Sunday, December 26, 2010

THE YEAR IN MOVIES 2010! It has been my habit to list my favourite movies which I saw for the first time this year. Not movies MADE in 2010 but those I'd never seen before and watched in 2010. I saw many great films for the first time this year but I've whittled it down to only 50. ONLY he says!
  1. AUTUMN SONATA (1978) - Ingmar Bergman finally works with Ingrid Bergman. Masterful performances from Ingrid and Liv Ullman in the harrowing portrait of a mother who never connected with her daughters.
  2. THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (1970) - Dario Argento's early thriller concerning a writer stalked by a serial killer after witnessing an attempted murder.
  3. THE BUDDHA (2010) - Beautiful TV documentary helmed by David Grubin relating the life and teachings of the Buddha with ubiquitous Richard Gere narrating and readings by Blair Brown. Lovely animation as well.
  4. CHUSHINGURA (1962) - Director Hiroshi Inagaki's lush retelling of the Japanese national epic of a conflict of obligations also known as THE 47 LOYAL RONIN
  5. DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS (1971) - Dreamlike and queasy "Carmilla-like" film with Delphine Seyrig as the vampire preying on married couple John (DARK SHADOWS) Karlen and (more specifically) Danielle Ouimet.
  6. DEEP RED (1975) - Superb Dario Argento horror-thriller starring David Hemmings in the middle of the knife-slashing mania.
  7. DISTRICT 9 (2009) - Oscar-nominated science fiction phenomenon with prawns.
  8. DORIAN GRAY (2009) - The best filmic adaptation of Oscar Wilde's hoary old tale of debauchery with Ben Barnes as the angelic-faced reprobate and Colin Firth leading him astray. Did I say ashtray?!?
  9. THE 8 DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER (1984) - masterful kung fu director Lau Kar-Leung's revenge film starring Gordon Liu and Alexander Fu Sheng (who died during filming).
  10. THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL (1962) - Luis Bunuel's deliriously odd (that's nothing new) tale of a group of guests at a formal dinner party who find themselves unable to leave. Ever.
  11. THE FACE OF ANOTHER (1966) - Director Hiroshi Teshigahara's strange mixing of EYES WITHOUT A FACE and DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE as a hideously scarred man has a new face sculpted by a plastic surgeon. Does the person wear the mask or the mask wear the person?
  12. FELLOWSHIP OF THE FROG (1959) - One of the wonderfully daffy German krimi films based on the writings of Edgar Wallace. A master criminal by the name of "The Frog" torments Joachim Fuchsberger et. al.
  13. FIST OF LEGEND (1994) - As much as it seemed like a dopey idea to remake Bruce Lee's classic FISTS OF FURY, they actually did a really nice job of it with Jet Li fighting like a whirlwind.
  14. THE FIVE DEADLY VENOMS (1978) - Director Chang Cheh's hugely popular kung fu epic of a dying martial arts master tasking a student with checking on five masked former students named Centipede, Snake, Toad, Lizard and Scorpion. So influential the actors in the film forever after were known as "The Venoms".
  15. FIVE ELEMENT NINJAS (1982) - Another Chang Cheh kung fu classic this time with more of a "fairy tale" feel to it. A student seeks revenge over the ninja who killed his brothers & father; he must run the gauntlet of the Five Element Ninja Challenge of Earth, Wood, Fire, Gold and Water.
  16. FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH (1972) - Also known as KING BOXER, this is the film which actually kicked off the kung fu craze in the early 70's. This is yet another revenge tale with Lo Lieh playing the hero this time.
  17. THE GOOD DIE YOUNG (1954) - Three decent men are led astray by an amoral "gentleman" who involved them in a plot to rob a postal van. Great cast includes Laurence Harvey, Stanley Baker, Richard Basehart, Gloria Grahame, John Ireland, Joan Collins, Margaret Leighton etc.
  18. HEROES OF THE EAST (1979) - Kung fu classic helmed by Lau Kar-Leung starring Gordon Liu as the Chinese martial arts master who married a Japanese woman; he accidentally offends all of Japan's martial arts and must accept the challenge to fight 10 ninjas each specializing in a particular fighting style. One of the best.
  19. IN THE LOOP (2009) - The closest thing so far to getting the exceptional British comedy THE THICK OF IT into a film. Hilarious political comedy with the spectacular Peter Capaldi as Malcolm.
  20. IN WHICH WE SERVE (1942) - Story of World War II British destroyer H.M.S. Torrin told in flashbacks as its crew clings to a life raft. Directed by David Lean & Noel Coward. Cast includes Coward, Michael Wilding and John Mills.
  21. IP MAN (2008) - Director Wilson Yip's sorta-biography of Bruce Lee's martial arts master Ip Man takes place before and after the Japanese occupation of China leading up to World War II. Donnie Yen has probably his finest role here. The wonderful Simon Yam also stars and legendary Sammo Hung does the action directing. One of the best films of the year.
  22. IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY (1947) - Director Robert Hamer's rather bleakly realistic film of an escaped convict's attempt to hide out in his former (married) lover's house. The wonderful Googie Withers heads a superb cast.
  23. JUDEX (1963) - Georges Franju's fever-dream updating of the classic French serial.
  24. JULIE & JULIA (2009) - Nora Ephron's lovely intertwining of the life of iconic TV chef Julia Child with a blogger's attempt to cook every recipe in Child's cookbook in a year. Based on a true story starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Stanley Tucci.
  25. KILLZONE (2005) - Director Wilson Yip's police story/martial arts blockbuster also known as SPL. Stars Donnie Yen as a new police detective taking over retiring Simon Yam's beat and getting entwined in an ongoing revenge vendetta against crimelord Sammo Hung. Great story and great fight scenes including a spectacular alley fight between Yen and psychotic Jing Wu.
  26. LA RONDE (1950) - Max Ophuls' delightful film about . . . well, sex, actually. Beautiful as a jewel. Superb cast includes Anton Walbrook, Simone Signoret, Simone Simon, Danielle Darrieux and more.
  27. LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD (1961) - Director Alain Resnais' bewildering but rivetting film concerning a man and a woman who may or may not have met last year at Marienbad. Delphine Seyrig enigmatically stars.
  28. THE MAD EXECUTIONERS (1963) - Another wildly fun German krimi based on the writing of Bryan Edgar Wallace in which a hooded society passes judgment on criminals who "got away with it" and kills them. This could be my favourite krimi, I think.
  29. ME AND ORSON WELLES (2008) - Lovely Richard Linklater film which (fictionally) takes us back to the famous Mercury Theater production of Julius Caesar. Christian McKay is stunning in his Orson Welles impersonation. The cast is rounded out by Zac Efron (you should pardon the expression), Claire Danes and Ben Chaplin.
  30. MY BEST FIEND (1999) - Werner Herzog's startling and hilarious documentary of his relationship with mad actor Klaus Kinski.
  31. MYSTERY OF CHESS BOXING (1979) - Mark Long stars as the Ghost Face Killer in this classic "martial arts training" film.
  32. OIL CITY CONFIDENTIAL (2009) - Superb Julien Temple rockumentary following the history of classic British rockers Dr. Feelgood.
  33. ONG BAK (2003) - One of the most highly touted martial arts flicks in recent memory. Tony Jaa is breathtaking in his fighting scenes as the young man charged with the task of returning his hometown's stolen Buddha statue by using his astonishing Muay Thai fighting technique.
  34. OPEN CITY (1945) - Roberto Rossellini's neo-realist trend-setter concerning the final days of Italy's Nazi occupation and the freedom fighters who try to undermine them. Aldo Fabrizi and Anna Magnani head the cast.
  35. PASSPORT TO PIMLICO (1949) - Terrific British comedy in which the residence of an area of London secede from Great Britain and proclaim themselves an independent country. Great cast of British character actors includes Stanley Holloway and Hermione Baddeley.
  36. PERSONA (1966) - Stunning Ingmar Bergman film in which an actress suddenly stops speaking and the nurse assigned to her care slowly finds herself losing her own personality. Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullman both give startling performances.
  37. RICHARD III (1955) - Laurence Olivier directs and stars in this Shakespearean adaptation of the "pantomime villain" which also stars acting heavyweights Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Sir Ralph Richardson, Sir John Gielgud, Pamela Brown and Claire Bloom. But not a horse.
  38. RUSH: BEYOND THE LIGHTED STAGE (2010) - Absolutely spectacular documentary on the Canadian rock institution Rush which covers their history and their music in equal depth.
  39. THE SARAGOSSA MANUSCRIPT (1965) - Director Wojciech Has' film adaptation of the thought-to-be unfilmable Polish epic.
  40. SCARFACE (1932) - Howard Hawks and Richard Rosson co-directed this 30's gangster classic with Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, George Raft and Boris Karloff.
  41. SNATCH (2000) - This is actually the only Guy Ritchie film I've ever seen but I thought it was hilarious. I can't speak to the "mockney" quality of his other films but this is like the British Three Stooges do a caper film. Brad Pitt, Benicio Del Toro, Jason Stathan and Mike "Frank Butcher" Reid are among the cast.
  42. TARZAN AND HIS MATE (1934) - The second of the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films. It doesn't really matter what the plot of this cult film is; it's just a lot of fun and features the pre-code nudey swimming scene with Maureen O'Sullivan.
  43. TESTAMENT OF ORPHEUS (1960) - Jean Cocteau directs and stars in this film in which he looks back on his life and his obsessions.
  44. THE 36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN (1978) - One of the greatest kung fu films ever. Lau Kar-Leung directs and Gordon Liu stars in this ultimate "martial arts training" film of the famous Shaolin Temple.
  45. THRILL OF A ROMANCE (1945) - Another of those Esther Williams swimming musicals. However, this one stands out because of Esther's rather salty and sarcastic acting role which departs from her usual sugar and light cheeriness. Esther marries a rich businessman but, when he leaves their honeymoon for some business duties, she begins flirting with a war hero. Van Johnson is back again as her co-star.
  46. TOKYO STORY (1953) - Yasujiro Ozu's masterpiece of of devastating loneliness as an old couple visit their children and grandchildren who basically ignore them. Heartbreaking.
  47. THE WAY AHEAD (1944) - Director Carol Reed helms this World War II tale of a group of infantry conscripts who morph from a hopeless group of amateurs to a seasoned fighting unit. David Niven, Stanley Holloway and William (DOCTOR WHO) Hartnell head a nice cast.
  48. WENT THE DAY WELL (1942) - It's startling to realize this film was made deep in the midst of World War II when the outcome wasn't at all decided. Nazi paratroopers take over a sleepy English town and it's up to the residents to fight against them. Surprisingly brutal in spots. Cast includes Leslie Banks, David Farrar and Mervyn Johns.
  49. YOU, THE LIVING (2007) - Director Roy Andersson's genuinely funny film of seemingly unrelated scenes which demonstrate the utter "humanness" of us all.
  50. ZOMBIELAND (2009) - Ruben Fleischer directs this combination zombie horror film and comedy which surprised me by working on both levels. Cast includes Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and a magnificent Bill Murray cameo.

1 comment:

Terry Frost said...

Some great films there. A very good list.