Top 50 - 11 through 15

11. The Science of Sleep (Gondry, 2006)

You know the feeling that you get sometimes when you wake up from a particularly engaging dream and the world looks fake afterwards? This film, messy and sometimes incoherent as it is, is like such a dream. It's so full of imagination and creativity that after seeing it you immediately feel like making something. Part of why it works so well is that Michel Gondry doesn't like CGI, so all the effects - and there are many - each have to be made in their own, innovative way. Gael Garcia Bernal has never been better as Gondry's alter ego, a young man who misses out on his life because he's so lost in his dreams, but at the same time, if I had dreams like his, I wouldn't want to wake up either.

12. The Royal Tenenbaums (Anderson, 2001)

I don't generally discuss the private lives of movie stars here, and I try to separate the real life people from the characters on screen, but since Owen Wilson helped write this movie, his recent suicide attempt makes this movie all the more poignant. I love Rushmore and Bottle Rocket, and the first hour of the Life Aquatic too, but this is his masterpiece: every frame has a dozen perfect little details, all the performances are on the same plane, and I still want to write a book someday with the lovely dry tone of the narrator.

13. Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, 1994)

I hesitated a long time between this film and Reservoir Dogs. The latter movie is, I believe, better constructed and tighter, and originally I liked it better, maybe because it was the first Tarantino movie I saw, but Pulp Fiction grew on me. It's just so innovative and brash, and much more satisfying than it has any right to be. Of course there are things that could have been left out, like Christopher Walken's watch monologue, but on the other hand, the sheer absurdity of that scene makes it worthwhile. Favorite scene? Not a particularly original pick, but there's nothing like watching Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace do the twist.

14. The Maltese Falcon (Huston, 1941)

The first film noir according to some - one of my favorites, in any case. "I don't mind a reasonable amount of trouble", "I hope they don't hang you, precious, by that sweet neck", the dialogue here truly is the stuff that dreams are made of, one witty line after the next, and I don't think anyone could have delivered them any better than Humphrey Bogart does here. His Sam Spade is tough, without mercy, but not without humanity, and after 66 years, he's still the epitome of cool.

15. A History of Violence (Cronenberg, 2005)

This high? Yes, this high, because under its deceptively simple exterior, this is a ruthless deconstruction of our baser urges. Cronenberg takes it slowly, so deliberately that you long for something to happen, only to regret your desire when it does. It can be read in a handful of different ways, and can be used to support opposite standpoints, and maybe most importantly: it's a movie that gets better and better the more you think about it.

Next time? #10, which has fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...

Finally a real journalist

For the Dutch-speaking among you, my first two reviews are now up here and here.

I feel like I should get a badge or something. Learn the secret handshake. Get delivered a fancy pen which makes all your sentences flow easier. Oh well. I suppose seeing my name on a site which is not my weblog shall just have to do, plus the euros hopefully deposited in my bank account soon. It's not so much the money that matters to me, but the simple fact that I'm being paid for it is a kind of validation.


The Simpsons Movie

I would be lying if I called myself a true Simpsons fan - when I channel surf across it I always stick around to watch, but don't ask me which episode goes in which season, or to get obscure quotes - but I have to say I was thoroughly entertained by this movie. The joke-per-minute ratio is quite amazing, and the writers manage to keep your attention throughout, with a true ark going through the movie and one joke (see image above) not being resolved until the end. The satire doesn't really bite, just nibble, but the general irreverence is still, after all these years, admirable.

Also, Bart's penis!


Top 50 - 16 through 20

16. Fight Club (Fincher, 1999)

I know, I know, this is probably overrated. It's also one of the most impressively flashy, stylish and brash pieces of film making I know. from the credit sequence/opening shot zooming out from the main character's brain to the barrel of a gun to the endless quotability. It's a walking contradiction, but aware of it: it pretends to criticize consumerism and the pursuit of gadgets and "cool", but it's desperately cool and consumerist itself. Most of all, it's a film that remains exciting even on a fifth viewing, and I do believe it will still be watched thirty years from now.

17. Double Indemnity (Wilder, 1944)

All the upcoming starlets in skimpy outfits can't compete in sheer sexiness with Barbara Stanwick's ankle bracelet. This is noir at it's purest, and Stanwick plays the femme fatale to a hilt: dangerous, seductive, and ultimately so much more interesting than the man she seduces. Edward G. Robinson is also amazing here, and an integral part of the triangle. The main couple sizzles and the lines are unforgettable. Most of all, it satisfies one criterion: I can't think of anything that could possibly be improved.

18. Bonnie and Clyde (Penn, 1967)

40 years ago today, this movie revolutionized movies. It isn't the violence - which was revolutionary and much protested against at the time - that makes this movie unforgettable though, even if the final scene burns itself into your brain. No, it's Faye Dunaway as she looks down onto Warren Beatty stealing her car; it's how Clyde's hat sits on his head; it's Bonnie writing their poem. It's unforgettable because it's so stylish and mythical, and because when their bodies seize, hit by a dozen bullets, it takes your breath away.

19. Sunset Boulevard (Wilder, 1950)

Typically this film is filed under "noir", and it has many of the elements to qualify: a smart-aleck voice-over, a cynical main character, and no happy ending in sight. It owes almost just as much to the gothic genre, however, from the death of the monkey to the sinister butler, played by director Erich von Stroheim, and most of all in the tragically comic role of Norma Desmond. Gloria Swanson plays her as if she's still in a silent movie, all exaggerated gestures and extreme facial expressions, and in the end, you can't help but feeling for this doomed, crazy clown, and despise William Holden for mocking her so much.

20. Ed Wood (Burton, 1994)

It wasn't until I watched Glen or Glenda that I realized how much Burton had done Ed Wood justice. It is a terrible movie, but it's terrible in such an intriguing and original way that I understand why Burton wanted to make a film about the maker. He doesn't make apologies; he doesn't try to pass Wood off as some misunderstood genius. He does however show so much understanding and affection for his character that you're happy to go along with his adventures. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Ed Wood is played by the ultimate lovable weirdo Johnny Depp, who's rarely been better, or that Martin Landau portrays Belo Lugosi - another tragic figure in the movies - so formidably.

Next time: another noir, another maybe-overrated flashy picture, one movie that recently gained some significance, and one movie which would make Sam - who's leaving Filmspotting, I'm heartbroken - very happy.



I am facing a month of homelessness, yet I don't care: TCM is on TV. Temporarily - it's only there to lure peoplein to shelling 10 more euros a month more to get a more channels. But y'know? Consider me lured.

I mean, how can you not love a channel with classic movies 24/7 without commercial breaks? I had it on all day while I was stuffing my room in boxes. I saw most of Quo Vadis (I always start up slowly), big chunks of Angels with Dirty Faces, the beginning and end of Sunday in New York (someone came to visit me in the middle of it for 30 minutes), and the first 45 minutes or so of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. So admittedly, with TCM, I might not get anything done anymore, but I think it's worth it.

I was surprised how much I liked Quo Vadis, considering I'm not a sword-and-sandals type generally.I thought Nero was over the top, but so much fun, too, and while the whole Christian propaganda angle was a little heavy for me, the film manages to give you the impression that you're getting a peek into history. As for Seven Brides, I absolutely loved the extended dance sequence where the 6 younger brothers try to lure the girls from their competitors.

Ah, to be able to watch classic movies all day...of course, there's still worthwhile things getting made now: I just got back from Ratatouille, and it's absolutely charming. It's strange to call a maker of animation films an auteur, since they're typically such a team effort, but Brad Bird truly has a vision of the world that shines through in every film he makes. Basically, he's saying don't be afraid to be special. Don't be afraid to be yourself. Even if that's a cooking rat. Or, who knows, a film-reviewing physicist?

Finally, I know I'm behind on my top50, so, to tide you over, the list of a friend of mine.He's a Hitchcock fan, as you can maybe tell, and it has exactly 6 titles in common with mine. It just goes to show you how personal these types of lists are.

1. Vertigo (1958)
2. The Godfather (1972)
3. North by Northwest (1959)
4. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
5. The Godfather Part 2 (1974)
6. Casablanca (1942)
7. Psycho (1960)
8. Citizen Kane (1941)
9. On the Waterfront (1954)
10. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
11. Blade Runner (1982)
12. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
13. Spartacus (1960)
14. Star Wars; The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
15. One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
16. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
17. Some Like it Hot (1959)
18. The Prestige (2006)
19. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
20. The Marathon Man (1976)
21. Matrix (1999)
22. Easy Rider (1969)
23. Das Boot (1981)
24. The Deer Hunter (1978)
25. Marnie (1964)
26. The Third Man (1949)
27. The Graduate (1967)
28. Notorious (1948)
29. The Big Sleep (1946)
39. Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
31. Strangers on a Train (1951)
32.The French Connection (1971)
33. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
34. Dirty Harry (1971)
35. Gladiator (2000)
36. Scarface (1983)
37. The Sting (1973)
38. Jesus Camp (2006)
39. Soldaat van Oranje (1977)
40. Schindler's List (1993)
41. The Pianist (2002)
42. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
43. Als Je Begrijpt Wat Ik Bedoel (1983)
44. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
45. Glengarry Glen Ross (1978)
46. JFK (1991)
47. To Catch a Thief (1955)
48. The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
49. Dead Man (1995)
50. Fatherland (1994)