The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2020) 820-801


820. Leviathan (2014) Dir. Andrey Zvyagintsev, 140 mins.

Kolya (Alexeï Serebriakov) lives in a small fishing town near the stunning Barents Sea in Northern Russia. He owns an auto-repair shop that stands right next to the house where he lives with his young wife Lilya (Elena Liadova) and his son Roma (Sergueï Pokhodaev) from a previous marriage. However, this existence is threatened by the town’s crooked Mayor Vadim (Roman Madyanov) who has undertaken a legal plot to expropriate the land on which Kolya’s house is built.

819. West Side Story (1961) Dir. Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise, 152 mins.

Tale of a turf war between rival teenage gangs in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen and the two lovers who cross battle lines.

818. Her (2013) Dir. Spike Jonze, 126 mins.

The film follows Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a man who develops a relationship with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), an intelligent computer operating system personified through a female voice.

817. 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.

816. Dunkirk (2017) Dir. Christopher Nolan, 107 mins.

Dunkirk portrays the evacuation from three perspectives: land, sea, and air. Although a visually powerful film, the narrative structure will annoy some and as often goes with Nolan films it’s a little weak on the human drama.

815. Birdman (2014) Dir. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, 119 mins.

The story follows Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), a faded Hollywood actor best known for playing the superhero “Birdman”, as he struggles to mount a Broadway adaptation of a short story by Raymond Carver.

814. Pinocchio (1940) Dir. Hamilton Luske, 88 mins.

Disney’s lavish animation reached its pinnacle in Pinocchio’s story book realism. The plot involves an old wood-carver named Geppetto who carves a wooden puppet, Pinocchio, which is then brought to life by a blue fairy, who informs him that he can become a real boy if he proves himself to be “brave, truthful, and unselfish”. Pinocchio’s efforts to succeed involve encounters with a host of unsavoury characters.

813. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) Dir. Tobe Hooper, 83 mins.

The film follows a group of friends who fall victim to a family of cannibals while on their way to visit an old homestead.

812. Donnie Darko (2001) Dir. Richard Kelly, 113 mins.

The film depicts the reality-bending adventures of the title character as he seeks the meaning and significance behind his troubling Doomsday-related visions. Watch

811. Platoon (1986) Dir. Oliver Stone, 120 mins.

A surprising hit at the box office, Oliver Stone’s autobiographical Vietnam War film stars Charlie Sheen as Chris Taylor, a neophyte soldier who finds himself caught in a battle of wills between two sergeants, one good (Willem Dafoe) and the other evil (Tom Berenger).

810. The Insider (1999) Dir. Michael Mann, 157 mins.

A fictionalised account of a true story, it is based on the 60 Minutes segment about Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe), a whistle-blower in the tobacco industry, covering the personal struggles of him and CBS producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) as they defend his testimony against efforts to discredit and suppress it by CBS and Wigand’s former employer.

809. Interstellar (2014) Dir. Christopher Nolan, 169 mins.

Set in a dystopian future where humanity is struggling to survive, the film follows a group of astronauts who travel through a wormhole in search of a new home.

808. The Killing (1956) Dir. Stanley Kubrick, 85 mins.

Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) is a veteran criminal planning one last heist before settling down and marrying Fay (Coleen Gray). He plans to rob two million dollars from the money-counting room of a racetrack during a featured race.

807. Shoot the Piano Player (1960) Dir. Francois Truffaut, 92 mins.

Strikingly inventive, Truffaut’s second feature follows a one-time concert pianist (Charles Aznavour) who gained fame but then changed his name and plays honky-tonk in an out-of-the-way saloon. His self-imposed exile ends when two of his brothers get into trouble with gangsters they double crossed and the pianist helps them escape, putting his life and that of another brother into jeopardy. With inspiration from his favourite American directors and employing the hallmarks of the French New Wave, Truffaut blends suspense, humour and a variety of technical styles to create a film noir masterpiece.

806. It Happened One Night (1934) Dir. Frank Capra, 105 mins.

A pampered socialite (Claudette Colbert) tries to get out from under her father’s thumb and falls in love with a roguish reporter (Clark Gable).

805. L’Age d’Or (1930) Dir. Luis Bunuel, 60 mins.

A French surrealist comedy directed by Luis Buñuel about the insanities of modern life, the hypocrisy of the sexual mores of bourgeois society and the value system of the Roman Catholic Church. The film confirmed Bunuel’s originality after the acclaim for An Andalusian Dog but also brought controversy to the surrealist movement when extreme white wing activists attacked the cinema where it was showing, leading to the film being banned by the authorities.

804. The Man Who Would Be King (1975) Dir. John Huston, 129 mins.

Michael Caine and Sean Connery replaced Huston’s original American choices in an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s cautionary tale as two rogue ex-soldiers, former non-commissioned officers in the British Army, who set off from late 19th-century British India in search of adventure and end up in faraway Kafiristan, where one is taken for a god and made their king.

803. The Prestige (2006) Dir. Christopher Nolan, 130 mins.

The story follows Robert Angier and Alfred Borden, rival stage magicians in London at the beginning of the 20th century. Obsessed with creating the best stage illusion, they engage in competitive one-upmanship with tragic results.

802. Ballad of Narayama (1983) Dir. Shohei Imamura, 130 mins.

The film looks at the cruelties of life in a small Japanese 19th century village where once anyone reaches 70 years old they must leave and go to a mountain top to die.

801. This is Spinal Tap (1984) Dir. Rob Reiner, 82 mins.

By following a fictional British heavy metal band Spinal Tap, the film satirises the wild personal behaviour and musical pretensions of hard rock and heavy metal bands, as well as the hagiographic tendencies of rock documentaries of the time.


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