Ten of the best


Top Ten lists are sort of something I enjoy doing, especially at the end of each year.  But Top Ten Favourite Movies of all time?  Harder.  I used to have a list a while back of which some of the movies below used to appear on.  Yet I gave up putting them in a particular order as they are so different some of them, comparing is impossible.  So find below Ten movies I think have had the greatest effect on me, either growing up, inspiring me (writing, movie tastes) or just hitting me on an emotional level.

fight-club

Fight Club

Made me a big fan of the movies of David Fincher and has arguably Edward Norton’s finest turn.  Style, effects work in a movie that didn’t need it, a great soundtrack, that twist and endlessly quotable.

Gran Torino

Emotional, heart-wrenching, funny, touching with one of Eastwood’s best performances.  The cast of newcomers surrounding him are also first-rate.

gran torino

21 Grams

Complex and twist-filled with three stunning performances (especially Naomi Watts) and a script that is quite literally genius.  Tough going but well worth the journey.

21grams

Pulp Fiction

Possibly still my all time favourite movie.  The dialogue is amazing, funny, very cool and  believable.  The sound track is stuff of legend and performances across the board are superb.

pulpfiction

Leon

Natalie Portman’s debut.  Ice-cool, Gary Oldman’s looniest but greatest villain, Jean Reno as a lovable assassin and Luc Besson on stunning form.

leon

Annie Hall

All of Woody Allen’s best ideas, cleverest dialogue and touching observations rolled into one perfect movie.  Diane Keaton is excellent and Allen has never been funnier.

Annie-Hall

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

James Cameron fully realising Terminator … stunning effects work, amazing action sequences, Arnie at his best, Linda Hamilton as the most bad-ass female role model since Ellen Ripley.  The ultimate sci-fi blockbuster.

terminator 2

Blue Velvet

Weird but one of David Lynch’s most coherent works, with a great cast (Hopper is just plain nuts) and haunting music and a dream-like atmosphere.  Sexy and disturbing just how Lynch should be.

blue-velvet

Goodfellas

The finest gangster movie ever made, fast, packed with ideas, dialogue, people getting wacked, great dialogue and great performances throughout.  Martin Scorsese at his very best.

goodfellas

The Shining

Stunningly filmed, creepy as hell, scary, with an amazing Jack Nicholson and a true directing auteur in the shape of the late Stanley Kubrick.  The best horror movie ever made?  Quite possibly.

The-Shining

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Room 237


Viewed – 23 October 2013  DVD

It always surprises me that it wasn’t until the late nineties that I first watched and loved Stanley Kubrick’s much acclaimed horror masterpiece The Shining.  I have subsequently watched it several times over the last decade or more and enjoyed it on a very appreciative level – it remains for me the perfect horror movie – both technically and when it comes to foreboding atmosphere.  So a documentary exploring the many hidden meanings supposedly within the movie was very appealing.

ROOM 237 9

Directed by Rodney Ascher and pieced together from various testimonials by film fanatics, specialists and The Shining fans – this is a fascinating look at a remarkable piece of film making.  Whether or not I agree with some  of the theories presented here (many of which do seem a bit crazy) it makes for interesting viewing, especially if you have a good knowledge of the movie itself.  It made me want to sit down and watch the movie again, but not necessarily to spot all the Native American imagery or vague nods to the holocaust(!) but because its just a damn good piece of entertainment.  I think some of the people talking on this doc have waaay too much time on their hands, but some observations, such as little (deliberate?) mistakes and freaky coincidences are fun to ponder.

As a documentary I think it makes for an interesting 90 minutes, but doesn’t give you a completely new perspective of The Shining, unless you are as anal and obsessive as these guys clearly are … Kubrick faked the moon landing??  Okaaaaay.

Verdict:  3 /5

The Kubrick Project: Part Five


…and finally, we come to Stanley Kubrick’s undisputed masterpiece.

The Shining  (1980)

Based (loosely I might add) on the Stephen King novel, this superbly crafted horror movie has Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrence, wannabe caretaker of the Overlook Hotel who gets the rather un-enviable task of house sitting the mammoth mountain-set hotel for the winter, with just his dutiful wife Wendy (Shelly Duvall) and young son Danny (Danny Lloyd) for company.  Now this simple set up soon takes a turn for the menacing when we discover that young Danny has a psychic ability, and see’s ghosts of over long-dead hotel guests that haunt the hotel following a murder that happened many years previous under very similar circumstances.

In the hands of an auteur like Kubrick though, this very basic set up is just an excuse for this uber-talented director to let rip with some of the finest camera work and cinematography of his career, and with the one location to bleed for all its worth, Kubrick works wonders, helped endlessly by a heavy-weight performance by Nicholson, who’s gradual descent into madness then finally uncontrollable rage, is totally convincing and turns what could have already been an eye-catching, effective ghost-story into something truly special.  A generous nod must also go to Shelley Duvall & Danny Lloyd who add so much power to the scenes they are in, and Duvall especially should be celebrated as one of the forgotten scream-queens of the genre.  As a child actor too, Danny Lloyd is very impressive, eerie and heart-breakingly believable throughout, almost stealing the film from his adult co-stars at times.

You may also be pleased to hear (unless your a die hard gore hound) that this is one of those fright-flicks that doesn’t have to rely on big-budget make-up effects to jolt your spine, as its the atmosphere, the direction, the music and especially the performances that set this in a class of its own.  Probably the finest horror movie ever made.

 

The DVD housed in the newly released Stanley Kubrick box set (which is also available separately) is a 2 disk special edition with a beautifully crisp picture presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic wide screen.  The sound has been re-mastered in 5.1 Dolby Digital and is very effective, especially during the chaotic orchestral moments when the horror is cranked to the max.  Extras-wise this film is given the treatment it deserves, with 1 feature-length documentary by Vivian Kubrick showing the master at work and some brilliant on-set footage, and we also get 3 further featurettes that pick this film apart until only the carcass is left for us to chew on.  Add to this a very informative commentary for the movie itself by steady-cam inventor Garrett Brown as well as Historian John Baxter, and this makes for a stellar package.

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