Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A top ten from L. J. Spence

Film Blog 3


by L. J. Spence



I have been asked to draw up a list of my top ten favourite films. Here was the list I made:

1 North by Northwest (1959)
2 Vertigo (1958)
3 Back to the Future (1985)
4 Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
5 Alphaville (1965)
6 Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)
7 Metropolis (1927)
8 Citizen Kane (1941)
9 Dr Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1963)
10 Wall-E (2008)

As will always be the case with making lists, this was what I came up with in one moment. If I was asked to do this in a month's time, or next year, it might be completely different. Your priorities on what makes a good film will guide you through making the list, but the films you choose will change as your tastes change, and with the number of films you watch.

In making my list, I was certain on what sorts of film would have to make the list. Alfred Hitchcock had to be there, as he is the greatest and most influential filmmaker there has been - "North by Northwest" is my favourite film, but I usually answer that as it contains everything you want in a film - comedy, drama, suspense, a chase, a beautiful girl, a suave villain, and so on. "Vertigo" is here because it is one of the most lyrical films to have been made in the Hollywood factory.

"Citizen Kane" is on the list because I knew it had to be there - it is on every list of top films. An outstanding effort for someone directing their first feature, but it is lower down than Hitchcock's films, as was the case when "Vertigo" overtook "Citizen Kane" in the "Sight and Sound" poll of 2012, perhaps because Alfred Hitchcock was more consistent in the quality of his work, over his career, than Orson Welles was.

FIlms are there due to their importance, although there are unlikely connections. "Back to the Future" is as playful with time as Jean-Luc Godard, the director of "Alphaville", has been, but "Back to the Future" had to be watertight in terms of its script and attention to detail in sets and characterisation to even work, just as "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" had to make you believe, without seeing any joins, that humans and cartoon characters coexisted. Perhaps, it is not surprising that Robert Zemeckis is the other director that appears twice in this list.

"Life of Brian," "Metropolis" and "Dr Strangelove" while all timeless examples in their own ways, gain greater meaning, and become invaluable, when viewed within their own contexts of religious fanatacism, fascism and the Cold War. However, "Wall-E," with its green message, is also here because a Pixar film has to be on a top ten list, and because it is the only film I have seen at the cinema more than twice. I only found later that "Time" magazine, in their 2009 top ten list of "Films of the Decade," put "Wall-E" at the top, ahead of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy - so I certainly picked the right Pixar film.

And yet, will any of the above matter if I am asked to make a list again?


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