It is terribly presumptuous of me to think that the collective community that is Matchflicks have not seen any of the films on this list. It is also quite assumptive of me to speculate that there is no Matchflicker (Heh heh, I love that term, it could be a title of a film about a teenage pyromaniac) out there that has seen all of them. Ghastly behaviour on my part really.
Seriously, I could have, maybe should have, named this column something else entirely. "The top ten films I would have hoped that you have seen, but arrogantly suspect you have not". Oh dear, too rude. "The top ten non-American films that don't come to mind straight away, but utterly deserve a viewing nonetheless". That would have sufficed, or I could have just as easily been honest; "The top ten films Xavier has been scouring his mind and DVD collection for in a misguided attempt to make you think he is erudite, hip and likes to read subtitles". I DO like reading subtitles, I am however, not that cool.
Anyways, on with the show. If you have seen any of the below films give yourself ten points. If per chance you get to one-hundred and ten, I'll come and give you a sloppy, wet and slightly inappropriate kiss.
Ahhh, the French. They are crazy. This is not simply my opinion, it is fact. Look it up in the dictionary, French; Loopy. This is all too evident in their film-making. I suppose on paper this film looks like a typical mid-life crisis, unhappy marriage, I-want-to-have-an-affair yarn, just simply done in a French way. The result is quite perturbing. If you saw this film and based your views of French culture on it, you would never visit France. Which would be a shame. The reality however is possibly a lot more worrying. After multiple viewings I have come to the opinion that this story is more than likely happening in countries and continents the world over. I am more than familiar with jealousy and longing and these feelings are presented in a slightly uncomfortable if not convincing way. I especially enjoyed the 'high speed' moped chases.
9. Amores Perros
Mexican cinema has been bubbling under the mainstream for some time now, I feel that a breakthrough is imminent. With films such as this earning Oscar nominations and demonstrating exceptional writing, direction and acting, I would hope it will not be long before we are parting with our hard earned cash on a regular basis for more tequila inspired movies. Amores Perros is one of those twisty-turny stories in the vein of GO or CRASH, and just as clever. The production team were also responsible for more familiar titles such as 21 GRAMS and BABEL, but just to go against the grain I feel that this film is slightly better. It may be the snippets of the disturbingly realistic dog-fighting scenes. ? All in all, it is quite the roller coaster. And a most enjoyable one at that to.
Oh deary, deary me. This film has caused a little bit of a stir. To put it plainly, it is very sick. And in not a completely good way. You do not look to Hungary for a visionary director, I personally don't look to Hungary for much at all. Well maybe they put on a good Grand Prix, but I fail to think of a film from the troubled Eastern European former super power. Perhaps that is why Gyorgy Palfi feels that he has to shock to get our attention. He got my attention. You would have thought that in an age of HOSTEL and SAW we could be desensitised to blood and gore. I was most certainly not in the least prepared for this. Masturbation and projectile vomiting aside, I'm am not sure if I can think of blood (yes,blood) in the same way again. I'm a tad apprehensive for the moment I will next cut myself (it was very recently I
watched this). Nevertheless, it provoked an extreme reaction in me, and I should applaud the flick for it. I'm guessing you will either be enthralled and appreciative of this or totally disgusted. Think hard before renting TAXIDERMIA.
Way-Hey! Here come the French again! Let the craziness continue. This film is fabulously all over the place and it is not until the end that it
resembles any sort of sense. Again a story of wanton, lusty misadventures, the French certainly do like their infidelity. And again, it is a male who, obviously not having seen L'ENNUI, and oblivious to his own mental health issues thinks he can have his cake and eat it. He could be forgiven as it is Monica Beliucci that is the object of his desire, although he does get involved with her 'flatmate', simply because she looks like her (despite the fact that I don't think she does). Confused? Yeah, well, that is an understatement. What you can expect are the almost Hitchcock-esque moments of finger chewing suspense and a conclusion that will leave you frantically reaching for an oxygen mask.
6. Human Traffic
You may have possibly seen this, if you are from my side of the pond it is essential viewing. Think DAZED AND CONFUSED but not in college, in Britland, with a hell of a lot more narcotics. And a slightly more 'dancy' soundtrack. When released, it was touted as the new TRAINSPOTTING, the subject matter however is not as dark and a little less sombre. The aspect that resonated with myself, my friends, my Welsh cousins (it is set in Cardiff) and the rest of my immediate generation was the true to life reality of twenty-something existence; work your baws off in your Mcjob during the week, and blow off all that steam at the weekend. I see this as an almost perfect snapshot of late nineties life, and I am always happy to revisit it from time to time. You may find some of the acting a little un-sensational, false even. I think it just adds to the appeal.
Luc Besson has made some gems in his time, and this is no exception. His fascination/obsession with unique and strong female characters continues. Primarily it is a story of troubled and confused Andre, a man trying to escape the demons of his past. Enter Angela, played by the spookily tall Rie Rasmussen. She then accompanies Andre through a series of encounters with some unsavoury folk and helps him build his confidence in some bizarre and well, odd ways. It is a love story, albeit a weird one. It is a little confusing at times but ultimately it is quite touching. I believe this is Besson's latest film, and a return to excellence I feel.
You have seen PAN'S LABYRINTH right? If not, then make it number eleven. If you have then let me introduce you to director Guillermo Del Toro's
debut. At a glance it appears to be a Spanish tinged take on a familiar monster ethos, the legend of the Vampire. Look a little deeper and this horror with awesome special effects also plays host to some topically political undertones. Plainly put, I cannot sing the praises of this film too much. Notably it is one of the few films in recent years that has managed to make me jump. In addition we can see one of of my favourite 'supporting' actors in action, Ron Perlman, often overlooked but always impressive, he demonstrates an underlying chemistry with his director. They would very soon team up again for the delightful HELLBOY. If you are a horror fan, then you must see this. Saying that, you should see it even if you are not a fan of the genre. That is why it is on this list.....
3. He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
Strike four for the French, it was not intentional, they really do make good movies.
And yet again the Garlically inclined tease us with a tale of...slightly potty behaviour. Almost the flip of L'Ennui, the focus is now on the better smelling half of the species. Written and Directed by Laetitia Colobani we follow a seemingly sweet looking art student Angelique (a name chosen for the irony I'm sure, it was not lost on me despite being terribly cliched. The films only misgiving, in my opinion) as she systematically strips down the sanity of the family of her chosen 'prey'. Halfway through the first time I watched this I thought of FATAL ATTRACTION, it however both sweeter and more frightening at the same time. The real joy of this film is the actress that plays Angelique. Audrey Tatou is the antithesis of the character she played in a certain other French masterpiece, a film which I refuse to mention simply because it seems I name check it in every other column. My own little obsession perhaps.
2. Fanny And Alexander
You will have certainly heard of this, if you can't recall whether or not you have seen it, then you haven't. At five hours long and with four Oscars under its belt, forgettable it is not. Rightly regarded as Ingmar Bergman's masterpiece, the film is as hard work and as thought provoking as a philosophy degree. Do not let that put you off though, at the end it is rewarding, heart warming and quite simply brilliant. Set in Sweden, it chronicles a year in the life of two children that are forced to live through the estrangement of their father and the uncomfortable realisation that family life may never be the same again. Heavy stuff you may think, but in the same way that FROM DUSK 'TILL DAWN segued from a heist movie to horror, this epic becomes magical and unfathomable in a blink of an eye. Three of the four Oscars were for best cinematography, art direction and costume design and indeed, the film looks stunning. It also does not feel five hours long, unlike say, any of the LORD OF THE RINGS films, the only reminder of it's length is when you have to load up the second disc. I cannot recall if this film has ever been shown on television in it's full format, excuse enough to go out and buy it. Despite being twenty-five years old, it still feels as fresh as a chilled baby wipe and I would probably insist that this is the most essential movie on this essential list. Give yourself twenty points if you have seen this one.
1. The Host
OK, so this is the film you have most likely seen, It has only been recently released in the western world so it will not be too hard to track down in your local rental store. Describing it is easy; it's a monster movie. Woo-Hoo! It is a very, very good monster movie at that. I think it succeeds where GODZILLA and KING KONG failed. Excellent special effects aside (and not just CGI it should be noted) it is also in places superbly witty. I wouldn't expect anything less with a cast that includes Bae Doo-Na, Ko A-Sung and Byun Hee-Bong (if you listen carefully you can hear me giggling like a moronic child). To date this is the highest grossing film in Korean cinema history, and that is saying something as I regard the Koreans second only to the Japanese when it comes to creepy fright fests. Director Bong Joon-Ho (smirk) seems to have aimed for a more mainstream feel though, you can easily spot a few Hollywoodisms in there. This may or may not have anything to do with some funding from a couple of British sources, I was surprised to learn that it received financial backing from Sky Movies and it is nice to know that our Lottery commission has finally decided to splash the cash to more worthwhile causes in the name of entertainment. Stuck for a film to watch tonight? Look no further.
So, do I owe anyone kisses?
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