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Un Chien Andalou (1929)

Profile: Luis Buñuel

What Makes a Movie a “Must-See”?

Ten Must-See Films From the Experimental Cinema Genre

Ten Great Short Films You Must See

The Ten Best Arthouse Movies Ever Made

The Ten Most Disturbing Films I Have Ever Seen

Top 10 Silent Movies

Silent movies. The words leave a fresh echo in my ear and a lasting image in my head. They were the first real ‘movies’ and when they evolved into sound, we were no doubt excited, but there was a tinge of sadness. That great feel of watching a silent movie would never be felt again. Here’s a list of the top ten silent films (in my opinion) ever made during that glorious era.

10: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

One of the most original, provocative, thought-provoking thrillers of its era, Wiene’s famous film, it’s spooky characters and excellent twist are almost impossible to forget, and amazing to watch. And by the way, what happened to that word… somnambulist… bring it back, I say!

9: The Birth of a Nation (1915)

Yeah, I know, I know, it’s racist, blah-blah-blah. I’m not denying it, it is definitely oriented toward a viewpoint of hatred toward African Americans, and that’s wrong, but just think about it, if Griffith had never made this film, we wouldn’t have half of the moviemaking techniques we have today. Awful to watch, astonishingly beautiful to look at.

8: The General (1926)

Keaton scoffs in the face of those “talkies,” sticking to his same, hilarious, risky slapstick even as the age of his art was crippling and slowly dying. The man deserves respect for this and countless other reasons. He is a true genius, and The General proves it.

7: Napoleon (1927)

The life-lasting tale of the famous leader that Stanley Kubrick was desperate to remake but never got the chance to, Abel Gance’s fantastic ‘epic’ is entertaining, gripping and long-lasting, everything a decent silent should be.

6: Nosferatu (1922)

Murnau’s unageing horror movie, perhaps the first vampire movie of all time (considering Les Vampires is apparently not about vampires), is one of the only horror movies that has deeply scared me. Watching it at age seven, I had nightmares for a week, and although it is never said in a real voice, “Your wife has a pretty neck” is a hauntingly recognizable line.

5: Un Chien Andalou (1929)

A collaboration of the artistic mind of Salvador Dali and the visionary film view of Luis Buñuel, this surreal 16-minute drama (thriller, comedy?) which seems to tell a strange, can-you-say-Lynchian story that is almost indecipherable. But who’d want to decode it? It’s there for us to enjoy, and what a treasure it is.

4: Metropolis (1927)

Fritz Lang’s futuristic thriller laid the path for a legion of movies, from terrific to terrible, and was tragically snubbed for Best Picture in the first ever year of the Oscars! An entertaining thrillride with an effect on its audience to this day, it’s a memorable movie that sadly marked the end of an era.

3: Intolerance (1916)

D.W. Griffith’s apology for the intolerably racist yet still powerfully affecting on the film industry The Birth of a Nation is a fantastic movie which definitely wins him back into our hearts. Presenting the fragile Lillian Gish as a symbol of innocence, he weaves a magnificent tale spanning all time.

2: Greed (1924)

With several different length versions in existence, you could come across any number of copies of Greed if you search hard enough. I’ve only seen the normal version, the easiest to find, but it blew my mind. I’ve never had so much fun watching a film sans sound.

1: The Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Perhaps the greatest silent film of all time is Sergei Eisenstein’s fantastic true tale of a famous riot. Fantastic imagery and tons of memorable moments make this a revolutionary, EVOLUTIONARY step forward for film, and not only the best silent film, but one of the best movies altogether.

So that’s my Top Ten? What are silent films you love, or consider to be influential? Your feedback is what I crave, so leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading.

1910-2010: The Best Movie of Each Decade

Each decade has produced some fantastic films, and picking the one best film from each of those ten years is a difficult choice. However, I’m going to voice my opinion, and make an attempt.

The 1910s: Intolerance (1916)

After the disaster that was Birth of a Nation, D.W. Griffith repented for its racist overtones with this blockbuster hit, one of the first ‘epics’ of all time, and towering overtop any other effort of the era.

1920s: Un Chien Andalou (1929)

A 16-minute masterpiece of surreal, deep, imaginative imagery, headlined with a nonsensical title and opened with a striking image of a woman’s eye cut open by a razor, Luis Bunuel’s debut motion picture is probably his best, and easily the highlight of the decade, whether you think you understand it or not.

1930s: M (1931)

Fritz Lang’s follow-up to the monstrously awesome Metropolis is the even better (in fact, fantastic) thriller about vigilante justice and the crazed mind of a serial killer, played with perfect unease by Peter Lorre. Who can forget his fantastic final monologue, and even more difficult to dismiss is the fantastic scenes that lead up to it. A masterpiece, and probably the best movie of the first 50 years of the 1900s.

1940s: Citizen Kane (1941)

Okay, this decade was easy to pick. Proclaimed by many including AFI to be the best movie ever made, that statement is not far from the truth. And when you consider that it was made by new-to-cinema Orson Welles in his twenties, it makes its presence all the more surprising and mighty. It towers over all of cinema with a formidable presence.

1950s: Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Filled with quotable lines, memorable scenes, fantastic cinematography and stunning acting, Billy Wilder’s masterpiece is one awesome movie, full of everything a decent Hollywood film should have. A “parody” of Hollywood life and existence (reflected later in Altman’s The Player, among others), it’s brilliant to watch and marvellous to behold.

1960s: Persona (1966)

Better than any Hollywood movie of the era (many of which were the dawn of exploitation), the exploitative enough Swedish film from Ingmar Bergman contains a lot of strange, deeply rich imagery (reminiscent at times of the Bunuel selection on this list), a strong plot, decent acting performances, beautiful monologues and fantastic filming techniques.

1970s: Network (1976)

Although the best film of the 1970s is probably The Godfather, I think that’s a little too obvious, so I’m going to settle for the runner up, which is equally as good (if not better?). A thought-provoking analysis of the television industry whose revelations about the truth of the newsroom are as relative today (if not moreso) than they were thirty-five years ago.

1980s: Fanny and Alexander (1982)

While the 80s were a decade that provided a difficult choice, I find myself falling back on Bergman again with this epic masterpiece that spans one year into three magnificent hours filled with glorious imagery and some of the best cinematography ever filmed (thank you, Sven Nykvist), as well as a compelling, classic tale. The perfect way to end Bergman’s career in feature films.

1990s: Goodfellas (1990)

This decade is possibly the hardest one to pick. While I admit it isn’t exactly my favourite movie of the ten years, but it’s certainly the most deserving and socially accepting. Scorsese deserves an Oscar which he was cruelly robbed of for this excellent, compelling gangster tale which is probably the best of its time, inspiring a legion of others and confirming Scorsese as a force to be reckoned with.

2000s: There Will Be Blood (2007)

I’ve already written that this is my favourite film of the recent decade, and I stand by that statement. Daniel Day-Lewis is brilliant, giving an amazing performance as charismatic, narcissistic oil man Daniel Plainview whose control and hatred for humanity overcomes him in a spectacular Paul Thomas Anderson hit, which is nowhere near as recognized as it should be.

Leave a comment below with what you thought of my choices, and tell me what your favourite movies of the decade/s are.

Thanks for reading.

Ten Misleading Movie Titles

 

There are some sad people who look at a movie and judge it immediately by the title. It’s a dangerous and ignorant thing to do, but it does happen. Here are ten movie titles which, for some naive and inexperienced moviegoers can be very confusing and ambiguous, indeed.

A Clockwork Orange

There are no clocks, nor are their oranges which play any noticeable part in this film. What gives? Author Anthony Burgess says it is based on an old proverb “as queer as a clockwork orange.” However, the validity of Burgess’s statement is yet to be verified.

Sin City

This is not a film about Las Vegas, but there are sins involved. I suppose, however, it is a better title than the actual name of the city in this film: Basin City.

Naked Lunch

David Cronenberg at his weirdest, this is not the film it may sound like, and it is a generally repulsive and disgustingly ugly film. When asked what its title meant, Cronenberg replied by defining it as “a frozen moment where everybody sees what is on the end of every fork.” Now I’m hungry.

21 Grams

No, this is not a film about drugs, drug trafficking or drug use, despite the presence of Benecio Del Toro.

Funny Games

If you’re looking for a laugh… keep looking. Michael Haneke’s name itself should drive all comedy-lovers in the opposite direction immediately.

Happiness

A hilariously awful irony. The only person who is happy at the end of this film is a pre-teen boy who has learned to masturbate.

Straw Dogs

It sounds like some sort of obscure ambiguous comedy, but in reality it is a violent, explicit look at rough societies, social interaction and human repulsion. It may be only two hours, but with the horrific extended final hour, it feels much longer (in a good way).

Pink Flamingos

Of all the misleading titles, this is the one that it would be the most disastrous to predetermine. Crappy cinematography and a generally distasteful attitude toward the human freakshow and its extremes, it is nevertheless a “classic” of underground cinema.

It Happened One Night

With today’s unflinchingly graphic portrayals of sexuality, it’s easy to see how some people might misinterpret this film’s title.

Un Chien Andalou

And finally, possibly the most misleading of them all, a 16-minute surreal masterpiece which is little more than a series of jumbled, Lynchian images collided together as one whole given the seemingly senseless title which translates in English to ‘An Andalusian Dog.’

That’s my ten, now tell me in the comments some more misleading titles, if you can think of any.

Thanks for reading.