Essential viewing.

by James43

Created 02/01/13

Edit List

25 starters before the main course.

  • One must start somewhere. It's a cliché to endorse this film and deservedly so. NOT OVERRATED.

  • Arthouse cinema and masterful at that. Density and ambiguity - you have it both ways here. Film as a tool to register not only people but buildings, furniture, arbitrary things, time cristalls that reflect our life.

  • "Life is a ribbon of dreams..." It could not be more true than in this wonder of a film.

  • There must be one Melville. Don't you adore the moment in the night club near the end when Delon receives that rose from a beautiful woman? That scene must be everything cinema is about.

  • How the hell did he make these films? Cassavetes films are truly inspiring and uneasy in a positive way. "Opening Night" remains my favorite: Gena Rowlands character is so full of shortcomings but we love her without boundaries.

  • This film comes closest to a dream, ever. They should build a temple for "Vampyr" and show it all day.

  • Sublime would only touch the surface: full of ideas, pictures, feelings - a piece of art which appears to be a film.

  • Two men and a woman. And I believe there is even a gun. I saw "Rushmore" when it came out and nobody had Anderson on the map. At first, I did not really like it that much - but like Max, I had a crush on Olivia Williams and so I came back to it every once in a while. I must admit it really grew on me. Aren't we all a bit like Max Fischer?

  • It took me a while to understand what Bresson is after. I thought it had to do with myself perhaps not being spiritual or even educated enough. In "Au hasard Balthazar" it becomes clear there is neither symbolism nor false pretenses in his films. Just delicate glimpses of life, without explanation.

  • Roeg cuts through time and space like it was nothing. I wonder what Buñuel might have said about this film. Well, it lacks humor.

  • For Lubitsch, cinema works like erotism: the fun for the spectator is to complete the picture. But despite the exquisite elegance of the mise-en-scène and the delightful treatment of dialogue: Lubitsch is very sober and realistic when it comes to human folly. He never is sentimental. Among Lubitsch's many great films, Trouble in paradise is my favorite because of it's one-of-a-kind balance between the most stylish movieland abstraction and sharp contemporary oberservation.

    „And waiter?”
    „Yes Baron.”
    „You see that moon?”
    „Yes Baron.”
    „I want to see that moon in the champagne.”
    „Yes Baron: 'Moon in champagne'."

  • Frugal gazes: at a table, two bicycles, the kimono of the father. The actors of Ozus films are the things of everyday life, the characters move along as strung together but they exude a kind of warmth that touches the soul.

  • Buñuel’s biting social satire is as pertinent as ever, losing none of its edge as it portrays how quickly civilisations collapse under pressure and how we are all trapped by social convention.

  • The most poetic death in cinema. Most likely not seen on television.

  • Malick transfigures celluloid into half-conscious memories of a past life.

  • I feel this film is still somewhat underrated. A perfect example for organic cinema: torrid melodrama, dramatic love story, surreal fantasy (about the commitment of art), adaptation of diverse literature motives, showcase for Technicolor, Dance, Music? The treatment of space must have been a revelation at the time. Frank Borzage meets Jean Cocteau. Who does not want that?

  • Renoir's perennial masterpiece. The man never looses sight of his many characters who all have their reasons, as we know.

  • Exhausting and lyrical, "In Vanda's Room" is about the dispossessed and hidden inhabitants of a pre- and post-millennium society. Costa shows European collective anxiety through the stories of immigrants and survivors, while the urban landscape around them collapses.

  • "Film is like a battleground: love, hate, action, violence, death. In one word: emotion," states Samuel Fuller as himself in this signature film of the French New Wave. Godard uses images, sounds and codes not as instruments of illusion - he takes them out of coherence and throws them at you like projections, explosions, vibrations, machineries, impulses.

  • An extraordinary piece of cinema in which the tension is built up over more than three hours of its duration through the unbearable monotony and domestic repetition in the daily life of the main character, played by Delphine Seyrig. Rigorous, sparse and brutal, it teaches about the economy of means and observation.

  • Teshigahara basically shows Gaudís buildings in Catalonia: their forms, colours and inner life - traces of a genius artist whose physical legacy seems to ineract forever with the present world. Takemitsus music gives the film a kind of haunting sentiment, a feeling that such artistic genius is always possible, even amidst pervasive mediocrity. A favorite Criterion.

  • A surprisingly perfect picture about five prisoners and their escape. No psychology here.

  • Truly a film about the madness of the American Dream. And the only film whose harsh light blinded me.

  • A re-enactment of a re-enactment of a re-enactment, "Close-up" essentially destroys the very conception of a ‘documentary’ and yet is one of the best ever made.

  • Perhaps my favourite film: so down to earth and transcending at the same time - profound and effortless. I hope Criterion will revisit this one in the future.


  • By Germenis
    April 09, 2013
    03:20 PM

    Love the list. No matter what anyone says about 8 1/2, it'll always be *the* film about film.
    • By Cole Amundson
      May 06, 2013
      04:29 PM

      What have people said about 8 1/2? I know David Thompson doesn't have nice words for Fellini, but who else?
  • By Dbzmaster
    April 09, 2013
    10:14 PM

    Lol we are very similar to Max Fischer
  • By Hayden C.
    April 10, 2013
    11:01 PM

    Criterion needs to do Andrei Rublev on blu. Instant purchase.
  • By Celine-Julie
    April 11, 2013
    07:33 AM

    In response to your comment on Vampyr, which I wholeheartedly agree with, I reply that the same treatment should be given to Malick's magnificent surprisingly current "To The Wonder". If you haven't seen it, given your taste, you should definitely check it out and don't be hindered if you were turned off as many were by Tree of Life, it's an entirely different category in every aspect from all other films and I can't recommend it highly enough
    • By nolan w.
      April 24, 2013
      11:47 PM

      as a huge malick fan i had been anticipating to the wonder for many months and could not help but immediately see it despite hearing nothing but negative things from almost everywhere. it completely swept me away and i watched it another two times that week. a completely loose but wholly beautiful movie i can't see myself ever tiring of, though i know it won't be for everyone. coincidentally, i just finally ordered my copy of vampyr the other day which i cannot wait to revisit.
  • By SputnikSweetHrt
    April 13, 2013
    12:18 AM

    Excellent list. I really, really need to watch Andrei Rublev. One day. One day...
  • By MrCannon
    April 14, 2013
    02:41 AM

    Really damn good list James! Good reference of Bresson. He is void of all symbolism, it's the nature of the image itself that is so important, and sound, of course.
  • By Stroszek
    April 17, 2013
    08:59 AM

    The ending in Andrei Rublev always gets to me.
  • By San
    April 18, 2013
    02:46 AM

    For me 8 1/2 is more than just about film: It's about the creative process and the woes and struggles it contains, as well as about a number of other issues personal to Fellini but also universal; I would also add Bicycle Thieves to the list but that's just me being subjective :)
  • By Johan Sigg
    April 24, 2013
    08:56 AM

    I really like this list, especially that you put Andrei Rublev at the end; it's also perhaps my favorite film. I wish everyone would see it.
  • By D.j. West
    May 05, 2013
    02:54 PM

    The Thin Red Line?
  • By James43
    May 20, 2013
    12:12 PM

    The list is complete now, I think. 25 films, will leave it as that.
  • By Jake W.
    September 30, 2015
    11:39 PM

    Only seen Walkabout and Vampyr here. Walkabout should be double featured with the One Red Blood documentary (which is bundled in) to fully appreciate the magnitude of what it is. Vampyr is incredible. I don't think I've ever seen a movie do so much with so little. My Non criterion Essential viewing top five: Metropolis- everything about it is a spectacle A Clockwork Orange- Everything here is pretty much perfect The Shawshank Redemtion- The greatest humanist movie ever made Dawn of the Dead (78)- you would be amazed how complex and emotional a zombie movie could be Barry Lyndon- Probably the most tedious movie I've ever watched but I love every second of it, and again it's practically perfect.