Thursday, March 26, 2009

f i l m.

As you may or may not know, as of right now, my life revolves around my aspirations to become a filmmaker. As much as it's a dream, it's also a passion. I feel strongly about the industry and the material it produces, and these films and the attitudes, goals and things the people who made these films have achieved just gives me all the more reason to advance further in this field. Film is my life and if I can, as a filmmaker, make people feel the emotions that many filmmakers have managed to make me feel... then I'll be happy.

The biggest influences on my work are Harmony Korine (Kids, Gummo, Julien-Donkey Boy, Mister Lonely), Stanley Kubrick (The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Paths of Glory) and David Lynch (Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Inland Empire, Mulholland Drive). These three men have changed my outlook on just about everything from anxiety and depression to human life itself. To be honest, as a person it's changed me for the better. Something which I'm extremely proud of.

Here's a rundown of my ten favourite films of all-time.

10. Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1982)

A film with absolutely no plot whatsoever? "It will never work!" I hear you scream. Well, if you really believe that then this is a must-see. It's a heavily layered compilation of images filmed over six years, and the final product is a mere 86 minutes. The images are extremely profound and at times deeply moving. The music corresponds so amazingly well with the imagery it's almost impossible not to love this movie, and I do. :)

9. Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, 1993)

8. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)
Charlie Kaufman is a true visionary. Being John Malkovich was brilliant and whilst Adaptation was a slight step down it was still a good film. Kaufman's directorial debut was hyped up to be this epic heartfelt film shrouded in deep emotion and genius - and that is genuinely exactly what it is, and at the same time it's so much more. The entire ensemble is perfect, which just leaves the screenplay to do it's magic... and it does more than magic. The film clicked with me on an extremely emotional level, something I was not expecting. In fact, it took me five viewings to wrap my head around the film in it's entirety. But I knew after watching it for the first time, that I was watching a masterpiece. And that's what Synecdoche, NY is... a masterpiece.

7. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
The scariest film I have ever seen, and to this day the only film that has genuinely had me frightened to death. Stanley Kubrick mastered every genre and this film, imo, is his greatest achievement. Based on a terrifying book by Stephen King, Kubrick doesn't exactly stay 100% true to the book but he manages to take the feeling the book gives the reader and convey it perfectly onto the screen with deep precision.... with electrifying results. Jack Nicholson provides one of the greatest performances ever put on the screen. The film is truly great in every aspect... well, bar Shelley Duvall. ;)

6. Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom <Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring> (Ki-duk Kim, 2003)
Ki-duk Kim is the only filmmaker who I've come across who has managed to convince me that the actors on screen aren't just actors... but people really feeling these emotions. The beauty of this film is that Ki-duk Kim provides an intriguing performance as a monk searching for enlightenment and at the same time he directs the film with such perfection that it's really hard to not find the images and subtext beautiful. That is the only word in the English language to describe the work of Ki-duk Kim... beautiful. And this is his greatest example.

5. Sátántangó <Satan's Tango> (Béla Tarr, 1994)
Seven and a half hours of spectacular cinematography and one very simple plotline. Satan's Tango is a cinematic experience which, if you have the patience for a film this long, is a MUST-see. Once I got a few hours in I realized that the length was irrelevant. The beauty of the film overshadows the length and it's engaging from start to finish. Delicately placed camerawork. Divine performances from each and every cast member. Musically scored to perfection. As hard as it may be to believe, but in seven and a half hours there is not one flaw.

4. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
The most well known movie of my list of favourites, but that's beside the point. The film is superb, an excellent display of loneliness, depression, anxiety among other things. Robert DeNiro escapes into the character of Travis Bickle, delivering a career-best performance. Bernard Hermann's instantly recognizable score is perfect along with everything else about the film. From the stunning art direction all the way to Scorsese's overall direction which, when you look at it, is truly phenomenal.

3. Gummo (Harmony Korine, 1997)
One of the most powerful films I've ever seen with an epic screenplay. The narration perfectly holds the movie together. Understanding the characters introduced through the narration is unbelievably easy as they are summed up within seconds and although they are understandable, there is so much more to them beneath the surface which is revealed through what they do and the paths they choose to take as the film continues. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous and it's edited together almost perfectly. It manages to completely draw those watching knee deep into the gritty and often shocking atmosphere presented within the confinement of this tornado-stricken town. The soundtrack is filled with a mix of black metal and folk music - the strangest mix, but it's utterly fulfilling when given the backdrop of this film and every song fits perfectly whatever the genre. A perfect film. A masterpiece in every way possible, and in my eyes Korine is a genius - this only further proves that statement.

2. The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover (Peter Greenaway, 1989)
There are few films which make my jaw drop to the floor in awe, The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover is one of those. Everything on screen is just beautiful. The costume and production design are the main factors in the films beauty as they change gracefully from scene to scene. Peter Greenaway manages to do everything with such style and elegance that it's hard to not concentrate. This is all helped into shape by the superb screenplay and the splendid range of actors who all deliver unbelievable performances. In a nutshell, the film is the definition of what cinema should be and what cinema should consist of. When you compare something like this to what filmmakers nowadays believe entertainment is.... well, the obvious winner is quite obvious. The film really is beauty and perfection defined. Completely flawless and full of splendour.

1. Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977)
Depression, suicide, fatherhood, marriage, death, life, loneliness, fulfillment, disappointment, anger, shock. These are just some of the themes that David Lynch brings forth with Eraserhead. It's truly perfect and so many different aspects of the film are just spellbinding and mind-bending. At times, it's hard to get your head around anything you see but all you have to do is look. And when you look you will see. In the five years Lynch took to make this film, he did everything: direction, writing, producing, composing music, editing, production design, art direction, sound effects and the special effects. For a feature debut as a director, that is pretty revolutionary. As a director, Lynch is a genius as everything you see on the screen has at least 99% input from the man himself (like I said, everything)... as a man, Lynch is a genius. That is obvious from the film as a whole and his entire filmography. Eraserhead stands out from the rest of Lynch's films, for me, because of the beauty and how much I can relate to the main character. If you've seen it, you'll know that sounds crazy. But it's true.

So, there you have it. My top ten films of all-time. Agree? Disagree? Want to know something more? Ask me.

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