Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin
Chronicle of a Summer
Two crossroads films about human nature and the nature of truth. Viewed from a certain angle, they seem to hold all the possibilities—even as they acknowledge all the limits—of cinema.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Maximalists of affect, Cassavetes and Anderson are always asking versions of the same question: How much emotion can a movie contain? Or maybe: How many emotions? These two films run the gamut, moving in surges of joy and sorrow, erasing the line between tragedy and comedy.
A Hollis Frampton Odyssey
News from Home
Frampton’s structural riddle (nostalgia) and Akerman’s city symphony News From Home are brilliant experiments in self-portraiture and sound-image relationships that both derive their power from paradox. His film enacts a tug of war between memory and anticipation; hers conjures an indelible sense of both place and displacement.
The Exterminating Angel
Dramas of entrapment and enervation—sly, haunting, eternally strange—from two of the most singular and most class-conscious directors the cinema has seen.
Death by Hanging
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Oshima is often likened to Godard, but I think the true kindred spirit is Fassbinder—for the restless intellect and furious productivity, and the rage, wit, and lucidity with which they probed their respective national psyches. These are also two of the most devastating films ever made about racism.
Bigger Than Life
The defining patriarchs of American cinema—as embodied by James Mason and Dennis Hopper in these towering performances—are, fittingly, also the most monstrous.
Enigmatic portraits of anomic drift and modern soul-sickness that are also crystalline dissections of their moments (postwar industrialization, the AIDS era), featuring two master classes in screen acting by Monica Vitti and Julianne Moore.
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Two Takes by William Greaves
Self-reflexive absurdist psychodramas, overflowing with big ideas and confrontational energy. The failings of independent American cinema, embattled from the start and struggling to remain relevant, are too numerous to list. But one thing it could use is more films like these.
Richard Hell’s Top 10
Richard Hell was a founding member of the early CBGB bands Television, the Heartbreakers, and Richard Hell & the Voidoids. His Voidoids album Blank Generation (Sire, 1977) is generally acknowledged as seminal to “punk.”