Time Out's 101 Films of the Decade â Part 6, with reactions from Peter Jackson, David Fincher, Guillermo del Toro and moreâ¦
Part 6 is the sports round: there's tightrope antics in 'Man on Wire', cricket in 'Lagaan', football in 'Together' and little league baseball in 'Mysterious Skin', but if you're really looking to break a sweat why not try Jason Bourne's action-man plan, or George Clooney's train-hop workout?
50. The Bourne Identity (2002, GB/US)Directed by Doug LimanThe Yanks finally get their own asskicking secret agent ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ and ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ are arguably better films, so why are they not on this list? Put simply, Doug Liman’s under-the-radar, Euro-style spy thriller was the first, the one that made us sit up and take notice the moment Matt Damon’s confused, emotionless agent-on-the-run first displayed his unparalleled talent for close-quarters, hand-to-hand combat. The fact that he didn’t know how he came to be such a remarkably effective expert at self-defence naturally made the mysterious political plot all the more intriguing. Consistently entertaining, ably performed, and graced with some of the most convincing fight choreography in filmdom, it even inspired Bond’s filmmakers to rethink their whole approach. Bourne vs Bond? I know which one my money’s on. DARead the Time Out review
49. Last Resort (2000, GB)Directed by Pawel PawlikowskiNo, this is EnglandFollowing on from a fruitful career in documentary filmmaking, Pawlikowski transferred his keen eye for social iniquity to this heartbreaking debut drama about a displaced Russian immigrant (Dina Korzun) who, along with her errant young son, is impounded in Margate (though it may as well be Hades) when her fiancé fails to collect her from the airport. Though her attempts to return to Russia are scuppered by the local police, a knight in shining armour (well, a blue and orange tracksuit top, to be exact) materialises in the form of Paddy Considine’s chipper amusement arcade attendant. As stark social realism goes, ‘Last Resort’ heads the pack as a result of its willingness to blend in its resonant political message with a smouldering romance between the two leads. And if the scene where the pair start waltzing to ‘Down Town’ in the middle of a grotty bingo hall doesn’t have you clawing for the Kleenex, then hit the doctors, sonny, ‘cos you’re dead inside. DJRead the Time Out review
48. Mysterious Skin (2004, US)Directed by Gregg ArakiSome memories are best left repressedOnce the enfant terrible of the gay filmmaking underground, Gregg Araki grew up and branched out with this self-penned adaptation of Scott Heim’s novel. But increased maturity didn’t entail the expected compromise: ‘Mysterious Skin’ is a furious piece of work, conveying in stark terms the brutal legacy of childhood sexual abuse. And whenever Araki’s gloriously unfettered direction – incorporating spaceships, haunted houses and psychedelic showers of Froot Loops – threatens to become overly dreamlike and indulgent, the film is hauled back to earth by its remarkable young cast, notably Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a career-best turn as a shattered, nihilistic rent boy. THRead the Time Out review
47. The House of Mirth (2000, GB)Directed by Terence Davies...and yet Guy Ritchie has no problem finding workTerence Davies’s superb adaptation of Edith Wharton’s novel blows most period dramas out of the water. It's a caustic critique of the cruel, self-serving mores of New York society which come lethally into play when a young beauty (Gillian Anderson, astoundingly good) is said – wrongly, but what of that? – to have had an affair with a ‘friend’s’ philandering husband. Typically Davies eschews melodrama, revealing the story’s tragic elements slowly, surely and, eventually, with enormous power. The final sense of human solitude, waste and injustice is all the more overwhelming due to a refusal throughout to romanticise or sentimentalise. GARead the Time Out review
46. Wendy and Lucy (2008, US)Directed by Kelly ReichardtCos the times they are a-changin' Oh, how the tears did flow for Kelly Reichardt’s awe-inspiring slice of American minimalism, which sees plucky young traveller Wendy (Michelle Williams) forced to stop over in a West Coast nowheresville to repair her car and is given a none-too-sweet taster of life below the poverty belt. To exacerbate matters, she loses her golden retriever Lucy when busted for shoplifting at a local convenience store, and must fretfully negotiate the town underneath a looming bulkhead of existential dislocation. No film this decade has captured the solitary, tortured nobility of life in modern America with the bruised sincerity and stark poetry of Reichardt and writing partner John Raymond’s second collaboration (after 2005’s ‘Old Joy’). In its bittersweet depiction of passing friendships, dying traditions and a country unsure of its economic priorities, it more than deserves to be filed next to such apocalyptic American classics as ‘Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid’ and ‘Heaven’s Gate’. DJRead the Time Out review
Kelly Reichardt on ‘Wendy and Lucy’: ‘It’s representative of a lot of places in America right now. The divide in America between the haves and the have-nots is quite huge. We were thinking a lot about Italian neorealism and how the class themes of those films seemed really relevant at this point in American history. We wrote the film just after Hurricane Katrina, so that was on our minds.’
45. O Brother, Where Art Thou????? (2000, US)Directed by Joel CoenThe grass is always bluerYou get the feeling that the Coen brothers amused even themselves with how far off the reservation they went with their epically weird retelling of Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ set in the Depression-era Deep South. Trading the Mediterranean for Mississippi and the Great Heroes for guileless Herberts, it follows George Clooney’s garrulous, scheming, utterly innocent escaped convict Everett McGill and co. through figurative hell and literal high water as they elude the cops, the Klan and a kooky cast of crazies on their way to buried loot. Crammed with bluegrass toe-tappers™ and bizarro imagery – slo-mo underwater shots of a becalmed bloodhound drifting past the lens constellated by cans of Dapper Dan pomade, anyone? – it gathers an almost willfully disparate medley of ideas into a winning whole and remains a unremittingly unique comedy experience. ALDRead the Time Out review
44. Together (2000, Swe)Directed by Lukas MoodyssonCouldn't escape if they wanted toNo film this decade left audiences floating on such a frothy cloud of ebullience as Lukas Moodysson’s sweet psychedelic comedy. The sounds and images that lingered with us as we walked from the cinema involved a group of hirsute hippies playing football (badly) in the snow while ABBA’s ‘Waterloo’ played out over the credits. Yet, this is no ‘Mamma Mia!’, as Moodysson delicately chronicles the emotional dynamics of a commune in Stockholm circa 1975 from the perspective of a toddler and his teenage sister who have been waylaid there as the result of a parental fracas. While the carpets are shaggier, the drugs are harder, the music tinnier and the pubic hair thicker, this wonderful film speaks volumes about the ways people cohabit, how conflict can develop out of social minutiae, and – most life affirming of all – how it’s sometimes better to tackle your problems, uh, together. DJRead the Time Out review
43. Shaun of the Dead (2004, GB)Directed by Edgar WrightBecause even zombies like a cheeky halfWithout doubt the funniest British rom-com-zom ever made, this has a fair shot at being the decade’s most laugh-out-loud comedy full stop. The much anticipated first feature outing from the creators of cult sitcom ‘Spaced’, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, proved to be the genre busting triumph that everyone had hoped it would be. Shaun (Pegg) is your classic slacker with problems – his relationship is collapsing, he’s in a dead-end job, he’s tormented by his over-critical stepfather and his only respite from this misery is his favourite pub The Winchester, computer games and his uncouth best friend Ed (Nick Frost) and as if that’s not bad enough London is overrun with flesh eating zombies. It’s an adrenaline-fuelled comedic tour de force, a gore-fest of the highest order. As Shaun himself would say ‘fuck-a-doodle-do’ it’s brilliant. Favourite quote: ‘Who died and made you fucking king of the zombies?’ TARead the Time Out review
George A. Romero on ‘Shaun of the Dead’: ‘I just loved it, man; I just loved it. I had no idea it existed. This guy from Universal brought a print to a local cinema in Florida. I called these guys right away; I thought it was just wonderful. There was such affection in it.’
42. Man on Wire (2007, GB)Directed by James MarshAcrobats of loveExploring the 1974 attempt by French wirewalker Philippe Petit to tightrope between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, Marsh’s feature documentary elevates the ‘artist’ and his acolytes, and their already extraordinary feats of technical skill and bravery, into the pantheon of the superhuman. Petit himself is not the easiest person to like, obsessed with his own voice and his own legend. But his enthusiasm is infectious, and any moments of quasi-mystical blather (‘I was lying there, dialoguing with a seagull…’) are undermined by the more down-to-earth recollections of his backup crew. THRead the Time Out review
41. Lagaan (The Tax) (2001, Ind)Directed by Ashutosh GowarikerDon't like cricket? Oh no, I love itThe Oscar-nominated ‘Lagaan’ is a must-see for anyone interested in world cinema and Bollywood. Will a group of illiterate Indian farmers beat officers of the British Raj at a game of cricket so that they can be absolved from paying a dreaded land tax? ‘Lagaan’ broke all the bolly-rules: a bound script, real locations, synch-sound, proper acting and AR Rahman tunes carried the narrative forward. The result was a hugely entertaining film with cricket being used as a metaphor to illustrate the evils of communalism and Empire. Best of all was learning how the game was ‘invented’ by the Indians. ASRead the Time Out review
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