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French director Jacques Demy didn’t just make movies—he created an entire cinematic world. Demy launched his glorious feature filmmaking career in the sixties, a decade of astonishing invention in his national cinema.
A poet dreams of three women—a mechanical performing doll, a bejeweled siren, and the consumptive daughter of a famous composer—all of whom break his heart in different ways. Powell and Pressburger create a phantasmagoric marriage of cinema and opera in this one-of-a-kind classic.
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.
Often called the Godard of the East, Japanese director Nagisa Oshima was one of the most provocative film artists of the twentieth century, and his works challenged and shocked the cinematic world for decades.
The ultimate Italian road comedy, Il sorpasso stars the unlikely pair of Vittorio Gassman and Jean-Louis Trintignant as, respectively, a waggish, freewheeling bachelor and the straitlaced law student he takes on a madcap trip from Rome to Tuscany.
Jean Renoir’s ruthless love triangle tale, his second sound film, is a true precursor to his brilliantly bitter The Rules of the Game, displaying all of the filmmaker’s visual genius and fully imbued with his profound sense of humanity.
Aleksi: “A masterpiece. The quintessential black comedy. A brilliant political satire. A masterpiece.”
Blacklisted for his daring “anti-French” masterpiece Le corbeau, Henri-Georges Clouzot returned to cinema four years later with the 1947 crime-fiction adaptation Quai des Orfèvres, set within the vibrant dance halls and crime corridors of 1940s Paris.
Aleksi: “I look forward to the (hopeful) return of this film...”
Made up of intimate, revelatory footage of the singular author and poet filmed over the course of five years, Howard Brookner’s 1983 documentary about William S. Burroughs was for decades mainly the stuff of legend.
An ever-shifting battle of the sexes set on a Buenos Aires casino’s glittering floor and in its shadowy back rooms, Gilda is among the most sensual of all Hollywood noirs.
Giulietta Masina plays a betrayed wife whose inability to come to terms with reality leads her along a hallucinatory journey of self-discovery in Fellini’s first color feature, a kaleidoscope of dreams, spirits, and memories.
David Lynch’s seductive and scary vision of Los Angeles’s dream factory is one of the true masterpieces of the new millennium, a tale of love, jealousy, and revenge like no other.
After more than a decade of sober political dramas and socially minded period pieces, the great Japanese director Masaki Kobayashi shifted gears dramatically for this rapturously stylized quartet of ghost stories.
The master of the political thriller, Costa-Gavras became an instant phenomenon after the mammoth success of Z, and he quickly followed it with the equally riveting The Confession.
Suffused with both enchantment and melancholy, this autobiographical film takes on the perspective of a quiet, lonely boy growing up in Liverpool in the 1950s.
A cornerstone of the French New Wave, the first feature from Alain Resnais is one of the most influential films of all time.
Make Way for Tomorrow, by Leo McCarey, is one of the great unsung Hollywood masterpieces, an enormously moving Depression-era depiction of the frustrations of family, aging, and the generation gap.
These elegant, bawdy films, made before strict enforcement of the Hays morality code, feature some of the greatest stars of early Hollywood, as well as that elusive style of comedy that would thereafter be known as “the Lubitsch touch.”
A girl on the verge of womanhood finds herself in a sensual fantasyland of vampires, witchcraft, and other threats in this eerie and mystical movie daydream.
Truffaut made The Soft Skin at a time when he was immersing himself in the work of Alfred Hitchcock, and that master’s influence can be felt throughout this complex, insightful, and underseen French New Wave treasure.
One of the first and best-loved films of this period in his career is The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, which balances a realistic depiction of tormented romance with staging that remains true to the director’s roots in experimental theater.
After a decade in the wilds of avant-garde and early video experimentation, Jean-Luc Godard returned to commercial cinema with this star-driven work of social commentary, while remaining defiantly intellectual and formally cutting-edge.
This is a faithful big-screen adaptation of Richard Adams’s classic British dystopian novel about a community of rabbits under terrible threat from modern forces.
A mix of the witty and the utterly absurd, The Palm Beach Story is a high watermark of Sturges’s brand of physical comedy and verbal repartee, featuring sparkling performances.
These haywire hits about splintered love affairs and broken homes, all starring mustachioed matinee idol Amedeo Nazzari and icon of feminine purity Yvonne Sanson, luxuriate in delirious plot twists and overheated religious symbolism.
In René Clair’s irrepressibly romantic portrait of the crowded tenements of Paris, a street singer and a gangster vie for the love of a beautiful young woman. An international sensation upon its release, Under the Roofs of Paris is an exhilarating celebration of filmmaking.
With a background in music hall and mime performance, Tati steadily built an ever-more-ambitious movie career that ultimately raised sight-gag comedy to the level of high art.
The biggest hit from the most popular Italian filmmaker of all time, La dolce vita rocketed Federico Fellini to international mainstream success—ironically, by offering a damning critique of the culture of stardom.
This genuinely frightening, exquisitely made supernatural gothic stars Deborah Kerr as an emotionally fragile governess who comes to suspect that there is something very, very wrong with her precocious new charges.
This trio of rousing action epics reveals a deeply unsettling portrait of the Soviet Union under Stalin, and provided battle-scene blueprints for filmmaking giants from Laurence Olivier in Henry V to Akira Kurosawa in Seven Samurai.
Set during Scotland’s national garbage strike of the mid-1970s, Lynne Ramsay’s Ratcatcher explores the experiences of a poor adolescent boy as he struggles to reconcile his dreams and his guilt with the abjection that surrounds him.
This evocative period piece, faithfully adapted from the A. E. Hotchner memoir, is among the versatile Soderbergh’s most touching and surprising films.
Featuring sensuous cinematography, a lush score, and an award-winning central performance by the great Toni Servillo, this transporting experience by the brilliant Italian director Paolo Sorrentino is a breathtaking Felliniesque tale of decadence and lost love.
Though little known outside of France, Jean Grémillon was a consummate filmmaker from his country’s golden age.
Pépé le moko is a wanted man: women long for him, rivals hope to destroy him, and the law is breathing down his neck at every turn. On the lam, Pépé is safe from the clutches of the police, until a Parisian playgirl compels him to risk his life. Pépé le moko is a landmark of poetic realism.
Before he left his mark on cinema forever with the revolutionary The Battle of Algiers, Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo directed this uncompromising World War II drama about a young Jewish woman (Susan Strasberg) in a Nazi concentration camp.
The provocative Italian filmmaker Elio Petri’s most internationally acclaimed work is this Kafkaesque tale of a Roman police inspector (a commanding Gian Maria Volonté) investigating a heinous crime—which he himself committed.
Director Alex Cox balances a bleak evocation of star-crossed love with surreal humor and genuine tenderness in this portrait of the brief, intense attachment of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen.
A landmark collaboration between writer H. G. Wells, producer Alexander Korda, and designer and director William Cameron Menzies, Things to Come is a science fiction film like no other, a prescient political work that predicts a century of turmoil and progress.
Based on the classic Emile Zola novel, Jean Renoir’s La bête humaine, a suspenseful journey into the tormented psyche of a workingman, was one of the director’s greatest popular successes—and earned star Jean Gabin a permanent place in the hearts of his countrymen.
Considered one of the greatest films ever made, The Rules of the Game (La règle du jeu), by Jean Renoir, is a scathing critique of corrupt French society cloaked in a comedy of manners.
This selection of Rossellini’s history films presents Blaise Pascal, the three-part The Age of the Medici, and Cartesius—works that don’t just enliven the past but illuminate the ideas that brought us to where we are today.
Dazzlingly acted by Alan Bates, Maggie Smith, Anthony Higgins, and Isabelle Adjani, Quartet is the story of a girl who, adrift with her feckless husband amidst the literati of glittering Paris in the 1920s, becomes entrapped by a rich and sybaritic English couple.
Set in the impoverished back alleys of Victorian London, The Threepenny Opera follows underworld antihero Mackie Messer (a.k.a. Mack the Knife) as he tries to woo Polly Peachum and elude the authorities. Set to Kurt Weill’s irresistible score, this film remains a benchmark of early sound cinema.
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.
Koreyoshi Kurahara’s free-form approach to moviemaking was perfectly suited to the radical spirit of the 1960s, when he was one of the biggest hit makers working at the razzle-dazzle, youth-oriented Nikkatsu studios.
Alfonso Cuarón made his mark on Mexican cinema with the lightning-quick Sólo con tu pareja. Don Juan–ish yuppie Tomás Tomás spends his nights juggling so many beautiful women that he can’t keep their names straight—until a spurned nurse gives him a taste of his own medicine.
In the 1940s, the wit of playwright Noël Coward and the craft of filmmaker David Lean melded harmoniously in one of cinema’s greatest writer-director collaborations.
One of the great translations of literature into film, David Lean’s Great Expectations brings Charles Dickens’s masterpiece to robust on-screen life.
Merchant Ivory’s The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, based on the novella by Carson McCullers and the play by Edward Albee, is both a grotesque black comedy and a prime slice of Southern Gothic set in a poverty-stricken rural community dominated by the curious, androgynous Miss Amelia.
Considered by many to be the finest British film ever made, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, is a stirring masterpiece like no other.
In these three films, something like social-realist farces, Kaurismäki surveys the working-class outcasts of his native Finland with detached yet disarming amusement.
A twisted treasure from Hollywood’s pre-Code horror heyday, Island of Lost Souls is
a cautionary tale of science run amok, adapted from H. G. Wells’s novel The Island of Dr. Moreau.
In one of the best performances of his legendary career, Robert Mitchum plays small-time gunrunner Eddie “Fingers” Coyle in an adaptation by Peter Yates of George V. Higgins’s acclaimed novel The Friends of Eddie Coyle.
Masaki Kobayashi’s mammoth humanist drama is one of the most staggering achievements of Japanese cinema. A raw indictment of its nation’s wartime mentality as well as a personal existential tragedy, Kobayashi’s riveting, gorgeously filmed epic is novelistic cinema at its best.
Catherine Deneuve’s porcelain perfection hides a cracked interior in one of the actress’s most iconic roles: Séverine, a Paris housewife who begins secretly spending her afternoon hours working in a bordello.
The debut feature by the great Andrei Tarkovsky, Ivan’s Childhood is a poetic journey through the shards and shadows of one boy’s war-ravaged youth.
Astonishingly photographed, and featuring unforgettable, cascading scores by Philip Glass, these are immersive sensory experiences that meditate on the havoc humankind’s obsession with technological advancement has wreaked on our world.
Aleksi: “This gets better with each viewing -- always the sign of an enduring classic.”