The IMDb top 250 – Must see movies that many haven’t seen – Part 1

So last year (2011) I challenged myself to end the year having seen 230 of the movies in the IMDb 250 list, a constantly updated list voted by the internet for the last 15 years or so. I started the year at 178 and ended at 226, but I did watch around 50-60 new movies in total since they move a lot at the bottom of the list, plus they changed the criteria for inclusion late in the year.  All in all I highly recommend doing this!  As a more casual film geek I wasn’t likely to go pick up Wages of Fear or Smultronstället up on a whim and this challenge made me watch these great movies, among many others.

Since I had seen most of the major ones before I started the challenge (a healthy 71% of the whole list) it was basically only the obscure entries, non-American or pre-60’s movies on my todo list and while they are still fresh in my head I thought I’d pick out the movies I like the most.  I’ll be skipping the Blade Runners, Godfathers and 2001’s because you should know to see those.  I’ll be sticking to the ones you are less likely to pick up…but should!

The Third Man (1949 – IMDb)

Ok, this one isn’t really that obscure and is really a stable in all lists that list the best movies of all time.  However it’s not a movie that a lot of people have actually seen, including myself before 2011.  It was my clear favorite from all the movies I watched during my challenge and it really is amazing.  It’s a strange, almost dreamlike, noir movie where dark shadows are mirrored in dark European alleyways.  It starts out slowly but it isn’t until the great twist that the movie really starts to fly and nothing about it really feels old nor outdated at all.  It’s a masterpiece and one of the best movies ever made, with one of the greatest supporting performances I’ve ever seen.  Plus it looks absolutely gorgeous.  A perfect movie.. See it!

The Wages of Fear (1953 – IMDb)

Now here’s a movie I would never have picked up if it weren’t for the list.  It’s a 160 minute french action thriller about desperate men stuck in South America who see a way out by gaining quick money for transferring nitroglycerin across rough terrain in trucks.  Strange premise but the movie is full of suspense throughout and in many ways it’s noted as being one of the most revolutionary and influential action movies ever made.  Don’t get discouraged by the slow start (although I really liked that part) …the movie has lost none of it’s suspense.  The director, Clouzot, also has another movie on the top 250 list….Les Diaboliques, which also stars his gorgeous wife Vera, and I highly recommend people see that movie as well.  That one is a Hitchcock style movie which I actually prefer over most of his work (with the exception of Rear Window, which is my favorite Hitchcock).

In the Mood for Love (2000 – IMDb)

This was the first Wong Kar Wai movie I ever saw and so far it’s my favorite of his.  Wong Kar Wai has a very unique style and his movies are quite often more an exercise in setting a mood than telling a clear story.  In this movie and also in Chungking Express he really succeeds in setting a mood that sticks with you.  If you’ve ever read a Murakami book then Wong Kar Wai has a similar style…strange western influences intermingled with magic realism and a strange mood.  It’s not really arty, but it’s also clearly not for everyone.  If you want to check this style out then your first stop should be In the Mood for Love.  It’s an absolutely wonderful movie and one I think I’ll be watching quite often in the future…just to be able to inhabit that world again.   I couldn’t really blog about that movie though without including this scene…like the top youtube comment says “Only Wong Kar Wai could make buying porridge look epic”:

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Great music from films – Part 1

One more in my series of linking to 5 songs that are awesome.  This time they are from films!  This is music that really stands on it’s own and I tried to pick something that is a little more obscure.  My favorite soundtracks are by they way Blade Runner by Vangelis, Amélie by Yann Tiersen, Good the Bad and the Ugly by Ennio Morricone, Koyaanisqatsi by Philip Glass and Tron Legacy by Daft Punk.  I stay clear of those this time around.

There is a theme here.  I would call it a somber but epic mood if I wanted to be pretentious.  I think I’d also call it that if I was not being pretentious ..but whatever I’m rambling.  On to the great music!

The Proposition –  Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – The Proposition #1

Kundun – Philip Glass – Escape to India

The Tree of Life – Alexandre Desplat – Awakening

The Fountain – Clint Mansell – Together we will live forever

Solaris – Cliff Martinez – First Sleep

5 great ambient tracks – Part 1

Ambient! Exciting isn’t it?? Anyways, I’ve been a long time fan of ambient music and it’s a term that is sometimes really difficult to pin down. In my opinion it’s something that creates a really nice ambience which makes it good for reading or more chilled out activies/non-activities. I tend to snob a little by excluding all new age style pan flue crapness from the definition but you’re welcome to define that as ambient…although it will make BINNI RAGE!! …Which would lead to me having to sit down and listen to some great ambient music.

Here are 5 awesome ambient songs in no particular order. There were so many good ones that I think I will be doing this kind of post regularly. 🙂

As a fun question for comments…which one of these was recorded in Iceland, my home country?  Bonus question would be where and through what unorthodox method…

Biosphere – Kobresia

Blanck Mass – Chernobyl

Max Richter – Horizon Variations

Tim Hecker – Piano Drop

Stars of the Lid – I Will Surround You

80’s day! – Part 2

Since I’ll be over the Atlantic or somewhere in Europe tomorrow for my 20 hour transit back home from LA to Stockholm I’m posting this one today instead of the real 80’s day…which is Friday!  The lack of female singers stood out quite dramatically in the last list so I intend to rectify that error here by selecting 5 great 80’s songs with female singers!  These are all of course amazing.  It’s funny how resilient 80’s music is really.  My sons, 7 and 9, have Spotify and seem to have discovered 80’s music.  They really seem to listen to A-ha and Cyndi Lauper a lot for some reason!  Good music is always good music.

So without further ado, the songs.,,  I cheated a little since one of them is from 1979. 😛

Kate Bush – Running up that hill (A deal with god)

Blondie – Union City Blue

Mike Oldfield – Moonlight Shadow

Laura Brannigan – Self Control

Bonnie Tyler – Total eclipse of the heart

Again I’d like to point out my 80’s Music Spotify list.  I seem to listen to it a bit more than is healthy.

The best Nintendo game. Why I love: Zelda, A Link to the Past

So what is it about Zelda, A Link to the Past?  This game is by far my favorite old-school console game and in my opinion the best game Nintendo has ever done.  I keep coming back to it.  Whenever I become jaded with games or think I’ve outgrown Nintendo then it’s a good reminder to pick this game up again to realize it’s not that…it’s just that Nintendo aren’t making games like this anymore (with the exception of Super Mario Galaxy).  Well actually most games aren’t close to this, with the most recent exception being Dark Souls, which for me is basically this game but darker, more complex and tougher.

For me Link to the Past does everything right.   It has great mechanics and a great setting, freedom of exploration, great art and music… and surprising twists and turns.  It’s not nostalgia for me, since I discovered this game around 2000, when I was in my twenties…the game is just plain great and expertly designed and it really shows all it’s qualities right away…in the first dungeon:

One of the best starting screens.  Sunny sky, nice castle and the Master Sword.  Great and simple 2D art.  Anyways..onto the game!

It starts dark.  The game is surprisingly dark to begin with, which is something Nintendo seem to have forgotten.  You hear a desperate cry for help in your sleep.  The weather is terrible and your guardian (father, uncle..who knows?) goes out on an errand.  You are left alone.  After you wake up you decide to venture outside into the rain…

It’s raining and it’s dark.  There’s a thunderstorm.  No sign of your guardian.  You walk around but there is danger everywhere. Eventually you find a heavily guarded castle and sneak in through a hole in the ground.

You find your guardian.  Seems like he has met with the palace guards.  He also meets with his death.  Seems like he was on a quest to free princess Zelda from something evil.  If this was a movie this would be the grimmest beginning…however it’s a pretty 2D video game which tones it down a bit.  You take his sword after he passes away and continue his quest.

You run around killing palace guards in your search for Zelda.  This is one tough kid!  Eventually you find her locked away in the deepest dungeon.  After killing her morning star wielding guard you free her.  Now you have the task of keeping her safe.  She knows the way to freedom…

However this isn’t an easy route.  You stumble through grim darkness with only a lantern to help you.  There’s snakes and spiders hidden in the darkness.  Your only way is to find torches and light them, but they usually go out very quickly.  In the end however you reach freedom…

You are a hero!  And to really underline that as soon as you go outside this heroic theme starts and follows you around while you explore the world: (until you reach the darkworld that is… which has an equally memorable overworld theme)

And now I think I’m just going to finish this game again.  It’s like my warm cup of gaming cocoa 🙂  There’s a huge world to explore yet again, secrets to find, gadgets to use and monsters to kill!

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