Top ten films

5. Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt play versions of the same tough guy in  <i>Looper</i>
5. Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt play versions of the same tough guy in Looper

1. MON ONCLE (117 minutes) G

Jacques Tati takes on the modern age in this 1958 comedy, his first to be released in colour, which sees the return of his signature character Monsieur Hulot – a pipe-smoking bachelor whose simple life is contrasted with the woes of his gadget-crazy relatives. As usual with Tati, there's no plot beyond an intricate system of linked running gags. 35-millimetre print. Astor, tomorrow, 7pm. Double bill with M. Hulot's Holiday.


Steven Spielberg's 1984 action-comedy marks the second adventure for globetrotting archeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), this time in India to rescue children trapped underground by the Thuggee cult. Made with sadistic ingenuity and a flair for the gross-out, this is the most "juvenile" of Spielberg's films and one of the most revealing. Digitally projected. Astor, today, 2pm, 5pm and 8pm.

3. ZERO DARK THIRTY (157 minutes) M

Kathryn Bigelow's brilliantly-made docudrama about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden is a seamlessly paradoxical artifact, aiming to satisfy gung-ho patriots and bleeding-heart liberals alike. Jessica Chastain embodies the contradictions as a CIA operative who clings to her few certainties as she finds her way through a moral maze. General.

4. DJANGO UNCHAINED (141 minutes) MA

A former slave (Jamie Foxx) teams up with a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) in Quentin Tarantino's luridly entertaining version of a spaghetti Western, which rewrites American history in terms that veer between horror and burlesque. Leonardo de Caprio's turn as a loathsome, dandified slave-owner pretty effectively trashes the romantic myth of the South. General.

5. LOOPER (118 minutes) M

Writer-director Rian Johnson (Brick) specialises in visually jangly, intricately abstract genre pieces that take far-fetched premises to their logical conclusions: in this case, what if time travel meant a hitman could be hired to kill himself? Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (in a virtuoso performance) play versions of the same tough guy who cross paths with mindbending consequences. Rooftop Cinema, today, 9.30pm.

6. THE FISHER KING (137 minutes) M

Terry Gilliam's 1991 Don Quixote update stars Robin Williams as a homeless Manhattan lunatic and Jeff Bridges as his reluctant Sancho Panza. Richard LaGravenese's sentimental script is at least partly redeemed by the freakish visual ideas and go-for-broke performances; Mercedes Ruehl won a deserved Oscar as a feisty video-shop owner, the most fully imagined adult woman anywhere in Gilliam's work. Digitally projected. Shadow Electric (Abbotsford Convent), today, sundown (around 8.30pm).

7. STEP UP REVOLUTION (99 minutes) PG

It's time to get radical in the latest instalment of the popular dance series – originally released in Australia as Step Up 4: Miami Heat – which sees a fresh group of young hopefuls battling to save their neighbourhood from a ruthless developer (Peter Gallagher). Smarter than it looks on the surface, this glistening pop spectacle is full of inventive routines and makes great use of waterfront locations in 3D. Digitally projected. ACMI, today, 1pm (in 3D), tomorrow 10.30am and 1pm.


Bradley Cooper plays a newly discharged mental patient on a mission to turn his life around in this romantic comedy from the uniquely gifted David O. Russell (I Heart Huckabees). Like his hero, Russell seems bent on proving he can be "normal" once in a while, but he still has a lot of fun playing manic, jabbering personalities off against each other. General.

9. FLIGHT (138 minutes) MA

Robert Zemeckis' first live-action film in more than a decade begins like an action-thriller then becomes a sombre drama about addiction and loneliness, subjects oddly suited to Zemeckis' mechanically artful technique. Denzel Washington is surprisingly understated as a hell-raising pilot who has more success solving problems in the air than on the ground. General.

10. NEWSFRONT (110 minutes) PG

Director Philip Noyce won a swag of AFI awards in 1978 for this cunningly nostalgic tribute to the newsreel cameramen of the 1950s and their role in shaping certain national myths. In a rare leading role, Bill Hunter convincingly embodies patriotism, mateship, stubborn independence and other core values of old-school white Australia. 35-millimetre print. ACMI, today, 4pm. Tickets $6 or less.

This story Top ten films first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.