Thursday, September 20, 2007

re: Your To-Do list

Head over to Edward Copeland on Film and check out The Satyajit Ray Memorial Anything-But-Definitive List of Non-English Language Films for the ranking of 122 wonderful things you must see and/or see again asap.

The next time anybody tells you that Star Wars or Lord of the Rings or The Shawshank Redemption is the greatest film ever made, give them a slap and the above link.

Of the original 25 films I submitted at nominations stage, 22 made it to second round (the 3 that didn't - 'Tristana' (1970), 'Weekend' (1967), 'Man Is Not a Bird' (1965) - are also well worth seeking out). And of the 122 nominees, my votes went to:

1. L'Atalante (ranked 37)
2. 8 1/2 (ranked 4)
3. La Strada (ranked 47)
4. Forbidden Games (ranked 91)
5. The Seventh Seal (ranked 15)
6. The Conformist (ranked 18)
7. Grand Illusion (ranked 7)
8. Throne of Blood (ranked 64)
9. Nights of Cabiria (ranked 38)
10. Cries and Whispers (ranked 42)
11. The Cranes Are Flying (100)
12. Ran (16)
13. The Wages of Fear (40)
14. Viridiana (85)
15. La Régle du jeu (1)
16. My Night at Maud's (75)
17. The Gospel According to Matthew (98)
18. Three Colours: Red (49)
19. The Leopard (28)
20. Talk to Her (58)
21. Amélie (92)
22. All About My Mother (76)
23. Jules et Jim (17)
24. Ikiru (14)
25. The 400 Blows (10)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hairspray (Adam Shankman, 2007)

***½
USA

What makes Adam Shankman's screen-to-stage-to-screen-musical transfer more likable than most others is that it embraces the corn with an unfashionably open spirit and that it aspires to the bounce and sparkle of the musicals from Hollywood's golden age. John Travolta has never been more charming and human-like than he is as Edna Turnblad, James Marsden nails Corny Collins with terrific (and unexpected) showmanship and Amanda Bynes, over-tanned though she is, isn't remotely grating (while, as Tracy Turnblad, much-hyped debutante Nikky Blonsky often is). It's a shame then that Michelle Pfeiffer is forced to scowl and gyrate her way around an immobile forehead and that Christopher Walken isn't quite accepted for the gift that he is to any musical.

L'Atalante (Jean Vigo, 1934)

*****
France

Jean Vigo's only full-length feature is a poem, a tonic, a precious, precious thing. A breezy, entrancing love story, with Jean Dasté and Dita Parlo as naive newlyweds (both of them profoundly sexy in an unassuming way) embarking upon their non-honeymoon aboard his shabby, cluttered barge. The brash, uncouth and just generally priceless Michel Simon is the first mate.
It's impossible to determine the precise elements that combine into the film's dreamy, intoxicating pull. But Vigo was certainly onto something with all this combining of purposely, charmingly clumsy naturalism and unshowy but piercing surrealism. It's as close as any piece of art could hope to get to evoking the rich, bracing gust of young desire, of sensuality and longing.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

1. The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949)

2. L'Atalante (Jean Vigo, 1934)

3. The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942)