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Modern Masterpieces

by BlakeEvans

Created 09/28/12

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This is a list of films made within the last thirty years - that I (alongside others I'm sure) consider to be cinematic masterpieces and modern works of art. They reinforce the reminder that every period or era of filmmaking has great artists who have something as meaningful to say in their distinct craft as their mentors and inspirations before them. (2012)

  • Of all the foreign filmmakers working today, Wim Wenders is undeniably among the best of them and this 1984 masterpiece is just one of the few reasons why. Harry Dean Stanton and Nastassja Kinski are phenomenal as is Hunter Carson as their son in the film. Wenders' very much cares for his characters and Stanton and Kinski provide remarkable psychological and emotional depth for Travis and Jane. One of the best and most moving films of the 1980s.

  • Few filmmakers in history could make a film as grandiose, epic, sprawling and massive in scale while maintaining subjective and thematic substance and maturity like Kurosawa. This devastatingly bleak, moralistic take on Shakespeare's "King Lear" regards everything that matters to us: family, ambition, greed, betrayal, faith, jealousy, self-imagery, the nature between father and sons and the inescapable cycle of violence that defines us. It's true that "Ran" is the film of an old man's reflection on life - much like Bergman's "Fanny and Alexander". It is the consumate final word of everything that defined Kurosawa's work. If I'm lucky, I'll find the capability to make a film of my own with the tenth of the artistry and craft of this masterpiece by a master filmmaker at the age of seventy-five. One of the greatest films ever made.

  • This was a recent discovery for me as I saw it a few months ago initiated out of the most recent masterpiece from McQueen, his 2011 film "Shame" also starring one of the best actors of this generation: Michael Fassbender. Like "Shame", Fassbender is uncompromising, defiant, unwilling to let us go for a single moment. His defiance in performance is as reflective of his character Bobby Sands - who is presented here as a man who believes that "putting [his] life on the line isn't the only thing he can do, it's the right thing". McQueen's directorial debut is a masterwork of: oppression, depravity, defiance, political-protest and a testament to the will and spirit of man. It's as powerful in it's darkness as it is in it's potrtayal of heroism. One of the top ten best English language films of the 2000s.

  • Since seeing this film back in January, I've been puzzled as to why we haven't heard from Spielmann and what he's doing next. Of contemporary filmmakers such as fellow Austrian Michael Haneke, Spielmann shows a remarkable sense of craft. One of the best, and most elaborate existential character studies I've seen of any recent film. The handled themes of maternity, faith, loyalty and revenge and Spielmann's insight into characters that he does not judge - make this one of the best films of the 2000s. I hope this filmmaker continues his work soon!

  • As a precursor to his definitive thesis "Ran", Kurosawa made this five years prior in preparation for that film. "Kagemusha" (like "Ran") possesses some of the best cinematography of Kurosawa's career and also like "Ran" is a sprawling epic milestone both in terms of technical craft and scope. Tatsuya Nakadai's nuanced performance as Kagemusha and Shingen is nothing short of memorable. One of the most overlooked and underappreciated of Kurosawa's films.

16 comments

  • By wael
    October 19, 2012
    11:34 AM

    Yi Yi by Edward Yang should also be included on this list.
    Reply
  • By Drew Phillips
    October 20, 2012
    06:15 PM

    Royal Tenenbaums, Qatsi Trilogy, Malkovich, Last Temptation, Brazil? Anything along those lines would fit this very well. Also, Thin Red Line!
    Reply
  • By Graeme
    October 21, 2012
    02:59 PM

    "His defiance in performance is as reflective of his character Bobby Sands - who is a hero" Am I reading this right? Bobby Sands was a man willing to blow up women and children to bits. But feel free to romanticise away... I'd consider doing some research
    Reply
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    • By BlakeEvans
      November 11, 2012
      03:34 AM

      Haven't read upon his comments on "willing to blow women and children to bits". I'm aware that in 1977 he was charged and convicted of possession of firearms and sentenced to the HM Prison Maze and according to the "Irish Hunger Strike" site, was sentenced to fourteen years for possession of one revolver. I did rush on referring to Sands as a hero, however I feel that Fassbender's performance and McQueen's portrayal of Sands ultimately identifies him as a man who simply seeks independence for Northern Ireland from British rule.
  • By Jack Y.
    November 04, 2012
    06:45 PM

    Needs Trier!
    Reply
  • By sean
    November 05, 2012
    08:44 AM

    Wow agree with Graeme - no hero there!!! I must see the film. Only know the truth from history.
    Reply
  • By Leif L.
    November 06, 2012
    06:21 PM

    Definitely needs Trier!
    Reply
  • By ncapu1
    November 08, 2012
    07:13 PM

    Hunger is an excellent film. I recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it. McQueen only has two feature lengths (nearly three) under his belt but it looks like he has been making films for years.
    Reply
  • By Fooldron
    November 10, 2012
    09:49 PM

    Can't believe Brazil and Wings of Desire aren't on your list.
    Reply
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    • By BlakeEvans
      November 11, 2012
      02:10 AM

      Admire and respect Gilliam's film, and it has many virtues. However, although I thought the film was well-crafted I thought it was too Orwell-inspired and the humor is a little overdone. Then again I only saw the film once, I'm willing to give it a second chance. "Wings of Desire" I haven't seen unfortunately - and I really want to, I have great respect and love for Wenders.
  • By Matthew G
    February 01, 2013
    09:40 AM

    Good list, though kind of funny that two of your five films were made by Kurosawa, not exactly a contemporary filmmaker. There are a lot of movies that could be included here, but I would especially point to Au Revoir Les Enfants, The Last Temptation of Christ, In the Mood for Love, and any of the Kiarostami films that are in the Collection. I also think Vagabond is extremely underrated.
    Reply
  • By Sam Rasnake
    March 02, 2013
    08:11 PM

    Agreed - Especially Paris, Texas and Ran. Yes.
    Reply
  • By Stroszek
    April 17, 2013
    08:41 AM

    La Haine would definitely be up there.
    Reply
  • By Nathan
    May 28, 2013
    09:42 PM

    Being John Malkovich, The Last Temptation of Christ and Brazil for sure
    Reply
  • By Cole Amundson
    July 06, 2013
    03:50 AM

    Three Colors, In The Mood For Love/Chungking, Thin Red Line?
    Reply
  • By Alderspring
    September 14, 2013
    08:44 PM

    Sans Soleil, any major Kieslowski, Wings of Desire, Taste of Cherry?
    Reply

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