680. Daisies (1966) Dir. Vera Chytilova, 74 mins.
A Czech New wave comedy, generally regarded as a milestone of the Nová Vlna movement, the film was made with the support of a state-sponsored film studio and follows two subversive teenage girls (Jitka Cerhová and Ivana Karbanová), both named Marie, who engage in strange pranks. Surreal and exuberant.
679. Faust: A German Folk Legend (1926) Dir. F.W. Murnau, 116 mins.
Featuring then revolutionary techniques in special effects and a remarkable use of light, Faust is probably the most cinematic of Murnau’s films. The beauty of the film-makers work is never more evident than in the spectacularly visualized prologue in heaven. Emil Jannings glowers his way through the role of arch-tempter Mephisto, who offers the ageing Faust an opportunity to relive his youth, the price being Faust’s soul. Eric Rohmer considered Faust Murnau’s greatest artistic achievement because all the film’s other elements were secondary to the mise-en-scene.
678. Edvard Munch (1974) Dir. Peter Watkins, 174 mins.
The film covers about thirty years of Munch’s life, focusing on the influences that shaped his art, particularly the prevalence of disease and death in his family and his youthful affair with a married woman.
677. The Scarlet Empress (1934) Dir. Josef von Sternberg, 104 mins.
The Scarlet Empress is a 1934 American historical drama film made by Paramount Pictures about the life of Catherine the Great.
676. Adaptation (2002) Dir. Spike Jonze, 114 mins.
The film tells the story of Charlie Kaufman’s difficult struggle to adapt The Orchid Thief into a film.
675. Doctor Zhivago (1965) Dir. David Lean, 197 mins.
Funded by an American studio, British director Lean’s epic. The film 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.
674. The Act of Killing (2012) Dir. Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, 115 mins.
The Act of Killing (Indonesian: Jagal, meaning “Butcher”) is a 2012 documentary film about individuals who participated in the Indonesian mass killings of 1965–66.
673. The Great War (1959) Dir. Mario Monicelli, 137 mins.
Sharing the Golden Lion at the Venice festival with Rossellini’s I’ll Generale Della Rovere, Monicelli’s film. It tells the story of an odd couple of army buddies in World War I; the movie, while played on a comedic register, does not hide from the viewer the horrors and grimness of trench warfare.
672. The Aviator (2004) Dir. Martin Scorsese, 170 mins.
Based on the 1993 non-fiction book Howard Hughes: The Secret Life by Charles Higham, the film depicts the life of Howard Hughes, an aviation pioneer and director of Hell’s Angels. The film portrays his life from 1927–1947 during which time Hughes became a successful film producer and an aviation magnate while simultaneously growing more unstable due to severe obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). Leonardo Di Caprio gives an excellent performance in Scorsese’s biography of the life of Howard Hughes.
671. Chariots of Fire (1981) Dir. Hugh Hudson, 123 mins.
At a time when things looked bleak for British cinema, an unexpected resurgence was sparked by the Oscar success of this modest production. It tells the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice. Directed by Hudson and produced by David Puttnam, Chariots of Fire won Best Picture, and prompted writer Colin Welland to famously announce ‘the British are coming’ during his acceptance speech.
670. Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) Dir. Terence Davies, 85 mins.
The first section, ‘Distant Voices’, chronicles the early life of a working-class Catholic family living under a domineering father. The second section, ‘Still Lives’, sees the children grown up and emerging into a brighter 1950s Britain, only a few years from rock and roll and The Beatles, yet somehow still a lifetime away.
669. Ninotchka (1939) Dir. Ernst Lubitsch, 110 mins.
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 Paris to sell the Imperial Jewels for ready cash. Perhaps frivolous, but Ninotchka is poignantly balanced comedy. Although acclaimed at the time of release, some think the film now looks contrived and surprisingly heavy-handed for a director such as as Lubitsch.
668. The Rise of Louis XIV (1966) Dir. Roberto Rossellini, 100 mins.
Made for French television. The film revolves around the French king Louis XIV’s rise to power after the death of his powerful adviser, Cardinal Mazarin. To achieve this political autonomy, Louis deals with his mother and the court nobles, all of whom makes the assumption that Mazarin’s death will give them more power. May must change the way you think about acting.
667. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) Dir. Peter Weir, 138 mins.
The film takes place in 1805, during the Napoleonic Wars. Captain Aubrey (Russell Crowe) of HM Frigate Surprise is ordered to pursue the French privateer Acheron and “burn, sink, or take her a prize.”
666. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) Dir. Julian Schnabel, 112 mins.
The film depicts journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby’s life after he suffers a massive stroke at the age of 42, which left him with locked-in syndrome.
665. 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.
664. Murmur of the Heart (1971) Dir. Louis Malle, 118 mins.
Malle always had a penchant for taboo subjects as shown here with his tale of incest. Written as Malle’s semi-autobiography, the film tells a coming of age story about a 14-year-old boy growing up in bourgeois surroundings in post-World War II Dijon, France, with a complex relationship with his Italian mother.
663. The Wind Rises (2013) Dir. Hayao Miyazaki, 126 mins.
The Wind Rises is a fictionalised biopic of Jiro Horikoshi (1903–1982), designer of the Mitsubishi A5M fighter aircraft and its successor, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, used by the Empire of Japan during World War II.
662. The Hurt Locker (2008) Dir. Kathryn Bigelow, 127 mins.
The Film follows members of the EOD unit on a tour of duty as they contend with defusing bombs, the threat of insurgency, and the tension that develops among them.
661. Oslo, August 31st (2011) Dir. Joachim Trier, 95 mins.
Thirty-four-year-old Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie) is a fortunate, but deeply troubled man battling drug addiction. As part of his rehabilitation program, he is allowed to go into the city for a job interview, but instead uses the opportunity as a way to drift around and revisit old friends. The day grows increasingly difficult as he struggles to overcome personal demons and past ghosts for the chance at love and a new life.