I saw this Top Ten game on Mubi (a movie-viewing website) and it looked like an inspiring way to reflect upon what I love (and dislike) about cinema.
1. A film you saw as a child (if you never saw one until the brink of adulthood, leave this space blank): The Red Shoes
This Powell & Pressburger classic from 1948 is the film I first remember falling in love with when I was about 6 (my brother adored it too). I loved the dance, the music, the romance, the clothes and the frightening fairy-tale atmosphere. The tragic last scene appeared in my dreams again and again.
2. A film you haven’t seen yet but anticipate very highly and positively. Why? Whip It
Because it was recommended by Laura and she has great taste in movies, plus I love the idea of feisty women on roller skates.
3. A film a friend turned you onto or gave you as a blind gift, not sure whether or not you would like it, or something you were invited to see in a similar sense and felt gravely disappointed. What impression, if any, has it left? Eyes Wide Shut
So many people recommended this to me and it apparently has hidden depths - but although I was engrossed while watching it, ultimately I found it shallow and cold.
4. A film you stumbled onto without knowing what it was about and the impression it left on you. Stalker
I had no idea what to expect when I watched this film by Tarkovsky for the first time, I had just heard the director's name and picked this film at random. It is one of my favourite films. I still don't understand it, but its mysterious mixture of poetry, fluidity, atmosphere and dreamlike beauty is somehow intensely haunting and beautiful. If you get the (rare) chance: it is best of all on the big screen.
5. The kind of film you would be willing to subject a child to, be it your own or somebody else’s, on the idea that they ought to be opened up to that kind of experience. Ponyo
We recently started watching Disney movies with our 2 year-old, which is great. But I think Studio Ghibli Japanese anime films are an essential mind-opening experience for children. I love their ecological messages and non-Western perspective on the world.
6. The kind of film your father and/or mother would like. If they have separate tastes, feel free to put in two entries on this number. Closely Observed Trains
My mother loves what might be called World Cinema and films that stimulate her intellectual curiosity - this is the kind of film she brought me up on. My dad's taste is a bit less highbrow. But I think they probably both saw and loved this 1966 Czech film together, so that's my pick. I love it too but haven't watched it for a long while. I just remember that it made me weep, and also a scene involving nubile thighs and some official rubber stamps...
7. The kind of film you would fear may someday be banned in your own country. Why? I'm leaving this blank as I can't even begin to let myself imagine films being banned in the UK in this day and age! I don't believe in films being banned, even odious ones. Sadly I can imagine politically provcative films being banned someday, but I can't think of any examples.
8. A film that strikes you as honest and genuine, something that is at the top of its form or without comparison. Tomboy
I saw this film at the Cambridge Film Festival last year and was blown away. I already loved Céline Sciamma's previous film Water Lilies (2007) but this film about a young girl who is mistaken for a boy - and plays on it - is especially nuanced, and captures childhood beautifully...the way growing up is all about playing and pretending, and working out how far such games can go in the real world. Definitely unusual and wonderfully honest.
9. A film that has tried to strike the same chord in you as number 8 but ended up being something lowly and pathetically predictable by the end. The Sixth Sense
This was really hard. It's rare I ever watch something that I would describe as "lowly". I thought of The Sixth Sense because I found it disappointing, even though it intrigued me at first: there were too many clichés about human relationships, and I guessed the twist way before the end. I did really like the 2004 film The Village by the same director, M. Night Shalayan, however, and the twist in that one blew me away! I'm not really into scary movies, but I prefer them when they have more to say than just shocks and scares, like the amazing Japanese film Dark Water by Hideo Nakata (2002) which is so beautiful about the mother-child relationship.
10. If there’s one film that was to be sent off to a distant life-inhabited planet somewhere or perhaps to an uncharted and unexplored island or nation somewhere whose people never knew anything of film, what would you send them? Vertigo
I've posted about my love of Hitchcock before (here). He really set the standard for perfectly crafted, visually clever cinema and I think my favourite Hitchcock film, Vertigo, would be a great way to discover the power of cinema to tell a gripping, complex story and take you on a journey, to conjure atmosphere and to convey emotion. And then there's that amazing reverse tracking-shot forward-zoom in the bell tower that gives a truly dizzying evocation of the sensation of vertigo. A masterpiece!
Will you take up the challenge? I would love to see your answers if you do!