Welcome to my blog. Here you will find details of my progress towards watching all films in the IMDB Top 250 List along with other random film musings. Enjoy!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Wet and Anticipating

Anyone who hails from the same small patch of land as I do will understand when I say that the weather today has been atrocious. With gale force winds of up to 100 mph and rain falling faster than a footballer can say superinjunction, the travel conditions were pretty tough to say the least. After battling my way through the wind and rain to the train station, you can imagine my displeasure to find that all of the trains out of Glasgow were cancelled indefinitely.

So there I found myself, standing in the rain with no place to go and I couldn’t stop my mind from drifting onto my Top 250 challenge which should be starting any day now (just as soon as those little treats from HMV drop onto my doormat). I realised that there are so many new film experiences to come which I am looking forward to, that there is scope to dedicate a whole blog post to my Top 5 experiences to come. Therefore, In no particular order, the top five things I am anticipating are:

The Films of Hayao Miyazaki
Often described as a Japanese Walt Disney, Hayao Miyazaki has been at the forefront of Japanese animation for many years. To date, I have never seen any of Miyazaki’s work but with five films in the IMDB top 250 (only Hitchcock, Pixar, Kubrick, Scorsese and Wilder have more), it looks like I will be pretty familiar with his work by the end of the challenge. One of the reasons I wanted to embark on the Top 250 challenge was to expand my film knowledge and this is one such expansion which I am very much looking forward to.

Silent Cinema
On a similar note, I have never seen any of the classic films of the silent cinema era. Silent cinema is represented in the IMDB list by two true legends; Charlie Chaplin (5 films) and Buster Keaton (2 films). I believe that anyone who wants to truly attempt to understand cinema must do so with a full awareness as to how cinema has changed over the decades in line with the technological advancements that we as a society have made. Silent cinema is the very origin of contemporary cinema as we know it and I am really looking forward to experiencing a form of cinema which relies on expression and movement to tell a story, as opposed to the verbal dialogue which is overused in contemporary cinema. 

The Films of Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa is commonly listed as one of the greatest directors of all time. His work has inspired many other films, from The Usual Suspects to The Magnificent Seven, and referenced in many facets of popular culture, such as the mention of Rashomon on The Simpsons. Kurosawa clearly has been an inspirational force in contemporary cinema and I find it a travesty that I have only ever managed to watch one of his films (the superb Rashomon), despite owning several others in my DVD collection. This is one deficiency of knowledge which I look forward to remedying with great anticipation.

European Cinema and Directors
I have read quite a few books on film history and each one touches quite heavily on the influence of the French New Wave and Italian Neorealism, two movements in film which I have never studied in detail. I am glad that some of the film’s in the IMDB Top 250 are related to both of these movements (The 400 Blows by Truffaut and three films by Fellini) although perhaps slightly surprised that there are not more films on the list which originate from these movements (there are a few other movements which are criminally missing lacking representation, such as the Romanian New Wave, but perhaps that is for the subject of a separate blog post).

Despite this, I am more than looking forward to experiencing the films that are in the Top 250 list from this era, as well as the films of other great European director’s such as Bergman, Clouzot and Leone.

The Films of Alfred Hitchcock
The man who is represented most on the IMDB Top 250 List, and justifiably so in my opinion is Alfred Hitchcock with 9 separate entries. Admittedly, I have seen many of Hitchcock’s finest films many times before, however, with each viewing the films appear to become richer and richer. From Vertigo and Rear Window through to the classic horror of Psycho, Hitchcock created some of the finest films ever made, and all this from a man who I think was underrated in his time. He was the true master of suspense and I look forward to revisiting some of my favourite films (despite The 39 Steps being inexplicably missing from the list).


Anonymous said...

This is Niels85 from Wordpress...

I thought I would make a comment here rather than reply to your very gracious note on my blog.
I am glad that someone is joining me in the IMDB challenge, it has already given me a bit of extra motivation going forward.
I think you're way too hard on yourself in terms of the quality of your writing. I enjoyed reading your post and I feel it is a fine prelude to it all.
Unlike you, Hitchcock is not my forte. I have only seen "Birds" fully and bits and pieces of "Rear Window" and "Psycho". It is a shame I know, but at least I make up for it with a few Chaplin films like the funny "The General" or the moving masterpiece that "City Lights" is.
I have also managed to watch 3 Kurosawa films and I now understand why he was/is so influential. His films are somewhat challenging because they have a very particular structure to them that is very much unlike most American films. While "Seven Samurai" might be his most recognized work, to this day I have seen very few films as profound and meaningful as "Ikiru".

Before I began the challenge, I had seen precisely half of the 250 films represented on the list on March 33rd of this year. Since then, I have managed to enjoy "The King's Speech", "12 Monkeys", "Blade Runner", "Gran Torino", "Casablanca", "Patton", "Letters from Iwo Jima", "The Thing" and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly". In my blog I have only managed to review the first three. I can tell you though, that none of them have disappointed.
While "The Thing" had more of an entertainment value than artistry, there were some like "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" that truly moved me.

I look forward to reading your reviews and I hope we can share our opinions either in here or on my blog.


Craig said...

Hi Niels

Thanks for your comment. It is quite interesting that just before I started my challenge I had seen just over half of the IMDB Top 250, but from your post above it appears that our respective halves havare made up of quite a different variety of films. Hopefully that will mean that we have some different opinions on film which we can share and contrast. I always like to hear the opinion of other people to get a different perspective on film.

Having said that - I can't help but agree with your comments on The Thing and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I thought The Thing was a fantastically entertaining film that created a real atmosphere of horror rather than relying on 'shocks' to create the horror.

I also remember seeing The Diving Bell and the Butterfly in the cinema when it was first released. I recall I was in equal parts horrified (at the thought of being in that position) and mesmerised by the content of the film. I thought Mathieu Almaric was fantastic in lead role too.

I have received my first batch of DVDs today and plan on posting my first review over the next couple of days. I will look forward to your next review and hopefully will be able to share thoughts gooing forward.


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