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Stills from Battleship Potempkin (1925, Sergei Eisenstein) and Fireworks (1947, Kenneth Anger)

posted by Tom Moore

Video City A-Z of Film – Staff Picks: B Films (But Not Necessarily ‘B-Films’…) (Pt.1)


Boyz N The Hood (1991) Directed by John Singleton

B is for Boyz N The Hood; one of my favourite films as it shows just how hard life can be “growing up in the hood”. The director John Singleton tells a ‘real’ but revealing story about the struggles of growing up and making adult decisions, maybe before you are ready to make them.

A memorable moment in the film that I will always remember is when Tre’s (Cuba Gooding Jr.) father tries to teach his son about doing the right thing and to take responsibility for his actions after he finds out that his son wants retribution after his friend gets killed in a gang shooting.

Definitely a must watch film if you look past the violence for the powerful life messages Singleton tries to portray.



Biutiful (2010) Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu

B is for Biutiful. But B is also for Bleak and in Biutiful it doesn’t get much bleaker! Nevertheless don’t be put off because this is a remarkable film with a remarkable performance from Javier Bardem (of No Country for Old Men fame amongst others). Many of us are familiar with the magical city of Barcelona but this shows us a side of it that few will have ever seen.

Uxbal (Bardem) survives operating as middleman in business with illegal immigrant workers in the Chinese community. He also has the ability to communicate with the dead and is the father of the ten year-old Ana and the little boy Mateo. Their mother suffers from bipolar and is an unstable alcoholic. When Uxbal learns that he is terminally ill, he sets out to find someone to look after his children when he has gone.

The cinematography is exceptional, with some fantastic depictions of Uxbal’s troubled world. It’s a film that will stay with you visually and narratively – yet amidst the carnage of the storyline, the director still manages to portray hope and ultimately a chance of redemption.



Battleship Potemkin (19225) Directed by Sergei Eisenstein

B is for Battleship Potemkin.

Brutal and beautiful. This one’s about toppling the crooks in charge and taking the power back.

Dramatising the 1905 mutiny on the ship Potemkin, an important step toward revolution in 1917, Eisenstein’s masterpiece of montage presents a rigorous demonstration of his theoretical principles and findings, as well as a total surpassing of them in the creation of truly sublime film images.

Indeed, only through Potemkin’s dialectical unfolding did Eisenstein truly succeed in building a structure of images that enables us to comprehend and truly feel the validity of the communist position.

My two favourite sequences:

1) Fog on the water following the murder of sailor Vakulinchuk … Shots of empty waters flicked by reflections of light from the rising sun … Vakulinchuk’s death giving birth to popular support for the mutiny, coupled with a duration that trumps politics and revels in beauty for beauty’s sake.

2) A mass of sailors asleep in their hammocks, strong key lighting drawing alllll attention to their muscular backs … Revolution is for the strong, but as Eisenstein well knew, it’s also for the sexy.

Be a (wo)man, not a maggot – rent this and raise the red flag.