The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2020) 920-901


920. A Room With a View (1985) Dir. James Ivory, 117 mins.

An adaptation of E. M. Forster’s novel, the film is set in England and Italy and follows a young woman named Lucy Honeychurch (a terrific film debut by Helena Bonham Carter) in the restrictive and repressed culture of Edwardian era England and her developing love for free-spirited young George Emerson. The film is hugely entertaining, very funny and includes great performances by a talented cast. Critics were particularly impressed by the relative new comer Daniel Day-Lewis as the snobbish and pretentious Cecil given that the part was on another planet to his other acclaimed role of 1985 as a gay street punk in My Beautiful Laundrette.

919. Easy Rider (1969) Dir. Dennis Hopper, 95 mins.

Director Dennis Hopper and producer Peter Fonda star as two bikers who travel southern America with the proceeds of a drug deal. Their journey carries them to a hippie commune and to an encounter with an alcoholic civil rights lawyer, portrayed by a scene stealing Jack Nicholson. While now looking dated, Easy Rider, helped along by the popular rock song soundtrack, still holds on to a notable place in cinema history for helping to start the New Hollywood era and for encapsulating 1960s counterculture. Watch

918. To Live (1994) Dir. Zhang Yimou, 132 mins.

In the 1940s, Xu Fugui (Ge You), a rich man’s son and compulsive gambler, and his wife Jiazhen (Gong Li), endure tumultuous events in China as their personal fortunes move from wealthy landownership to peasantry.

917. The American Friend (1977) Dir. Wim Wenders, 127 mins.

The film features Dennis Hopper as career criminal Tom Ripley and Bruno Ganz as Jonathan Zimmermann, a terminally ill picture framer whom Ripley coerces into becoming an assassin.

916. Lift to the Scaffold (1958) Dir. Louis Malle, 88 mins.

Adapted from a 1956 novel of the same name by Noël Calef, the film stars Jeanne Moreau and Maurice Ronet as illicit lovers whose murder plot starts to unravel because of a malfunctioning elevator.

915. Teorema (1968) Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 105 mins.

Pasolini’s visionary art-house film, a brutal dissection of the typical bourgeois family, follows a mysterious figure known only as “The Visitor” (Terence Stamp) who appears in the lives of an upper-class Milanese household and soon seduces each family member as well as the maid (Laura Betti). It’s full of great performances particularly from Stamp and Betti. Buy

914. Hunger (2008) Dir. Steve McQueen, 96 mins.

Michael Fassbender delivers a brilliant and committed performance as Bobby Sands, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteer and MP who led the second IRA hunger strike, in artist Steve McQueen’s potent debut. Watch

913. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) Dir. Pedro Almodóvar, 89 mins.

The film that brought Almodóvar to widespread international attention, follows soap actress Pepa, who having been dumped by her lover Iván, needs to track him down to deliver an important message. But her life is soon invaded by a series of distractions: Pepa’s friend Candela might have got involved in a terrorist plot, while Iván’s son, who is flat-hunting, ends up visiting Pepa’s apartment.

912. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011) Dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 150 mins.

Turkish drama film, co-written and directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan based on the true experience of one of the film’s writers, telling the story of a group of men who search for a dead body on the Anatolian steppe.

911. L’Amour Fou (1969) Dir. Jacques Rivette, 252 mins.

L’Amour fou follows the dissolution of a marriage between Claire, an actress (played by Bulle Ogier), and Sebastien, her director (Jean-Pierre Kalfon). Innovative and adventurous, Rivette’s film was a vital component in the career path that led to his opus Out 1.

910. La Commune (Paris, 1871) (2000) Dir. Peter Watkins, 220 mins.

A historical re-enactment of the Paris Commune in the style of a documentary that was shot in an abandoned factory on the outskirts of Paris. The film, that featured a large cast of mainly non-professional actors, including many immigrants from North Africa, received much acclaim from critics for its political themes and Watkins’ direction.

909. Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 116 mins.

Loosely based on the book The 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade, the film focuses on four wealthy, corrupt Italian libertines, during the time of the fascist Republic of Salò, who kidnap eighteen teenagers and subject them to four months of extreme violence, sadism, and sexual and mental torture. It was still banned by several countries going into the 21st century and with such graphic content, it’s not hard to see why the final work of the notorious Pasolini has been called one of the most sickening films of all time. While much of Salo is extremely difficult to watch, some critics and film historians still see it as essential cinema.

908. A. I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) Dir. Steven Spielberg, 146 mins.

A sci-fi fable developed by Stanley Kubrick and taken on by Spielberg. It’s a bleak and ambitious film that takes the tale of Pinocchio into a future where humanity’s best efforts to maintain civilisation have led to the creation of new robots known as mechas including David (a fine performance from Haley Joel Osmant), a child-like mecha programmed with the unique ability to love. His quest to become a ‘real boy’ takes him from abandonment by a human mother, whose loving acceptance he craves, into a dangerous futuristic world (brought to live by brilliant effects) where his only guidance comes from Jude Law’s mecha gigolo. Some will find the tale disturbing but it’s perhaps Spielberg’s most intriguing effort to date.

907. Performance (1970) Dir. Donald Cammell, Nicolas Roeg, 105 mins.

Acclaimed for its influential cinematic techniques, Performance stars James Fox as a violent and ambitious London gangster who, after carrying out an unordered killing, goes into hiding at the home of a reclusive rock star (Mick Jagger). A weird and memorable psychological crime thriller that’s full of ideas and good performances.

906. The River (1951) Dir. Jean Renoir, 99 mins.

A fairly faithful dramatisation of an earlier literary work of the same name (The River, authored by Rumer Godden), the movie attests to a teenager’s coming of age and first love, and how her heart is broken when the man she falls in love with is smitten with her best friend instead.

905. Dancer in the Dark (2000) Dir. Lars von Trier, 140 mins.

It stars Icelandic musician Björk as a daydreaming immigrant factory worker who suffers from a degenerative eye condition and is saving up to pay for an operation to prevent her young son from suffering the same fate.

904. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) Dir. Vincente Minnelli, 113 mins.

Divided into a series of seasonal vignettes, starting with Summer 1903, the film relates the story of a year in the life of the Smith family in St. Louis, leading up to the opening of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (more commonly referred to as the World’s Fair) in the spring of 1904. Perhaps best known to modern audiences for Judy Garland’s performance of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Christmas’.

903. House of Flying Daggers (2004) Dir. Yimou Zhang, 119 mins.

Set in 859 A.D. when the once great Tang Dynasty is in decline, rebel groups have formed, the largest of which is the House of Flying Daggers. Moving from one stunning scene to the next, it’s deemed by some to be visual style over narrative substance.

902. À Nos Amours (1983) Dir. Maurice Pialat, 95 mins.

The story follows a 15-year-old girl named Suzanne (Sandrine Bonnaire) who experiences her sexual awakening and becomes promiscuous, but is unable to feel love.

901. Siberiade (1979) Dir. Andrei Konchalovsky, 275 mins.

Spanning much of the 20th century, Konchalovsky’s Soviet epic takes place, primarily, in the small village of Yelan, which has lain hidden in the Siberian backwoods since time immemorial. The film revolves around two families, the relatively wealthy Solomins and the poor Ustyuzhanins, who live in Yelan and have been feuding for as long as anyone can remember.  Buy


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