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Just some films that wowed me right out of the gate, shaking up my views of what great cinema can be and opening new possibilities for my viewing pleasure
Only Kurosawa could make a morality tale, a closed-room drama, a whodunnit, a social critique, and a crime thriller fit so seamlessly. Just another masterpiece from a true artist.
It's a nearly 10-hour trek through the annals of human misery, and I'd watch it all over again. Tatsuya Nakadai dominates the screen as the last good man on Earth, and every step he takes is one that I wish wasn't his last.
Kaurismaki already impressed me with Le Havre, Shadows in Paradise, and Ariel, but this film truly cemented him as a master of the dark comedy. This film said more with less dialogue than anything coming out of America, and it's truly a wonder to watch Kati Outinen inhabit that one expression with so much gravitas.
This movie defines justice so well: we are only so good when we rise above the worst. I once only knew Peter Lorre as that bug-eyed raspy man from so many old films and Bugs Bunny cartoons. Here, he is a monster to be both pitied and reviled, keeping a city in fear and anger and the audience likewise.
What does it mean to be anyone, especially someone else who is also an actor of some note? This movie answers the question in a way that leaves you wanting to slip into Spike Jonze's and Charlie Kaufman's heads...just to tap into the brilliance that they bring here. A modern-day classic in anyone's mind.
I never imagined India to be how Louis Male, and Calcutta cuts a special swath of human cloth across all castes of Indians. This film makes one consider just how big this world is and just how little we ever peer across our borders. Recommended viewing today as it should have been back then.
A real good time, man, that's what it is aaaallll about. You hang out, you drink, you smoke, and when you're done, you play this flick again. Linklater keeps the mood mellow and the 70's hits hot as the characters are cool. All right, all right, all right.
A weird, little trek through profitable murder, Bartel delivers on the title in a darkly humorous ending to what is really a sweet love story. Sure, it has prostitution involving Nazi role-playing, but when it's this funny, you can't get offended. And trust me, you don't want to be sensitive when it comes to eating Mexican food.
One of my favorite films, not only for a bevy of cute Japanese girls, but the bewildering of senses both common and profound. They don't make haunted houses like this one anymore, and if you enjoy oceans of blood, severed heads, and girl-eating pianos...that's weird. So is this movie, so see it.
It's a screw being twisted ever tighter and tighter, and eventually, the pristine ceramic breaks. This movie isn't just three and a half hours of a woman doing nothing; it's her doing everything that she has. And when she has only that, the ending makes perfect sense. This one tried my patience and rewarded it duly.
This movie also defines justice in its own way: when good men work in the system, they can get caught in the wires. Every performance here is as explosive as the next, and I am proud to own such a brilliant classic of American cinema. There's something to be said about putting your trust in twelve not-so-happy men when there's a life on the line...because maybe one of them won't just reel it in.
Chaplin did it better than anyone and did it longer as well. This silent film in the midst of talkies showed that true physical comedy would never die as long as actors could perform on screen with words or not. It's as modern then as it is now, and that's why they call Charlie Chaplin the Comedy Man...because that is what he am.
The Who has made every generation feel like the one to shake the world to its core, and this movie is a visual embodiment of that cultural earthquake. The mod scene was before my time, but this film stands for all time as youth rebellion writ heavy and smashing. Speaking of which, that scooter is boss mod all the way down to the rocky shore.
I saw this film three years ago, and I still remember every frame. The archival footage is a testament to a period in human history where monsters lived and killed innocent people, and we can never forget lest we relive it. But what really stays in my mind are the quiet scenes of those camps, lost of their tragedy and returned to a simpler innocence that casts a slight fog over that endless night.
My first experience with Hugo's masterpiece was in this five-hour epic, and I'm not sure anything else can top it. From the humanity of Valjean to the judicial maliciousness of Javert, there's a lot to love about this movie and all its characters blonde and small. The French Revolution was a cry for human freedom, and this film calls for the same.
My mother was a coal miner, so maybe I connect to this film even more than just for the simple dignity of hard-working folks in the hidden valleys of our nation. To think that this kind of corporate bullying has gone on since the 19th century until today makes this movie stand out as film's importance in social consciousness. Plus, the tunes ain't half-bad.
The kapo is a rarely seen figure in Holocaust films, but this film expresses precisely the nature of such a position with exquisite aplomb. Susan Strasberg's transformation from orphaned Jew posing as a criminal to a ruthless enforcer for Nazis is spell-binding, and she never loses her beauty or conviction to the role. The ending fits the grim reality of a concentration camp and the evil that poisoned all who lived within it.
It's a tiny film that travels a great distance. Great for kids, great for adults, and great for Canadian woodwork enthusiasts. Other people will also enjoy it, probably.
The power of story-telling doesn't get more eviscerating than Rashomon. This film skewers you and leaves you dazed with the emotions of fear and love and hatred it exhibits. Don't let anyone tell you differently.
Fuller came onto the film scene with a complete vision of straight-forward and brilliant American cinema. Jesse James and Robert Ford are in this movie equally, one as a grim spectre of cowardice over the other. It makes you question the bonds of loyalty and the consequences of betrayal.
Louis Malle made every kind of film, it seems, and this is his cartoon movie. I've never seen so many different jokes thrown at the screen all around just a typically manic day in Paris. The girl who plays Zazie is as infectiously cute as the rest of the film, and all the actors just gravitate towards that attitude as does the viewer.
Kiarostami does so much with so little, and Taste of Cherry is a tale of suicide stripped of all melodrama. The beautiful cinematography complements the enclosed spaces around the main character. Really, what this film doesn't say speaks to a master of cinema letting the cineaste read the story rather than just telling it.
Jean Vigo did things with film that I wish directors twice his age could even dare. L'Atalante is a mature work with a sense of realistic whimsy that makes even a river barge seem like a slice of paradise. Vigo died too young, but this masterpiece will never get old.
The original monster film and the beginning of the saga remains an emotionally mature work of art. Godzilla isn't even in that many scenes, but his grand centerpiece rocks the celluloid and cements his status as a force of pop culture. But don't give the human actors short shrift, because this is a haunting parable and a human drama on top of a classic sci-fi treat.
This film is what faith is all about: forgiveness, gratitude, and belief in the goodness of human beings. Dreyer lets the heartache go long enough that the ending will move you no matter how you believe it. Just for the cinematography alone, this film rightly deserves its place as one of the greatest of all time.
Speaking of faith, there's a lot to be given even outside of religion and just in your fellow man. Mifune and Shimura complement each other so well that the rest of the characters orbit around that presence of self. The ending is both bittersweet and sweetly uplifting, a true paean to Kurosawa's skill as an artist.
And of course, we cannot discuss faith without this film, the one that screams with passion in its silence. Joan's pain can be felt at every edge of the frame, her eyes lost to rooms devoid of shape and form. Dreyer devastates as he eviscerates the humans who proclaim for God as they condemn in His name.
It's an epic on the smallest scale, a family living their lives as we are privy to their private moments. The cultural barriers one may feel are never hidden and never obscure what makes Yi Yi accessible to anyone. Plus, it's just darn beautiful to watch.
It makes you feel great, and it doesn't have to pull you along on the ride. One look at the effortlessly effervescent lead actress, and you'd follow her all the way to California and beyond. The 90's were made richer for this piece of art that doesn't do more than be honest to whimsy.
And while we're at it, Kar-wai's film has definitely earned a spot as one of the greatest ever. It's devastating in that way every person can feel: the need for a personal truth when lies face you. If you're in the mood for a bittersweet song of two human hearts, you're gonna love this film.
If you want a film that makes you cry and cheer for the good in humanity, watch this film. I've never felt so good after a 3-hour film, and along with Ikiru, Kurosawa can change your life for the better. It's sad to think that Mifune and Kurosawa tore themselves apart over this film, but I can't think of a better one to end such a legendary collaboration.
From the very start, there is doom at every inch in this movie. It's one of those horror stories that can make you feel uneasy without even a monster or serial killer lurking in the shadows; that's just good old-fashioned human greed and sin. When the film goes to Hell, you're practically prepared for the torments to follow...and yet not prepared enough.
Before "In the Mood for Love", another film brilliantly showed the strains of the heart playing fidelity's melancholy tune. David Lean may be known for his colorful epics, but this short gem still makes me wistful for true love denied. The ending will make you cry, make you sigh, make you live instead of die.
This masterpiece can't really be called a "movie" for two reasons. First, it doesn't have but one moving image, the most significant movement in any film ever. Second, it doesn't deserve any descriptor less than "masterpiece".
Great to see Nolan in the collection, especially with his debut. From the very start, he shows that he can engage an audience while pulling the narrative rug from their collective feet. Keep your eye out for a Batman sticker on a door, that is if you're not having trouble following.
Wenders wowed me again with this modern-day Texas tragedy. The climax is so understated yet so powerful in just words and reactions. With this, "Alice in the Cities", and "Pina", Wenders is becoming one of my favorite directors.
Is Criterion ready to release this final gem by a master of cinema on its own Blu-ray? Not yet! So get to it, because this is a film to treasure.
A stunning performance makes a stunning movie that poses questions which cannot be answered. Shook me to the core, but I will always come back to it. That's not a lie.