Rupert Pupkin Speaks: My "Sight & Sound Top Ten" ""

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My "Sight & Sound Top Ten"

I've been really getting into The George Sanders Show Podcast lately. It's two dudes in Seattle who know their cinema and choose interesting double features for each show. Usually one film is older and one more recent, but they really put together a neat mix of movies and  bring an interesting depth to their explorations of each movie. It's a relatively new show (started in June of this year), but I'm already a big fan. Check them out here:
(or on Itunes)

So anyway, I was listening to their own Top Ten episode (them doing their own versions of the famous Sight and Sound list) and I was inspired to just put together my own list of the greatest films ever as I see it. Now this isn't my top 10 favorite films exactly (thought many favorites are in there), but more a guide to 10 films that I both love and think are absolutely great cinema. It was (as with most lists) a fun exercise to try to put together this group and keep it a little varied but still true to me and what I like. Hopefully you enjoy it!
1. RIO BRAVO (1959; Howard Hawks)
Hawks is a top 5 (maybe top 3) director for me easy. His films are a glorious mix of pathos and entertainment. I credit him for making me a fan of John Wayne, who until I was in college, I didn't get the love of at all. Then I saw RED RIVER, THE SEARCHERS and RIO BRAVO and it all made sense. The Duke, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson and Walter Brennan are all spectacular. A long movie that doesn't feel long because it's so good.

2. IT'S A GIFT (1934; Norman Z. MacLeod)
For me, this has become my favorite comedy of all-time. I know this is a bit blasphemous in the presence of the Marx Brothers classic DUCK SOUP a few notches lower on the list. What can I say, this movie just makes me laugh OUT LOUD every single time I watch it. Fields' comedy was based on characters annoying each other and they certainly carry that out in this film. The result is much hilarity. Watch this movie today if you haven't. And if my word isn't enough, I know for a fact that Joe Dante is a huge fan too.

3. THE APARTMENT (1960; Billy Wilder)
There is a scene in this film where the dramatic crux comes from a simple compact makeup mirror. It is devastating and so powerful and one of my favorite moments in movies.

4. THE LONG GOODBYE (1973; Robert Altman)
I have a lot of love for Altman and his films. A man with so many interesting and fantastic features to his credit is hard not to put in my absolute top tier as directors go. This particular film has taken years to grow on me to the point that I love it quite completely now. From Gould's depiction of a very perfectly skewed Philip Marlowe, to the supporting cast, to the way that the musical theme is weaved throughout the film so exquisitely, it's just a perfectly fascinating revisionist detective film.

5. DUCK SOUP (1933; Leo McCarey)
Sublime. Contains many many of the greatest comic routines ever put to celluloid. The Marx Brothers' best and that's saying something.
(HORSE FEATHERS is my next favorite after this).

6. THE CONVERSATION (1974; Francis Ford Coppola)
This movie is the pinnacle of Coppola's creative power as far as I'm concerned. A perfect melding of his own sensibilities, mixed with European influences (most notably Antonioni and his film BLOW UP, which this movie trumps) and an outstanding performance from Gene Hackman.

7. THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP (1943; Michael Powell, Emmeric Pressburger)
Amazing and sprawling story of love, friendship and war from two of the greatest storytellers known to cinema. The Criterion Blu-ray is an absolute MUST-own.

8. LATE SPRING (1949; Yasujiro Ozu)
Once you start watching Ozu films, you will not be able to stop. You will also notice some similarities in terms of the plots of a lot of them, but what's interesting is that none of them are exactly alike despite their similarities. This one is the most powerful and moving for me personally, even more than the much-revered TOKYO STORY (which is really just brutal to watch really). I am sure that the fact that I have a little girl and this movie is focused on the relationship between and man and his daughter has a lot to do with it hitting me just right the way it does.

9. TWO-LANE BLACKTOP (1971; Monte Hellman)
Hellman has been called "The American Antonioni" and this movie is a prime example of why. Cinematic, existential and containing of Warren Oates.

10. OVER THE EDGE (1979; Jonathan Kaplan)
This film is like a much grittier exploitation version of Truffaut's SMALL CHANGE. This is kind of fitting considering Jonathan Kaplan's roots as a filmmaker. It really is from the kids point of view which is part of what makes it so great. Another part is the cast of young and some non or inexperienced actors in the kid roles really gives it a remarkable and unique flavor. The lead actor, Michael Kramer, didn't do too much else, but he certainly made a great showing here. Oh and another thing that makes this movie memorable is its fantastic soundtrack consisting of songs from Cheap Trick, The Cars, The Ramones and more.

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