Posts Tagged ‘Polanski’

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Answering Clayton Dillard’s 100 Top Movies of All Time

May 2, 2011

Clayton Dillard is a smart 23-year old grad student in film at San Francisco State.  I first met him at a screening of some retardation at the local Midnight Movies, and found him to be real quiet.  Then I got to know the REAL Clayton.  The one who’s seen as many movies as my Claude.  The one who has more Criterion Collections than Claude. (He secretly hates you for that, CD.)  And the one who now won Criterion’s cool contest AND was mentioned as one of the three favorites from a field of 60 winners (Claude and I were both unfairly shut out and might protest.).

But I digress.  Clayton is 23.  Claude and I, we are much older, much more seasoned, lived through the 70’s, understand things, etc.  Clayton put out his Greatest 100 Movies of All Time, and I just shook my head, cried, laughed, then cried again.  Then laughed again.  Then wrote down a bunch of movies I need to watch.

THIS RIGHT HERE IS NUMBER ONE, CLAYTON.

1.  2001:  A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1969)

2.  The Third Man (Reed, 1949) (I love you for that one.  I’m sure Sir Carol appreciates being Number Two.)

After those two, in no particular order come my favorites, the films I could not look away from, the ones that left me feeling like I was punched in the gut, or the movies I could watch repeatedly without getting tired of them.  I’m leaving off the ones on Clayton’s list that I would put on here, like his #1 and #15, and Citizen Kane, and Viridiana, and Apocalypse Now and The Seventh Seal and Bigger than Life, and Piranha 3-D .

Clayton has  given me a good list of stuff to watch.  And fortunately, Claude owns almost all of it.

Please remember, these are in NO PARTICULAR ORDER.  Listing is fine; ranking is nearly impossible.

3.  Clayton, are you including documentaries on your list? “Stevie” (James, 2002)

4.  The White Ribbon, or Das weiße Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte  (Haneke, 2009) – I know you love me for that one, Clayton.  Mwwwah.

5.  While we’re on Haneke, how about Cachet (2005)?

6.  Fiddler on the Roof (Jewison (who was not Jewish), 1971) for personal reasons

7.  Funny Girl (Wyler, 1968) – I know you and Claude just wince at these two.  That’s ok.  I’m older than both of you.  Put together.  Squared.

8.  Barton Fink (Coens, 1991)

9.  Simon of the Desert (Buñuel, 1965)

10.  Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Kubrick, 1964 [a very good year – Rankin-Bass’ Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer also made its debut, as did the Beatles in America, and yours truly])

11.  The Player (Altman, 1992)

12.  The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Huston, 1948)

14.  The Lady from Shanghai (Welles, 1947)

15.  Touch of Evil (Welles, 1958)

16.  Crimes and Misdemeanors (Allen, 1989)

17.   The Phantom of Liberty (Bunuel, 1974)

18.  Little Murders (Arkin, 1971)

19.  Carnal Knowledge (Nichols, 1971)

20.  Taking Off  (Forman, 1971)

21.  The Exterminating Angel (Bunuel, 1962)

22.  This is Spinal Tap (Reiner, 1984)

23.  Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice (Mazursky, 1969)

24.  All That Jazz (Fosse, 1979)

25.  Deconstructing Harry (Allen, 1997)

26.  I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (Averback, 1968)

27.  The Odd Couple (Saks, 1968)

While we’re on Matthau, how about

28.  A New Leaf (May, 1971)

29.  The Bad News Bears (Ritchie, 1976)

and

30. Bigger than Life (Ray, 1956 – oh yeah, that was on your list)

31.  In the Loop (Iannucci, 2009)

32.  The French Connection (Friedken, 1971)

33.  Duel (I really don’t want to type his name, 1971 – that seemed to be an exceptionally good year for movies)

35.  The Bridge (documentary, Steel, 2006)

36.  Cruising (Friedken, 1980)

37.  Lost Highway (Lynch, 1997)

38.  Sleeper (Allen, 1973)

39. Salesman (Maysels, Zwerin, 1968) – my Essential Criterion pick

40.  Gimme Shelter (Mayslels, Zwern, 1970)

41.  Midnight Cowboy (Schlesinger, 1969)

42.  The Godfather (Coppola, 1972)

43. The Godfather Part II (Coppola, 1974)

It’s hard to do this list without leaving off some of yours, like Citizen Kane.  I may only get to 50, simply because I  haven’t seen nearly as many films at all as you have.

44. Crumb (Zwigoff, 1994)

45.  Seconds (Frankenheimer, 1966)

46.  Night of the Demon (Tourneur, 1957)

47.  Rosemary’s Baby (Polanski, 1968)

48.  Paths of Glory (Kubrick, 1957)

49.  The Killing (Kubrick, 1956)

50.  Rope (Hitchcock, 1948)

51.  Shadow of a Doubt (Hitchcock, 1943)

52.  Lolita (Kubrick, 1962) – I really believe this is James Mason’s finest performance besides “Bigger than Life”

53. Defending Your Life (Brooks, 1991) – a personal favorite, even though the ending is so much of an upper, it’s really a downer.

54.  Donnie Darko (Kelly, 2001)

55.  Manhattan (Allen, 1979)

56.  The Freshman (Newmeyer and Taylor, 1925)

57. Nosferatu (Murnau, 1922)

58.  American Beauty (Mendes, 1999) (Yes, Claude, I know.)

59.  Best in Show (Guest, 2000) – one of the deleted scenes involving Guest is actually the best scene in the film, and fully improvised.

60.  A Christmas Story (Clark, 1983)

61.  Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in The Hood (Barclay, 1996)

62.  Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960)

63.  Sweet Smell of Success (Mackendrick, 1957)

64.  Bullitt (Yates, 1968)

65.  A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick, 1971)

66.  Take the Money and Run (Allen, 1969)

67.  A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (Allen, 1982) – the cinematography, lighting and set design are worth this alone

68.  Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte (Aldrich, 1964)

70. Them (Moreau, Palud, 2006)

71.  The Up Series (Apted, 1964-present)

72.  Jackie Brown (Tarantino, 1997)

73.  Repulsion (Polanski, 1965)

74.  The Shout (Skolimowski, 1978)

75.  Five Easy Pieces (Raefelson, 1970)

76.  Husbands and Wives (Allen, 1992)

77.  Beyond the Sea (Spacey, 2004) – no matter what anyone says, Kevin Spacey completely transforms into Bobby Darin.

78.  Burn After Reading (Coens, 2008)

79. The Front (Ritt, 1976)

80.  The Picture of Dorian Gray (Lewin, 1945)

81.  Key Largo (Huston, 1948)

82.  Black Orpheus (Camus, 1959)

83.  The Blair Witch Project (Myrick, Sanchez, 1999)

84.  The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Weine, 1920)

85.  The New Age (Tolken, 1994)

86.  Rocaterrania (Ingram, 2009?)

87.  God’s Country (Malle, 1985)

88.  Happiness (Solondz, 1998)

89.  Life During Wartime (Solondz. 2009)

90.  Dog Day Afternoon (Lumet, 1975)

91.  The Endless Summer (Brown, 1966)

92.  Grizzly Man (Herzog, 2005)

93.  Ghost World (Zwigoff, 2001)

94.  The Shining (Kubrick, 1980)

95.  Glengarry Glen Ross (Mamet, 1992)

96.  Encounters at the End of the World (Herzog, 2007)

98.  Heavy Metal (Potterton, 1981)

99. The Out-0f-Towners (Kellerman, 1970)

100.  Cabaret (Fosse, 1972)

101.  And because I named one of yours, Clayton, I’m gonna have to go with Clambake (Nadel, 1967) for the opening credits and font alone.

I can’t possibly rationalize and say these are the best films ever made.  I’m surprised I could even name 100 that I’ve seen, and a good 70% were introduced to me by Claude.  So I’ll just stick with, these would be the 100 films I would recommend.  Clayton, I hope you are proud of me for one thing:  the only chick flick that shows up is Funny Girl.  Congratulations on your Criterion win, dude.

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The Ghost Writer by Roman Polanski

April 2, 2010

I am an unashamed Roman Polanski fan.  The films directed by him that I’ve seen are among the finest films I’ve ever seen.  Polanski knows how to make smart, intriguing thrillers, and he can act as well (see The Tenant.)  So when we learned that our local theatre would be showing his new film, The Ghost Writer, we were there on opening night, and pleased to see a moderately-packed house.

The Ghost Writer has an interesting cast:  Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Hutton, and Eli Wallach.  The plot involves a ghost writer (McGregor) replacing a dead ghost writer who was working on the memoirs of the retired British Prime Minister (Brosnan).  As McGregor’s character gets deeper and deeper into the project, he begins to discover unsettling facts about the PM, including CIA involvement and secret authorization of torture on airplanes.  Naturally, this disturbs McGregor’s character, and he tries to get out of this project.

The standout scene for me was the scene on the ferry.  I’m not giving any details away because the movie is still in theatres, and I hope those who like taut thrillers will go and see it.  Polanski plays up to his audience, never dumbing down anything, and delivers great cinematography and impressive performances from his cast.  I was particularly impressed by Kim Cattrall’s very controlled performance as Brosnan’s assistant and mistress – a real change from her Sex and the City character – I didn’t even know the character was Kim Cattrall for a good part of the movie.  The always beautiful Olivia Williams also gives a great performance as Brosnan’s bitter, acerbic wife.

I want to see this movie again in the theatre.  Whatever your feelings about Polanski and his personal life and problems, he remains one of the greatest directors of modern times.  See it.

PS – we’re seeing it again tonight so I may have more to say after a second showing.  I do encourage lovers of good, intelligent thrillers to see it.