Thursday, 3 November 2011

100 Of My Favourite Movies in 30 words or less

I’m experimenting with this idea of short one-line reviews without the babbling on and spoiling the movie for those who haven’t seen it yet. This list is just a sample of some of my favourite films, some I’ve known all my life and others I’ve discovered on disc. They are in purely random order, and I do not use any ratings system, so if I tell you I think that it’s great and you don’t think so, you can’t blame me for it.  There aren’t too many that have been released in the last five years or so, so if you’re looking for new releases, this list will be of no use to you whatsoever. I don’t believe in preaching to the converted, so if you know what I’m talking about, then you’ll just know it. If you don’t know, then watch the movie and find out.

 Repulsion Catherine Deneuve goes crazy in front of Roman Polanski. Excellent film to watch again.
In a Lonely Place Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame are  two star-crossed lovers who could never make it last. Film noir with a bit of heart.
Night of the Hunter Robert Mitchum plays a suspect  preacher, after the  money that’s been left to two children in  a toy doll. Not for the faint hearted.
Duck Soup Supreme political satire of dictators, government and pomposity. No wonder  everyone loves it.
The Driver Ryan O’Neal the strong and silent type with  great stunt driving at the beginning, but not a very hopeful film.
Get Carter  Grimy, depressing, crass and totally engrossing. A great crime  film and totally unrelenting in its violence.
Species Improving with age, witty take on the alien genre. Sexy girl alien after a mate, and chased down before she decimates humanity.
Strangers on a Train Sly  undertones as Robert Walker plays a nutjob trying to lord it over Farley Granger. A pair of hopeless romantics.
Chinatown A chinese puzzle, for the audience and Jack Nicholson, with Faye Dunaway’s flawed iris thrown in.
The Ghost and Mrs Muir  A beauty from the classic era, haunting Herrmann score, beautiful photography and appealing Gene Tierney.
Escape from New York You can’t beat the original, why this worked is because Carpenter loves what he’s doing. He’s  a good storyteller who provides audience with interesting characters. In any genre.
Days of Wine and Roses Glum and downbeat, played to the hilt by Lemmon and Remick, but somewhat empty at its core, as if director had no other ideas.
Gaslight Old fashioned melodrama as Ingrid Bergman is driven to distraction by her shady husband in his pursuit of her dead Aunty’s jewels. Creepy and effective.
The Relic  Interesting combination of voodoo and body horror, but derivative and not very well cast in the lead roles.
The Unforgiven (1960) A  Freudian melodrama about miscegenation in the wild west. John Huston goes moody and it kind of works on its own modest level.
The Conversation Classic 70s cinema about politics, paranoia and the main character’s obsession with privacy. Innovative sound and a thrilling plot keeps us on our toes.
A Heart in Winter A thwarted love affair between a violinist and her violin maker. Sexy yet not provocative; haunting yet commonplace; contemplative yet interesting.
A number of shocking moments 
Dressed to Kill One of de Palma’s better films, owes a lot to Psycho but steals in style, and the story is better than critics would have you believe.
East of Eden I have always found this a bit stilted, and not at all the classic a lot of people claim it to be. But it grows on you I guess and James Dean has great presence.
Possession  A travesty of the 900 page book, but what do you want anyway? The 19th century lovers go at it hammer and tongs and make Paltrow and Eckhart look anaemic.
French Connection Classic 70s cinema, great car chase, so good you forget how good it is. Hope to see again.
Near Dark A vampire western, sans the gothic clichés. Lance Henricksen looks like he needs a good feed. (Which he gets.)
Sid and Nancy Excellent examination of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen’s life together before their deaths.
Hombre A great cast do justice to interesting Western, with beautiful backdrops and racial sub-text.
Mississippi Burning Racial prejudice in the south; beautifully angry and hasn’t dated one iota.
Eye of the Needle Spy film set on a windswept island with romance and suspense. Old fashioned but fun to watch.
Lone Star  A soap opera set in Texas with a complicated plot and a very hot love scene later on.
Andersonville  Quasi documentary about prisoners in Andersonville who endured more than was their lot as the Civil War was ending. Harrowing.
California Suite  Filmed Neil Simon play about life in a hotel in Los Angeles. Three stories cobbled together but amusing and observant with good perfs.
Darren MacGavin in his funny hat
The Stepfather Excellent horror entry written by Donald Westlake. A serial killer marries women and kills them and their children  for not doing well at school. A scary guy.
The Verdict One of Paul Newman’s great performances in his mature years as an alcoholic lawyer with one last case left to redeem himself. Strangely religious and gratifying.
The Exorcist III  Effectively hammy, but loyal to the original material, with George C Scott in top form telling Ed Flanders about a carp in his bathtub.
The Seventh Sign A good apocalyptic entry, about a woman who believes her unborn child will be the last child before the end of the world. Who will believe her? Me.
Funny Face Classic Audrey Hepburn as a plain bookstore clerk is swept away to Paris to become a model. Every girl’s dream! Beautiful Gershwin songs make this special.
Drugstore Cowboy Gus van Sant directs. Quirky, funny, about life on the edge with  four prescription drug thieves trying to survive onto their next high. Gets religious by the end.
The Godfather Canonised 70s entry, violent, family oriented, Italians out of the mainstream, mafia hitmen buying canoli for their wives and lots of mayhem. A good show.
Blackadder Great Brit comedy series about a cunning public servant surviving the Elizabethan and Regency periods by sucking up to the upper classes. Hilarious and droll.
Ronald Reagan liked this film
Equus A great play is transformed seemingly intact about a disturbed adolescent with a religious obsession for horses. He must conform or sink. Richard Burton helps out.
Carrington  A tragic relationship ensues between a woman artist and English writer Lytton Strachey. A wonderful sense of period, this is excellent.
Wolf  This is less tedious than it deserves to be. Nicholson gets bitten by wolf and transforms from a beast of a man into a decent law abiding wolf. Pfeiffer goes along for ride.
Reversal of Fortune Plenty of  flashbacks but  a good examination of guilt and innocence as audience ponders whether Claus Von Bulow fluffed murdering his wife not once, but twice.
Reds A hagiography of American communist John Reed as interpreted by Warren Beatty. Not bad, but too much emphasis on romance at the expense of politics. Good anyway.
Barry Lyndon  Seventh heaven cinema.  Redmond Barry’s trials and tribulations will keep you on the edge of your seat for its extended running time.
Little Big Man A thinking man’s Forest Gump in the wild west told from the Indian’s point of view. Classic 70s cinema.
The 39 Steps  Another early Hitchcock with Robert Donat caught up in a deadly spy ring. Great ride.
Whatever is is, I'm against it
The Third Man Rainy streets, grimy sewers, Vienna was a bad place to be in 1947. A zither  and Orson Welles round it off.
Don’t Look Now Some of us can’t look but you should look at this. Things are not as they seem. Or maybe they are.
Frankenstein (1931) Karloff’s outstanding performance is a good selling point for this classic horror entry. Still disturbing.
Altered States Mad scientist experiments with brain, changes into  monkey,  almost loses his wife. Not as dumb as it sounds.
King Kong (1976) A remake dumber than the original but beautiful scenery and the romantic point is made obvious by end
Elephant Man A mainstream David Lynch film based on true story of civilised circus freak and his desire for acceptance.
Bridge on the River Kwai If war isn’t mad, then at least it’s silly. Guiness an obsessed martinet and a sweaty Holden. Great. 
The Invisible Man  HG Wells allegory about a scientist taking over the world so he can give it to his girlfriend. Hmm.
Taxi Driver Brilliant, disturbing, but is it also pointless. De Niro goes on rampage and we all go ‘hurrah’. Don’t know anymore.
He's doing it for Flora. True.
Jacob’s Ladder If anyone ever reads this, one cannot say ANYTHING about this film without giving the plot away. So I won’t say anything except that it’s kind of …scary…
Naked Lunch Respectable rendering of classic novel, plenty of gory effects but true to Burroughs vision. Writer’s block is not a pleasant experience, so just keep on writing.
Lifeboat  Unsung Hitchcock, terrific character study, if a bit talky. Some get to stay on board, others get tossed over. See if you can guess which ones.
Pretty Poison This sweet young girl hates her mother and finagles her impressionable boyfriend to get rid of her. Funny but not in the right way, which makes it interesting.
The Bedford Incident Another apocalyptic scenario as a mad naval captain plays cat and mouse with a Russian submarine in the Artic. Scary but somehow seems inevitable.
Rebel Without a Cause James Dean’s moment of glory, garish in wide screen, larger than life but somehow touching amidst the conventional melodrama.
Day of the Locust West’s novel gets the treatment and the riot at the end makes sense of the work in its totality. Otherwise, why would it be there. The other Homer Simpson.
American Graffiti Ensemble cast of nobodies who became somebodies is a good enough reason to watch this. Although it’s engaging with plenty of the great  songs that were recorded before the Beatles hit.
White Heat James Cagney goes crazy in the clink. Breaks out and causes more mayhem. His ma’s been murdered and all hell breaks loose. Classic noir and vintage Cagney.
Ordinary People Redford beat Scorcese for Best Director Oscar with this. Tyler Moore is a terrible mother. Hutton a neglected child. Sutherland a neglected husband. Bring on therapy.
The Hit Terence Stamp pleads for his life as a pair of henchmen make their way through the Spanish desert and attempt to assassinate him. Existential and essential gangster fare.
Pulp Another one of those ‘is it fiction or real life’ scenarios. By the time it’s over you won’t care, as long as everyone gets out alive. A Michael Caine triumph.
James Dean looking hurt in 'East of Eden'
1984 Don’t’ worry about this being a bore. It isn’t. John Hurt shines as Winston Smith, the last man in Europe with the temerity to use his brains. A definite prophecy of our brainless times.
Lust for Life A biography of Van Gogh. Douglas is neurotic, misunderstood and plain grumpy. The paintings look beautiful but as biography…well.. you decide.
Bride of Frankenstein Iconic gay horror directed by James Whale. Perhaps a little over-rated by the Hollywood boys but nonetheless compelling with a female monster and no Igor.
Lady Caroline Lamb The love affair between Byron and said Lamb. Melodramatic, beautiful to look at, a wonderful evocation of 19th century Europe. But that’s all.
The Night Strangler/Stalker When TV shows had a reason for being. McGavin as indefatigable journalist investigating the paranormal and in trouble with his superiors. Fun and subversive.
Memento Have to watch it backwards to make any sense, compelling nonetheless. Loss of memory causes problems, but does that make audience delusional?
The Man Who Knew Too Much Is such a thing possible. Apparently, yes.
The best zombie movie ever.
The Wolfman A rueful examination of Nazi persecution of Jews in the Welsh countryside. Siodmak’s journey to Hollywood as a persecuted minority is extolled by the Left as life affirming.
Night of the Living Dead   We  aren’t dead yet but we deserve to be. The Vietnam war is blamed for practically everything including the zombiefication of Americans. Pity they can’t hit back.
White Zombie  Lugosi carries on as a magician in Caribbean who helps a man possess a woman he can neve have. Moody and atmospheric.
The Time Machine  George Pal without the puppets as Rod Taylor attempts to socially engineer a group of helpless natives into believing they’re British. What else is new
The Great Gatsby A deluded millionaire attempts to salvage an affair that died long ago. Money is blamed and everyone gets hurt. Lots of Charleston dancing.
Eyes Without a Face Mad French scientist experiments on his daughter. Crazy but easy to take. Like strychnine.
The Damned  A rich German family coping with the Nazi’s rise to power. Not very enlightening. Nice uniforms.
On the Beach  Melbourne as the last civilized place on earth. Great cast, dour but appropriately so for a movie about the end of the world.
The Lady from Shanghai  Misanthropic noir as Welles tries to get a handle on his Irish accent. Hayworth looks gorgeous and has a horrible husband.
Nixon Hopkins is miscast in title role but there are many other actors playing real-life characters who are stupendous. Stone’s somewhat personal vision of his bete noir, but arresting nonetheless.
Cassandra Crossing An all star cast liven up this disaster movie about an infectious disease breakout on a train for rich people. Harris and Loren make proceedings interesting.
A pensive Bogart pondering the infinite
Valley of the Dolls  A pulp novel becomes a pulp movie. This is so bad one can feel affection for it. Sharon Tate’s bust exercises a stand out. (No pun intended)
Jagged Edge Jeff Bridges is creepy as a man suspected of killing his wife, and has the good fortune to have his defence lawyer fall in love with him. Ludicrous but somehow believable.
Still of the Night  A great role for Meryl Streep as a strange girl who may know more than what she thinks she does. Psychiatrist Scheider investigates.
Dead Zone Walken is haunted as a medium who believes he can change the course of history. A cautionary handbook for all those people out there who think they can predict the future.
Midnight Express Life in a Turkish prison. Lots of hurla burla and a real life story replaced by a load of bunkum that never actually happened. Good Mroder score and potent.
Mary Reilly  Julia Roberts is very good in title role, as the maid of  Dr Jekyll who falls for her, as does his alter ego, Mr. Hyde. She is won by neither.
JFK This is exciting stuff with great cast, terrific detective work, terrifically edited and photographed. Except for the melodramatic and unnecessary family scenes this gets the highest recommendation.
Yes, Minister Jim Hacker is a hapless minister utterly dependent on his head public servant Humphrey Appleby, even though he doesn’t know it. Hilarious and droll and still prescient.
Whicha one is winnin', preacher?
African Queen Classic John Huston adventure about a religious spinster and a sea captain’s attempt to sink a German battleship in Africa c1914. Excellent entertainment.
Phantom of the Opera Lon Chaney pleads with Mary Philbin not to tear off his mask. But what does she do? Oh dear….Massive makeup job done by Chaney himself. Very tasty.
Absence of Malice A silly young slip of a girl thinks she’s a journalist and gets Paul Newman into all kinds of trouble. When will these feminists ever learn?
The Way We Were Streisand is great and sings the title song; Redford is a good actor and keeps up. Lots of politics surprisingly enough but the romance is paramount and verrry sad.
True Confessions This is a great unsung title. Duvall and de Niro work great together playing brothers up to their armpits in the death of the Black Dahlia. They learn to stick together.
Dr Strangelove  Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here. This is the war room! Sellers has a least three roles, George C Scott has only one. I think that’s unfair.
The Stand  A very long television movie in four chapters but an excellent version by King himself. Gary Sinise is handsome and heroic. Molly Ringwald adequate.
The War Lover Little known Steve McQueen title with Robert Wagner as his sidekick. They play pilots in the 2nd world war who seem to be enjoying themselves. Unusual but profound.

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