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Shooting on 16 mm for a mere $3,000, writer-producer-director Linklater and his crew of friends threw out any idea of a traditional plot, choosing instead to create a tapestry of over a hundred characters, each as compelling as the last.
America, 1976. The last day of school. Bongs blaze, bell-bottoms ring, and rock and roll rocks. Among the best teen films ever made, Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused eavesdrops on a group of seniors-to-be and incoming freshmen.
Allowing us to watch people age on film with documentary realism while gripping us in a fictional narrative of exquisite everydayness, Boyhood has a power that only the art of cinema could harness.
Based on the original play by Donald Freed and Arnold M. Stone, and starring Philip Baker Hall in a tour de force solo performance, Robert Altman’s Secret Honor is a searing interrogation of the Richard Nixon mystique and an audacious depiction of unchecked paranoia.
In 1988, renegade filmmaker Robert Altman and Pulitzer Prize–winning Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau created a presidential candidate, ran him alongside the other hopefuls during the primary season, and presented their media campaign as a cross between a soap opera and TV news.
A Hollywood studio executive with a shaky moral compass (Tim Robbins) finds himself caught up in a criminal situation that would be right at home in one of his movie projects, in this biting industry satire from Robert Altman.
With its fascinating flawed characters, evocative cinematography by the great Vilmos Zsigmond, innovative overlapping dialogue, and haunting use of Leonard Cohen songs, McCabe & Mrs. Miller brilliantly deglamorized and revitalized the most American of genres.
This cornerstone of 1970s American moviemaking from Robert Altman is a panoramic view of the country’s political and cultural landscapes, set in the nation’s music capital.
Epic in scale yet meticulously observed, Short Cuts interweaves the stories of twenty-two characters as they struggle to find solace and meaning in contemporary Los Angeles.
Ermanno Olmi’s masterful feature is the tender story of two Milanese fiancés whose strained relationship is tested when the man accepts a new job in Sicily. With the separation come loneliness, nostalgia, and, perhaps, some new perspectives that might rejuvenate their love.
Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1978, The Tree of Wooden Clogs is at once intimate in scale and epic in scope—a towering, heart-stirring work of humanist filmmaking.
When young Domenico ventures from the small village of Meda to Milan in search of employment, he finds himself on the bottom rung of the bureaucratic ladder in a huge, faceless company in Ermanno Olmi’s tender coming-of-age story.
Orson Welles’s first color film and final completed fictional feature, The Immortal Story is a moving and wistful adaptation of a tale by Isak Dinesen.
The crowning achievement of Orson Welles’s extraordinary cinematic career, Chimes at Midnight was the culmination of the filmmaker’s lifelong obsession with Shakespeare’s ultimate rapscallion, Sir John Falstaff.
Trickery. Deceit. Magic. In F for Fake, a free-form sort-of documentary by Orson Welles, the legendary filmmaker (and self-described charlatan) gleefully reengages with the central preoccupation of his career: the tenuous lines between illusion and truth, art and lies.
Orson Welles’s Mr. Arkadin (a.k.a. Confidential Report) tells the story of an elusive billionaire who hires an American smuggler to investigate his past, leading to a dizzying descent into a cold-war European landscape.
Alain Resnais’s Muriel, or The Time of Return, the director’s follow-up to Last Year at Marienbad, is as radical a reflection on the nature of time and memory as its predecessor.
Ten years after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, filmmaker Alain Resnais documented the abandoned grounds of Auschwitz and Majdanek in Night and Fog (Nuit et brouillard), one of the first cinematic reflections on the Holocaust.
A surreal fever dream, or perhaps a nightmare, Last Year at Marienbad, written by the radical master of the New Novel, Alain Robbe-Grillet, gorgeously fuses the past with the present in telling its ambiguous tale of a man and a woman who may or may not have met a year ago.
A cornerstone of the French New Wave, the first feature from Alain Resnais is one of the most influential films of all time.
Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, black-market opportunist Harry Lime—and thus begins this legendary tale of love, deception, and murder.
Taking place largely over the course of one tense night, Carol Reed’s psychological noir, set in an unnamed Belfast, stars James Mason as a revolutionary ex-con leading a robbery that goes horribly wrong.
This captivating, long-overlooked adventure—which features Paul Henreid and a clever screenplay by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat, best known for writing Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes—is a deftly concocted spy game that could give the Master of Suspense a run for his money.
Elegantly balancing suspense and farce, Carol Reed and Graham Greene’s tale of the fraught relationship between a boy and the beloved butler he suspects of murder is a delightfully macabre thriller of the first order and a visually and verbally dazzling knockout.
Krzysztof Kieślowski’s international breakthrough remains one of his most beloved films, a ravishing, mysterious rumination on identity, love, and human intuition. The Double Life of Véronique is an unforgettable symphony of feeling.
Before he stunned the cinematic world with the epic series The Decalogue and the Three Colors trilogy, the great Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski made his first work of metaphysical genius, Blind Chance.
This boldly cinematic trio of stories about love and loss from Krzysztof Kieślowski was a defining event of the art-house boom of the 1990s.
This masterwork by Krzysztof Kieślowski is one of the twentieth century’s greatest achievements in visual storytelling.
This heartrending masterpiece by Kenji Mizoguchi about the give-and-take between life and art marked the first full realization of the hypnotic long takes and eloquent camera movements that would come to define the director’s films.
This epic portrait of an inexorable fall from grace, starring the astounding Kinuyo Tanaka as an imperial lady-in-waiting who gradually descends to street prostitution, was the movie that gained the director international attention, ushering in a new golden period for him.
Under Kenji Mizoguchi’s dazzling direction, this classic Japanese story became one of cinema’s greatest masterpieces, a monumental, empathetic expression of human resilience in the face of evil.
Derived from stories by Akinari Ueda and Guy de Maupassant, Ugetsu, a ghost story like no other, is surely the Japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi’s supreme achievement and one of the most beautiful films ever made.
In these four lacerating works of social consciousness—two prewar, two postwar—Mizoguchi introduces an array of compelling female protagonists, crushed or resilient, who are forced by their conditions and culture into compromising positions.
Hiroshi Teshigahara found his spiritual partner in novelist and screenwriter Kobo Abe, with whom he collaborated on these Kafkaesque portraits of identities in peril, films that captivated mainstream audiences while also touching the edges of the Japanese avant-garde.
In this art-house sensation, an amateur entomologist has left Tokyo to study an unclassified species of beetle that resides in a remote, vast desert; when he misses his bus back to civilization, he spends the night with a young widow who lives at the bottom of a sand dune.
A unique, enthralling cinematic experience, Teshigahara’s Antonio Gaudí, less a documentary than a visual poem, takes viewers on a tour of Gaudí’s truly spectacular architecture.
Three siblings must decide what to do with the country estate and objects they’ve inherited from their mother. From this simple story, Olivier Assayas creates a nuanced, exquisitely made drama about the material of globalized modern living.
This multilayered, immensely entertaining drama from the great contemporary French director Olivier Assayas is a singular look at the intersection of high art and popular culture.
Stanley Kubrick directed a cast of screen legends—including Kirk Douglas as the indomitable gladiator that led a Roman slave revolt—in the sweeping epic that defined a genre and ushered in a new Hollywood era.
Stanley Kubrick’s painfully funny take on Cold War anxiety is one of the fiercest satires of human folly ever to come out of Hollywood.
A Poem Is a Naked Person is a work of rough beauty that serves as testament to Les Blank’s cinematic daring and Leon Russell’s immense musical talents.
Les Blank documents acclaimed German filmmaker Werner Herzog’s ambitious and troubled production of Fitzcarraldo, the story of one man’s attempt to build an opera house deep in the Amazon jungle.
Seemingly off-the-cuff yet poetically constructed, these films are humane, sometimes wry, always engaging tributes to music, food, and all sorts of regionally specific delights.
This mesmerizing debut by the great Swedish director Jan Troell is an epic bildungsroman and a multilayered representation of early twentieth-century Sweden.
Swedish master Jan Troell, director of the beloved classics The Emigrants and The New Land, returns triumphantly with Everlasting Moments, a vivid, heartrending story of a woman liberated through art at the beginning of the twentieth century.
This monumental mid-nineteenth-century epic from Jan Troell charts, over the course of two films, a Swedish farming family’s voyage to America and their efforts to put down roots in this beautiful but forbidding new world.
Director Kaneto Shindo’s documentary-like, dialogue-free portrayal of daily struggle is a work of stunning visual beauty and invention.
In this poetic and atmospheric horror fable, set in a village in war-torn medieval Japan, a malevolent spirit has been ripping out the throats of itinerant samurai. Onibaba, Kuroneko (Black Cat) is a spectacularly eerie twilight tale.
In Kaneto Shindo’s chilling folktale, a mother and her daughter-in-law eke out a desperate existence in the lonely marshes of war-torn medieval Japan. When a neighbor returns from the skirmishes, lust, jealousy, and rage—and a horrifying fate at the hands of an ominous, ill-gotten demon mask—ensue.
Electrified by crackling dialogue and visual craftsmanship of the great Howard Hawks, Only Angels Have Wings stars Jean Arthur as a traveling entertainer who gets more than she bargained for during a stopover in a South American port town.
No matter what genre he worked in, Howard Hawks played by his own rules, and never was this more evident than in his first western, the rowdy and whip-smart Red River.
In the middle of the 1970s, Wim Wenders embarked on a three-film journey that took him from the wide roads of Germany to the endless highways of the United States and back again.
Bruno Ganz is Damiel, an angel perched atop buildings high over Berlin who can hear the thoughts—fears, hopes, dreams—of all the people living below. Wings of Desire forever made the name Wim Wenders synonymous with film art.
New German Cinema pioneer Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire) brings his keen eye for landscape to the American Southwest in Paris, Texas, a profoundly moving character study written by Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Sam Shepard.
The boundless imagination and physical marvels of the work of the German modern-dance pioneer Pina Bausch leap off the screen in this exuberant tribute by Wim Wenders.
Wim Wenders pays loving homage to rough-and-tumble Hollywood film noir with The American Friend, a loose adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel Ripley’s Game.
Seconds, directed by John Frankenheimer, concerns a middle-aged banker who, dissatisfied with his suburban existence, elects to undergo a strange and elaborate procedure that will grant him a new life.
The rare film that takes aim at the frenzy of the McCarthy era while also being suffused with its Cold War paranoia, The Manchurian Candidate remains potent, shocking American moviemaking.
When a suburban teacher and father (James Mason) is prescribed cortisone for a painful, possibly fatal affliction, he grows dangerously addicted to the experimental drug. This Eisenhower-era throat-grabber, shot in expressive CinemaScope, is an excoriating take on the nuclear family.
When a gifted but washed-up screenwriter with a hair-trigger temper—Humphrey Bogart, in a revelatory, vulnerable performance—becomes the prime suspect in a brutal Tinseltown murder, the only person who can supply an alibi for him is a seductive neighbor (Gloria Grahame) with her own troubled past.