Howard Hampton

Film critic

US

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Ashes of Time

1994

Wong Kar Wai

Big Sleep, The

1946

Howard Hawks

Blue Velvet

1986

David Lynch

Citizen Kane

1941

Orson Welles

Duck Soup

1933

Leo McCarey

enfants du paradis, Les

1945

Marcel Carné

In a Lonely Place

1950

Nicholas Ray

Last Bolshevik, The

1993

Chris Marker

Mirror

1974

Andrei Tarkovsky

Pierrot le Fou

1965

Jean-Luc Godard

Comments

I chose the films closest to my heart, movies that are profoundly singular yet can stand for whole genres even as they escape them. Citizen Kane is the ultimate combination of multiple modes: high and low, bio, newspaper film, screwball tragi-comedy, satire and self-portrait of the octopus-armed artist as a young sacred monster. Children of Paradise is about the romance of romance itself, self-dramatisation through acting, poetry, love, death, nihilism and loss (that most romantic of all movie signifiers); the same can be said, in more modernistic terms, of Pierrot le Fou. The Last Bolshevik and Mirror are beautiful bookends of film as personal essay – fables about the inescapable persistence of the past. Blue Velvet and In a Lonely Place are tactile geographies of the male psyche and the women who remain beyond its grasp. Duck Soup and The Big Sleep, one anarchic and one as cool as Antarctica, are comedies of manners and moray eels, bullets and dames, civilisation and its discontents, as well as being peerless vehicles for those two exemplary Americans, Groucho Marx and Humphrey Bogart. And Ashes of Time can stand for the many varieties of Asian and art cinema, and even the Western it contemplates so gloriously from its vantage at the midway point from here to eternity.

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