1. Citizen Kane (1) (US 1941)
Reporter tries to piece together the enigma of a media tycoon's last word.
A fantastic film and worthy of all the hyperbole that's normally associated with it. Essentially its Welles' amd Mankiewicz's meaning of life. Without struggle or a difficult journey, life becomes meaningless and empty.
Kane has it all before he knows it and life becomes purgatory and the long wait for death.
In many ways, Citizen Kane was an 'art' film long before the concept was even considered in America. There are many brilliant set pieces and the film is a prime example of how sometimes it's best not to know the rules when trying to create a work of art.
2. American Beauty (US 1999)
Took me ages to get round to seeing this one. Mrs Saint Vespaluus (who teaches the film to surly youths) has been plaguing me for months to see it, despite the certain knowledge that saying you must see it is the best method of making me not see it. Anyway, insomnia and a singing baby made me give it a whirl. Absolutely brilliant and beautiful. Acting is uniformly outstanding, but main honours must go to Chris Cooper as the deranged, closet homosexual next door neighbour. You can imagine how bad Dennis Hopper would be in such a role. The ‘dancing plastic bag’ sequence is worth the entrance fee alone.
3. Une Femme est Une Femme (France 1963)
Accessible Godard. The beautiful Anna Karina (as opposed to On The Buses’ Anna Karen), one of the key films of the new wave and an obvious Python influence. Can't find any colour pictures to do justice to the cinematography, though, so this will have to do.
4. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (France 1964)
Not the greatest of French towns, but you’ll feel a strange need to make a pilgrimage if you like this film. Either a haunting, lyrical love story or a pile of old monkey toss. Depends on the type of person you are, really. Does help if you’re a big girl’s blouse like me.
5. Robocop (US 1987)
Do you know that bit in Planes, Trains and Automobiles when Steve Martin finds that the ‘big pillow’ that’s smothering his hand is, in fact, John Candy’s fat arse and they starting talking in gruff voices about ‘The Bears’ to reassert their masculinity? Well this isn’t my masculine response to three and four. Just a fantastic film: visceral, brilliantly edited and satisfying in terms of its closure (deep down, we all like a good story, but maybe not in every film).
A clever genre film transformed into an outstanding one by an occasionally brilliant director.
6. Quadrophenia (GB 1979)
“You’ve killed me fackin’ scoo’a, Mr Postman.”
Nothing has ever come close to capturing my teenage angst, despair, madness.
7. Spoorloos (The Vanishing) (Holland 1988)
I quite like horror films, but nothing scares me anymore. Mind you, The Blair Witch Project is much better if you watch it on your own at three o’clock in the morning (see final sentence of 4). I’ve been thinking about the implications of Spoorloos ever since. I haven’t seen the American version, but reputable sources tell me it’s terrible.
And don’t believe the hype about Jeff Bridges.
Have you seen him in ‘Starman’? The number one knobhead performance of all time.
8 . An Autumn Afternoon (Japan 1962)
Not really an after the pub, I’m still in the mood for ale film, but if you’re in the right mood to unravel the mysteries and sadness of existence, this maybe the film for you. I might (just might) have fallen asleep in the cinema if I’d been to see this after a few Stellas, but only because of its gentle soporific effect rather than it being dull. (Which it is. A little bit. This might not be in the 20 for too long, come to think of it).
9. Clerks (US 1993)
Another one that I strenuously (never used with any other verb than) avoided for years because too many saddoes had recommended it. Good old Film Four (cue Yellow Pages music) and good old insomnia. Anyway, Clerks: brilliant dialogue; a true sense of authorship and a wee bit of a love story (“No woman ever brought me lasagne, man”). The highlight (for me) is Yuri’s ‘metal’ love song:
“My Love for you is ticking clock, Ber-ser-kar;
Do you want to suck .......
10. The Getaway (US 1972)
The Sam Peckinpah version (obviously). I don’t really like Steve McQueen, but this has an existential quality and a sense of modernity (albeit 1970s modernity) that marks it above the usual heist movie fare. Censored Section.