Kate’s listography this week is a toughy! Top 5 films. Like everyone, I’m finding it pretty hard to whittle down, but I shall give it a try . . .
1 – Down By Law. The fabulous Tom Waits proves he’s a compelling actor as well as musician. The story of three different men in a Louisiana prison; a pimp and a radio DJ both framed for crimes they didn’t commit, and an infuriatingly optimistic Italian who barely speaks english and talks a lot about ice cream. He also has an escape plan. This film has a slow pace (which I like) but it’s an epic journey – on a small geographical scale. You can’t help but get sucked in as the three lives become entwined and unlikely friendships form. I just love it.
2 – Freaks.
Where do I start? This film was made in 1932 and banned almost immediately due to the audiences screaming and leaving cinema’s on mass at the revulsion of it. Tom Browning, who made the film, was way ahead of his time. He had been a member of a circus in his early years, and much of the film was drawn from his personal experiences. A beautiful trapeze artists marries a besotted midget when she learns of his large inheritance. The “Freaks” decide to accept her as one of them, only to realise her true intents, and they exact a terrible revenge. What shocked the audiences of the time was the fact that all the actors used were genuine. Browning questions who the real monsters of the story are, and the world just wasn’t ready. An awesome film, even now its nearly 80 years old!
3 – Abigail’s Party.
“Another Gin and Tonic Ange?” Brilliant! I am a big fan of Mike Leigh and it was a toss-up between this and Nuts in May. The whole film takes place in one room. A social satire of the 1970’s middle classes striving to be so much more well to do than they really are, when the WONDERFUL Alison Steadman hosts a cocktail party. So cringy I literally watch it through my fingers – and yet I never tire of it. So, so funny, superb acting and writing – just brilliant. Slap on some Demis Roussos, pour yourself a Gin and Tonic, and enjoy!
4 – Oh Brother Where Art Thou.
I’m a big fan of the Coen brothers but this has to be my favourite. It’s the only film I can think of where once it had finished, I pressed play again straight away and re-watched! Based on Homer’s “The Odyssey” it follows three escaped convicts in the deep south America of the 1930’s, pursued by a sinister lawman. They escape to find buried treasure – they end up finding their fortune in a very different way. Funny, quirky, weird and a soundtrack to die for.
“Well, there are all manner of lesser imps and demons, Pete, but the great Satan hisself is red and scaly with a bifurcated tail, and he carries a hay fork. ”
5 – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
This started a re-surge in the popularity of kung fu films. I am a big fan, and had to stop myself putting in a load of old school HI-YAAAAA in this list. I didn’t like the way modern kung fu was going. Less and less martial arts, more and more guns, chicks and Hollywood. This film brought it back to the beautiful skill of the artists with expert choreography and wire work and a traditional story line. Not only this – it’s just beautiful to look at. It’s the nearest thing, I think, to watching a dream and I could see it a hundred times more and not get bored.
It also has wonderfully strong female leads that DON’T need rescuing and are stunning martial artists.