Monday, January 10, 2005

The Best Movies Ever

My all-time list of best films found it's missing member this weekend. I've been keeping a little list, not ranked internally, for the immortals see each other as equals, yet greater than the rest. There are fallen angels too in the list - films have deteriorated on reinterpretation with changing times - a couple of examples follow the list below.

Here goes:

> Hero (Ying xiong) - Zhang Yimou's talents, coupled with visual, ethical and conceptual richness make this film a lasting delight. The transformations experienced by the characters, the country and the viewer are all captured in a cinematic language that speaks volumes of the director's expertise. The essence of what makes China into the country it is, is captured in this film.

> Lagaan - This Indian film takes the game of cricket and couples it with the extortionist land taxes under the British to create an entertaining tale of teamwork, competition and human revolution. The redemption of Judas, the challenges of pusillanimous leadership and the sin of overweening arrogance are handled deftly in this timeless tale.

> The LOTR trilogy - The visual realization of the best books of the twentieth century into panoramic perfection is done with skill for the most part, a cast of thousands, and a potent mix of love, honor and betrayal. The consistency of the trilogy, unusual in films shot across a time span of seven years, enables one to treat the trilogy as a whole, and allows for multiple day-long viewing marathons, each revealing additional layers in the films.

> Interview With The Vampire - One almost does have sympathy for the devil by the time this film is through with the centuries-old tale, in a manner of speaking, of the Vampire Lestat. Modern decadence and moral ambiguity are brought to the fore, with peerless acting by Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. Kirsten Dunst's Claudia is terrifyingly innocent, yet corrupt at the core, portraying torment in a truly tortured manner.

> Casablanca - This gets better as time goes by, pun unintended. The elegance and simplicity of this film belies its depth and visual artistry. Every scene is carefully detailed and fits into the whole as an element without which all would be naught. Colonialism in Africa, the Nazi menace, love, truth and lies, and of course, Rick's.

> Christ In Concrete - Edward Dmytryk adapted this depression-era neorealist movie from the 1939 novel by Pietro Di Donato. The personal travails of the director, who was blacklisted in the McCarthy-era while making the film underscore it's gritty theme, of an Italian laborer, who strives to possess his own house, while making castles of concrete for others. The real-life betrayal of his colleagues by Dmytryk, who 'named names', perhaps affected the tragic beauty of 'Give Us This Day' as this film is also known.

> High Fidelity - The personal appeal of this film notwithstanding, it is particularly effective as a depiction of modern urban fickle relationships, good music and fear of commitment. The reverse transformation of the book from England to Chicago makes it an interesting example of the similarily of such themes the world over.

> Monkey Business - The Marxist jokes are funny, yet speak to deep insights into 'la condition humaine'. Although set on an ocean liner, the plot, if one can call it that, swings from the decks to a barn, along with non-stop zany humor in their first original comedy, in a timeless manner.

> The Battle Of Algiers - The documentary approach to creative film making sees it's peak in this tale of 1957 street battles in Algiers and their drive for independence. In the maelstrom of characters, tales and conflicts, agitprop is turned into drama, making one yearn for a more peaceful time, if ever there was one.

> The Apu Trilogy - Growing up, and rediscovering that tragedy is what makes you what you are - the films in the trilogy par excellence shift scenes from the village to the city with a sensitive, elegant flair. Satyajit Ray captures what it is to be human, to live, love and die with camerawork that is more adept than many luminaries of cinema, and character development to rival the best. The ability of humans to find happiness even in the depths of poverty and grief are just part of the perfection in these films.

Fallen Angel: A Passage To India

The best film industries: 1. China 2. France 3. USA 4. Japan

The best directors: Wim Wenders, Satyajit Ray, Quentin Tarrantino, Billy Wilder, Akira Kurosawa.

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Time traveler, world traveler, book reader