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A massive fib that's barely considerable as a top 10 with all these ties but I guess it's still a list of my favourites in the collection that I own.
Two of the darkest chamber pieces of the 60's New Wave. Shinoda uses a canvas of Melodrama in the former and of Noir in latter but paints with much darker, more expressionistic strokes than had been seen in either genre up until this point. Both films have incredible scores to match the glorious monochrome image and both display a striking boldness of style of a director at the top of his talents. The penultimate scenes in each film are beyond breathtaking, using music, image and editing to stop the heart beating.
Imamura created one of the greatest bodies of work from any director. His consistency of theme and quality between the late 1950's and early 00's is remarkable. Intentions of Murder is a gem from the 60's period displaying a bold, chilling, challenging and utterly subversive film deeply representative of Imamura's unique perspective of humanity, women, victim, attacker, pathos, comedy and cinema.
Maddin's masterpiece (joint with Heart of the World) and a superb set from Criterion. Maddin had been accused of failing to produce heart and soul in his otherwise visually spectacular and visionary early body of work, but in Brand Upon the Brain!, there is heart, body and soul in abundance. His "Me" Trilogy is among the most reflective, soul bearing and downright hysterical series of work in cinema.
Wilder at his most acidic. Kirk Douglas gives one of his greatest performances as the wily reporter angling for the scoop at the expense of another man's life. Beautiful cinematography, a great score and one of the finest scripts ever written. A great package too, and a very funny essay from Guy Maddin.
Not my favourite Pasolini, but certainly among his greatest works. The tracking shots with Magnani through the streets are terrific and further display Pasolini's great skill at shooting on location. Magnani steals the screen (even from Franco Citti's superb performance as a slimy pimp) as the ex-prostitute looking for regeneration and re-connection with a son once abandoned.
Sirk's most moving melodrama. Rock Hudson has never been better as the tree-surgeon who finds love with Jane Wyman's society widow, caught between Hudson's individualism and a self-centred heart of the children and society pals of whom she used to dote. Afraid to abandon the safety net of her society life for a simpler but love-filled existence with this younger man, Sirk paints heart break and wasted life in every frame. The reflection of Wyman on her new Christmas present will break hearts forever.
Max Ophuls brilliant and heart-breaking The Earrings of Madame de... is among the greatest works created for cinema. My favourite of his work along with Letter from an Unknown Woman, Madame De... is a cinematic masterpiece on just about any level. It's almost redundant to mention how jaw-dropping the camera work is in this film due to it being so widely recognised and oft bantered now for it's genius, but it really is that terrific. The acting is of the highest calibre (particularly from Danielle Darrieux and Vittorio De Sica) and Ophuls direction had never been stronger.
Two regular Halloween party pieces. Jigoku is horror of the highest calibre. Following a first two acts of ghostly, head-scratching hilarity we are plunged into Hell, and what a hell! Violent, brimstone-filled torture rooms and a world of fear and nightmares. Nakagawa has created the most lasting and lucid vision of hell to grace the screen and the brilliance of the set design, lighting and photography are in full cohesive force.
With Häxan, Benjamin Christensen has given us a vision of hell on earth. Witches with their brew, dancing demons, torture chambers and a taste of medieval fear of the unknown. The effects are still terrific, particularly the witches flying on their broomsticks and the episodic, documentary-like approach to the film only enhances the brilliance of Christensen's pioneering film making talent.
One of the funniest and sharpest (politically) of the Czech New Wave, Forman's The Firemen's Ball is low-key comedy at its finest and politically, an hysterical riot in its satire of bumbling Czech leadership. Scene after scene of mayhem and chaos make this film a crowning Jewel of the New Wave.
The most scathing of all the Czech New Wave films. A political wrecking-ball; acidic, very clever and downright cheeky. I was left gob-smacked after my first viewing. That I'm still stunned each time I watch it is testament to the power and bravery of Němec's talent.
Kaurismäki is one of cinema's great romantics, or anti-romantics - it's hard to tell. An auteur who has consistently created blossoming love and broken hearts throughout a long, steady stream of masterpiece upon masterpiece, Shadows in Paradise is Kaurismäki in full deadpan cupid mode. Matti Pellonpää and Kati Outinen are perfect as the two dead-end loveable losers who glide through a budding romance at snail's pace in economically-lost, aesthetically-drab Finland. The cinematography is glorious as is the score.
It's technically not released yet, so I'll cheekily slip this one in. The Brother's Dardenne have consistently developed upon the line between documentary and fiction. From a documentary background, the brothers moved into feature film making but kept many of their previous skills on check with a camera that's often glued behind their protagonist as he / she wonders aimlessly from situations to nothingness, shooting almost always on location and rarely breaking a shot or cutting angles. Their actors are often in existential quandaries with hostile surroundings and myopic view of escape routes. Rosetta is the quintessential Dardenne feature in this regard. Émilie Dequenne gives a stunning performance and the Dardennes keep the action to an absolute minimum but with ferocious intensity.