Cinophile: The Top 10 So Far

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This is it, folks, the final act. After writing well over a hundred columns for this series, I need to take a break. Cinophile is not stopping, but it is going away for a sabbatical. Writing about movies is fun, but trying to deliver a cult pick every week gets tricky after a while.

The goal was always to bring something interesting or provocative to the table. I tried to reach across as many genres and time periods as possible. There are glaring blind spots – I have not been able to offer much in terms of romantic comedies or drama. In all these years I never got around to even one Studio Ghibli film. And my quest for cult has hardly scratched the Seventies or earlier.

But all of that may still come. For now it is time to step back a little and start watching movies just for the love of it again. But I can’t leave you hanging. If you have been a reader of Cinophile, I am really happy you took the time to do so and I hope it was worth the effort.

I always thought I would do a ‘last’ column about my all-time favourite film (which I’m pretty certain is Robocop). But this isn’t the last column. So instead, I have looked back on the column’s run and picked ten films that should be on your list:

  • Gone in 60 Seconds

This was my first column and I still love this movie. You see, often whether a movie is good or bad circles around the script and execution. If the story, directing and/or actors were bad, then that’s why a movie sucked. But Gone in 60 Seconds bucks that rule. It has practically no story – unlike the remake there is no motivation other than a big car order. The acting is bad – as if most were just friends and family (which they were). And the directing… there are parts where the story is pushed along with b-roll footage and dodgy voice-overs. What directing? But this was a two act build-up to the longest continuous car-chase in cinema history. It shows what a REAL passion project is. F*ck story, acting or directing. Because Gone in 60 Seconds.

 

  • Timecrimes

Time travel films can take a simple situation and make it really complicated. Movies such as Primer still do my head in – I really don’t know what’s going on. On the other side films like Terminator are just fun for the impossible paradoxes they create. But those that can get it right without going insane, those are the real gems. Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow are good examples, but my vote goes to Timecrimes. This Spanish film managed to both tap the insanity of time travel while still keeping it very real and personal.

 

  • Harvey

This may be the oldest film in the column. Made in the 1950s, it’s a quirky comedy about a man with an invisible friend. Everyone thinks he’s mad – but is he? Or are we crazy for not believing? Harvey was far ahead of its time, but manages to package it in a way that audiences of the 50s could digest this Academy Award winner. There is a lot of subtext that makes some big statements about how we lie to ourselves every day.

 

  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Almost everyone likes musicals. This is easy to determine: did you like The Rocky Horror Picture Show? Yes? Well, there you go. Being into musicals doesn’t mean swearing allegiance to Glee or Pitch Perfect or whatever the genre drums out. A lot can be done with it (if you don’t believe me, watch the devastating Dancer In The Dark). Alas, many musicals that cross the line end up just being rubbish. Not Hedwig. It out-Rocky Horrors everyone else and drops the mic.

 

  • Wheels on Meals

Everyone knows Jackie Chan, but only a number of his Western fans have delved into his Asian work from the Eighties. This was Chan at his godly prime as he took the mantle from Bruce Lee and delivered exceptional work. But while Chan on his own was (and still is) awesome, his friends make it a lot better. Wheels on Meals not only starred Chan’s school buddies Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao (who was the best out of all of them), but was also directed by Hung – that’s a big deal. I sometimes think it’s the best martial arts movie of the Eighties.

 

  • Starcrash

I see your ‘best bad movie ever’ with Starcrash or David Hasselhoff with lightsabres. You’re welcome.

 

  • Visitor Q

Another of my regrets: I didn’t cover nearly enough of Takashi Miike’s films. He is the Christopher Nolan of shock cinema: able to take the intense and grotesque, then present it in a way that is thought-provoking and almost a learning experience. Miike also excels in other genres (ie. 13 Assassins), but he is most consistently great when being provocative. To me Visitor Q is his shock magnum opus: a provocative masterpiece that will make you think differently.

 

  • Koyaanisqatsi

The film that started a new genre. To this day the offspring of Koyaanisqatsi do not show up often. There is no story, just a tapestry of video footage sewn to a mesmerizing soundtrack. The narrative depends on the viewer – as you are flown through slow shots, aerial footage, timelapses and more of landscapes, people, cities, wonders, industry, etc, you decide what you take from it. Okay, the themes in this first film were pretty clear, but they are a lot blurrier in later adaptations such as Samsara and Baraka.

 

  • The Triplets of Belleville

One goal of the column is to highlight lesser-known animated movies. So there are a couple of great films I got to write about, but if I’m really pushed to select one, it’s The Triplets of Belleville. Made in this century, it ignores convention by using traditional 2D animation. But that’s not why I like it. Triplets of Bellville is a French film, but you don’t need subtitles. There is almost no dialogue and the story is told through the actions of the characters. Great animation happens when it communicates through motion and this film does that so amazingly with a fantastic story. It makes me wish Pixar would make a ‘silent’ film and show what they are really capable of.

  • Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky

I’m not sure what the name of the martial arts that Ricky practices is called, but it’s probably “Fuk yu”. Shoot him with a gun? Fuk yu. Shove a nail through his hand? Fuk yu. Sever a tendon in his arm? Fuk yu (and proceed to tie the tendon back in place like it was a shoelace). Giant wall blocking Ricky? Fuk yu. This film is mental.

PS. A number of these are on Youtube, if you know how to look…

Last Updated: October 26, 2015

James

A total movie glutton, nothing is too bad or too obscure to watch, unless it’s something like The Human Centipede. If you enjoyed that, there is something wrong with you. But bless you anyway – even video nasties need love…

  • Ah bloody hell. First my daily wrap up and now Cinophile.

    I think this sums it up for me pretty well.

    • Kervyn Cloete

      Don’t worry, like that bad itch in your unmentionables, Cinophile will be back!

    • All dressed up and nowhere to go?

  • Acornbread

    Thank you for a wonderful column, Cinophile has been a joy. Hope you’ll be back soon!

  • Skyblue

    Thanks for all the great work on Cinophile, been an avid follower since discovering it. :'(

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