Re: Top five favorite movies
night of the living dead
even though it was released in 1968, night is still unequalled in its gripping realism and bleak atmosphere. one of the few horror films i've seen that manages to transcend age, budget constraints, and genre convention. very seldom are films this finely crafted; even though colour film was available at the time, romero decided to shoot in black and white to add a stark chiaroscuro character that amplifies the surreal sense of dread.
the story begins when a woman escapes from a crazed assault, only to find herself trapped in a remote farmhouse, with a group of survivors who are shocked to discover the bodies of the recently deceased have been awakening and eating the living. but is the real enemy outside or inside? alone and cornered, in a world turned upside down, hope of rescue fades, the enormity of the situation sets in, and inner tensions tear the group apart. the ending still has the ability to shock all these years later.
another tale of claustrophobia and the breakdown of a group of individuals. on the surface, it's a simple whodunnit with a monster thrown in, but underneath, the story revolves around the psychological implications of isolation, paranoia, and our inability to acknowledge the shadow that lurks deep within. combine with bodily trauma, infected blood, the cold antarctic climate and global apocalypse.. and you've got one bleak film.
escape from alcatraz
on paper, escape seems pretty boring. indeed, not a lot happens for long stretches and dialogue is sparse, but this is really it's strength - it's thick with atmosphere and tension, especially the night scenes where the escape is hatched slowly, piece by piece, under the nose of watchful guards. the atmosphere is aided immensely by jerry fielding's masterly score which sits ominously in the background, lightly colouring perception of the visuals. in fact, the whole film is an excellent "background" to soak in while reading or working.
nil by mouth
ray winstone plays a small-time crook in south london. it's a grim lifestyle; poorly cut drugs, cheap booze and violence are the few escapes from the drudgery of inner-city life. in its darkest moments, it grabs you by the throat and shakes you until your teeth rattle. the unflinching scenes of domestic abuse are an example of how visceral film can get. but it's also quite amusing at times; oldman blends the unpleasant with the humourous, giving a more balanced perspective on the characters, which keeps it from becoming totally despondant.
there is no pretense here, no false drama, it's raw as an asphalt burn on skin. but the realism serves to accentuate the story; a meditation on the cycle of abuse and the incongruency between families who turn on each other and those that support each other in the day to day trials of their existence.