Josef von Sternberg
1934 • 104 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #109 Edition: DVD
Filmmaker-svengali Josef von Sternberg escalates his obsession with screen legend Marlene Dietrich in this lavish depiction of sex and deceit in the eighteenth-century Russian court, a self-proclaimed “relentless excursion into style.”
1973 • 169 minutes • 1.33:1 • Sweden
Spine: #229 Editions: DVD, Hulu Plus
Scenes from a Marriage chronicles the many years of love and turmoil that bind Marianne (Liv Ullmann) and Johan (Erland Josephson) through matrimony, infidelity, divorce, and subsequent partners.
1996 • 96 minutes • 1.85:1 • United States
Spine: #199 Editions: DVD, Hulu Plus
Fletcher Munson has a doppelgänger in dentist Dr. Jeffrey Korchek. Steven Soderbergh presents a deranged comedy of confused identity, doublespeak, and white-knuckled corporate intrigue, confirming his status as one of America’s most daring and unpredictable filmmakers.
315 minutes • 1.33:1 • France
Spine: #468 Edition: DVD
The mesmerizing, utterly unclassifiable science films of Jean Painlevé (1902-89) have to be seen to be believed: delightful, surrealist-influenced dream works that are also serious science. This anthology features twenty-three of Painlevé’s shorts.
1966 • 107 minutes • 1.75:1 • United States
Spine: #667 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray
Seconds, directed by John Frankenheimer, concerns a middle-aged banker who, dissatisfied with his suburban existence, elects to undergo a strange and elaborate procedure that will grant him a new life.
1984 • 90 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #257 Editions: DVD, Hulu Plus, iTunes
Based on the original play by Donald Freed and Arnold M. Stone, and starring Philip Baker Hall in a tour de force solo performance, Robert Altman’s Secret Honor is a searing interrogation of the Richard Nixon mystique and an audacious depiction of unchecked paranoia.
2007 • 154 minutes • 1.85:1 • France
Spine: #527 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray
The winner of four César awards, including best picture and director, Abdellatif Kechiche’s The Secret of the Grain is a stirring drama about the daily joys and struggles of a bustling French-Arab family.
2007 • 142 minutes • 2.35:1 • South Korea
Spine: #576 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray
A master of intensely emotional human dramas, director Lee Chang-dong is a luminary of contemporary Korean cinema, and his place on the international stage was cemented by this stirring and unpredictable work examining grief and deliverance.
1964 • 117 minutes • 1.85:1 • Italy
Spine: #350 Editions: DVD, Hulu Plus, iTunes
Shotgun weddings, kidnapping, attempted murder, emergency dental work—the things Don Vincenzo will do to restore his family’s honor! Pietro Germi’s Seduced and Abandoned was the follow-up to his sensation Divorce Italian Style, and in many ways it’s even more audacious.
1954 • 123 minutes • 1.33:1 • Italy
Spine: #556 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Hulu Plus
This lush, Technicolor tragic romance from Luchino Visconti stars Alida Valli as a nineteenth-century Italian countess who, during the Austrian occupation of her country, puts her marriage and political principles on the line by engaging in a torrid affair with a dashing Austrian lieutenant.
1954 • 207 minutes • 1.33:1 • Japan
Spine: #2 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Collector’s Sets, Hulu Plus, iTunes
In Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai), sixteenth-century villagers hire the eponymous warriors to protect them from invading bandits. This thrilling three-hour ride is one of the most beloved movie epics of all time.
1957 • 96 minutes • 1.33:1 • Sweden
Spine: #11 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Collector’s Sets, Hulu Plus, iTunes
Much studied, imitated, even parodied, but never outdone, Bergman’s stunning allegory of man’s search for meaning was one of the benchmark foreign imports of America’s 1950s art house heyday, pushing cinema’s boundaries and ushering in a new era of moviegoing.
1959 • 82 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #251 Editions: DVD, Collector’s Sets, iTunes
John Cassavetes’s directorial debut revolves around a romance in New York City between Lelia (Lelia Goldoni), a light- skinned black woman, and Tony (Anthony Ray), a white man.
1994 • 93 minutes • 1.85:1 • United Kingdom
Spine: #616 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray
In Shallow Grave, three self-involved Edinburgh roommates take in a brooding boarder, and when he dies of an overdose, leaving a suitcase full of money, the trio embark on a series of very bad decisions, with extraordinarily grim consequences for all.
1985 • 550 minutes • 1.33:1 • France
Spine: #663 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray
Over a decade in the making, Claude Lanzmann’s nine-hour-plus opus is a monumental investigation of the unthinkable: the murder of more than six million Jews by the Nazis.
1963 • 101 minutes • 1.75:1 • United States
Spine: #19 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Hulu Plus, iTunes
Seeking a Pulitzer Prize, reporter Johnny Barrett (Peter Breck) has himself committed to a mental hospital to investigate a murder. As he closes in on the killer, insanity closes in on him. Sam Fuller’s Shock Corridor masterfully charts the uneasy terrain between sanity and madness.
1960 • 81 minutes • 2.35:1 • France
Spine: #315 Editions: DVD, Hulu Plus, iTunes
Part thriller, part comedy, part tragedy, Shoot the Piano Player relates the adventures of mild-mannered piano player Charlie (Charles Aznavour) as he stumbles into the criminal underworld and a whirlwind love affair.
Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray
In the midsixties, the maverick American director Monte Hellman conceived of two westerns at the same time. Dreamlike and gritty by turns, these films would prove their maker’s adeptness at brilliantly deconstructing genre.
An inept Czech peasant is torn between greed and guilt when the Nazi-backed bosses of his town appoint him “Aryan controller” of an old Jewish widow’s button shop. Humor and tragedy fuse in this scathing exploration of one cowardly man’s complicity in the horrors of a totalitarian regime.
1993 • 187 minutes • 2.35:1 • United States
Spine: #265 Edition: DVD
Epic in scale yet meticulously observed, maverick director Robert Altman’s Short Cuts interweaves the lives of twenty-two characters struggling to find solace and meaning in contemporary Los Angeles.
1986 • 111 minutes • 1.75:1 • United Kingdom
Spine: #20 Edition: DVD
Director Alex Cox balances a bleak evocation of star-crossed love with surreal humor and genuine tenderness in this portrait of the brief, intense attachment of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen.
1949 • 87 minutes • 1.33:1 • France
Spine: #755 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Hulu Plus, iTunes
Jean-Pierre Melville began his superb feature filmmaking career with this powerful adaptation of an influential underground novel written during the Nazi occupation of France.
1991 • 118 minutes • 1.85:1 • United States
Spine: #13 Edition: DVD
Anthony Hopkins’s Hannibal Lecter matches wits with Jodie Foster’s heroic FBI agent Clarice Starling in Jonathan Demme’s taut psychological thriller.
1965 • 45 minutes • 1.33:1 • Mexico
Spine: #460 Editions: DVD, Hulu Plus
Simon of the Desert is Luis Buñuel’s wicked and wild take on the life of devoted ascetic Saint Simeon Stylites, who waited atop a pillar surrounded by a barren landscape for six years, six months, and six days, in order to prove his devotion to God.
Brian De Palma
1973 • 93 minutes • 1.85:1 • United States
Spine: #89 Editions: DVD, Hulu Plus, iTunes
A stylish paean to female destructiveness, De Palma’s first foray into horror voyeurism is a stunning amalgam of split-screen effects, bloody birthday cakes, and a chilling score by frequent Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Herrmann.