121. La Jetée (France 1962)
Unwilling victim is sent back in time to prevent a global apocalypse.
The inspiration for 12 Monkeys, Chris Marker's photo roman is a sad (in the true sense of the word) and haunting work that leaves an impression on the mind long after its 28 minutes are up.
122. The Matrix (US 1999)
A film that looks (or at least looked) like no other. Reason enough to be included in the list.
123. It's a Wonderful Life (US 1946)
Suicidal small town philanthropist is saved by the revelations of his guardian angel.
I like the photography and some of the performances (James Stewart and Gloriah Grahame in particular, although there are some terrible ones, most notably the fucking 'Hee-Haw!' man) of It's a Wonderful Life, but I'm pretty sure that when people talk about this as being an ideal Christmas film, they're basing their decisions on received wisdom or the final four minutes of a two hour film.
There are good sequences in this film: the early narrative exposition of George Bailey's childhood and deafness; George's despair in Martini's and on the bridge; the film noir evocation of Pottersville. The sentimentality can be sick making, however, and George's 'Mary! Mary!' anguished proposal makes me hide behind the couch with embarrassment.
A film to be watched on DVD whilst you 'interact' with your telly saying, "Good bit....shit...passable....shit again..." etc until your prescription's ready.
124. Apocalypse Now (US 1979)
Special Forces assassin embarks on a 'Heart of Darkness' journey which reaches an end when he enters the kingdom of a renegade army colonel.
Good version of Conrad's short novel, but a film (and film maker) which tries to mythologise and make portentous, the acts of a defeated and humiliated country. There are too many gung-ho/American crowd pleasing bullshit scenes masquerading as irony (worst of all being Robert Duvall's mannered "Charlie don't surf" performance). John Milius, besides being the director of a number of terrible gung-ho films (Red Dawn, Conan the Librarian), wrote most of this film. If you've been unfortunate enough to read any of his interviews you will have seen him banging on about guns, about what a good, cathartic thing war is, and how it's America's job to police the world. According to this gobshite, those opposed to war are 'pussies'. A pity, then (and very convenient) that he was '4F' when it came to doing some fighting of his own.
However, if you are to connect with the current cultural currency of the age, then you have to see this film. There are memorable images and dialogue, and its best sections involve Martin Sheen's introspective voice over concerning the origins of Kurtz's mania/philosophy.
In many ways it reminds me of Pauline Kael's review of 'The Searchers' . ie Good, worthy, but not really enjoyable, and not one you'd want to revisit.
A mate of mine was all excited when he told me that he'd splashed out on the DVD version of 'Apocalypse Now Redux(???)'. He was a bit crestfalllen when I said "Why?"
And remember: Dennis Hopper, rubbish actor. (Apart from 'Hoosiers' where he's great.)
125. And Hope To Die (US 1972)
French criminal in Canada falls foul of some other, nastier criminals.
Age since I've seen this (which usually means it's terrible), but it stars the peerless Robert Ryan in one of his last roles as a man tormented by repressed thoughts of a serious boyhood trauma. I seem to remember being impressed by a recurring visual motif of some marbles falling down stone stairs in slow motion. A symbol of loss, I would presume.
For the less introspective film watcher, there's a man who is an expert in killing criminals by throwing pool balls at their heads.
Someone's farted It's gone now....
126. The Dead Zone (US 1983)
Awakened coma victim discovers that he can see the future.
Christopher Walken has always had the worst hair in film. If you go for a haircut and ask for a 'Christopher Walken', the barber will smear dog shit on to a brick and then rub it across the top of your head in a random sort of way. Fortuitously, Walken plays a teacher in this film and thus his terrible hair is a positive boon, along with the pair of burgundy polyveldt shoes his mother bought him when he first went to New York.
The film itself is pretty good, but (perhaps) that's not really an appropriate description for a film by a director (David Cronenberg) who deals in extremes. The snowy settings and some of the more violent images of the film stick in the memory, but best of all is Walken's melancholic performance of a man who cannot come to terms with loss.
Walken plays John Smith, an everyman figure (I presume, given his nomenclature) who develops extraordinary powers after a long coma following a car crash. Brooke Adams plays Walken's arl arse (apparently I'm the only one who thinks this) girlfriend who has married another ("She cleaves to another man!" says Smith's religious maniac mother at one point just to make him feel even better) during Smith's five year slumber (there are a number of references to Sleepy Hollow in the film).
Adams (I don't know what her name is in the film, but it should be Jezebel, the sly little bitch) visits the now reclusive Smith in his New England hideaway. She brings her baby just to further compound Smith's misery and talks about what might have been. She then shows him what he's been missing, lets him give her one and then fucks off after saying something like "This is wrong; it can never happen again."
I remember being reprimanded by some woman for suggesting that Brooke/Jez was an arsehole for a) seeking extra curricular willy when her man was at death's door and b) torturing the poor fucker a la Tantalus when he'd woken up.
"You shouldn't just see things in black and white," said The Some Woman woman.
I could go on forever about this, but maybe it's time that I learned to tell the difference between real life and some actors pretending to be real people.
127. Aguirre, Wrath of God (Germany 1972)
A conquistador's South American voyage of discovery ends in madness and death.
Kafka's nightmare involved waking up as a giant insect. Mine is looking in the mirror and seeing Klaus Kinski. The bug eyes and orange pith teeth would be bad enough, but that permanent squeezing out a boulder expression would be just too much to bear.
How he fathered the beautiful Nastassia is beyond me, but I'm pretty sure it involved moving his penis back and forth inside her mother's vagina until hr reached issue.
128. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (GB 1960)
Nottingham factory worker's disillusionment with the constrictions of life.
Albert Finney looks pained (see K.Kinski) and says 'bastard' a lot. Finney's relationship with Rachel Roberts is almost as earth shatteringly miserable as Richard Harris's relationship with her in 'This Sporting Life'.
I have to say, I can't stand the 'it's grim up north' tradition of kitchen sink dramas so beloved of Steven Patrick Morrisey, but this is an undeniably important film, an anti-authority, almost nihilistic snapshot of a world long gone.
"That were a right good shag, y'bastard."
Albert Finney has made many terrible films and produced many terrible performances after 'SNSM' and someone should have told him that his American accent should have stayed on the Dick Emery show.
Anyway, this man goes to a fancy dress party with a piece of sandpaper on his
129. The Elephant Man (GB 1979)
The life and death of John Merrick, a severely deformed cause celebre in Victorian society.
I don't normally describe those films which are famous beyond famous, but there are some American Christians who access this site (and then send me very un-Christian threats of death and violence) and I wouldn't want to confuse them.
"Then have you got any for the Centenary Stand?"
A minor David Lynch, this one, but not without its merits. Probably a good performance from John Hurt (although it's hard to tell) and a tremendous (but horrible) sense of Victorian urban life.
As Frank Skinner once remarked, you'll never eat cauliflower again after seeing this film.
130. The Birds (US 1963)
The avine population of the world decides to attack.
If you're convinced that much of the world of academia is utter bollocks, then read Camille Paglia's BFI guide to this film just to confirm your prejudices. It's utter bollocks.
Hitchcock's work is symbolic no matter what he said about 'it' being "just a movie", but some people just go too far.
I think it's better to see The Birds when you are a child, and to think about: the possibilities inherent in Daphne du Maurier's story; Tippi Hedren;
the pecked out eye image and most of all the fantastic ending as Hedren, Rod Taylor and Jessica Tandy inch their way towards their car observed by all manner of birds as far as the eye can see.