The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2020) 640-621


640. Grizzly Man (2005) Dir. Werner Herzog, 103 mins.

Herzog’s documentary chronicles the life of bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell and includes some of his own footage of his interactions with grizzly bears shot before he and his girlfriend were killed and devoured by one of the wild animals in 2003. Fascinating and provocative, the film refuses to judge, leaving the audience to make up their own minds about Treadwell’s mental state.

639. Let the Fire Burn (2013) Dir. Jason Osder, 95 mins.

The film is about the events leading up to and surrounding a 1985 stand-off between the black liberation group MOVE and the Philadelphia Police Department.

638. Only Angels Have Wings (1939) Dir. Howard Hawks, 121 mins.

Hawks’s adventure film takes place in the Peruvian Andes where Cary Grant heads a ramshackle civil airline flying mail and freight, in the most perilous of weather conditions, to the most treacherous of destinations. Facing death on a near-hourly basis, Grant and his flyers have adopted a casual attitude towards mortality. Released in an extremely strong year for cinema, the film was initially underappreciated and dismissed as nothing more than an exciting actioner, but is now recognised for its strong storytelling and for its mature insight into how the pilots could operate in such a pressured environment.

637. The Great Escape (1963) Dir. John Sturges, 172 mins.

Based on the book by Paul Brickhill, The Great Escape is the supposedly true story of Allied prisoners plotting to break out of a Nazi detention camp, but is mostly fictional with the roles of American personnel in both the planning and the escape fabricated.

636. Inception (2010) Dir. Christopher Nolan, 148 mins.

The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a professional thief who steals information by infiltrating the subconscious and is offered a chance to have his criminal history erased as payment for the implantation of another person’s idea into a target’s subconscious. DiCaprio holds the piece together even if Nolan does get frustratingly repetitive with the effects in his dream structures. Watch

635. To Have and Have Not (1944) Dir. Howard Hawks, 100 mins.

Humphrey Bogart plays Harry Morgan, owner-operator of charter boat in wartime Martinique. While in port, Harry is approached by Free French activist Gerard (Marcel Dalio), who wants to charter Harry’s boat to smuggle in an important underground leader. Not wanting to stick his neck out, Morgan refuses. Later on, he starts up a dalliance with Marie Browning (screen newcomer Lauren Bacall), an attractive pickpocket. Atmospheric romance-war-adventure film loosely based on Ernest Hemingway’s 1937 novel of the same name.

634. Life is Beautiful (1997) Dir. Roberto Benigni, 116 mins.

Benigni plays Guido Orefice, a Jewish Italian book shop owner, who employs his fertile imagination to shield his son from the horrors of internment in a Nazi concentration camp. Watch

633. Se7en (1995) Dir. David Fincher, 127 mins.

It tells the story of David Mills (Brad Pitt), a detective who partners with the retiring William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) to track down a serial killer (Kevin Spacey) who uses the seven deadly sins as a motif in his murders.

632. Life, and Nothing More… (1992) Dir. Abbas Kiarostami, 95 mins.

The film is a semi-fictional work based on Kiarostami’s search for the stars of his previous film Where Is the Friend’s Home? after the 1990 earthquake in Iran that killed over 30,000 people. It was shot in a documentary-style following a director (played by Farhad Kheradmand) on this journey through the country in the aftermath of the earthquake.

631. Sullivan’s Travels (1941) Dir. Preston Sturges, 90 mins.

The film is a satire about a movie director (Joel McCrea), who longs to make a socially relevant drama, but eventually learns that comedies are his more valuable contribution to society.

630. A Bread Factory, Part One (2018) Dir. Patrick Wang, 122 mins.

A small theater in a small town turns out to be a great setting for thinking about many big themes: art, globalization, gentrification, changing social institutions and new technology.

629. 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 tells the story of an odd couple of army buddies in World War I. While played on a comedic register, the movie does not hide from the viewer the horrors and grimness of trench warfare.

628. The Bad Sleep Well (1960) Dir. Akira Kurosawa, 151 mins.

Another entry in the legendary collaboration between Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune, the film follows a young man who gets a prominent position in a corrupt postwar Japanese company in order to expose the men responsible for his father’s suicide. Influenced by the Hollywood crime dramas of the 1940’s and Shakespeare, The Bad Sleep Well is a competent thriller and while it doesn’t quite match Kurosawa’s best work, it’s visually striking and Mifune is compelling as the office worker looking for revenge. Buy

627. Hellzapoppin’ (1941) Dir. H. C. Potter, 84 mins.

Based on the Broadway hit of the same name, this comedy finds Ole (Ole Olsen) and Chic (Chic Johnson) trying to organize a musical show at a lavish estate. They run into problems when the show’s producer, Jeff (Robert Paige), falls in love with estate resident Kitty (Jane Frazee) and has to compete with her fiancé (Lewis Howard). Meanwhile, Chic’s sister Betty (Martha Raye) chases after a supposed Russian count. 

626. The Son (2002) Dir. Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, 104 mins.

Olivier (Olivier Gourmet), a carpentry instructor at a rehab facility for boys, initially turns down young Francis’ (Morgan Marinne) request to apprentice with him. He eventually gives in and begins to teach the troubled teenager, but, he also takes to following the boy through the streets, watching his every move and even going so far as to break into his home. After the reason for Olivier’s dark obsession is finally exposed, he realizes that he must then make a difficult decision.

625. The New Land (1972) Dir. Jan Troell, 204 mins.

In a sequel to Troell’s 1971 film The Emigrants, Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann star as the Swedish immigrants establishing their home in Minnesota, during the Dakota War of 1862. With totally believable characters and stunning photography The New Land makes for brilliant and compelling cinema.

624. The Trial (1962) Dir. Orson Welles, 118 mins.

Anthony Perkins stars as Josef K., a bureaucrat who is accused of a never-specified crime, and Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, and Elsa Martinelli play women who become involved in various ways in Josef’s trial and life.

623. Dimensions of Dialogue (1983) Dir. Jan Švankmajer, 14 mins.

Three surreal depictions of failures of communication that occur on all levels of human society.

622. Ernest & Celestine (2012) Dir. Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner, 80 mins.

This hand-drawn comedy follows the unlikely, and forbidden, friendship between a young mouse named Celestine and a lovable bear named Ernest.

621. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Dir. George Miller, 120 mins.

The film is set in a post apocalyptic desert wasteland where gasoline and water are scarce commodities. It follows Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), who joins forces with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to flee from cult leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his army in an armoured tanker truck, which leads to a lengthy road battle. Watch


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