Britany Nola’s top 10 films
In the build up to her big screen debut as the lead role in the upcoming film, American Ecstasy, SYS writer Britany Nola tells us her top 10 movies of all time:
Words fail to express the immense stress I feel attempting to buckle down and put together a distinguished list of what I consider my top ten most adored films. To gather my thoughts and look back at all the movies that have so greatly influenced and affected my life is no easy feat. Nonetheless, I shall make the attempt.
Now, I am not claiming that those I have chosen are greatest ever made, rather they are films that have stayed with me long after the credits have rolled. Ones that have affected my soul immensely, have inspired and challenged my way of thinking, and ones that have made me passionately strive for what it is I want in life, which is to act.
In ascending order (building the anticipation), I present to you My Top 10:
10. Husbands and Wives. Directed by and starring Woody Allen, along with Mia Farrow, Sydney Pollack, Judy Davis, Juliette Lewis, Liam Neeson, and Blythe Danner, brilliant. This film focuses on two couples, one who announces they are to be divorced and the other who find themselves becoming more aware of their own failing marriage. The hardships and difficulties of being tied to another “for life,” such as temptation, insecurities, doubts – as well as aftermath of a divorce – scared the crap out me, gone with the RomComs. Displaying superb, honest and true screenwriting, Woody never fails at his intellectual take on human interactions. And I still find myself asking, am I a fox or am I a hedgehog?
9. Second one in and I have already cheated and named two films as my number 9, but you see they are both directed by Roger Vadim and both star his greatest subject, Brigitte Bardot. First, in And God Created Woman in the year of 1956, officially introducing us to the French Goddess, playing Juliette, a 19-year-old orphan, whose strong sexual energy fails to conform to what the men and women in her town consider a lady. Juliette has no regard for what is “proper”. Sunbathing naked, prancing around barefoot, and her not so quiet promiscuity creates quite a stir. While many men try to tame Juliette, in the end it is useless. As a fellow woman who is a little wild, I find myself relating to Juliette. Men trying to tie me down, women shaking their disapproving heads.
Twenty years and two divorces later, Vadim and Bardot had a much desired reunion with the film Don Juan or if Don Juan were a Woman. Bardot, by now a woman in her late 30’s, exuded a strength, control, and power in herself that the young, wild and free Bardot did not. She returns as Jeanne, a modern day Don Juan, who plays on the desires of men and engulfs them into her web of complete seduction. Once the men have fallen in love with dear Jeanne, she destroys and conquers. The power of Jeanne is most appetizing and her actions are of such beauty she almost doesn’t seem evil. Throw in a sex scene with Jane Birkin and one cannot lose.
8. La Notti di Cabiria, AKA Nights of Cabiria. Giulietta Masina, Giulietta Masina, Giulietta Masina. Need I say more? Oh yes, Federico Fellini. Giulietta shines in her portrayal of a down-on-her-luck, diminutive and amusing prostitute who truly just wants to be loved. Displaying such a loveable, quirky and unique character, Cabiria warms my stone cold heart.
7. The Great Dictator. Written, produced, directed by and starring the great Charlie Chaplin in his first “talkie” and boy did he have something to say. Taking on Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini’s fascism, anti-Semitism and the Nazis was extremely controversial to say the least. Chaplin displays his comedic genius superbly and gives what has been dubbed “The greatest speech ever made”, a speech that I quote far too often. “Don’t give yourselves to unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines, You are not cattle, You are men!” Amen.
6. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Besides Gene Wilder making my heart sing sweet lullabies of desire and lust, it is the ultimate display of the pure and innocent heart of a child, as well as their ability to have such greed and over consumption at a young age. Oompa Loompas also had very important advice to offer up with such lines as “Who do you blame when your kid is a brat? Pampered and spoiled like a Siamese cat? Blaming the kids is a lion of shame. You know exactly who’s to blame: The mother and the father!” I couldn’t have said it better. Now, let us follow Willy Wonka to a world of pure imagination.
5. I have a severe addiction to deeply disturbed women and the men who love them. No one does it better and sexier, may I add, than Beatrice Dalle in Betty Blue, Directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix, Betty is an obsessive, impulsive, unapologetic, passionate woman with a strong sexuality, and in the eyes of her lover Zorg, she is an angel that he loves and for whom he will do anything. No matter what she does, and Betty does a lot, burning down a house, stabbing a woman with a fork, abducting a child, still their love remains. Zorg’s undying love and her uncontrollable madness is a thing of beauty.
4. Monkey Business. True comedic genius that stands the test of time. Monkeys making potions, Cary Grant accidently ingesting monkeys potion, making him act as a teenager, Ginger Rogers following suit and acting ever younger, and so on and so on, until Grant is leading a pack of 7-year-olds in an attempt to attack an admirer of Gina Rogers. Needless to say, hilarity ensues. And for an added bonus Marilyn Monroe is thrown into the mix as a beautiful secretary. This film is simple in its plot and innocently fun.
3. Easy Rider. Directed by Dennis Hopper, starring Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda. Opening with a a drug pick-up and Fonda stuffing bags upon bags of cocaine into his Motorcycle, the two then take to the open road. With a soundtrack to lust after, cinematography at its finest, and the absolute stunning American Flag leather Jacket, Easy Rider is a film of beauty and a perfect ode to the American drifter in the 60’s. Stock full of drugs, hippies, motorcycles, a young Jack Nicholson, and the most brilliant drug tripping scene I’ve ever seen. Living off the grid is my greatest desire so until then I shall live vicariously through Fonda and Hopper. Easy Rider I adore you.
2. A Woman Under the Influence. Directed by John Cassavettes. If I could write a love letter to Gena Rowlands it would begin with the day I laid eyes on her in this mesmerizing film. Her raw and pure talent blew me away. My dear Gena flawlessly and with such originality plays Mable, a wife (pictured. top, with the lovely Peter Falk) and a mother of two who suffers from a mental illness. Gena possesses a talent that is so unbelievably natural and intimate. She is the ultimate woman. The chemistry between Rowlands and Falk doesn’t hurt, as well as John Cassavetes finest display of film making. The greatest love stories are always the most honest.
1. Wings of Desire.
There has not been a film that has affected me so profoundly as Wings of Desire (Der Himmel Uber Berlin). Directed by Wim Wenders in 1987. Damiel is an angel who roams the city of Berlin observing and listening to the thoughts of the humans who occupy the city. Invisible and incapable of physical interaction with humans, they remain outsiders. Until Damiel finds that he has fallen in love with Marion, a lonely trampeze artist. The story is undeniably beautiful and the film-making is stunning, shot in both black and white and color. Although what truly stands out is the dialogue written by the great Peter Handke. The staggeringly profound thoughts that the people of Berlin display are of pure poetry. I can quote half of this film on the spot. I have cried speaking these words, I have said them aloud and felt them live in me and grow and expand. Affecting the very thought pattern of my own mind. An example is from an aged poet named Homer whom another angel named Cassiel watches over: “My heroes are no longer the warriors and kings… but the things of peace, one equal to the other. The drying onions equal to the tree trunk crossing the marsh. But no one has so far succeeded in singing an epic of peace. What is wrong with peace that its inspiration doesn’t endure… and that its story is hardly told?”
Words by Britany Nola.