Friday, 24 July 2015

Hearts Of Darkness – The Best Of Film Noir

[Just to note, you should probably see all of these before you read this. Seriously, anyway]

So. I'm here to answer one simple question- for myself, more than anyone else: What is the best noir of the 1940s? I have cherry-picked a luscious list of four genre classics, and now- I gotta decide between them. Excluding The Third Man, if only for its Great British roots- here are today’s contestants.

- The Maltese Falcon [41’ – John Huston] (review)
- Double Indemnity [44’ – Billy Wilder]
- The Big Sleep [46’ – Howard Hawks] (review)
- Out Of The Past [47’ – Jacques Tourneur]

Well then, shall we dance?

First off- Huston’s exceptional film debut: The Maltese Falcon. I find this one a tad out of place with the others. Whilst the film does employ many noir conventions, and is indeed rooted in place with the brutally effective insolence of Sam Spade (Bogey)- I find it to be, as The Third Man is, more of a crime story than true noir. The genre’s key trait is a story arc that coils back upon itself- in that with each passing instant rattling off into the future, comes more revelations about the past. Perhaps best exemplified, naturally, by Out Of The Past- here, where Tourneur devotes near the entire picture to playing the past of Bailey, rather than developing the story of the present, or rather the direction of his character’s future. In near the same way, in Double Indemnity, Wilder explores the past throughout the film, a story told in post, through countless flashbacks to the real story- a semi-cheat- but a superb innovation. One could argue that Tourneur does the same in his film, but Wilder explores the past as a means of storytelling, whereby the present- in the form of the bleeding Neff- is not truly necessary- at least to me. In contrast- Tourneur’s use of Bailey in the present is integral to the flow of his feature, as the story centers on criminal regrets, as well as the integrity of his love and life now, in contrast to that of his past.

Outside of all of this, The Big Sleep also develops as a straight crime story, if a rather inconceivable one. I must admit I never really struggled with Out Of The Past’s plot myself, but many complain of its convulsions- and I can see why. Though, much like in Hawks’ film, the characters take center stage. The Big Sleep is one vivid, inspired and ignited dreamscape, whilst simultaneously being a languid descent into a long, dark slumber- a spiral staircase into the jaws of oblivion, as the other films are- but none truly capture the mood of it quite like Hawks, if only in a more unique way, save a superior one. The whole film just feels dreary and droll, and yet keeps us awake through its character; and especially writing.

Speaking of which- crackling screenplays are as important a piece to a noir as any, and for the life of me picking the finest of four as fine as they can be is next to impossible. The Maltese Falcon develops its own superb crime story, weaving in and out characters, through the delightfully morbid whimsy of Spade- and in doing so creating a maze-like rabbit hole we are more than happy to dive down. Wilder brings his classic comedic air to his feature, even if it starts with Neff in his climactic death throes. True it does lose his fiery spark later on, but then stages a somber bathos that really resonates, despite the abject criminality of his characters. In that regard, Wilder’s piece succeeds perhaps above any others in making such vile, putrid morality sexy- as is in noir’s nature. He certainly explores the exploitative nature of the human race the finest, and again, the black soul of our people is another genre defining trait- pulled off remarkably there.

In the same way, The Big Sleep may owe its magnetic nauseam to the tone Hawks so brilliantly holds throughout, but there is no denying the crackling wit and again apparent sleaze its script radiates. The sexual tensions oozes out of each frame, each girl Marlowe meets another conquest in a trail of fire across the nation. Perhaps its rampant misogyny- but Bacall’s all-consuming aura speaks otherwise. Again- it is not so much the plot here that makes this a masterful work of prose- but rather the sizzling art of the dialogue, and the general melancholy it gives off in all-consuming waves. Speak of the devil.

By far my favorite script, if not technically the best, stems from Tourneur’s picture. Out Of The Past has some of the most outrageously, though unintentionally, wacky dialogue that is so noir it kills. One short scene on the beach, introducing Bailey and his love, is just back and forth rat-a-tat-tat Boston typewriter bullshit, a one for one slooze-fest of snappy, if hardly vintage, whippy lines. That’s just one short scene of the film. Double Indemnity, when I first saw it, averted me to narration over classic films, but Tourneur’s feature made me grow to love it, and in doing so grow to appreciate the genius in Wilder’s work also. Everything in the film is just so wry, so devilishly dark and seductive, and then cold, jarred and miserable as the nostalgia of the past catches up on our protagonist. It may not be the best screenplay of these four, but I still love it to death.

Best protagonist? Phillip Marlowe- next question.

Best leading lady…
Sorry, allow me to consolidate. All I have already said about Hawks’ feature here speaks volumes for just how great this hard-boiled hard-case is- but rest assured that everything I have said in this post speaks for the guy just as well. Every sentiment I hold for The Big Sleep again oozes out of Marlowe’s very being. The droll, gravelly voice- the sparkling lines- the zappy insolence. For me, nothing tops this guy. Spade is pretty damn great too. Never thought all that much of Neff, though I must commend MacMurray’s against-type performance. Bailey is great too (Mitchum has just the best fucking face in cinema), though again- nothing on Hawks’ leading man.

Leading lady? Another sweep for The Big Sleep. It’s gotta be Bacall. Again, she personifies the silky, seductive air of the film so purposefully, and with such deceit, malice and pure fucking power- that it’s truly hard to choose anyone else. Wilder’s woman gets a shout out also- superb, again. Well then- now that… that- is settled: Tone. Noir is a genre famous for its atmosphere, shadows sheathing minds and faces, revealing disillusionment and dread. Shall we begin?

Huston first, with The Maltese Falcon. Slashing its way through a series of rooms, rather than any vast array of locations as Tourneur or Wilder did, the film succeeds in spades in painting a lavishly thick atmosphere, though more of tension than mystery or madness, instead filling its canvas with empty streets, dangerous men prowling them- watching and waiting. Wilmer and Cairo’s numerous erratic actions throughout also lay the cement for a tense picture, but the problem I always find with The Maltese Falcon is that the tension isn’t truly palpable. Spade is always so utterly in control of his situation, but the writers did not mine the man’s impeccably insufferable charisma to its limits, and are thus left with a meandering absence of any real threat. He steals guns on a whim, and laughs in the face of them. The only moment in which Huston breaks this cloying emptiness is when Spade’s drink is spiked, leading to a moment of total environmental and physical helplessness- that truly serves to hold the film afloat, at least at the lofty heights it had already attained. Darkness and mystique? With The Maltese Falcon, it is sad to say I found them few and far between.

Wilder’s noir may have succeeded more than admirably in bringing to life the visceral greed, envy and barbarism of its criminal leads, but I always feel the atmosphere pales in comparison to his next [arguable] noir- The Lost Weekend. The deliciously devilish characters and the director’s trademark whimsically charged pace and tone make for a stylish and seductive feature- but again one that never truly mines anything to its limits. Many film noirs were and still remain pulpy ventures, even if they are considered the best, because they were not trying to be pure cinema, as these clearly were- not push a bar or boundary in film, rather just try to meet it. Double Indemnity is certainly not one of those films, and it is a damn good one, but the shadow, the sass and the scandalous seductivity of their wicked ways only stretches so far. A superb film, but not a noir that either bathes itself in darkness, both or characters and setting; nor engrosses itself in an intangible mystery no-one could hope to solve…

So onto Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep. Once again, I admire it almost above all else in this department. Everything churns out mushy mix of morose movement and break-neck dialogue. It’s truly one of the most beautiful juxtapositions of its decade. The Big Sleep is a viscous, amorphous mass that slowly sinks its jaws into a colossal cake of the plot, one so insurmountable not even Bogey could stomach it. Speaking of Bogey again- take into consideration the truly palpable tension here. Aided by the fact that almost everything else means nothing at all, the danger is Omni-present and snaps howling at Marlowe at every turn as he descends further into this nightmarishly massive mess. Tommy guns rattle at his door, invaders approach armed and absolutely livid, ready to tear into him. The man is clearly unsettled, frightened even. Again the partnership of a lazy detective for one half and a jittery, truly afraid one of the other simply serves to heighten the dense atmosphere Hawks lays down, dicing it to ribbons as the bullets fly through and the climax draws ever closer. The Big Sleep does not employ shadow and light quite like the best either, but it is still damn gorgeous to look at, and it’s seedy, sultry and suitably languid opening credits speak volumes for what the film is, before its first frame has even slid onto screen. Masterfully executed, but truly masterful?

And so, that brings us onto Tourneur’s Out Of The Past, for the last time. Sewing together not only a sublime sense of dread as Bailey drives onward towards the inevitable end of his future, indeed through the odyssey of murder and subterfuge that was his past, this film brings us the knock-out noir experience, atmosphere wise. Each frame is filled with shadows that cut and jut across the character’s faces, their features transformed unto rocky crags, each lost in their own worlds with their own inescapable problems. Even the quietest, most inviting scenes too share this wicked camera-work, darkness encroaching on Bailey’s beach-side love-nest so that even their one moment of intimacy is invaded by the grim and grubby fingers of their pursuers, itching to claw them back into separate cages of her marriage and his job. Tension lies thick, buried and ready to strike, rising almost as the dead throughout the film at a slow, steady pace before the final lunge for the jugular. In terms of evoking pathos and fear for our protagonist well- we should all know how Out Of The Past ends… Even before it begins! The cold inevitability that drives Bailey and his stories forward, constantly rummaging into his past for some proving fact that he was even alive, before his death- is what makes Tourneur’s film stand out from the pack. This is noir, at its most menacingly morbid, but also genuinely affecting. You feel for the life Bailey and his lover are starved of, could one say the same of Spade, Marlowe or even Neff? Out Of The Past wins out atmosphere by a long shot. The perfect presentation of what is perhaps the perfect noir.

All of these films are unmistakably great, but for the reasons above, I have to gift the title of the best noir of the 1940s to just one winner, not by far, but by a little ways above of the competition.

So now then- the final verdict:

The Maltese Falcon A-
Double Idemnity A
The Big Sleep A
Out Of The Past A+

Tourneur’s gorgeously complex canvas painted in the throes of deepest regret- and by the bruised, cynical hand of a master- wins out over everything else.

Post your favorite noir in the comments below! 40s, 50s, 30s- anything! I would do another of these on neo-noirs, though I hope we can agree there is one, undisputed winner on that front, so much so that trying to defend anything else in its face would be near-futile. Also- Chinatown is, kinda, my favorite movie ever- so just a teeny tiny tad of bias there ;) 

+1 if you liked. Comment if you disagree, or just got something nice to say- or both!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Just a little Anecdote

Today, I worked my way through Richard Linklater’s ‘Before’ trilogy- all three in a row. Three films from 1995-2013 and for my money- the most perfect trilogy of films I am yet to see. The poetry of human life is captured in such a raw essence it’s hard to express just how deeply affecting they were. 

Rest assured- even now: I love these movies.

Monday, 20 July 2015

40s Reviews Finale 1: The Big Sleep

God I love this. The film’s intro is exceedingly brief but oh so very vital. That smooth, sultry underplay as the title drifts onscreen, the light piano score ribboning in above and dancing over the hazy picture. Hard-boiled detective. Femme fatale. Bogey and Bacall. The air thick with smoke- clouded with mystery. Any way you look at it, right from the very beginning, The Big Sleep is quintessential noir.

Even upon the second viewing, I was entirely uninterested with deciphering The Big Sleep, the plot simply wafted over me, as did everything else. Hawks’ masterwork’s greatest strength lies in its complete lack of a plot, for one is forced, instead of engaging with the story, to focus on the characters, the images- the tone and style of the film. Those things come in spades right out of the gaping maw of The Big Sleep, guzzling fast lines and faster romances, each meeting spiced with a palpable edge despite the lazy pace and lackadaisical mood that descends over the film from frame one, thanks in its entirety to Bogart himself. Playing the kooky but clever Phillip Marlowe in another role cast in type but entirely out of it- the man is unconcerned, his voice drab, droll, grizzled with a haggard gravel in pitch- more-so here than in anything else. Bogey was born to play Marlowe, and pulls it off with ass much class and near cathartic numbness as admirably possible. It’s also a film with actual detective work, a-la Vertigo & Chinatown, which I simply adore.

From its early gunfire, at the twenty minute mark, The Big Sleep is well aware that it is, in essence, utterly incomprehensible. It is also, however, constantly reveling in the knowledge that it lies among the finest scripted, acted, shot and certainly constructed noirs ever conceived. Simultaneously as sharp as a prize barber’s straightest razor and as blunt as the dullest delusional defeatists- and just as inconceivably incomparable as the both of them- The Big Sleep is film noir. At it’s very finest. The finest though?

Did I say Notorious was the best film of 1946? Sorry. My mistake. Advantage Hawks.

Grade? It’s time to settle this. Best noir of the 1940s. It’s a three way brawl of broken hearts, towering trenchcoats and fancy fedoras. Who, you ask, is the third contender? Well for that, we have to take a little walk down the road of the past…

Find out who wins... 

40s Reviews: The Treasure Of Sierra Madre

There is perhaps a little bias here. I am fascinated by tales that explore the morality of men, especially in the guise of criminality and greed. All consuming- nightmarish greed. There Will Be Blood, I feel, is not fueled on greed. If anything- it is the hatred of the rest of the human race and their ability to surpass him that drives Plainview to his final oblivion. After decades and decades have passed, however, The Treasure Of Sierra Madre still remains one of the seminal American films.

Entertainment at its boldest and most beautiful, Treasure takes several established factors of Hollywood filmic cannon and blows them straight to hell. Bogart? A scoundrel of the dirtiest variety, no flavor or flair like the cynical PIs he has brought to life over the years- but a cold blooded vagabond. The American dream? A chance to begin anew in a new place and new riches? Corrupted to the utmost with the most opaquely grotesque greed and darkest depths of despair. Even a fellow American (a cameo by Huston) will not save his brethren in this dying condition of poverty they live in. Treasure is a rare Hollywood film of the 40s, along with The Lost Weekend, that faced the facts of the human condition at its very worst, and chose to do so head on, tackling them with wit- charm and malicious intent- rather than sugar coat them. Citizen Kane was many things, but he was, indeed, a man. A great one. Dobbs and kin are driven by the emptiness in their stomachs and the anger in their hearts.

And that’s really what makes Treasure such a knockout for me. In years to come, I will show my kids this film, this grand adventure, infectious with its charm and character but not holding out on stark themes and messages. Years and years later, they will get even more out of the film than as kids, discovering nuances and images lost in the guise of a piece of entertainment, rather than a political statement- or at least commentary, on the true American dream. The film is a voyage of revelation at any age, and although it may not be perfect, nor technically as great as PTA’s modern counterpoint to Huston’s original vision- The Treasure Of Sierra Madre is still a blazing picture worth more than the sum of its pretty damn polished parts. An essential American classic, and for my money, Huston’s finest work as a director.


Sunday, 19 July 2015

40s Reviews: The Maltese Falcon

When one speaks of Huston’s finest work, or indeed the finest noirs ever conceived, it is his debut- in the form of the classy adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s book: The Maltese Falcon- that is the first to spring to the lips of many. Whether or not it indeed is his best work is debatable, at least to me, but The Maltese Falcon’s prowess as a masterful noir is simply undeniable.

Locked into tiny, restrictive smoky sets that each add to the stifling nauseam of the mystery at hand, the Falcon takes no prisoners in setting its speedy pace and seedy tone. Bogart crackles as Sam Spade (about as pulpy a pulp crime name as they get), rattling out classic lines with class and whip-sharp insolence, if he goes sadly unmatched by the rest of the cast. The Falcon certainly intrigues me, to a point- and certainly keeps me sunk into its cool but convoluted atmosphere throughout, but nonetheless has its flaws.

Bogey stands out far above the rest, a force to be reckoned with in a world of savage little men with guns and crazed psychotics with little to prove or really stand for. The dialogue is sharp, but not so much to cut yourself on, and no-where near as savvy and sustained as some other classics of the age, going all in with foxy abbreviations that mean as little now as they must have to many audiences back then.
Im not saying that it doesn’t sound great, look great and work great- hell- it is great: the stuff that dreams are made of...
but the greatest?

All will be revealed, soon enough.

Find out who wins...

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Look Ahead

For everyone this year upset about Back To The Future’s predictions being wrong- don’t worry. In just four short years- LA will look like this…

I saw Ridley Scott’s superb ‘Alien’ today, for the fourth time in prep for the horror spotlight in October (aka my favorite decade in film- the 1970s). I LOVE his follow-up oh so much more, so that’s how I'm spending my time as the last hours dwindle towards midnight.
Sleep tight people :)

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

2014: 365 Days In 12 Great Movies

Certainly one of the finest years in contemporary film. In this series, I will explore years which, through research for the posts, have opened my eyes to new, superb achievements and innovations of the filmic medium. Shall we dance?

12. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

People are probably going to mock me for a couple of choices on this list, and this is certainly one of them, but I’d like to devote the first three places here to three truly smart blockbusters. Three that stood out among the average-sub-par titles their franchises and indeed ways of producing films in general had dribbled out in recent memory. Funnily enough, standing as sequel next to one of the worst films I have ever had to sit through, with editing so poor and frenetic you’d think you were watching a fight from Batman Begins (the one glaring flaw in a pretty damn good film) – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Why? Because this film kept me invested, engaged and, for some brief glimpses of brilliance, enthralled, throughout its runtime. I can scarcely name a blockbuster that has done that made whilst I was alive, and even better considering its less than adequate source material. Learning and improving upon all the mistakes in the original, and making better use of a better defined, more matured lead in Lawrence- Catching Fire surprised the hell out of me. The best film of the year? God no. Worth seeing? Hell yes.

11. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

Another popcorn flick (which by the way Im not averted to, but perceptions are perceptions, and the Fast and Furious hasn’t done the sub-culture any favours) that this time I knew would be good, judging by the relative worth of its predecessor. Again: I was pleasantly surprised.

Superb motion capture, iconic and memorable moments and some genuine devotion to the source, as well as perhaps the only film released in the pulpy stereotype of the summer season that took massive strides towards an aversion to physical violence. Every conflict save the impressively compelling final battle is marred by a sense of dread- a gripping sickness. The fight for the gate does not feel like a normal action scene. It feels wrong- and that is so damn right.

10. Guardians Of The Galaxy

Lastly, I will draw attention to the much toted ‘masterpiece’ of Marvel canon, one that its fans will never cease to shut up about- until the next one comes along, especially with the disappointment of Age Of Ultron. Again- I expected a lot from Guardians, and I was entertained, greatly, throughout.

That may be no bold claim for a film of this nature, or indeed any film- but after sitting through Fury Road three weeks ago, getting home and coming to hate it from all the overblown praise for this new ‘Avant garde’ holy grail of action film-making- Suffice to say all the praise for Guardians did nothing of the sort. A fast, fun and essential flick- if for the soundtrack alone.

Pity most my age don’t realise that Blue Swede featured first and better in Reservoir Dogs, though ;)

9. Gone Girl
The first film since Mulholland Drive to use 'the Persona shot' effectively  
On paper- I should love Gone Girl. David Fincher film. Good David Fincher film at that. Problem was, I hated every single character in this film. Even Affleck, who I like, and whose character I at first liked, sucked every drop of joy out of me as he was constantly attacked by those who saw him (wrongly) as guilty. Unlike ‘The Hunt’ of 2012- this totally turned me away from Gone Girl. Can’t say I liked it- nor anything  more.

Damn good film though.   

8. American Sniper

Clint Eastwood’s modern work has always come off as a little, well, entitled to me. Ever since Unforgiven (which I, sadly, simply cannot take to) everything of his bar one little, brilliant Japanese wartime drama has come off as just- well- off. I can’t articulate it very well, as you can tell, but his work seems tainted with this air of egotism, that nothing he makes will be poorly received, that it is, as taken for granted, a great film. Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino. All good enough films- but tainted.

American Sniper does not suffer from this same sickness. That being said, it is by no means as good as any of the films I just listed. What it is, is, a well-paced, smart and pretty sophisticated military drama. I would never see it again- I wouldn’t write home about it and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it- but something happens in it.

When I saw this film, as the credits rolled onto the screen- everyone just sat there. Nobody moved. I didn’t. I didn’t want to either. I was not waiting for the first person to break the silence, but rather for the inescapable pull of the ending to relinquish its grasp. American Sniper is by no means a great film- but the way it draws itself to a close after its long, grizzled journey- is something rather remarkable.   

7. Inherent Vice

Paul Thomas Anderson’s mind-fuckerey extends from the subtle genius of The Master into the more comfortable housing of 1970s America. Vice caught a lot of flak from critics and moviegoers- and I probably will for featuring it this high. Frankly- I love everything PTA, and Inherent Vice certainly didn’t disappoint me.

6. How To Train Your Dragon 2

Im a sucker for this series. Anything HTTYD I simply can’t get enough of. The lofty heights achieved by the first film, perhaps one of the finest animated ventures straight up ever and by god if they didn’t do it justice in the sequel.

Gorgeous animation with a visual vivacity unmatched by many films this year- not so much for perfect photography, but rather a glorious world that is painted around us, and filled with vibrancy and new beasts en masse at every turn. How To Train Your Dragon 2 is as good as sequels get. Name an animated sequel even remotely as good as the original- and you’ll probably come up with Toy Story 2. Is it at that level? The fact that it’s debatable is credit to its greatness enough.

Saw it in IMAX, easily the best cinematic experience I had that year. I saw another film at IMAX in 2014 too- but we’ll get to that after no.1…

5. Whiplash

Whiplash is the second most overrated film of the year. That being said- in an emacculate year for film-making, I’d still call it the fifth best- and it’s fucking great. A bold, beautiful film with something to say in a voice that will echo for many years to come. I’ve got a funny feeling that any potential copycats won’t top it for one simple reason:

Terrence Fletcher.

Not so much the performance, as brilliant as it was, but rather the character in itself. Terence Fletcher is one of the most complicated bastards to burst out of contemporary film-making since 2007. A flawlessly written tribute to Sergeant Hartman- but far surpassing the drill instructor from hell with just how damn enigmatic he is. Is Fletcher actually good? Does he really want to torture his pupils? Does he revel in their pain- or does he do so to push them to the limits? You never know, and the director never lets us know. Perhaps the finest performance this year, to me, but easily the greatest character.

4. Nightcrawler

Best performance this year? Debatably. Nightcrawler is a masterful film that depicts the seedy underbelly of the new world to pitch perfection. Anyone who wasn’t chilled by Lou Bloum’s exploration of a house recently ripped through by murderers and littered with all-too real feeling corpses is dead inside. The devotion to creating a believable reality in this film was admirable, but the way it was employed and executed near flawlessly is far more praiseworthy. Such a shame Nightcrawler missed out at the Oscars, easily could have given most else from 2014 a run for its money.

3. Birdman

Technical marvel. Bold vision. Birdman. Director Alexander Gonzales has made better films, yes (including the masterful Babel, highlighted here and here)- But the fact remains that Birdman is among the best of them regardless.

In a year filled to the brim with best picture worthy works, Birdman is as just a choice as any. Not mine, but a fucking solid film, with some of my favourite actors in it- which is always a nice little bonus. Speaking of which…  

2. The Grand Budapest Hotel

OOOOOOOOH! I ADORE this movie! I simply cannot get enough of what seems to be Wes Anderson’s best film to date. Viciously entertaining for the entirety of its meaty run-time, as well as maintaining a drop-dead-gorgeous visual treat throughout- this is as good an entrĂ©e into the wacky world of this man as any. The Grand Budapest Hotel was my favourite film of 2014, and ranks among my favourite films ever. Why? If my limitless praise for it didn’t tip you off- then go see it. A polarising picture, as far as many I discussed it with were concerned, but if it’s for you- it’s oh so for you.

1. Boyhood

Again- what much really is there to say? Boyhood certainly isn’t for everyone, hell- it probably wasn’t really made for anyone. What it is- is simple genius. One of the best films of the decade thus far, that sadly, I feel, won’t be featured on many best of the decade lists. Ah well- I can only dream…

Now you may be wondering, where was that film Mark? You know. That one. Well I’ve seen Interstellar 3 times now, 2 of which I was dragged to the cinema for. Did I like it? The guy does good work. There is not a single film Nolan has made I would call bad. That being said- do I like them? Do they deserve their praise? Interstellar was the least entertaining film I saw last year. Sorry to disappoint those to disagree- but I hope we can all come to the conclusion that 2014 was the first step to the next great age in film- I hope :D

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Announcement: Sorry

Lots more content coming. I have +1'd all the stuff I have done thus far today. For any of you that think it cheap or whatever- thats fine. I understand. You dont have to agree, or continue to read- I just thought perhaps it would bring in some more people to read it- perhaps comment too :)

Just want to bring this to as many people as possible- not trying to be a self-entitled prick who thinks their stuff is the second coming of Shakespeare. Hope we all understand. Next up is another scene to die for- coming later this week. Hope we have all enjoyed thus far- any suggestions welcome :D

Monday, 13 July 2015

70 Things That Dumbfounded Me About Empire’s Top 500 Poll

I daren’t go near the most recent top 300 pick, as it has really lost any integrity that it may
have had before in choosing great films to go and see. Seriously. Take a brief glance at
no.16, no.10 and especially no.3. “Best films ever made” here, people. I understand that the
subjectivity here plays a huge role in this- but hell: Critics, directors- people who know the
business and its greatest movies. To me- the following extracts from the list are really,
really worth getting upset over. Come on guys.

1.    No.15. I will say no more.
2.    Carl Theodore Dreyer has not directed even one of the top 500 films ever made
3.    Sawdust & Tinsel is a better Bergman film than The Seventh Seal
4.    It’s also one of the only two films of his on the list
5.    Same with Tarkovsky
6.    Dog Day Afternoon is not one of the top 500 greatest films ever made
7.    Nor is Persona
8.    Nor is Ordet
9.    Nor is Traffic
10.  But The Prestige is
11.  School of Rock is among Linklater’s finest films
12.  Unforgiven. People love it. Fair enough. I can’t stick with it though. That it is no 158, let alone on the list- is pretty damn poor, in my eyes.
13.  Gladiator is better than Badlands…
14.  …And Boogie Nights…
15.  …And just one place worse than The French Connection
16.  Dances with Wolves trumps Cool Hand Luke
17.  Just a few places earlier, it trumped There Will Be Blood…
19.  Rashomon is one of the worst mystery films on the list, and is scores lower than Yojimbo, Seven Samurai and Ran. Man.
20.  Sweeney Todd is one of the 500 best films ever made
21.  As is Superbad
22.  As is Crash
23.  As is 300
24.  And Titanic
25.  And Transformers
26.  Indiana Jones and the last Crusade is better than Midnight Cowboy…
27.  …And The Terminator…
28.  …And American History X
29.  …And Trainspotting…
30.  …And The Prestige is better than all of them.
31.  Ikiru is one of Akira Kurosawa’s ‘worst’ films
32.  And it’s not as good as The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
33.  People voted for Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
34.  Far From Heaven ranks highly. Fear Eats The Soul? I can’t find it- can you?
35.  M is a worse film than Moulin Rouge! !!!
36.  Halloween is one of the least worthy horror films on the list
37.  A History Of Violence is fucking aeons away from reaching The Thing
38.  Being John Malcovich. People love this one. I physically can’t.
39.  Oliver Stone has directed more of the best films ever than Quentin Tarantino
40.  -And Terrence Malick
41.  -Need I resurface Bergman too?
42.  Batman Begins is not only a better crime film than LA Confidential- but also just only worse than The Thin Red Line
43.  United 93 makes the list
44.  …No. No that was a point in their favour. A big one.
45.  Worse film than Memento, though.
46.  Cloverfield > The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
47.  Cloverfield is only just worse than Mulholland Drive
48.  Mulholland Drive is no.391. Eraserhead? Top 200.
49.  Derriving the term “Bunny Boiler” makes you better than All About Eve
50.  The Great Silence is one of the few Spaghetti Westerns on the list. It’s also no. 386
51.  Cache? Woo. Any other Michael Haneke movies…?
52.  Shaun Of The Dead >>>> Hot Fuzz. Also one of the best movies ever.
53.  Spartacus is among Stanley Kubrick’s best films
54.  The Killing isn’t
55.  Neither Is Paths Of Glory
56.  Eyes Wide Shut isn’t- at all.
57.  Anchorman is a better comedy than Blazing Saddles
58.  The LOTR Trilogy pulls out as many stops at the top as Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubrick, Francis Ford Coppala and Marty Mart Scorsese
59.  Raging Bull is a better film than Taxi Driver
60.  GoodFellas is a better film than the both of them
61.  Donnie Darko > Lawrence Of Arabia
62.  The Big Lebowski, whilst also being hilarious, is superior to On The Waterfront
63.  Razing Arizona > Rear Window
64.  …Yea I had to take a second glance at that one myself
65.  The stuff that dreams are made of don’t rest anywhere near the finest noirs ever made
66.  Se7en lies light-years away from Fight Club, quality wise.
67.  Zodiac is one of David Fincher’s least worthy films.
68.  Fight Club, as much as I love it, is one of the 10 best films ever made
69.  As is Jaws- Five even
70.  As is Indiana Jo-
No. No I can’t do this. That’s too far. This is too much. Interesting list, certainly more so than the most recent drivel they put out- but certainly not perfect.

…Hilariously, taking a read of no.15 kinda sends off vibes that the writers were genuinely appalled that the film had ranked so highly. Surrounded by films of such lofty and well deserved praise- this one just got a meek question…? Best part about the list, even if the placement ruins a page of scarily good movies.