Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Top Movies

A few years ago I compiled my top ten movies for a website list. These were they:

1 The Fly (1986)
2 The Breakfast Club (1985)
3 Goodfellas (1990)
4 Back to the Future (1985)
5 A Few Good Men (1992)
6 Se7en (1995)
7 Always (1989)
8 It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
9 The Paper (1994)
10 Metropolis (1927)

Interesting to note what's changed and what hasn't then. Well for me anyway; if it's no fun for you you should feel free to suffer in silence. Or post in the talkbacks...it's never been done before, why not start a revolution?

Spielberg's Always pegs higher for me now than it did then, and A Few Good Men still makes the grade, though drops a little due to The West Wing TV series being even better. (Aaron, you're a bloody genius, but the price you pay for getting better is it makes your older stuff look less great. This is why embracing mediocrity is clearly the only way to go.)

Se7en might drop out of the list, to be replaced by Fincher's OTHER great movie, Fight Club. And The Paper might fall off altogether - despite still being massively underrated.

And what gets added? Crash for sure - the Haggis film, not Cronenberg's. Despite its lazy title, it's an amazing screenplay. One of these days I'll write something about the backlash the film has faced, and why I couldn't care less about it. But not today.

The Lord of the Rings movies might go in as a single film. It would normally be against the rules, but when they're all made together - a cohesive whole in a way that Star Wars or the Godfather series could never be when they're filmed separately - the rules kinda change. (That said, I can't accept Back to the Futures 2 and 3 as one film because, despite being filmed together, they strive to be individual.)


So, which from this badly-organised list fit my 'not fade away' mumblings from the other week?

The Fly, oh yes. Great finale. Blows the guy's head off, cries, fade out. That's an ending.

The Breakfast Club does it - making sense of the opening voiceover (it's Brian's detention essay), sending everyone away in a reworking of the opening introductions.

Goodfellas - spot-on. Henry Hill reduced to a common schlub in a single shot, followed by a direct crib from The Great Train Robbery (silent, black and white): Joe Pesci fires his gun into camera. The gag being that there's no definitive print of the Train Robbery flick, and because those movies used to run on a loop nobody knows for sure whether it was the closing shot or the opening (making it an interesting precursor to the James Bond gunbarrel sequence).

It works as start or finish. So it just plain WORKS.

A Few Good Men kicks everyone out of the courtroom and never follows up on the prosecutions to follow - very bold. It's a Wonderful Life gets it all done in one scene, too; for that matter, Metropolis concludes in the rubble of the climax, too.

Always, Crash, The Paper and Se7en round off - not too hard, but not too soft. A Springer-esque 'final thought', if you like. Or even if you don't. And Back to the Future hits a (previously mentioned) memorable coda.

Only the Rings movies go fade-out and coda crazy. But it's hard to be mad when, truthfully, it's actually the codas from three films all together. Or it would be, if Samwise didn't go Springer at the end of films 1 and 2.

So - what are your top films? And, more importantly, how do they end?

Question: Can a great film - not a really good one, but one that hits your top five - have a weak ending? Examples to the usual empty-posting place.


At Wed Jul 12, 10:57:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Superman the Movie one of the best movies ever made (fact!), but well-dodgy ending - he turns back time to bring Lois back to life. Urk!

The weird thing is this ending did sort of work for me in the cinema(hey I was only 12 or 13!), it was only on the way out that I realised what a big con it was: if the audience had gone into the movie knowing Superman could turn back time and bring dead people back to life in the 136th minute, why the hell would we have invested emotionally in anything that happened in the first 135?

But it still hits my top 5 (and a lot of Hollywood directors top five considering the number of hero movies since that have 'borrowed' from it tonally and structurally!)

At Wed Jul 12, 12:09:00 pm, Blogger sorking said...

Yeah, there's no denying the influence of Donner's Superman on later super-flicks. But I do think it has pacing and tone problems. For me it'll always be 'decent' rather than 'brilliant' - but, as with so many influential films, that's often because we've seen it done better since.

(Spiderman 2, Batman Begins and X2 were all good for me. Though I'm slightly cursed in as much as I find Superman such a BLAND comic character, so he was never going to top my tree.)

And yeah, that time-turning thing? Doesn't make a lick of sense. Even if it didn't mess up, as you say, the inverstment we've made, the Earth's spin has nothing to do with the passage of time!

I did read a cock-eyed theory somewhere that tried to explain it - that HE wasn't turning the Earth, just that that's what we were seeing, as a representation of time going back cos of the speed he was flying... Which works, until you see the guy turn around and fly the other way to get the Earth spinning right again.


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