960. Jackie Brown (1997) Dir. Quentin Tarantino, 154 mins.
The film follows flight attendant Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) who is busted for smuggling money for her arms dealer boss, Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson). Facing jail if she doesn’t cooperate with the cops or death if she does, Brown decides instead to double-cross both parties and make off with her boss’s money. While this adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s 1995 Rum Punch doesn’t reach the heights of Tarantino’s previous films it’s still enjoyable stuff and revitalised the careers of Grier and Robert Forster who plays her love interest. Watch
959. Donnie Brasco (1997) Dir. Mike Newell, 127 mins.
Johnny Depp stars in the true story of an FBI undercover agent who infiltrated the Mafia Bonanno crime family in New York City during the 1970s, under the alias Donnie Brasco. A tense and compelling character study by Mike Newell that’s bolstered by a strong performance by Al Pacino as the ageing hitman that Brasco befriends. Watch
958. Reds (1981) Dir. Warren Beatty, 194 mins.
Beatty’s sprawling and ambitious epic follows the life and career of John Reed (played by Beatty), the journalist and writer who chronicled the Russian Revolution in his book ‘Ten Days that Shook the World.’ It focuses greatly on Reed’s relationship with left-wing activist, Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton) and also shows her romantic entanglement with a booze embittered playwright Eugene O’Neill portrayed by Jack Nicholson, whose scene stealing performance is probably the best thing in the often ponderous film. However, Reds does have its moments, enhanced by acclaimed cinematographer Vittorio Storao (The Conformist, Apocalypse Now), and Beatty did walk away with an Oscar for Best Direction. Watch
957. 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. Buy
956. The Last King of Scotland (2006) Dir. Kevin Macdonald, 123 mins.
Propelled by Forest Whitaker’s Oscar winning performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, The Last King of Scotland delivers a taut and satisfying (partly fictional) drama. James McAvoy plays the Scottish doctor who naively falls in with a monster. Watch
955. Witness for the Prosecution (1957) Dir. Billy Wilder, 116 mins.
Set in the Old Bailey in London, the film is based on the play of the same name by Agatha Christie and deals with the trial of a man accused of murder. Watch
954. 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. Buy
953. Kwaidan (1964) Dir. Masaki Kobayashi, 125 mins.
The film consists of four separate and unrelated stories and is based on Lafcadio Hearn’s collections of Japanese folk tales, mainly ‘Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things’, for which the film is named. Watch
952. Knife in the Water (1962) Dir. Roman Polanski, 94 mins.
Polanski’s brilliant feature film debut follows three characters in a story of rivalry and sexual tension. Watch
951. 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. Watch
950. 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). Propelled by great lead performances and an extremely well crafted story, American Gangster is an immersive experience even if it does start to lose some direction towards the end. Watch
949. Shutter Island (2010) Dir. Martin Scorsese, 138 mins.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as U.S. Marshal Edward “Teddy” Daniels who is investigating a psychiatric facility on Shutter Island after one of the patients goes missing. This psychological thriller doesn’t rank with Scorsese’s best work but it’s still cleverly constructed and boasts some compelling performances. Watch
948. Short Term 12 (2013) Dir. Destin Daniel Cretton, 96 mins.
The film stars the excellent Brie Larson (in her first leading performance) as Grace Howard, a young supervisor of a group home for troubled teenagers. Director/writer Cretton based Short Term 12 on his own experience working in a group facility. Watch
947. Week End (1967) Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 105 mins.
Determined to collect an inheritance from a dying relative, a petit-bourgeois couple travel across the French countryside while civilisation crashes and burns around them. Buy
946. 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). It’s full of great performances particularly from Stamp and Betti. Buy
945. Lone Star (1996) Dir. John Sayles, 135 mins.
With a narrative that becomes more and more engrossing as it progresses, Lone Star deals with the sheriff of a Mexican border town (Chris Cooper) who can’t escape the burdens of the past when he discovers a skeleton in the desert and finds himself investigating the murder of one of his predecessors and the murky past of his long dead father who was also a cop. The film, often with the help of flashbacks, moves with a graceful ease through a mosaic of different story strands and is enhanced by a hard working ensemble cast, particularly Matthew McConauhey in one of his most noteworthy roles as the sheriff’s father. Watch
944. Almost Famous (2000) Dir. Cameron Crowe, 162 mins.
Crowe’s semi-autobiographical film tells the fictional story of a teenage journalist writing for Rolling Stone magazine in the early 1970s (a former job of Crowe) who is touring with the fictitious rock band Stillwater, and trying to get his first cover story published. There’s some terrific off beat and charming moments, a wonderful soundtrack and a great ensemble cast, particularly Billy Crudup as the bands lead guitarist. Watch
943. JFK (1991) Dir. Oliver Stone, 189 mins.
Accused of taking liberties with historical facts, Stone’s examination of the events leading to the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the alleged cover-up was always going to be controversial. Kevin Costner leads a terrific cast as former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison who is convinced that there are some big flaws in the investigation of Lee Harvey Oswald. Leaving to one side the questionable historicity, JFK works as an entertaining and well crafted conspiracy theory. Watch
942. The Devil Is a Woman (1935) Dir. Josef von Sternberg, 76 mins.
Taking place in the 19th century during the revolution, the film centres on a Spanish seductress (Marlene Dietrich) with a spider-like tendency to destroy the lives of those who love her. The film opens as Galvan, a young soldier encounters the beautiful vamp and instantly falls in love. Later he tells this to his buddy Don Pasqual who is horrified to learn that she is the same vixen who destroyed his life. Attempting to warn his friend, he tells his grim story, which unfolds via flashback. Buy
941. Easy Rider (1969) Dir. Dennis Hopper, 95 mins.
Director Dennis Hopper and producer Peter Fonda star as two bikers who travel southern America with the proceeds of a drug deal. Their journey carries them to a hippie commune and to an encounter with an alcoholic civil rights lawyer, portrayed by a scene stealing Jack Nicholson. While now looking dated, Easy Rider, helped along by the popular rock song soundtrack, still holds on to a notable place in cinema history for helping to start the New Hollywood era and for encapsulating 1960s counterculture. Watch