Time Out's 101 Films of the Decade – Part 3, with reactions from Peter Jackson, David Fincher, Guillermo del Toro and more…
In Part Three the list goes global: from the Brazilian favelas to the Pennine Way, from a Parisian women's prison to the Amazon rainforest, from the killing fields of Uganda to the picturesque churches of f**king Bruges...
80. Heist (2001, US/Can)Directed by David MametThree twists in every sceneIll-tempered, serpentine and cuss-heavy are terms that are regularly applied to Mamet’s work, but rarely have they been bolted quite so tightly onto as powerful a chassis as this. Duplicity, venality and the long con are once again the order of the day as Gene Hackman and his crew pull one last eye-wateringly complex (and, yes, vastly improbable) heist in order to get out from under Danny DeVito’s implacable mob boss and remove to sunnier climes. It’s a snake-blooded film with a surfeit of testosterone, but if you go in for baffling slang, Byzantine plotting and cold-hearted characters then look no further. ALDRead the Time Out review
79. I've Loved You So Long (2008, Fr)Directed by Philippe ClaudelA powerhouse performance from a cunning linguist An understated French family drama about a woman, just released from a 15-year prison sentence, reuniting with her younger sister has won its place on this list because of its fascinating, complex, conflicted and unreadable central character, and the virtuosity of Kristin Scott Thomas’s subtle yet powerful portrayal. Yes, there’s an element of suspense that drives the narrative forward, but it’s Scott Thomas’s face, appearing in almost every scene, that tells the real story. An outstanding performance which confirms that she has quietly become the finest actress of her generation, a claim further strengthened by her turn in Sam Taylor-Wood’s ‘Nowhere Boy’. SCRead the Time Out review
78. Triple Agent (2004, Fr)Directed by Eric RohmerOctogenarian cinema at its finestThe imperceptible divisions between what people say and what they mean (or, indeed, do) is a theme that crops up in virtually every film from French maestro Eric Rohmer. This exemplary late addition to his worldbeating oeuvre successfully transplants this notion to the relationship between a politically entrenched émigré couple living in pre-World War Two Paris. The title suggests that the director is flirting with genre, but the film itself, though bursting with tense verbal stand-offs and an atmosphere of insidious peril, is a very different beast, instead analysing the relationship between Greek painter Katerina Didaskalou and slippery White Army attaché Serge Renko as the provenance of his ‘business’ starts to get ever more ambiguous. As usual, Rohmer employs simple tools sparingly in the construction of his film, such as newsreel footage and antique costumes to achieve the Parisian period milieu and his use of long takes to capture the dense blocks of dialogue serve to whip up the tensions between this apparently happy couple. The harrowing finale may seem uncharacteristically downbeat, but ‘Triple Agent’ is that rare thing: a film which earns its cynical sign-off. DJ
Eric Rohmer on ‘Triple Agent’: ‘What interested me first when I read an article about the case was that this man had simply vanished in a darkened stairwell. I didn’t want this to be like most spy movies: I didn’t want to provide a definitive solution.’Read the Time Out review
77. City of God (2002, Braz)Directed by Fernando MeirellesSlum stories from hell's front lineAlong with ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’, ‘City of God’ essentially invented the 21st century concept of the foreign-language blockbuster: it played in multiplexes to mass audiences, spawned a TV series and made mid-level stars out of director Meirelles and many of the cast. Looking back, what impresses is not so much the Scorsese-esque visuals or the reckless pace, but how much Meirelles is able to pack into 130 minutes: there’s enough plot here for ten regular gangland tales, yet the characters remain clearly sketched, their struggles morally skewed but emotionally rewarding. THFernando Meirelles on ‘City of God’: We had to get permission from the drug lords to film in the favelas. Every day we had to let them know how many people and cars would be coming to the area; I felt we’d be safe as it’d be obvious if anyone one got killed.’Read the Time Out review
76. Dead Man's Shoes (2004, GB)Directed by Shane MeadowsWanna see things get really dark?Stung by the failure of his mainstream bid ‘Once Upon a Time in the Midlands’, Shane Meadows holed up with childhood chum Paddy Considine to knock out the screenplay for this uncompromising rural take on the classic Western revenge story. Meadows’s direction is typically bold, but it’s Considine who makes the movie: this might be the best leading performance of the decade, melding brotherly affection with Biblical fury, piercing intelligence with brute force and, ultimately, bitter forgiveness. Two years later, the equally superb ‘This is England’ confirmed Meadows’s place as Britain’s finest living filmmaker, though it must be said he’s been coasting somewhat since. Come back, Shane! TH
Shane Meadows on ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’: ‘My comedy works better on the back of some fucker getting their head smashed in with a spade.’Read the Time Out review
75. The Last King of Scotland (2006, GB/Ger)Directed by Kevin MacdonaldForest grumpKevin Macdonald’s semi-fictional account of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin’s Mafia-like reign of terror uses the eyes and ears of a young, naive Scottish doctor (James McAvoy) as a prism through which to view the unfolding and increasingly tense drama. During the film’s early stages, Amin’s gregarious, even concerned manner suggests a persona at odds with the world’s collective opinion. But as the film progresses, tensions rise, the knives come out, and you’re left in no doubt about the man’s ulterior motives. Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker’s uncannily accurate, from-the-heart performance is simply mesmerising. DARead the Time Out review
74. In Bruges (2008, US/GB)Directed by Martin McDonaghDispatches from Europe's most scenic crime-sewerBrendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell play the decade’s most engaging soulmates in this darkly humorous travelogue-cum-hard-arsed comedy thriller from playwright Martin McDonagh. When the Irish duo’s worn-out hitmen are instructed to hole up in Bruges while awaiting orders from Ralph Fiennes’s expletive-spouting London gangster, a string of left-field incidents begin to impound on their friendship. McDonagh’s smart small-talk dialogue rarely fails to raise a smile, the historical settings are gorgeous and the unabashed un-PC tone is decidedly welcome. Unless, of course, you’re Lilliputian, roly-poly or both. DARead the Time Out review
73. Tropical Malady (2004, Thai/Fr)Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul That name again, sorry?
An intoxicating fever dream of love and tigers set on the edge of the knowable world, this exemplifies Thai director Apichatpong 'Joe' Weerasethakul's unique line in bifurcated films that tease out the transcendental through patience, repetition and an eye for the everyday sublime. The first of its two halves, a romance between two young men set against an indulgent society, is perhaps more easily digestible; the second is a mythic riff in which the rainforest becomes the backdrop for a tug-of-war of the soul. BWRead the Time Out review
72. Cremaster 3 (2003, US)Directed by Matthew BarneyMr Bjork goes artfully bersjerkThe last in performance artist Matthew Barney’s achronological, five-part magnum opus of headfuckery, the ‘Cremaster Cycle’, centres around the Masonic figure of Hiram Abiff, as he constructs the Chrysler building (not King Solomon’s Temple as is legend). There’s a spectacular set-piece demolition derby that takes place in its Art Deco lobby, as well as Celtic myths and prosthetic shenanigans aplenty, but this is less of a narrative driven sit-down movie and more of an hallucinatory aesthetic experience – you just need to submit to its strange powers and let the weirdness wash over you. Barney’s crowning end to the Cremaster series baffles to deceive, but trips the light fantastic. OW
Read the Time Out review
71. Up (2009, US)Directed by Pete Docter & Bob PetersonBecause there's nothing kids love more than old age, spousal death and homicidal RottweilersTo most movie lovers, the idea that Pixar could maintain the awe-inspiring excellence of ‘WALL-E’ was unthinkable. And yet, with ‘Up’ they not only matched their previous masterpiece but, for some, exceeded it. The opening sequences have all the grace, emotional candour and visual splendour of the earlier film, but this time the standard never dips: through the riotous slapstick and wordplay of the action-packed mid-section to the tender idealism of the closing scenes, ‘Up’ is a work of astounding warmth and humanity, a heartfelt celebration of life without ever ignoring the bittersweet inevitability of death. THRead the Time Out review Click here for 70 through to 61...
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