The 34 becomes… The 35

November 9, 2010 by Simon Kinnear in Opinion with 0 Comments

Earlier this year, I posted an (alphabetised) list of my favourite movies, choosing the seemingly random number of 34 because… well, that was my age.

However… over the weekend I’ve been celebrating my 35th birthday, so to maintain the symmetry, “The 34” must become The 35.

The rules, as ever, are simple:

– Only one film per director;
– I must have seen each film at least twice (The Social Network, amongst others, is denied by this clause)

And a new rule, to keep things spicy:

– I must have (re)watched the new entry during the past year.

Using those critera, I’ve whittled it down to a shortlist of three.  In reverse order.

3rd: The Profound Desires of the Gods.  I first saw this during a Shohei Imamura season at the (then) National Film Theatre in 1998, bemused by its weirdness and fidgety over its three hour running time.  This year, I caught up with it via Masters of Cinema’s astonishing Blu-ray, and realised it’s a demented masterpiece about progress, tradition, hurricanes and incest. 

2nd: Chinatown.  Recently voted by The Guardian’s film team as the best movie ever, 2010 is also the year when I finally got Roman Polanski’s tour de force.  I already knew the backstory: immaculately designed, unhappy ending, blah blah blah… but what I didn’t appreciate until I saw it on the big-screen is what a funny film it is, Jack Nicholson’s wry sarcasm providng huge laughs en route to its bleak denouement.

But the film that’s won the gold, and which will appear on my homepage for the next year as film #35 (although, ironically, in A-Z terms it comes first), is…

1st: Alien.  For years, I’ve always counted Alien and Aliens as a double-act: two films so different in tone, but so well matched in quality, that I’ve found them impossible to separate in my affection.    The recent Alien Anthology Blu-ray has sorted the man from the boy.  James Cameron’s gung-ho sequel remains a superb ride, but the sheer level of visual detail in Ridley Scott’s original deepens its thematic complexity and structural perfection to the point where even this lifelong Ridley sceptic can’t deny it’s a masterpiece.

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The Social Network
A Brief History