Here Thar Be Monsters!

From the other side of the argument to the other side of the planet, read in over 149 countries and 17 languages. We bring you news and opinion with an IndoTex® flavor. Be sure to check out Radio Far Side. Send thoughts and comments to luap.jkt at gmail, and tell all your friends. Sampai jumpa, y'all.

12.2.11

The 100 Best Movies Of All Time

We are often asked (not really but it makes a good launching point) what are the 10 best flicks of all time. In that we have 40 years of experience as writer, producer, director, editor, designer, actor, grip, gaffer, and a few dozen other titles, we are imminently qualified to answer this question. No dissention or equivication will be allowed. Anyone not towing the part line will be summarily tossed out of the auditorium. Our word is final, and that's that.

This list is by no means exclusive of hundreds of other great flicks, but it does represent movies that we have bought over and over again, first on Betamax, then VHS, then LaserDisc, then DVD, now MP-4.
----

10. Batman (1989) - Tim Burton takes the God Seat for a run at the venerable comic-book hero. He creates a world right out of Metropolis, with operatic grandeur and visual heaviness. He casts a comedic actor in a serious role and a serious actor in a comedic role, with Michael Keaton and Jack Nickleson. The sets are amazing! Buildings bolted to the ground, statues bearing enormous weight, offices with items dating from the 30s to the 80s. Somehow, even Keaton's lips look like the 'bat' symbol, when he's in costume. Visually stunning, well-acted, tight writing, and edited with just the right pacing. It starts our list for all-time greats.

9. Dark Star (1974) - Not only is this John Carpenter's first feature flick, it's also the movie that launched a 1,000 ideas. A group of weary astronauts have been wandering around the galaxy blowing up planets in a ship that looks remarkably like a tennis shoe (Douglas Adams stole those two). There is some brilliant writing by Dan O'Bannon here, who later penned the classic, 'Alien.' In fact, you can see the seed of that franchise starting to bloom in this flick, as the guys chase an alien beach ball around the ship. At one point, one of the astronauts has an existential argument with a 'smart bomb that is reminiscient of 'Dr. Strangelove' and elements of which show up in Dennis Hopper's speech in 'Speed.' The finale involves planet surfing, literally, which we saw reborn in the recent 'Star Trek' reboot. A great flick for a lazy Saturday night around the bong.

8. The Player (1992) - Tim Robbins teams with Robert Altman in the God Seat to bring us an all-too-real look inside Hollywood. There are dozens of hat-tips to other movies in here, inlcuding a brilliant retake on Orson Welles' opening scene in 'Touch of Evil.' It's a very cerebral movie, with little action or sex, but it's a great story, well-paced and beautifully shot, primo acting, and enough insider secrets being spilled to keep the ardent Hollywoodophile rewinding and taking notes for days. It also has a really nice twist on the 'happy ending' and shows how movie deals are really done. Well worth your time.

7. The Man Who Would Be King (1975) - Sean Connery and Michael Caine make the best buddy movie ever recorded. End of story. The brilliant John Huston, whose other buddy flick, 'Treasure of the Sierra Madre,' is one of the all-time greats and infinitely quotable. Here, he brings us two Brits in India in the early 1900s. They meet Rudyard Kipling (who wrote the original story), and make a deal that they will take over a country and become kings, and Rudyard will witness the pact. As it turns out, they do exactly that and go one better by becoming living gods, because they are Freemasons. Watch the movie, you'll see why. They inherit a vast fortune left by Alexander the Great and make a plan to get out with the loot. This movie has it all: gold, guns, girls, and one hell of a story. The cinematography is a main reason the film has such an epic feel. We can feel the exotic locations and the strangeness the characters find. We loved this movie so much, we lived it.

6. Apollo 13 (1995) - "Houston, we've got a problem." See why, and how they got out of it. We hate to admit it, but we cry every time we see the chutes at the end. Ron "Opie" Howard makes us feel like we're along on a ride in a can only big enough for three SPAM. These guys are locked in a capsule, set on top of the most powerful machine every built, and shot at a target 250,000 miles away. There's no hope of anyone coming to the rescue if anything goes wrong, and guess what? Something goes wrong. Really wrong. Almost dead kind of wrong. This movie is a literal cliff-hanger from reel 2 to the closing credits. We grew our beard and didn't bathe for three days after watching it. The launch sequence alone is worth the price of admission. And the music!

5. Dead Ringers (1988) - This is David Cronenberg at his weirdest and best. He takes the God Seat and drags Jeremy Irons through the 'ringer' to create a truly odd film. Twin gynecologists obscess over a woman with a genetically malformed uterus, and since they are identical, they can share without anyone knowing. This flick is intense and you won't want to watch it alone, because it will freak you out. You'll need to be talked down. Seriously. As psycho-thrillers go, this is top-notch. And whoever designed the 'examination instruments' should have gotten an Oscar for 'Best Drug-Induced Design Ever.' You'll see what we mean. Brilliant cinematography and Irons' acting makes this by far the best one-guy-plays-two-people-in-the-same-shot movies ever made.

4. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) - Using one castle for a dozen different locations. Using coconut shells for horses. Special guest appearance by God Himself. And the funniest damn writing, period. All that and more in Monty Python's first feature film after coming out of British TV. You can almost forgive the British for being pompous asses after watching this flick. The Pythons take the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and turn it on its ear. They make endless fun of themselves, the French, the Germans, and simply trash the Middle Ages, while they're at it. There's Trojan Rabbits, catapult cows, aerodynamic swallows, and witches galore. You'll be quoting lines for the rest of your life after watching it 200 or 300 times, like we have. And don't forget the oral sex.

3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - Stanley Kubrik is one of those brilliant filmmakers whose works are stuffed full of symbolism and metaphor. On top of that, this film set the standard for space flicks that holds even 43 years later. This movie is so far ahead of its time that one wonders if Kubrik didn't time travel to get weightless shots so perfect. From the monolith (which has the same aspect ratio as the film itself), to Moon mysteries (a la Hoagland, et al.), to Jupiter's Galilean moons, this movie is so damn prascient, it's spooky. But aside from content, the use of music, the dancing spaceships, the Lunar surface, it's all gorgeous and incredibly rendered. The movie has been so influential, that it has spawned names for real-life spacecraft and inspired the design of the International Space Station whizzing over your head just about now. For our generation, this WAS the future, and we're still waiting for it.

2. Eyes Wide Shut (1998) - Kubrik is the only God Seat occupant who makes the list twice, and with good reason. This movie is what got him killed. He told too many secrets. It also happens to be the best performance ever by Tom Cruise, which goes to show that a good director can take shit and make it shine. Again, Kubrik's symbolism is so deep, so rich and so, well, so... Every inch of every frame has meaning, if you know what to look for, and that will take years of study in the occult. Not only that, it's got Satanic masses, orgies, mystery, fine writing, lavish sets, and a music score that haunts long after the credits stop. It's truly an amazing film, but what do you expect from a director whose work is a Top 10 list in and of itself. To really enjoy it, watch it once for story, then watch a second time, only look at everything BUT the main action.

1. Lawrence of Arabia (1961) - Take a man who was larger than life, whose story writes itself, and whose exploits are being felt even in today's headlines out of Egypt. Put David Lean in the God Seat and Freddy Young behind the camera, spinkle liberally with England's finest acting talent,let Marice Jarre score it, and Anne Coates cut it, and you've got one of the finest flicks of all time. The magnificent desolation of the locations, as rendered by Young, lets the audience feel the heat. You'll be thirsty the whole time you're watching this one, so have plenty of water near-by. Even if you (understandably) don't care about the British or the Arabs or World War I, you can't help but love this film. It's just that damn good. This is Peter O'Toole's first feature, and he's backed up by such greats as Alec Guinness, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains, and Oman Sharif. In fact, Sharif's entrance is probably one of the most memorable in all film history. Lean stole a page from Orson Welles' 'Citizen Kane,' by opening the film with the death of the main character. Be warned, though. After watching this flick, you might just have a little more understanding on the Middle East situation today, and what's more, you'll enjoy the experience.

Honorable Mention: Citizen Kane, Frank Ott's Sneeze, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Casablanca, and about 3,419 more.
The is hardly a definitive list. If we wrote the list of 100 greatest flicks of all time, we might be able to get all our favorites in.

We didn't even touch on such greats as Orson Welles or Terry Gilliam, nor did we even make it further back than the 60s, and there are some classics back there.

Nor were we able to bouch on the fantastic wealth of foreign films, with such greats as Ran, Das Boot, Wild Strawberries, and (our favorite) La Femme Nikita.

We were able to build you, gentle reader, a list of movies that your collection, sadly, is lacking, we're sure, since you are not the cinematophile and art house expert that we are. If you are nice to us, maybe we'll make a list of the weirdest movies ever, so we can include such greats as Liquid Sky.

Happy watching. Don't forget the popcorn and be sure to buy your copy from our Amazon store (hint-hint).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave your own view of The Far Side.