I discovered recently that, in the most recent edition of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, not only had some films been added from the past 12 months (subsequently removing some of the films from the past few years, but mainly last year) but some films from earlier than last year had been added in, for example 2006’s Apocalypto, which was not in the 2011 edition, but is in the 2012. Outraged isn’t the word. It’s clear that the makers of the book were allowing themselves to benefit from the glorious gift of hindsight, allowing them to now know that Apocalypto is a much better film than the likes of An Education and Precious, but I got to thinking, what other films am I missing out on? It didn’t feel right to base my list on the randomness of the year I received the book. So after a quick Google I discovered this lovely little site, where you can find all of the films ever to appear on any of the lists, and so I’ve added the 54 missing films onto my pile, including those added for the latest book edition. Rest assured I’ll be doing the same thing for every new edition released, but I’ll try and keep within the time limit of five years. This should make January 2016 especially fun, as I’ll be finishing off the list as well as those films added only days before, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
One quick note, I’m trying to cheat by pre-empting the list, as if I saw the films that have been added in the cinema or on DVD before they were put on the list, but only if I’ve posted a review, then I consider that film already crossed off, so the 2010 True Grit that is now present has already been crossed out, as the review can be found here. Here’s hoping that The Muppets, The Help, The Artist, Bill Cunningham New York and War Horse all appear next year! I don’t have much hope for The Woman In Black.
New additions include films I know and love (Adaptation, The Host), some I’ve seen once but want a reason to watch again (The Social Network, In the Loop, the aforementionned Apocalypto), some I’ve never seen but feel I should (The Passion Of The Christ, The Queen) and some I’ve seen, but kind of hoped I wouldn’t ever have to watch again (Eyes Wide Shut, Babel). There’s also a few fairly random additions (Meet the Parents). The list now sits at 1382 films in total, so I should probably stop writing this and crack on.
Based on Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling novel, The Help follows Emma Stone’s aspiring writer Skeeter as she returns home from college to Jackson, Mississippi (the opportunity to play some Johnny Cash is thankfully not missed). Whilst home, the free-thinking journalist discovers the maids that helped raise her, and the rest of their upper middle class society, are treated despicably – paid less than minimum wage with no social security, forced to use separate bathrooms and generally treated as sub-humans without the blink of an eye, so Skeeter sets out to tell their story to the world, helpfully with their assistance.
As recently seen with Glory, it seems the only way Hollywood can show a story about black people is through the eyes of the white person who helped them on their way, without whom they’d be powerless and stuck as they were, and the popularity of the film, not to mention it’s numerous nominations at the Oscars, has been struck by a case of white guilt, as though not a bad picture, there isn’t really anything new here. The ground has been trod many times before, but few have used such a great multi-generational ensemble cast without a weak link amongst them. Stone is good in her first dramatic lead, showing potential but retaining her well-honed comic chops, but she is shadowed by the likes of Bryce Dallas Howard’s bitchy queen bee, Octavia Spencer’s outspoken piemaker Minny and Viola Davis’ cautious yet catalytic maid Aibileen. Spencer is good, but her Oscar should have gone to Jessica Chastain for her unrecognisably bubbly portrayal of ditzy Celia Foote, giving a performance that could so easily have been paper thin, but ends up stealing the show. Davis too didn’t deserve the Oscar everyone was so sure she’d receive, but the nomination is well placed. Allison Janney, Sissy Spacey and Mary Steenburgen help round out the cast, and all give natural, layered performances from even the most cliché characters.
Essentially a glorified B-Movie, Mad Max saw Mel Gibson break out as live wire hero cop Max Rockatansky in a not too distant semi-dystopian Australian future. Other than Gibson, and sometimes including him, the acting and scenes are straight out of a direct-to-DVD movie – see Max sitting bolt upright in bed, a red light illuminating his haunted eyes, or his looking under a sheet at the hospital, so I wonder whether this is memorable more for the creation of the character, a Dirty Harry inspired ‘bronze’ who’ll nab his victims by whatever means, and for the supposedly superior sequel (watch this space).
Technically, Daniel Radcliffe is an adult. He’s 22 years old, so it’s possible he could have a young child and a wife who died in childbirth, and I suppose in the past these things happened younger, and of course he wants to distance himself from a certain well known child role, but with his boyish face and general lack of sufficient acting ability (though there’s no doubting it’s improvement since the early years of Potter) you’d think he’d pick a role that required a little less heavy living as the bereaved lawyer struggling to make ends meet in this picture from Hammer. But as it is, Radcliffe has unfortunately picked a part he simply isn’t right for. His face is too well known against a cast of whose are only vaguely familiar. It’s a role better suited to the likes of Rafe Spall, Armie Hammer or Jim Sturgess, who have already landed but haven’t yet rocketed to megastardom. One understands Radcliffe’s motivation, and indeed his name carries the film, but it’s clear he wasn’t cast for his skill as an actor or appropriateness for the character.