The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2020) 540-521


540. The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978) Dir. Emanno Olmi, 186 mins.

The film concerns Lombard peasant life in a cascina (farmhouse) of the late 19th century.

539. Early Spring (1956) Dir. Yasujiro Ozu, 144 mins.

Ryo Ikebe plays the married businessman who escapes the monotony of married life and his work at a fire brick manufacturing company by beginning an affair with a fellow office worker. Ozu’s family drama manages to steer away from being a depressive tale of marital discord and is ultimately a hopeful film filled with humour and sensitivity.

538. Alice in the Cities (1974) Dir. Wim Wenders, 110 mins.

Phillip (Rudiger Vogler) is a roving German reporter who is unable to write about America because he finds the photographs he has taken to be more powerful and truthful than what he can express with words. After a chance encounter with an elusive American woman, he reluctantly accepts temporary custody of 9 year old Alice (Yella Rottlander). Phillip’s passive involvement is broken down when he takes Alice on a trek across Germany to locate the house of the girl’s grandmother, although all they have to go by is a photograph. A highly watchable road movie exploring identity by considering the complex gaps between perception, experience and estrangement.

537. The Wolf House (2018) Dir. Joaquin Cociña, Cristóbal León, 75 mins.

A young woman takes refuge in a strange house in the woods after escaping from a German colony in southern Chile.

536. The Cameraman (1928) Dir. Edward Sedgwick, 75 mins.

Fast-paced and funny, this silent Buster Keaton comedy has” the Great Stone Face” playing an aspiring newsreel cameraman who falls in love with an office girl and tries to impress her by getting the scoop on a Chinese tong war. Instead he finds himself in the midst of a terrible gunfight. Still he captures it on film and is about to triumphantly return with it when the mischievous monkey of a local organ grinder steals it away.

535. My Man Godfrey (1936) Dir. Gregory La Cava, 94 mins.

Set during the Great Depression, the story concerns a scatterbrained socialite who hires a vagrant to be her family’s butler, only to fall in love with him.

534. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) Dir. Ang Lee, 120 mins.

In the early 19th century, martial arts master Li Mu Bai is about to retire and enter a life of meditation, though he quietly longs to avenge the death of his master, who was killed by Jade Fox. Watch

533. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) Dir. Wes Anderson, 110 mins.

The absurdist and ironic humour will annoy some but those who embrace The Royal Tenenbaums will delight in it’s eccentricities. A stellar cast tells the whimsical tale of three once gifted siblings and the attempts of their estranged father, a terrific turn by Gene hackman, to reconcile with them. It was listed by the BBC as one of the 100 greatest films of the 21st century.

532. Dogville (2003) Dir. Lars von Trier, 178 mins.

It is a parable that uses an extremely minimal, stage-like set to tell the story of Grace Mulligan (Kidman), a woman hiding from mobsters, who arrives in the small mountain town of Dogville, Colorado, and is provided refuge in return for physical labor.

531. Pickup on South Street (1953) Dir. Samuel Fuller, 80 mins.

A professional informer will not sell information to any enemy of her country even at the cost of her life. Buy

530. The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005) Dir. Jeff Feuerzeig, 110 mins.

It chronicles American musician Johnston’s life from childhood up to the present, with an emphasis on his experiences with bipolar disorder, and how it manifested itself in demonic self-obsession.

529. 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 and is a dramatised historical account of the rise and fall of Urbain Grandier, a Roman Catholic priest executed for witchcraft following the supposed possessions in Loudun, France. Oliver Reed excels as Grandier, while Vanessa Redgrave plays a hunchbacked sexually repressed nun who finds herself inadvertently responsible for the accusations.

528. Night Train (1959) Dir. Jerzy Kawalerowicz, 93 mins.

Two strangers, Jerzy (Leon Niemczyk) and Marta (Lucyna Winnicka), accidentally end up holding tickets for the same sleeping chamber on an overnight train to the Baltic Sea coast. Also on board is Marta’s spurned lover, who will not leave her alone. When the police enter the train in search of a murderer, rumours fly and everything seems to point toward one of the three as the culprit. Buy

527. Embrace of the Serpent (2015) Dir. Ciro Guerra, 125 mins.

Embrace of the Serpent features the encounter, apparent betrayal and finally life-affirming friendship between an Amazonian shaman (the last survivor of his people) and two foreign scientists. Strikingly original, Guerra’s gripping film is a brilliantly poetic fable that’s often breathtaking to behold. Watch

526. Vagabond (1985) Dir. Agnes Varda, 105 mins.

Sandrine Bonnaire stars as a young vagabond who wanders through French wine country one winter. A stark and strikingly beautiful film that becomes tragically haunting.

525. Cabaret (1972) Dir. Bob Fosse, 124 mins.

The film is set in Berlin during the Weimar Republic in 1931, under the ominous presence of the growing National Socialist Party. It follows American singer Sally Bowles who performs at the Kit Kat Klub.

524. Kagemusha (1980) Dir. Akira Kurosawa, 162 mins.

It is set in the Sengoku period of Japanese history and tells the story of a lower-class criminal who is taught to impersonate a dying daimyō to dissuade opposing lords from attacking the newly vulnerable clan.

523. Through the Olive Trees (1994) Dir. Abbas Kiarostami, 103 mins.

Set in earthquake-ravaged Northern Iran, Hossein Rezai plays a local stonemason-turned-actor. Outside the set of a film in which he is acting, he makes a marriage proposal to his leading lady, a student named Tahereh, who was orphaned by an earthquake. Because he is poor and illiterate, the girl’s family finds his offer insulting and the girl avoids him as a result. She continues evading him even when they are filming, as she seems to have trouble grasping the difference between her role in the film and her real-life self.

522. Burning (2018) Dir. Lee Chang-dong, 148 mins.

The movie depicts a young deliveryman, Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in), who runs into his childhood friend, Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo). She asks if he would look after her cat while she is away on a trip to Africa. On her return, she introduces to Jong-su an enigmatic young man named Ben (Steven Yeun), who she met during her trip. One day, Ben tells Jong-su about an unusual hobby of his.

521. Kanal (1957) Dir. Andrzej Wajda, 91 mins.

Set in the Warsaw sewers during the 1944 Uprising, Kanal was successful enough for Wajda to be appointed head of the so-called Polish Film School.


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