Archive for July 21st, 2010

by Joel

This post is a tribute to Allan Fish, who has just concluded his ambitious, erudite, and stimulating countdown of every era in film history (a top 100 for the first 35 years of cinema, a top 25 for the 1930s, a top 50 for the ensuing decades of the 20th century, and another top 100 for the decade just past). The project was launched on the popular website Wonders in the Dark in the autumn of 2008. A poll was attached to the end of each countdown, so that the readers could voice their own opinions. Not that they needed the excuse – if anything defined the excitement around Allan’s exercises, it was the fantastic discussion which sprouted from many of his choices, sometimes voyaging far abroad from the starting point, spanning hundreds of comments and dozens of topics. Many of these were among the best conversations I’ve had on the internet – or anywhere else for that matter.

There were numerous contributors to the buzzing atmosphere, not least of whom was Sam Juliano, the irrepressible administrator of Wonders in the Dark, who drummed up enthusiasm and participation in Allan’s countdown with the exuberant discipline of a Falstaffian ringleader. And then, of course, there’s Allan himself. A thirtysomething Brit who has seen just about every major film known to man, he also harbors a no-bullshit attitude and a brooding sensibility. Though bruising at times, he was the perfect yin to Sam’s yang – and their odd couple routine defined the site’s bright but unpretentious tone from the get-go. More important, his virtually peerless immersion in film history provided a wealth of choices for the countdown and he drew on them with gusto. Many times his #1 (not to mention lower-ranked picks) took us by surprise and sent us scurrying to the margins of filmdom to polish off his proclaimed masterpieces.

In several paragraphs, Allan would summon up the world of the movie effortlessly, giving a bit of history and story, but focusing on the film’s mood, its connections to other movies (and books and TV shows and plays…), and whatever it is that drew him in the first place. These short, succinct, yet highly evocative pieces were intended to evoke curiosity and excitement, and in this they were assisted by an often bold and original image – a screen capture in almost all cases, snapping a picture in the midst of merry movement, making us want to see more. The remainder of this tribute focuses on these pictures. Rather than lay these images out in the order of his ranking, I’ll fuse them into a seamless portrait of movie history, a voyage into the silver screen’s past, starting with the most recent and ending with the earliest glimpses of the medium’s potential.

Click on the picture and you will be taken to the review in question. (And if you click on the picture topping this post – an arresting, sultry frame from the French miniseries “Mesrine” – you will arrive at a list of all Allan’s countdowns in numerical order.) Enjoy…

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Allan Fish’s Number 1 Choice “Love-Exposure”…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

…For Sharing Your Top 100 Choices of the Decade…Now, the voting Tabulator Extraordinaire Angelo D’ Arminio Jr.,..Job Begins…
By the way, two films are missing from the slideroll…Unintentionally, but of course!

While I search for the two missing  screenshots can you tell me what the titles are? I will be right back!



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*** out of *****


By Bob Clark

Back when the Matrix sequels had freshly come and gone from theaters, I had talked about them briefly with a friend from college, who thought that the Wachowskis had made a critical error in not simply having Neo and his cyberpunk comrades simply wake up and discover the war they’d been fighting between man and machines had simply been another virtual reality dream-world. I asked if that wouldn’t make all of their adventures feel all a bit meaningless, and open the door to a revolving door of dreams within dreams with no end in sight. After all, David Cronenberg pulled more or less the same stunt in his own virtual-reality thriller eXistenZ, which threw out its story of Jennifer Jason Leigh as a radical game-designer with a Salman Rushdie style fatwa on her head in favor of a new paradigm in which she was an anti-VR assassin herself. It’s the sort of last-minute turn of the narrative screw that might work fine for a stand-alone feature, I said, but would more or less ruin any sense of continuity for a budding multimedia franchise. My friend simply shrugged and said, “Turtles all the way down!”


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