Dezember 19, 2008
So, I’ll try to write form one film I liked for each letter of the English alphabet.
NB: These are not necessarily my favourite films, because the ranking for those changes roughly 60 times per hour, but they are films I liked. I will try to avoid spoilers (but I fail at this…just ask kalafudra). I’ll also try to avoid listing the same director twice.
I don’t know if this counts, but the first one that came to mind was „Angels in America„.
But if I have to restrict myself to theatrical releases, I’d go with „Atonement“ – not only because the library scene is probably one of the best love scenes I’ve ever seen, but also because the moment when the guys come over that hill at Dunkirk was punch-in-the-gut brilliance. (As a side note: Damn you, Ian McEwan! Damn you!)
„Big Fish„, because I had to include one film by Tim Burton, and this one is my absolute favourite. It’s about giants and witches, and catching uncatchable fish, but most of all it’s about fathers and sons, and about the importance of stories.
„Cidade de Deus„…A film that draws you in from the very beginning, and doesn’t let you go, even if you want to distance yourself – and some of the scenes from the boys‘ childhood really made me want to.
„Death to Smoochy“ – One of the most underrated films I’ve ever come across. Everything, from the cast to the script, is genius. And I dare anyone not to love a film that contains the insult „Illegitimate Teletubbie!“.
„E.T.“ – This one is the first non-Disney film I remember watching. I’m still in love with it. Besides, the theme sparked my passion for movie scores.
„Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain“ – I saw the first teaser trailer for this one while I was in France for the first time. I didn’t stay long enough to see it there, so I had to wait and hope for about a year for the film to come to Austria. And it delivered. I don’t know which is my favourite part – Amélie’s campaign of revenge against the grocer Colignon, or the intrepid garden gnome.
„The Great Dictator“ – I like Chaplin, but I couldn’t have chosen among the Tramp films, so I picked something else. And no, I’m not just being pretentious. I genuinely love this film. The dance-scene with the globe is sublime, and his speech at the end makes me cry every time I see it. Knowing what happened after the film was made makes it all the more poignant.
„Her Majesty, Mrs Brown“ (this is the UK title, which is where I saw it, and it starts with H, so I’m going with it. Bite me, Imdb!) – I love this one, because it’s slow and quiet and utterly believable. Judy Dench is great in everything she does (except for a certain Vin Diesel craptastrophe that shall not be named), but this was the first time I saw Billy Connolly and didn’t hate him.
„Iris“ – Have I mentioned that Judy Dench is great in everything she does? The same goes for Jim Broadbent (who is from Lincoln and therefore entitled to special love from me). The film isn’t as brutal with the physical truths of Alzheimer’s as it could be, but the way in which they focus on the way her mind gradually slips away is more than enough to swallow.
„Jeux d’enfants“ – Before her turn as Edith Piaf, Marion Cotillard was Sophie in this unconventional romantic story. I loved the way the protagonists‘ relationship progresses through their escalating dares. Besides, that little boy (Thibault Verhaeghe) was absolutely adorable.
„Kung Fu“ – A martial arts comedy with elements of musicals and heavy influences from anime (and it’s not about football, either) – what’s not to love?
„El Laberinto del Fauno“ – Because it is breathtaking, even though I basically have to leave the room whenever the Captain enters the frame (I watched that bottle scene once, I don’t need to see it again. Ever.) It captures the spirit of Grimm’s fairy tales in combining terror with awe, when most films take the easy way out and choose one of the two. Also, that melody haunts me for days whenever I hear it.
„The Matrix“ – I remember coming across this one in a movie journal just before it opened. They devoted less than half a page to it, as opposed to four or even eight pages for the big blockbusters. Kalafudra and I went to see it only because I had a crush on Keanu Reeves and she indulged me. The rest is history.
Spoon Boy: Do not try to like the sequels. That’s impossible. Instead…only realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon Boy: There are no sequels.
„The Notebook“ – I have yet to find a better schmaltzy film to cry to. I love it, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
„Once“ – The great music, the wonderful story, the beauty of Dublin, and the bittersweetness of it all coming together…this film is a gem.
There is no way I can make my mind up on this one…
„Penelope“ – Another one of those criminally underrated treasures, probably my favourite film of this year (and there has been some stiff competition, I assure you). Everything about this fairytale is beautiful, from the message all the way to the shutters in Penelope’s room. Speaking of which…is there any way I could get that room? Please??? Also, I would like to take this moment to present James McAvoy with a Special Award for Achievements in Screen Kissing, which I shall give him the moment my knees become solid again.
„Pirates of the Caribbean – Curse of the Black Pearl“ – It’s based on a ride in Disneyworld. It’s got Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley creating a charismatic vacuum between them. It shouldn’t have worked, but it did. And I love it.
„The Queen“ – Helen Mirren is another one of those actresses who are always great. But in this film, she outdid herself. It is not so much a biopic as a brief glimpse into an important period of a life, and it’s done with more care and respect than I would have thought was possible.
„Raiders of the Lost Ark“ – Where would this list be without Indy? In the hands of all-powerful Nazis, that’s where. Ha!
„Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi“ – This is my favourite Miyazaki film, not only because it’s the most engaging coming-of-age fairy tale I’ve ever come across, or because it is filled to the brim with magical creatures. It also takes true genius to make a film with witches, demons, curses, gods, and a dragon…and ground it all in one stunningly beautiful, completely serene train journey.
„The Thomas Crown Affair“ – I saw the new one when it came out a few years ago, and it was alright, I guess, but nothing to write home about. But last summer I got up one night because I couldn’t sleep, and the original version was on TV. Steve McQueen really sells the thrill-seeking billionaire, and the chemistry between him and Faye Dunaway was sizzling so much it kept me glued to my seat until 4am. That chess scene is one of the hottest sex-scenes-without-actual-sex ever.
„The Usual Suspects“ – As gangster films from 1994 go, „L.A. Confidential“ usually gets most of the credit. I never understood that. I enjoy what kalafudra describes as „mind-fuckery“. And that ending, when Kevin Spacey leaves and the police officers turn around is one of my all time favourite scenes. (Is that a spoiler? I hope not…If yes, then I’m really, really sorry.)
„Volver“ – For several reasons: Firstly, I didn’t like „V for Vendetta“ at all. Secondly, I haven’t seen „Velvet Goldmine“, yet. Thirdly, it was the only other film with V I could think of off the top of my head (because copying kalafudra two letters in a row wasn’t an option, either). Fourthly, this film was not bad at all :)
„WALL-E“ – Oh, where shall I start? Everything about this film, from that zoom in, with the tune from „Hello, Dolly“ to the crash-course-in-art-history credit roll, the film was engaging, heartwarming, cute, romantic, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. Way to set the bar sky-high, Pixar.
„X2“ – Oh damn…I’ve done it. But I’m afraid it’s Bryan Singer again or nothing. The first film was good, but the second one didn’t have to bother with all that lengthy exposition and introduced a villain who more than held his own against the combined thespian superpowers of Stewart and McKellen (et al). Besides, we get to see more of the school. I love that school. Why didn’t I go to that school? I could have been their affirmative action homo sapiens, or something…
„Ying Xiong“ – This film completely blew me away. I had seen other films by Zhang Yimou. I had seen other Chinese martial arts films. But I was not prepared for what would happen when those two came together. The story is good, of course, and the acting is great (yes, even Ziyi Zhang…although it pains me to say that), but it’s the look of it that truly sets it apart. And everything he did right with this one, Yimou proceeded to exaggerate and overdo with the film that followed…Pity.
„Zatôichi“ – This isn’t one of my favourite films, to be absolutely honest. It’s too exhausting for my taste, but I will admit that it is a very good film, and well worth watching. It reminded me of a magnificent opera, making up for the lack of singing with the sheer quantity of missing limbs. It’s also the only film with Z I have seen that seems worth mentioning (but there’s a couple of them yet on my unofficial „To Watch-List“).