Are These Really the 100 Best Films? ; to Celebrate the 100th Birthday of Cinema, the BBC Is Dusting off Its a Rchives to Bring Us the Best Movies of All Time ... or So It Says. Ryan Gilbey Br Owses through Auntie's Choices in an Attempt to Find Something to Please Everyo Ne
Gilbey, Ryan, The Independent (London, England)
As cinema approaches its 100th birthday (on 13 February), you can hear a fierce scratching sound, like mice nibbling at the skirting- board. Actually, it's all the critics scribbling into their notebooks, raiding their libraries and coming over ana lly- retentive. In short, they're making lists. Bless 'em.
As usual, each of these lists will be arbitary and subjective, and ultimately as useless as any list which attempts to gather together the finest achievements of an art form. For how do you define "best"? The film you'd most like to grow old with? The one which inspired your career, or your life? The most technically proficient? Emotionally honest? The one which cheers you up? Brings you down? You may as well throw a stone at a shelf of videos and cherish the one you strike.
In their upcoming celebrations to mark the Centenary of Cinema, the BBC have got it easier than most. The 100 films which they have chosen to screen throughout 1995 don't make any claims to be the best films ever made. They are simply what Steve Jenkins,BBC2's Editor, Programme Acquisition, has selected as the finest features in the BBC's stock. That lets him off any disastrous omissions, of course (no Eisenstein?), although the list is, for the most part, as conservative as you'd expect.
Whether it makes you seethe or whoop, there's bound to be a few things here to delight everyone, which is surely the point of such a season. It also puts some of the more overblown "masterpieces" of recent times firmly in their place. So in a year which saw Kenneth Branagh defecating on Mary Shelley's text in the name of art, it's worth revisiting James Whale's 1935 classic The Bride of Frankenstein, if only to remember that a bravura piece of film- making can come from material which is both adaptation and sequel. Elsa Lanchester, silver-streaked hair piled on the back of her skull, is what most people remember about the film; the moments of dark, mischievous humour are worth cherishing too. The list is low on horror, with onl y Jacques Tourneur's I Walked with a Zombie and Michael Reeves' disturbingWitchfinder General fitting that category.
By the bottom end of the century, the genre distinctions had made it harder to sort horror from thriller from psychological drama. David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986) and David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers (1988) straddled all three and ended up being two of the most unsettling probes into the subconscious that cinema had ever produced. Lynch's film, which bettered even his own Eraserhead, concerned the nightmarish journey of a young American innocent into a world where sex and violence are interchangeable, and boasted moments derived from, and worthy of a place beside, Cocteau and Bunuel.
Cronenberg, meanwhile, was as biologically obsessed as ever ("They should have beauty contests for the inside of the body," says one …
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Publication information: Article title: Are These Really the 100 Best Films? ; to Celebrate the 100th Birthday of Cinema, the BBC Is Dusting off Its a Rchives to Bring Us the Best Movies of All Time ... or So It Says. Ryan Gilbey Br Owses through Auntie's Choices in an Attempt to Find Something to Please Everyo Ne. Contributors: Gilbey, Ryan - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: December 3, 1994. Page number: 16. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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