As someone who has seen every single Tarkovsky film, I can safely say this is his masterpiece. While I never tire of any of his work, Stalker is impossible to overwatch. The images and atmosphere are so intoxicating and enigmatic, it feels like entering a dream.
The Teshigahara box set is so invaluable to my collection. Those three films have taught me so much about the power of collaboration. In tandem with Kobo Abe, Toru Takemitsu, and Toshi Ichiyanagi, Teshigahara was able to manifest three very disparate yet cohesive worlds. I was most surprised by Pitfall, which I find to be more overlooked than the other two films (Woman in the Dunes and The Face of Another). The existential desolation of this film is all-consuming.
Not only is Kuroneko such a stunning-looking film, with a hypnagogic feel, the rape-revenge theme is strangely empowering. So many images from Kuroneko stick with me and have inserted themselves into my work.
Letter Never Sent
One of the most flawless films about the collision of man and nature. In man’s hunt to exploit the natural beauties of the wilderness, there is a price. And man will always have to pay.
Pure Soviet existential gloom. The last scene had me sobbing. Not usually a fan of war movies, but The Ascent is so much more than that. Directed by a badass Ukrainian woman named Larisa Shepitko, and scored by the one and only Alfred Schnittke. Can’t go wrong.
Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, and Benoit Poelvoorde
Man Bites Dog
The reality TV–esque approach of this movie is so prescient. In recent times we have seen so many people use the media to glorify violence and murder. This movie feels like black comedy, but really it’s a deep commentary about the sensationalism of evil.
Hands down the most important movie to have ever come into my life. This was the gateway to discovering a whole new world of art and cinema. I’ll never forget the first time I watched this movie as a teenager, on a Korean bootleg. It felt like watching something I wasn’t supposed to see. Imbued with a voyeuristic curiosity and nightmarish perversion. It changed me, and what I expect out of art.
Such a surreal, bizarre, yet deeply emotional film. It’s hard to convey complex emotions within the framework of fantastical imagery, but Jigoku hits the sweet spot.
While writing my new record Okovi, I had Kwaidan on repeat in a dark room. The screen was my only source of light, and I felt it infected my writing insidiously.
Johnnie To’s Top 10
Prolific Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To has directed more than forty films, including Election, Exiled, and Mad Detective. His latest, Vengeance, is currently in some North American theaters, from IFC Films.