The DVD Forums Top 100 Films 2007 Part 03: 80-71
There’s another 80 titles left to list, but already we’ve seen some big classics appear in the case of Superman: The Movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Schindler’s List – and yet more evidence of contemporary film voting madness: The Rock? Battle Royale? The results so far have been anything but predictable!
Jurassic Park (1993, Steven Spielberg)
Proving that if a story is good enough, one telling of it isn't quite enough, Steven Spielberg drags Jaws out of the waters around Amity Bay and, via a quick redressing as a dinosaur and the spicing up of the story with the then-fanciful notions of cloning and DNA, populates a Pacific island with all manner of dinosaurs, tailed by the nice-but-rather-dreary Gallimimus and topped by a single Tyrannosaurus Rex, roaring amidst the wreckage and swatting smaller dinosaurs with a flick of its tail.
42 feet long, more terrifying than a pick'n'mix bag of syphilis, anthrax and smallpox and a mouth that you could drive a small van into, albeit at a risk of being gobbled up amid the metalwork, the Tyrannosaurus Rex is the star of the film, effortlessly trumping Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Sir Richard Attenborough and all manner of digital creations. Where Jaws had its duh-DUHN theme by John Williams, Jurassic Park has the distant whump of footsteps, ripples on a glass of water and a terrified lawyer running into the assumed safety of a rafia toilet. Come the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the lawyer, toilet and all, are snapped up as little more than an entree before turning on Goldblum, Dern and two children as a main course. He stomps across the island like a prehistoric cock o' the north with not even the supporting characters of a pair of velociraptors able to compete with this monster. It's frightening, has two-dozen teeth as sharp as scissors and will cause children to hold their breath with fear. Stop- and go-motion artists simply wept and CG, like the T Rex, ruled the day. – Eamonn McCusker
R2 Jurassic Park Box Set DVD Review (Andy Hall)
The Goonies (1985, Richard Donner)
You read it right, The Goonies! If you had asked me before the completion of this list, I'd have said there was more chance of my wedding video appearing in this list than The Goonies. But, metaphorically trouserless, I concede there are clearly a good many people who really like this film. Or that the vote has been changed, Blue Peter-like, to reflect the whim of the DVD Forums' moderators.
Spooky, funny and with an occasional lapse into bad taste, all of which involve Cyndi Lauper, The Goonies works from it being the kind of thrilling escapade that kids would love to fall into even if, like The Goonies, it is somewhat by accident. Caves, gangsters, a hidden pirate treasure, a monster, guns, kissing and, in a deleted scene, a giant octopus, to have the adventure enjoyed by The Goonies is the very reason that children ride off on their bikes on long summer days, climbing up trees, walking down river bands and spying on the strange old man who, so everyone says, never did anyone any harm. Most times, they do so in make-believe but The Goonies does it for (movie-) real with the Fratellis chasing Mouth, Chunk, Mikey, Data and the rest of the gang into a search for lost pirate gold. Gadgets come good, Chunk gets a friend in Sloth and with the pirate One-Eyed Willie, no PG-rated movie comes closer to crying out GIANT PENIS than this. – Eamonn McCusker
R1 DVD Review (Daniel Stephens)
Goldfinger (1964, Guy Hamilton)
Danger! Death Ray! Our Man Flint Spy In Your Eye All released in 1966 amongst almost sixty other others, the modern spy movie was born with Goldfinger, to which it owes a fine balance between violence, sexual adventure and good humour. And a superspy who, contrary to the rules of the trade, could walk into a casino from Bangkok to Anchorage and be greeted like an old friend. Mr Bond, we have been expecting you!
From Russia With Love is a better film, The Spy Who Loved Me is bigger and On Her Majesty's Secret Service is the one to make you cry but no film does the Bond legend more justice than Goldfinger. Here is the perfect marriage of the gadgets, the glamourous locations and nod-and-a-wink finale, one the comes with an atomic bomb stopping as its clock reaches 007. There's the sexual innuendo of Pussy Galore, the silent menace of Oddjob and Auric Goldfinger matching Bond quip for quip. "No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die!" Beautiful cars, even more beautiful women and Goldfinger's pilots packing what appears to be two missiles each underneath their skintight sweaters, if you've ever dreamed of being a spy, this, not Spy Catcher, Spooks or even Spy In Your Eye, is the reason why. – Eamonn McCusker
R1 SE DVD Review (Mike Sutton) | R2 UE Review (Eamonn McCusker)
Black Narcissus (1947, Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger)
The theme of Powell and Pressburger’s ‘Black Narcissus’ is a familiar one - the awakening of repressed urges for English colonists and missionaries, and the struggle to retain their essential English reserve against the temptation and of “going native” while trying to adapt to an unfamiliar climate and culture. The dangers are even greater for an ascetic order of nuns living in the village of Mopu, 9,000 feet up in the Himalayas, where the altitude and climate has a peculiar effect on them, drawing out desires that each of the women can barely keep suppressed. Visually, Jack Cardiff’s cinematography and Alfred Junge’s set designs (both deserved Oscar winners for this film) render every single frame of ‘Black Narcissus’ an object of exquisite beauty. More than that however, the vivid colouring and expressionistic sets of the vertiginous heights support the heightened emotions of the nuns, while the scent of the Black Narcissus exposes the inner desires and the torment of each of them, its promise of fevered eroticism only bringing madness. – Noel Megahey
R2Fr DVD Review (Noel Megahey)
L.A. Confidential (1997, Curtis Hanson)
1997 - Let me get this straight. The guy who made Losin' It is directing a script adapted by the hack who wrote A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and 976-Evil and based on a brilliant novel thought to be unfilmable, in a genre Hollywood hasn't cared about for over twenty years. The two lead characters are portrayed by a couple of unknown Australians and the key female role is in the hands of a fortysomething blonde whose "acting" has never been taken seriously and who hasn't made waves at the box office since playing around with a guy in a rubber suit eight years earlier? Sure.
2007 - Oops. L.A. Confidential is one of those ultra rare films where nearly everyone involved came together for the finest work of their career. Completely evocative of 1950s Los Angeles and the birth of the media-celebrity devil spawn we've dealt with ever since, the film should continue to age remarkably well as the years pass by and the Titanic nostalgia repeatedly hits that iceberg. With apologies to the other Southern California period piece from the same year, L.A. Confidential is the bigger, brighter, shinier star of American film in 1997. – clydefro jones
R2 DVD Review (Steve Edwards)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962, David Lean)
Whatever one might think of David Lean's epics compared to his brilliant early British films, there's no doubting that Lawrence of Arabia is a massively impressive piece of filmmaking. Lean's extraordinary organisational talents got a large cast and crew through a long, difficult shoot and produced a film which has a strong, compelling central story, focused through a charismatic, star-making performance from Peter O'Toole. If the film fails to get to the bottom of who T.E. Lawrence really was, it still portrays him as a compelling enigma and surrounds him with equally interesting, and perhaps more human characters. Notable amongst these are Omar Sharif's smiling Arab companion Ali, Claude Rains' sardonic civil servant Dryden and Jack Hawkins' starchy General Allenby. The scale of the film is awesome and the big set-pieces - particularly Lawrence's insane ride into battle - remains highlights of the epic movie genre. Lean also excels at quieter moments, most memorably the seemingly endless shot when Ali crosses the desert horizon towards us. – Mike Sutton
R2 DVD Review (Alexander Larman)
Groundhog Day (1993, Harold Ramis)
The film that turned Bill Murray into an icon is one of the cleverest and most artfully surreal comedies ever to have emerged from the American mainstream. Like It's a Wonderful Life, it takes an impossible premise but has the protagonist's behaviour remain authentically human whilst in its grip. Forced to live the same day over and over, TV weatherman Phil Connors goes through the gamut of astonishment, disbelief, anger, hopelessness and suicidal abandon, but eventually accepts the confines of his strange prison and uses his ingenuity to gain advantage. His ongoing seduction of colleague Rita (Andie MacDowell) and his encounters with insurance salesman Ned Ryerson are a joy to watch, examples of peerless writing that explores every avenue of the concept and pushes it to its limits without ever straining its logic. And its message, paralleling the Buddhist law of karma, is a simple but great one - life is what you make it. – Roger Keen
R2 DVD Review (Mike Sutton)
Psycho (1960, Alfred Hitchcock)
Psycho didn't stop people taking showers but it certainly made many of them think twice before stepping behind the curtain. The central murder sequence has become so famous that it tends to overshadow the rest of the film, which is understandable - it's a brilliantly filmed and edited sequence, produced in collaboration with Saul Bass - but unfortunate since Psycho is one of Alfred Hitchcock's wittiest, nastiest and most streamlined explorations of the darker side of the human psyche. His previous film North by Northwest had been made in glossy Technicolor on a big MGM budget so Psycho was a deliberate return to a smaller scale - monochrome, cheap and made by a TV crew. But thanks to sinuous direction, clever dialogue and superb performances - notably from Anthony Perkins in his signature role as Norman Bates - it has become a classic and one of Hitchcock's most beloved films. Apart from the extraordinary shower sequence, it has a number of other thrilling moments - although it's likely that nothing thrilled the director more than his shattering of a couple of major taboos. – Mike Sutton
R1 Hitchcock Collection DVD Review (Mike Sutton)
Saving Private Ryan (1998, Steven Spielberg)
The Battle of Normandy: Over 4500 Allied soldiers killed across 25days of combat, truly one of the darkest periods of the Second World War. Although Saving Private Ryan is ostensibly the story of a small platoon of soldiers ordered to go deep into enemy territory to locate and retrieve the titular Private Ryan, this epic war drama is also as much about the initial D-Day landings on Omaha Beach that kick-started the Normandy campaign for US forces.
Spielberg's depiction of the infamous Omaha siege is nothing short of breathtaking. Taking handheld subjective viewpoints and maintaining an unrelentingly visceral realism, he drove home the horror and confusion of open warfare like no one had before. In fact, such was the impact of this sequence that I'd go so far as to say Saving Private Ryan's place in this Top100 list is based almost solely on the opening act. The rest of the film, as Tom Hank's company travels through Normandy getting dragged into various territorial skirmishes whilst searching for Private Ryan; effectively drives home the folly and inhumanity that presides throughout a land at war during and between the big battles, but ultimately it lacks the intensity and innovation of that opening act - although the finalé does come close! – Matt Shingleton
R1 DVD Review (Reko Nokkanen) | R2 DVD Review (Raphael Pour-Hashemi)
Midnight Run (1988, Martin Brest)
Martin Brest's Midnight Run takes a rather lame story of a bounty hunter and a mob accountant and lets some great actors do their thing alongside good action direction to keep things moving. The key to the film's quality is the relationship between Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin, who play off each other brilliantly with Grodin reminding the world what a scene stealer he is as his healthy eating accountant irritates the hell out of De Niro's bitter and broken ex-cop. Both the characters are a little overwritten but these two actors play them so sympathetically that you end up believing that the blue collar bounty hunter and the white collar criminal can end up real friends. Grodin is fantastic and hysterical as the cunning fusspot, but I can never understand why people trumpet De Niro's more obvious roles rather than this one, as here he is a real person not an accumulation of testosterone and stereotype. Great support from Yaphet Kotto, John Ashton, and Dennis Farina ensure that the exposition of the film is just as entertaining as the central duo and the action chugs along with a great score from Danny Elfman. Brest went onto ponderous nonsense like Meet Joe Black when he should have heeded his success and made more great odd couple movies like this one. Midnight Run is as good an action comedy as you can hope to catch with two fine actors egging each other on to greatness. – John White
R2 DVD Review (Michael Brooke)