Thursday, November 1, 2012

Top 10 1/1/2012

Come and See: Title is a quote from the Book of Revelation. No accident as we follow young rosy cheeked farm boy Florya go off to join the local militia to fight the Nazi invaders. Without firing his rifle once what he goes through ages him by apparent centuries. Then he fires and fires and fires and fires. At what? Go and see! .... but with friends .... some good friends.


 Eraserhead: Renouncing all other religions I pledge my heart to the greatest movie ever made.

The Seventh Victim: Mark Robson directed Val Lewton genreless piece blends a missing person trail with anti-violent satanists. A lightless room in an office building seems itself to kill one of the characters. Begins and ends with a quote from John Donne. B-movie? Technically, yes, as it was made to go first in a cinema double feature but its quality and the depth of some of its ideas probably outclassed the A feature.


 Harvey: Like Harold and Maude (see below) this great comedy advocates freedom at the cellular level. James Stewart, only just beginning to play into his Autumn years, is Elwood P. Dowd a cushioned eccentric who goes about the town, enjoying martinis in the local bars, one for him and one for his friend Harvey the pooka, a six foot white rabbit who acts as friend and mentor. No one else sees or hears Harvey which is why they all want him shut away in the local EST facility. Heartwarming and whimsical without ever once turning it up to cloying.

Fistful of Dollars: Clint makes his Leone debut in this magnificent cover version of Kurosawa's Yojimbo (itself a cover version, this time of American sources). Clint as The Man With No Name rides into town between two warring crime clans and plays them against each other. Music by Ennio Morricone. You got something not to love about all that?

Harold and Maude: BEST. ROMCOM. EVER.


One Plus One: Rock stars who don't have to get out of bed in the morning get together in a studio to take a song from a fragile folky try hard into a cultural megaton force. Meanwhile a group of urban guerillas with nothing to lose go about a series of interminable and mind numbing political and paramilitary drills and lose all their energy and focus. Godard isn't asking you to sympathise with them he's asking: what is wrong with this picture? This and Gimme Shelter are excellent weapons of disabuse for anyone who gets starry-eyed about the sixties and the Stones were in both and at their prime.

Picnic at Hanging Rock: This film really isn't made from much but it doesn't have to be. Really, it's no more than corsetted Europe meeting the big scary outback and getting swallowed whole by it. This is a quietly spooky film. Only director's cut I know of that is shorter than the original release. I wish Peter Weir still made films like this.

The China Syndrome: Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas and Jack Lemmon put more than contract fulfillment into their performances of this post-Three-Mile-Island scenario that would play out for real and worse in the next bloc when Chernobyl got mad. The mounting information stress of this film keeps it so straight that when it finally does break into its emotional damburst it's too late to feel any difference between the great sadness of the climax and the wrongs of its cause. Something that's easily forgotten about this film if ever noticed is that it has no music score. Play that to John Williamson and Hans Zimmer. Won't make any difference to their next bloat soundtracks but it'd be nice to watch them wonder.

Audition: A widower is encouraged by his son and colleague to look for another wife. He works in TV so sets up auditions for a fake show just so he can see what's out there. He's already looked through the applicants and by the time the ONE shows up he can't stop himself from crossing the line and praising her. What then looks like a dirty old man's pursuit of a young beauty turns .... well, get a copy and watch it. If family-first valued paranoia movies like The Hand that Rocks the Cradle or Fatal Attraction had you white knuckled in frustration this might be a good antidote as it makes it very difficult to blame either party, though both enact atrocities of scale upon each other. It's tough stuff. When I saw it new at the old Lumiere the small, traumatised audience mostly unacquainted with each other shared glances and relieved sighs as the credits rolled.

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