Writer and Musician
|The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
|Donald Cammell, Nicolas Roeg
|George A. Romero
|Last Year at Marienbad
|Synecdoche, New York
Still No.1 for me, as immovable as Citizen Kane was for previous generations.
A Top Ten without a comedy is a parched and terrible thing! From the man who brought you 'The Filthiest People Alive' in Pink Flamingos, comes the Funniest Script in the World. Waters invented punk when the punks were still listening to prog-rock, and this is his finest work, presenting Divine and the classic Dreamlanders in all their majesty.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Perfection. Every tiny detail adds to the whole. Andrzej Żuławski once said to me that if aliens came to earth and wanted to understand cinema, one of the films he would show them would be The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. There's no higher praise than that...
To make the selection process more bearable I’ve resorted to subterfuge. In my head I'm using Inland Empire, David Lynch’s most terrifying screen labyrinth, to represent a cluster of Lynch works: Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Mulholland Dr. and Twin Peaks (2017). I couldn’t include them all, so I’ve hidden the others in the plentiful shadows of Inland Empire...
My favourite British film of all time, Performance is a feast of cinematic/psychological/structural/sexual possibilities. By contrast, most of the films of our countrymen feel as parochial and knees-together as a Methodist church sermon. Only Lindsay Anderson's O Lucky Man! comes close to the sheer avant-garde excitement of Performance, but nothing in our film culture can compare once Pherber's magic mushrooms start to work. "Two thirds of the big one" indeed. Strong stuff...
David Cronenberg’s films are such a constant source of stimulation for me that I could easily chuck seven of them into my Top Ten and to hell with everyone else. Instead I’ve chosen Videodrome as the face of the Cronenberg gestalt. Neither time nor technological change have dulled the wit, the weirdness and the sheer chutzpah of this extraordinary film. Quite the opposite: Videodrome continues to vibrate with eerie pre-cognitive energy forty years later.
From tail to head a pulverising masterpiece. How can something so oppressive, brutal and sickening be so beautiful, exciting and inspiring? In the hands of a master filmmaker, all things are possible...
Although Romero is primarily associated with his classic zombie films, Martin is the peak by which his talents as a director and stylist should be measured. It has emotional maturity, technical virtuosity, a powerful sense of place, and a complex storyline that blends wit, horror and tragedy into something quite unique.
Last Year at Marienbad
Elegant, haunting, mysterious, playful, intriguing, perplexing, seductive, mesmeric. What more do you want from European art cinema?
Synecdoche, New York
Lars Von Trier’s Dogville made it onto my 2012 list, but it’s been nudged out this time by Charlie Kaufman’s prismatic, dizzying nightmare, Synecdoche, New York. I thought I hated this on first viewing, but it has troubled and fascinated me for the best part of 15 years until now it’s my favourite ‘horror of existence’ movie.
It’s impossible to come up with a coherent strategy to compile such a tiny list, when the criteria for inclusion are so broad, the possible contenders so varied, and the reasons for loving a film so numerous.
The movie I’ve watched the most in my life is Jorge Grau's The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (1974). It’s an old friend and I love it dearly, but is it in my Top Ten? No.
I've written extensively about Lucio Fulci and Jesús Franco, but I've not included any of their films. A Top Twenty would reveal their relative positions...
The most original and astonishing film I’ve seen in the last five years is Ali Abbasi's Border (2018) – but it’s been in my world too briefly to enter my Top Ten.
Finally, a tender kiss but no chart-topping hanky-panky for Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), Roman Polanski’s The Tenant (1976), Mike Leigh’s Naked (1993), and Robert Bresson’s A Man Escaped (1956), and farewell, but only by a whisker, to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958).