Howard Hampton

Film critic


Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Ashes of Time


Wong Kar Wai

Big Sleep, The


Howard Hawks

Blue Velvet


David Lynch

Citizen Kane


Orson Welles

Duck Soup


Leo McCarey

enfants du paradis, Les


Marcel Carné

In a Lonely Place


Nicholas Ray

Last Bolshevik, The


Chris Marker



Andrei Tarkovsky

Pierrot le Fou


Jean-Luc Godard


I chose the films closest to my heart, movies that are profoundly singular yet can stand for whole genres even as they escape them. Citizen Kane is the ultimate combination of multiple modes: high and low, bio, newspaper film, screwball tragi-comedy, satire and self-portrait of the octopus-armed artist as a young sacred monster. Children of Paradise is about the romance of romance itself, self-dramatisation through acting, poetry, love, death, nihilism and loss (that most romantic of all movie signifiers); the same can be said, in more modernistic terms, of Pierrot le Fou. The Last Bolshevik and Mirror are beautiful bookends of film as personal essay – fables about the inescapable persistence of the past. Blue Velvet and In a Lonely Place are tactile geographies of the male psyche and the women who remain beyond its grasp. Duck Soup and The Big Sleep, one anarchic and one as cool as Antarctica, are comedies of manners and moray eels, bullets and dames, civilisation and its discontents, as well as being peerless vehicles for those two exemplary Americans, Groucho Marx and Humphrey Bogart. And Ashes of Time can stand for the many varieties of Asian and art cinema, and even the Western it contemplates so gloriously from its vantage at the midway point from here to eternity.

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