Time recently did a, “Top 10 Winners of the Cannes Film Festival .” I’ve seen three of them and thought they deserved top ten films status. The others I’ve been laboriously watching to see if they are the same quality. First off here is the list:
1. The Third Man, 1949
2. The Wages of Fear, 1953
3. La Dolce Vita, 1960
4. Taxi Driver, 1976
5. Tree of Wooden Clogs, 1978
6. sex, lies, and videotape, 1989
7. Farewell My Concubine, 1993
8. Pulp Fiction, 1994
9. A Taste of Cherry, 1997
10. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, 2007
After watching most of these top ten movies I’ve noticed a common theme. Third man is a perfect example, movies where unparallelled footage is filmed in a never before shooting location. For the murder mystery, “The Third Man” this means shooting in bombed out cities of Europe after World War II. Sure it’s interesting and has Orson Welles but it wasn’t appealing to me, the mystery wasn’t that great and the questionable moral dilemma’s weren’t that shocking. I’m sure in 1949 this stunned audiences with the “plot twists” and dazzling shots of bombed out buildings. These days though I’ve seen movie after movie with bombed out urban centres and plot twists that make this seem like a children’s story. 5/10
After watching, The Third Man, I was dreading another old, snails pace, “Thriller.” The movie description, “men in South America transporting nitrogylcerin in rickety trucks over rocky roads” while suggesting a fast pass movie didn’t sound too realistic. I shouldn’t have worried, this movie is amazing! The story set up is even today interesting, I liked the multi-lingual cast, and even the annoying peasant girl grew on me. But it was the growing tension throughout the movie that had me riveted to my seat. It’s a long movie but it’s so intense I couldn’t look away and the character development is amazing, you feel like know these guys and you’re there on the road with them. Apparently this had an American adaptation, the Sorcerer (1977), and I’m curious how Hollywood adapted this classic. 9/10
La Dolce Vita, an Italian movie exploring, “unforgettable snapshots of [Rome] in glamorous decay.” Watching three hours of glamorous decay sounds like it would be fun but it’s not. Watching this movie is like running a marathon! It did have some good scenes, the fountain shot, religious Madonna subplot and even today I’d be hard pressed to find a film this liberal. Multi racial cast, multiracial dating, sex, full on gay characters and this is the 60s! The only good thing about this movie is that if I’m ever on Jeopardy and Alex Trebak says, “The movie where the term paparazzi was coined” and I’ll be able to say, “What is La Dolce Vita?” 4/10
A Martin Scorsese film with Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, and very young Jodie Foster as an underage harlot, what’s not to like about this movie. Not only is it a great watch but even more fascinating is the making-of documentary on the DVD. This movie even transcends art as you’ve got the added fame of John Hinckley Jr citing this movie as the reason he tried to off Reagan in 1981. 8/10
This Italian peasant drama is another three hour epic. Three hours is such a long time, even though I did nothing but sit and watch the movie, I feel tired. The description basically says, “watch the drama unfold as the poor peasant child breaks his wooden clog!” Whew exciting! So I wasn’t expecting a thriller but the movie had an odd pull to it. Nothing really happens, you basically watch an Italian peasant’s life circa 1800s but almost like reality TV you’re drawn into these families’ lives. Reading later I found out that all the actors were real peasants from the Bergamo province, in Italy. They had no acting experience at all which is pretty cool but I guess that explains why during the animal slaughter scenes they seemed like they do it all the time. Another thing I thought weird was that all the men in the movie look like Robert De Niro. Since they all have moustaches they look the same, some parts of this movie are like that scene from, Being John Malkovich where he goes in his own brain and everyone looks the same. 7/10
Sex, lies, and videotape (1989)
For the longest time I was confusing this movie with Secrets & Lies an OK film from the UK. I didn’t see what all the huff was about. But then people started to describe it to me and I became very confused. What masturbation, having sex with your wife’s sister? Seeing the poster art one day I realized that I had the wrong film and finally saw the right film. At first it has that feel of an 80s WTF film like Blue Velvet or some Croenburg flick but it was a good watch. Starting fairly flat the film slowly builds to a climax of a now common story, collapse of upper middle class family because of sex, lies, and videotapes. 7/10
This Chinese epic that follows Chinese opera singers from before World War II to after the Cultural Revolution is another three hour marathon. Again this is one of those movies that when it was released I’m sure it was a big deal because of filming location, and subject. But Chinese theatre has come of age, now days we see this stuff all the time. Sure the gay themes were probably very chic in 1993 but again these days … yawn. 6/10
Samuel L Jackson, John Travolta’s come back, Uma’s overdose, the gimp! Pulp motherfuckin’ Fiction, need I say more? 10/10
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)
Great snap shot of Romanian life in the years leading up to Ceausescu falling from power. Who knew a film about getting an abortion would be such a great thriller! Things just go from bad to worse for these two girls, mostly because the friend who is getting the abortion is such a selfish Biatch! 9/10
Sex Lies and Video tape.
I would have given this higher marks.
It was a ground breaking film at the time and even today is impressive in its performances and dialogue. This is a portrait of why James Spader could have (and still could) do much more in the industry.
Id give it a 9/10…but then again Im all about kink.