Believe me, I LOVE a good historical epic. Love ’em a lot. But most of them are films you can enthusiastically watch once, and never return to again. This is the case with a lot of ’em, and a lot of other assorted ‘long’ movies, but there are a special selection of movies that are AT LEAST 3 hours long that I can watch over and over and over, and possibly never get tired of them. And here they are, in order of how many times I’ve seen them.
The Best of Youth (2003)
This high-spirited, epic Italian drama is a literal lifetime spread out through six hours of pure bliss. Please do not be turned off by the runtime; this is a brilliant, insanely watchable and gripping family drama; to quote Roger Ebert: “The film is six hours long but it is also six hours deep.” An unforgettable film I will never regret watching. View Count: 1, but I plan to buy it soon and then watch it over and over.
I know it’s going too far to call this “the best movie of all time.” That’s an impossible statement to make, so I’m not going to venture to make it, but Krzysztof Kieslowski’s 10-hour Dekalog (conveniently sliced into ten equal pieces) is pretty damn close. It deals with pretty much all the themes, emotions and basic crises of the human condition, and it does so beautifully. A masterful, must-see epic, if ever there was one. Read my review. View Count: 1 (Be fair! I only saw it for the first time a month ago!)
Though there is dispute whether this is a documentary or a film, Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah is the most powerful, full, emotionally visceral film about the Holocaust ever made. At a whopping nine hours, some will undoubtedly be bored, but Lanzmann’s movie is, for me, anything but boring. He provides interviews with those both directly and indirectly involved in the mass murder of the Jews, and provides haunting looks at some of the places these atrocities occured. Chilling; epic; a masterpiece. View Count: 2.
Fanny and Alexander (1983)
Ingmar Bergman’s magnificent 3-hour (or 5-hour, depending on which version you’re watching) masterwork is a brilliant, beautiful, astounding work of art. Sven Nykvist’s cinematography makes every image look like a fantastic, colourful painting, beautifully directed by an amazing Bergman at the height (and end) of his theatrical career. Jeez, I’m running out of adjectives. View Count: 2
Of all the brilliant epics David Lean directed, the only one that really hooked me and made me fall in love with it was Lawrence of Arabia. Crossing the 3 and a half hour mark, it may be long, but it sure is beautiful. The stunning images of the Sahara Desert combined with the sheer will of Peter O’Toole’s T.E. Lawrence combine to make a fantastic, riveting movie. View Count: 2.
Lars von Trier has made many films that have very divided opinion, and the one with the most divided is probably Dogville. It seems half the audience hate this fantastic 3-hour drama about social mistreatment, cruelty, and the ultimate price of letting everything go. If you’ve seen it, then make sure you visit this page and leave a comment rating it out of 10 by June 24, 2011. Anyway, it’s a fantastic (but debatable) movie that I absolutely love. View Count: 3.
Barry Lyndon (1975)
Stanley Kubrick’s longest film is actually 3 hours long, and often forgotten about when Kubrick’s name and filmography is mentioned. However, it is one of his best films, a fantastic epic about the lifetime of a young man (Ryan O’Neal) who ascends to royalty in the 19th century by fighting and cheating his way to the top. Beautifully lit, this scenically marvellous and emotionally riveting (particularly within the gripping last hour) film is sadly underrated. View Count: 4.
The Godfather, Parts I and II (1972, 1974)
Both of these films, which together total over six hours, are absolutely enthralling, brilliant masterpieces from Francis Ford Coppola that revolutionized and revitalized a mafia/crime drama genre, undoubtedly inspiring such classic directors as Martin Scorsese and Brian DePalma. Not to mention I can watch them over and over and over without ever getting tired. View Count: 6.
Inland Empire (2006)
I seem to be the only person who loves this movie enough to say it is perfect. David Lynch’s 3-hour masterpiece is a very inaccessible but still hugely enthralling delve into the unusual, darker side of humanity. A seemingly senseless, plotless series of scenes, Inland Empire actually has a bustling, multi-layered plot which is extremely difficult to decode, probably the reason I’ve watched it so many times. It’s really a film that needs to be seen to be believed, and I don’t like to throw that phrase around. View Count: 8.
If you read my blog you probably know this is my favourite movie of all time, and that is fair enough reason to watch it 19 times. That’s right, NINETEEN! I’ve watched this 187 minute labyrinth of emotions almost twenty times in its entirety, and I never, never, NEVER get tired of it. I’ve written a very long essay on it (which I plan to post to the site soon enough, pending further editing), and forced friends to watch it more times than they care for. Even if you don’t love this movie, as I’m certainly not expecting you to, you have to admit it has serious emotional power, and it is a testament to the brutal, strong ability of Paul Thomas Anderson, a man who was BORN to be behind the camera. Affects me in the same manner each and every time, and was arguably the film that fuelled my love for cinema. View Count: 19.
What are some awfully long movies you love to watch? What about ones you think are too long? Not long enough? Seen any of the movies above and have something you’d like to say? Leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.
Or more specifically, my A-Z of movie directors. Everyone has their own, and I invite everyone to share theirs. Although you can probably guess, it’s a list of directors sorted alphabetically, with one director for each letter of the alphabet, for example, the letter A could be Akira Kurosawa or Paul Thomas Anderson, depending on whether you choose to sort alphabetically by the first letter of the first name or the last name. Either one is optional, you don’t have to restrict it to using the first letter of the surname.
Anyway, here’s my list.
Paul Thomas Anderson: The greatest living American director today, Paul Thomas Anderson has consistently served excellent films about the human condition, live in the San Fernando Valley and character studies.
Best Movie: There Will Be Blood (2007)
Ingmar Bergman: The king of European cinema, the late Ingmar Bergman was a man who knew everything about cinema, and made films that covered various excellent moments in human life, confronting topics such as religion, sexuality and human relationships.
Best Movie: Persona (1966)
Francis Ford Coppola: In the 70s, at least, this dedicated man went through Hell (from the time constraints of The Godfather making to the infamous tragedies of the Apocalypse Now shoot) to make some great movies and cannot be ignored.
Best Movie: The Godfather (1972)
Darren Aronofsky: A man whose knowledge of cinema has resulted in some moving, horrifying images put to screen, Aronofsky tests the limits of film and uses his strong filming tactics to create original, studied pieces.
Best Film: Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Edgar Wright: From fast-paced, extra-extreme editing, to quick cuts, witty humour delivered with notable velocity and film reference after countless film reference, it’s nice to have a fresh British take on modern comedy.
Best Movie: Shaun of the Dead (2004)
David Fincher: A director whose understanding of the foundations of a decent thriller and whose analysis of human behaviour is fascinatingly key, Fincher has presented us with his own fresh outlook on darker societies.
Best Movie: Fight Club (1999)
Vincent Gallo: A doubtful and surprising choice, I know, but this man deserves his place here for his simple cleverness and accuracy in either comedy (Buffalo ’66) or deep-seated tragic drama (The Brown Bunny). An interesting, misunderstood man.
Best Movie: Buffalo ’66 (1998)
Alfred Hitchcock: One of the founders of action thriller, Hitchcock has managed to, time after, time, produce interesting, thought-provoking thrillers, and earned his name among the best of Hollywood’s directors.
Best Movie: Rear Window (1954)
Alejandro Gonzalez Iñàrritu: A Mexican film director whose movies examine racism, prejudice, coincidence, chance and human connections unlike any others, Iñàrritu is a man who knows what he films, and makes strong, beautiful movies.
Best Movie: Amores Perros (2000)
Joel Coen: One of a duet of extremely talented brothers, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen have consistenly and regularly produced interesting, often hilarious, always moving movies that have taken their place in great movie history.
Best Movie: Fargo (1996)
Krzysztof Kieslowski: Though the man only made four movies (and one ten hour movie split into ten “episodes”), those films are beautiful, masterful films of exploration and deep meaning about humanity. His premature death is a sadness, but his films live on.
Best Movie: Three Colours: Red (1994)
David Lynch: Probably the most original film director in Hollywood at the moment, Lynch is a man who can formulate mammoth, confusing tales, and decorate them with his original, unique and poignant outlook on life, America and humanity. A fantastic, strange man.
Best Movie: Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Michael Haneke: A fantastic director whose techniques involving violence and sex are unique, clever and smart. Read my full article about his career here.
Best Movie: Cachè (2005)
Christopher Nolan: Reinventor of the Batman franchise and director of twisting, unbelievable films, Christopher Nolan is a man whose vast knowledge and superior opinions of use involving special effects is mind-boggling. His films are accurate, yet will always be questionable in the annals of film discussion.
Best Movie: Memento (2000)
Orson Welles: From Citizen Kane to The Muppet Movie, Orson Welles is a man who dominates the screen with his presence, as well as his inventive imagination and timeless visionary representations of life and living.
Best Movie: Citizen Kane (1941)
Alexander Payne: An offbeat filmmaker whose indie gems are held in high consideration among others, Alexander Payne’s films are clever, interesting and fun to watch.
Best Movie: Sideways (2004)
Quentin Tarantino: A man whose movies excel in glorious violence, subtle humour and beautifully written and choreographed scenes of fantastic acting, Quentin Tarantino’s movies have become famous for their awesomeness.
Best Movie: Pulp Fiction (1994)
Robert Altman: From the annoying yet cinematically awesome touch of overlapping dialogue, to the true cleverness into which he weaves the tales of various characters, Altman’s films are brilliant works of art.
Best Movie: Short Cuts
Martin Scorsese: The King of comedy… and gangster movies, character studies, psychological thrillers, street dramas and others, Scorsese is a powerful presence among all cinematic directors. Awesome.
Best Movie: Goodfellas (1990)
Lars von Trier: Whether or not you think he’s an egotistical Anti-Semitic bastard, that his films are pointless, narcissistic, and hate-driven, you have to admit von Trier is smart, clever and knows how to make a movie. Feel free to disagree, but I freakin love this guy’s films.
Best Movie: Dogville (2003)
Edgar G. Ulmer: Sure, he’s only made one or two good films, and you may not recognize his name or even his movies, but he’s a suitable enough choice as any for the letter ‘U.’
Best Film: Detour (1945)
Gus Van Sant: Love him or hate him, this is a man whose smarts for the film industry is original and interesting, and who seems to perfectly capture whatever he wants with a camera in a perfectly acceptable (though rarely accessible) manner.
Best Movie: Elephant (2003)
Billy Wilder: A man whose excellence has resulted in some of the best movies Hollywood has ever had to offer, Wilder is a talented man that no one will ever forget.
Best Movie: Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Xavier Dolan: Though I’ve only seen one of his movies, it was fair enough and he’s deserving of a place here. Besides, how many directors have a name beginning with X?
Best Movie: I Killed My Mother (2009)
Terence Young: His Bond movies weren’t the best, but nevertheless they were still Bond, and decent ones at that. And I must remind you how stressful it is to find directors whose names begin with a certain letter.
Best Movie: Dr. No (1962)
Robert Zemeckis: He’s made some great American movies, ones that will never be forgotten, and he’s a fitting way to end this alphabetical list of 26.
Best Movie: Forrest Gump (1994)
Phew! So that’s my list. Leave a comment below telling me what you thought of it, and what some of your own favourite directors are.
Thanks for reading.