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I saw this when it was originally released in the theater, and it blew my 15-year-old mind. I'd never seen anything like it at the time, and I'm not sure I have since. One of those rare films that becomes more relevant as time goes on.
One of many films on this list that make me cry. I'm probably the least sentimental person on the planet, but this one avoids easy sentimentality and arrives at its pathos through a character study. Don't know much about Italian neorealism beyond this and Umberto D., but really, what else do you need to know?
Another weeper. I like Kurosawa's epics of feudal Japan, but this one, set in the modern day, speaks more to the essence of being human in the 20th century. Like The Wire, it's about the failure of institutions to meet people's basic needs. A great one.
The first real "independent" film I remember seeing (I checked it out because of Joe Strummer's involvement). It opened me up to different ways of pacing in film, and was the first time I remember noticing cinematography. Great performances all around, and the story is told almost as if it's a dream.
As Orson Welles famously remarked, "It could make a stone cry." You can't believe it's actually going to be taken to its logical conclusion, and then it is. One of the only times I was hoping they'd go with a Hollywood ending.
I was wary of this film at first - Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis in a '50s movie? I figured it would be fairly cheesy. Jesus, was I wrong. One of the darkest movies ever - Jim Thompson could have written the screenplay. Considered noir despite the lack of a murder mystery, and it is: One big negative view of humanity put on film.
I was 17 when this came out, so I was the target audience. Almost went with Dazed and Confused here, but this one's more in line with my sensibilities.
Great cinematography, and I had no idea at any point where the plot was going to end up, which was a good thing. The first Blu-Ray I ever bought.
The precursor to every modern suspense thriller, and better than almost all of them. Plus, being French, you get some Existential philosophy thrown in with your action. Flies by despite its length.
Tati built a friggin' city for this movie (which bankrupted him), which tells you the insane attention to detail on display. What little dialogue there is is irrelevant - it's all about the choreography and the sets. You'll ask yourself over and over "How did he do that?" And the answer will never be "Special effects". Jaw-dropping meticulousness that couldn't work in any other medium.