The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2020) 980-961


980. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) Dir. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, 117 mins.

In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles Morales becomes one of many Spider-Men as they team up to save New York City from Kingpin.

979. Gallipoli (1981) Dir. Peter Weir, 110 mins.

Weir’s first world war drama follows two young men from rural Western Australia who enlist in the army and are sent to the peninsula of Gallipoli. Whilst there are historical inaccuracies the film is a devastating anti-war piece and a moving tribute to those Anzac soldiers who found themselves fighting the futile Battle of the Nek.

978. Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1967) Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 87 mins.

One of Godard’s key works, the film locates its story of a Parisian housewife’s resort to prostitution within a wider treatise on the sociology of contemporary Paris.

977. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962) Dir. Tony Richardson, 104 mins.

Based on a short story by Alan Silitoe (who also wrote the screenplay), the film stars Tom Courtenay as a notably authentic ‘angry young man’ sentenced to borstal for burgling a bakery. He manages to gain privileges in the institution through his prowess as a long-distance runner. A British New Wave classic with a provocative stance on consumerism and the English class system.

976. The 39 Steps (1935) Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 86 mins.

Very loosely based on the 1915 adventure novel The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan, the film is about an everyman civilian in London, Richard Hannay (Robert Donat), who becomes caught up in preventing an organisation of spies called the 39 Steps from stealing British military secrets. After being mistakenly accused of the murder of a counter-espionage agent, Hannay goes on the run to Scotland with an attractive woman in the hopes of stopping the spy ring and clearing his name. Much more than just entertaining escapism, The 39 Steps is a complex and effective spy thriller that’s arguably the best of Hitchcock’s films made in England and called a masterpiece by Orson Welles. More…

975. The Proposition (2005) Dir. John Hillcoat, 104 mins.

In 1880s rural Australia, a British lawman (Ray Winstone) offers criminal Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) a difficult choice. In order to save his younger brother from the gallows, Charlie must hunt down and kill his older brother (Danny Huston), a dangerous sociopath who is on the run from the law for rape and murder. A revisionist western that’s both brutal and beautiful and features memorable performances particularly from Pearce. Watch

974. Before Sunrise (1995) Dir. Richard Linklater, 105 mins.

The film follows Jesse (Ethan Hawke), a young American man, and Céline (Julie Delpy), a young French woman, who meet on a train and disembark in Vienna, where they spend the night walking around the city and getting to know each other. Watch

973. Lola (1961) Dir. Jacques Demy, 90 mins.

Lola takes place in the Atlantic coastal city of Nantes, France. A young man, Roland Cassard (Marc Michel), is wasting his life away until he has a chance encounter with Lola (Aimée), a woman he used to know as a teenager before World War II who is now a cabaret dancer. Though Roland is quite smitten with her, Lola is pre-occupied with her former lover Michel, who abandoned her and her seven-year-old son years before. Also vying for Lola’s heart is American sailor Frankie (Alan Scott), whose affection Lola does not return.

972. American Graffiti (1973) Dir. George Lucas, 110 mins.

Making Universal a ton of money, Lucas’s American Graffiti spawned an ever growing number of Hollywood movies portraying teens trying to convince a sceptical adult world to take them seriously. Set in Modesto, California in 1962, the film is a study of the cruising and rock and roll cultures popular among the post–World War II baby boom generation. The narrative is a series of vignettes, telling the story of a group of teenagers and their adventures over a single night. Produced by Coppola the film was an early boost to the careers of Harrison Ford, Ron Howard and Richard Dreyfuss.

971. Atonement (2007) Dir. Joe Wright, 130 mins.

Based on Ian McEwan’s 2001 novel of the same name, the film focuses on a crime and its consequences over the course of six decades, beginning in the 1930s. Saoirse Ronan makes a big impression as the 13 year old Briony Tallis who tells a lie which ruins the lives of lovers, Cecilia Tallis (Keira Knightley), her older sister, and Robbie Turner (James McAvoy), the son of the Tallis family’s housekeeper. There are great performances and brilliant cinematography, particularly the remarkable five minute single take tracking shot across the beach at Dunkirk.

970. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007) Dir. Cristian Mungiu, 113 mins.

The film is set in Communist Romania in the final years of Nicolae Ceauşescu’s rule. It tells the story of two students, roommates in a university dormitory, who try to arrange an illegal abortion. Watch

969. Equinox Flower (1958) Dir. Yasujirō Ozu, 118 mins.

Based on a novel by Ton Satomi, Ozu’s beautiful first colour film follows and old fashioned father and his modern daughter and shows the director’s growing sympathy for younger generations that was clearly evident in his later career films.

968. Week End (1967) Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 105 mins.

Determined to collect an inheritance from a dying relative, a petit-bourgeois couple travel across the French countryside while civilisation crashes and burns around them. Buy

967. The Tin Drum (1979) Dir. Volker Schlondorff, 142 mins.

Already considered to be at the forefront of New German Cinema, Schlondorff took home an Oscar for best foreign film for his controversial adaptation of Gunter Gross’s allegorical novel of the same name. David Bennent plays Oskar, the young son of a German rural family, who receives a shiny new tin drum for his 3rd birthday. Seeing around him an unkind world full of miserable adults, Oskar vows never to grow any older or bigger. This eccentric and intense film has such startling images it’s hard for any viewer to turn away from.

966. Spotlight (2015) Dir. Thomas McCarthy, 128 mins.

The film follows The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team, the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative journalist unit in the United States, and its investigation into cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by numerous Roman Catholic priests.

965. Witness for the Prosecution (1957) Dir. Billy Wilder, 116 mins.

Set in the Old Bailey in London, the film is based on the play of the same name by Agatha Christie and deals with the trial of a man accused of murder. Watch

964. The Manchurian Candidate (1962) Dir. John Frankenheimer, 126 mins.

The Manchurian Candidate concerns the brainwashing of Raymond Shaw, the son of a prominent political family, who becomes an unwitting assassin in an international communist conspiracy. Government officials from China and the Soviet Union follow Shaw around the world to brainwash him based on their theory that an assassin who has been brainwashed cannot feel fear or guilt.

963. Hard to Be a God (2013) Dir. Aleksei German, 177 mins.

Based on the 1964 novel of the same name by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, the final film from Russian master, German, follows a scientist from Earth who is sent to a planet that has striking similarities to our own during the middle ages. The natives of this chaotic and cruel society treat the scientist as a sort of god, but he is not allowed to interfere with their development and left impotent in the face of the brutality he witnesses.

962. Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl (1919) Dir. D.W. Griffith, 90 mins.

Compared to earlier films such as IntoleranceBroken Blossoms was a relatively small scale effort from D. W. Griffith. The film tells the story of a teenager, Lucy Burrows (Lilian Gish with one of her most impressive performances), who is abused by her brutal alcoholic prizefighting stepfather, Battling Burrows (Donald Crisp), and meets Cheng Huan, a kind-hearted and gentle Chinese man (Richard Barthelmess) who falls in love with her. The sympathetic portrayal of Cheng is probably Griffiths way of proving to his detractors after the controversial Birth of a Nation that he wasn’t a racist. It’s pure Victorian melodrama, dripping with sentiment but tempered by Gish’s subtlety and her power to convey raw emotion.

961. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999) Dir. Jim Jarmusch, 116 mins.

Forest Whitaker stars in Jarmusch’s surreal crime drama as the mysterious “Ghost Dog”, a hitman in the employ of the Mafia who lives in an unidentified run down city. He is obsessed with following the ancient moral code of the samurai and when his low level crimes boss, who once saved his life, is threatened with execution by his superiors Ghost Dog jumps into action against his boss’s enemies. Maybe it’s ultimately style over substance, but the combination of shoot outs, melancholy and dark humour make it engrossing cinema. Buy



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