When august film critic Derek Malcolm contacted me to ask if I would contribute to his world-renowned film blog I was over the moon. Then I read the email again more carefully.
Chris and Dom’s blog has been running for the best part of 18 months. Even throughout that time the way we consume cinema has continued to evolve. Thanks to cheaper DVDs and online libraries it’s never been easier to access an astronomical number of films. As a consumer it can be overwhelming. It’s easy to fall victim to the paradox of choice: can I really justify sitting through TOTAL RECALL again when I could watch SHOAH at the push of a button or make a start on that Tarkovsky boxset? At the same time it feels other media have almost completely abandoned cinema. There are more television channels than ever but only one notable film programme and the same tired old popcorn movies seem to be on constant rotation. On magazine shelves there’s Empire and Sight & Sound but nothing occupying the vast no man’s land of middle ground between them. Is Hollywood’s obsession with remakes the sign of an industry interested in its own rich history or an indicator of creative decline? Is the latest incarnation of 3D here to stay or a desperate gimmick to woo back the punters? How does Keira Knightley get away with it? Some, all or none of these questions will be answered here.
Contributing to this blog is in some ways an attempt to add a little structure to my own viewing in a world where Claudia Winkleman is our last hope. Chris and Dom’s lists are partly responses to Derek Malcolm’s 100 ‘Best films of the century’ that ran in the Guardian at the turn of the millennium. I will stick to the one film per director rule that Malcolm originally set down, and add my own restriction that my 100 films will each fall into one of ten “genres”:
WESTERN, SCI-FI/FANTASY, CRIME, HORROR, DRAMA, COMEDY, HISTORICAL/EPIC, ACTION, DOCUMENTARY, “WILD CARD”
That may not sound terribly restrictive but it’s mainly a way to stop me picking 50 Westerns and 50 film noirs and force me out of my comfort zone slightly. I’ll also try not to choose the same film as another contributor unless I think my list really wouldn’t be complete without it. In the spirit of Chris’ more contemporary list, “What if cinema really HAD started with STAR WARS?”, for my first choice I’ve gone for what is in my opinion the best American film made in the last ten years. Or maybe the second best. Definitely top five.