Ant Timpson Got Porn Onto The Sight & Sound Poll

New Zealand madman, film festival programmer and exploitation archivist Ant Timpson was one of the folks polled for the decennial 'greatest movies ever' list. So of course he put porn on his list.

The Sight & Sound Poll tends to the stuffy. You remember the big to-do a couple of weeks back when Vertigo unseated Citizen Kane as the 'official best movie ever,' right? The top ten films on that poll were all pretty highbrow, as were the rest of the top 50.

But there were more than 50 films voted for in the Sight & Sound poll. More than 250, even. There were 2,045 different films mentioned by the 846 responders. One of those responders was Ant Timpson, a friend of mine who is a dynamo in the world of weird film. He runs the Incredibly Strange Film Festival in New Zealand, programs for the New Zealand International Film Festival, and he's one of the biggest collectors of exploitation film prints in the world; Ant's knowledge of obscure grindhouse and sleaze movies is unparalleled. And in true Ant Timpson style, his top ten list was... unique. For starters he listed the porn film Behind the Green Door as his #1 movie of all time. Here's Ant's entire list and his reasoning for each film (except King of Comedy, for some reason):

Behind the Green Door 1972 Artie Mitchell/Jim Mitchell
Behind the Green Door is a hypnotic and pivotal landmark in pornographic cinema that contains enough memorable occurrences both onscreen and off to keep its impact & legacy alive for future generations. I watched this in a museum in San Francisco and throughout it could feel the eyes of my literary idol Bill Landis (Sleazoid Express) watching me watch strangers fuck.

Boarding House 1984 John Wintergate
My Dad walked in on my friend and I watching Boarding House one afternoon and wanted to know why we were watching gay porn on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. We weren’t. But you could make a case that if it looks like a duck and quacks like duck, it is a duck. From an opening that makes Snow’s Wavelength looks positively Crankesque to the delirious poolside performance by Kalassu, Boarding House is a very unique film. Well, using the term film is being generous. It’s more like someone listened to some New Wave, ate a lot of junk food, took acid, then tried to swallow leopard skin briefs before finally throwing up inside a single-tube camera and transferring the whole mess to 35mm. Like the tape in RINGU, once you watch BH it creeps into your consciousness and starts to pogo on your soul. It’s a truly remarkable film that never reveals its real identity, no matter how much ugly surface you strip away. Just when you think the whole thing is one giant prank, some inanimate object floats by for no reason. It whispers to you to delve deeper and so you do. Deeper and deeper until the lead actor enters your dreams, dancing in his leopard skin, enticing you in to an embrace as the soundtrack licks your eardrums with its incessant breath-beat “hah hah hah”.

Dead Ringers 1988 David Cronenberg
I once told someone if I ever found a woman who loved Dead Ringers as much as I, I’d marry her. Well, the one I eventually married only said “eeeewwwww” when I explained the plot. Initially I found it to be too calculated and cold, but after I walked out into the brisk air of George St in Sydney, I never stopped thinking about it. Over the years, I’ve revisited it numerous times and, substituting sleep deprivation with Dead Ringers' drug addiction, I now feel like the third brother to Elliot and Bev (“they’re triplets my dear”) as I sleepily wander thru our house in dressing gown and slippers.

Drunken Master II 1994 Kar-leung Lau
As a programmer one of the joys is the voyeuristic and egotistical rush you get when an audience connects and commits to a film like none before. I screened Drunken Master 2 to an amped-up but unaware festival audience that responded to the kinetic displays as if someone had dropped live scorpions in their underwear. Purists will argue for more deserving titles from the rich history of Hong Kong cinema but for me there is Drunken Master 2, sitting legs above shoulders and all the others. It is not merely a phenomenal action pic, it is entertainment of the highest order.

Emperor of the North 1973 Robert Aldrich
Emperor of the North is an outstanding Depression-era hobo epic that knocks you off your feet and chains you to its undercarriage for one sweet ride through America’s lush northwest. It makes fast friends with the appearance of a sharp ’n’ weary Marvin and immediately doubles down with the appearance of moon-faced Borgnine smashing bones and hurling abuse. Sometimes you can’t fathom why certain films resonate with you so much. Others won’t feel the same and may dismiss it as lesser effort from a consistently strong director. I can’t argue. All I know is that it works for me. “A-No-1” is damn right.

Harold and Maude 1971 Hal Ashby
Harold and Maude is a timeless film that should date but doesn’t. There’s a scene set in a hospital near the end that’s virtually silent. We finally see Bud Cort’s Harold drop his dry facade, then rev up to anger before suddenly collapsing in soft heap of sadness. It’s the moment when you realise that you’ve been deeply affected by the lives of two oddballs and it will be a film you’ll revisit the rest of your life.

King of Comedy, The 1983 Martin Scorsese

Pink Flamingos 1972 John Waters
There have been many who have crashed into the pedestal but none have managed to ever knock Pink Flamingos, Waters’ pinnacle of poor taste, from its rightful place at the top. All the rest are poseurs. Waters would be happy with the analogy, but seeing Flamingos for the first time is like when Reagan/JFK/Insert your icon was killed: you remember exactly where you were when you saw Divine eat the shit. The ultimate midnight movie, it still manages to feel like it’s been sent from a parallel earth run by the weirdos we all knew in high school. But there’s something strangely sweet about all the depravity on display as well. It’s like the baby that shits in your face – how can you not love it?

Naked Prey, The 1965 Cornel Wilde
The Naked Prey is primal filmmaking from one of the few successful Hollywood actor-to-director transformations. Wilde unleashes the beast within and casts aside Hollywood artifice (and his khakis) in a terrific meditation on one man’s survival in deep Africa. From the outlandish punishment scenarios initiated by the avenging tribe (my favourite? the human hotpot), to the thunderous beginning of the human hunt, this is savage filmmaking at its finest.

Wanderers, The 1979 Philip Kaufman
My teenage years were full of memorable quotes and songs from The Wanderers. Everyone shines here, from Ken Wahl’s slickly confident Richie to John Friedrich’s bullied son Joey, from Alan Rosenberg’s wiseass Turkey to Karen Allen’s incredibly sexy Nina. All were stars in the making. Kaufman’s sprawling and energetic coming–of-age pic, based on Richard Price’s slim novel, delivers so much that you’ll overlook its faults. It can be messy, loud and loose, but so is growing up. It manages to capture the truth of great friendships, a rare and beautiful thing in the sometimes contrived world of film.

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