Friday, July 28, 2006

50 Films To See Before You Die

Last weekend Channel 4 broadcast a programme called 50 Films To See Before You Die. It concentrated more on arthouse and cult films than other movie rundowns I have seen recently, being a thinly disguised promo for Film4 which is now free. Despite not really understanding how you could possibly see a film after you die, it was a very enjoyable show.

The only thing I really didn't like about the programme was that several times they revealed huge spoilers and endings of films. That seemed a pretty dumb thing to do if the aim was to try and get people to watch and enjoy them for the first time. It's perfectly possible to give an idea of the atmosphere and premise of a movie without giving away vital plot details!

I had seen 20 out of the 50 films which wasn't bad going. But of those 20 I had seen, although all good films, I wouldn't class many of them as ones to see "before you die". The only ones I think I would categorise as such would be Three Colours Blue, Brazil, Alien, Pulp Fiction, Manhattan, Trainspotting, and The Shawshank Redemption. Especially Three Colours Blue. That is without a doubt the most emotional, visually beautiful, perfectly acted, paced, and atmospheric film ever made. In case you haven't worked it out yet, I really like Three Colours Blue.

Of the ones that I hadn't seen, I had already intended to see Princess Mononoke, Lost In Translation, and City Of God. Nothing in the programme changed my intentions there.

From the rest that I hadn't seen, or never even heard of, there were several that the programme convinced me that I would like to see. These were The Ladykillers, Come And See, Black Narcissus, Sexy Beast, Chinatown and The Apartment. Also it reminded me to watch Three Colours Blue again soon.

Surprisingly, given the Film4 ethos, there was the usual under-representation of foreign language films. I couldn't believe there was nothing from Spanish directors like Pedro Almodovar, Julio Medem, or Luis Bunuel. Eric Rohmer was nowhere to be seen. The new wave of Iranian cinema might as well not have happened. Even the clips of Princess Mononoke had horrible Disney-like overdubs instead of the Japanese. Well at least they had Three Colours Blue in the list. Did I mention that I really really like that film?

Anyway despite that, it was interesting, and certainly the best of those kinds of programmes I have seen. Maybe I will put together my own 50 at some point. You can probably guess what number 1 is. Well that's a start.