The 170 Visual Pleasures of Pyro

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Yup, you read that right, one hundred and (edit:seventy). Well, to be more precise it's not quite that many, i've left some room to add some and avoid using ties like my last list.

As a preface, i decided to include TV shows, stand ups and filmographies. As in some instances, for the latter, i found it difficult to separate some director's films where they're quite similar and i love them equally. In these cases, i list all the films of said director that make the list (and that i've seen) which explains why some aren't included, although some standout films may left out to pop up later on. So in fact it's probably almost my Top 200

Enjoy, this is me being constructive whilst unemployed

And the top 10 is different, even from in my 'Favourite Movies' link!
__________________




"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



Hold your breath, it's a shaky start....


170.
Leprechaun 4: In Space

(Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1997)



It's decidedly awful but it's done with a straight face and is the epitome of 'so bad it's funny'. Be sure to be bring the cheese grater.


169.
Jack Frost

(Michael Cooney, 1996)




If you thought a giant snowman, as above, couldn't be menacing- you're right.



168.
Friday the 13th: Part 4

(Joseph Zito, 1984)




I went through a slasher phase a few years ago and this is the one i keep coming back to, in genre terms i'd say it's perfect- plus Corey Feldman.


167.
Showgirls

(Paul Verhoeven, 1995)




Alright, alright, steady the negativity. It's delightful tacky- i like it. Plus, closest to porn i dared putting on the list.


166.
Faust: Love of the Damned

(Brian Yuzna, 2001)




A nice example of how prosthetics are far more effective than CGI, add to that some of my favourite B-Movie actors and direction of Brian "Cronenberg without the intellect' Yuzna.


165.
Wrong Turn 2

(Joe Lynch, 2007)



I was totally unprepared for this STD treat, one of the best horror films in recent years, imaginative kills and Henry Rollins doing a Rambo!


164.
Pulp Fiction

(QT, 1994)



Quite a drop on my list but i used to love it and watch it once a week, so on that it belongs on here.



163.
Demolition Man

(Marco Brambilla, 1993)



The 90s was responsible for a slew of brainless action films, this is my favourite.


162.
Garth Marenghi's Dark Place]
TV SERIES
(Creators: Matthew Holnes & Richard Ayoale)




Taking the 'so bad it's funny' principle and actually pulling something witty off with it under the premise of a canned horror/ hospital show introduced by fictional creators.


161.
Ghost in the Shell

(Mamuro Oshii, 1995)



You can take the extravagance of Akira, i prefer the more restrained and stylistic approach and rather philosophical view, almost an animated Blade Runner.

160.
The Hills Have Eyes

(Alexandre Aja, 2006)



A complete smack in the face, brutal and unflinching as horror should be.


159.
Se7en

(David Fincher, 1995)



Dark and gruesome, yum


158.
Space Jam

(Joe Pytka, 1996)



This had stayed in childhood memories until i rewatched it and thought it was alright, then Bill Murray's cameo at the end took it above.


157.
Robocop

(Paul Verhoeven, 1987)




A nice slice of 80s action


156.
The League of Gentlemen
TV SERIES

(Creators: Jeremy Dyson, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton & Reece Shearsmith, 1999-2002)




Deliciously twisted and sick but also hilarious.
Highlight: Papa Lazarou in the Christmas Special- "Is that Daaaaave?"


155.
Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend

(Hideki Takayama, 1989)



I'm not sure if this is too sick to call porn but it's full of some of the most extreme and graphic images i've seen.


154.
The Films of Danny Boyle


Boyle paints some memorably stark landscapes and images of Britain, he's made some modern day classics.


Trainspotting (1996)


Shallow Grave (1995)

Sunshine (2007)

28 Days Later (2002)


153.
Phantoms

(Joe Chappelle, 1998)




This film, despite Ben Affleck, shat me right up when i was younger.


152.
Ong-Bak / Chocolate

(Prachya Pinkaew, 2003 / 2008)





Pinkaew's films have weak stories but the Muay Thai martial arts on display more than compensate


151.
Dogma

(Kevin Smith, 1999)



As i grow older, i grow less impressed with Smith but this one still entertains with great ensemble cast.

150.
Tremors

(Ron Underwood, 1990)




Almost iconic B-Movie


149.
Richard Pryor
(STAND UP)




Influential and controversial but more importantly great to watch.
Highlight: Live in Concert (1979)



148.
Rome, Open City

(Roberto Rossellini, 1945)



My favourite of Italian Neo-Realist film, not the most exciting film movement but certainly worth watching.


147.
Witchfinder General

(Michael Reeves, 1968)



Vincent Price excells as the sadistic Mathew Hopkins in his most evil role and the British countryside is shot beautifully


146.
Bad Education

(Pedro Almodovar, 2004)



While Almodovar's content may not be the most relateable, he's the pioneer of Spanish cinema and has a formal talent with great use of colour and offers a diverse and honest look at the full spectrum of humanity. Gael Bernal continues to prove himself in a brave performance.



160. It has a ring to it. I'm not sure what kind of bell it is exactly but its ringing.


Already you have several here that I quite enjoy, I also really like Ghost in the Shell. Demolition Man and Pulp Fiction are both just choice. And I'm also a pretty big fan of Showgirls. I kid you not.
__________________
We are both the source of the problem and the solution, yet we do not see ourselves in this light...



Of all the cheesy horror films, Jack Frost just didn't do it for me.

Leprechaun is gold... 4 isn't my favorite, but that was the last really good one. 5 & 6... ESPECIALLY 5... weren't so good. My favorite is Leprechaun 3.



F*** it!!!! I'm not here often enough to change it
Lordy!








I truly only get into parts 1 & 2, of Friday the 13th. I have them all, though. Oh yes, I do. No worries, I am totally aware that as far as movie quality goes, they are *****. I still have my moments with them, though.
As far as the other movies you have listed, I don't know what the bulk of them are.



145.
Mysterious Skin

(Gregg Araki, 2004)



Adi may find someway to slate me for putting this after Bad Education but it is coincidence. This was far from what the box said but was a deep and moving character exploration.


144.
The Omen

(Richard Donner, 1976)



Gregory Peck rocks for an old dude and there's some pretty decent death scenes


143.
Seven Samurai

(Akira Kurosawa, 1954)



Epic samurai film, interesting characters serve keep a film with a rather simple plot from ever getting boring. Don't expect graphic violence though.


142.
Beavis and Butthead Do America

(Mike Judge, 1996)



Crude and quotable.


141.
The Producers

(Mel Brooks, 1968)



Mel Brooks best film imo, yet to see stage version.

140.
Unleashed

(aka Danny the Dog)
(Louis Leterrier, 2005)



I think i prefer martial arts when they avoid all the [Confucianism and replace it with brutality, which Jet Li excels at here along with favourite Mario, i mean Bob Hoskins, and a pretty interesting plot considering the genre trappings.


139.
Superman 2

(Richard Lester, 1980)




"Kneel before Zod!"
Really want to see the other cut



138.
Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn

(Nicholas Meyer, 1982)



It's not my favourite (that's coming up) but it is a classic and those ear worms have given me a complex since i saw it as a child.


137.
Memories of Murder

(Joon-ho Bong, 2003)



Gripping mystery thriller with the beautiful Korean cinematography.


136.
Save the Green Planet

(Jun-hwan Jeong, 2003)



Looking at the DVD cover, you'd expect something a little different from this Korean film. It treads a twisted line between black comedy and serious drama and it's never tongue in cheek leaving you with some very disturbingly surreal scenes of torture, cross dressing and death. It plays with your expectations, who's good or bad till the very end, and you're still left wondering.


135.
The Films of Takashi Miike



For my money, this man is one of the most exciting creative forces working in cinema today. His extensive filmography is mind boggling, making 2-3 films a year and most are pretty good at that. His work his primarily noted for it's controversial graphic violence and depraved obscenities, which is hard not to notice in many of his films. However, there's more to him than meets the eye, admittedly this view is obscured with limited work released abroad but when you realise the full breadth of his work and accomplishments, you'll see why i hold in such high esteem. True, his work mostly garners cult reputation over art house credibility but much of it provides an insight into the deep workings of Japanese culture while pushing taboos and limits of censorship, also breaking boundaries of genre and cinematic conventions. Here are how i rate his film, in order of preference (the first seven are the ones on my list):


The Bird People in China (1998)

Beautifully shot landscapes in a touching road movie, devoid of Miike's trademark depravity and violence

Visitor Q (2001)

Almost the antithesis of the former film, a cinema verite exploration of the Japanese family with incestuous, necrophiliac members

Izo (2004)

Although heavily criticised, i loved the philosophical and existential journey of one man slaughtering his way through history and religion

Gozu (2003)

The film marks the combination of my 3 favourite filmmakers- the enigma of a Lynch film and the body horror of Cronenberg mixed with Miike's perverse preoccupations

Zebraman (2004)

Almost a kids film about a normal man-come-superhero fighting an alien invasion, still some adult themes but plenty of comedy

Audition (1999)

His breakthrough film? Explores state of the male in Japan before turning into a haunting torture film. Great cinematography and nauseating but iconic violence

Happiness of the Katakuris (2001)

All singing, all dancing musical- believe it or not. Complete with zombies and claymation, possibly the most bizarre entry on his filmography.



Welcome to the human race...
Hang on, in the starting post you say you're going to avoid using ties and then you name four Danny Boyle films at #144. A bit of a contradiction there, isn't it?

EDIT

Same for putting Ong-Bak and Chocolate at #142.
__________________
Way too much stupid talk on the forum. Iroquois, I’m thinking about you.



Yup, you read that right, one hundred and sixty. Well, to be more precise it's not quite that many, i've left some room to add some and avoid using ties like my last list.

As a preface, i decided to include TV shows, stand ups and filmographies. As in some instances, for the latter, i found it difficult to separate some director's films where they're quite similar and i love them equally. So in fact it's probably almost my Top 200

Enjoy, this is me being constructive whilst unemployed
Hang on, in the starting post you say you're going to avoid using ties and then you name four Danny Boyle films at #144. A bit of a contradiction there, isn't it?

EDIT

Same for putting Ong-Bak and Chocolate at #142.

And as for the latter, they're much the same- i didn't originally have them tied but decided to as i was posting.

Anywho, less criticism, more enjoyment



Welcome to the human race...
Oh. My bad.

Anyway, I admire you for taking the "favourite" concept to the extreme by including Showgirls and Urotsukidôji on your list. That alone makes this list more gripping.



Oh. My bad.

Anyway, I admire you for taking the "favourite" concept to the extreme by including Showgirls and Urotsukidôji on your list. That alone makes this list more gripping.
Heh, what the extra numbers are for



Welcome to the human race...
It doesn't top Destiny's decision to use "unlimited" favourites. That defies number altogether!



134.
Delicatessen
(Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 1991)



Dark and charming romance in a post-apocalyptic society where human flesh sells


133.
Human Traffic

(Justin Kerrigan, 1999)



The weekend has landed in this perfect slice of 90s culture

"Niiiice one brruvaaaa"



132.
The Man Who Fell to Earth

(Nicolas Roeg, 1976)



David Bowie as an alien and Roeg's trippy editing skills, can't go wrong.


131.
M

(Fritz Lang, 1931)



I know The Cabinet of Dr Caligari is normally the go-to film for German Expressionism but I prefer the plot and chiaroscuro and score of this one


130.
LA Confidential

(Curtis Hanson, 1997)



Three very different cops in this masterful, twisting neo-noir set in the 1950s. The drama and characters are all developed extremely well through-out and i love the general tone of the film.


129.
The Films of Peter Jackson


Heavenly Creatures (1994)


The moving and imaginative escapism of two young girls in New Zealand, great breakthrough performance from Winslet as well.


Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Extended Editions)(2002, 2003, 2004)


Not gonna dwell on this one, if you want more it was at the top of my last list but i'm sure you all know the deal, benchmark of big budget film making.

Braindead (1992) AND Bad Taste (1987)




Disgustingly excessive, violent, gory but funny movies

Meet the Feebles (1989)

Jim Henson on crack



128.
Grease

(Randal Kleiser, 1978)



Classic songs, characters and childhood memories


127.
Dogville AND Manderlay
(Lars von Trier, 2003 + 2005)





Von Trier is one of the most constantly exciting directors, offering something vastly different with each project. Taking elements of Dogme movement he brings Brecht to the big screen with these stage set films. Formal style aside, they're both powerful character studies of social times.

126.
The Films of Terry Gilliam

He was the American Monty Python but has continued his career in a different direction to most of the others; avoiding all out comedy, tending towards far darker and adult themes. With his infamous trouble to get funding but vivid imagination for dark post-apocalyptic stories, dreamlike narratives and talent for visuals, I always wonder why? Lost in La Mancha is definite must-see documentary on the man. Anyway, here's how i rate his films (the ones i've seen).

Brazil (1985)


Time Bandits (1981)


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)


Twelve Monkeys(1995)


Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)




125.
Firefly + Serenity

(Joss Whedon, 2002 + 2005)



Sure most people know about Whedon's canceled before it's time show and the subsequent movie follow up. Both are fantastic sci-fi come westerns and each character is perfectly rounded, developed and loved which made the movie all the more enjoyable by giving them a last send-off.


124.
The Shining

(Stanley Kubrick, 1980)



"Heeeeere's Johhhhnyy"

Classic



123.
Ghostbusters

(Ivan Reitman, 1984)



Believe it or not, those dogs were the scariest things ever when i was young and saw this


122.
Afro Samurai

(Takashi Okazaki, 2007)




I watched it about 5 times in a week- Oriental sci-fi with stoned samurai played by Sam Jackson, nigh on the pinnacle of cool, what you expect for the most expensive anime to date.


121.
The Killer

(John Woo, 1989)



John Woo's classic film, slow motion bullet ballet beauty.

120.
Maltese Falcon

(John Huston, 1941)



Wouldn't mind seeing some more classic noirs but at the moment this stands at the top of them with the ever charismatic Bogey



BLAXPLOITATION


Now this is a genre i always have time for. Some entries are thrown about as classics but in truth, it's mostly relative to the fact most are mediocre to bad. So why do i like it so much?


Let's start at the beginning, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (Melvin van Peebles, 1971) is what kick started the movement, however it's important to realise that the film itself isn't blaxploitation. Independently made without a commercial studio behind it, it only lives up to the black of blaxploitation and not the exploitation. It follows the story of Sweet Sweetback, the black love machine, sticking it to the man and destroying the stereotyped black man of Hollywood. Ever since the minstrel rapists of DW Griffith's Birth of a Nation, the black man has been portrayed negatively. Sure there was Sidney Poitier but he played strictly conservative characters, no sexual appetite and spoke in a Queens English accent. Anyway, Sweet Sweetback... serves a pretty important point in American Film History, as far as i'm concerned. For more detail in the production context of it, I highly recommend watching Baadassss. Made by Melvin's son, Mario, it's as enjoyable as it is insightful. The film set in place many of the aspects apparent in the subsequent genre evolution, from the funk and soul soundtrack to the black man coming out on top. The latter aspect gave the black audience an outlet to finally see themselves represented on screen in roles that reflected their social situation and gave them strong images after many had felt a sense of emasculation. Anyway, the film showed that there was a market for films with black protagonists and they were also commercially viable (it made $4,100,000 at the box office). So let's get on with it.




Shaft is probably the first proper blaxploitation film, taking the core essence of Sweet Sweetback and the black vigilante taking justice on 'the man' only with higher production values from the studio interest. Now, there's so many aspects i love from the genre- just look at the posters, they're works of art. The music is classic and has stood the test of time, being one- if not the- fondest memory of the genre. Heck, Shaft even netted Issac Hayes an Oscar. In case you weren't aware, the genre's demise came at the hands of pressure groups, such as NAACP, giving hassle about the lack of positive role models the films offered. Often protagonists were pimps and drug dealers, furthermore, to an extent the films glamourised this lifestyle and the ghetto where they're mostly set. Yet, there was much more to this....

Take Pam Grier, her roles weren't just important for black women but women full stop. Her characters were archetypal heroines, preceding the likes of Ripley and Sarah Connor. However, at the hands of AIP, her sexuality was notably exploited. Excuses for nudity are as see through as the plots. However, they were a lot of fun as she plows through goons literally emasculating them.
Although not blaxploitation in the typical sense, there's Jim 'Kung-fu' Kelly, best known for his role in Enter the Dragon, which, for my money, along with charismatic John Saxon eclipses Bruce Lee. His martial arts flicks don't tend to follow similar plot trajectories but are still are lot of fun- take Black Samurai, he drives to the sea- orders a boat that arrives in seconds- uses a jet pack to fly to an island- lands in a jungle- is taunted by a rope swinging midget dressed as a cowboy- then fights some blokes dressed in Amazon garb.


For all the shoddiness and questionable elements in the production, i still maintain that they were not only an important aspect of cinema in giving black representation but a lot of fun and highly iconic.

Nowadays, there's not much to be said for the genre, questions are around about the representation African American's receive nowadays but that's a different topic. To look at something contemporary, there's Tarantino's Jackie Brown, which i prescribe as not blaxploitation, or even "neo-blaxploitation". I posted an essay i wrote, roughly on the subject, if anyone wants to read (it got a 1st ).

African American Cinema

Jackie Brown


Jackie Brown (Quentin Tarantino, 1997) proves an interesting text when looking at African American cinema. Its status in Black Cinema stems primarily from director Quentin Tarantino’s fixation on superficially referencing the 1970s in his films, in particular here blaxploitation. Tarantino offers references to this movement through a series of homages from trivial type sets on the movie poster to the casting of Pam Grier. The validity of Jackie Brown as an African American text is questionable with Tarantino acting as the ‘wigga’ wherein he takes on certain African American mannerisms whilst being white, these are often reflected considerably through the dialogue also written by him. Looking at the film itself, it’s based on the novel Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard, and like many screen adaptations of his literary work, Jackie Brown is closest to a noir, which is also the genre many blaxploitation works can be ascribed to. However Jackie Brown is most often described as a neo-blaxploitation yet when compared to blaxploitation films the thematic and contextual similarities are slim. In interview Tarantino as said “to me the film is a black film. It was made for black audiences actually” (http://film.guardian.co.uk/Guardian_...,78447,00.html) however it’s debateable whether this statement can adhere to more than just the surface references. It will be examined if it’s apt to view Jackie Brown as a piece of Black cinema, if it can be put in the (neo) blaxploitation canon or whether it just wants to be black.

Looking at director Tarantino occupying the role of the ‘wigga’ director brings up several arguments which intertwine into Jackie Brown being a Black film. Initially Tarantino just being white raises problems on viewing it as a Black film and whether he has the authority or can create an authentic representation. The main criticism comes from Tarantino attempting authenticity through dialogue with the black characters frequently appropriating the term ‘******’ used (in majority) between black characters. This attempt at realistic dialogue as Tarantino often has in films, where much like Leonard who, the dialogue is used for characterisation opposed to used for narrative progression. In Leonard’s novel the speech markers are in the simplistic form of ‘said’ to remove any emotional inflection and authorial elaboration instead leaving the dialogue itself to retain a phatic function much like Tarantino thus as Tarantino describes “if you’re writing black dialect there are certain words you need to make it musical, and ‘******’ is one…Sam Jackson uses ‘******’ all the time in speech, that’s just who he is and where he comes from” (Bauer, 1998, p.257). However it is Black auteur Spike Lee who criticises Tarantino’s authority on using the term in a Variety interview regarding the 38 times the ‘n’ word is used in one exchange between Chris Tucker and Sam Jackson’s characters. As Lee quotes “I use it, but not excessively. And some people speak that way. But, Quentin is infatuated with that word. What does he want to be made - an honorary black man?" (http://www.variety.com/article/VR111779698.html?categoryid=2&cs=1). Lee’s reaction reiterates the view on Tarantino’s position as a ‘wigga’ and Lee even parodies Tarantino in Bamboozled (Spike Lee, 2000) with the character Thomas Dunwitty (played by Micheal Rappaport) saying "Don't get offended by my use of the quote-unquote N-word. I got a black wife and three biracial children, so I feel I have the right. I don't give a damn what that prick Spike Lee says. Tarantino is right, ****** is just a word”. The extensive use of the ‘n’ word, right or wrong, seems to be one of the cementing factors in regarding Jackie Brown as a Black film, past homage.

Before the plot of Jackie Brown, which Smith describes as being elaborate money-switch being at the heart of it (p.155, n.d.) is underway Tarantino makes several allusions to contemporary social problems one might find present in Ghetto centric or New Jack cinema. The setting of the story is moved from Miami to Los Angeles and locations familiar with crime are introduced with in a glamorised, ironic way such as ‘The City of Compton’ opposed to ‘Compton’ which has connotations of crime and violence. Character Ordell observes to Louis, while watching a fictional show ‘Chicks With Guns’ that the handbook for TEC-9 machine gun describes it as the ‘most popular gun in American crime’ as if they’re proud of it, yet this brief verge on social commentary is left to act as part of Tarantino’s phatic dialogue opposed to offering any more of a critique. In fact Ordell’s gun dealing business is left as more a plot device opposed to holding any narrative significance. Several more themes common in the aforementioned branch of Black cinema are noted including Ordell stating to white Melanie that “weed will rob you of your ambition” yet is undermined by admitting to being a drug user and not exploring the effects of drugs on the Black community any further. Again this seems to be Tarantino using his dialogue in an attempt to emulate a black lifestyle without directly dealing with the issues except its comedic effect on the two white characters and stating it’s presence in Black lifestyles. In one more instance Tarantino’s characterising dialogue is another downfall in incorporating race issues, as Ordell tells Jackie “the police are pitting black against black” which serves only to characterise Ordell as a deceptive crook using his colour and Tarantino playing on this, like a ‘blackvoice’ which like black face is a white symbolic construction based on ‘the power to make African Americans stand for something that’s beside themselves’” (Rogin 1992, cited by Gormley, 2005, p.33). Tarantino fails to create any narrative racial tension that an iconic piece of Black cinema like Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (Melvin van Peebles, 1971) manages. Gormley makes a reading of a particular scene to be reminiscent of the Rodney King beating video it’s formal construction in that Ordell’s shooting of Beaumont takes place in a long shot and continues to move up to assume a position of distance from the event (2005, p.188) which is perhaps the closest Jackie Brown comes to directly dealing with any Black issues, yet is only a stylised surface reference.

In Jackie Brown Tarantino makes a lot of allusions to blaxploitation films (many also directed by white directors) such as the casting of Sid Haig, a co-star with Pam Grier in several exploitation films, playing the song ‘Longtime Women’ when Jackie Brown is put in jail, a song Grier sang in The Big Doll House (Jack Hill, 1971) when the main character was similarly being put in jail and the most explicit being the name of Jackie Brown, which Tarantino changed the title of the film to (opposed to original of Elmore Leonard’s novel Rum Punch) when the actual character was originally named Jackie Burke and was white, the change obviously inspired by Foxy Brown (Jack Hill,1974). Although whether or not it can be classed as blaxploitation is a different matter. Koven defines blaxploitation as exploiting our desire to see black people, specifically African Americans, on screen, doing presumably what one wants or expects to see African Americans doing (2001, p.7). Obviously since the 1970s the African American identity has shifted, and with NAACP intervention of the blaxploitation movement, favouring more positive representations of African Americans; as Tarantino observes “what was sad about it was the black community was actually supporting it, but it was the black intelligentsia, and the moral leaders that kept putting it down all the time” (http://film.guardian.co.uk/Guardian_NFT/interview/0,,78447,00.html#E). It’s already been mentioned that Tarantino sees Jackie Brown as a Black film, but is it exploitation? As Bauer states, the casting of Pam Grier in the lead role cements the blaxploitation connection (along with the choice of soundtrack) (1998, p.254) but her role is far removed from the vigilante heroines she portrayed in her blaxploitation work. There is next to no violence in the film, least of all that she commits; antagonist Ordell is even killed by the law opposed to Grier getting her vigilante justice with the graphic emasculation present in her former work. Gormley suggests however that Tarantino’s works are in fact very political, especially in terms of dealing with race, ‘evoking and crystallising the sensations of and affects around questions of race that were embedded into the white cultural imagination in the US of the 90s’ (2005, p.25) which would imply that Tarantino is providing a contemporary image of the African American. Despite not using race as an issue of conflict as in blaxploitation films, its use has been altered to fit in with contemporary society. As mentioned earlier, it is Tarantino’s liberal use of the ‘n’ word, which Gormley (2005, p.33) cites Spike Lee (1998) criticising, again, saying how Tarantino appropriates the language and aesthetics of contemporary African-American culture to produce a kind of exploitative shock in the audience. This would all lead to strongly place Jackie Brown as a neo-blaxploitation piece in its exploitation of what audiences want to see African Americans doing.

The inclusion of Jackie Brown into black cinema is strongly tied into Tarantino as an auteur, wherein much of his individual style which is apparent in his prior work contains a direct mimetic engagement with cultural ‘hipness’, authority and perceived immediacy of rap culture and the ‘hood films (Gormley, 2005, p.137). Although his statement of the film as black maybe somewhat arrogant, his knowledge of 70s cinema and blaxploitation grants him a degree of authority which he can use, filtered through his own post-modern and self ironic sensibilities. The authenticity he strives to create through the use of the ‘n’ word may be slightly forced with knowingness to the controversy surrounding it in excessiveness but his appropriation of the term is fair in the context. The character Ordell is one which would use the word if he were a character in a film directed by an African American, for example Nino Brown in New Jack City (Mario van Peebles, 1991). If the argument that its use perpetuates black caricatures and legitimizes use of racist colloquialisms (Grant, p.67, 2001) then it should be placed effectively in a lexicon prison and banned by all races if a black character is unable to use it in a white film and able to in a black film. Kennedy elaborates that there is no compelling reason why the use of the word is permissible by black people and objectionable by whites however the eradication of the word poses a thread to valuable artistic and political expression (1999/2000, p.92). Tarantino sums up “I’m just a white guy who’s not afraid of that word. I just don’t feel the whole white guilt and pussyfooting around race issues. I’m completely above all that. I’ve never worried what anyone what might think of me because I’ve always believed that the true of heart recognise the true of heart” (Bauer, p.257, 1998). In whole Jackie Brown may not sit alongside Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989) in Black cinema in dealing with race issues which is perhaps why neo-blaxploitation is a more fitting term considering it’s overall style on the exaggerated black identity of Ordell, the pleasures of the film are based on the audiences cultural awareness thus a lot of the African Americanism is blatant and easy to grasp, creating much of the film’s meaning (Gormley, 2005, p.188).



119.
United 93

(Paul Greengrass, 2006)



One of those 'it was really good but i don't want to watch it again'. It's hard to describe the emotional impact the final shot had, one of the few films to leave me speechless and an emotional wreck.


118.
Hero

(Zhang Yimou, 2002)



Forget the narrative, it's all about visual spectacle. And there's plenty here to lap up.


117.
French Connection

(William Friedkin, 1971)



I'm a big fan of New Hollywood, although not seen much more than classic examples- it's the point in film history (post-studio, pre-blockbuster) which is in my mind the pinnacle of American filmmaking where profit wasn't number one on the agenda. Films not only showed intelligence in their revisionism but also far greater element of art with the French New Wave influence (clue in the title?). French Connection being the reworking of cop thriller with a stellar performance from Hackman.


116.
Scarface

(Brian De Palma, 1983)



I'm a sucker for the 80s, which you may see later on. This film probably was one of the first to start it. Love the colour of it all an my favourite Pacino performance, well it's on par with Micheal Corleone.


115.
Brotherhood of the Wolf

(Christophe Gans, 2001)



Stunning French multi genre flick with epic cinematography, even Mark Dacascos does well, not too mention the ever cool Vincent Cassel.


114.
The Transporter

(Corey Yuen, 2002)



Like Bond without the gadgets or pretentiousness. I love the choice of setting, simplicity whilst having some pretty cool choices in editing and scoring. And Jason Statham is the man, Crank was almost tied with this.


113.
The Shield
TV SERIES
Creator: Shawn Ryan, 2002-present




It's strange for a TV show to have constant tension throughout each episode as well as through the Season. It's raw and gritty with some fantastic anti-heroic characters and range of conflicted morality. The finale of Season 5 had my jaw on the floor for at least 15 minutes, no joke- it was one of the most powerful pieces of television ever.


112.
Easy Rider

(Dennis Hopper, 1969)



Much more than a road movie, an iconic piece of counterculture and partly responsible for the start of New Hollywood. Captures a good slice of ideology and some magnificent scenery.


111.
The Incredibles

(Brad Bird, 2004)



I'll let you in for a spoiler, this is the only Pixar film to make the list. For me, it's rounded to perfection on every level- it is appealing as child-like enjoyment as well as engaging on an adult level.

(On a side, i can't believe how much fan porn there is for this on the first page of image results simply for 'incredibles'!)





The Films of Takashi Miike



For my money, this man is one of the most exciting creative forces working in cinema today. His extensive filmography is mind boggling, making 2-3 films a year and most are pretty good at that. His work his primarily noted for it's controversial graphic violence and depraved obscenities, which is hard not to notice in many of his films. However, there's more to him than meets the eye, admittedly this view is obscured with limited work released abroad but when you realise the full breadth of his work and accomplishments, you'll see why i hold in such high esteem. True, his work mostly garners cult reputation over art house credibility but much of it provides an insight into the deep workings of Japanese culture while pushing taboos and limits of censorship, also breaking boundaries of genre and cinematic conventions. Here are how i rate his film, in order of preference (the first seven are the ones on my list):


The Bird People in China (1998)

Beautifully shot landscapes in a touching road movie, devoid of Miike's trademark depravity and violence

Visitor Q (2001)

Almost the antithesis of the former film, a cinema verite exploration of the Japanese family with incestuous, necrophiliac members

Izo (2004)

Although heavily criticised, i loved the philosophical and existential journey of one man slaughtering his way through history and religion

Gozu (2003)

The film marks the combination of my 3 favourite filmmakers- the enigma of a Lynch film and the body horror of Cronenberg mixed with Miike's perverse preoccupations

Zebraman (2004)

Almost a kids film about a normal man-come-superhero fighting an alien invasion, still some adult themes but plenty of comedy

Audition (1999)

His breakthrough film? Explores state of the male in Japan before turning into a haunting torture film. Great cinematography and nauseating but iconic violence

Happiness of the Katakuris (2001)

All singing, all dancing musical- believe it or not. Complete with zombies and claymation, possibly the most bizarre entry on his filmography.



The rest of his output is pretty good but don't make the list, just thought include them anyway while i'm at it.


Dead or Alive (1999)

Almost a typical Miike yakuza flick, save for the outrageous ending

Ichi The Killer (2001)

The second most well known Miike film, chock full of graphic violence (and towards women at that) and generally the epitome of the 'extreme' side of Miike

Agitator (2001)

A more straight faced version of the former with aspirations of The Godfather

Rainy Dog (1997)

A thoughtful and restrained look at a yakuza and his son

Sukiyaki Western Django (2007)

English language (though still Japanese) Western. Odd mix, and let's call it an 'interesting' cameo from Tarantino

MPD Psycho (2000)

I've not seen all of it this mini-series but it's crime solving with the typical violence

Masters of Horror- Imprint (2006)

Too controversial to be aired in America but a strong entry in the Miike canon

The Great Yokai War (2005)

Full on kids film taking Japanese mythology, fun but not his best.

Fudoh (1996)

Early flick that shows what's to come- vagina blow pipes, used by a woman while on her period. Nice

Dead or Alive 2 (2000)
Instead of a full on sequel, he makes a completely different film albeit thematically tied.

Three, Extremes- Segment Cut (2004)
Wasn't too impressed with his offering here[/center]


Own but not seen:

Crow’s Zero (2007)
Dead or Alive 3 (2002)
Big Bang Love, Juvenile A (2006)
Ley Lines (1999)


Here's an essay i done on Miike and Western distribution of his work, again a 1st (ego++) so enjoy if you wish.

Takashi Miike: Or how Extreme Violence is Japans favourite export

It’s not an outlandish statement to suggest that any fan of East Asian Cinema has heard of Miike. Undoubtedly an auteur and one of the most productive men working in cinema today, yet for all the eclectic films within his oeuvre, exposure to them abroad is surprisingly restricted. Arguably this is in a bid to market him predominantly as an ‘Extreme’ director. His name has almost become synonymous with genre, and with more than enough elements to substantiate the claim, it’s justified but is this facet of his work exploited in a bid to use his name as an anchor to films with the prescribed expectations of ‘Extreme Cinema’? Why is it only his films with focus on Yakuza and violence are widely distributed and his existential, art and family films not? Chris Desjardins rightly observes the apparent critical need to pigeonhole Miike into the constraints of his more ‘extreme’ offerings, referring to him as catering for the lowest common denominator, yet said critics avoid noting the frequent and balanced spectrum of complex emotions and attention Miike displays to character development (2005, p.189). Now that Miike has not only physically crossed into America with a cameo in Tarantino produced ‘gorno’ Hostel (Roth, 2005) (the favour returned with Tarantino’s appearance in Miike’s Sukiyaki Western: Django (2007)), but he has also had his own One Missed Call (2003) bastardised in the Hollywood remake fad. With his increasing presence in the West, should we not be looking further into films of this fascinating auteur with DVD access to his best and un-released films Izo (2004) and The Bird People in China (1998)?

The films of Miike occupy a specific point in Japanese film history. To begin with there’s the avant-garde movement. It rebelled against the homogenising and restrictive practices of Japan’s corporations, seeking an alternative democratic and liberating space. Released from the constraints of a hierarchal studio system and conservative social mores its goal was allowing freedom of expression to flourish (Standish, 2005, p.331). These avant-garde filmmakers, however, belong to the post-defeat Anpo generation of student activists. Standish places Miike into the post-moral sensibility of filmmaking. Here is an advanced consumer capitalism, where heterogeneity and difference is privileged as liberating, thus there is little to transgress and seemingly little to rebel against (2005, p.332). The films of Miike directly herald the millennial approach of a rootless Asian society; he examines the damaged psyches of dispossessed characters, exploring the plights of even the most monstrous with a combination of objectivity and compassion. Despite his Western reception as an ‘extreme’ director, it’s apparent that his movies are highly motivated by a social awareness but much of this is lost in the West. Many of his widely released films demonstrate his ability to encapsulate the cultural, economical and psychological reverberations from the collision of the Japanese and Chinese underworlds (Desjardins, p.190, 2005). As Orientalism suggests the generalisation of East Asians, the cultural friction between Japan and China is almost irrelevant to Western viewers, leaving primarily good guys and bad guys. Even his representations and open mindedness are removed from their context of cultural liberation, Tony Rayns observes that no straight director has introduced more gay elements into his film, or shown gay sex with such gusto (2000, p.30) yet these become elements of his extremity or otherness.

On the outside, Izo would seem as an easy sell; the combination of two of the strongest creative forces in contemporary Japan- Miike and Takeshi Kitano. Tom Mes (2005, para.1) even goes as far as calling this a dream team match-up; creating ripples by means of casting choices was very much the intention of the group of investors backing the project; hoping to attract a general audience to a film whose appeal might otherwise have been limited. The film unravels in a similar manner to The Holy Mountain (Jodorowsky, 1973), displaying the trajectory of one man in an existential crisis. The film offers a bricolage, not only of the fictional diegetic and documentary footage but of Japanese iconography from the Yakuza to the feudal Japan swords and sandal films, such as Lone Wolf and Cub (Misune, 1972) - even to the extent of utilising a worn Grindhouse style stock. As the film attacks, both literally and metaphorically, the ideological state apparatus inherent in Japanese society it also observes the nature of humanity. Although the cultural capital to observe the contextual relevance isn’t readily available to a Western audience, the existential observations extend universally. So why has Izo, a film that has Miike exploring history and humanity, something similar to Farewell My Concubine (Kaige, 1993) for an active audience, not been released here?

Admittedly some of the blame for its cold fan reception may lie on the subbing on available copies; at times inconsistent and it’s extremely heavy handed in making almost every utterance appear as a philosophical statement. Mes even argues that a result of this, Izo is protracted and repetitive and that as a result of this its message becomes heavy, ponderous and perhaps even, to use that most lazy of adjectives, pretentious (2005, para.5). A more fluid and comprehensive translation would surely widen the appeal, especially when considered that the reoccurring singings of Kazuki Tomokawa are left un-subbed; the lyrics from the “Screaming Philosopher” would undoubtedly provide some further insight to the proceedings. But let’s remain with what we have, the violence and sexuality is on the same level of perversion as Visitor Q (Miike, 2001); Izo kills his mother, ****s the physical embodiment of Mother Nature, urinates on religion and defiles almost every sanctity of society from marriage to school. Metaphorical nature not withstanding, the violence is, in fact, the primary narrative of the film. For all intents and purposes, this is one of Miike’s most extreme films, which would lead one to believe it as prime for a Tartan release under their ‘Extreme’ banner. In a comparison against Ichi the Killer (Miike, 2001), which similarly deals with copious violence, Mes suggests they pose genuine and fundamental questions about our relationship to violence. Ichi the Killer is how we deal with its depiction on a personal level thus extending out of a cultural context; Izo, however, is how we relate to it collectively (2005, para.9). As a result Izo is intrinsically linked to the cultural state of Japan and the relevance of the violence is harder to decode for a Western viewer, leaving a film where violence is the narrative and little understanding of its relevance. George Clark states (2004, para.16); Izo is the personification of negation, a contradiction that emerged from Japan's perfectly ordered society. Izo is at once a philosophical treatise on the perpetual existence of evil and a carnivorous rampage through the male psyche.

The Bird People in China is the biggest wrench in the Miike oeuvre when marketing Miike abroad. Mes and Sharp (2005, p.182) observe this as a turning point in Miike’s career where he moved away from the preconception of him as a V-cinema yakuza film director. With The Bird People in China he continues elements seen in Rainy Dog (Miike, 1997) but creates a beautifully shot, humorous fantasy film. By many means, it’s a polar opposite of the grotesqueness in his other films. I’d hope that the reason its release hasn’t happened isn’t through lack of faith in the audience, the cultural conflict of two Japanese men in China could relate to the Orientalism prescription of Western audiences not being able to accurately distinguish the two cultures. The more logical reason would be the contradiction it throws between the current notions of Miike’s work. One seeing a Miike film has now gained a set of preconceived opinions regarding what they expect to see and The Bird People in China would simply not cater for this diversity, despite Miike offering at least one flair of violence it’s pretty much absent. There’s trouble enough that Hollywood feels the need to remake East Asian cinema for their own consumption but the fact this gem hasn’t seen a release is far more surprising than Izo, considering the fact it is one of Miike’s most accessible works and of greater scope and scale then anything before it (Mes & Sharp, 2005, p.188).

Despite its accessibility, it does still rely on cultural capital, although most Western viewers should be able to decode the laid out culture clash, to the extent that an Orientalist critique doesn’t prevent Westerners reading this basic narrative structure. On a basic linguistic level, the subtitles don’t indicate the language barrier between each culture, the multiple languages appearing a single English translation. To further the perplexity of this films lack of release is Mes’ observations on the film, it doesn’t aim to criticise Japanese society or its people as a whole, more over the lack of imagination that can result in living in that society (2004, p.133). Again, the film offers a general message that can be appreciated regardless of cultural difference, however much of its presentation is through cultural icons. Despite elements with potential to extend past its origin, it’s still firmly rooted within East Asia.

Even within Miike’s selective Western releases, there is already a considerable fluctuation in style and content- from the ‘serious’ character driven Audition (1999) (Desjardins, p.194, 2005); to the absurd musical Happiness of the Katakuris (2001); through to the family superhero adventure of Zebraman (2004) (‘family’ being a somewhat oddly used description for a film where the protagonist’s daughter is a prostitute); and finally the cinema verite stylised Visitor Q. Within all these there is some degree of transgression in a Western perception regarding genre and sexuality but combined with elements that provide a distinct vision of Miike. In turn, the strategic choice of released titles allows him to be pigeonholed under Tartan’s label of ‘Asian Extreme’. Perhaps it can be traced more towards Western audience desires, if they want ‘art’ there’s the strong presence of Kurosawa or Ozu, but the hankering for contemporary Asian cinema stems to the desire to view extreme visceral reactions provoked by the consequences of the conflating images of sex and violence (McRoy, 2005, p.16 citing Goldberg n.d.). With such a genre already set, to the point it is being directly used as influence for Hollywood, do audiences care for Japanese existentialism or the clashing of cultures they know little of? The answer would, at this time, appear to be not; unless of course they are back grounded to a relatable gangster narrative or hidden under nauseating imagery; as is the case of several of Miike’s already released films. Take Audition its undertones are relative to the viewer’s cultural capital, demonstrating a dichotomy of comparative appeal. For national audiences it offers a uniquely Japanese story of gender-related male anxieties, however Western audiences, in Myoshi’s (1989, cited by Hantke, 2005, p.62) terms can ‘domesticate or neutralise the exoticism of the text’, hence providing structural similarities Western audiences can relate to late capitalist economies (Hantke, 2005, p.62). It’s seems a shame that the notion of the auteur is being manipulated in such a way as to disguise the true creativity of Miike. But until ‘Extreme Asian Cinema’ begins its inevitable decline, time will come when his other films are released and marketed under his established reputation. Certainly, a different kind of ‘shock’ can be anticipated.


*As a disclaimer, this shouldn’t be viewed as a scathing critique of Tartan, who provides a considerably inclusive distribution of Asian cinema, more a suggestive reading of Western consumption.



Welcome to the human race...
Nice post, Pyro. I'm in two minds over whether I'll ever get around to seeing a Miike film - keep meaning to see Ichi the Killer first, but I can never be bothered looking for a rental and buying it seems a bit much (those concerns are slightly lower than the violence, although it sounds pretty brutal even for me) However, I noticed that Sukiyaki Western Django is coming up in a film festival next month and I'm thinking of checking it out.

In any case, what are the 3 you'd recommend for someone looking to get a proper understanding of his work?



Well, i've put them in order of preference so i'd say check the first three out, which are all great films. You might want to swap Izo for a more straight forward film, Audition and Ichi are the normal choices when it comes to Miike. Those three should illuminate the inherent beauty, shock and violence respectively. I wouldn't rush to see Sukiyaki Western Django, it's alright and a heavy contender for cult status but in Miike's terms it's probably better to see some of his less experimental work.