Top 10 films
1 Trois Couleurs: Bleu
[1993, Krzysztof Kieslowski]
From its misleadingly low key opening shot to the symphonic end, Bleu is a richly layered and beautifully photographed film that rewards repeated viewings.
For me this is the strongest film in the trilogy, and my favourite film of all his output.
Loosely the Liberte part of the 3, the film asks whether it is possible to live a free life – free of ties to the past, to things, to people. It is also a film that more clearly encapsulates grief and bereavement than any other I have seen.
We go on a journey with the central character Julie, from a terrible accident at the start, she cuts off her ties to everyone, known and strangers, but finds that to be human is to only connect. Even when she sits there in the cafe concentrating only on the sugar, only on the cup of coffee, she is drawn outside into the world of people by the tune played by a busker – which itself has a musical connection with the piece she composed with/for her husband.
It is her humanity, our will to help when called upon, even though we have opted out of the human race, that brings her back into the mainstream, and that makes this a great humanist piece of cinema.
2 Pathar Panchali
[1955, Satyajit Ray]
This film changed my life – really! I caught it one holiday afternoon on Channel 4 in the late 80s, started watching, and couldn’t stop. When I wanted my friends to watch it, I was hard pressed to describe the plot as anything other than a beautiful to look at, black and white film, where life goes on.
And that does take care of the plot.
But every shot is like a photograph, every character is known from the life lived in their face.
It changed my life because I had no idea films could be like this. Up until that moment, I had seen only Hollywood films and heritage British films. I didn’t know cinema could be used to evoke a stillness that allows you to really see and think about what you are seeing – and feel.
Pathar Panchali is a film I return to every few years, to gasp anew at the photography and to know what it is to be human.
3 The Wind will Carry Us
[2000, Abbas Kiarostami]
I love ever film I’ve seen that this man has made. so why not choose 10, or A taste of Cherry, or Close up, all clever and engaging films? Maybe its the poetry of Faroukh Faroukazad, which has a presence in the film and provides its title. Or maybe because The Wind will Carry Us distils everything I love about a Kiarostami film:
Its a journey through winding roads of sun baked hills;
There is a lack of clarity/an ambiguity about what is really going on;
people or things from outside by their presence change the local community/landscape;
It’s an interrogation of film-making;
It is funny and witty
The wind will carry us puts you squarely in the landscape trying to work out what is going on – you think you know why the central character is there, but for me, the end – like Like someone in love was a shock that causes you to reevaluate what has gone before.