Sunday, July 8, 2012

Top 10 09/07/2012

The Parallax View: Great post-Watergate paranoia film from the 70s. Even after countless viewings it is impossible not to get emotionally involved in the psyche-test montage sequence. The idea that the perfect candidate watches impassively is both comforting and terrifying. Beatty's finest hour and a half.

Eraserhead: Always.

Groundhog Day: Feelgood doesn't have to be clever but this is and it's funny all the way through.

Freaks: Still weird and still compelling. Dvd version has a sentimental ending that had been left off for decades for the good reason that it subverts the rest of the film. If you think this film is exploitative (it isn't) be informed that it was broadcast in Brisbane as THE MONSTER MOVIE during the International Year of the Disabled. (One of the oldest trees in Brisbane not long after was chopped down and had its roots napalmed during the International Year of the Tree. Message translation problems?)
Deep Red: Big, intriguing giallo mystery brimming with atmosphere and some very funny moments where star David Hemmings goofs around with the male lead roles he has played and those already established in the genre. Some call Argento the Italian Hitchcock but I think of him as the Fellini of thrillers.

Videodrome: The point at which Cronenberg's comfort with actors caught up with his ideas. James Woods adds warmth to lift this extraordinary tale over the more passionless Scanners or Brood. Debbie Harry is a little stilted but ... SHE'S DEBBIE HARRY!

Amadeus: Want to express genius in a biopic without being bland and repetitious? Have it witnessed by a mediocrity who knows the difference between it and himself. F. Murray Abraham deserved his Oscar win for his performance as Salieri. Mozart and 18th century Vienna are given a creditable face but it is Mozart's punkiness which offers a kind of era-spanning anachronism allowing all that dressing up to breathe and party. People who complained about its lack of historical veracity somehow missed the point that the story was being narrated by a man driven to a morbid rage by his jealousy: his account is not meant to be objective, folks. Wrong kind of wigs or shoe buckles? Shut up and watch the movie.

Matador: Almodovar's early outing about a kind of spiritual and near literal necrophilia in Spanish culture in the decade after Franco's demise is a study in sustained anger. As his sex farces and melodramas have continued to show he is unafraid of bringing something unsettling to the table and however chirpy some of his endings can be, there is always a vigilant eye peering through.

Laura: To everyone their role whether it's Clifton Webb's acid wit, Vincent Price's flattering dependency, Dana Andrew's disturbed rationalist or Gene Tierney in the title role as the quietly incorruptible real person behind the worshipped image. A noir of manners in which the notion of possession pulses with a mounting creepiness.

Diary: Genre-warping team, the brothers Pang tell a tale twice: of a woman grieving for her lover; of a psychopath who cannot distinguish her homemade dolls from the objects of her jealousy. Takes the stretching reach that makes The Eye outdo its inspiration and just keeps stretching. Frequently disturbing Diary is finally something that only the best horror dares to be - heart rending.

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