Withnail and I
Heavy tweeds, craven pot smoking, paranoia, and Wellingtons, set in the mucky English countryside. It established my Anglophilia at age fifteen; I memorized Hamlet’s soliloquy by multiple rewindings of the final scene; and I still have a major crush on Paul McGann.
The Rules of the Game
Jean Renoir in a bear suit, or any equivalent thereof, is an absolute must for a good country house party.
Roy Ward Baker
A Night to Remember
Leaves James Cameron’s Titanic cold. A more sensitive version of the massive tragedy, with so many more people to become attached to and fewer bad charcoal drawings!
A bizarre love triangle of shot nerves, heavy sympathy, and bleak regrets. Katrin Cartlidge as Sophie is fearless; David Thewlis as Johnny is repulsively mesmerizing. It’s difficult to forget Mike Leigh’s characters.
I found it impossible to take my eyes off of Monica Vitti and her hair! Existentialism and bourgeois complacency aside, one of the real features is that thick blonde hair.
The scene where Paul makes a record declaring his passion for Madeline—"Paul calling Madeline!"—is the best ever version of a love letter in cinema.
Pier Paolo Pasolini
When I saw this at 17 Pasolini’s photography of Rome blasted open my ideas of Italy. I think Anna Magnani is the true face of Prada: hips, heels, laughing, crying, shouting, tragic, and terrifically beautiful.
A creepy and creeping tale of the female crush, and a study of the dependence and identity theft women can spring on each other, all rendered in a weirdly seductive pastel palette.
Not quite as good as the book, but so true to the psychological hauntings at the heart of Daphne du Maurier’s best stories. The images of Rebecca’s spooky bedroom are fabulous.
My Life as a Dog
I saw this when I was fourteen. Saga the tomboy is one of my favorite characters. Falling in love with boys while wanting to be like them is how I spent my childhood, and the 1950s sports clothes dictated what I wore for the next ten years.
Karyn Kusama’s Top 10
For her list of favorite Criterion titles, the director of Girlfight and Destroyer celebrates the Hollywood classics, cult pleasures, and art-house masterpieces that inspire her, pairing movies that resonate with each other in style and theme.