Number 10: Grave Of The Fireflies
Remember what I was saying earlier about how its rare to find a movie that mixes the whole impact of war and innocence of children thing? Well this film doesn't really show the impact during war, this movie focuses on the aftermath of war, as told through the eyes of children. Infact, this one is conciderd by many to be one of the top two anti-war films ever, second only to Schindler's List. Grave Of The Fireflies tells the story of two children, a teenage boy and his younger sister who are left alone after their mother dies in the firebombing of Kobe Japan, their father is away on a ship in the japanese navy and is unable to care for them, and isn't even aware of the horrors that have happened at home. The film shows how the two children go through the city trying to find a new home and food and general survival. Its a tragic story that touches every emotional part of the human condition, and I've honestly not met a person yet that can get to the end of the film and not be effected in some way.
Number 9: Harold and Maude
Suicide is painless as a certain song says, but what they don't mention is, at times, suicide can be funny. Take the case of Harold Chasen, a young man who has an unusual problem. He wants to die, no matter what his family tries, he continues to try and end his own life. He's obsessed with death in general, he drives a hearse and is constantly talking about death and dying. He attends the funeral of a person he's never met before, and thats where he meets Maude. Maude is alot older, infact she'sa survivor of the holocaust, and the movie tells the story of how she changes his life, its probably the best dark comedy ever made, and true to its form it has elements of drama, and it has its hilarious moments, plus, a hearse made out of an old jag xke.. how can you not love that?
Number 8: Killer of Sheep
This is probably the greatest movie you've never seen, its a rare 1977 collection of shorts centered around life in 1977 Watts, a ghetto in Los Angeles involving a man named Stan, who works at a slaughterhouse, the movie just follows around Stan and his friends, kind of showing just your average few days in the ghetto, its a perfect snapshot of ghetto life in the late 1970s. What makes it so interesting too is, really the only professional actor in the film is the man who plays Stan himself, everyone else is either related to or a friend of the director or a member of the staff, and some aren't even that, and are just people that lived in the area at the time. Its amazing how its gone almost completely unnoticed and unseen in most places for its entire life. Which really is a shame. If you can find a copy of it, i totally recommend it.
Number 7: The Birds
Remember how I was talking about Jaws earlier? And how that movie made people afraid of the water and stuff? Well this movie made people jump every time they heard a bird call. Plus, I also wanted atleast one Hitchcock movie on here, and with Psycho and Rear Window being so overdone these days, I figured i would go with The Birds. Most people know the story, one day, the birds of the world decide they're pissed and take out out on the human race, horror ensues, bad stuff happens, and all that. See, what makes this special for me too is, this was the first Hitchcock movie I had ever seen, I remember watching this when I was about 5 years old on a saturday afternoon with my grandfather Luke, who really was the one that got me into movies in the first place, my grandmother telling him not to let me watch stuff like that, and him telling her that it was good for me to see fine film making, because it would make me know early in life whats good and whats not. And well, he was right. So for my grandfather Luke, that is why this is here. I know he's where ever we go when we die watching me write this and is smiling, cuz i've made him proud.
Number 6: The Mighty
This is another of those dead on arrival masterworks like Powder was, though not for the same reason. See, at the time this movie was released one of its stars, Sharon Stone, was still riding the wave from her two sexplotation movies "Sliver" and "Basic Instinct", both huge box office draws that put Sharon into the sexpot category, with comparisons to the likes of Jane Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe, so instead of marketing the film with anyone else who's in it's names, like Meat Loaf or at the time rising star of the X-Files Gillian Anderson, or even the two boys who are the movie's real stars, they felt the need to market it just on her, with no real telling of the story, or mention of the book its based on, none of it. Because of this, The Mighty never really got the spotlight it deserved. The Mighty is the story of two young boys who become friends simply because they live next door, one of the boys, Kevin, suffers from a rare illness called Morquio's syndrome, which leaves him unable to walk with out races and often ill, he is called "freak" by many of the children who know him though he doesn't let it bother him, he tends to not even mention his disability, instead he lets his imagination guide him through life, he believes himself a knight of valor and courage, the other boy is Max, a larger heavy set boy who has a very strong case of dyslexia, though everyone believes him to be stupid, he lives with his grandparents because his father is in prison and his mother is dead, Max is in a sense the squire to Kevin's knight, aiding him in his adventures and generally learning from him. On Christmas Day, Kevin gives Max an empty notebook and when asked what he should do with it, Kevin says to him "Write", Kevin dies that night from his illness, Max withdraws in mourning for his friend and then one day starts to write in the book, he writes of their adventures in Kevin's imagination, and how it changed him, the books final words are the movies final narration So now you have heard the story of Freak the Mighty, who slayed dragons, saved maidens and walked high above the world.". This movie, touches me so deeply, that I have spent 11 years looking for a copy of it, to no avail given its rarity, and I will continue to hunt for it until i find it, for it is just so amazing.
Number 5: The Rocky Horror Picture Show
I know this choice might be abit daft to many of you, but hear me out, I wanted to make sure that cult cinema was represented, and what better way to do that, then by the epitome of cult cinema? Now I know alot of people will look at me strange for this, and thats fine, but think about it, this movie, which alot of people might argue isn't that good, has survived at the forefront for 34 years, it is a constant sale in the dvd and cd market still, and every year on Halloween, somewhere in america, and other countries now too, you can find a theater doing a midnight showing where its acted out on stage infront of the screen and you do all the interactive things they tell you to bring with you to the show. Sure its a bad movie, sure its really just a screenwriter's inner struggle with his closeted homosexuality played out on screen in the form of a young couple who get lost one night and happen upon the strangest Halloween party ever, and it changes them forever, but no one cares, because its great fun. No other movie has been able to reach the iconic levels of cult cinema that Rocky Horror has, not its sequel Shock Treatment, hell not even Star Wars or the Star Trek and Lord of the Rings movies have been able to touch it, so sure, maybe some might not see this as one of the best movies of all time, but when you look at the stats, I do, and well its my list so, deal.
Number 4: West Side Story
This is another of those timeless stories that still holds impact, West Side Story at 48 years old is still a major influence to many, oh sure musicals aren't really culturally relevant anymore, and they've all kind of faded to the wayside, atleast the good ones, i refuse to acknowledge those horrible "high school musicial" style ones where they're just singing pop songs instead of ones written for the film and have an actual importance. You can't find a person alive today thats either not seen or heard of atleast one scene from this film, sure, most people remember the hilarious "Everything's Free In America" from the rooftop dance scene or "Keep Cooly Cool Boy" from the build up to the big rumble scene, and ofcourse the beautiful "Maria", but when you think about it, when you sit down and you really watch this film, its truly a work of art, sure its just a 1950s style retelling of Romeo and Juliet, but thats ok, no one is bothered by that, they're more dazzled by the singing and the sets and the fact that 1950s street gangs had this uncanny mastery of traditional and modern dance. Its just such a great film, and such a great way to spend an afternoon really.
Number 3: A Clockwork Orange
I had a hard time deciding between this film and the 1972 version of Last House On The Left to be honest, but in the end, as it tends to do with me, A Clockwork Orange won out. I don't really know why, its a barrage of sex, drugs, cockney rhyming slang, classical music and just enough of the ultra violence to make you slightly worried you someday might die by being beaten to death with a large penis statue. I don't know if its because I, like all of us, are ment to see a part of ourselves in main character Alex DeLarge, not so much the talking in a mix of rhyming slang and russian, or later having a massive fear of Beethoven's music, but the whole completely uninhibited and living outside of the rules of society, well until those rules come down crashing around him and he ends up in jail, its painful to watch the prison scenes, where you see Alex trying to retain his personality and knowledge of self, but is constantly forced to do otherwise, this is what leads him to the experiment which he partakes in as a way of getting a shorter sentence, atleast in my belief. I love how the film leaves you wondering if Alex really was cured, or if in his mind he just replaced one predeterminate desire with another.
Number 2: 2001: A Space Odyssey
What I have always loved about 2001 is that its a film you either love, hate, or just don't get. Oh sure, its alot of stuff floating around in space to classical music, but what you need to understand as a key part of understanding this film, the entire movie is a metaphor for the human race. The apes represent our early years as a creature, where we learned to think and build, and protect and hunt, and how we learned to fight for territory just like any other creature on the planet, the next part is ment to represent our reaching the stars and creation of computers and how advanced they become, and how if we aren't careful, that technical advancement will be our downfall, and the rest of the film is ment to represent thousands of years in the future when we've left the confines of earth and her moon far behind and are out exploding the infinite beyond, discovering new things and new creatures and all of that. It took me about 12 times through to fully get the film personally, so if it doesn't make sense to you don't feel bad,I sometimes wonder if Kubrick intended the film to be that way.
And finally my number one movie of all time...
Number 1: Seven Samurai
This is it, the number one film of all time according to me, and what a film it is, this is so powerful and so influential, and just a beauty to see. Sure, call me a Kurosawa fanboy if you want, I don't really care, I just love this film, I will sit here and watch it over and over and over and never tire of it. Plus, you can't deny the importance of a film that has been remade over 30 times in every language there is, most notedly america's wild west epic "The Magnificent Seven", one of the few western's I can personally sit through, as well as the anime series Samurai 7. You can not deny this film its rights when you look at the legacy it leaves behind, no doubt in my mind. The film itself is a great story as well, the tail of an older samurai who is asked to defend a poor Japanese village from bandits, he agrees to do so and goes about gathering 6 samurai to aid him in defending the village, each with their own special talent which will be needed, the film follows their story as they prepare for battle as well as showing the villagers that not all samurai in japan are corrupt and only out for money now, some still fight for the honor of their country and themselves, it follows them to the very end of the battle with the bandits, and in the end, leaves you wondering just why these men did what they did for these people. Such a masterpeace, and so important to me, and to the world of film, if you haven't ever seen this, I urge you, please, please find a copy of it and watch it, you will not be sorry.
Well thats my list of the top 30 films of all time, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as i enjoyed writing it, I have afew runners up, but I think i'll just keep those to myself for now... after all, a true film lover's list of the greatest of all time is constantly changing. :)