4 May 2010

The Other 10 : 2009

As I've been out of the blogsphere for some months I thought I would get back in the saddle by listing this years alternative top 10; to those films that I finally got around to watching in the year 2009, as last years was such a joy to put together.

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)

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 General (Clyde Bruckman/Buster Keaton, 1926)

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.
The Red Shoes (Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger, 1948)

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)

A man so ahead of the curve he invented it; cinematically clever, dripping in pop culture references, sardonic and identifiably Godard.
2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)

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)

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.
Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol, 1970)

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)

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.
Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)

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.


Tony Dayoub said...

Don't feel so bad. I still haven't seen 5 of these.

J.D. said...

I like you caption for 2001. It's a film that I pull out and watch once a year and it still blows my mind every time I watch it.

tom hyland said...

It took me forever to see The General as well, but was it ever worth the wait! As well-structured a comedy as ever made. And what great sight gags!

On the other hand, I saw 2001 in the theaters upon its initial release. I was 12 years old at the time. How could I not be excited about the possibilities of the cinema after that experience?

Bob Turnbull said...

I was talking with a film buddy of mine awhile ago and we were discussing the habit of most film fanatics to act all "aghast" when some says they haven't seen a classic film. We agreed that everyone has some glaring holes in their viewing history and that it's kind of silly to jump all over someone for not having seen a particular film.

At which point my friend mentioned he hadn't yet seen Goodfellas and I said, "What!? Are you kidding?! What's wrong with you?" B-)

I still haven't seen 3 of the ones you listed. Some great ones in that list...The Red Shoes ballet is pretty stunning, eh? Cinematheque Ontario is showing it over the summer, so I think I have to try to catch it to see it on the big screen. Speaking of great dance scenes - Band Of Outsiders has one of the best. Not a huge fan of the film, but that scene - and Anna - are lovely.

Ibetolis said...

Thanks y'all.

Tony - I remember your comment to last years other 10 quite clearly where you expressed glee that I had got around to watching 'The Conformist' and 'Once Upon a Time in the West', so let me take the chance to express my pre-glee(?) to when you get around to watching those 5 films.

J.D - Without doubt 2001 floored me, I'm something of a late covert to Kubrick and I've gone on something of a binge yet I still didn't expect the magnificence of 2001. It is a nice caption isn't it? I might just change my profile pic.

Tony - The pure joy of seeing the General for the first time is something I will cherish forever. I'm still quite amazed by the feats carried out in the name of comedy, Keaton really did put himself through the mire for a guffaw.

As for your cinema experience, it seems like a real epiphany moment. What a truly wonderful moment.

Bob - What a great anecdote to 'classic watching' dilemma.

With the Red Shoes, I got the whole BFI treatment at the big screen; you rarely get the chance to watch a film that really, truly belongs at the cinema. Beautiful and that ballet scene comes right at you, I didn't know where to look!

Oh Anna, how I love thee. Let me count the ways...

Radu Prisacaru said...

I feel I should say, I absolutely love your website. Could tell me how I can subscribe with it. I invite you to see my post, I hope you will find interesting too.

Vancetastic said...

I too have only seen five of these. Tony, I wonder if it's the same five?

I'm glad Tokyo Story is as appreciated as it is. I first encountered it in a film class in college, and must say I considered it sort of a bitter pill to swallow. And then for some reason -- masochism, maybe -- I decided to write my final paper for the class on it, and probing its ideas made me realize how rich and wonderful it is. Or maybe I just remember it so fondly because I got an A on the paper. :-)

I don't have a conscious list of classics I haven't seen, but I do try to always know what I consider to be the most embarrassing film I haven't seen. For awhile it was Casablanca, then it was The Godfather II. Now that I've seen both, I am informally considering it to be Ben-Hur, but I'm not really sure.

moviesandsongs365 said...

I like the yearly structure of your side panel, easy to navigate

Good idea for a top 10, so many bloggers are obsessed everything new , and forget the older stuff.

I agree about "Letter from an unknown woman", a favourite of mine ( : Still holds up today. Will be recommending it myself at some point.

I’ve become a follower, and I'll link to your site on my blog.

I would appreciate it, if you, and others, would become a “follower” and/or link on your site to my new movie + music blog, just to help get it going: http://moviesandsongs365.blogspot.com/

We can help each other discover new movies that we might not otherwise have heard of ( :

Ibetolis said...

Sorry for the late response guys, you'll notice in time that I'm famed for such things.


Radu - right at the bottom of the page you'll see my subscription link, feel free and welcome to the site. I look forward to checking your site too.

Vancetastic - I'm sure the A helps to evoke strong feelings towards the film :) but it helps that it also bloody rocks!

At present I would state 'The Seventh Seal' being my biggest omission from the classic lexicon.

Moviesandsongs365 - Thanks, I love compiling the other 10 list, it reminds me of all the great films that I've pleasantly sat through in the past 12 months.

Letter from an Unknown Woman = Devine. Glad to meet a fellow fan.

I'm now a follower and hope to see you more in the blogsphere. Good luck with it all.

M. Carter @ the Movies said...

I didn't see "2001: A Space Odyssey" for the first time until last year, but I'm kind of glad I waited. That's not the sort of film you can watch at 13 -- at least, I couldn't -- and get the meaning of everything you're seeing.

Sasikumar said...

I can't see this any more in future,thank to divisor....Feeling and longing are the motive forces behind all human endeavor and human creations.

watch movies said...

I haven't seen any of the films shown in this list but Letter from an Unknown woman and Out of The Past are the two movie which I want to watch but I also trry to find some reviews about these two films.

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