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Film Studies

The Icing on the Cake (top 10's)



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On the Cake

My Top 10 Films.... as of today, tomorrow it may be different...

Wings of Desire

Wings of Desire
Wim Wenders. 1987. Germany / France
In a dreamlike, monochrome Berlin, an angel observes a lonely trapeze artist and wishes he could become human. A profound and spellbindingly beautiful film for angels and mortals alike.

See also: Alice in the Cities / Paris, Texas / The American Friend

Chungking Express

Chungking Express
Wong Ka Wai. 1994. Hong Kong
Stylishly shot tale of two lonely cops in modern day Hong Kong. California Dreaming and tinned pineapple will never be the same again.

See also: Days of Being Wild / In The Mood for Love / 2046 / Fallen Angels


Kyzsztof Kieslowski. 1989. Poland

Thou shall not make religious allegories (unless they’re as good as this). Mesmerizing interlinking re-imaginings of the ten commandants set on a beautifully bleak housing estate in Warsaw.

See also: Three Colours Blue / The Double Life of Veronique / The 10 Commandments (D Mille)

Star Wars

Stars Wars Part IV: A New Hope
George Lucas. 1977. USA
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away… Story telling doesn’t get much better than this.

See also: The Empire Strikes Back and the last 20 minutes of Revenge of the Sith

Annie Hall

Annie Hall
Woody Allen 1977. USAi
Intellegent comedy of the highest order. The cinema queue scene with Marshall McLuhan and Allen’s “don't knock masturbation — it's sex with someone I love” quote being among the constant flow of insightful, dialogue driven humour.

See also: Manhattan / Hannah and Her Sisters / Husbands and Wives


Ken Loach. 1969. UK
Did you kill that lads hawk? Loach masterfully combines gritty social realism, a powerful coming of age story and moments of pure comic genius (the football match with Brain Glover is hilarious.) A classic of British cinema.

See also: Cathy Come Home / Raining Stones / My Name is Joe

White Balloon

The White Balloon
Jafar Panahi. 1995. Iran
A trip to buy a goldfish turns into the biggest adventure in the life of a young girl in Tehran. The money in the drain scene is as suspenseful as anything that Hichcock ever did.

See also: The Apple (Samira Makhmalbaf) / The Circle / Crimson Gold

Secrets & Lies

Secrets and Lies
Mike Leigh 1996. UK
Alright sweetheart? Leigh delivers a slew of hilariously OTT characters and an engrossing, perfectly paced narrative.

See also: Meantime / Life is Sweet / Naked / Nuts in May, anything else he’s ever done.

Before Sunset

Before Sunrise/Sunset
Richard Linklater. 1995 / 2004. USA / Austria /  Switzerland

Young love blossoms in Vienna and Paris in Linklater’s intelligent walk & talkers. Great dialogue and two of the biggest cliff hangers in the history of cinema.

See also: Slacker / Dazed and Confused or most of Eric Rohmer’s back catalogue.

Lover of the Arctic Circle

Lovers of the Arctic Circle
Julio Medem. 1996. Spain

Young love blossoms (periodically) in the land of the midnight sun. A captivating post modern fairytale of  two childhood sweethearts with Palendromic names who’s destinies seem inextricably linked in a never ending cycle of love, loss and coincidence.

See also: Tierra / The Red Squirrel / Sex and Lucia

The next ten:

A Taste of Cherry
Abbas Kiarostami. 1996. Iran

Compelling parable about a man trying to get someone to help him commit suicide. The ending is a killer.

See also: Close Up / Where is The Friends House / And Life Goes On / Through the Olive Trees

The Bicycle Thief’s
Vittorio De Sica. 1948. Italy

Neo realism, Italian style. We never know who took the first bicycle, but we know all about the second. A poignant, timeless classic with an unforgettable ending.

See also: Umberto D / Rome, Open City (Rossellini)

Pather Panchali
Satyajit Ray. 1955. India

Neo realism, Indian style. Start of Rays epic trilogy about a boy growing up in West Bengal. One of cinemas greatest extended character studies.

See also: Aparajitoe / The World of Apu

Raging Bull/Taxi Driver/Mean Streets/Goodfellas
Martin Scorsese 1973 - 1990
Impossible to chose just one.

See also: The King of Comedy / Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore / After Hours

The Godfather 1&2
1972 / 1974. Francis Ford Coppola
An offer you can’t refuse.

See also: Once Upon a Time in America (Leone) / Apocalypse Now / The Conversation

Band A Part
Jean Luc Godard. 1964. France
Karina and Belmondo do the Louvre in nine minutes 43 seconds. The epitome of 60’s cool.

See also: A Boute De Souffle / La Mempis / Vivre Sa Vie / Masculine Femine

Aguirre, Wrath of God
Werner Herzog. 1972. Germany
It really shouldn’t work - the (dubbed) German speaking Spanish conquistadors give it Monty Python and the Holy Gail feel, but Herzog’s breathtaking, death defying location work make this an unforgettable trip into the heart of darkness.

See also: Apocalypse Now (Coppola) / Fizzcaraldo / Strozek / Even Dwarfs Started Small

Michael Winterbottom. 1999. UK
Talking Hearts. Soho has never looked more beautiful.

See also: 24 Hour Party People / In This World / A Cock and Bull Story

Andrei Tarkovesky.1983. USSR
Simply the most poetic and gorgeously shot film I have ever seen. Perhaps Tarkovskies most accessible work, the finale had me on the edge of my seat.

See also: Stalker / The Sacrifice / Mirror

Donnie Darko
Richard Kelly. 2001. USA
Under the Milky Way tonight. Engrossing time travel teen flick - see it at least twice.

See also: Primer / Back to the Future

Other faves
Mouchette, La Strada, The Real Blonde,  Il Piano, Stalker, Le Maman et la Putain, Close Up, The Virgin Suicides, Together, The Last Picture Show, The Third Man, Toy Story 1&2, Swingers, Glengarry Glennross, Cries and Whispers, Requiem for a Dream, Some Like it Hot, Sunset Blvd, Vertigo, The Searchers, The Exterminating Angel, The Kingdom (Von Trier), Reservoir Dogs, Ordet, A Time for Drunken Horses, Festern, Code Unknown, On The Waterfront, Double Indemnity, Soy Cuba, The Cranes are Flying, Shallow Grave, Double Indemnity, Dark Star, Eyes Without a Face, The Apartment, Schindlers List, ET, The Red Shoes, Blue Velvet, The Elephant Man, Gumo, After Life, Walkabout, Being John Malkovich, Celine & Julie Go Boating, Wild Strawberries, Network, Irma Vep, Buffalo 66, Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands, Night of the Hunter, Jaws, City of God, Kandahar, Talk to Her, The Dream Life of Angels, The Ice Storm, Radio On

Other favourite directors
Pedro Amoldavar, Woody Allen (up to & including Sweet & Lowdown), Abbas Kiarostami, Eric Rohmer, Clint Eastwood, Shane Meadows, Jane Campion, Ingmar Bergman, Robert Altman, Stanley Kubrick, Paul Thomas Anderson, Robert Bresson, David Lean, Jean Luc Godard, Francious Truffort, Micolangelo Antonioni, Louis Bunuel, Douglas Sirk, Alfred Hitchcock, John Cassavettes, Michael Haneke, Chris Marker, David Lynch, Roman Polanski, François Ozon, Errol Morris, Ang Lee, Spike Lee, Aki Kauasmaki, Christopher Nolan, Lars Von Trier, Gus Van Sant, Roberto Rosselini, Jafar Panahi, Michael Moore, Nick Broomfield, Elia Kazan, Terrence Mailik, Billy Wilder, Hou Hsio Hsien

Best of 2008 so far
4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days, Happy Go Lucky, In Search of a Midnight Kiss,Waltz With Bashire, The Edge of Heaven, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Still Life, Persepolis, No Country for Old Men, My Winnipeg, Killer of Sheep, El Bano Del Papa, Unreleated, Juno, WALL-E, Son of Man, The Orphanage, Quiet City, Buddha Collapsed out of Shame, Time and Winds

Best of 2007
This is England, Once, Control, Two Days in Paris, Play, The Family Friend, Climates, Funny Ha Ha / Mutual Appreciation, 12:08 East of Bucharest, Darrat, Paranoid Park, The Bothersome Man, Old Joy, The Lives of Others, After the Wedding, Atonement

Best of 2006
Hidden, Le Enfant, Three Times, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, United 93, Happy Feet, Brokeback Mountain, The Death of Mr Lazarescu, Grizzly Man, The New World, Volver, Borat, The Queen, The Squid and the Whale, 40 Year Old Virgin, Hard Candy, Brothers of the Head

Over rated: The Departed, The History Boys

Best of 2005
Tarnation, Me & You & Everyone We Know, Primer, Mysterious Skin, Palindromes, Maria Full of Grace, 2046, Turtles Can Fly, Team America: World Police, The Consequences of Love, Yes, Sideways, Crash, Last Days, Duck Season