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These are 12 pictures that I don't hear getting their fair share of praise, considering how truly great they are. To me, all of these films are just as important and as recommendable as any film ever made.
How did I originally come across this dreamy dozen? I did have a friend highly recommend Gomorrah, but the others were simply seen because they were part of the Criterion catalogue, and/or were made by directors I already knew of (Melville, Tarkovsky, Kurosawa, Polanski, Gosha).
So here's to start upping the conversation on these amazing, undersung films. I can tell you that in my day to day life, I prosthelytize about these films all the time.
Oh the cinematography from bow to stern! Vlacil liked to storyboard, and came up with many truly jaw-dropping shots. In fact, this film simply has it all, and is an art-house must see if ever there was one. It is widely considered the best Czechoslovakian film ever made. I'd up that to one of the finest films ever made period!
Releasing beautiful restorations of films as great as this is Criterion at it's best. The fact that it's the film's north american DVD/Blu-ray debut adds to it being a total treasure.
This is THE Kurosawa drama. Most of his other fussed about dramas (Ikiru, Ran, etc.) in my opinion, are very heavy-handed with their message, and I often find they drag in length. This is a long film, but not a single frame is superfluous. This is a top ten of all time film for me.
There are so many things one could say to praise this film. I'll simply say that it is one of the most beautifully framed films I've seen. The dream sequences are just fantastic. The way this film is greater than the sum of its extraordinary parts is proof that Tarkovsky was a master right out of the gate (as opposed to my beloved Ingmar Bergman, who took 10 films to get to the highest level of cinema). From this film, through to his fifth feature film Stalker, Tarkovsky demonstrates a level of depth and craft that in my opinion, has no peer.
Not at all a second rate Melville, but one of his best. For me it's right there with "Army of Shadows" at the very top of Melville's work. One could also ask, was there anyone as tough/cool as Ventura in his prime?
For me, this is much better than the more celebrated Spanish film 'Spirit of the Beehive' featuring the same child actor Ana Torrent. It's up there with 'The White Ribbon' and 'Forbidden Games' for having so much subtext. I don't understand why more people aren't knocked out by this deep, but also charming film. That song that the 3 sisters dance to, Porque Te Vas by Jeanette is damn awesome as well.
The first film Claude Sautet directed from start to finish. His 'first' film "Bonjour Sourire!" being the taking over another director's ailing project. This is one of the best noirs of all time. Make it a top priority.
He's been called the french John Cassavetes, and he may well be. I love Pialat's work, but I jdon't groove on most John Cassavetes films (with the exceptions of "Shadows" and "Love Streams").
There are excellent supplements on the disc, and they sing the praises of Pialat's oeuvre better than I could. I'm sad that Pialat, this incredible Director, and formidable actor at one time regarded himself as a horsefly on the tail of French cinema, which he regarded as a small industry to begin with. He did win the Palme D'Or for "Sous Le Soleil De Satan" (which I have yet to see).
I did notice this film did go from nowhere, to right into the middle of the latest top 1000 films list at theyshootpictures.com (highly recommended read BTW). That does my heart good.
This is the work of an under appreciated modern master. If you like the Dardennes brand of very real feeling films that aren't overly polished, or slick, you should see this film, and investigate Pialat's work.
This film is the best of the 8 Hideo Gosha films I've seen by a fair clip. It's a pop 'chanbara' film but it becomes quite deep towards the end. Being that my film collection skews towards serious fare, I'm always on the lookout for quality, non-intelligence insulting entertainment to broaden my viewing choices (BTW, the Zatoichi box set is lighter fare, but fits that criterion very nicely as well). This film is a perfect example of that type of picture.
An incredibly realistic crime film. I simply couldn't have liked it more. When I watched it for the second time two years later, I was surprised that I remembered every scene, almost every shot! It was that impactful on me.
Looking forward to seeing his other Grand Prix award winner "Reality".
Subversive and singular, this film is a must. I give Criterion full credit. I'd never heard of it before their release. As I understand the followup work by Belloccio was not at all well received, and hence he's not terribly well known. Belloccio has had a few recent films praised. I've seen "My Mother's Smile", and it's an interesting film, but not of the calibre of FITP.
A top notch noir that transcends the genre. There's a terrific stillness to the camera work. It's an excellent example of how good some european films are these days, and I believe shows an influence of an understated naturalism that the likes of Bresson, Pialat, Haneke, and the Dardennes do.
Probably the best psych-horror ever. I don't ever hear it talked about. What a shame. Maybe it's the fact that Polanski has so many other successful pictures that got much more exposure than Repulsion. Perhaps people think they've seen it, but are mixing it up with films of a similar name like Compulsion, or Suspicion?
I also wondered as I watched it if Cronenberg and Lynch were influenced by this picture. At times I feel it presages elements of both directors.