The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2018) 660-641


660. Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001) Dir. Alfonso Cuaron, 105 mins.

The film is a coming-of-age story about two teenage boys taking a road trip with a woman in her late twenties. It’s set in 1999 against the backdrop of the political and economic realities of Mexico.

659. Dances With Wolves (1990) Dir. Kevin Costner, 224 mins.

At the forefront of the modest revival of the western genre in the early 90s, Dances With Wolves, was a personal triumph for director and star Kevin Costner. It is a film adaptation of the 1988 book of the same name by Michael Blake that tells the story of a Union Army lieutenant who travels to the American frontier to find a military post, and of his dealings with a group of Lakota Indians. The film self-consciously sought to represent the culture and perspective of the Indians that the traditional Hollywood western had ideologically erased from view. This was rewarded by Dances With Wolves being the first Western to win the Oscar Best Picture since Cimarron in 1930.

658. Akira (1988) Dir. Katsuhiro Otomo, 124 mins.

Set in a dystopian 2019, Akira tells the story of Shōtarō Kaneda, a leader of a local biker gang whose childhood friend, Tetsuo Shima, acquires incredible telekinetic abilities after a motorcycle accident, eventually threatening an entire military complex amidst chaos and rebellion in the sprawling futuristic metropolis of Neo-Tokyo.

657. The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988) Dir. Philip Kaufman, 171 mins.

Director Philip Kaufman and screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière portray the effect on Czechoslovak artistic and intellectual life during the 1968 Prague Spring of socialist liberalisation preceding the invasion by the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact that ushered in a period of communist repression. It portrays the moral, political, and psycho-sexual consequences for three bohemian friends: a surgeon, and two female artists with whom he has a sexual relationship.

656. House of Flying Daggers (2004) Dir. Yimou Zhang, 119 mins.

Set in 859 A.D. when the once great Tang Dynasty is in decline, rebel groups have formed, the largest of which is the House of Flying Daggers. Moves from one stunning scene to the next.

655. Infernal Affairs (2002) Dir. Wai-keung Lau, 101 mins.

It tells the story of a police officer who infiltrates a triad, and another officer secretly working for the same gang.

654. Winter Light (1963) Dir. Ingmar Bergman, 81 mins.

The film follows Tomas Ericsson (Björnstrand), pastor of a small rural Swedish church, as he deals with an existential crisis and his Christianity. A bleak desolate film in which the characters torment themselves and each other, seeking guidance and comfort in a world from which God is absent.

653. Persepolis (2007) Dir. Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi, 95 mins.

Marjane Satrapi is unable to board a plane to Iran. Sitting down to smoke a cigarette, she remembers her life as a girl in 1978 when she was 9 years of age.

652. Born on the Fourth of July (1989) Dir. Oliver Stone, 145 mins.

Some may consider his performance histrionic but Tom Cruise proved he really could act in Stone’s biography of paraplegic Vietnam War veteran and political activist Ron Kovic.

651. Talk to Her (2002) Dir. Pedro Almodovar, 112 mins.

The film follows two men who form an unlikely friendship as they care for two women who are both in comas.

650. The Devils (1971) Dir. Ken Russell, 111 mins.

Perhaps Russell’s most extreme work, The Devils deals with possession in a seventeenth century convent. The film had several sequences cut by the censor. The film is a dramatised historical account of the rise and fall of Urbain Grandier, a 17th-century Roman Catholic priest executed for witchcraft following the supposed possessions in Loudun, France. Reed plays Grandier in the film and Vanessa Redgrave plays a hunchbacked sexually repressed nun who finds herself inadvertently responsible for the accusations.

649. Apocalypto (2006) Dir. Mel Gibson, 139 mins.

Set in Yucatan during the declining period of the Mayan civilisation, Apocalypto depicts the journey of a tribesman who must escape human sacrifice and rescue his family after the destruction of his village. The film becomes a visceral chase movie.

648. Jean de Florette (1986) Dir. Claude Berri, 113 mins.

The film takes place in rural Provence, where two local farmers plot to trick a newcomer out of his newly inherited property. Gerard Depardieu began his breakthrough to global stardom when he played the eponymous lead of Berri’s well crafted and popular heritage drama. The film delivers a nostalgic evocation of life in rural Pro vence and stuck a chord with audiences.

647. Zero for Conduct (1933) Dir. Jean Vigo, 41 mins.

The film draws extensively on Vigo’s boarding school experiences to depict a repressive and bureaucratised educational establishment in which surreal acts of rebellion occur, reflecting Vigo’s anarchist view of childhood. With its notable score by Maurice Jaubert.

646. La Notte (1961) Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, 122 mins.

With the success of L’avventura, Antonioni was given access to larger budgets and the opportunity to work with international stars. With La Notte the star of his previous film, Monica Vitti is joined b the languid Marcello Mastroianni and morose Jeanne Moreau. Filmed on location in Milan, the film is about a day in the life of an unfaithful married couple and their deteriorating relationship. As with L’Avventura, Antonioni’s bold modernism struck a chord with the new young audience for art cinema.

645. Ghost in the Shell (1995) Dir. Mamoru Oshii, 85 mins.

The plot follows Motoko Kusanagi, a public-security agent, who hunts the mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master.

644. The Hunt (2012) Dir. Thomas Vinterberg, 106 mins.

The story is set in a small Danish village around Christmas, and follows a man who becomes the target of mass hysteria after being wrongly accused of sexually abusing a child in his kindergarten class.

643. Apollo 13 (1995) Dir. Ron Howard, 140 mins.

The film depicts astronauts Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise aboard Apollo 13 for America’s third Moon landing mission. En route, an on-board explosion deprives their spacecraft of most of its oxygen supply and electric power, forcing NASA’s flight controllers to abort the Moon landing, and turning the mission into a struggle to get the three men home safely. Howard delivers the true story of what happened to the crew of the seemingly doomed Apollo 13 mission. Features a terrific soundtrack from James Horner.

642. Pinocchio (1940) Dir. Hamilton Luske, 88 mins.

The plot of the film involves an old wood-carver named Geppetto who carves a wooden puppet named Pinocchio. The puppet is 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 become a real boy involve encounters with a host of unsavory characters. Disney’s lavish animation reached its pinnacle in Pinnochio’s story book realism.

641. The Revenant (2015) Dir. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, 156 mins.

The screenplay by Mark L. Smith and Iñárritu is based in part on Michael Punke’s 2002 novel of the same name, describing frontiersman Hugh Glass’s experiences in 1823.


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