in return for a large amount of money. While Roger Ebert, in particular, hated the film others consider it hypnotic and profound. Buy
507. 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. Watch
506. In a Year of Thirteen Moons (1978) Dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 124 mins.
The film recounts the last few days in the life of Elvira (Volker Spengler), a transsexual woman formerly known as Erwin. After being beaten up for trying to buy sex in a park, she returns home to her longtime lover Christoph (Karl Scheydt), who’s been away for six weeks. Christoph abuses her verbally and physically, and when he announces he’s leaving for good, she desperately tries to stop him, only to be rescued by her friend Zora (Ingrid Caven).
505. The Lion King (1994) Dir. Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff, 89 mins.
Based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Lion King tells the story of Simba, a young lion who is to succeed his father, Mufasa, as King of the Pride Lands. However, after Simba’s uncle Scar (Mufasa’s jealous younger brother), murders Mufasa, Simba is manipulated into thinking he was responsible and flees into exile. He ends up living with two wastrels until he reaches adulthood, when he is given some valuable perspective from his childhood friend, Nala, and his shaman, Rafiki, before returning to challenge Scar to end his tyranny and take his place in the Circle of Life as the rightful King. Recognised as the peak of Disney’s renaissance, The Lion King is a stunningly animated and compelling film, further enhanced by the music of Elton John.
504. Entranced Earth (1967) Dir. Glauber Rocha, 106 mins.
Eldorado, a fictitious country in Latin America, is sparkling with the internal struggle for political power. A jaded journalist opposes two equally corrupt political candidates, a pseudopopulist and a conservative.
503. 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.
502. 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.
501. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) Dir. Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, 91 mins.
It parodies the legend of King Arthur’s quest to find the Holy Grail. Marvelous exuberant comedy.