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Brian De Palma ascended to the highest ranks of American suspense filmmaking with this virtuoso, explicit erotic thriller.
The legendary French filmmaker Agnès Varda, whose remarkable career began in the 1950s and has continued into the twenty-first century, produced some of her most provocative works while living on the West Coast of the United States.
Taking place largely over the course of one tense night, Carol Reed’s psychological noir, set in an unnamed Belfast, stars James Mason as a revolutionary ex-con leading a robbery that goes horribly wrong.
With his trademark mixture of empathy and scrutiny, Errol Morris has changed the face of documentary filmmaking in the United States, and his career began with two remarkable tales of American eccentricity.
A work of memory and imagination, the film burrows into what the filmmaker calls “the heart of the heart” of the continent, conjuring a city as delightful as it is fearsome, populated by sleepwalkers and hockey aficionados.
This revelatory drama was named the best film of the 1990s in a Village Voice poll of more than fifty critics.
In the midsixties, the maverick American director Monte Hellman conceived of two westerns at the same time. Dreamlike and gritty by turns, these films would prove their maker’s adeptness at brilliantly deconstructing genre.
This genuinely frightening, exquisitely made supernatural gothic stars Deborah Kerr as an emotionally fragile governess who comes to suspect that there is something very, very wrong with her precocious new charges.
Roman Polanski imbues his unflinchingly violent adaptation of William Shakespeare’s tragedy of ruthless ambition and murder in medieval Scotland with grit and dramatic intensity.
Assembled with visionary editing that makes dance come alive on-screen as never before, and overflowing with sublime footwork, All That Jazz pushes the musical genre to personal depths and virtuosic aesthetic heights.
A startling and courageous film, Peter Davis’s landmark 1974 documentary Hearts and Minds unflinchingly confronted the United States’ involvement in Vietnam at the height of the controversy that surrounded it.
An ambitiously constructed, elegantly photographed meditation on adolescence, the first full-length film by director David Gordon Green features remarkable performances from an award-winning ensemble cast.
This evocative period piece, faithfully adapted from the A. E. Hotchner memoir, is among the versatile Soderbergh’s most touching and surprising films.
This multiple-Oscar-winning film by Roman Polanski is an exquisite, richly layered adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles.
A full-throttle espionage thriller, starring Joel McCrea as a green Yank reporter sent to Europe to get the scoop on the imminent war, it’s wall-to-wall witty repartee, head-spinning plot twists, and brilliantly mounted suspense set pieces.
The revered American auteur Michael Mann burst out of the gate with his bold artistic sensibility fully formed with Thief, his first theatrical feature.
A vivid, visceral Macbeth adaptation, Throne of Blood, directed by Akira Kurosawa, sets Shakespeare’s definitive tale of ambition and duplicity in a ghostly, fog-enshrouded landscape in feudal Japan.
The provocative Italian filmmaker Elio Petri’s most internationally acclaimed work is this Kafkaesque tale of a Roman police inspector (a commanding Gian Maria Volonté) investigating a heinous crime—which he himself committed.
The colorful, electrifying romance that took the Cannes Film Festival by storm courageously dives into a young woman’s experiences of first love and sexual awakening.
The Big City follows the personal triumphs and frustrations of Arati (Madhabi Mukherjee), who decides, despite the initial protests of her bank-clerk husband, to take a job to help support their family.
Based on a novella by the great Rabindranath Tagore, Charulata is a work of subtle textures, a delicate tale of a marriage in jeopardy and a woman taking the first steps toward establishing her own voice.
Seconds, directed by John Frankenheimer, concerns a middle-aged banker who, dissatisfied with his suburban existence, elects to undergo a strange and elaborate procedure that will grant him a new life.
A cornerstone of the French New Wave, the first feature from Alain Resnais is one of the most influential films of all time.
Bernhard Wicki’s astonishing The Bridge was the first major antiwar film to come out of Germany after World War II, as well as the nation’s first postwar film to be widely shown internationally, even securing an Oscar nomination.
A girl on the verge of womanhood finds herself in a sensual fantasyland of vampires, witchcraft, and other threats in this eerie and mystical movie daydream.
A fairy tale grounded in poignant reality, the magnificent, Manhattan-set The Fisher King, by Terry Gilliam, features Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams in two of their most brilliant roles.
A mix of the witty and the utterly absurd, The Palm Beach Story is a high watermark of Sturges’s brand of physical comedy and verbal repartee, featuring sparkling performances.
The master of the political thriller, Costa-Gavras became an instant phenomenon after the mammoth success of Z, and he quickly followed it with the equally riveting The Confession.
In this anguished yet mordantly funny film, Fassbinder charts the decline of a self-destructive former policeman and war veteran struggling to make ends meet for his family by working as a fruit vendor.
Truffaut made The Soft Skin at a time when he was immersing himself in the work of Alfred Hitchcock, and that master’s influence can be felt throughout this complex, insightful, and underseen French New Wave treasure.
This landmark film, which documents the journeys of two remarkable families, continues to educate and inspire viewers, and it is widely considered one of the great works of American nonfiction cinema.
Terry Zwigoff’s landmark 1995 film is an intimate documentary portrait of the underground artist Robert Crumb, whose unique drawing style and sexually and racially provocative subject matter have made him a household name in popular American art.
Called the greatest rock film ever made, this landmark documentary follows the Rolling Stones on their notorious 1969 U.S. tour.
Barbara Kopple’s Academy Award–winning Harlan County USA unflinchingly documents a grueling coal miners’ strike in a small Kentucky town. With unprecedented access, Kopple and her crew captured the miners’ sometimes violent struggles with strikebreakers, local police, and company thugs.
Trickery. Deceit. Magic. In F for Fake, a free-form sort-of documentary by Orson Welles, the legendary filmmaker (and self-described charlatan) gleefully reengages with the central preoccupation of his career: the tenuous lines between illusion and truth, art and lies.
This is a faithful big-screen adaptation of Richard Adams’s classic British dystopian novel about a community of rabbits under terrible threat from modern forces.
After a decade in the wilds of avant-garde and early video experimentation, Jean-Luc Godard returned to commercial cinema with this star-driven work of social commentary, while remaining defiantly intellectual and formally cutting-edge.
Orson Welles’s Mr. Arkadin (a.k.a. Confidential Report) tells the story of an elusive billionaire who hires an American smuggler to investigate his past, leading to a dizzying descent into a cold-war European landscape.
Al Reinert’s visually dazzling documentary For All Mankind is the story of the twenty-four men who traveled to the moon—told in their words, in their voices, using the images of their experiences.
In this captivating, skewed World War II drama from Nagisa Oshima, David Bowie regally embodies the character Celliers, a British officer interned by the Japanese as a POW. This was one of Oshima’s greatest successes.
Amid the decaying elegance of cold-war Vienna, psychoanalyst Dr. Alex Linden (Art Garfunkel) becomes mired in an erotically charged affair with the elusive Milena Flaherty (Theresa Russell) in Nicolas Roeg’s masterful, deeply disturbing foray into the dark world of sexual obsession.
One of the first and best-loved films of this period in his career is The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, which balances a realistic depiction of tormented romance with staging that remains true to the director’s roots in experimental theater.
In this fantastic voyage through time and space from Terry Gilliam, a boy named Kevin (Craig Warnock) escapes his gadget-obsessed parents to join a band of time-traveling dwarfs.
It Happened One Night is among the most gracefully constructed and edited films of the early sound era, packed with clever situations and gags that have entered the Hollywood comedy pantheon.
This multilayered comedy from Sydney Pollack follows the elaborate deception of a down-on-his-luck New York actor who poses as a woman to get a soap opera gig.
Seemingly off-the-cuff yet poetically constructed, these films are humane, sometimes wry, always engaging tributes to music, food, and all sorts of regionally specific delights.
Batzomon: “You know what is vanishing? My money when I jump the gun and buy a DVD that gets upgraded to Blu-ray months later!”
This smash road comedy from Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón is a funny and moving look at human desire.
Terence Stamp is Willie, a gangster’s henchman turned “supergrass” (informer) trying to live in peaceful hiding in a Spanish village. Sun-dappled bliss turns to nerve-racking suspense, however, when two hit men—played by John Hurt and Tim Roth—come a-calling to bring Willie back for execution.
A trademark Cronenberg combination of the visceral and the cerebral, this phenomenally gruesome and provocative film about the expanses and limits of the human mind was the Canadian director’s breakout hit in the United States.
Batzomon: “Yet another one I bought right before it was upgraded. Maybe I should get some sleep and clear my head...”
Kiarostami has constructed an enigmatic but crystalline investigation of affection and desire as complex as his masterful Close-up and Certified Copy in its engagement with the workings of the mercurial human heart.
The Hidden Fortress delivers Kurosawa’s trademark deft blend of wry humor, breathtaking action, and compassionate humanity.
Batzomon: “Dang, and I just bought the DVD! Well, time to double-dive with Zissou.”
Kirk Douglas gives the fiercest performance of his career as Chuck Tatum, an amoral newspaper reporter who washes up in dead-end Albuquerque, happens upon the scoop of a lifetime, and will do anything to keep getting the lurid headlines.
The ultimate Italian road comedy, Il sorpasso stars the unlikely pair of Vittorio Gassman and Jean-Louis Trintignant as, respectively, a waggish, freewheeling bachelor and the straitlaced law student he takes on a madcap trip from Rome to Tuscany.
A buried treasure from Hollywood’s golden age, Lonesome is the creation of a little-known but audacious and one-of-a-kind filmmaker, Paul Fejos (also an explorer, anthropologist, and doctor!).
Featuring a killer soundtrack and electric performances from Jeff Daniels, Melanie Griffith, and Ray Liotta, Something Wild, directed by oddball American auteur Jonathan Demme, is both a kinky comic thriller and a radiantly off-kilter love story.