Ben Hopkins

Ben Hopkins

Simon Magus; The Market: A Tale of Trade
Voted in the directors poll

Voted for:

1963 Federico Fellini
Barry Lyndon 1975 Stanley Kubrick
Come And See 1985 Elem Klimov
Fanny and Alexander 1984 Ingmar Bergman
Innocents, The 1961 Jack Clayton
Mulholland Dr 2003 David Lynch
Once Upon a Time in the West 1968 Sergio Leone
Sunrise 1927 F. W. Murnau
Team America: World Police 2004 Trey Parker
Werckmeister Harmonies, The 2000 Béla Tarr


When I think of the best times I’ve had in the cinema (and some of the best hours of my life have been spent inside the cinema – is that sad?) I think of those films that (a) create their own world and (b) drown you in it. Studies of the real world (realism) and formulaic films (genre) tend to dominate cinema, and have their pleasures… but on reflection the best films dispense with rules and reality.

Sunrise: A big budget Hollywood movie with plenty of special effects, 1920s style. Murnau for greatest director?

8½: If not Murnau, then Fellini. Difficult to choose between this and La dolce Vita, but 8½ wins out. Cinema as dream, nightmare, circus.

The Innocents: Clayton for best ever British director! Strange that he is so sidelined. Who else in the UK made films this beautiful, this atmospheric?

Once Upon a Time in the West: I keep rewatching it, expecting to find it naff this time. But it’s always wonderful. What’s so great about restraint?

Barry Lyndon: In Barry Lyndon I see the perfection Kubrick was always striving for.

Fanny and Alexander: It seems to start in epicurean Paradise, verge off into Protestant Hell, and then end up in some strange, Jewish Purgatory. A spellbinding journey.

Come and See: An overwhelming maelstrom of horror. The Ascent (1977), by Klimov’s wife Larisa Shepitko is another genius Soviet war film and would come in at number 11 on my list.

The Werckmeister Harmonies: Most of the above list I first viewed knowing that they were “classics”, with expectations. When I first saw Werckmeister, I knew nothing about Tarr’s work and I was entirely ambushed by it. For this reason, this screening, at the Cork Film Fest, remains my best cinematic experience to date.

Mulholland Dr.: Your heart is entirely caught up in the story whilst your mind is trying to work out what the f*** the story is actually about. A brilliant and rare combination.

Team America: World Police: Comedy is very important to me, and this is the funniest film I’ve ever seen.