Week 2 - The Top 100 Film Challenge

This week I have definitely been slacking in my film watching (mainly because I have around a million-and-one work deadlines due in) so sorry folks, but there are only four movie reviews this week (I promise to do better!). Here they are, in the order that I viewed them in. Please do keep your suggestions coming through - I always need inspiration in what to watch next!

Film: Memento (2000)
Recommended by: Natalie
Deserves its place in the Top 100?: No.

Why?: I was genuinely looking forward to this film. It had all the right ingredients: Guy Pearce, Christopher Nolan directing, Prison Break tattoo thing going on...but it just didn't live up to my expectations. For those who haven't seen it, the story is told in an intricately woven set of flashbacks, starting at the end, and gradually winding back to the beginning. Leonard (Guy Pearce) is a peroxided wiry ex-insurance man, with a vendetta against the mysterious 'John G' - the man who supposedly raped and murdered his wife. Trouble is, Leonard can't make any fresh memories - so he has to tattoo any 'clues' to finding this killer onto his body. Sounds good, right? Wrong. The film is simply too clever for its own good. It's like Christopher Nolan watched The Usual Suspects and thought "I'm going to do that - but better", and failed. The Usual Suspects works because the plot is captivating and the twist is sensational - in Memento, the plot is so drawn-out, by the end of the film you don't give a shit about the twist; you're just pleased that you can go make some dinner now. "The world doesn't just disappear when you close your eyes, does it?" No, it doesn't - and neither does this film.

Film: Goodfellas (1990)
Recommended by: Matt
Deserves its place in the Top 100?: No.

Why?: Goodfellas is to The Godfather what, say, Blow is to Trainspotting. It's a nice little life story about 'what it is to be a gangster' - with some murder and drugs thrown in to meat it out a little. It's what would come out if you asked a kitten to retell The Godfather - it's just too fluffy and glossy to take seriously. I won't lie - it is enjoyable. Much like how Blow is enjoyable, but you don't get the impression that that's really how the world of drugs actually is. The characters, however, are good. Naturally, Robert De Niro is the best out of all of them, but Joe Pesci plays his part well, as does Loraine Bracco (Karen Hill). I couldn't really sympathise with the character of Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta) as he's got some weird mouth thing going on, and just isn't a serious enough actor for me - but that's a personal preference, I guess. All in all though, it's just not as good a gangster film as The Godfather. It's not as dark, as bleak or as realistic - so for me, there just isn't enough room for it in the Top 100.

Film: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Deserves its place in the Top 100?: Yes and No.

Why?: One of the first films I remember properly LOL-ing at was Monty Python's The Life of Brian, so I had some similarly high hopes for this one. Granted, it is early in the Monty Python days (4 years before The Life of Brian), and you can definitely tell that they haven't worked all the kinks out yet. The basic plot is that King Arthur (Graham Chapman) puts together a team of knights (the rest of the Monty Python crew) and goes in search of the Holy Grail. This is achieved with the lowest budget, and in the most haphazard way possible. It is, in essence, an hour and a half of back-to-back sketches - the overall plot definitely takes a backseat. But you don't watch a Monty Python film for the plot development. You watch it to laugh. Which you will do. A lot. Yes, it's your dad's humour - but what's wrong with that? Monty Python is timeless, and you will recognise a lot of jokes, such as: "I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!" (imagine it said in a French accent. It's funny, trust me.). This having been said, the 'low-budgetness' (compared to The Life of Brian) of it is sometimes quite distracting, and I couldn't help thinking: "if only this film could somehow mate with The Life of Brian...then we might have something". So in light of this, I do think it deserves a place in the Top 100, but only if it is twinned with The Life of Brian. "Look, you stupid bastard - you've got no arms left!" "It's just a flesh wound." Brilliant.

Film: The Apartment (1960)
Deserves its place in the Top 100?: Yes.

Why?: I'm a massive fan of old movies. They're so quaint, and happy, and make you feel all warm inside. This one, however, is different. It's about a 'yes-man', C C Baxter (Jack Lemmon), who on various nights of the week rents his apartment out to his overbearing superiors and their 'bits on the side' they can't take home. He does this partly because he's bad at saying no, and partly in the hope that being a nice guy might earn him a promotion. It's the original Mad Men - office shenanigans, bad behaviour and plenty of smoking and drinking - that Baxter doesn't partake in, but lends his apartment out to (much to the criticism of his unsuspecting neighbours). Unfortunately for Baxter, he seems to have forgotten that nice guys always finish last - especially when it comes to girls. Shirley MacLaine plays Miss Fran Kubelik, an elevator operator in the building that Baxter - along with his host of lecherous superiors - works. Kubelik is not like the other bimbo's, yet she gets treated like one, and has fallen for the married womanising executive - Mr Sheldrake. The film's plot continues on in what is basically a study of how women always manage to fall for the wrong guy ("Some people take, some people get took. And they know they're getting took and there's nothing they can do about it."). If you're a girl, you will identify with Fran and her bad man decisions. If you're a guy, you will sympathise with Baxter - in love with the girl who can't see what's right in front of her. Don't let the fact that it's black and white fool you - it's a thoroughly modern film and definitely worth more than one watch.

Remember to check on my progress here and keep your recommendations coming! 

Belle x

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