Love, according to this film, is close to death. Theresa Russell is raw and beautiful, and the film is full of symbols, of heartaches, of obsessions—Harvey Keitel’s, Art Garfunkel’s. Like a Schiele painting, which is high praise.
A film about pretending to be someone, so inventive that your head aches. Abbas Kiarostami is the Galileo of cinema; he rethinks it, repositions us within it.
High and Low
Akira Kurosawa is best known for Seven Samurai, but this is more fun. Hitchcockian and full of dread and gorgeous widescreen imagery.
The Insect Woman
One of the glories of Criterion is that it has so many films by Shohei Imamura. I’ve long said that this is the best film ever made. Maybe one day I’ll stop saying it, or stop believing it, but until then it will, for me, show everything—the reason for living and the reason for making movies.
I saw this when I was a teenager, and was struck by the nudity and atmosphere. Then I met Haskell Wexler and watched his film again, and realized that it is Godard in America—fragmented, passionately political, inventive, and seductive.
Ace in the Hole
My taste usually runs to loosely structured films, but this one is as taut as a drum. Kirk Douglas is as snappy as Edward G. Robinson, and the story—about the press exploiting tragedy—is Rupert Murdoch–ian. A film that seems to get younger as time goes on.
Michael Atkinson’s Top 10
Michael Atkinson writes film criticism for IFC.com, Sight & Sound, and Moving Image Source. His books include Exile Cinema: Filmmakers at Work Beyond Hollywood and the novel Hemingway Deadlights.
James Schamus’s Top 10
James Schamus is the former CEO of Focus Features; the producer of, among other films, Ride with the Devil (1999) and Brokeback Mountain (2005); the screenwriter and producer of The Ice Storm (1997); and a professor of professional practice at Columb…
Ramin Bahrani’s Top 10
Iranian-American writer and director Ramin Bahrani’s feature films include: Man Push Cart (2005), Chop Shop (2007), Goodbye Solo (2009), 99 Homes (2014), and Fahrenheit 451 (2018).