Ten Films That You Must See Before You GoApr 10, 2004 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in MoviesThe Bottom Line Graydome gives you the heads up on the ten greatest films ever (well in my lone opinion). Don't miss these...
My ten greatest films of all time, feature only one certainty that they are mine alone, and it is highly improbable that a single living soul on this planet would agree with 50% of my list let alone all ten. Such a wide range of factors and variables come in to play when doing such a list, not least the fact that I have not seen every movie every made (Im trying!!?!), but also the time and place I have seen particular films, how my personality responds to genres, moral and ethical beliefs etc etc Dont let that fool you into skipping this list though, as Ill put a good argument for each film, and besides that this is the greatest ever Top Ten film list ever assembled honestly.
Ive been watching films since my father got us a VCR when I was 5 (1982), initially growing up on late 70s and 80s flicks, before exposing myself to whatever film ventured across my path, either on TV (pay or free to air), video, DVD or at the cinema. I have always had a love of horror flicks, will always watch a Sci-Fi film, and dont mind getting stuck into intelligent drama and a good doco. I have also watched a million action and comedy flicks, but care to only remember a few. My romance knowledge is lacking (Iam but a mere male), and I have seen only a few pre-1960 films (heretic! I know). Right now Im really into independent films, and those with intelligent and interesting storylines (not many these days ). Overall my tastes are eclectic, and Ill watch anything that someone strongly recommends. But enough about my background, time to list those films I promised
10. Shogun Assassin (1980) Dir: Kenji Misumi, David Weisman, Robert Hous
This is an English dubbed and re-edited version of the classic Japanese film Baby-Cart At The River Styx. A stylised period piece concerning the betrayal of a loyal Samurai (Tomisaburo Wakayama) by the evil Shogun, who ruthlessly murders the Samurais wife. The Samurai and his now motherless infant child, decide to seek vengeance on the Shogun and his cronies, as they cris cross Japan in pursuit of the Shogun.
While the revenge plot is hardly original, the Japanese sensibilities of loyalty, honour and trust, play a key role in keeping the film interesting right to the end. Most films re-edited and then dubbed tend to lose something, the opposite is true here. The infant child brilliantly narrates the story, providing a heart rendering backdrop to the moody feel and landscape depicted. Like much action Japanese flicks, the death toll is high, and the blood spurts unrealistically, but beneath that is the pure bond between a man and his child. The film also features some sensitive moments between the Samurai and a female enemy. This film just evokes such a moving mood, that few films have come close to equalling.
Similar recommended films: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (1966); Lightning Swords Of Death (1974); Ghost In The Shell (1995)
9. Mad Max (1979) Dir: George Miller
From one revenge film to another, comes George Millers classic Sci-Fi action film. Set in the near lawless apocalyptic future Mad Max tells the tale of Max (Mel Gibson), a cop trying raise a family, and catching criminals in souped up cars (not at the same time though). However Maxs world comes to a gaping holt when a ruthless bikie gang led by Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne) savagely murders Maxs family as retribution for the death of one of his men. What follows next is a captivating portrayal by Mel Gibson of a man with nothing to lose and a thirst to seek justice on those who have destroyed his life.
The template for so many action films over the years, however none ever managed to take the audience where Mad Max did. The storyline (now cliched) and plot were perfect, the action intense and pulsating, and the acting excellent, taking the viewer believably into this horrific world. The Australian landscape also provides a great backdrop as the story unfolds, creating a sense of time and place that is far removed yet unexplainably close to ones own world. One can only cry at Maxs tragedy yet cheer him on in his bloody pursuit of the murderers, as much as the film is like a roller coaster ride, your emotions experience the same whilst watching it.
Similar recommended films: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981); Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
8. The Cable Guy (1996) Dir: Ben Stiller
The only comedy in my top ten is a dark film centred around Steven Kovacs (Mathew Broderick) who has recently split with his girlfriend and is befriended by the erratic cable guy Chip Douglas (Jim Carrey). Chip though is borderline psychotic, initially helping Steven get his life and girlfriend back, before turning on both, when Steven rejects Chip.
Funny? Absolutely. Dark? Very. Im sure many could relate to having an obsessive friend (no?, sorry then maybe you are the obsessive friend!?!), and Jim Carrey scarily plays it superbly. Unlike a lot of Carey comedies, when Carey overdoes his demeanour, it works believably both within context of the film and character, creating some classic scenes (including the funniest game of basketball ever). Matthew Broderick plays the perfect straight man trying to politely push away the advances of Chip. Jack Black, Ben stiller and Owen Wilson also make hilarious cameos in this film. But what makes this film truly good is that it works for each laugh, before making the audiences think deeper about the forgotten people in our television obsessed society.
Similar recommended films: Happy Gilmour (1996); Theres Something About Mary (1998)
7. The Evil Dead (1982) Dir: Sam Raimi
The classic B-grade horror movie, combined a creepy storyline, great visual effects (for 1982), and moments of clever comedy. The plot revolves around 5 college students who decide to spend a weekend at a deserted cabin in the Tennessee woodlands. Once set up in the cabin, they stumble across the Book Of The Dead and unwittingly unleash evil demons within. Whats next is a battle for survival between the students led by Ash (Bruce Campbell) and the demons intent on taking them down.
Hardly a groundbreaking plot, but Sam Raimis film more then makes up for the weak plot with some truly terrifying moments (including a female student being molested by trees!?!), and some highly graphic scenes involving over the top special effects. The film superbly walks the fine line between horror and comedy, by never taking itself too seriously, by one moment leaving the audience gasping for air, and then quickly lightening the mood with a funny one liner. Made on a minuscule budget, Evil Dead shows up 99% of all other horror movies, by simply doing what it has very well, creating the perfect horror package.
Similar recommended films: Halloween (1978); Friday The 13th (1980); Evil Dead 2 (1987); Bad Taste (1987); The Blair Witch Project (1999); Cabin Fever (2003)
6. Excalibur (1981) Dir: John Boorman
This rendition of the Arthurian tale combines both fantasy and moments of gory realism, as it follows the story of Arthurs life from youngster to king. The movie is well played by an excellent cast that includes Nicol Williamson (Merlin), Nigel Terry (Arthur) and Helen Mirren (Morgana). In supporting roles are Cherie Lunghi, Corin Redgrave, Patrick Stewart, Liam Neeson and Gabriel Byrne. The movie is blessed with fantastic cinematography that regularly goes from moments of beautiful clarity, to middle age gritty, enthralling the viewer in each scene.
The Arthur legend is always going to be a good story, but this scene evokes the passion, betrayal and general feel of the stories like no other. Merlin plays the key role in the movie as both Arthurs mentor and a tortured soul powerless over moments of fate. This movie doesnt gloss over the terrible moments in medieval England, but instead brings the viewer face to face with bloody violent battlefields, conniving humans, and tragedy on epic proportions. This film has it all, and still holds up well today, thanks largely to the cast, and the great concepts used.
Similar recommended films: Ben-Hur (1959); Name Of The Rose (1986)
5. Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai (2000) Jim Jamusch
This quirky film is about a contract hitman aliased as Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) who lives a quiet life in the inner city, with only his pet pigeons as company (who by the way form his means of communication between him and the mobsters that employ him), who is befriended by a little girl. When a hit goes awry the samurai inspired Ghost Dog becomes the target of the ageing mobsters that had employed him. Now with his life in danger, Ghost Dog turns to Eastern wisdom, and survival instincts as he battles the mobsters.
This film is quite dark with some strange humour, great poignancy, violent scenes, and some truly sad moments. Ghost Dog is played superbly by Forest Whitaker who really makes us feel for his hitman character that is more of a chivalrous knight rather then criminal scum. The Eastern morals intertwined with Western ideals in this film make it extremely interesting at all times, not to mention the off quilter humour. Added to the genuinely good direction by Jim Jamusch is a fantastic Hip Hop inspired soundtrack by The Rza providing a brooding sound landscape to this emotional film.
Similar recommended films: Enter The Dragon (1973); Akira (1990); Spirited Away (2001); Kill Bill (2003)
4. Planet Of The Apes (1968) Dir: Franklin J. Schaffner
The original not Tim Burtons patchy remake of The Planet Of the Apes is arguably the most well crafted and well rounded Science Fiction film ever made. Four astronauts crash land on an unknown planet that is dominated not by humans but intelligent Apes! This setup allows Charlton Heston (Astronaut Taylor) to portray a determined man intent on seeking out exactly what the Apes are hiding from themselves, something that could provide a huge surprise for everyone. Roddy McDowell plays the lead support role as the only Ape that believes in Taylor, while all others are calling for his blood.
The acting performances are all strong, even when most of the characters are based in Ape and Gorilla suits. However its the fantastic storyline which swings and weaves, always keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat, right until the end when the biggest plot twist of all is revealed. Especially rewarding is the social comment that this film is full of, never in your face, but always there, you may never look at another human (or Ape) the same again after watching this film. Cinematic storytelling at its creative and intellectual best.
Similar recommended films: Alien (1979); Blade Runner (1982); Terminator 2 (1991)
3. Pulp Fiction (1994) Dir: Quentin Tarantino
One of the most well received films by critics and the public alike in the last decade is Quentin Tarantinos comic book violent film Pulp fiction. This film places it self around the lives of a few different characters that populate the darker seedier side of Los Angeles. The film is not shown in time sequential order, but mainly follows a series of intertwined stories featuring characters like two hitmen (John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson), a mobsters wife (Uma Thurman), and a jaded boxing champion (Bruce Willis). A host of other supporting yet soulless characters are also present played by actors like Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel, Ving Rhames, and Christopher Walken.
This film is full of those gold scenes that make it hard to stop talking and thinking about the film. Quentin creates a rough yet fresh vibe to the direction, making each scene and each character totally unpredictable, along with splashes of dark humour, and characters that are both loud and introspective. Pulp Fiction is just a great ride from beginning to end, and always worth watching again and again. In particular the performance by Samuel L. Jackson is mind blowing, truly sucking the viewer into the bullet holed, crime riddled world that is Pulp Fiction.
Similar recommended films: Scarface (1983); Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels (1999); Snatch (2000); Two Hands (2001)
2. Donnie Darko (2001) Dir: Richard Kelly
Donnie Darko is the most recently released film in my collection, after first watching it some six months ago it has rocketed up my list of great movies. Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a young man who suffers from a psychological disorder, and the fact that he is being visited by a giant rabbit that instructs him to do a number of tasks in preparation for the end of the world. This movie is frighteningly moody and at moments abstractly poignant, as Donnie must come to terms with the world and his own mortality.
Maybe the densest film I have ever seen, as the plot plays around with themes such as mental illness, religion, science, families, love, and even evangelistical con artists (Patrick Swayze). It is all held brilliantly together by the mesmerising performance of Jake Gyllenhaal as Donnie, who portrays such a complicated character with great ease and genuine emotion. The story is convoluted and needs to be watched closely, as many plot twists and surprises evolve, including an ending that can border on confusing. However this film tells a great story and cleverly leaves the audience with something to ponder and what to make of it. This is what makes it so great, as one feels touched by the film itself, and yet has to still come to terms with the films meaning.
Similar recommended films: Do The Right Thing (1989); Once Were Warriors (1994); Higher Learning (1995); Ghost In The Shell (1995)
1. Dawn Of The Dead (1978) Dir: George A. Romero
Though recently remade, the original Dawn Of The Dead can not be toppled as a great example of the horror genre that crosses the boundaries of horror, social commentary and humour. Continuing from on from George Romeros classic 1968 film Night Of The Living Dead, we find ourselves in the panic riddled cities of America, as the Zombie threat sweeps the nation. Three men a woman escape the calamity in a helicopter before finding refuge in a large shopping mall. Here they make home, by clearing the mall of its zombie inhabitants, and preparing for looting intruders.
This is most definitely one of those films that sends the watcher on an emotional rollercoaster from moments of terrifying horror, to action scenes, and even some light hearted humour. It could be described as an epic picture as the film covers a fairly long time frame (as well as the films length), as we follow the survivors in attempting to restart life in a familiar yet foreign world. George Romero superbly directs the film, using vivid colours, disorientating scenes, and an attached sense to the real world with the use of radio and television scenes to help tell the story. Of course there is also the subtle social commentary which helps portray humans as there own best enemy, and of course the whole thing about zombies knowing the shopping mall is an important place. An epic masterpiece that crosses genre boundaries, whilst creating its own.
Similar recommended films: Night Of The Living Dead (1968)
Well thats it, of course I dont seriously believe this is the greatest list ever scribed, though its pretty damn good, well dont you think?
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