Sunday, April 30, 2017

All of the Best Movies, Part 2: C - E


Hi, jerks. Here's the second part of my monumental paradigm-shift of a Favorite And Best Movies List. Before getting to C, which I know is a very popular letter of the alphabet, I need to address something in a hopefully not-too-recurring segment called...

Boners, Beeps, and Bloops

It was perhaps inevitable that in preparing this list, especially given its length, that I would forget a title or three. From the previous entry, I left out six. Five due to complete forgetfulness, one because, while it was on the list, had been mis-alphabetized, an error I chalk up to the dirty foreign nature of its title. Anyway, from here on out, when posting a new section of the list, if I realize that I've left out a movie I should have included, I'll open by announcing my mistake and officially placing the film or films on the list, as justice demands. Of course, you shouldn't take the absence from the list of a film you love as merely a mistake on my part -- I might actually hate it. All right, well, without further ado...

L'Argent (d. Robert Bresson) - The misplaced one. Should be an "A" film. In any event, this is my favorite Bresson film, at once his most difficult in terms of his stylistic and narrative choices, and the one that most demands and rewards understanding.

Bad Lieutenant (d. Abel Ferrara) - Some might call this "punk Catholicism." I'm pretty sure I wouldn't, but I understand. I hope "Pledging My Love" is played at Harvey Keitel's funeral.

Blast of Silence (d. Allen Baron) - This one is really embarrassing, since I took a quote from this movie and used it for my blog title. But it's a great low-budget noir, more gray than black and white. Cold and wet, and kind of a dump. Don't cross Baby Boy Frankie Bono.

The Bridge on the River Kwai (d. David Lean) - If I remember correctly, the term "intimate epic" was applied to Lean films like Lawrence of Arabia, in order to celebrate Lean's ability to achieve grand, sweeping narratives and visuals with detailed humanity. With The Bridge on the River Kwai he made an intimate adventure. Thrilling and moving. On a side note, it's sort of mortifying to me that I forgot about this, one of my favorite films by one of my favorite directors. Fortunately, I know that later in the list I do no neglect Lean.

Brief Encounter (d. David Lean) - Well this is a nightmare. But anyway, this is all about the first scene, the genius of which doesn't even hit you until you've seen it again.


Bubble (d. Steven Soderbergh) - The purest example of Soderbergh's independent side, and his most unnerving, and Bressonian, film to date.

And now on with C through E!
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Calvary (d. John Michael McDonagh) - In this film, Brendan Gleeson gives one of the greatest performances of the last couple decades. No big deal.
A Canterbury Tale (d. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger) - One of the oddest of The Archers filmography, what begins as a kind of light-hearted mystery becomes, by the end, one of the most moving portraits of England I've ever seen.
Captain Phillips (d. Paul Greengrass) - It's always nice when you're watching a move and you see an actor do something you've never seen any other actor ever do, and do it in such a way that you might briefly believe you're seeing it actually happen. So thanks for that, Tom Hanks.
Carlos (d. Olivier Assayas) - Wrote about it here.
Carnival of Souls (d. Herk Harvey) - I think this is probably the best approach to this particular horror subgenre I've seen on film. Doesn't hurt that Harvey's eye is occasionally Bergman-esqe.
Casino (d. Martin Scorsese) - The tragedy to Goodfellas' comedy. The two films taken together must comprise the most complete and realistic depiction of the Mafia in American movies.
Le Cercle Rouge (d. Jean-Pierre Melville) - Just unbelievably assured direction. The scene in the billiard hall is perfect filmmaking.
Le Ceremonie (d. Claude Chabrol) - Chabrol's adaptation of the great Ruth Rendell novel A Judgment in Stone. Like Rendell, Chabrol casts a very cold eye.
Changeling  (d. Clint Eastwood) - Dismissed as terrible by many critics, a position I cannot understand. As gripping as anything Easwood has done since Unforgiven.
The Changeling (d. Peter Medak) - A wonderful ghost story, full of subtle, chilling moments, and a terrific George C. Scott at its center.
Charley Varrick (d. Don Siegel) - Wrote about it, in relation to some other films, here.
Chimes at Midnight (d. Orson Welles) - That Welles could make a great Shakespeare film shouldn't surprise anyone, even if he hadn't already done it before this. That in the process he would create one of great battle scenes, which has been ripped off countless times though never robbed of its power, did, I admit, take me aback just a little.
Chinatown (d. Roman Polanski) - What can I say that hasn't been said? The cutting of Nicholson's nostril is a pretty ingenious effect.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (d. Steven Spielberg) - I'm not sure even Spielberg realizes how good this is. I might think it's even better than Jaws.
The Color of Money (d. Martin Scorsese) - After years of being unfairly thought of as the movie Scorsese made for a paycheck and for which Paul Newman won a pity Oscar, I believe people are finally beginning to appreciate The Color of Money for what it is: a completely worthy follow-up to The Hustler.


Come and See (d. Elem Klimov) - Many films are compared to nightmares -- the work of David Lynch springs to mind - but very few if any match the nightmare effects of Come and See: a figure plodding hopelessly an powerlessly through one moment of loss and terror after another, with no real narrative to guide you, or to allow for choices. Everything is Hell, and it's happening to you. I give this movie five out of five Popcorns.
The Commitments (d. Alan Parker) - Loads of fun, funny, and a hell of a band. And oh, Angeline Ball...
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (d. J. Lee Thompson) - I should point out that this choice applies only to the original cut, with the original ending. That's the only version I've seen, and is the only one that makes any sense to me.
Contagion (d. Steven Soderbergh) - Wrote about it here.
Cool Hand Luke (d. Stuart Rosenberg) - In this film, Harry Dean Stanton sings "Just a Closer Walk With Thee." I shouldn't have to comment further.
The Counselor (d. Ridley Scott) - Wrote about it here, but since this is still thought of as a bad film, I'd like to add that if there's another American studio film that better captures what it feels like to be alive and afraid in this world today, I haven't seen it.

The Cremator (d. Juraj Herz) - When a society rots, it rots one person at a time.
Crimes and Misdemeanors (d. Woody Allen) - Arguably Allen's greatest achievement, and certainly the closest he's come to making a film that belongs next to the work of the European masters he so idolizes. Martin Landau's performance is one for the ages.
The Crucible (d. Nicholas Hytner) - A masterpiece. During the montage of hangings, the cut to Winona Ryder's excited, shocked, overwhelmed, thrilled face watching it all happen...that's the film in one shot.
Crumb (d. Terry Zwigoff) - This sets the standard for biographical documentaries, and one of the few such films that actually shocked me. It's also funny.
The Curse of the Cat People (d. Robert Wise and Gunther von Fritsch) - Maybe the most beautiful of the Val Lewton productions.
A Dangerous Method (d. David Cronenberg) - Wrote about it here.
The Darjeeling Limited (d. Wes Anderson) - It sounds glib, even sarcastic, to say that this film contains my favorite use of slow motion in a Wes Anderson film, but since I love Wes Anderson think the way he uses slow motion is often beautiful, it is neither.
Dawn of the Dead (d. George Romero) - While I prefer to look at this film through the "When there's no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth" lens rather than the "Mall? Zombies? Eh? Eh?!?" lens, I still think the whole thing is brilliant and deserving of its place in the pantheon.
Days of Heaven (Dead. Terrence Malick) - Pretty much flawless. Human weakness as Biblical prophecy.
Dead Man (d. Jim Jarmusch) - Wonderfully dense in its allusions and portent and mystery, and funny as hell, and violent as hell. And frightening. And gorgeous.
Dead Man’s Shoes (d. Shane Meadows) - Quietly one of the best films of the previous decade. Paddy Considine, who co-wrote the film, gives a performance reminiscent of early De Niro.
Defending Your Life (d. Albert Brooks) - The most inventive Brooks has ever been, and this is still the least of his four masterpieces.
Deliverance (d. John Boorman) - The thrill of that quick zoom in on Burt Reynolds about to fire that arrow cannot be overstated.
Demon Seed (d. Donald Cammell) - Wrote about it here.

The Descendants (d. Alexander Payne) - As I get older, my appreciation for the emotionally devastating side of Alexander Payne grows stronger. This one has moments so sad as to be close to unbearable for me. The movie is also funny.
Detour (d. Edgar G. Ulmer) - Such a pure example of The Thing It Is that even though it's not the first of its kind, it should be.
Devil in a Blue Dress (d. Carl Franklin) - If you assholes had gone to see this in the theater like I did, Carl Franklin would be the big deal he deserves to be.
Do the Right Thing (d. Spike Lee) - Absolutely unique. Among other things, it does the one of the best jobs of capturing the feeling of an entire day having past in two hours I can think of.
Dodes’ka-Den (d. Akira Kurosawa) - One of my favorite last shots in any film.
Dog Day Afternoon (d. Sidney Lumet) - See Do the Right Thing.
Dogville (d. Lars von Trier) - One of those movies I can't quite believe exists. Only von Trier could think "I know what I'll do..." and end up with this. Truly apocalyptic.
Don’t Look Now (d. Nicolas Roeg) - Don't Look Now is what I want horror movies to be.
Down by Law (d. Jim Jarmusch) - If a black and white prison buddy comedy starring John Lurie, Tom Waits, and Roberto Benigni isn't a ticket to he big bucks, I don't know what is.
Downhill Racer (d. Michael Ritchie) - Wrote about it here.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (d. John S. Robertson) - The best Mr. Hyde design. (Also, wrote about it here.)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (d. Rouben Mamoulian) The best Jekyll and Hyde movie.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (d. Victor Fleming) - The Spencer Tracy Story.
Dr. Strangelove (d. Stanley Kubrick) - Wrote about it here.
Duck Soup (d. Leo McCarey) - It's been a while since I last sat down to watch this, so that every time I think of a favorite Marx Brothers bit, and look up which film it's from, almost invariably the answer is Duck Soup.
Ed Wood (d. Tim Burton) - It's not damning with faint praise to say that this among the most likable films ever made.

Edmond (d. Stuart Gordon) - Fun for everyone. Take everyone out to see Edmond. Everyone will fall in love with...Edmond! Get on my body!
Eight Men Out (d. John Sayles) - I love pretty much everything about this movie, not least D.B. Sweeney's heartbreaking performance as Shoeless Joe Jackson, and also the fact that John Sayles looks exactly like Ring Lardner. Part of me suspects that was his entire motivation for making this film.
Elephant (d. Alan Clarke) - It makes its point.
Elephant (d. Gus Van Sant) - The best Van Sant film I've seen, and the best film about school shootings I've even heard about.
The Elephant Man (d. David Lynch) - Anthony Hopkins has never been better than he is here. A beautiful film.
Empire of the Sun (d. Steven Spielberg) - Spielberg's Lost Masterpiece. 
Enemy (d. Denis Villeneuve) - Now that's how you end a movie!

Eraserhead (d. David Lynch) - The Lady in the Radiator is something I have not been able to shake since first seeing this film. "Everything is not fine!" I said to myself at the time.
Escape from the Planet of the Apes (d. Don Taylor) Fucking cold-blooded! People act like the sequels are campy goof-offs, but what other Hollywood genre franchise has had balls this big?
Ex Machina (d. Alex Garland) - The best American science fiction film since A.I.
The Exorcist (d. William Friedkin) - Wrote about it here and here.
The Exorcist III (d. William Peter Blatty) - Talked about briefly in the second link above. Anyway, it's a shame that a filmmaking talent as weird and out of nowhere as Blatty's only got two shots at it. 
Experimenter (d. Michael Almereyda) - My kind of biopic, and maybe the most knowing use of Peter Sarsgaard thus far.

1 comment:

ptatleriv said...

Glad to finally meet the other person who thinks CHANGELING ranks among Eastwood's latter-day best films. It's so nonchalantly unnerving.

And I saw DEVIL IN THE BLUE DRESS in the theater! I can enter my house justified.

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