Time Out's 101 Films of the Decade – Part 7, with reactions from Peter Jackson, David Fincher, Guillermo del Toro and more…
Part 7 is all about the couples: we've got Adam Sandler mumbling his love for Emily Watson, Clint Eastwood standing by his gal Hilary Swank, Nicolas Cage scrapping with, um, Nicolas Cage and Ethan Hawke reunited with Julie Delpy.
40. La Morte Rouge (2006, Sp)Directed by Victor EriceOne half of a sublime cine-correspondence As yet shown only at the ‘Correspondences’ exhibitions juxtaposing the works of Abbas Kiarostami and Víctor Erice, this low-budget half-hour essay film by the famously non-prolific Spanish master is, amazingly, as remarkable as ‘Spirit of the Beehive’ or ‘The Quince Tree Sun’. Inspired by his own first visit, as a five-year-old, to a San Sebastian cinema – to see a Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movie – Erice uses clips, archive newsreels and newly shot digital footage to create an elegiac meditation on fiction and reality, history and memory, life and death. Tonally delicate yet densely allusive, it is a poignant acknowledgement of the power of cinema, of the suffering of a nation, and of the incessant, inexorable passage of time. GA
39. Punch-Drunk Love (2002, US)Directed by Paul Thomas AndersonHis love makes him stronger than you can imagine‘There Will Be Blood’ may have grabbed more headlines, but PT Anderson’s experiment with the forms and functions of romantic comedy is arguably the more remarkable achievement. Despite the presence of multiplex maven Sandler, ‘Punch-Drunk Love’ is a movie that never entertains even the possibility of compromise, a restlessly experimental, quietly confrontational work which upends cinematic conventions while still managing to be brilliantly funny and swooningly romantic. Style and substance, intelligence and emotion, heart and soul: simply genius. TH
Read the Time Out review Paul Thomas Anderson on Adam Sandler: ‘There’s something childlike about him, and something dangerous too. The critics tear him up, but he obviously communicates to a lot of people – and the kids love him.’
38. Silent Light (2007, Mex)Directed by Carlos Reygadas The true saviour of Mexican cinemaWith his first two films, ‘Japon’ and ‘Battle in Heaven’, Mexico’s Reygadas introduced himself to the world as a cine literate innovator and enfant terrible with few of the bombastic intentions of his compatriots (stand up Alejandro González Iñárritu). Though his third offering, ‘Silent Light’, channelled many of the same themes as his first two – male repression, spiritual transcendence, gender differences, the sexual attitudes of the lower classes – it also revealed a director paring down his filmmaking craft to create a work comprising of pure blocks of emotion. Unafraid to spar with the ‘big guns’, motifs from Bergman, Bresson, Tarkovsky and Dreyer are all delicately kneaded into this near-agonising tale of catatonic Mennonite farming families who are forced to address matters of the heart which contravene the strict moral codes they live by. The photography from DoP Alexis Zabe perfectly captures the dew-dappled natural beauty of Northern Mexico, while the film opens on a morning sunrise of such otherworldly radiance (not to mention technical virtuosity), it’ll tap at the tear ducts of even the most hardened brute. Truly, a film to be reborn to. DJRead the Time Out review
37. The School of Rock (2003, US)Directed by Richard LinklaterJack Black is back. In black.Who would have guessed that indie auteur Richard Linklater would produce one of the great multiplex comedies of the era? Jack Black, reined in by Linklater’s insistence on rigorous pre-production rehearsals, plays a slob who wants to be a rock star and ends up forming a band with a bunch of prep school prodigies. It’s ‘Sister Act’ with dry ice, but so deftly and lovingly executed you should file it alongside ‘Shaolin Soccer’ as the most enjoyable straight-up, no-frills, feelgood family comedy of the past ten years. PWRead the Time Out review
36. Volver (2006, Sp)Directed by Pedro AlmodóvarAlmodovar's pseudo-autobiographical mellow-dramaAlmodóvar’s glorious, gaudy, ghostly ‘women’s picture’ managed to charm just about everyone who sat in front of it. Even though the director claimed the film contained elements of autobiography, he gave it another delicious personal twist by casting long-time muse Carmen Maura as the mother of his glamorous future muse, Penélope Cruz. A beautifully written tale of betrayal, murder, independence and sisterhood set in a dusty suburb of Madrid, it charts three generations of women attempting to overcome the various troubles – men, money, ghosts – that have been heaped upon them. While Almodóvar’s control as a director is a joy to behold, there’s no denying that it’s Cruz who makes the film her own: the scene in which she sings the song of the title (‘Volver’ or ‘to return’), clad in a ridiculously tight red-and-white striped dress, probably stands at the pinnacle of her acting CV. DJ Read the Time Out review
35. Adaptation. (2002, US)Directed by Spike JonzeBrings new meaning to the words 'cage fight'For a while it looked like Charlie Kaufman’s idiosyncratic brand of beyond-the-fourth-wall storytelling was going to go mainstream, and ‘Adaptation.' would be the vehicle that drove it there. Directed by Spike Jonze, it’s a fictionalised account of Kaufman’s real difficulty adapting a book for the screen, starring Nic Cage as both Kaufman and his twin brother Donald, and Meryl Streep as the hero of the novel with which Kaufman is struggling (until rescued by Robert McKee). Los Angeles plays with itself, but sometimes self-abuse is just the ticket. PW
Charlie Kaufman on ‘Adaptation.': ‘I think it’s a pretty classically structured film. It has the inciting incident, progressive complications, crisis, climax, resolution.’Read the Time Out review
34. Million Dollar Baby (2004, US)Directed by Clint EastwoodRowdy Yates plays it defiantly old school‘Late Eastwood’ has provided many gems, none finer – dramatically, cinematically or philosophically – than this dark, heartbreaking tale of a young woman (Hilary Swank) determined to make it as a boxer despite the widespread prejudice against female fighters exemplified by the reluctance displayed by an LA trainer (Eastwood) when she tries to enlist his help. So far, so affecting, in an elegantly executed but faintly predictable way… until a surprise punch suddenly takes the characters and us into an arena of conflict far more troubling, complex and (this being a Hollywood film) unexpectedly subversive. Even by Eastwood standards, the understatement is extraordinary, and it’s devastating in its accumulative force. GARead the Time Out review
33. Before Sunset (2004, US)Directed by Richard LinklaterParis, je t'aime! Like Michael Winterbottom or Ang Lee, Richard Linklater glides effortlessly between genres. After the experimentation of ‘Waking Life’ and ‘Tape’, both made in 2001, and his monster crossover hit ‘School of Rock’ in 2003, Linklater returned to the characters he first introduced in 1995’s ‘Before Sunrise’. Nine years later – in real time and in the film – Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) reunite in Paris for ‘Before Sunset’. Both films are essentially two people walking and talking but, just as the original perfectly nailed the experience of being twentysomething in the mid-90s, so this sort-of sequel exquisitely depicts how attitudes and aspirations can change after the big 3-0. And arguably, without ‘Before Sunset’ there would be no ‘Two Days in Paris’, no ‘In Search of a Midnight Kiss’ and no mumblecore. SCRead the Time Out review
32. The Man Who Wasn't There (2001, US)Directed by Joel CoenShave and a haircut: two bitsThough the words ‘half-assed knock-off’ don’t actually feature in the Coen brothers' lexicon, ‘The Man Who Wasn’t There’ represented the point at which their filmmaking mastery appeared to verge on the effortless. Working as a companion piece to their recent Kafka-com, ‘A Serious Man’, this was lustrous, monochrome noir pastiche played in the register of deep existential malaise, a film about a laconic barber who decides to seize the day, but soon lives to regret it. Billy Bob Thornton delivers a tour de force performance as the eponymous ‘invisible man’, Ed Crane, a mischievously ambiguous, chain-smoking ‘hero’ who toys with our affinity as his character gently oscillates between naivety, apathy, stupidity and something approaching sage-like wisdom. The Coens are at their best when deconstructing genre, and by dropping Ed into a dodgy-deal-gone-south caper, they managed – once again – to imbue fundamentally pulp material with an exciting intellectual depth. More importantly, though, is that with this film they managed to rebuff one of the most common criticisms hurled at them: that they’re heartless bastards. In their depiction of Ed’s crumbling, semi-silent relationship with his philandering wife Doris (Frances McDormand), they managed not only to make this one of the best films of their career, but also one of their most achingly human. DJ
Read the Time Out review
31. The Son's Room (2001, It/Fr)Directed by Nanni Moretti Not to be confused with Nanny McPheeThe first half hour of Nanni Moretti’s 2001 Palme d’Or winner is a gentle portrait of middle-class Italian family life, with Moretti himself playing a therapist and father of two teenage children and Laura Morante playing his wife. We watch Moretti negotiate calmly with his patients and broker a lingering dispute between his son, Andrea, and his school. Then disaster strikes and the rest of the film is a minutely observed and incredibly moving (without being mawkish) portrait of a family dealing with the sudden death of one of their members. Perhaps most pleasing is that Moretti resists portraying any sense of resolution or ‘moving on’ within the confines of his film, preferring instead to let our minds ponder the future lives of these credible, grieving characters. DCRead the Time Out review
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