160. I Am Cuba (1964) Dir. Mikhail Kalatozov, 141 mins.
Hidden away in the Soviet archives for three decades, “I Am Cuba” is a wildly schizophrenic celebration of Communist kitsch, mixing Slavic solemnity with Latin sensuality to create a whirling, feverish dance through both the sensuous decadence of Batista’s Havana and the grinding poverty and oppression of the Cuban people. In four stories of the revolution, Mikhail Kalatov’s astonishingly acrobatic camera takes the viewer on a rapturous roller-coaster ride of bathing beauties, landless peasants, fascist police and student revolutionaries.
159. Nashville (1975) Dir. Robert Altman, 159 mins.
The film takes a snapshot of people involved in the country music and gospel music businesses in Nashville, Tennessee. The characters’ efforts to succeed or hold on to their success are interwoven with the efforts of a political operative and a local businessman to stage a concert rally before the state’s presidential primary for a populist outsider running for President of the United States on the Replacement Party ticket. Watch
158. My Life to Live (1962) Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 85 mins.
Nana (Anna Karina), a beautiful Parisian in her early twenties, leaves her husband and infant son hoping to become an actress. Without money, beyond what she earns as a shopgirl, and unable to enter acting, she elects to earn better money as a prostitute. Buy
157. Beauty and the Beast (1946) Dir. Jean Cocteau, 96 mins.
The plot of Cocteau’s film revolves around Belle’s father who is sentenced to death for picking a rose from Beast’s garden. Belle offers to go back to the Beast in her father’s place and Beast falls in love with her and proposes marriage on a nightly basis which she refuses. Belle eventually becomes more drawn to Beast, who tests her by letting her return home to her family and telling her that if she doesn’t return to him within a week, he will die of grief.
156. The Turin Horse (2011) Dir. Bela Tarr, Agnes Hranitzky, 146 mins.
It recalls the whipping of a horse in the Italian city of Turin which is rumoured to have caused the mental breakdown of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
155. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) Dir. Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 163 mins.
General Candy (Roger Livesey), who’s overseeing an English squad in 1943, is a veteran leader who doesn’t have the respect of the men he’s training and is considered out-of-touch with what’s needed to win the war. But it wasn’t always this way. Flashing back to his early career in the Boer War and World War I, we see a dashing young officer whose life has been shaped by three different women (all played by Deborah Kerr), and by a lasting friendship with a German soldier.
154. Contempt (1963) Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 103 mins.
Contempt is the story of the end of a marriage. Camille (Brigitte Bardot) falls out of love with her husband Paul (Michel Piccoli) while he is rewriting the screenplay Odyssey by American producer Jeremiah Prokosch (Jack Palance). Just as the director of Prokosch’s film, Fritz Lang, says that The Odyssey is the story of individuals confronting their situations in a real world, Contempt itself is an examination of the position of the filmmaker in the commercial cinema.
153. Pierrot le fou (1965) Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 110 mins.
After abandoning his wife and infant daughter for the new babysitter, a woman he’d loved and lost several years earlier, an errant husband embarks on a haphazard road to tragedy. Right up there with Godard’s best work.
152. The Human Condition III: A Soldier’s Prayer (1961) Dir. Masaki Kobayashi, 190 mins.
After the Japanese defeat to the Russians in the last episode, Kaji, the Japanese soldier and humanist protagonist, leads the last remaining men through Manchuria. Intent on returning to his dear wife and his old life, Kaji faces great odds as he and his fellow men sneak behind enemy lines. It’s an often harrowing drama but still essential viewing.
151. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) Dir. Céline Sciamma, 120 mins.
Set in France in the late 18th century, the film tells the story of a forbidden affair between an aristocrat and a painter commissioned to paint her portrait.
150. The Crowd (1928) Dir. King Vidor, 104 mins.
The story concentrates on John Sims, (brilliantly played by James Murray, an extra boosted to stardom by Vidor). Born on the fourth of July in the year 1900, John is convinced that he’s destined to be a man of importance. Twenty Seven years later, however, Sims is merely one of the faceless crowd, an underpaid clerk in a huge New York office building. On a blind date, John meets Mary (Eleanor Boardman), a likeable if not overly attractive young lady (Boardman, the wife of director Vidor, balked at the notion of departing from her usual glamorous roles; Vidor prevailed, and as a result the actress delivered what is now considered her finest performance). John and Mary are eventually married, raising two children in their tiny New York tenement (complete with a balky toilet-the first time that this particular bathroom fixture ever appeared in an American film). As John’s dreams of glory go unfulfilled, he becomes bitter and argumentative, while Mary grows old before her time.
149. Histoire(s) du cinéma (1998) Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 266 mins.
An 8-part video project begun by Godard in the late 1980s and completed in 1998, Histoire(s) du cinéma is an examination of the history of the concept of cinema and how it relates to the 20th century.
148. Napoleon (1927) Dir. Abel Gance, 330 mins.
The film begins in Brienne-le-Château with youthful Napoleon attending military school where he manages a snowball fight like a military campaign, yet he suffers the insults of other boys. It continues a decade later with scenes of the French Revolution and Napoleon’s presence at the periphery as a young army lieutenant. He returns to visit his family home in Corsica but politics shift against him and put him in mortal danger. He flees, taking his family to France. Serving as an officer of artillery in the Siege of Toulon, Napoleon’s genius for leadership is rewarded with a promotion to brigadier general. Jealous revolutionaries imprison Napoleon but then the political tide turns against the Revolution’s own leaders. Napoleon leaves prison, forming plans to invade Italy. He falls in love with the beautiful Joséphine de Beauharnais. The emergency government charges him with the task of protecting the National Assembly. Succeeding in this he is promoted to Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Interior, and he marries Joséphine. He takes control of the army which protects the French–Italian border, and propels it to victory in an invasion of Italy. Buy
147. Fargo (1996) Dir. Joel & Ethan Coen, 98 mins.
Featuring some terrific dark humour, Fargo stars Frances McDormand as a pregnant Minnesota police chief investigating roadside homicides that ensue after a desperate car salesman (William H. Macy) hires two criminals (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife in order to extort a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law (Harve Presnell).
146. The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (1939) Dir. Kenji Mizoguchi, 148 mins.
The film follows a male actor specialising in playing female roles in late 19th century Japan. Buy
145. Badlands (1973) Dir. Terrence Malick, 95 mins.
Martin Sheen does his best James Dean as a young man who feeling disenfranchised and having lost his job, takes up with a fifteen year old girl (Sissy Spacek) and they go on a Midwest crime spree in Terrence Malick’s hypnotically assured debut feature, based on the 1950s Starkweather-Fugate murders.
144. The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (1959) Dir. Masaki Kobayashi, 208 mins.
Drawing from his own experiences, Kobayashi weaves the tale of a Japanese pacifist, trying to get by as best he can during World War II. Buy
143. Stop Making Sense (1984) Dir. Jonathan Demme, 88 mins.
Bank rolled by Talking Heads themselves, Jonathan Demme’s concert film was shot over the course of three nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater in December 1983, as the American rock band were touring to promote their new album ‘Speaking in Tongues.’ Notable as the first movie made using entirely digital audio techniques, it’s also been lauded for the brilliant direction, editing and the energy and general performance of the band.
142. Close-Up (1990) Dir. Abbas Kiarostami, 90 mins.
The film tells the story of the real-life trial of a man who impersonated film-maker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, conning a family into believing they would star in his new film. Watch
141. Woman in the Dunes (1964) Dir. Hiroshi Teshigahara, 123 mins.
When entomologist Jumpei (Eiji Okada) travels to sand dunes on an expedition, he is met by a group of people who offer him a place to spend the night. They soon lead him to a house at the bottom of a sandpit. Upon climbing into the pit, he finds a young widow (Kyoko Kishida) living alone. Placed there by the villagers, her task is to dig sand out of the pit, not only so that they can avoid getting buried, but so that the locals can use it for construction.