Alan Rudolph’s Top10
Alan Rudolph is a pioneer in the American independent film movement. He has directed nineteen narrative features and one feature-length documentary. His films have been presented in major international festivals for forty years and are noted for their fluid style, unpredictable humor, and glowing performances. His explorations of paradoxical human complexities are seen in films such as Trouble in Mind, The Secret Lives of Dentists, Afterglow, Choose Me, and his new film Ray Meets Helen.
He sent on this explanation of his list: “I consider films to be living entities. They only change by staying the same while all else redefines itself around them. Films have actively molded me to the point where there is no version of life without their influence. Lists? Ha! Today’s will be tomorrow’s yesterday’s. For pure impact, Invaders From Mars—released in 1953, when I was nine—probably left the greatest imprint on my perceptions, but it wasn’t on the list of choices. A handful of directors own the entire list by themselves. Of too many I know too little. I do know, however, that ever since I first saw these, they have been alive.”
Bergman must always be at the top for me. This particular list choice was picked by dart while blindfolded. Feel free to substitute. It is a work of art to service an entire lifespan. Mystery endures. A human life can’t. Yet somehow through the mystical forces of memory and film, it does.
La dolce vita
Again, this is one of many possible choices. But this was my first. All that we think we want, we don’t know and can’t control. The dark circus of life, the visual power. Moral force, savage indictment. Intoxicating on every level.
Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
This film will always be vital and current. It is as perceptive and chilling as any made about the conjoined twins of man and war. And the funniest.
Children of Paradise
No matter how many times I watch this film, there is always something new. When I learned it was shot during the occupation, I concluded that film is the ultimate liberator.
This must be included because it changed how we perceive film as well as human behavior. For us subjective creatures, the truth is constantly elusive.
Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday
At a film festival conference a few decades past, I was asked by a solemn journalist which French director has had the most influence on me. I expressed undying appreciation of Truffaut, Godard, Renoir, but stated that the most accurate answer was that Jacques Tati left an indelible mark when I saw this film as a boy. The French hated that answer—Tati was out of favor at the time. Funny how that works. This film remains one of the most hilarious, affectionate, politely barbed creations. For me it’s a cinematic standard for human comedy.
McCabe & Mrs. Miller
A transformative film experience. History with mystery. Beautiful, inexact, evocative, humorous, wise, wicked. A turning point in film music.
Day for Night
The most satisfying, insightful film about filmmaking by a great filmmaker.
The Spirit of the Beehive
One of the most haunting films I have ever seen. So simple and pure and quiet and dreamlike and stimulating. A fantasy that makes more sense than what passes as reality.