When I was doing my Top 55 favourite movies of all time I realized that I was listing films that I love and cherish for whatever personal reasons. But I was leaving out films that are strong, important and powerful films because while they might be the “stronger” films I can’t say I “enjoy” them as I do with the other films. However I think they deserve to be pointed out. So here are my top 10 most powerful films of all time.
10. CHRISTIANE F. – WIR KINDER VOM BAHNHOF ZOO (1981)
Director: Uli Edel
Writers: Herman Weigel, Uli Edel
A German film telling a true tale of a 14-year old girl that slowly gets destroyed by a drug addiction. This is one the most realistic and harrowing portrayal of drug addiction ever made, but it’s also an effective look at 1970’s Berlin street scene. That was a whole different time period then and it’s immensely fascinating to see the life in the darkest and seediest corners of Berlin streets. It also helps that David Bowie co-wrote a lot of the songs and even appears in the movie as himself. Definitely not an easy film, but it has to be seen at least once in your life.
9. BOM VEOREUM GAEUL GYEOUL GEURIGO BOM – SPRING, SUMMER, FALL, WINTER…AND SPRING (2003)
Director: Ki-duk Kim
Writer: Ki-duk Kim
A Buddhist master raises and trains a young boy in a desolate island. When the boy gets older he meets a girl and falls in love and learns to lust, forsaking everything his master wanted to teach him. He leaves the island and commits a horrible crime. He must face his master once again in order to reconciliate with his past and gain catharsis for his future. A master class film on mood, this Korean movie is slow-paced, meditative and wise. The scenery is breathtaking and the sound design lulls you in a state of relaxation where you can totally immerse yourself in the experience. Don’t watch this in a hurry, but rather make time and chill with this gorgeous film. It’s worth it.
8. FUNNY GAMES U.S. (2007)
Director: Michael Haneke
Writer: Michael Haneke
A remake of the Austrian film of the same name (minus the U.S.), Michael Haneke decided to copy his own film almost shot by shot for the American audiences and the results are questionable but without a doubt effective. The original cast was uniformly better, but the sheer fact that these horrendous acts of violence happen to well known Hollywood actors makes the experience more effective. Tim Roth and Naomi Watts play a couple going on summer vacation to cabin by the lake with their son. When two young strangers (Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet) appear to their doorstep things soon turn for the worse, because the polite yet creepy boys take the family hostage and start to play violent games with them. Haneke does something very deviant with the film. That is he takes the two antagonists and turn them into protagonists. The director actually roots for these two characters and even uses Deus Ex Machina to get the boys out of harms way (the remote control scene is the prime example). The movie gives the “bad guys” all the edge and doesn’t give a fuck if the audience accepts this or not. It’s actually pretty hilarious when Michael Pitt breaks the fourth wall and smiles at the viewer before he’s about to do something terrible. Hilarious and chilling, that is. One of the greatest ‘Fuck you, audience”-films ever made.
7. CIDADE DE DEUS – CITY OF GOD (2002)
Driectors: Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund
Writer: Bráulio Mantovani
A sprawling epic City Of God tells a tale of two boys growing living in a poor side of Rio de Janeiro. This city is a dangerous place for kids and grown-ups alike and Rocket and Li’l Zé end up choosing different paths in their life, the other turning into a photographer and the other into a dangerous and slightly deranged drug dealer. City Of God is a powerful depiction of a life of crime in Brazil and the way it’s made is extraordinary. Sweeping camerawork and dynamic editing make this a thrilling and violent ride you don’t want to miss. The soundtrack is decent and the actors (which are mostly amateur actors picked up from the very streets they are shooting on) are outstanding. A great great film.
6. IDIOTERNE – THE IDIOTS (1998)
Director: Lars Von Trier
Writer: Lars Von Trier
Written as part of the Dogma 95 Manifesto, director Lars Von Trier takes a look of society, anarchy and total and deliberate ignorance towards the concept of normality. A group of intellectuals decide to let a newcomer join their gang and try to bring the idiot out from her. The group goes out on public and pretend to go full retard (“Never go full retard!”). They try to provoke the normal citizens by acting as provocatively as possible. They shit, piss, yell in public and yes, even engage in an infamous group sex session. And in the end, there’s a point to this film. Not a point you necessary understand or approve, but a message nonetheless. Disgusting, hilarious and thought provoking, this is Von Trier firing with all cylinders.