81. L'Homme du Train (Fr 2002)

Gangster holes up in the house of an eccentric retired schoolteacher.

'Holes up' as in 'hides', and not, you know...

A slow meditation on life and death with many allusions to American and Italian westerns. Excellent performances from ageing Belgian pop star Johnny Halliday and veteran French actor Jean Rochefort.

82. Fargo (US 1995)

The kidnapping of a Minnesotan car salesman's wife goes awry.

The Coen brothers' most straight forward film and thus benefiting from the power of imaginative and esoteric detail rather than indulging their post modernist whims and somewhat dubious sense of humour.

Good performances from Steve Buscemi and Peter Sormare as the kidnappers (Stormare is almost silent throughout), but the representation of the local accents from Frances MacDormand and William Macy smacks of piss taking on the part of the director/producer.

A film that owes a huge debt to David Lynch.

83. Angel Heart (US 1987)

A New York private eye receives a difficult assignment from an unusual client.

One of those surprise ending films (if your mind's in neutral and you don't suss out the identity of Louis Cyphre after 15 seconds) easily ruined by your low IQ friends or relatives who realise that for once in their lives they have the power to, well, tell you the ending of a film that they've watched.

Good (and therefore atypical) performance from Mickey Rourke, good editing (as the truth of about Johnny Friendly is slowly revealed) and Lisa Bonet's chapel hat pegs reveal how she had to suffer for her art during the fairly lurid sex scenes. Probably the best of director Alan Parker's films (which are usually damned by faint praise, at best).

84. Spartacus (US 1960)

Kirk Douglas wanted all the really villainous Romans in Spartacus to be played by English actors, because like little Melvin Gibson, he knew how to play on the prejudices of his American target audiences. And like Vic Reeves once said: Kirk Douglas, a man with three arseholes.

Probably the best of all of the Biblical epics due to the efforts of Kubrick, Laughton and Kiss's Jean Simmons.

Best moment: every joke in the world has been done concerning "I'm Spartacus", but you'd have to be a black hearted bastard not to be moved by Spartacus's crucifixion and Lavinia holding the baby up to his dying dad.

A fantastic Bank Holiday hangover film.

85. Towed in a Hole (US 1932)

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy buy a boat to "cut out the middle man" in their fish selling business.

Laurel's stupidity causes many accidents which result in Hardy being hurt or the boat and boat yard being destroyed. Hardy batters Laurel for his carelessness..

And that's it. 20 minutes of outstanding violence and stupidity. Not all L and H is as good as this, but most of their short films between 1930 and 1933 are.

Best bit: Laurel is in disgrace: Hardy is in a very bad mood. Laurel looks at Hardy through various holes in the boat's hull whilst Hardy tries to work out what he is doing.

Bizarre and brilliant.

86. Mulholland Drive (US 2002)

Almost a companion piece to Lost Highway. An aspiring actress comes to Los Angeles and seems to live life on a number of astral planes, levels of reality, projections etc.

The final sequence of this demanding film tends to suggest that the actress's experiences are merely the yearnings of a terminal loser, whose desiccated corpse is found by one of her projected selves (who also manages to have top flight lesbian sex with road crash survivor, Laura Elena Harring ).

Lynch deviates from the narrative on a number of occasions (sometimes tangentially as in the nightclub/theatre sequence which sees a far more impassioned version of Roy Orbison's 'Crying' sung in Spanish; and sometimes altogether, as in the scary thingy behind the diner sequence), and the distortions of time, space and reality are not for everyone's liking.

But if you want a night of bad, half remembered dreams , simply watch any of Lynchy's more troubling films with a plate of cheese on toast washed down with two cans of Kronenberg 1663.

 

87. Ghost World (US 2002)

Misfit small town girl's meddlings and lack of commitment cause unhappiness for every one around her.

Another oddity, in so much as conventional narrative goals are rejected in favour of  character observation and an analysis of the inconsequential nature of most people's ambitions and the desire to find comfort in the mundane.

Thora Birch's Enid cannot reconcile her ambitions or talent with the paucity of exciting individuals in her home town. With only a vague  life philosophy of her own, she is unsure of her reasons for manipulating the ordinary lives of  the small group of people who make up her world.

 

Steve Buscemi's record collecting 'dork' is the standout performance amongst the excellent, deliberately low key group of actors (apart from ......'s mulleted convenience store 'martial arts expert).

And if you like your women to look like giant tomatoes in Doc Marten's, Ghost World is the film for you.

88. King of Kings (US 1962)

Over the years, some people have questioned the choice of actor to play Jesus on film. Max Von Sydow was the anaemic Jesus in 'The Greatest Story Ever Told'; Willem Dafoe was bad teeth Jesus in 'The Last Temptation of Christ' and Peter Glaze was mugging, comedy, vertically challenged Jesus in Pasolini's 'The Gospel According To Saint Matthew'.

Nicholas Ray's 'King of Kings' was dubbed 'I Was A Teenage Jesus' by those people who like to copy what other people say, because basically, they're twats. Sorry Jesus, if you're reading this.

Jeffrey Hunter perhaps didn't have the gravitas to play the Messiah, but Ray's choice of a giant close up of Hunter's eyes as he baptises John the Baptist (the excellent Robert Ryan again), coupled with some powerful angelic host/majesty of God music, is enough to convince ME.

Ray's film is a politicised version of the life and death of Christ, set amongst the upheaval created by the Roman occupation of the Holy Land.

A film that is best seen on a cinema screen. As befits a Biblical epic, there are many cringe inducing false notes, but the film is filled with a number of memorable cinematic images, particularly Jesus's temptation in the wilderness, which seems to have inspired Nicolas Roeg for 'The Man Who Fell To Earth' and Sam Raimi in 'Spiderman' (with Willem Dafoe as the voice of temptation).

A great Echo and the Bunnymen song from the underrated 'Flowers' album, as well.

89. The Roaring Twenties (US 1939)

The rise and fall of a Prohibition era gangster.

An excellent Warner Brothers gangster film filled with classic montage sequences and no nonsense acting from Cagney, Lacey and Bogart. A film that has a social conscience (the capitalist system forces good men into crime) and definite left wing leanings.

Splendid, unpretentious film making.

90. Il Cadavro Illustri (Italy 1976)

Francesco Rosi's study of corruption in Italian political life makes its then contemporary rival 'All The President's Men' look  particularly second rate. The idea of the right wing agent provocateurs posing as left wing dissidents was adopted by Alan Bleasdale for his not very good tv drama GBH.

Good performances from Fernando Rey and Lino Ventura in a film that doesn't try to fill you with the idea that life is beautiful.