The 50 greatest debut movies: part two

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In part two we're chopping meat with Gaspar Noe and getting misanthropic with Alex Cox, before stuffing foil-wrapped cucumbers down our trousers with the Spinal Tap boys and attempting to dance the hornpipe with Gene Kelly...

Click here for 30 through to 21

40. Seul Contre Tous (1998)

Directed by Gaspar NoeAn ex-con horsemeat butcher slices to the dark heart of FranceThe impression one gets of Gaspar Noe is that he’s been a right troublemaker since the day he escaped the womb. Progenitor of a small but thoroughly debauched oeuvre, this 1998 debut – which rejoins characters and story from Noe's 1991 short film ‘Carne’ – remains his most disturbing, angry and politically eloquent film to date. Phillipe Nahon is the lumbering butcher who is released from jail to rejoin a society peopled by impoverished grotesques, only to pack everything in to go on a search for his only true love: his estranged, mentally handicapped daughter. With edits that are more often than not coupled with the sound of a shotgun blast, an interior monologue narration which drips with bile and even a sign popping up during the finale warning us that we’ve got 30 seconds to leave the cinema before witnessing what it claims to be the most violent scene in movie history, this is a feelbad slab of sensory bombast to rival the best of ‘em. DJWatch the trailer
Read the Time Out review

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39. Repo Man (1984)

Directed by Alex CoxRadical DIY science fiction for the Blank GenerationA sequel, clumsily entitled ‘Repo Chick’, may be on its way, but we’re not holding our breaths: Alex Cox’s star has been on the wane for a while now. But there’s no arguing with his phenomenal debut: very few films on this list can claim as many unique ideas, iconic moments and choice lines of dialogue (‘ordinary fuckin’ people… I hate ‘em’) as ‘Repo Man’, the best world-weary, anti-capitalist, anti-religious punk-sci-fi-road-action-gangster-comedy-thriller of them all. TH
Click here to learn the Repo Code Read the Time Out review

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38. Pepi, Luci, Bom... (1980)

Directed by Pedro AlmodóvarBack when Pedro was a punk…Or to give it its wonderful full title, ‘Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls on the Heap’, this gaudy, John Waters-esque debut harks back to a time when writer-director Pedro Almodóvar was more interested in sick than Sirk. Essentially a rambling and rude rape-revenge comedy starring Almodóvar muse Carmen Maura, coherent narrative plays second fiddle to a succession of scenes which shed light on the underground punk scene of post-Franco Madrid. Sure, there’s a certain juvenile tinge to proceedings (a lengthy backyard penis measuring competition anyone?), but its interest in liberated women, alternative lifestyles and louder-than-loud costumes and colour schemes set the template for future classics like ‘The Flower of My Secret’, ‘All About My Mother’ and ‘Volver’. DJWatch a clip from the film

Read the Time Out review

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37. Man Bites Dog (1992)

Directed by Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, Benoît PoelvoordeLook ma! I’m being killed on TV!Benoît Poelvoorde, – charming, literate, sadistic star of monochrome mock-doc ‘Man Bites Dog’ – remains one of Europe’s most underrated comedy actors. He plays Ben, a terrifyingly nonchalant serial killer whose various brutal acts are all caught on camera by an increasingly slavish and desensitised film crew. Its deadly serious and highly plausible thesis – that physical closeness to violence over a long period of time can provoke similar heinous actions – is shrouded within an ironic knockabout comedy concerning the crazed lengths the media will go to in order for an original subject. DJWatch the trailer
Read the Time Out review

This Is Spinal Tap.jpg

36. This is Spinal Tap (1982)

Directed by Rob ReinerTop mock rock doc and shock flop‘Enduring appeal’ doesn’t even begin to cover the global legacy of Reiner’s first time up to bat: a dismal failure on first release, ‘Spinal Tap’ has since become a global industry churning out T-shirts, figurines, CDs and multiple special edition DVDs. None of which can dim the brilliance of this timeless, tireless if-you-will rockumentary. TH
Click here to watch the classic 'cheese rolling' trailer Read the Time Out review

Diner.jpg

35. Diner (1982)

Directed by Barry LevinsonThe late peak of the '50s nostalgia boomIt could have been an unholy mess; a rudderless soap about five guys sitting around an all-night caff kvetching about their lives and loves. Toss in the ‘lovingly rendered’ '50s setting and a clutch of doo-wop musical cues that are more predictable than both death and taxes and it’s hard to convince anyone who hasn’t seen ‘Diner’ that they should rectify the situation any time soon. This bald description, of course, does not factor in Levinson’s uncanny facility for creating memorable, fully-fleshed characters from a few lines or movements, or his ability to address the demands of an ensemble cast that would go on to serve him so well in ‘Tin Men’ (1987), ‘Avalon’ (1990) and ‘Sleepers’(1996). ‘Diner’, as with so many of these mob-handers, also served as a launching pad for a wild array of future stars such as Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon and – work with us here! – Steve Guttenberg. ALDClick here for the infamous popcorn scene

Read the Time Out review

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34. A Bout De Souffle (Breathless) (1959)

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
Say goodbye. Wave hello
And with a hop, a skip and a jump cut, the French New Wave was born. Godard’s supercool distortion of Hollywood b-picture tropes was born out of a news story involving a armed killer on the run, but the director shuns obvious noir trappings in favour of documenting the criminal’s (Jean Paul Belmondo) swaggering, amorous advances towards an elfin newspaper saleswoman (Jean Seberg). In terms of style, rhythm, editing and storytelling emphasis, there’s no doubt at all that this is one seminal movie, even if, with the gift of hindsight, JLG would go on to make a number of much more intellectually nourishing films later in his illustrious career. DJ
Watch the trailer here
Read the Time Out review

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33. On The Town (1949)

Directed by Stanley Donen & Gene KellyAnd it's a hell of a town...On the Town’? Isn’t that the one where Gene Kelly spends 15 minutes Lindy-hopping with a cartoon mouse? No, that’s the hugely inferior ‘Anchors Aweigh’ from 1945. You’d be forgiven for making that mistake, as their storylines (a group of bumptious, wolf-whistling US sailors look for love on furlough in the Big City), cast (Kelly & Sinatra) and production company (MGM) are all identical. The one not-so-subtle difference is that ‘On the Town’ not only boasts dazzling choreography and a tranche of swinging tunes penned by Leonard Bernstein, but also radiates a down-and-dirty energy due to the fact that Donen decided to take the stuffy studio musical out on to the mean streets of New York. DJ
Watch the first big number here
Read the Time Out review

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32. Bottle Rocket (1996)

Directed by Wes AndersonForget the Fox – rock the RocketIndie-kook godhead Anderson’s career has shown signs of going off the boil of late, but from his snappy debut feature right up until ‘The Life Aquatic’ (2004), he was cooking on laughing gas. This debut feature not only showcased his charming taste in geek-retro mise-en-scène and affinity for life’s runners-up, but also introduced the world to the drawling, permanently perplexed and wholly agreeable fraternal pairing of Owen (who also co-scripted) and Luke Wilson. ALDWatch the trailer

Read the Time Out review

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31. Targets (1968)

Directed by Peter BogdanovichOne of the first flowerings of the movie-brat generationIngenuity in action: handed several reels of an unfinished Boris Karloff old-dark-house chiller by his boss Roger Corman and told to go nuts, writer and critic Bogdanovich used the footage as the backdrop to an eerie, utterly idiosyncratic tale of an out-to-pasture horror movie star and a dangerously unhinged ex-military sniper on the rampage. TH
Click here to watch the original 1968 trailer

Read the Time Out review
Click here for 30 through to 21

Author: Adam Lee Davies, David Jenkins, Tom Huddleston



Users say

4 comments
s ford
s ford

Maybe not worthwhile of gracing a top 50, but Tolback's Fingers is a great film. Wisconsin Death Trip, was the first sight of James Marsh's mercurial documentary talent. Jean Vigo A Propos De Nice is a wonderful piece of cinema. Another silent film which I think to be more than more than worthy of what is in the top 50 is Melville Webber's 1928 Fall in the House of Usher.

Martinus
Martinus

Anyone ever seen "Här har du ditt liv" / "This Is Your Life" (1966) - Jan Troell's sadly forgotten masterpiece. And what about "Komissar" (1967), the only film made by Aleksandr Askoldov, "Toto Le Héros" (1991) by Jaco van Dormael, "Destiny of a Man" (1959) by Sergei Bondarchuk, "Ossessione" (1943) by Visconti, "The Third Part of the Night" (1971) by Andrzey Zulawski, "La Commare Secca"/"The Grim Reaper" (1962) one of Bertolucci's best movies, "Le Silence de la Mer" (1949) by Jean-Pierre Melville, and the great debut movie "Rachel, Rachel" (1968) directed by Paul Newman! ( a better directing debut than Kubrick, Coppola or Scorsese.) And "Little Odessa" (1994) by James Gray, "Speed" (1994) by Jan De Bont, ...

fairportfan
fairportfan

Further thought - Bogdanovich approached Corman with his idea, and Corman agreed to finance under the condition that costs be kepr down via the methods i alluded to above, rather than Corman approaching Bogdanovich as your comment implies. In my opinion, liely the best thing Bogdanovich ever did, BTW.

fairportfan
fairportfan

Regarding "Targets" - the Karloff film that scenes from appear in "Targets" was, indeed, finished - it's "The Terror" - and a young Jack Nicholson can be seen in at least one of the shots used, looking like a complete dork. What Corman gave Bogdanovich to use to keep costs down (aside from the "The Terror" out takes) was the three days' shooting time that was left on Karloff's most recent contract withhim after the film hd wrapped early. Karloff, however, was so taken with the project that he voluntarily worked past the three days.



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