A-Z Film Challenge: Day Two

I always knew that ‘B’ was going to be difficult. There are just so many good films beginning with B that trying to choose some to highlight, and picking a ‘winner’ was even harder than it was yesterday, with ‘A’. If you read my recent post about my Top Ten films, the you will already suspect which film is going to come out on top this time. So many had to be left out, I was on the verge of calling a halt to my self-imposed challenge. But I started, so I will finish.

This could have been a very long post indeed, had I chosen to feature all the films beginning with B that I have enjoyed in over fifty-five years of cinema going, and collecting films on VHS and DVD. Even narrowing the field, I am still left with a hefty list of considerations. World Cinema features again, which will not surprise anyone, alongside American films, and a British classic.

I have mentioned ‘Babette’s Feast’ (1987) many times before on this blog. This magical Danish film, starring the incomparable French actress, Stephane Audran, is sheer delight, right to the end. The unusual tale of a woman who uses her life savings to prepare a lavish ‘thank you’ feast for the community that took her in as a refugee, is like nothing you will ever see again. The other foreign film beginning with B is also one I have highlighted previously. The hard-hitting drama, ‘Battle of Algiers’ (1960) is one of the most realistic and uncompromising films about the French-Algerian war ever made.

Keen observers will notice that so far, ‘Bullitt’ (1968) has not had a mention. Despite Steve McQueen being so enviably cool, and arguably the best car chase in cinema history, I don’t think it is a great film. In some ways, it feels like an episode of a very good TV cop show. But it’s worth a mention for that car chase. On to another film that has its flaws, but is a memorable ‘B’. The original 1992 version of ‘Bad Lieutenant’, starring Harvey Keitel, is a hard watch. Nudity, Rape, sexual scenes, drug use, and corrupt cops make for an uneasy film experience. That said, Keitel is mesmerising in the lead, giving perhaps his career-best performance.

Terrence Malick’s 1973 film, ‘Badlands’ might justifiably feature in anyone’s list of great films, so just had to be included in these ‘B’ selections. Beautifully shot, an unusual story based on real events, and truly amazing performances from a young Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek, provide film fans with something never to be forgotten. Going back in time, the stalwart Spencer Tracy gave what for me, was his best performance, in ‘Bad Day At Black Rock’ (1955). This tale of a war veteran visiting a small desert town is a powerful drama, exploring the themes of racism and murder. And Robert Ryan pitches in as a villain, alongside not only Lee Marvin, but Ernest Borgnine too.

The films of Powell and Pressburger are legendary in cinema circles, and they made none better than ‘Black Narcissus’. (1947) I could write a whole post about this film, and one day I just might. But for now I will mention the simply sumptuous use of colour, the photography and cinematography by Jack Cardiff, and compelling central performances from Jean Simmons, Deborah Kerr, and the outstanding Kathleen Byron.

But let’s face it. On this blog, only one film that has a name starting with a ‘B’ was ever going to be the top pick. My top film of all time (so far) and Ridley Scott’s 1987 masterpiece, ‘Blade Runner’.
I have written a whole post about this film before, so will say no more about it. I will just ask one question. If you have never seen this film, then why not?

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53 thoughts on “A-Z Film Challenge: Day Two

  1. I reviewed Blade Runner on my 80’s post series..it’s a great movie and one that is heart warming. It touches upon the idea of emotions felt by replicants which I like rather than being a shiny sci-fi movie with all the gadgets. “Quite an experience to live in fear isn’t it”.

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  2. I just purchased a film called The Beguiled. I heard that Sofia Coppola is doing a version of the story soon. The trailer for it looks intriguing. So I thought it good to catch up with the Clint Eastwood version. Ever seen it?

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    1. On release, and later owned on VHS. It’s great. Set in the US Civil War; sexual, dark themes, and a very unusual story. One of Eastwood’s best. I cannot for the life of me imagine why she feels the need to remake it.
      Cheers, Pete.

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  3. B serious? B happy? Some comedies to loosen the mix:
    Blazing Saddles, Bedazzled (the 1967 Peter Cook and Dudley Moore one), The Big Lebowski, Bad Boy Bubby and Being There are films I’ve loved, particularly Blazing Saddles.

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    1. ‘Bedazzled’ had a mention earlier. (see below) I never liked that film at all, to be honest. I rarely like it when comedians transfer to the screen and get over-indulgent. ‘Lebowski’ is entertaining, and ‘Blazing Saddles’ made me laugh at the time, though I prefer ‘The Producers’. (Wait for ‘P’)
      Thanks for the injection of humour. Much appreciated.
      best wishes, Pete.

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  4. B for me would always have to be Black Cat White Cat (1998) follow by Blue Velvet (1986) or Brazil (1985) as tied runner ups!
    I once saw Blade Runner at a cinema that didn’t have any sound playing, people were booing, others making the sound effects and standing up saying all the lines, there was almost a riot in the place, they start it again will still no lucky but in the end refunds were given out to everyone.

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    1. I have never seen ‘Black Cat, White Cat’, but ‘Blue Velvet is an excellent choice. I have seen ‘Brazil’, and liked it, but its surreal imagery is an acquired taste.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  5. Now you have me looking for lists of movies beginning with B and guess what you are so right BR every time and I still haven’t watched it again even thought it sits on the server waiting for me to press play.

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  6. Yes! excellent movie, excellent casting, Rutger Hauer was the perfect replicant. And casting LA. as not just background, but a character of its own – – Ridley Scott’s vision of the city just always looks like he’d actually seen the future and took pictures while he was there.
    “Bullitt” I can leave off the list, unless I’m due for dental surgery, and need to be anesthetized, cannot stand car driving movies.
    Ready to see the Blade Runner sequel?

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    1. I have mixed feelings about the new sequel, Robert. On one hand, I know I will just have to go and see it, but on the other, I am almost expecting the worst. I just hope that I am wrong.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  7. You mentioned the best ones, Pete. Black Narcissus is amazing. So is Blade Runner, obviously we share a kinship for that one! I suppose you could have mentioned Braveheart (beloved film for many, but it didn’t wow me) or Barton Fink, or all the Batman movies. But my favorite B film would definitely be ‘Black Swan’. THAT one wowed me.

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    1. I didn’t buy into any of the Batman franchise, Cindy. I have only seen one, and thought it was silly.( I think Val Kilmer was Batman.)
      Although Braveheart is a stirring epic in many respects, it took so many disgraceful liberties with history (and costume) that it was little better than a parody.
      Black Swan is a powerful film indeed. I was confident that a few comments would mention it.
      Thanks for your thoughts, and for ‘playing along’.
      Best wishes as always, Pete. x

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  8. “Blade Runner” (the unicorn origami version with no voice-over) would also be on my short list, along with “Basic Instinct,” “Brazil,” “The Birds,” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” (If I were listing guilty pleasures, I’d put “Bedazzled” near the top, as I always get a kick out of Elizabeth Hurley playing the devil.) If I had to choose Numero Uno, I guess I’d go with “Basic Instinct” (Paul Verhoeven, director; Joe Eszterhas, writer). I realize that would be a highly controversial choice (not in my favor). But the film just has an exciting and engaging plot, an excellent cast of characters, and a killer soundtrack. It may not rival “Bullitt” (or “Ronin” or “The French Connection”), but the car chases aren’t half bad either! I suppose I would rank films differently depending on the criteria. I tend to favor well-produced entertainment.

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    1. Basic Instinct is very entertaining; a modern, flashy thriller, with some great moments. Bonnie and Clyde has its own post on my blog too, so I tried to feature some others. I was pleased that you mentioned it though. Sorry to say that ‘Bedazzled’ would only feature in a list of ‘oddities’, if I ever did one. Not really my thing.
      Thanks as always, David.
      best wishes, Pete.

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