lead film critic at the i Newspaper / freelance
|Singin' in the Rain
|Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
|On the Waterfront
|A Matter of Life and Death
|Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
|Au hasard Balthazar
|Rocco E I Suoi Fratelli
It almost goes without saying at this point, but: it is fundamentally absurd to rank art, and impossible to create a perfect metric for measuring films against one another. Passion, instinct, and idiosyncrasy are important, and I've tried to approach my list with those qualities in mind, and with the same sensibility that brought me into film criticism to begin with. I feel that each of these movies vividly creates a world, be it in blaring Technicolor or expressionistic black-and-white. I'm entranced by the fury and beauty of their combined cinematography, colour, style and emotion, from the disaffected road-movie torpor of Two-Lane Blacktop to the Edenic summertime of the French countryside in Le Bonheur.
Of course, the darlings I've killed have been outrageous: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, High Noon, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Distant Voices, Still Lives, Sunset Blvd., Jeanne Dielman, The Godfather Part II. Countless more. But if I had to put my rationale out there in a nutshell, here's what I would say: Raging Bull was swapped out last minute for Mean Streets, because for me, the scrappy, livewire energy of Martin Scorsese's earlier film has a messy power that rivals the more perfect aesthetics of Raging Bull. Going with my gut was all I could do with a task of this enormity. Perfection is all fine and good, but a little bit of messiness never hurt, either.