Posts Tagged ‘top ten film’


The Last Samurai

Director: Edward Zwick

Starring: Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, Koyuki, Timothy Spall

Year: 2003

IMDB Rating: 7.7/10

In 1999 a videogame was released for the Sega Dreamcast called Shenmue (you’ll start to notice a connection now between my love for films and videogames). The game was set in 20th century Japan and told the story of Ryo Hazuki, a martial artist out to avenge the death of his father. My love for all things Japanese was instigated by this game and what followed was a healthy interest in manga and anime, along with other videogames set in Japan – particularly the feudal era. I started to collect Japanese trinkets and even had CDs of traditional Japanese music. When I was 15 I made a pact with one of my best friends that we would one day go to Japan – a promise we are yet to fulfil.

However, despite my love for all things Japanese, when I first heard of The Last Samurai I wasn’t interested. I can’t remember if it was my reluctance to watch anything featuring Tom Cruise or my stubbornness of not being the first one of my friends to discover it. My friends were badgering me to see it, claiming I would love it; citing my interest in Japan and love for another film that they felt shared similarities with The Last Samurai. I refused to see it while it was out at the cinema. It wasn’t until a year later that my aforementioned best friend sat me down and demanded that I watch it. My first viewing of this film blew me away and subsequent viewings all yield the same result

The Last Samurai is an epic war film that depicts the Westernisation of 19th century Japan. In a bid to economise on Japan’s new interest, the US government sends distinguished Civil War heroes to Japan to train the Imperial Japanese Army in exchange for an exclusive arms deal. One of these veterans is Tom Cruise’s character, Nathan Algren, who is now an alcoholic and traumatised by his part in the atrocities of the American Indian Wars. A penitent man, Algren is tasked with suppressing a samurai rebellion, but is given little time to train the army. He is quickly captured by the men he was sent to defeat and is surprised to discover a civilisation that is both humble and disciplined, and that they are not the savages he was led to believe. Say what you want about Tom Cruise as a person, but the guy acts with conviction.

The story is written with an American audience in mind, and I’m sure you could find countless tropes in the plot that have appeared before and since this movie. The Last Samurai isn’t a great depiction of Japanese culture, however it’s one of my favourite films as it manages to capture a particular majesty of feudal Japan, as if Japan is a fairy land in a storybook. Add in one of Hans Zimmer’s greatest soundtracks, and you’ve got my seventh favourite film. I suppose I should be thankful to that friend of mine who demanded I watch it.

Trailer for The Last Samurai:

One of the great scenes from the movie:

Helen said that the above scene reminded her of the following scene from Kung Fu Hustle:


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(source: scifiportal.eu)

(source: scifiportal.eu)



Director: Danny Boyle

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Michelle Yeoh, Troy Garity.

Composer: John Murphy

Year: 2007

IMDB Rating: 7.3/10

I like the odd bit of science fiction, from sci-fi fantasy like the original Star Wars to sci-fi thrillers like Alien. The possibilities with the genre are endless. However, I do disengage with sci-fi films that are too action-orientated, for instance Armageddon and the two Matrix sequels; I don’t like mixing my sci-fi with over the top action. It’s like when I’m eating Spag-Bol, the ratio between pasta and sauce needs to be just right (less pasta/action than the sauce/sci-fi). A messy analogy.

Sunshine is an intelligent film without being too nerdy (if that’s possible). The premise is simple: the Sun is burning out and Earth is freezing over. In a desperate attempt, humanity bands together to send a small crew into space to reignite the Sun. I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t that similar to the plot of that Michael Bay film you’ve just said you didn’t like?” Sure, they are not dissimilar, but there’s no Aerosmith, hammy acting, overly used CGI action sequences or ridiculous immediacy; Sunshine is a slow burner.

(source: worldofspaceships.com)

The film is a technical masterpiece. The acting from Cillian Murphy, Mark Strong, Michelle Yeoh and Cliff Curtis is superb, the cinematography is gorgeous and the music – oh man the music – augments the drama. John Murphy’s soundtrack is so powerful I’m getting chills thinking about it.

Sunshine is a tragic tale, but the journey is worth the distress. It resonates with me on so many levels: the setting; the desperation and moral extremities of humanity, the majesty of science and the allure and destructive force of the Sun.

(source: giphy.com)
There are obvious connections to films that came before Danny Boyle’s British made sci-fi epic. Many people compare Sunshine to Event Horizon, while others refer to Solaris and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sunshine is often misunderstood by wider audiences and considered one of Boyle’s more underrated films by critics. I love other films from Boyle, with 28 Days Later and Slumdog Millionaire being memorable films from the 2000s, but it is Sunshine that takes the accolade of being my ninth favourite film.

(source: giphy.com)

This piece of music from the film’s soundtrack is absolutely amazing (you may have heard it in Kick-Ass and The Walking Dead: Season One):


Discussion on Sunshine with Danny Boyle, film critic Mark Kermode and physicist Brian Cox:

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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman.

Composer: John Williams

Year: 1981

IMBD Rating: 8.6/10

When I was teenager I decided that I wanted to be an archaeologist. My interest in the profession was borne out of my love for the Indiana Jones trilogy. I saw the films when I was a child, watching them with my family. My earliest memory of the series was the climax of Temple of Doom where we find our titular hero on a wooden bridge over a chasm, with alligators below snapping their jaws in hungry anticipation. This scene stayed with me, but it wasn’t until I was a teen that I watched the films again.

(source: filmtakeout.com)

While it’s still a good film, Temple of Doom is the weaker of the trilogy and The Last Crusade is certainly the most fun to watch (Junior!?). However it is Raiders of the Lost Ark that claims the top spot, as it’s clearly the most focused film. It is full of spectacular and memorable set-pieces: the iconic boulder sequence; bringing a sword to a gun fight (improvised by Harrison Ford due to a bout with dysentery); the fist fight in the airfield; the truck chase scene (with random cliffs for vehicles to fall and then explode, or explode then fall); and the melty face finale that terrified a pre-pubescent me. Indy also provided me with some useful tips for dealing with the ladies 😉 (Where doesn’t it hurt?), not bad for a guy who decided to name himself after his dog.

(source: fanpop.com)

With the film approaching its 35th anniversary, I’m hoping that it might have a limited re-release at some cinemas, then I can relive the adventure again. I may have given up the dream of being an archaeologist, but now I’m a teacher which – incidentally – was Indiana’s day job (sort of) .

(source: media.giphy.com)


Bringing a sword to a gun fight:

Indiana Jones Theme:

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