Thursday, 5 February 2009

Six of the Best of Films

Another of those lists...sigh,

1 Northanger Abbey (2007, Jon Jones)

This is the film with Felicity Jones as Catherine Morland and JJ Feild as Henry Tilney. Catherine Morland is one of my favourite Austen heroines, the one I identify with the most. Alright, I am not as naïve and not as silly (I hope) as Catherine but there is something about her life with her head in the clouds and innocence and stupidity that I like. Felicity Jones is adorable in the role and captures her personality very well. Her acting is in a way very minimalistic and captures Catherine well as much with facial expressions as with spoken words. A silly film but very good.

Link to article in IMDB

2 Brazil (1985, Terry Gilliam)

This is a really absurd and wonderful film. It is rather grim in many ways, showing a very authoritarian society. Terry Gilliam wanted to call it 1984½. It is made as a dystopic vision of the future but as it was imagined during the 40s or 50s. Despite the fact that the state crushes the hero it is a rather enjoyable film with a lot of humour and surreal elements. Jonathan Pryce is brilliant as Sam Lowry, the hero of the story.

Link to article in IMDB

3 Star Wars (1977, George Lucas)

This is one of the best films ever made. A fairy tale about the boy who reluctantly has to go on a journey to fight the giants and save the kingdom. It has everything, a good story, beautiful heroes and heroines, vile villains, rocket ships and ray guns...not to mention droids. What more can you ask for? Not the most romantic story though but perhaps there was no room for that. I don't think any of the other five instalments of this saga measures up to this first one. I can't stand the silly teddy bears in part 3 (or is that really part 6?), for example.

Link to article in IMDB

4 Brief Encounter (1945, David Lean)

This is an example of what you can do when you have a great script. It is based on Noel Coward's play Still Life. A woman lives in good marriage with a good man and when she travels to a nearby town to do the weekly shopping she meets this man, a doctor, on the station. This meeting develops into a kind of love story although nothing really happens between them. He goes to Africa and she goes home and things return to what they were before. It is immensely beautiful and immensely sad but still very, very ordinary. I wish I could have written something like that...sigh.

Link to article in IMDB

5 Persuasion (1995, Roger Michell/2007 Adrian Shergold)

Yes, this is two for one. I couldn't decide between these two brilliant adaptations of the Jane Austen novel (yes, another one). The older one has Amanda Root and Ciéran Hinds as Anne Elliot and Captain Wenthworth and the newer one Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones. Anne is, for the age and time, an old unmarried woman, at 27 years of age, when the man she loved when she was nineteen and was persuaded to give up, returns. Love conquers everything and Anne gets her Frederick Wenthworth in the end. Bitterness and pride has to be overcome but Anne is strong and Frederick stands firm. Both these films are beautiful and very romantic but not in the sugar coated easy way you so often get.

Link to article in IMDB

Link to article in IMDB

6 Frankenstein (1931, James Whale)

Yes, this is an oldy, the classical adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. The monster is played by William Henry Pratt aka Boris Karloff. It has to be said that the film is only loosely based on the book but it is still very enjoyable. The settings are wonderful. It is so easy to dismiss an old film like that, being spoiled with the special effects of modern cinema. To watch this film you have to enter into the spirit of it and accept it for what it is. But when you do that, it is a great adventure.

Link to article in IMDB


Meta said...

You use the number 6 a lot, even in your stories (six more times with the cane...). Any reason?

Ollie said...

An eclectic mix of genres and subject matter. Thanks Janice.

I agree with Meta about the six though...

Mina said...

Janice, a great mix of movies.

Northanger Abbey, having read the book and enjoyed, I would be very interested to track down this movie. I still have to get Jane Eyre first though.

Brazil, I have seen this movie a number of times many years ago but always with lots of people for some reason and can't remember it very well. I shall have to watch it again sometime and I like what Terry Gilliam wanted to call it...grins.

Star Wars, what can I say. As you know these are some of my favourite films. No, not the best films ever made but like you I love the epic space adventure that they are. I actually like all six watched as a whole story rather than pieces as it works that way, at least for me. However, overall the Empire Strikes Back is my favourite of the lot and I, sadly, know enough of the dialogue to speak the lines with the characters. Drives others mental, I can tell you!

Brief Encounter, I have not seen this but I think I would very much like to. The brief I read on it gives it high praise indeed. It reminded me a little of the more recent Lost in Translation with Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.

Persuasion, I shall read the book before I see the movie since I do so enjoy Jane Austen's work. Look forward to picking up one of these versions when the time comes.

Frankenstein, an absolute classic and it has been far too many years since I have seen this. Boris Karloff is the quintessential Frankenstein, he set the image for Frankenstein in our hearts and minds just as Bela Lugosi did with Count Dracula. I am slowly starting to track down some of the great old films on DVD and some of them are fascinating to watch given where film making is at now. They are still enjoyable for what they are.


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TFP said...


I've not seen all the films you site, though I shall make the effort. I do have a thought of one you may or may not overlooked, "The Godfather" and even part two should be included in among the great films, top 10 at least...

Thank you,

Manorlord said...

Hiya Janice!

Interesting list -- I am not surprised that Jane Austen adaptations figure strongly -- tho a tad surprised that the Olivier Pride & Prejudice [script by Aldous Huxley] does not rate...)

I am intrigued by your choice of Frankenstein over the James Whale's sequel, Bride of Frankenstein. To me, Bride works on more levels -- partly because of a larger scale of time (an extra reel), budget & a bit longer creative leash. The sexual & religious imagery is stunning, for its time, and even now. Dr. Praetorius is made to look and even sound like Bertrand Russell -- smashing!

May I offer a couple of my own:

Fellini's 8 1/2. Yes, there are so many great Fellini flicks, and this one is unashamedly a man's fantasy/ nightmare. I find it more gripping, more coherent, and in the end more cathartic than his other, flashier works. (True confessions -- I always tear up a bit at the end...)

Bob Fosse's Cabaret. Not, it is not the stage show, which in its way is superior. But Fosse's direction and choreography are brilliant, his messsage ruthless (as in the deeply flawed All That Jazz). He brought out shining performances from all the leads -- most of whom were uneven actors/esses at best.

Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (the un-narrated version). Again, this is a remorseless, chilling vision. And, for once, Vangelis wrote a great score.

Hitchcock's Vertigo. (I also admire his 39 Steps & The Lady Vanishes).

Kenneth Brannaugh's Hamlet. Yes, it has every word of the play, and so is unthinkably bloated. And yes, KB looks a bit silly as a blond. Still, I think it beats every rival Hamlet....

Finally, (my Shakespeare fixation to your Austen's), the Midsummer Night's Dream (1999, Michael Hoffman), a (for once) plausible resetting, well edited, with Stanley Tucci as Puck & Kevin Kline as Bottom. (The incomparable Bill Irwin, king of clowns, has a minor role...) Even the sticklike Calista Flockhart scores -- and (last confession of the day) I feel a tear welling up when Bottom has his epiphany at the end -- ("...for truly, there is no Bottom to it...") And yes, it outscores the Royal S C's fine, but dated, version with Dianna Rigg & a topless Judy Dench (!?)


Wystan E

Janice said...

Dear Readers, you do forget that these are my films, the ones I like to watch. And it is 'of the best', not just 'the best'.

Dear Meta, giggles, I thought you lot would get the connection. Six of the best, isn't that a classic punishment? I thought it suitable.

Dear Ollie, you mean that I use it in my stories? Have no idea, really. But the expression 'six of the best' springs to mind.

Dear Mina, thanks for your comments. Jane Eyre is a series (at least the one we are talking about) so it doesn't qualify as a film, that is the only reason it is not here. I'd love to watch Star Wash with you, Mina, it would be hilarious. Your parallel with Lost in Translation is not a bad one. Something of the same where Japan plays the role of the railway station.

Dear TFP, the first in the Godfather series is very good, not on my top ten list, though. It wasn't overlooked, not just one of the six I like to watch again and again...smiles. It still is very good though.

Dear Wystan, I can't include a film I haven't seen, can I? The P and P of my choice is the tv series from 1995 with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. I am glad I still can intrigue you. The only reason I chose the original Frankenstein before the sequel is because I think it is much better. Thank you for your list, it is interesting to read. I do love Blade Runner.



sixofthebest said...

Janice, you entitle a review of some films that you like, 'Six of the Best'. Since that is my 'nome de plume' so to speak, these are mine, that I rate so highly. Number 1. 'Roots of Heaven', For me about a naughty big game huntress, named Madame Orsini, who loves to shoot elephants for pleasure. A moralist by the name Morel, decides this is absure, and at a party, that this woman attends, he humiliatingly spanks her on the bare bottom. For me this spanking film is worthy of being rated 'six of the best'.