Top ten films

10. <i>Old School</i>.
10. Old School.

1. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (220 minutes) PG

Cecil B. de Mille's epic 1956 adaptation of the Book of Exodus is a monument of naive art, visually gorgeous and uncommonly skilful as storytelling, with the emphasis on de Mille's pet themes of dominance and submission. Charlton Heston shows off his torso as Moses, while Anne Baxter plays Queen Nefretiri as a slinky, campy femme fatale. Digitally projected. Astor, Sunday, 2pm.


SOME of the original members of the audience participation cult must be grandparents by now – but Jim Sharman's 1975 homage to Z-grade science fiction is still one of the few screen rock musicals that works. Looking back to Bride of Frankenstein and forward to Blue Velvet, it's polymorphous perversity for the whole family. Digitally projected. St Kilda Open Air Cinema, South Beach Reserve, Saturday, 8.30pm (doors open 6pm).

3. THE MASTER (137 minutes) MA

LOOSELY inspired by the early days of Scientology, Paul Thomas Anderson's latest focuses on the strange bond between a blustering prophet (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and a dangerously unstable World War II veteran (Joaquin Phoenix). Anderson remains an intensely dramatic filmmaker: every scene portrays some kind of power struggle, every aspect of his style is designed to keep us on edge. 70-millimetre print. Astor, Friday and Saturday, 7.30pm.

4. TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (111 minutes) M

THOUGH the credited director is first-timer Robert Lorenz, this winning comedy-drama most reflects the sensibility of its producer Clint Eastwood, who stars as a cranky old baseball talent scout opposite Amy Adams as his equally tough-minded daughter. Smarter than you might suppose, the film champions individuals who can make judgments using their own eyes and ears. General.

5. SAVAGES (129 minutes) MA

OLIVER Stone's most entertaining work in a long time, this lurid thriller pits two successful Californian pot dealers (Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson) and the woman they both love (Blake Lively) against a ruthless Mexican cartel. As ever with Stone, the message is strategically muddled but there's no shortage of sexual, racial and political provocation. Moonlight Cinema (Central Lawn, Botanic Gardens, enter Gate D), Sunday, 8.30pm.

6. FROM UP ON POPPY HILL (91 minutes) G

GORO Miyazaki takes a big step forward with his second animated feature, a gentle 1960s romance set in Yokohama, where a fatherless teenager (Masami Nagasawa) becomes involved in a campaign to save a high school clubhouse. The slight plot is mainly a pretext for alluringly tranquil imagery: sunlight falling on old books, ships passing on the horizon. Cinema Nova.

7. BEN HUR (212 minutes) PG

AWARDED no fewer than 11 Oscars, William Wyler's 1959 epic features Charlton Heston as a Jewish pacifist, a cameo appearance from Jesus Christ and more gay subtext than you can shake a javelin at. The highlight is the chariot race, a breathtaking example of what "spectacle" used to mean in the era before digital effects. 70-millimetre print. Astor, Sunday, 7pm.

8. THE WAY (123 minutes) PG

EMILIO Estevez's fourth film as writer-director is his quirkiest and most personal to date, starring his real-life father Martin Sheen as a grieving Californian optometrist who joins a group of pilgrims on a journey through Spain. As a storyteller Estevez has more sincerity than skill, but his new age earnestness is matched by genuine curiosity about the wider world. 35-millimetre print. ACMI, Saturday and Sunday, 11am. Seniors $6 or less, carers free.

9. MADOKA MAGICA (260 minutes) PG

TWO wide-eyed Japanese schoolgirls are offered magical powers enabling them to battle witches in a video-game netherworld – but the offer comes with strings attached. A hit TV series in 2011, now reworked into a pair of feature films, Akiyuki Shinbo's anime epic is surreally designed, intricately plotted and darker than it first seems. Digitally projected. Cinema Nova, Saturday and Sunday, 3pm.

10. OLD SCHOOL (91 minutes) MA

THE so-called Frat Pack had an early chance to cut loose on the big screen in this 2003 comedy from Todd Phillips (The Hangover) with Luke Wilson as a newly single everyman who finds himself running a college frat house at the behest of his party-hearty mates, played by fast-talking Vince Vaughn and frequently nude Will Ferrell. Digitally projected. Rooftop Cinema (Curtin House, city), Saturday, 9.30pm.

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