Monday, April 18, 2016

100 Must-See Films! -- Odyssey

“Getting there is half the fun!” That was the very famous slogan of Cunard cruise line of England/America; a subsidiary of Carnival.

Of course journeys are not always fun and games. After all, Cunard is a descendant of White Star Line, famous for one ship in particular whereon getting there was most certainly the only fun, and temporarily so, because it never did get there. Thanks to a certain pesky iceberg...

55. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001, New Zealand/USA)
Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, Sean Bean, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Christoper Lee

I can’t possible speak objectively about this film and its two sequels (which are technically not sequels just as LOTR is literally not a trilogy). This is one single story separated into six books, traditionally published in pairs. I’ve adored this work of Tolkien above all else, since the dawn of adolescence and the movies, well worth the twenty-year wait,  literally blew my mind.

The dedication, investment and sacrifice by all of its major stakeholders, from investors to the writers, director, cast, crew and myriad of technicians and designers, were possibly unparalleled, as were their unbending loyalty to Tolkien himself.

The film was a technical masterpiece, a serious achievement in adaptation and there were no complaints about the acting that I know of!

And it ran over the Acadamy Awards field like a herd of Oliphants.

Writers: J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit), Fran Walsh (Heavenly Creatures), Philippa Boyens (The Lovely Bones)
Director: Peter Jackson (King Kong)
Budget: $93,000,000
IMDB rating: 8.8

56. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975, UK)
Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin

And… this is the film which the Lord of the Rings filmmakers had to be very careful to not resemble! Dwarves and hobbits and such, on the big screen, are never more than two baby steps away from unintentional comedy.

The comedy here though, is very intentional, very ridiculous and falling-down funny. This is the Monty Python gang at their very best. I’ve watched this film more times than I can count. I’ve also listened to the audio, verbally acted out the script with friends, adapted it in its entirety in prose form (when I was in grade school; it was confiscated by a pal’s bitch of a mother!)

But of course I recognize that not everyone finds the Python humour the funniest damn thing ever. Some people are just fundamentally broken!

Writers: Graham Chapman (The Meaning of Life), John Cleese (A Fish Called Wanda), Eric Idle (Splitting Heirs), Terry Gilliam (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), Terry Jones (Labyrinth), Michael Palin (The Missionary)
Directors: Terry Gilliam (Brazil), Terry Jones (Life of Brian)
Budget: £229,575
IMDB rating: 8.3

57. Time Bandits (1981, UK)
Craig Warnock, David Rappaport, Kenny Baker, Malcolm Dixon, Mike Edmonds, Jack Purvis, Tiny Ross, Sean Connery, Shelly Duvall, John Cleese

Terry Gilliam (Jabberwocky, Brazil, Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The Brothers Grimm, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The Zero Theorum) must surely be the master of imaginative fantasy adventure films of every possible setting: classical, contemporary and future. I call this one, crafted with fellow Monty Python alumnus Michael Palin, his best, certainly for kids (of all ages).

It’s a non-stop romp through the ages, brimming with weird characters, close encounters, misadventure, bickering, humour and general chaos. The six dwarven bandits are almost certainly avatars of the Monty Python gang themselves.

Enormous fun.

Writers: Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam
Director: Terry Gilliam
Budget: $5,000,000
IMDB rating: 7.0

58.  2001 A Space Odyssey (1968, USA/UK)
Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester

The most startling and captivating opening to a film I’ve ever witnessed. The subtlety of sparse dialogue. The operatic dance of spacecraft. The constant peculiarity of unfamiliar images. Such prescient oddities as computer tablets and skyping - in 1968 no less. The haunting ambiguity, most severe in the sinister black monolith.

This has got to be the opus of Kubrick’s legacy of theatrical visual masterpieces. It’s so full of mind-bending clues and wide applicability that people can read a wide range of messages in it. Myself, always fascinated by the gap between instinct and consciousness and the ubiquity of its illusions, I see the monolith as the advent of self-awareness or in essence, the illusion of consciousness. It has been suggested that the object’s aspect ratio matches that of a movie screen which I presume possibly consistent with that theory, but which also supports the most obvious explanation; that the monolith is a sort of von Neumann probe; an extra-terrestrial monitoring device, since both the film and the Arthur C. Clarke novel share obvious roots in Clarke’s 1948 short story The Sentinel.

But I’d be very interested to hear other ideas!

The film took many awards and nominations and appears on a plethora of Best Films/Top Films lists of major periodicals. Even the Vatican named it in their Best 45 Movies Ever Made and Top Ten Art Movies.

Writers: Arthur C. Clarke (2010), Stanley Kubrick
Director: Stanley Kubrick (Full Metal Jacket)
Budget: $10,500,000
IMDB rating: 8.3

Short List:
2010 (1984, USA) Roy Scheider, John Lithgow, Helen Mirren


Liz Brownlee said...

Quite a few of my fave films here, too! Also a BIG fan of Lord of the Rings!

LissaJ said...

LOTR is one of my favorites. I thought they did a great job bringing it to the big screen. Which is why I was so disappointed in the Hobbit series. Total flop IMO. Too bad - the book was wonderful.

Sunday Visitor said...

LOTR is one series that I need to read and watch. Great recommendations.