Monday, May 21, 2012

Top 10: 12/05/2012

Eraserhead: this is what it looks like when someone is so determined to get the images in their head on to the screen that they'll spend four years in virtual poverty to get it right.

The Haunting: everything that director Robert Wise learned from mentors Orson Welles and Val Lewton is up there on the screen and coming through the speakers. As with all good horror tales, there is identifiable human tragedy at the heart of this one.

Onibaba: a mix of folktale and cinema verite horror with extraordinary atmosphere. A winner everytime I screen it.

Harold and Maude: This is how you do quirky: keep the grim reaper palpable in every scene in a story about celebrating life and you can't go wrong. I know; Wes Anderson tries this kind of thing and does go  wrong (every single time) but H&M is helmed by a master who seemed to have some feeling for his subject. One of the best. Ever.

Network: a satire about truth, justice and the American way of crushing everything into a marketable commodity. Peter Finch's oscar was the first posthumous one. With a cast like this and the kind of writing that is neither naturalistic nor unbelievable in its constant wit and bottomless vocab.

Spirit of the Beehive: an evocation of childhood that remembers how serious children can be and how maddening and insane the grownup world can look.

Come and See: follow farmboy Florya as he goes to war and transforms from a rosy cheeked teenager into the haggard hundred year old he is at the end of it (timeline, about three months in the film). Final sequence of him shooting a picture of Hitler will get under your skin and stay there. My favourite war movie.

Kairo/Pulse: one of a kind apocalypse tale where ghosts invade the lonely through the internet. Sounds naff but it's constantly eerie and increasingly unsettling. Some of the most terrifying cinematic ghosts I've seen. The sense that the order that was is unravelling, never to return is a genuine mounting dread.

Bringing Up Baby: Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Howard Hawks and a leopard. One of the funniest screwball comedies ever. Cary Grant has lost his bone and opens the door in a neglige on a maiden aunt who demands to know why he's dressed like that: "Because I went gay all of a sudden!"  he yells, leaping into the air. The year is 1938.

Videodrome: Cronenberg's essay on media manipulation has the complex and appealing performance of james Woods running through it like blood cells.

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