I was asked by a friend about my favourite films, so here goes with a list of the top ten that come to mind today. They are in no particular order. There should be a Woody Allen here, but in truth I prefer the ten below. These are selected on the basis that I’ve watched each no less than five times, and a few many more. In each case I will watch them many more times yet.
Andrei Tarkovsky: Stalker
Francis Ford Coppola: The Godfather: Part II
Krzysztof Kieslowski: Three Colours: Blue
Andrea Arnold: Fish Tank
Chantal Akerman: Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
Michael Haneke: The Piano Teacher
Sofia Coppola: Lost in Translation
Charles Chaplin: City Lights
Martin Scorsese: Goodfellas
Milos Forman: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Great selection – I’d agree on quite a few (Stalker is my no 1), but there are a few I don’t know – Andrea Arnold and Chantal Ackerman. The latter I have intended to find out more on after seeing something in an exhibition at Camden Arts Centre.
They are both staggeringly good films, on many levels.
Jonathan McAlmont, if you know him, wrote an excellent piece on ambiguity and lack of boundaries in Fish Tank.
Interesting list. I haven’t seen Stalker yet, but I stayed up once in the days before TiVos and TV hard drives watching Solaris until 4am with work the next day because the sheer beauty of it it wouldn’t let me go to bed.
White oddly enough is my favourite Three Colours film, but I agree that Blue is actually the stronger. Really though it’s a trilogy which works best at the level of the trilogy, as a single grand unified work.
I don’t know the Chantal Akerman at all. Can you say any more about why it’s there?
Lost in Translation slightly surprised me. I wouldn’t have put it at the calibre of the others (of course it’s your top ten, not mine). What is it in it that speaks to you so?
My first choice of the Three Colours Trilogy was White, but after agonising a bit, I switched to Blue because it works better as a single film. White has the most memorable photography of the trilogy.
“Jeanne Dielman” is the first successful artistic recreation of boredom, without the film itself being boring. These beautifully shot scenes, and a narrative that spins inexorably out of control, but slowly and deliciously. It is also, I think, the first obviously feminine film that I have seen (i.e. a man could not have made this film). At the moment I am very interested in feminine writing (whether created by men or women), so it came clearly to mind when I compiled this list.
As always, within hours of compiling the list I had second thoughts. “The Godfather II” shouldn’t be there. It is a knee-jerk response, adding a film I have always said is my favourite. It isn’t anymore. I find Scorsese too over-wrought and sentimental for my taste these days.
“Lost in Translation” surprises me too, but I thought it very clever that the Murray and Johansson characters never consummate their attraction, though it is risible that such an attraction should arise in the first instance (a good example of a woman director making a masculine film). The telephone dialogue between the Murray character and his remote wife is well realised. I have a real passion for Tokyo that the film feeds into, the pace and strangeness of that city are captured well. It is a quirky film that had a deeper impact on me than it ought.
First time I am visiting here: I jumped out of my seat to see Stalker, The Piano Teacher, Lost in Translation and Fish Tank (!) among your favorites. I love all of these to death.
Interesting debate in the comments on the Three Colors trilogy: call me shallow but my love for Irene Jacob in Red trumps the rest.
Fascinating blog, I’ll be sticking around.
Thanks, Rahul, for your comment.
Tough to call the Three Colors trilogy. On any week I could pick a different one. The whole piece is just brilliant.