Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Most Self Indulgent Blog Post Imaginable: My Top 10

As some of you know, I have a definitive top 250 films list. And as less of you know, I'm a fickle bitch and I change it whenever I have time. But the top 10 remain the same somehow. Because I have no life, this is something I'm constantly tweaking and would like to share it with you now, not all 250 that's just rude, but how about just the top 10. I'm sure everyone who loves films have their own, and hey if A.O. Scott can put one out every year why not me? Because he works for the New York Times is why. Hurray for free blogging! Here we go. Remember it's totally subjective, but also very real. Before we go any further, I'm a film snob, so be forewarned. 

1.     La Regle du jeu "The Rules of the Game" (Jean Renoir) 1939 
Jean Renoir could perhaps be the greatest filmmaker of all time, he’s not my personal favorite, but this puckish satire about the Euro-upper class in between the two world wars is a subtle masterpiece in artistry, writing, and a scathing commentary on the human condition. A comedy of manners if you will, with brilliant performances and with Renoir at the helm, it’s nothing short of a masterpiece. It's a timeless commentary on how decadence, self-indulgence, and arrogance is inevitably the end of our souls, but when clouded by money and cocktails, we can go on not caring forever.

2. The Third Man (Carol Reed) 1949 
On the heels of Citizen Kane, Orson Welles put in arguably his best performance on screen, in what he referred to as a ‘star role’. His character doesn’t appear until the end of the third act, but is talked about throughout the entirety of the film. Set against the bleak backdrop of Vienna right after World War II, he’s teamed up with his bestie Joseph Cotton who acted opposite him in Kane in one hell of a mystery caper with one of the best twist endings of all time.

3. Some Like it Hot (Billy Wilder) 1959 
I just blogged about Wilder, so what can I say. All of his films found a place on my top 250, but this one ranks highest because I’ve never in my life experienced such a perfect comedy. It’s a constant stream of set-up to punch line, and not one time is it not funny. From the writing to the indelible performances from Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe, it is consummate in its perfection.

4. Fanny och Alexander "Fanny and Alexander" (Ingmar Bergman) 1982
 As with Wilder, there are quite a few Bergman films on my list. I honestly don’t know why I prefer this one above the rest, it’s of his later catalogue, where most would say he started slipping, but it’s so deeply personal and so artfully crafted that I believe it to be his best. And if you have 5 hours and about 130$, you can watch the unedited version on Criterion.

5.  8 1/2 (Federico Fellini) 1963 
What can I say about Fellini, Wilder may be my favorite director, but Fellini is whom my heart really belongs to. Here’s a man who said, what does it matter, it’s only life. A man who’s films reflect not his reality but the endless bizarre nature of his imagination. This film is his most self-indulgent considering it’s basically about him not being able to figure out what to direct next, so he wrote a film about it. But with Fellini, it never feels self-indulgent. His attitude is so carefree and whimsical towards filmmaking, though on set he’s known as a bit of a dictator, that every thing he directs seems like a gift.

6. La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc "The Passion of Joan of Arc" (Carl Theodore Dryer) 1928
This film was band in almost every country upon release and the director died thinking the last print had been burned and his greatest masterpiece never to be seen again until by some miracle it was found in the insane asylum closet in Holland. Turns out the doctors had ordered it when it was still legal, and forgot about it. Historians and archivists slaved to not only put it back together but to restore it so that we could all bask in its glory. I have no idea what the film community today would be without it. It’s more than a film; it’s a piece of history.

7. A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes) 1974 
John Cassavetes is perhaps the one director whom I think anyone should aspire to be like. Known as the paragon of the American independent film, this actor turned director would take no salary, and work on improve with his wife Gena Rowlands and his small group of acting buddies on a story that they would later film in his apartment. This story of a woman quietly unraveling is so gut wrenching that it absolutely eats away at your core even if you can’t relate to it. To be able to do that is what separates the hacks from the artists. Besides, if I didn't put this film on the list, my mother (who is Gena Rowlands' #1 fan) would kill me. 
8. Cabaret (Bob Fosse) 1971

Yay! A musical. Me personally, I worship the ground Bob Fosse walks on. This was his first feature and has become iconic since. Films like Chicago, Burlesque, basically any musical that exists today borrow from its aesthetic. Fosse was the first one to use editing to free the dancer from gravity rather than shooting them on a presidium arch like we see in the 50’s. Taking place in the troubled Weimar Republic of Berlin between the two wars, it concerns a lowly cabaret performer (Liza Minelli) but really is a social commentary on people’s desperate need to remain ignorant, coupled with some of the most memorable choreography and musical numbers in film history. It’s definitely my favorite musical of all time, and though there will never be another Fosse, it’s fun to watch people try. 
9. Ladri dei biciclette "The Bicycle Thieves" (Vittorio De Sica) 1948 
If you went to film school, read critic blogs or know anything about the catalogue of classic films, this film usually is seen as #1. It’s the birth of the Italian Neo-Realist movement, telling the heartbreaking story of a desperate father in post-war torn-apart Italy who just wants to be able to take care of his family. If the world was ending and we had only one film to put into a time capsule so the mutants in silver jumpsuits would know what cinema was, we would throw a copy of this one into it. 
10. Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock) 1946

I know I’ve said that Rebecca is my favorite Hitchcock film, but this is in my opinion his ‘best’. Best and favorite are vastly different. It stars two of his favorite collaborators; Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant as star-crossed lovers in a spy thriller that with it’s signature Hitchcockian flair will put you on the edge of your seat. This is the film that in my opinion defines Hitchcock as the Master of Suspense and cements his status as an auteur. 
Below some clips to drive my points home...

No comments: