My Top Ten – An Author's Favourites by Mark Browning

Mark Browning was a Senior Lecturer in Education but now is an independent scholar based in Germany. David Cronenberg: Author or Filmmaker? (2007) remains relevant, especially with Mr Cronenberg due to release his debut novel in the coming year. Stephen King on the Big Screen (2009) will soon be followed by a companion piece, the accurately-named Stephen King on the Small Screen (due for 2011), both through Intellect. David Fincher: Films that Scar (2010) has just been published and studies on Wes Anderson and Danny Boyle will be released next year.

Top 10 Films
This changes day to day and hour-to-hour but as of right now...

Bad Timing
Held back from exhibition on terrestrial TV for many years, Bad Timing is still quite a shocking piece of work. Theresa Russell has never looked sultrier, Nic Roeg’s editing is rarely so subtle and Harvey Keitel’s wink directly at the camera- these all repay repeat viewings.

Bottle Rocket
Love him or loathe him (or loathe him a lot), Wes Anderson shows here many of the trademark elements of his work that viewers have come to love or hate. Before he discovered the depth of Bill Murray’s acting talent, Bottle Rocket set out a different view of dysfunctional America, launched the career of Owen Wilson and the cult hero that is Kumar Pullana.

Out of Sight
The chemistry between Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney, the blend of screwball dialogue with Tarantino-style casual brutality or Scott Frank’s script, arguably the best of the Elmore Leonard adaptations- what’s not to like?

The Shining
Far from perfect but with more artistic endeavour in its soundtrack alone than most other films in their entirety. Kubrick drives his cast mad and along the way coaxes from Nicholson one of his most memorable performances. What happened to the hedge creatures.

The Thing (1982)
As a special effects driven sci-fi/horror, this is very powerful nearly 30 years later with plenty to say about human identity, the creation of claustrophobic settings and one of Carpenter’s best self-composed soundtracks.

A genuine seismic event in modern cinema, Hitchcock’s blend of action with pop psychology has produced many imitations, but remains unsurpassed, From the editing of the shower scene, speeded-up violins and all, where far less is shown than audiences “remember”, to the suggestive wit of the script, it is a cinephile‘s dream. A boy’s best friend really is his mother.

Probably the closest that film has come to capturing JG Ballard’s notion of psychopathology, some awesomely glacial acting from Deborah Kara Ungar and by
way of Deleuze, some definitive expressions of sadism, masochism and jouissance.

Although it is over 30 years old now, there has been little to surpass this expression of monstrosity, blending HR Giger’s bio-mechanical set design with the most kick-ass heroine of modern cinema.

Fritz Lang’s view of future urban living has not been bettered. Before the self-aware Terminators, before the beauty of multi-racial Blade Runner, there was Lang’s politics and poetry of a future which seems to have already arrived. Experience the recently-revised fuller version, preferably with an orchestra.

A History of Violence
Viggo Mortensen’s carefully-modulated performance, especially the shift in the final act, the stairway scene (closely parallelling the one in Bad Timing) and great supporting performances from Ed Harris and William Hurt, all combine to create one of Cronenberg’s best.

Are you part of the Intellect community? Then send us your top ten... It doesn't have to be books or films, you can send us your top ten works of art or whatever you like (within reason!).

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