Wednesday, 27 April 2011

30 Day Film Quiz: Days 21-30

It's super self-indulgent. It's extremely pointless. It's, well, not really a "quiz". But today is the concluding part of the '30 Day Film Quiz'. For those with an interest, parts one and two are also available. Yes folks, this is what passes for a blog post these days. More reviews soon...

Day 21 - Your Favourite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film

Sci-fi or fantasy? Well how about a film which is a huge dollop of both? Princesses and knights and magical powers... and space ships.

Ask me this question for probably 90% of my lifespan so far and I would have immediately shouted (yes, shouted) 'The Empire Strikes Back' - so I'll stick with that answer even though I'm more ambivalent towards 'Star Wars' as an entity these days. It remains a sensational film.

Directed by the late Irvin Kirschner and co-written by future 'Raiders of the Lost Arc' scribe Lawrence Kasdan, 'Empire' is the best of the old trilogy, with clever dialogue (yes, really), a genuinely touching romance story and one of the most downbeat endings in blockbuster history. It's full of exciting moments too, such as the the battle of Hoth and the asteroid field chase, whilst it also debuted John Williams most iconic and enduring piece of music: The Imperial March. A tune memorably first heard as we witness Darth Vader's gargantuan "super" Star Destroyer, as seen below:

Day 22 - Your Favourite Horror Film

Errr... I don't really watch a lot of horror, so almost by default I'll go with perhaps the greatest horror ever made and one of the few I can enjoy: Kubrick's 'The Shining'.

I trust most people know what 'The Shining' is, so in the interests of levity here is a funny re-edit of the trailer from YouTube, which ingeniously casts the film as a family comedy:

Day 23 - Your Favourite Thriller/Mystery Film

Ooohhh... that's a difficult one. I really like the films of Bong Joon-ho, whose 2009 film 'Mother' is a superior example of both genres. I'll go with that one.

Day 24 - Your Favourite Animated or Children's Film

Being a big fan of the classic Disney animations, my favourite animated film would have to be 'Sleeping Beauty', which is an auteured piece, with a unified art style and a daring stylised approach which has no parallel amongst the studio's other features. The backgrounds are especially detailed and incredible and the animation so fluid that years later some of it was re-used on 'Beauty and the Beast'. As a runner-up, I'm a huge fan of Brad Bird's 'The Iron Giant'.

Day 25 - Your Favourite Documentary Film

I wouldn't cast myself as any kind of connoisseur of documentary film as I've only begun to watch theatrical release documentaries in recent years - and then generally only fairly mainstream ones. However, I find Werner Herzog's films interest me most due to a mix of his distinctive narration and his eye for absurdity. Wherever he goes and whatever the subject of his film, his thesis is always thoughtful, frank and human, lacking in cheap sentimentality of man or nature.

His 1977 documentary 'La soufriere' is one of the best. This comparatively short film sees the German director risk his life to capture footage of an island abandoned due to the pending explosion of its active volcano (hauntingly interviewing those who have chosen to stay behind). The whole thing is available to stream on YouTube:

Day 26 - Your Favourite Foreign Language Film

This is a strange category, maybe even more so in this poll than at the Academy Awards. Surely "foreign language" film - for most of us - accounts for the vast majority of all the films ever made.

Anyway, I won't argue. Instead I'll just post a trailer for Kurosawa's breathtaking and timeless 'Rashomon'. The film credited with opening the door to Europe for Asian cinema after it won the Golden Lion in the Venice Film Festival of 1951.

Day 27 - Your Favourite Independent Film

This is a potentially messy category. These days, as with the music industry, the so-called "indie" films are all actually backed by huge corporations. The likes of Miramax (especially in the 90s), and big studio offshoots like Fox Searchlight more recently, have threatened to make the term meaningless.

With that considered, I'll pick a proper independent film from yesteryear. The debut feature of Terrence Malick: 'Badlands'.

Day 28 - The Most Obscure Film You've Ever Seen

Last year the BFI did a brilliant Kurosawa retrospective, which included a couple of screenings of his earliest films - made during the second world war. Many of these, like 'Sanshiro Sugata' and its sequel, won't be obscure to Japanese audiences, yet in the UK many of these films are not available on DVD. One such gem is 'They Who Step on the Tiger's Tail', which was loosely remade years later as the better known 'The Hidden Fortress'. There aren't any trailers or clips online that I can find, so you'll have to make do with an image.

Day 29 - Your Favourite Film As a Kid

See "Day 21". Alternatively...

Day 30 - Your Favourite Film This Time Last Year

In an "all time" sense, I don't remember that being any different to my favourite film of right now. So instead I'll try to think back to whatever film I was most excited by in April of 2010.

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant dominated my thoughts this time last year with their drama-comedy film 'Cemetery Junction'. This is because I interviewed them about it, which was a huge deal for me being my first contribution to Obsessed with Film and also my first big interview.

However, the best film I saw this time last year was 'Dogtooth', a disturbing and darkly funny Greek satire about a group of "children" who are kept in ignorance about the world outside their house by possessive parents.

So concludes the "30 Day Film Quiz". It's been fun.

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