So this constitutes a vain attempt on my part to codify and categorise the numerous films that I have watched, embraced without immediate inhibition, and appear to continually gravitate toward, especially when contemplating what I personally seek to divine or discover in a work of cinema. In full disclosure, some of these films I haven’t seen for many years (I first began fixating on the narrative possibilities of film in high school, whole moons ago now, and some of the following titles have therefore assumed a status of personal history because of it), and some of these films I wouldn’t necessarily return to unless compelled to commit myself to an exercise in teenage nostalgia, with all the nosebleeds and unholy haircuts that this would invariably entail. Nonetheless, all of the titles I’ve struggled to collate and number below possess or convey that rare fire which, for me, individuates powerful cinematic storytelling from base populist pop.-cultural entertainment (which isn’t to suggest that such categories are mutually exclusive). Of course, it goes without saying that as this represents a “favourites list”, each selection is entirely predicated by a subjective bent, meaning that relative to what I feel on a day, or the particular mood currently seizing me, the specific hour or season, or perhaps even a latent whim to indulge a guilty cinematic pleasure irrespective of the vocal aspersions cast by its full-throated detractors, will all impinge on the order I’ve ascribed here. Which is to say: if I dig it, you’ll find it below, and such is the harebrained science of indexing the idiosyncratic. In offering these prefatory comments, I feel it germane to the spirit of the exercise to define what for me signifies a “good” film. Here, then, is my well-honed formula, hatched after years of swimmy screen-gazing: The film must be honest in both story and articulation (if it smacks of contrived plot mechanics, ill-advised attempts at thematic profundity, or thespian showboating, you won’t find it here), the film must be bracingly executed, the film must justify its own form (there is a reason a film cannot necessarily transfer with perfect ease to an alternative medium, and such a reason is inextricably bound to the limits of narrative art), and (perhaps most importantly) it must change me in some way during the process of watching. Not too much to question or expect of a procession of moving images, then; the film needn’t improve the flavour of my popcorn. It’s just gotta compel me to share that popcorn around.
I do so here. It’s my hope you’ll have mouthfuls to chew over.Read less