My top 50 films of all time – 40-31.

So, here we are again. Part two of my top 50 films. Warning: Lots of Vincent Cassel incoming.

If you missed part 1, please click here.

40: Mesrine – Part I & II (2008)

“I don’t like the laws and I don’t want to be a slave of the alarm clock my whole life. “

A biopic on lesser-known real life French criminal Jacques Mesrine. Mesrine was often regarded as a Robin Hood style figure but has continued to divide opinion. My favourite actor, Vincent Cassel, shows his diversity once again by playing the charismatic moustachio’d bank robber who would often be in the public eye and not shy away from cameras despite his notorious reputation.

Did you know?
The films were recorded over a period of nine months and ran from end to beginning in order for Cassel to lose the weight he put on for the role, which was over three stones, as he felt he wouldn’t be able to put weight on while filming.

39: Pulp Fiction (1994)

“Just because you are a character doesn’t mean that you have character.”

Everyone’s favourite film about the difference between the French and American Big Mac. Another Tarantino classic, who certainly has a knack for creating unconventional narratives which are full of comedy and suspense. Seemingly pointless segments, such as the dancing scene, all add to the character building and create a great world that you can immerse yourself in for a few hours.

Did you know?
In addition to the film’s stellar cast, some of the other actors considered for roles included; James Gandolfini, Sylvester Stallone, Halle Berry, Sean Penn, Holly Hunter and Daniel Day-Lewis.

38: Un Chien Andalou (1929)

“Once upon a time”

Not one for the faint hearted. This surrealist art film by Luis Bunuel (with input from the magnificently weird Salvador Dali) is here purely on the merit of still being able to shock audiences nearly a century later. While, as you’d expect, most of the film is just incredibly strange, almost-dreamlike and seems nonsensical, there are a number of standout moments which make your skin crawl.

Did you know?
If you ever wondered where the Pixies got their inspiration for one of their biggest hits, “Debaser” from, it was this film. The song’s opening lyrics are “Got me a movie, I want you to know, slicing up eyeballs, I want you to know”. It can be interpreted that the Pixies are saying that growing up watching these kinds of films will deteriorate your character. Fair enough really.

37: Brief Encounter (1945)

“I love you. I love your wide eyes, the way you smile, your shyness, and the way you laugh at my jokes.”

Brief Encounter is a tale of forbidden love between Alec and Laura, both of whom are trapped in fairly stagnant marriages until they meet one another.  They meet in a cafe every week while their fondness towards one another grows, but both know that in World War 2 era Britain that their relationship is impossible to maintain. What sets it apart from most romance films is that it isn’t a particularly happy narrative, and it’s about two ‘real’ and believable characters, just ordinary people with ordinary jobs in a very challenging time period.

Did you know?
The producers of the film decided to shoot it on location in North West England in order to give the crew as much notice as possible prior to air raids, so that all the lights could be switched off in time for the blackouts.

36: Warrior (2011)

“Let me get this straight. You want to use the auditorium to watch a suspended teacher engage in the activity he was suspended for?”

One of the surprising hits of this decade in my opinion. While at it’s heart, it’s a film about cagefighting, Warrior has a rich narrative about two brothers who have grown apart. Tommy, who’s played excellently by Tom Hardy, has a haunted past (possibly PTSD) being an ex-marine and uses the backdrop of these MMA-style contests to mask his pain and beat his demons. His brother is a schoolteacher who is in financial turmoil, having to get by on a schoolteacher’s salary to pay for both his mortgage and his daughter’s open heart surgery – A dig at the American health system? Let’s not go there. The two world inevitably collide and provide some excellent fighting choreography. A modern day Rocky.

Did you know?
Wrestler Kurt Angle (of WWE and TNA fame) appears as ‘Koba’ in the film – a Russian with a very similar background to Angle’s, having a similar fighting style and also being a Olympic gold medallist.

35: Full Metal Jacket (1987)

“You write “Born to Kill” on your helmet and you wear a peace button. What’s that supposed to be, some kind of sick joke?”

Another of the films that feels like it’s divided into two acts. Towards the start, the show is completely stolen by Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, who produces what could be considered to be a stand up comedy routine in preparing his men for war. The second half follows life out on the battlefield and the contrast is unbelievable. It becomes a gritty war film which packs a huge punch.

Did you know?
Director Stanley Kubrick ensured that the cast never met the actor playing Sergeant Hartman (Ronald Lee Ermey) prior to shooting, nor would he allow them to associate with him during breaks in their schedule.

34: The Crimson Rivers (2000)

“Supercop scared of a little pooch?”

I’ve written before of my love for Vincent Cassel, but this criminally underrated French thriller features one of the most perfect trifectas for me – Cassel, Jean Reno and directed by Mathieu Kassovitz. I remember being blown away by seeing the special effects on the first dead body that’s shown (turns out it was entirely latex, not that you could tell), wondering how on earth they did it because it looks almost real! It remains intriguing throughout and has a number of interesting twists and turns as the detectives chase a violent serial killer.

Did you know?
Vincent Cassel broke his nose during a fight scene.

33: [REC] (2007)

“The police won’t let us leave and are giving us no explanations.”

If there are two things I normally despise in a film nowadays, it’s the same old found-footage angle, or the overused zombie approach that seems to be ridiculously popular still. Amazingly, for the 78 minutes that [REC] runs for, I completely forgot that I was watching either of those things. The atmosphere that’s created makes you very uncomfortable and still manages to scare the bejesus out of you at every given opportunity, most of which are completely unpredictable like in most horrors. Best of all, the concept is fairly unique, with a Spanish television host following a fire crew for the day when they are called out to an incident in an apartment building. Has sadly since spawned a lot of inferior/rubbish sequels, although a fairly impressive Hollywood remake in Quarantine.

Did you know?
Manuela Velasco, the TV host, is a real-life TV presenter in Spain, and the film was shot in real locations, no sets were used.

32: Ed Wood (1994)

“This is the most uncomfortable coffin I’ve ever been in. Your selection is quite shoddy. You are wasting my time.” – Bela Lugosi.

I have a confession to make… I’m not a huge Tim Burton fan. Before I get lynched for heresy, I just want to say that I don’t think he’s a bad film director at all, I just don’t enjoy most of his films. I think The Nightmare before Christmas would probably be more enjoyable if it hadn’t been so commercialised since it’s release. However, I digress. Ed Wood is one of the few films I would describe as ‘hilarious’ and is a masterpiece by Burton. The narrative follows the failing career of the director (Ed Wood, if you didn’t guess) who was notorious for making abysmal films and is still regarded by many as the worst of all time. But, as Orson Welles says in the film – “Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your life making someone else’s dreams?”. It’s a great insight to the old ways of making films, and has an uncanny ability to make you feel nostalgic for something you were never a part of.

Did you know?
Unusually, it is alleged that the opening credits alone cost more than all of the real Ed Wood’s films put together.

31: Eastern Promises (2007)

“Forget any of this happened. Stay away from people like me.”

Eastern Promises boasts an incredibly talented cast – Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts and erm… Vincent Cassel appearing yet again on my list. BUT THAT’S NOT THE ONLY REASON IT’S IN MY TOP 50 I PROMISE. Based a bit closer to home for me, in London, it’s unflinching and brutal at times as it follows the Russian mob (Vory v Zakone). Mortensen is the real star of the show in what I would argue is his finest performance as the “driver” or “undertaker” as he’s called at one point, seemingly absorbing himself into the character and world around him. This is the only film on my list to feature a fully nude shower fight scene.

Did you know?
While filming, it’s alleged that Mortensen walked into a pub post-shoot one day still fully covered in his tattoos and dressed as his character, intimidating a lot of the locals who genuinely thought he was a mafioso.

Click here for part 3 – 30-21!

As always, the Walrus has spoken.

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