Ben Hopkins

Simon Magus; The Market: A Tale of Trade


Voted in the directors’ poll

Voted for


Federico Fellini

Barry Lyndon


Stanley Kubrick

Come And See


Elem Klimov

Fanny and Alexander


Ingmar Bergman

Innocents, The


Jack Clayton

Mulholland Dr


David Lynch

Once Upon a Time in the West


Sergio Leone



F. W. Murnau

Team America: World Police


Trey Parker

Werckmeister Harmonies, The


Béla Tarr


When I think of the best times I’ve had in the cinema (and some of the best hours of my life have been spent inside the cinema – is that sad?) I think of those films that (a) create their own world and (b) drown you in it. Studies of the real world (realism) and formulaic films (genre) tend to dominate cinema, and have their pleasures… but on reflection the best films dispense with rules and reality.

Sunrise: A big budget Hollywood movie with plenty of special effects, 1920s style. Murnau for greatest director?

8½: If not Murnau, then Fellini. Difficult to choose between this and La dolce Vita, but 8½ wins out. Cinema as dream, nightmare, circus.

The Innocents: Clayton for best ever British director! Strange that he is so sidelined. Who else in the UK made films this beautiful, this atmospheric?

Once Upon a Time in the West: I keep rewatching it, expecting to find it naff this time. But it’s always wonderful. What’s so great about restraint?

Barry Lyndon: In Barry Lyndon I see the perfection Kubrick was always striving for.

Fanny and Alexander: It seems to start in epicurean Paradise, verge off into Protestant Hell, and then end up in some strange, Jewish Purgatory. A spellbinding journey.

Come and See: An overwhelming maelstrom of horror. The Ascent (1977), by Klimov’s wife Larisa Shepitko is another genius Soviet war film and would come in at number 11 on my list.

The Werckmeister Harmonies: Most of the above list I first viewed knowing that they were “classics”, with expectations. When I first saw Werckmeister, I knew nothing about Tarr’s work and I was entirely ambushed by it. For this reason, this screening, at the Cork Film Fest, remains my best cinematic experience to date.

Mulholland Dr.: Your heart is entirely caught up in the story whilst your mind is trying to work out what the f*** the story is actually about. A brilliant and rare combination.

Team America: World Police: Comedy is very important to me, and this is the funniest film I’ve ever seen. 

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