It’s because of this that we at HeyUGuys (and in this case we is myself and Barry) have decided to set ourselves a project. To watch and review all 250 movies on the list. We’ve frozen the list as of January 1st of this year. It’s not as simple as it sounds, we are watching them all in one year, 125 each.
This is our 28th update, my next five films watched for the project. You can find all our previous week’s updates here.
This week gave me the chance to revisit some great great movies with the highlights being the revisit to the classics Pulp Fiction and Brazil, a wonderful first time watch of Night of the Hunter where Robert Mitchum produced one of the creepiest performances ever, I got another watch of the brilliant animated film in Princess Mononoke and an average probably undeserving placed film in our list for James Bond return in Casino Royale.
On a side note it is interesting to see that Christopher Nolan’s Inception has jumped into 3rd place in the IMDb250 best films with a score of 9.1, will it hold its place? I reckon it could and for a longer time than many people would expect, but who knows if a film like Brazil can drop out of the 250!
No. 120 – Princess Mononoke (1997) – Rating 8.2
Another masterpiece of animation from Studio Ghibli and one of the greatest animators of all time in Hayao Miyazaki, No.120 on our list is Princess Mononoke.
I think Princess Mononoke was my launch pad into the world of Ghibli and it was where my personal collection started to grow of Miyazaki’s classic movies as it offers so much entertainment from stunning animation, excellent story and a wondrous imagination of worlds and characters that just can’t be missed.
The story of Princess Mononoke or to give its native name “Mononoke-hime” is about the conflict of man and nature that takes place in ancient Japan at the dawn of the Age of Iron. A Cursed God in the form of a boar covered in worm like creatures attacks a small village destroying everything in its path in a visually stunning opening sequence that just blows my mind every time I see it. Ashitaka (Billy Crudup) rides head on to face it to protect his village and he succeeds in killing the creature but his arm comes in contact with the beast and he gets a curse that will eventually kill him. Ashitaka is told that his only hope for survival is to travel West and find the Forest Spirit who may approve to cure him so Ashitaka heads off with his faithful Elk Yakul in an adventure full of danger and destiny.
Ashitaka eventually comes to Irontown after battles with samurai that he fights off with his new found power due to his cursed arm, Iron Town is a remote place built into a hill that has destroyed the surrounding forest for their production of Iron, it’s populated by outcasts and ruled by the Lady Eboshi (horribly voiced by Minnie Driver). Iron town is under siege from samurai and is also waging a war with the Boar Gods and other Gods of the Mountains including Wolf God, Moro (Gillian Anderson) her two sons and her human daughter San (aka “Princess Mononoke”, voiced by Claire Danes) due to the damage to the forest. San attacks the town alone to kill Lady Eboshi where Ashitaka saves her life but gets shot in the process, San brings him to the Forest Spirit that heals his wound but does not remove the curse.
The story then follows Ashitaka and San caught between warring humans and forest creatures and a hunt for the elusive Forest spirit by a monk and his men to get its head for their own selfish reasons, ever the peacemaker Ashitaka tries to prevent all sides from unleashing a war that will destroy everyone but with the Gods and lady Eboshi intent on winning at all costs, however the murder of the Forest Spirit decides the outcome of the war for all.
The story is original with interesting characters that are all well designed with imagination and depth, the tale of industry destroying nature is all to common and familiar and equally hard hitting in its message. Miyazaki knows how to tell a story and by adding some striking animation that at times is breathtaking whether it’s the action battle scenes or subtle background details or beautiful realised scenery, all make it your typical Studio Ghibli sky high level of quality that just doesn’t come with your regular animated movies and just have to be seen to be believed. Princess Mononoke’s only let down is if you watch the Americanised vocal talent dubbing, which I did unfortunately as my copy was in storage, some of the voices don’t fit like Minnie Driver’s English accent which was clearly too flat and boring to fit a powerful female character of Lady Eboshi but that is a minor gripe resolved by only watching the original language version which I would do given the choice.
Princess Mononoke is a wonderful example of Studio Ghibli running at full steam and if you haven’t yet entered the realms from the mind of Hayao Miyazaki then Mononoke is an excellent place to start.
No. 244 – Casino Royale (2006) – Rating 7.9
There is no surprise that since we started the IMDb project, Casino Royale has dropped out of the IMDb top 250 films and I doubt it will find its way back into it. Although it is one of the best Bond films ever made it’s by no means one of the finest 250 films ever made by a long shot.
The rebirth of James Bond, played excellently by Daniel Craig, is quite literally a new beginning for the franchise, showing how 007 got his double 0 Licence to Kill and adding a very different take on the Bond mythology with very few gadgets and more well choreographed action and story but James Bond is pretty much just an endless stream of remakes so you know what your going to get.
The film opens up showing Bond brutally killing a few bad guys to earn his 007 ranking and then going rogue after one of the best James Bond action sequences ever as he chases a parkour trained villain (He must be bad as he has scars all over his face) up, down, over and through a building site finishing at a foreign embassy where he breaks all kinds of foreign policies by trespassing and blowing most of it up to get some vital information that leads him to Le Chiffre, a banker to the world’s terrorist organizations.
MI6 reveals that Le Chiffre is planning to raise money using his clients collateral, in a high-stakes poker game at Le Casino Royale in Montenegro so James Bond is assigned to play against him to win and destroy the Organization. Bond works alongside Vespa Lynd (Eva Green) the MI6 treasury accountant who tries to keep him on a leash but as the card game reaches its climax with bluffs, attempted murder and bond eventually winning millions, Le Chiffre kidnaps Vespa then captures Bond, trying to force the code for the winnings out of him in the most eye watering way, and then some strange rushed further plot development is added of Vespa double crossing Bond for the money because her boyfriend was kidnapped and held for ransom, Vespa dies and Bond hunts down the man behind it ending with the start of Quantum of Solace.
There is definitely a lot to like from James Bond part 22 with Daniel Craig impressing as the tux wearing agent despite the negativity surrounding his appointment, he has a fantastic mean streak and presence on the screen that works perfectly and matched with a very good storyline, especially the Poker tournament and events that surround, it makes it one of the most enjoyable Bond movies of all time and as I said the opening action sequence was one hell of a way to introduce Bond back after the Pierce Brosnan era.
The film hit a low when the funniest line I think I’ve ever heard was delivered, which makes me cringe every time I hear it, as Eva Green says to a testicle battered Bond “James, I want you to know that if all that was left of you was your smile and your little finger, you’d still be more of a man than any I’ve known”, I remember laughing out loud with a number of people in the cinema, it is so ridiculous. Apart from the dramatic change of story at the end and that it runs for far too long it’s a pretty fine film and with the way things are going with the franchise at the moment we may have witnessed Daniel Craig’s best performance as James Bond in 1 out of 2 films.
No. 245 – Brazil (1985) – Rating 7.9
Brazil is just one of the greatest movies ever made, and seeing that it has also dropped out of the IMDb250 list since we started the project is a travesty it is more surprising that it doesn’t hold a higher position in it.
Brazil is Terry Gilliam at his best, both visually and creatively and there is nothing else like it in the IMDb250 list as it has some of the most incredible visual settings, idea’s, characters and scenes of all time. Some are so striking that I remember images from it when I caught glimpses of it as a child on TV when I was at an age that I had no real interest in anything on the box unless it had the Muppet’s performing but the shot of a man wearing a baby face mask in some strange vast room (See attached image) stuck with me and triggers my infant memory when I re-watch it, It’s one of my favourite ever movie moments.
The story of Brazil is set in one of the most fascinating worlds ever created where our hero Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) is a statistician working in the Ministry of Information who daydreams of being a superhero with wings trying to save a girl. A sequence of events is set off when a bug in the computer system causes a glitch altering the arrest record for a terrorist named Tuttle (Robert De Niro) to read Buttle which leads him to be killed during interrogation. Lowry is charged with investigating the mishap and comes to visit the Buttle family and meets neighbour Jill Layton (Kim Greist) who is the same woman as in his dreams but is also now considered a terrorist due to her complaints. Lowry also happens to come across the real Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro), a renegade expert air conditioning maintenance worker who once worked for the government but left due to the amount of paperwork, Robert De Niro puts in such a great performance.
Sam Lowry realises the only way to learn about Jill is to transfer to the Information Retrieval department where he would have access to her records and learn more about her and so after a quick promotion due to his plastic surgery obsessed mother having friends in high places Sam ends up in Information Retrieval. He locates Jill before she is arrested and the pair fall in love but Sam is arrested for misusing his position and is taking for interrogation by his once good friend Jack Lint played by the always excellent Michael Palin, a wonderful sequence then takes place with Sam being rescued by Tuttle and after escaping events start to go strange with Tuttle being engulfed in rubbish paper and disappearing, Sam appears in his dream world reliving all his horrors but finally ends up with Jill travelling into the sunset….or does he. Depending on which version you watch I hope you never see the Happy Ending!
The story of Brazil is very hard to summarise which is what I had real trouble doing above, but those that know and love the film know it’s so much more than just a few paragraphs of description. It’s just a mind blowing experience from the moment we see Sam taking flight to the computer screen magnifiers or the pipe filled homes of the cities residents, it’s a look just so incredible and creative in a way that only Gilliam can display. The characters we meet along the way are also brilliantly crafted and realised like Jim Broadbent’s excellent plastic surgeon Dr.Jaffe or the superb Ian Holm as Lowry’s boss Mr Kurtzmann and especially De Niro’s portrayal of Tuttle, all make Brazil a truly awe inspiring movie that even on a cheap budget does more than most CGI movies can realising a dystopian future.
Terry Gilliam is a genius and to see how his films have been received is clearly down to a matter of taste, i can fully understand why some people don’t like his work but for me it’s all so much more than just a film it’s a pure work of art displaying in front of your eyes from the mind of a creative legend, not many directors have that talent and none come anywhere near as close to him.
Check out the ‘What is Brazil’ Documentary below if you find time, it’s a stunning watch.
No. 5 – Pulp Fiction (1994) – Rating 8.9
Pulp Fiction is another glorious film that fully deserves its place in the top 10 of the IMDb250 best films, at the time in 1994 there was nothing like it from the posters that filled bus stop shelters and billboards displaying the iconic characters to the music that was being played everywhere from the soundtrack, there was a buzz I’ve never experienced from a movie before and after watching it everyone came out thinking the same thing “That film was bloody incredible!, and it is definitely a film I wish I could experience again for the first time.
Told in what is now typical non-linear Tarantino fashion Pulp Fiction tells the it’s story in three intertwining tales starting and finishing with a middle part of the now iconic “I love you Pumpkin, I Love you Honey Bunny” scene with Ringo (Tim Roth) and Yolanda (Amanda Plummer) being minor minor characters but some of the best loved. The film branches off into following two hit men Jules Winnfield (Samuel L Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) as they casually chat about Amsterdam, foot massages on their way to interrogate and execute some guys that have come into possession of a briefcase belonging to Marsellus Wallace containing something that flashes a golden light, it’s another classic quotable scene “Say What AGAIN” and that’s four unforgettable moments in the opening 10-15 minutes that’s topped off with the career defining Jules Winnfield’s preach “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men…” glorious.
We follow Fox Force Five’s Mrs Mia Wallace go on a date with Vincent Vega where they drink, dine, dance and she ODs on drugs followed by her being brought back with a shot of adrenaline through the breast plate with some help from Eric Stoltz and Rosanna Arquette to leave Vincent safe from retribution from Marsellus.
The comes the story of boxer Butch Coolidge who goes on the run from Marsellus Wallace after not taking a dive in a fight, we learn of his prized watch that’s been stuck up a few arse’s and we witness how Butch gets let off his debt by helping Marsellus from some hillbilly rapists by using his weapon of choice and leaving the soon to be dead Zed with Wallace for his own revenge. We then go back a bit and see the aftermath of the briefcase scene at the start of the film and get Marvin’s brain covering a car where Jules and Vincent get the help of Harvey ‘The Wolf ‘ Keitel to clean up and they end up back at where we started with Ringo and Yolanda in the diner to conclude one of the most entertaining movies of the 90’s, arguably the best.
Everyone whose seen Pulp Fiction can list of their favourite scenes, quote their favourite lines, identify music from the soundtrack or list the film references that are the inspiration for Tarantino’s creation, it’s a unique movie that was more than just a cool movie that’s high in style, it’s got a brilliant sense of humour, unexpected great acting from a surprising cast, pure energy that never lets go from start to finish and a story that you just want to run and run. I adore every second of Pulp Fiction and every time I watch it I notice something new and never tire of its perfection, it’s an absolute classic and a film that will surely hold its place in the IMDb250 top 10 for years to come.
No. 172 – The Night of the Hunter (1955) – Rating 8.1
This is Robert Mitchum’s film from his first appearance to the last and it’s easily one of the creepiest from the IMDb list, whether it’s his story of Love and Hate or his spine tingling song he sings nothing is more menacing and it makes it one of the most distinctive and unforgettable movies I’ve seen.
The film has a simple plot about a father called Ben Harper (Peter Graves) who is arrested after robbing a bank and killing two people but as he is about to be taken by the police he hides the money in his little girl’s doll and tells both his daughter and his older son to not tell anyone where it’s hidden.
The kids manage to keep their mouths shut but their father does not keep all his secrets safe and the person he tells of the money is his cell mate Harry Powell (Mitchum), a man of god who wears his suit with class and whose deep voice reflects a decent and good guy but with tattoo’s of LOVE and HATE on his knuckles and the dead look in his eyes as he preaches it tells a different story. Powell learns from Harper about the money, the place he lived but not its location so when Powell completes his time in prison he heads towards the money and ends up marrying the Harper’s wife (Shelley Winters) to get closer to the kids as he learns they know the money’s location.
Powell progresses his boogie-man statue by murdering his new wife leaving nothing between him and the kids who flee in a boat down a river in a truly visual nightmarish scene with Powell pursuing on foot casually singing his theme tune hymn that freaks me out. The kids eventually end up taking refuge in a home for abandoned children and looked after by scripture-quoting Rachel Cooper (Lillian Gish) where the battle of the good and evil between Harry Powell and Rachel Cooper is the essence of the film’s final third and the climax to Powell’s stalking of the children.
The Night of the Hunter is a great film and for such a simple story its incredibly unique and beautiful at the perfect moments especially when it’s at its most terrifying. Robert Mitchum gives one of my favorite performances from the project so far and even comes close to being one of my favourite screen villains of all time too. The cinematography is utter class with shots of shadows lurking from darkness producing some of the films greatest shots that have been copied to death in endless horror films since. The Night of the Hunter is a truly wonderful experience that really surprised me, I never expected a film like it or expected such a career defining performance from Mitchum and it’s one of those times that I’m so glad i’m doing IMDb250 project so that i get to see films I may never got round to seeing.
You can find Barry’s next update next week, catch you in two.
Don’t forget, you can follow our progress on Twitter at http://twitter.com/baz_mannand http://twitter.com/Gary_Phillips