November 11, 2005


Karen of Verbatim notes that Empire online has posted a list of the 50 best independent films. Of. All. Time.

Copycat I am, I am going to follow her lead and post very brief comments on each of the films. Am I doing this for some sort of film-viewership cred? Hardly. I have seen a lot of films, but I can’t really lay any claim to having thought deeply about them. The truth is that I have been a fairly naïve film viewer over my career of movie-watching. If I were more serious it would probably be easier for me to write reviews.

And so we get to the real reason I am doing this. Because I have promised to write some reviews and I hope that this will be some sort of warm-up. With Netflix links. Star ratings (out of a possible 5) given for films I’ve seen.

50. El Mariachi - Personally, I wasn’t super thrilled. But it was fun. 3 stars.
49. Run Lola Run - I love this film, and the soundtrack. My full “Lola” review is on Epinions. 5 stars.
48. Cube - It was an intriguing horror film. Unique and a little frustrating. But that’s part of the horror. 3 stars.
47. Blood Feast - Never heard of it. I have enqueued it for completeness sake.
46. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - A classic, obviously. Genre-influencing, so it is difficult to give it a star rating. It’s not a film I would rush out to see again. I’m not a huge fan. I will compromise at 3 stars.
45. Mad Max - Mel, you’re a nutjob, but I liked you as Max. I liked the sequel better. I give you 3 stars for this one.
44. Amores Perros - I really enjoyed this film’s creative storytelling. 3.5 stars
43. Shadows - Doesn’t really interest me. Haven’t seen it.
42. Swingers - Really good film. 4 stars.
41. Dead Man’s Shoes - Not available on Netflix. Figures, because it really sounds good. That’s an IMDB link instead. I’d like to see this film.
40. The Descent - Also not available on Netflix. Another film I’d like to see. 2005, so perhaps just not out on DVD. Brit horror. I hope this doesn’t mean they’re waiting for a crappy USA remake before releasing the DVD here. But I bet that is the case.
39. The Passion Of The Christ - Tempted to see it, just for the violence and zombie aspects. But, I’ll pass.
38. Grosse Point Blank - Couldn’t get into it. 2 stars. Sorry, fans.
37. Being John Malkovich - Inspired weirdness. 4 stars!
36. Buffalo ‘66 - enqueued.
35. THX-1138 - Good slow moving sci-fi. 3.5 stars worth.
34. The Blair Witch Project - 2 stars, just for the innovation and creepiness. But never makes it to scary. Just go out into the woods at dusk alone and you’ll be more scared than this film will make you feel. Ooo, and a cellar hole can be scary, too. Real life is scarier than the Blair Witch.
33. Shallow Grave - Gritty fun. 4 stars.
32. Two Lane Blacktop - Zzzzzz. What? Oh, no, not really interested.
31. Pink Flamingos - Not really interested, but I’ve added it to my queue at the bottom (in the hinterlands) where it will likely die a slow death. Netflix says I will like it. Eh..
30. Sweet Sweetback Baadasssss Song - Not a fan of 70’s blaxploitation..
29. Bad Lieutenant - enqueued
28. In the Company of Men - enqueued
27. Dark Star - I don’t remember ever seeing this, but I must have. Re-enqueued.
26. Lost in Translation - Great! 4 stars.
25. Drugstore Cowboy - Not really interested.
24. Happiness - Been in my queue forever.
23. The Evil Dead - Good cheesy horror. Sam Raimi is a master. 4 stars (yes, I’m rating harsh). I like some later stuff better, but htis is really creative.
22. Nosferatu - Powerful creepy! 4 stars. I was lucky to see this with friends at the Avon with the Alloy Orchestra live soundtrack performance. Mike gave me the audio CD last year because Mike rocks.
21. Roger And Me - Seminal documentary. A must-see. 5 stars.
20. Slacker - enqueued.
19. Lone Star - Sounds promising. Enqueued.
18. Withnail And I - Not interested.
17. City of God - Interested, but not sure I want to be upset by it. Enqueued anyhow.
16. She’s Gotta Have It - I don’t gotta wanna watch it.
15. Blood Simple - Liked it, but didn’t go ga-ga. 3.5 stars.
14. Stranger Than Paradise - Not yet available. Not yet decided whether I want to see it.
13. Memento - Loved it. 5 stars. Can’t remember whether I liked “Following” better.
12. Eraserhead - I will never forget seeing this in a midnight show with Rui at the Avon. Extremely disturbing, but it was fun to try to interpret it afterwards. A haunting 4 stars.
11. Bad Taste - I just have never felt motivated to see this.
10. Mean Streets - Just not enough time so see all these streety types of movies.
9. Sideways - Hated the characters, but thought it was really well done character film. 4 stars.
8. The Usual Suspects - Loved this movie - 5 stars. Put this on your must see list right now.
7. Sex, Lies, And Videotape - Just not my kind of movie. A frigid housewife, a philandering husband and a stranger who likes to videotape people and have sex? I grudgingly give it 2 stars.
6. Night of the Living Dead - It’s a seminal horror zombie film! Dirty secret: I’ve never loved this film. 2 stars. Only later did I enjoy zombie films as comedy crept into the mix. And then, of course, the new Dawn of the Dead.
5. Monty Python’s Life Of Brian - 5 stars, of course.
4. Clerks - 5 stars. Smith’s first movie is chock full of good Smith dialogue.
3. The Terminator - 5 stars. Horror/Scifi… Arnold and Cameron… what’s not to like?
2. Donnie Darko - I love this interesting take on a sci-fi idea. 5 stars.
1. Reservoir Dogs - Have only seen parts of it. I just don’t care. One of those films you know you’re supposed to watch, but I think I missed the boat.

Thanks for indulging me.

Posted by James at November 11, 2005 10:02 PM
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Please report back on "Lone Star" -- I thought it was terrific, on many levels.

Posted by: Karen at November 12, 2005 8:23 AM

What a strange and thought-provoking list: apparently if your film is set in Texas or involves Mel Gibson, John Cusack, or someone misbehaving in a uniform (or misbehaving in general), it qualifies as a "best independent film." I was in an independent film and I don't know how to define one. Doesn't Parker Posey have to be in it for it to be truly "independent"? They keep changing the rules.

Posted by: ThirdMate at November 12, 2005 3:01 PM

Yes, you notice that I have ceased criticising the makeup of these lists and just gone and commented on the individual films. I never know how they compile the lists, and I think they know that annoying people just makes the discussion more lively.

I was also in an "independent film" or two. One of which I wrote the screenplay for. But that was back in high school. And I don't think public access would even air them.

Posted by: James at November 13, 2005 2:08 AM

You never know how "independent" a film can be. Not getting on public access is pretty darned independent. Congratulations.

Posted by: ThirdMate at November 13, 2005 5:34 AM

45. Mad Max - We agree. Mel is a nutjob. This is a great flick.
37. Being John Malkovich - Again we agree. Very funny. Extremely different look for Cameron Diaz!
35. THX-1138 - Good but depressing. The devaluation of humanity in this picture just upsets me no end.
34. The Blair Witch Project - Sorry I thought this film was *very* scary. I guess I let my imagination run wild while watching.
27. Dark Star - In some ways cheesey, but in others funny. Borrows from some other sci-fi stories, but has enough originality that I will always remember this with a laugh... especially when they had to argue with an artificially intelligent bomb to try to dissuade it from blowing up.
23. The Evil Dead - The sequel was definitely better. I liked the goof up when Ash picked up some necronomicon pages with a hand that he had theoretically cut off earlier.
13. Memento - Again we agree what a great film. I hated though that so many people took advantage of this man, and that in the end, he took advantage of himself.
8. The Usual Suspects - I liked this, but not nearly as much as you did.
7. Sex, Lies, And Videotape - This did nothing for me.
6. Night of the Living Dead - Yes I recall you never really liked this. I enjoyed it much more than you, and I really liked the 1990 theatrical version with Patricia Tallman. Her portrayal of a tougher Barbara was much more appealing to me than the alternating hysterical/catatonic portrayal given by Judith O'Dea in the 1968 original.
5. Monty Pythonís Life Of Brian - Agreed.
4. Clerks - Something like thirty-six? Does that include me? Oh, thirty-seven. I'M THIRTY-SEVEN???
3. The Terminator - Agreed.
2. Donnie Darko - Agreed, though I had to watch it a few times before I got it.
1. Reservoir Dogs - Agreed again. No interest in this film.

Posted by: Chuck S. at November 18, 2005 1:19 PM

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