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Artistic Movies that Anyone Can Like

by David MacDonald

Created 07/02/12

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My list of movies that are truly artistic (no Armageddon on this list, or even Hard Boiled which is one of my favorite movies) but people who aren't into movies will still enjoy thoroughly.

  • Many people view this as nothing more than a drug movie like Cheech & Chong or half baked, but by watching it over and over again under the guise of pure entertainment, they expose themselves to beautiful deranged prose, brilliant cinematography and treasure trove of demented and half-baked existentialism.

  • A totally sweet cult sci-fi action flick or an ingeniously-directed allegory about a messiah in a hellish future world? Answer: both.

  • A pre-mumblecore thesis on tolerance and human limitations disguised as a potty-mouthed stoner flick.

  • Regardless of love for film, everyone knows the faces of Carey Grant and Audrey Hepburn; that coupled with the engaging score by Henry Mancini and the fast-paced plot line will keep people engrossed.

  • It's either a stoner movie disguised as a series of musings on life or vice versa, but either way it's thoroughly enjoyable.

  • People recognize Charlie Chaplin's face, but a lot of them are completely unfamiliar with his work. This is the best introduction, and I've introduced it to many people who don't like movies as much as I do, always with favorable results.

  • I'll always view it as the English parallel to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; full of beautiful poetry, slurred and sputtered with the drunken voice of English youth.

  • One of the longest most engaging conversations I've ever heard; I couldn't tear my ears away.

  • This one even took me by surprise. It's fun, action-packed and full of entertaining music and fascinating accents. The story of a young Jamaican man who decides to take whatever he wants, even if it kills him.

  • It's one of the funniest movies ever made. A hilarious look at the self-aware and sex-obsessed rock stars of the 1970's through the eyes of one of the first mockumentaries.

  • The script is both hilarious and touching; philosophical and absurd, often at the same time. The directing is great and the ensemble of brilliant actors is astounding.

  • The character of Hannibal Lecter is one of the most interesting ever created, and his portrayal by Anthony Hopkins was sublime and profoundly disturbing.

  • Like a French Tarantino movie, La Haine is action packed, even when there's almost no action in the entire movie. It's full of visceral emotions, raw performances and blood-pumping non-action.

  • In my opinion, The Game was Fincher at his most creative. There's this idea that if a movie has a big twist at the end, it should be judged solely on that twist and nothing else, this movie defies that idiotic idea by making the chase more important and memorable than the conclusion.

  • Roman Polanski has proved himself to be the king of creepiness time and again with his lingering camera and unsettling implications, but this story of a woman violated by the devil himself will continue to sear itself into the collective paranoia of of movie-goers for generations to come.

  • Martin Sheen and Sissy Spaceck in their primes, a beautiful drifting story of romance and violence set in the backroads of America, drenched in beautiful cinematography and brilliant acting. Terrence Malick's first film, and his first masterpiece.

  • Always intense, Repo Man is a great classic eighties movie. Featuring a kick-ass soundtrack from Iggy Pop, a hilarious script and a deranged cast of characters and circumstances, it combines modern (at the time) punk philosophy with Alex Cox's own version of modern American mythology.

  • Wes Anderson's (and the Criterion Collection's) first foray into the world of boundless potential that is animated film turned out as well as most of us have come to expect from one of today's greatest directors. It's fun, it's funny, and it's surprisingly touching, full of interesting characters and a poetic hero's journey.

  • This movie was such a unique and exciting motion picture event when it came out. It spawned countless copycats and imitations from other bands (most notably another criterion acquisition, The Monkees' "Head"), and essentially defined what would eventually become known as the "music video." It still holds up even today.

  • Long renowned amongst burgeoning young film buffs as a movie both strange and disturbing, Eraserhead has gained a cult following for its nonsense plot, its creepy atmosphere and the launch of David Lynch's career. The movie is a masterpiece of surrealism, featuring dreamlike vignettes and a very off-beat performance from Jack Nance, not to mention beautiful cinematography.

13 comments

  • By Drew Phillips
    July 02, 2012
    10:29 PM

    So good! These are the ones I'm always showing to my friends!
    Reply
  • By Criteriophile
    November 10, 2012
    12:19 PM

    Now that it is available, you should add Rosemary's Baby.
    Reply
  • By Mondrolik75
    November 11, 2012
    11:52 AM

    It's interesting that you mention "Withnail and I" as the American counterpart to "Fear and Loathing" since Hunter Thompson stated on more than one occasion that "Withnail and I" was one of his favorite movies.
    Reply
    • By Collection
      January 18, 2013
      07:30 PM

      What a unique concept for a list and you clearly have a knack for distilling worthwhile concepts from mass-marketed films. I would also like to acknowledge how on point your meditation on the two (2) films in question is. Maybe it's a coincidence that these are the only releases in The Criterion Collection, as of this writing, with cover art by Ralph Steadman, or maybe this just goes to complement and reinforce your point. By the way, thanks in advance for letting me imitate the style utlized in the above list in that last sentence.
  • By Dominic_J_R
    November 14, 2012
    12:21 AM

    I'll put Withnail and I into my wish list, thanks for the recommendations =]
    Reply
  • By Caligula-Bob
    November 24, 2012
    11:38 AM

    Nice list. I love introducing folks to more "mainstream" criterion titles. They are like a gateway drug to more of the artsy fartsy type films I hold so dear to my heart. I was exclusively into 60's-80's horror, Sci fi etc. until I bought my first Criterion title. (Ran) Given the chance, most people can enjoy all Criterion titles like any other film. Spread the word gang! More cinema geeks = a better world.
    Reply
  • By D.j. W.
    December 26, 2012
    01:58 PM

    Brazil, any wes anderson film
    Reply
  • By futurestar
    April 21, 2013
    03:20 PM

    my main chicken hen scratched out a similar something but added "One Flew Over The Cukoo's Nest" and "Stroszek".
    Reply
    • By DUDElaundrey
      April 22, 2013
      11:57 AM

      stroszek is my favorite Herzog film. had to add that, Herzog is my icon, well along w greenaway
  • By 120FILM
    June 03, 2013
    03:05 PM

    Good list except for Chasing Amy.
    Reply
  • By Andrew a.
    October 29, 2013
    11:13 PM

    where is Armageddon and The Rock
    Reply
  • By Andrew a.
    October 31, 2013
    06:24 PM

    And the curios case of Benjamin Button
    Reply