The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

A senator, who became famous for killing a notorious outlaw, returns for the funeral of an old friend and tells the truth about his deed.

What made the western Hollywood’s blockbuster staple in the middle of the 20th century? In the years after World War II, perhaps American audiences were taking solace in a historical setting that celebrated the young country’s position as a newly minted superpower. I don’t know. But The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance makes me sure it was something more than just a fad. Continue reading “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”

Monsters, Inc.

To power their city, the monsters of Monstropolis scare children so that they scream. But when a “toxic” child gets through, two monsters realise things may not be what they seem.

In 2001, when I was nine, I’d already been writing stories for fun for as long as I’d been able. But Monsters, Inc. and Pixar’s wonderful approach to storytelling proved to be one of my earliest wake-up calls: I needed to do something creative with my life, and I needed to tell stories. Continue reading “Monsters, Inc.”

Amadeus

The incredible story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told by his peer and secret rival Antonio Salieri – now confined to an insane asylum.

Amadeus is the story of two creative geniuses whose overlapping passions forge one of the most interesting and engrossing cinematic rivalries I’ve ever seen – not a result of circumstance or even history, but rather the work of F. Murray Abraham’s Antonio Salieri and Tom Hulce’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Continue reading “Amadeus”

Inglourious Basterds

In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers coincides with a theatre owner’s vengeful plans for the same.

Inglourious Basterds has its indulgences. But when Tarantino is described as masturbatory, I argue: this is a man who has loved movies all his life – a passionate authority on 20th century cinema. Countless homages across his entire filmography illustrate a love of film, and a love of sharing it. He’s not masturbating. If anything, he’s hosting an orgy, and we’re all invited. Continue reading “Inglourious Basterds”

Oldboy

After being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in five days.

A month ago, I started this film. It was a hungover Sunday evening. Normally I’m smarter than to expect comfort from an unfamiliar film. If you’ve seen Oldboy, you’ll understand why I got all claustrophobic and anxious and had to turn it off. Continue reading “Oldboy”

There Will Be Blood

A story of family, religion, hatred, oil and madness, focusing on a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business.

There Will Be Blood was one of only 69 films I’d seen of the Top 250 before I started this project (one year ago today). It was not a prominent member of that exclusive club, and I am a fool for overlooking its brilliance the first time. There Will Be Blood is, upon second viewing, and without overstating it, this is just my opinion… Here we go… An absolute masterpiece of cinema. Continue reading “There Will Be Blood”

Rocky

Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer, gets a supremely rare chance to fight the heavy-weight champion, Apollo Creed, in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

I thought Rocky was going to be the motivating pick-me-up that I needed on my hungover post-Superbowl Monday. Instead, it was a warning: don’t become a whiny little bitch like Rocky Balboa. Continue reading “Rocky”

Annie Hall

Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditsy Annie Hall.

In my late teens, I saw 500 Days of Summer for the first time, and hated it. It didn’t help that I watched it with a girl I was hopelessly and unrequitedly infatuated with, but what really got to me was how messy it felt. Like they couldn’t settle on a theme, and how inconsistently it broke the fourth wall, and how fucking true all of it was. Not to compare the two, but if I had seen Annie Hall first, perhaps things would have been different. Continue reading “Annie Hall”

Die Hard

John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save wife Holly Gennaro and several others, taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

Die Hard has jumped the list. It’s one of my favourite films, certainly my favourite action film, and I was saving the joy of talking about it. There seems to be no more appropriate time. Continue reading “Die Hard”

My Neighbour Totoro

When two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wonderous forest spirits who live nearby.

I’m a reluctant member of the generation of Western cinephiles who have embraced Studio Ghibli’s exotic storytelling, characters, and fantasies. This reluctance in no way comes from the source material. It comes from not wanting to be misallocated to the kawaii Tumblr crowd who get the fucking Totoro tattooed on themselves because they’re just so unique. Continue reading “My Neighbour Totoro”