Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 3 August 2012

That new Top 50 !

Congratulations are due to "Sight & Sound" that pseudo-intellectual* British movie magazine on their latest list of the best movies ever, which they do every 10 years. By cunningly dislodging CITIZEN KANE from the top spot (where it has been since 1952) they have reaped astounding publicity here, so the new September issue with all the details, which I should be getting today, will surely be a sell-out. They made the evening news here and the internet has been abuzz with comment on the new list.
In case you did not hear, the new number one is VERTIGO - which ties in nicely with the BFI's mammoth Hitchcock season this summer (my previous post on this is at Hitchcock label). Just for the record, here are the other top 50 choices:
2. Citizen Kane / 3. Tokyo Story / 4. Rules Of The Game  / 5. Sunrise / 6. 2001: A Space Odyssey /7. The Searchers  / 8. Man With A Movie Camera  / 9. Passion Of Joan Of Arc / 10. 8 1/2 / 11. Battleship Potemkin / 12. L'Atalante  /13. A Bout De Souffle  /14. Apocalypse Now  / 15. Late Spring  /16. Au Hasard Balthazar  /17= Seven Samurai  / 17= Persona  / 19. Mirror  / 20. Singing In The Rain  / 21= L'Avventura / 21= Le Mepris  / 21= The Godfather  / 24= Ordet / 24= In The Mood For Love  / 26= Rashomon  / 26= Andrei Rublev  /28. Mulholland Drive  /29= Stalker  / 29= Shoah  / 31= The Godfather Part II  31= Taxi Driver / 33. Bicycle Thieves  / 34. The General  / 35= Metropolis  / 35= Psycho  /35= Jeanne Dielman  35= Satantango / 39= The 400 Blows 39= La Dolce Vita  /41. Voyage to Italy  /42= Pather Panchali  /42= Some Like It Hot  /42= Gertrud  /42= Pierrot Le Fou  /42= Play Time  /42= Close-Up  /48= The Battle Of Algiers  /48= Histoire Du Cinema  /50= City Lights  /50= Ugetsu Monogatari  / 50= La Jetee.

We all have our own lists of course, this is pretty standard after all those polls (they have polled over 800 critics and experts), what I like is seeing the individual choices of those polled - and what the next 50 will include. Here though apart from VERTIGO at Nr 1 there is just one other Hitchcock (PSYCHO), no Michael Powell or David Lean, just one Bergman - but at least L'AVVENTURA and VOYAGE TO ITALY have been re-discovered. Pleased to see Keaton, Tati, the Dreyer's and Ozu's - but 4 Godards ? (he is my blind spot...), also just one musical: the predictable SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, and just SOME LIKE IT HOT from Wilder. (I really will have to watch JEANNE DIELMAN soon, its been sitting in my pending pile for ages, along with that other ritzy Delphine Seyrig number DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS...).

The current magazine editor indicates that the intention was to knock CITIZEN KANE off the top spot, they "refreshed" the poll by inviting younger critics and omitting to ask several of the older generation (like Penelope Houston, the original editor of S&S), which seems inconsiderate at least. Its this attitude of "CITIZEN KANE is old hat now, let's have a new number one" which jars. As he says: "I remember hoping last time that Citizen Kane would get knocked off and it never happened, so yes, I was surprised. And delighted."Citizen Kane, which is a lot of bombast and is very theatrical and slightly hammy by modern acting standards. Vertigo is about our inner life." Thus the new opinion-makers try to change received opinion ....

Maybe more comment when I have perused the actual results in full. 

* I liked "Sight & Sound" a lot when it was published quatertly in the '60s and '70s (and have kept a lot of those issues) and did not consider it intellectual at all, like "Films & Filming"  and "Movie" and the American "Film Comment" there were lots in it to read and return to; it did not seem the same though once it went monthly and suddenly seemed self-consciously arty, if not downright pretentious. But magazines and their editors change over the years ...(magazines label). "Sight & Sound" can keep going decade after decade as it has the BFI (British Film Institute) money, while other privately-owned magazines like "Films & Filming" or "Films Illustrated" fold ...

And how do we feel about VERTIGO at number one? Some do not even regard it as the best Hitchcock. VERTIGO went missing for a long time in the '70s when it and a handful of other Hitch's were out of circulation (in that pre-video age) until he cannily re-released them to cinemas. People didn't see VERTIGO, they remembered it, as Robin Wood said. I love some elements of it - the dreamlike mesmerising early sections as Scottie follows Madeline around that ideal San Francisco, and that stunning transformation scene when Madeline comes back to Scottie, and that spellbinding music score,  its pure cinema obviously but for me NOTORIOUS, REAR WINDOW, PSYCHO, THE BIRDS and NORTH BY NORTHWEST are equally as good.

Now that I have got the new issue, the remainder of the Top 100 are:

53 - Rear Window  / North by Northwest  / Raging Bull  / 56 - M  / Touch of Evil  / The Leopard  / 59 - Sherlock Jr  / Sansho dayu  / Le Maman et la Putain  / Barry Lyndon  / 63 - Modern Times  / Sunset Boulevard  / Night of the Hunter  / Wild Strawberries  / Rio Bravo  / Pickpocket  / 69 - A Man Escaped  / Blade Runner  / Sans Soleil  / Blue Velvet  / 73 - Le Grande Illusion  / Les Enfants du Paradis / The Third Man / L'Eclisse  / Nashville / 78 - Once Upon a Time in the West  / Chinatown / Beau Travail  / 81 - The Magnificent Ambersons / Lawrence of Arabia / The Spirit of the Beehive / 84 - Greed / Casablanca / The Colour of Pomegranates / The Wild Bunch / Fanny and Alexander / A Brighter Summer Day / 90 - Partie de campagne / A Matter of Life and Death / Aguirre Wrath of God / 93 - Intolerance / Un chien andalou / The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp / Madame de ... / The Seventh Seal / Imitation of Life / Touki-Bouki / A One and a Two.

- a few unknown to me here, but most of the usual suspects present .... The breakdowns of how many from each decade, or country, interesting too. There is a selection of the individual voting, and directors' choices - the full lists will be available on line at the BFI website as from 15 August. The new look magazine is better designed too.

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