The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2020) 720-701


720. A Difficult Life (1961) Dir. Dino Risi, 118 mins.

Following the national trauma of World War II, Italian society is in turmoil. Ardent leftist Silvio Magnozzi (Alberto Sordi) spent the war as an anti-fascist guerrilla, and he’s dismayed to see the country he fought for lurching rightward politically and focusing on shallow materialism instead of civil rights. Unable to keep his former job as a journalist, Silvio loses both his social standing and his wife (Lea Massari), until he attempts to back away from his principles.

719. Last Train Home (2009) Dir. Lixin Fan, 85 mins.

Annually, an estimated 130 million factories workers in China migrate from their city of employment back to the village they grew up in. This documentary spotlights married couple Chen and Zhang as they make their own journey. Once home they must struggle to reconnect with their children, whom they see only once a year. When they discover that their daughter has decided to drop out of school to work at a factory herself, they begin questioning the value of their sacrifice.

718. Odd Man Out (1947) Dir. Carol Reed, 116 mins.

In the aftermath of a botched hold-up, intended to finance the activities of his IRA cell, a wounded Johnny McQueen takes shelter in the back-alleys of Belfast, a shadowy underworld where sanctuary is freighted at every moment with peril. Meanwhile, a vast police manhunt is launched, a net that closes steadily, remorselessly in upon him. Watch

717. Deliverance (1972) Dir. John Boorman, 109 mins.

Four Atlanta businessmen decide to canoe down the fictional Cahulawassee River in the remote Georgia wilderness, expecting to have fun and see the glory of nature before the river valley is flooded over by the upcoming construction of a dam and lake.

716. Stray Dog (1949) Dir. Akira Kurosawa, 122 mins.

Notable as a precursor to the contemporary police procedural and buddy cop film genres, Akira Kurosawa’s crime drama also shows consideration for the difficult period of Japanese postwar recovery. Regular Kurosawa collaborators Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura star as the rookie and the veteran detectives in a visually strong and complex film. Watch

715. A Dog’s Will (2000) Dir. Guel Arraes, 104 mins.

An Adventure that follows two poor souls (Matheus Nachtergaele, Selton Mello) as they find a job, scheme to win a girl and face marauding bandits.

714. Trust (1990) Dir. Hal Hartley, 107 mins.

High school dropout Maria Coughlin (Adrienne Shelly) is having a rough time of it on Long Island. Her father recently died of a heart attack, her boyfriend has left her and she’s pregnant. To make matters even worse, her mother has now kicked her out of the house. But when electronics genius Matthew Slaughter (Martin Donovan) comes into her life, things start to brighten up for Maria. Sure, he’s unemployed and a little unhinged, but together they just might have a chance.

713. I Am Twenty (1965) Dir. Marlen Khutsiev, 189 mins.

Considered a landmark of 1960s Soviet cinema, Khutsiev’s most famous film, which was censored upon its release, follows a soldier named Sergei (Valentin Popov) who completes his military service and returns home to find the world he knew has changed. He is reunited with his former friends, but they are now occupied by family and work responsibilities. He drifts through Moscow, alienated and haunted by a dream of his late father. Eventually Sergei latches onto an unstable woman who is in the midst of getting a divorce.

712. The Player (1992) Dir. Robert Altman, 124 mins.

The film stars Tim Robbins as a Hollywood film studio executive who murders an aspiring screenwriter he believes is sending him death threats.

711. Shadows (1959) Dir. John Cassavetes, 87 mins.

Based on improvisations which originated in his actor’s workshop, Cassavetes’s low budget ($40,000), independently produced film is notable for its intense realism and sensitive handling of racial issues. It depicts two weeks in the lives of three African-American siblings on the margins of society, two brothers who are struggling jazz musicians and their sister who dates several men.

710. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) Dir. Wes Anderson, 87 mins.

Anderson’s first full length animation, using stop-motion effects, is about a fox (voiced by George Clooney) who steals food each night from three mean and wealthy farmers, despite promising his wife (Meryl Streep) he’ll stop his chicken thievery. The farmers have become so fed up with Mr. Fox’s theft that they try to kill him, digging their way into the foxes’ home, but the animals are able to outwit the farmers and live underground. While the American accents don’t seem right for an adaptation of Roald Dahl and the female characters are under used, Anderson’s amusing tale successfully channels the writer’s darkly comic humour.

709. Withnail & I (1987) Dir. Bruce Robinson, 107 mins.

Based on Robinson’s life in London in the late 1960s, the plot follows two unemployed young actors, Withnail and “I” (Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann) who live in a squalid flat in Camden Town in 1969 while squandering their finances on alcohol. Needing a holiday, they obtain the key to a country cottage in the Lake District.

708. Secrets & Lies (1996) Dir. Mike Leigh, 142 mins.

Hortense, a black optometrist, discovers that her birth mother is a working class white woman.

707. The Loves of a Blonde (1965) Dir. Milos Forman, 90 mins.

The film tells the story of a young woman who has a routine job in a shoe factory in provincial Czechoslovakia. When the army holds maneuvers near her home town, the factory supervisor organises a social gathering for the largely female workforce and the all-male soldiers. However, the dance is not a complete success, with many of the soldiers, who are middle-aged reservists, and many of the factory workers, who are inexperienced young women with idealised views of romance, being confused by and disappointed with their potential dancing partners. The film’s protagonist, though, does meet an attractive young man who plays in the dance band and has a one-night fling with him. When she travels to the capital city where he lives in order to resume their romance, she meets his parents and comes to the realisation that there is no future in this relationship.

706. Comrades (1986) Dir. Bill Douglas, 183 mins.

Through the pictures of a travelling lanternist, it depicts the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, who were arrested and transported to Australia in 1834 for trying to improve their conditions by forming an early form of trade union.

705. Seven Chances (1925) Dir. Buster Keaton, 56 mins.

On the verge of bankruptcy, struggling stockbroker Jimmie Shannon (Buster Keaton) learns that, if he gets married by 7 p.m. on his 27th birthday, which is the day in question, he’ll inherit seven million dollars.

704. Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (1924) Dir. Fritz Lang, 143 mins.

Siegfried (Paul Richter), son of King Siegmund, masters the art of forging a sword at the shop of Mime (George John). On his journey home, he hears tales of Kriemhild, the princess of Burgundy (Margarete Schoen). Siegfried announces he wants to win her hand in marriage, much to the amusement of the smiths. Buy

703. I Am So Proud of You (2008) Dir. Don Hertzfeldt, 22 mins.

It is the second chapter of a trilogy about the character Bill and continues the dark and philosophical humor of the first film, Everything Will Be OK. In this chapter, Bill’s recovery is haunted by the apparently genetic inevitability of his mental illness, and the lack of control over his own fate. The sudden death of a loved one casts a further shadow over his recovery.

702. Vitalina Varela (2019) Dir. Pedro Costa, 124 mins.

Winner of the Golden Leopard at the 2019 Locarno Film Festival, the film follows Vitalina Varela, a 55-year-old woman from Cape Verde, who arrives in Lisbon three days after her husband’s funeral. She’s been waiting for her plane ticket for more than 25 years.

701. The Exorcist (1973) Dir. William Friedkin, 122 mins.

The film is based on the exorcism case of Robbie Mannheim, dealing with the demonic possession of a young girl and her mother’s desperate attempts to win her back through an exorcism by two priests.


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