Lockdown movies 101-110, reviewed and rated

What with it being the year of your lord 2020, the obsessive part of my brain decreed that I should echo the numerical format of the year and watch not 100 movies, but 200. 200 in 2020, sounds good doesn’t it? I’d aim for 220, but I don’t think there’s time. Anyway, with 100 already in the bank (read about those here), here are 10 more – somehow, all excellent. That’s right baby, I’m on a terrific run.

Just a mere 90 to go!

(Covid Rating – 19 is amazing, 1 is bloody dreadful)

On the Waterfront (1954) – one thing my sitty-downy odyssey has revealed, almost disappointingly, is that the classic movies are actually the classics. It’s not just everyone brainlessly falling into line and going with some stupid consensus like you’d expect – no, On the Waterfront is better than almost every other film I’ve ever seen. The people have spoken, and god dammit they’re right. Brando is a phenomenon, Eva Marie Saint is even better, and Lee J. Cobb must be the finest exponent of what you’d now term “toxic masculinity” ever seen on screen, the ultimate silverback.

Covid Rating: 19

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) – I’m going to throw it out there and stick to it until the day I finally die of some ridiculous disease, this glorious reimagining of the Manson murders is Tarantino’s best film (followed by a molecule by Pulp Fiction). There’s no great mystery to what he does, he makes great hamburgers, and with Brad, Leo, and LA never looking sexier, all you need is some extreme violence and you’ve got yourself a really good Royale with Cheese.

Covid Rating: 18

Casablanca (1942) – you’ve heard all the quotes and misquotes (famously no one says “Play it Again, Sam” – someone should tell Woody Allen), now it’s time to watch the actual film. What’s so startling about the whole thing is that it’s about WW2, released during WW2, but with barely a political hair out of place. And while Bogie and Ingrid Bergman are as good as they say, the real star of the show is the corrupt police chief played but Claude Rains from a little place called Clapham in South London, presumably from a time before all the honking great dickheads barged in looking for shags.

Covid Rating: 18

Eighth Grade (2018) – quite possibly, and I’m including The 400 Blows here (also watched this year, assume nothing from the title), the best film about the angsty and awkward early-teen years I’ve ever seen, as it follows a painfully shy 14-year-old attempting to navigate the choppy waters of high school without drowning in her own anxiety. Elsie Fisher playing the lead is literally amazing. Literally.

Covid Rating: 17

The Truman Show (1998) – if ever a film soothsayed the direction Western civilisation was going in this might be it, yet SPOILER ALERT the difference here being Truman’s ultimate rejection of narcissism, which flies in the face of all modern sensibilities (what the hell is wrong with this guy?). In fact, just a couple of years later, we were queuing down the street in droves to get into the Big Brother house, desperate for a slice of the Truman treatment. Shame really, because there’s a big message to be heeded and it’s probably more pertinent than ever. 

Covid Rating: 16

Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962) – a Nouvelle Vague classic (pretentieux, me?) by Agnes Varda (you read right, a LADY directing A FILM, in the OLDEN DAYS) about a gorgeous pop star wandering around town, killing time, waiting on the results of a biopsy. The story unfolds essentially in real time, as the Cleo in the title wrestles with objectification, death, and the small matter of the meaning of life.

Covid Rating: 16

Carrie (1976) – BIG SPOILER ALERT its place in the pantheon of great films is almost entirely down to the iconic prom night massacre near the end, Sissy Spacek’s eyes bulging, her body covered in pig’s blood, as she murders her entire year group for bullying her – I mean, who hasn’t fantasised about doing that! Yet it’s much more than the sum of its parts – a great teen movie, a chilling horror film, there are moments of pure exploitation, and yet it somehow mixes highbrow and lowbrow, leaving you feeling a little bit more cultured by the end of it.

Covid Rating: 16

Days of Heaven (1978) – the one that followed Badlands, and just as good too – both of Terrence Malick’s 1970s films paint haunting pictures of rural America, both also find me leaning over to my wife and saying preposterous things about cinematography that I can’t remotely back up with any technical knowledge. Critics complained at the time about the story here being a little hokey and simplistic (unfair on all counts), which may have had something to do with the director taking a 20-year hiatus directly afterwards, before storming back with The Thin Red Line to prove a point.

Covid Rating: 16

Uncut Gems (2019) – lots of cool his & his director combos these days, with the Duplass Brothers and these guys the Safdie Brothers, following in the footsteps of the Farrelly Brothers or the Coen Brothers, preferably veering left of the horrible Weinstein Brothers. This one’s got all their best Safdie moves – grit, relentless fast cut film making, pure stress from start to finish with an ending it absolutely deserves. It also provides the biggest punchline of Adam Sandler’s career so far – that he could do it excellently all along.

Covid Rating: 16

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) – a silent black and white that excavates feminism, gender politics, polarising ideologies, bullying, a corrupt Catholic church. Yet somehow it was made almost 100 years ago – it’s as if society’s issues have been around for bloody ages, isn’t it?

Covid rating: 12

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