Film for the Soul was borne out of frustration in March 2008, mostly at myself for never taking the time and care to watch the films I had always meant to see but found excuses to avoid them and to learn more about a subject I claimed to love. With that simple mission statement I've been subjected and encountered a world of film I never knew was so rich and vibrant, so strikingly brilliant and intense.
What follows may gob-smack some; as in 'What? You mean he's only got around to watching that!' but enthrall others, hopefully leading to some of you finally getting around to watching those films 'you've always meant to watch'.
So, in no particular order...
The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich, 1971)
The General (Clyde Bruckman/Buster Keaton, 1926)
Bogdanovich vision of a 1950's small Texan town, swallowed up by the world beyond and littered with lonely souls, the lost, the disaffected and dreams unfulfilled, plays out like the last dance waiting for the music to fade out. Lugubrious, haunting and mesmerising.
The Red Shoes (Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger, 1948)
I can say I've finally met 'stone-face' and I think it's love. Thrown into a world of chaos, anarchy and death defying stunts, Buster remains passive, calm and collected throughout; a genius of understatement, when all around him during the silent era went bigger, Keaton's sombre look of ambivalence sleighs me every time.
Nothing prepared me for the surreal mastery of the ballet scene itself, without doubt a masterpiece and another film of brilliance from Powell & Pressburger.
Bande A' Part (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964)
2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
A man so ahead of the curve he invented it; cinematically clever, dripping in pop culture references, sardonic and identifiably Godard.
Simply beyond mere cinema to transcend the medium and climb into your brain, hatch then assault you with a world so bombastic in vision and sound, in ideas and imagination, in scope and refinement, that it will leave you dumb-founded, jaw agap, staring at the blank screen long after the credits have rolled.
Letter from an Unknown Woman (Max Ophuls, 1948)
So achingly beautiful, subtle and unravels at such a slight pace, that the last 30 minutes are spent in a misty eyed glaze. "If only you could've recognized what was always yours, could've found what was never lost". Stefan Brand, you bastard.
Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)
Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol, 1970)Ozu's portrait of familial relations is so agonisingly human, so subtle and complete, one wonders how a film over 55 years old and made in Japan transcends time and culture with such ease and verve. Beautiful. So, so beautiful.
Eerie, off-kilter, disturbing and marked by a series of silences so profound, Chabrol's intense thriller points to something far deeper than 'a killer on the loose' narrative will have you believe. Strangely moving.
The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)At times both vile and magnificent, beautiful and ugly, John Wayne saunters with a rage, a hatred so deep, so intense it burns all those around him, whilst John Ford paints a beautiful canvas for him to hate in. Complex, beguiling and magnificent.
Full of snappy one-liners, oozing in the kind of deep noir cool that filters through the best of the genre and with Mitchem in the kind of form where you don't know whether to hug him or to hit him, Out of the Past is the sort of film you should watch whenever you're despondent about movies. Sheer class.