Saturday, August 25, 2007

35. Cries and Whispers (Ingmar Bergman, 1972)

36. The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, 1998)

37. Fast, Cheap and Out of Control (Errol Morris, 1997)

38. Intolerance (D.W. Griffith, 1916)

Harlan County U.S.A. (Barbara Kopple, 1976)


Part-time sound recordist Barbara Kopple went to live among the coal miners on strike in Harlan, Kentucky in 1972 and over the next few years directed, produced and did her own sound recording on one of the canonical documentaries. In tracking the ardour, the wrenching and the violence of the coal miners' battle - it's a war more than a battle - she is neither objective nor impartial (could you be when you're being shot at?). But in many ways she manages to take herself out of the set-up, so that her presence behind the camera feels less like a filter and more like a channel. Continually referring to similar and reportedly much bloodier struggles in the 1930s, she locates the union workers' then-contemporary strife within a tragic, unyielding historical cycle, which she accepts as something infinitely denser and more forbidding than hers or any individual perspective could be. In this sense, the coal miners - and their wives (who at least match and often surpass them in terms of zeal and backbone) - take on a collective, timeless image of the downtrodden but unquenchable fighter-worker. But in portraying them this way Kopple doesn't water them down or turn them into anonymously noble, spreadable stand-ins for the grand cause. They are each permitted their individual faces and voices and afforded their own temperaments and dignities, which brings across all the more vividly the intimate impact and urgency of their war.

39. American Beauty (Sam Mendes, 1999)

40. The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957)

41. Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)

42. Modern Times (Charles Chaplin, 1936)

Friday, August 24, 2007

43. The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941)

44. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)

45. The Wages of Fear (Henri Georges-Clouzot, 1953)

46. Storm over Asia (Vsevolod Pudovkin, 1928)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

47. Destry Rides Again (George Marshall, 1939)

48. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)

49. Viridiana (Luis Buñuel, 1961)

50. La Régle du jeu (Jean Renoir, 1939)

My Top 100 Countdown - Part II

Stills from my 50 favourite movies will start popping up shortly, coinciding with the publishing of the first credible shortlist of great [foreign] films in many many years.

To be honest though, my Top 100 list became outdated and technically irrelevant halfway through last month's Melbourne Film Festival. To be even more honest, my list became irrelevant the moment I announced Lindsay Anderson's [still perfectly masterful/brilliant/wonderful] If... (1968) as my 100th favourite film as opposed to Reed's Odd Man Out (1947), Von Stroheim's Foolish Wives (1922), Marker's La Jetée (1962), Tarkovsky's Ivan's Childhood (1962) etc. etc. And now that I've realised The Godfather ranks higher than Ikiru and Jules and Jim, I just can't accept it.

Really though, all these rankings are interchangable to a certain point. And I don't truly prefer these 100 movies over all others - the vast majority for sure, but not all. This isn't a list of the best 100 movies, or even my favourite 100 - but really a list of 100 movies I worship in a very special way and will continue to worship for a very long time.