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  Ain't Nobody's Blues But My Own  
 
Flying in the face of consensus -- A selection of 250 mostly obscure,
mostly overlooked, and/or mostly unloved films.
 
     
     
  Introduction  
  by Bill Georgaris  
 
  At Long Last Love (1975) by Peter Bogdanovich  
 
 
February 29, 2012... Update... This is the first major update of the Ain't Nobody's Blues But My Own collection of 250 mostly unloved films (first published in 2010). Twenty-six  films have come and gone. The new entrants are clearly marked below and have replaced the following films (that have now garnered a little too much acclaim): Alien³ (1992), The Awful Dr. Orlof (1961), The Bounty (1984), The Boys from Fengkuei (1983), Bright Future (2003), The Brothers Karamasov (1958), Cabeza  de Vaca (1991), Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960), Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1963), Daughter Rite (1978), Don Giovanni (1979), Enamorada (1946), The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (1958), Go West (1925), Good Morning, Babylon (1987), Handsworth Songs (1986), Jungle Fever (1991), Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966), The Mass is Over (1985), Montenegro (1981), Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind (1984), Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962), Suzaki Paradise: Akashingo (1956), Tarang (1984), The Unknown Soldier's Patent Leather Shoes (1979), and Without Anesthesia (1978).
 

For the most part, TSPDT’s 1,000 Greatest Films project has garnered a generally positive reaction amongst the net’s film-list lovers. It seems to be reasonably well-liked. However, after the update of the list in January 2010 many began to question that the list was becoming a little tired and predictable. There was a whiff of discontent in the air. The punters began to argue that the list was starting to swell with films that were too well-known (Saving Private Ryan, The Blues Brothers, etc) and/or too popular for their liking (The Dark Knight, Robocop, etc). Many of the ‘smaller’ films (My Love Has Been Burning, Blast of Silence, Mother India, etc) had fallen off the list, replaced by films that have for one reason or another connected more favourably (usually due to greater consumer exposure) with critics and filmmakers. The question beginning to arise was, “Is too much consensus a bad thing?” To poach from a post I made on Shooting Down Pictures (in response to the 2010 1,000 Greatest Films listing), "I can only agree that the 1,000 list seems to be becoming more mainstream with each passing edition. The more consensus included, the more middle-ground seems to be reached."

So then, does the middle-ground suck? Is too much consensus really a bad thing? Well, I guess it can be. But, with respects to the 1,000 Greatest Films listing, my answer is a reasonably emphatic no. The TSPDT 1,000 Greatest Films listing is what it is. It is a consensus list based on over 3,000 critic and filmmaker lists, and it will remain so. So this left the question, what about those films that receive a little bit of love, but not very much? Shouldn’t these films be championed as much as those that have already been championed by TSPDT and by many other institutions, websites and publications? The answer, this time, was a resounding yes, of course they should be.

So we thought, let’s do it. Let’s make up a subsidiary list of films that didn’t quite make the 1,000 Greatest listing. This would complement the TSPDT 1,000 nicely. But then we thought, well actually, that’s not going far enough. Many of the films we had in mind are on the cusp of the 1,000 and are (for the most part) pretty well-known films, and pretty well-regarded anyway. Films that closely match the DNA of many films within the 1,000. So screw that idea.

Then the answer suddenly became clear, and our indecisiveness ground to a halt. We decided that we needed to dig deeper and shovel out films that barely get a mention in list circles. Films that have vanished from our minds (or never entered our minds to begin with). Films that, frankly-speaking, may be awful or may deservedly be unloved. Films that have for some reason connected with at least one person who was asked to contribute or voluntarily contributed his or her list of favourite films. So we dived into our database and extracted all the films that have only ever been cited once, and once only (amongst the 3,000-plus lists we have compiled). Then we reduced this initial list of films from over 1,000 to 250 using a fairly random process and bingo, Ain’t Nobody’s Blues But My Own was born (or, should we say, re-born*). The only rule we set was strictly one choice per critic/filmmaker. Therefore, this list contains 250 films as chosen by 250 critics/filmmakers.

 

Some critics/filmmakers whose unique choices we've used include Tim Burton, Miranda July, Mike Leigh, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Fred Camper, Nancy Savoca, Alexander Payne, D.A. Pennebaker, James Quandt, Charles Burnett, Terry Jones, Pierre Rissient, Jean-Louis Leutrat, Adrian Martin, Julian Graffy and Andy Medhurst.

In summary, Ain’t Nobody’s Blues But My Own is a listing of 250 films that have only ever featured once on any critic’s or filmmaker’s list of favourites (that we have compiled to date). Please keep in my mind that these films (many of which we haven't seen) are not recommended by TSPDT. We are not endeavouring to 'sell' you these films. We are merely bringing them to your attention.

This is an extremely eclectic group of 250 films. They genuinely veer all over the place, touching base with countless film genres, styles and techniques. From Stan Brakhage to Barbra Streisand - diversity reigns supreme at this web address. Though not planned, over half the list comprises films from the 60s, 70s and 80s. A fertile period for hard-to-define cinema and much of it is represented here. A word of warning though, some of the films listed are, well to put it kindly, interesting. Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam anyone?

However, if you are keen to take an odd journey through cinema's forgotten/underappreciated history then this list may be for you. Sadly, TSPDT acknowledges that many of the titles are not currently available on DVD and therefore may be hard to track down.

We intend to update this list on an annual basis, probably each February or thereabouts. Films currently on  the list that are cited on any future lists we compile between now and next year’s update will be removed, and replaced by other once-cited films.

Please note that although our selection process may be somewhat unique, we are by no means breaking any new ground here. Iain Stott at his One-Line Review website has devoted much time to championing lesser known films. The polls he has conducted (The Obscure, the Forgotten, and the Unloved and Beyond the Canon) have become essential reading. And, of course, there have been many other lists and publications highlighting obscure films, cult films, B-films, etc. Far too many to mention here.

Most of the quotes included (for each film entry) were sourced from Chicago Reader, Time Out and Allmovie. These invaluable resources are highly recommended for your ongoing research and  reference.

We hope you enjoy Ain’t Nobody’s Blues But My Own and please send your thoughts to: bill@theyshootpictures.com.

*Some of you may remember that we had a smaller list of obscure films on TSPDT a few years ago also entitled "Ain’t Nobody’s Blues But My Own." This new listing, though similar in concept, is not related to that one. However, we liked the name and therefore decided to re-adopt it.

A spreadsheet listing of all 250 films can be downloaded from here (Microsoft EXCEL format).

 


 
 
         
         
À Flor do Mar
João César Monteiro
Hovering Over the Water (English title)
Chosen by Eric Thouvenel (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1986 | 143m | Col | Portugal
"By the standards of his more subversive work, João César Monteiro’s  Hovering Over the Water is a placid affair... This is the cinema of underreaction—long and tolerant takes, with the camera happy to stay still and watch as a fish is sliced and served or a bedtime story is told. The characters borrow that serenity, barely flinching when a gang of armed men breaks in. The downside of this rigor is the performance of Philip Spinelli, who could easily have been replaced by a piece of driftwood; the upside is the devotional stillness of Monteiro’s compositions, pricked by the epigrammatic oddity of his dialogue." - Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Harvard Film Archive
 
Alambrista!
Robert M. Young
Chosen by Montxo Armendariz (Fotogramas, 2006)
1977 | 110m | Col | USA
"Young's first feature. Functioning here as writer, director and cameraman, he spent over a year living among Mexican wet-backs in the US Southwest to discover what it actually feels like working illegally, and in voluntary exile, for a society barely conscious of your existence, far less your rights. His discoveries, though nothing new, remain disturbing... Yet for all his righteous indignation, Alambrista! fails to ignite. The fictional characters through whom he dramatises his observations appear too stereotyped, caught in as many clichés as the film is trying to fight." - Jan Dawson, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The New York Times
 
Alexander the Great
Theo Angelopoulos
O Megalexandros (original title)
Chosen by Eric Derobert (Positif, 1991)
1980 | 235m | Col | Greece-Italy
"A tale of socialism first deformed and then destroyed by an authoritarian leader, set in Greece a few years after the Paris Commune. Its Alexander is a bandit who became a popular folk hero. Following his escape from prison, he kidnaps some English aristocrats and demands as ransom that the rich local landowners hand over their property to the peasants... A relentless demonstration of stylistic brilliance, it leaves one wondering why the parable is not more challenging and its point less predictable." - Simon Hartog, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Theo Angelopoulos Official Website
         
Allonsanfan
Paolo Taviani & Vittorio Taviani
Chosen by Gerard Corbiau (ymdb.com, 2002)
1973 | 115m | Col | Italy
"A film with an even greater thrust of excitement than the Tavianis' subsequent Padre Padrone. Mastroianni, at his most convincingly dissolute, plays a spineless aristocrat who wanders through Italy in 1816 trying to rub out his past association with a radical group, without daring to tell them he's lost their faith in Napoleonic revolution. The tangled and sumptuously melodramatic plot allows the Tavianis to lay into left-wing idealism and gullibility without departing from their own commitment for a second. Ennio Morricone's score tops a rousing and passionate entertainment." - Tony Rayns, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Cinepassion
 
The American Soldier
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Der Amerikanische Soldat (original title)
Chosen by Andy Medhurst (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1970 | 80m | BW | West Germany
"This is Fassbinder before he froze up as a Douglas Sirk impersonator: a real punk movie, full of wonderfully half-baked ideas." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"Fassbinder's American soldier is actually a German, who comes home to roost as a hired killer in the Munich underworld... This film marks a decisive step towards 'real' Fassbinder: the absurdity of its world of second-hand experience invests every cliché with a meaning it never had before." - Tony Rayns, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The New York Times
 
Amor
Robert Beavers
Chosen by Nathan Lee (Senses of Cinema, 2006)
1980 | 15m | Col | USA
"Amor is an exquisite lyric, shot in Rome and at the natural theatre of Salzburg. The recurring sounds of cutting cloth, hands clapping, hammering, and tapping underline the associations of the montage of short camera movements, which bring together the making of a suit, the restoration of a building, and details of a figure, presumably Beavers himself, standing in the natural theatre in a new suit, making a series of hand movements and gestures. A handsomely designed Italian banknote suggests the aesthetic economy of the film: the tailoring trimming, and chiselling point to the editing of the film itself." - P. Adams Sitney, Film Comment
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  New York Press
         
Angry Harvest
Agnieszka Holland
Bittere Ernte (original title)
Chosen by Vivian Kleiman (PopcornQ, 1997)
1985 | 102m | Col | West Germany
"Working in Germany, Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa) has fashioned a strong psychological drama about a shy Polish peasant who saves a middle-class Jewish woman from the Nazis by hiding her in his cellar... Well constructed and superbly performed by two Fassbinder veterans, Armin Mueller-Stahl and Elisabeth Trissenaar, this 1985 film falters slightly by insisting too much on the metaphorical significance of the material, which lessens the impact of the unfolding, immediate drama." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)
 
Anna and the Wolves
Carlos Saura
Ana y los lobos (original title)
Chosen by Heinz Niemann (John Kobal Poll, 1988)
1973 | 102m | Col | Spain
"This Spanish drama verges on parody as it explores the convoluted, repressed personalities of a family dominated by a powerful mother. The mother's frustrations have warped the men. The three men's foibles are revealed during the visit of a young English woman. Director Saura has used intensified, heightened symbolism to tell this story in the somewhat surreal manner of his better-known film Garden of Delights." - Clarke Fountain, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Wikipedia
 
Anne Trister
Léa Pool
Chosen by Susana Blaustein Munoz  (PopcornQ, 1997)
1986 | 115m | Col | Canada
"Melancholy, well-observed chronicle of a painter's self-discovery. After the death of her father, Guilhe gives up art studies in her native Switzerland and moves to Quebec, sharing an apartment with child psychologist friend Marleau, but spending much time in a nearby studio confronting her emotional upheavals through work on a huge mural. Pool's understated style captures the artistic process on the wing and isn't too heavy-handed in detailing Guilhe's growing feelings for her expat host. An impressive achievement on a minor scale." - Trevor Johnston, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The Film Reference Library
         
Anticipation of the Night
Stan Brakhage
Chosen by Patrick Keiller (Time Out, 1995)
1958 | 42m | Col | USA
"A landmark in the career of experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage, this 1958 silent film establishes the principle of organizing images through rhythm rather than narrative or mood, an idea that's served him well over the subsequent decades. Yet the formal innovation is balanced by real emotion: crushingly bleak, the film chronicles the failed attempts of a cameraman (Brakhage), who appears as a shadow in some frames, to enter the landscapes before him or join children at play." - Fred Camper, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Film Reference
 
Anzukko
Mikio Naruse
Little Peach (English title)
Chosen by Kent Jones (Steadycam, 2007)
1958 | 110m | BW | Japan
"Director Mikio Naruse has admitted to going through a dark period as a younger man and his 1958 film Anzukko (the first he is credited with writing after 1950's White Beast) seems, in part, his way of dealing with the tortures of his past... Naruse revels in the inherent contradictions of being human and if Anzukko at time feels like an apology for past transgressions it is likewise a loving portrait of a woman tragically caught between her wants and her responsibilities, fated to tread a potentially never-ending path between the trials of her marriage and the refuge of her past." - Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Cinema Talk Blog
 
The Assault of the Present on the Rest of Time
Alexander Kluge
Der Angriff der Gegenwart auf die übrige Zeit (original title); The Blind Director (alternative title)
Chosen by Raoul Peck (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1985 | 113m | Col | Germany
"Alexander Kluge's "anonymous city" symphony, The Assault of the Present on the Rest of Time, [is] an organic and fractured, yet humorous, intuitive, and poetic rumination on the integral - and correlative - nature of technology and (urban) identity, the intersection of film and new media in the creation of art, and the delusive quest to manipulate time... Kluge's intriguingly dense exposition transcends the simple novelty of creating thematic variations on the dual nature of time, and instead becomes a stage for articulating its repercussions." - Acquarello, Strictly Film School
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The New York Times
         
Assunta Spina
Francesca Bertini & Gustavo Serena
Chosen by Vittorio Martinelli (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1915 | 63m | BW | Italy
"With so many overblown historical epics coming out of Italy in the pre-World War I era, the simplicity and naturalism Assunta Spina was a welcome relief... In addition to playing the title role, Francesca Bertini codirected the film with Gustavo Serena. Bertini was among the most popular of the cinematic divas of the silent era, usually comporting herself in an operatic fashion. In Assunte Spina, however, her performance is down-to-earth and restrained, in much the same manner as the leading ladies of the post-World War II Italian neorealist dramas." - Hal Erickson, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Extract from Italian Film by Marcia Landy
 
At Long Last Love
Peter Bogdanovich
Chosen by Jim Fall (PopcornQ, 1997)
1975 | 118m | Col | USA
"A daring experiment that failed, this direct-sound musical set in the 30s—with Burt Reynolds, Cybill Shepherd, Madeline Kahn and Duilio Del Prete doing what they can (as singers and dancers) with and to Cole Porter—is probably Peter Bogdanovich's worst film, but it's perversely fascinating for its art-deco trimmings as well as its rather frightening coldness." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"Everybody hated Bogdanovich's homage, a trivial story slotted round some Cole Porter songs... It may be a movie we'll come back to later and find we all like it." - W. Stephen Gilbert, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)
 
Autobiography of a Princess
James Ivory
Chosen by John Pym (Time Out, 1995)
1975 | 60m | Col | UK
"Imperial India seen through old home movies of court life as they are watched by the besotted, blinkered daughter-in-exile of a Maharajah and the latter's former English tutor, (James Mason) who still meet once a year in London for tea... Yet nothing really happens because the two draw a veil over their true emotions, and over the true nature of the dark scandals merely hinted at (apart from one clumsy flashback). A refined, ironic exercise whose brittleness is effectively countered by Mason's playing." - Chris Petit, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  DVD Times
         
Bad Luck
Andrzej Munk
Zezowate szczescie (original title)
Chosen by Andrzej Wajda (Kommersant, 1998)
1960 | 92m | BW | Poland
"In acclaimed Polish director Andrzej Munk's last film before his untimely accidental death, he shoots a pointed black comedy that takes potshots at Poland's painful history from 1939 to 1959... It was not well-received in Communist Poland, but many movie critics found it much to their liking. It's one-note joke, however, soon runs out of gas and its excessive length plays against it despite its well-founded attack on Poland as a bastion of conformity and authoritarian rule whether from the left or right." - Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Dennis Grunes
 
Bakaruhában
Imre Fehér
In Soldier's Uniform (English title); A Sunday Romance (alternative English title)
Chosen by Mark Le Fanu (Positif, 1991)
1957 | 91m | BW | Hungary
"Set during WW1, the story revolves around a Hungarian journalist (Ivan Darvas) who is required by law to wear his military uniform twice a week. Our hero falls in love with a similarly-uniformed young woman, never dreaming that she is a servant girl (Margit Bara) and, as such, "beneath his station." The plot thickens when it develops that the girl is in the employ of the family of one of the journalist's ex-lady friends. In typical Eastern Bloc fashion, the anti-class consciousness message of Bakaruhaban comes through loud and clear." - Hal Erickson, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Excerpt from "World Cinema: Hungary"
 
The Barkleys of Broadway
Charles Walters
Chosen by Dragan Jelicic (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1949 | 109m | Col | USA
"After a hiatus of ten years, Astaire and Rogers teamed up one last time in 1949 for this so-so movie about a husband-and-wife dance team who bicker incessantly backstage. It isn't very witty—although it's supposed to be—and it isn't really satire, in the sense of Singin' in the Rain or The Band Wagon." - Don Druker, Chicago Reader
"It's a pretty flat affair, with a thin story about a married dancing couple splitting up when the woman decides to take up a straight acting career. But it does, of course, have its moments." - Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Bright Lights Film Journal
         
Le Baron fantôme
Serge de Poligny
The Phantom Baron (English title)
Chosen by Annick Demeule (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1943 | 100m | BW | France
"Jean Cocteau supplied the dialogue for this elegant gothic romance and makes his screen acting debut as the title character... Serge de Poligny directed, though Cocteau's fanciful visual sense is evident throughout." - J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader
"A film to delight those with a taste for the slightly rarefied pleasures of a French Gothic-pastoral plot featuring a vanishing nobleman (played by Cocteau, who also served as dialogue-writer), a tumbledown castle, hidden treasure, two pairs of sparkling lovers, a gamekeeper posing as the Dauphin... and much, much more." - John Pym, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Allmovie
 
Barrier
Jerzy Skolimowski
Bariera (original title)
Chosen by The Quay Brothers (Time Out, 1995)
1966 | 84m | BW | Poland
"Skolimowski's third film and one of his best, an extraordinary fusion of fantasy and documentary that adds up to a bleakly disenchanted look at the Polish here-and-now. It begins with images of strange, indefinable menace that resolve themselves into one of those ritualistic Polish games (like the one in Knife in the Water) being played by medical students.... With its startling imagery and bizarre landscapes, Barrier is that rare bird, a genuinely surrealist film." - Tom Milne, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Parallax View
 

La Bête lumineuse

Pierre Perrault
The Shimmering Beast (English title)
Chosen by Louis Marcorelles (Sight & Sound, 1982)
1982 | 128m | Col | Canada
"The "bête lumineuse" is Quebecois argot for "moose," an animal never once spotted by the city slickers who escape the stresses of job, home, and commute to go drinking and bonding and supposedly hunting in the wilds of northern Quebec -- although their hunting skills would give no cause for distress to the moose population. The point about macho lives gone astray is embedded well enough so that director Pierre Perrault might have shortened the two-hour running time and come away more on target in the end." - Eleanor Mannikka, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Google Books
         
Birds in Peru
Romain Gary
Les Oiseaux vont mourir au Pérou (original title); The Birds Come to Die in Peru (alternative title)
Chosen by Jan Dawson (Sight & Sound, 1972)
1968 | 95m | Col | France
"Oh yes, she has a lovely face. When the camera moves close and Jean Seberg arches that magnificent neck and looks into the middle distance and her lips part slightly... It would almost seem that the face was Romain Gary's reason for making the movie. So that with a camera he could worship the face of his wife...The story goes that Gary wanted to direct this movie because he was so displeased by the two previous movies made from his books: Lady L and Roots of Heaven. Those were stinkers, yes. So Gary took his short story Birds in Peru and directed it himself this time. Now there are three stinkers made from his work." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   TCMDB
 
The Black Cat
Lucio Fulci
Gatto Nero (original title)
Chosen by William Malone (Fifty Filmmakers Book, 2002)
1981 | 92m | Col | Italy
"In between better-known hardcore horrors like Zombie and The Beyond, Lucio Fulci tackled the gothic genre with this unusual effort. That said, one shouldn't expect a subtle creepfest from The Black Cat -- this is the Fulci version of a gothic tale, meaning that it shoehorns in shocks like a human torch crashing through a window or someone taking a header through their car's windshield in between subtler story developments... In short, The Black Cat is probably best left to the hardcore Euro-cult fans but it offers enough points of interest to entertain said viewers." - Donald Guarisco, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Mondo Digital
 
Black Ermine
Carlos Hugo Christensen   New   
Armiño negro (original title)
Chosen by Ricardo Bedoya (Ideele, 2009)
1953 | 104m | BW | Argentina
"Filmed on location in Peru, the story concerns a wealthy unwed mother (Laura Hildago). The woman's young son, played by Nestor Zavarez, has always believed that his mother is of aristocratic stock. He is sorely disillusioned when he learns the truth: that his mother has had several lovers, each of whom has been finagled into supplying her with money and creature comforts in the belief that he is the father of her child. This situation has been the basis of many comedies, including Buona Sera Mrs. Campbell(1968) and Father's Day (1997). In Armino Negro, however, the shocking truth results in tragedy." - Hal Erickson, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB
         
Black Lizard
Kinji Fukasaku
Kuro tokage (original title)
Chosen by Paul Lee (PopcornQ, 1997)
1968 | 86m | Col | Japan
"This campy, melodramatic Japanese thriller in 'Scope and color with its leading character in drag isn't even a patch on Kon Ichikawa's extraordinary An Actor's Revenge, which has the same characteristics and strikes me as infinitely more worthy of revival. But if you're looking for something weird and nutty, this might suit." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"A latter-day cult favourite in the US, but Fukasaku was far too 'straight' a director to make the most of this camp extravaganza... Fukasaku tries to treat it as a hip action-adventure and thinks no further than pastiche James Bond. Hints of queer perversity glimmer through, but it's mostly leaden." - Tony Rayns, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   The Washington Post
 
Blood and Sand
Rouben Mamoulian
Chosen by Itamar Shnir (El Mundo, 1995)
1941 | 123m | Col | USA
"The film is abstract in all the wrong ways: the elaborate compositions (in black and red Technicolor) serve only to draw more life from the already debilitated characters; Mamoulian's grab for eternity leaves him with a fistful of hot air." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"One of the great colour films, this is melodramatic romance of the first order... What makes the film so enjoyable is the sheer elegance of the execution, with Mamoulian's sense of rhythm, the rich Technicolor, and Richard Day's sets conjuring up an imaginary Spain of the heart, poignant location of love in the shadows and death in the afternoon." - Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Ozu's World Movie Reviews
 
The Boat
Buster Keaton & Eddie Cline
Chosen by Penelope Houston (Sight & Sound, 1982)
1921 | 26m | BW | USA
"In what is perhaps Buster Keaton's most fatalistic short subject, the comedian portrays a husband who has been diligently building a boat in his basement... This is one of Keaton's best two-reelers, which was almost lost to the ravages of time and deterioration -- when Keaton's work was first being restored, only one print of The Boat was found, and several scenes were nearly past the point of salvaging. But the picture squeaked through intact, and its indelible images have become a part of silent film's heritage." - Janiss Garza, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Google Videos
         
Bôkô Kirisaki Jakku
Yasuharu Hasebe   New   
Assault! Jack the Ripper (English title); Boko! Kirisaki Jack (alternative English title)
Chosen by Mark Savage (Senses of Cinema, 2001)
1976 | 72m | Col | Japan
"Director Yasuharu Hasebe (the Stray Cat Rock series, Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701's Grudge Song) has put on a real mean and dirty piece of work here. Although there is absolutely no reference to Jack the Ripper in the movie, the misogynistic similarities of both Jack and the male lead of Assault! are very apparent." - Cinesploitation.com
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  DVD Drive-In
 
Brainstorm
William Conrad
Chosen by Jack Stevenson (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1965 | 114m | BW | USA
"Brainstorm is by no means a great film, but it is a quite interesting one. On the plus side, it's a late-noir entry that plays around with the idea of the thin line between sanity and insanity in an intriguing manner. Actor William Conrad put on his director's hat for this low budget effort, and that's also a good thing: he has a very sure feel for the material, and his crisp, sturdy direction is surprisingly effective and decidedly atmospheric." - Craig Butler, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Film Noir of the Week
 
Bush Christmas
Ralph Smart
Chosen by Petr Kral (Positif, 1991)
1947 | 76m | BW | Australia
"Bush Christmas can be described as an Australian western, albeit with a juvenile slant. Set in the mountains of New South Wales, the story concerns a family of Australian kids who are heading homeward for the Christmas holidays. En route, they unwittingly provide the information which enables a band of thieves to steal their father's horses... The nominal star is the popular Chips Rafferty, playing a misleading likeable horse rustler. Though initially released in England in June of 1947, Bush Christmas has since become a TV Yuletide perennial throughout the English-speaking world." - Hal Erickson, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Australian Screen
         
Bush Mama
Haile Gerima
Chosen by Cheryl Dunye (PopcornQ, 1997)
1979 | 97m | BW | USA
"Bush Mama presents a poignant contrast, produced as it was during the period of film history known as the "Blaxploitation" era. Gerima's depiction of the travails of black life and culture are far removed from that of the drug deals and revenge killings of Superfly (1972) and Foxy Brown (1976)... To some, the film may appear bleak and nihilistic with its stark black-and-white photography, but its message is moving and distinct. Issues of institutionalized racism, police brutality, and poverty remain sadly pertinent and the film, nearly twenty-five years old, retains its potency." - Pamela S. Dean, Film Reference
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Pop Matters
 
Le Capitaine Fracasse
Abel Gance
Captain Fracasse (English title)
Chosen by Michel Mourlet (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1943 | 108m | BW | France-Italy
"Forget Napoleon and its vaulting ambition. Directed with bare competence, this is a limp adaptation of Théophile Gautier's historical fantasy (one of the source books of camp) about a penniless baron who joins a group of travelling players after falling for the ingénue. Both the theatrical and the swashbuckling larks remain dispiritingly lifeless." - Tom Milne, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Films de France
 
Cattle Queen of Montana
Allan Dwan
Chosen by Jacques Lourcelles (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1954 | 88m | Col | USA
"Despite promising credentials - not just Dwan and Stanwyck, but John Alton on camera - this RKO Western is pretty much a non-starter. The first half is efficient but predictable... Thereafter, the script starts going in circles, producing plenty of incident (mainly Evans trying to provoke an Indian war, Fuller stoutly fighting for peace) but losing any sense of dramatic progress." - Tom Milne, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Bright Lights Film Journal
         
         
 
         
         
Céline
Jean-Claude Brisseau
Chosen by Jean-Jacques Beineix (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1992 | 88m | Col | France
"Celine has led an emotionally difficult life. An orphan when she inherited the bulk of her adoptive father's estate, it incurred the deep displeasure of her erstwhile stepmother. Thinking to make things right with her, she renounced part of her inheritance, leading her gold-digging boyfriend to reject her... Some critics were distressed that the mystical element became the main focus of the movie, while others were intrigued by it. " - Clarke Fountain, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Wikipedia
 
The Celluloid Closet
Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman
Chosen by Anchalee Chaiworaporn (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1995 | 102m | Col | USA
"Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's entertaining and instructive 1995 documentary about filmic representations of gays and lesbians goes beyond its source in equating “the movies” with mainstream Hollywood. But the clips and the intelligence of the commentaries keep this lively and absorbing." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"A witty, touching study of Hollywood's (mostly on screen) treatment of homosexuality. Epstein and Friedman approach the question chronologically and by type, with astringent comments from an array of unusual suspects." - Tom Charity, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)
 
Chance or Coincidence
Claude Lelouch
Hasards ou coïncidences (original title)
Chosen by Jean Olle-Laprune (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1998 | 120m | Col | France-Canada
"Lelouch aims for emotions on a global scale, but only in the first half does the result measure up to his ambitions. Pierre Arditi's charisma whisks us along, but once he's off the scene, Alessandra Martines has a task to carry the picture on numbed grief alone... Without a solid grounding in credibility or emotional involvement, the film's edifice threatens to tumble, but then only a lovable madman such as Lelouch would dare to conjure an epic vision from such ramshackle elements in the first place." - Trevor Johnston, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Films de France
         
Chappaqua
Conrad Rooks
Chosen by Paul Mayersberg (Sight & Sound, 1972)
1966 | 92m | Col-BW | USA
"This rich kid's vanity project remains one of the more embarrassing artyfacts from the '60s. Rooks was a teenage alcoholic who turned to stimulants, downers, narcotics and hallucinogens; he spent a month at a Swiss detox clinic in 1962, and uses memories of that attempted cure as the framework for a gibbering mix of 'drama', documentary and fantasy. Counter-culture icons lend misguided support and Rooks gets to cavort with assorted dolly-bird friends in crass 'psychedelic' sequences. Most alarming, it looks as if it could have been a seminal influence on Oliver Stone." - Tony Rayns, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The A.V. Club
 
Charlotte et Son Jules
Jean-Luc Godard
Charlotte and Her Jules (English title)
Chosen by Luc Moullet (Sight & Sound, 1962)
1959 | 13m | BW | France
"Charlotte et son Jules was made the year before Breathless and in many ways prefigures the arrival of that major film. Shot entirely in or from a single hotel room, it centres on Jules, played by Jean-Paul Belmondo who delivers a rapid-fire tirade about his girlfriend and their relationship when she turns up back in the apartment. The poverty of the production is indicated by the fact that the voice of the Belmondo character is that of Godard himself. But its machine gun dialogue and restless jump-cutting camera is almost an advance preview of the long sort of love scene between Michel and Patricia in Patricia's tiny apartment in Breathless." - Geoff Gardner, Senses of Cinema
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China Gate
Samuel Fuller
Chosen by Chuck Stephens (Village Voice, 1999)
1957 | 97m | BW | USA
"Sam Fuller's prophetic vision of Vietnam—the saga of Lucky Legs, a Eurasian prostitute (“I'm a little of everything and a lot of nothing”) with loyalties divided among the French, the communists, and the American soldier who happens to be the father of her child. Fuller's Indochina is a hopeless mishmash of cultures and ideologies; the challenge is to create a personal identity out of a political one. A rough, gnawing film, directed with Fuller's unique anger and bluntness." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
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The Chinese Feast
Tsui Hark
Jin yu man tang (original title)
Chosen by David Bordwell (Facets, 2003)
1995 | 100m | Col | Hong Kong
"The Chinese Feast imports much of the mood and the conventions of Hark's action pictures. The film is an exuberant and high-spirited comedy with dazzling, fast-paced cooking scenes subbing for action sequences. A chef moves a carving knife too quickly for the naked eye to see -- and a moment later vegetables open into flower shapes... As a loving embrace of food, life and love, The Chinese Feast has to take a back seat. But as an exploration of what a talented film maker can do with a chef, some pots and pans and a whole lot of food, this is a real tour de force." - Mick LaSalle, San Francisico Chronicle
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Reel Views
 
Chinese Firedrill
Will Hindle
Chosen by Richard Corliss (Sight & Sound, 1972)
1968 | 25m | Col | USA
"Hindle 's prize-ladened work of cataclysmic visual and mental schisms stands as one-of-a-kind. Chinese Firedrill is a romantic, nostalgic film. Yet its nostalgia is of the unknown, of vague emotions, haunted dreams, unspoken words, silences between sounds. It's nostalgic for the oceanic present rather than the remembered past. It is a total fantasy, yet it seems more real than the coldest documentary, The action occurs totally within the mind of the protagonist, who never leaves the small room in which he lives... Through the door/mirror is the beyond, the unreachable, the unattainable." - Gene Youngblood, San Francisco Cinematheque
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Canyon Cinema
 
Chushingura
Hiroshi Inagaki
Chushingura - Hana no maki yuki no maki (original title); The 47 Ronin (alternative title)
Chosen by Iain Johnstone (John Kobal Poll, 1988)
1962 | 207m | Col | Japan
"The legendary Japanese tale of the loyal 47 ronin has been filmed countless times, but received perhaps its greatest screen treatment in this epic 1962 version from director Hiroshi Inagaki. As a storyteller, Inagaki possessed a rare ability to create an action film that was both thrilling and intelligent, and these characteristics are present in Chushingura. Inagaki's vision of history is a romantic one, celebrating a time when honor was important, and filling the screen with gorgeous sets and even more gorgeous scenery." - Bob Mastrangelo, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  DVD Savant Review
         
Clouds of May
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Mayis sikintisi (original title); Clouds in May (alternative title)
Chosen by Hulya Ucansu (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1999 | 117m | Col | Turkey
"Ceylan keeps the line between what's apparently cinema verite and what's scripted narrative intentionally blurred, which gives the action a fascinating tension. He also shot the film himself, creating some astonishingly poetic, elegiac shots of nature and people that are reminiscent of Terrence Malick or Alexander Sokurov." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"The 'story' concerns the relationship between the film-maker, his family, and old friends. But the lovely substance is in the wit, the nuances, the rhythms, and Ceylan's own very fine colour camerawork." - Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Strictly Film School
 
La Crabe-Tambour
Pierre Schoendoerffer
The Crab Drum (English title)
Chosen by Norbert Multeau (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1977 | 120m | Col | France
"This distinctive and haunting portrait of military life was directed by Pierre Schoendoerffer, a filmmaker with a particular interest in the lives of soldiers and sailors. Treating his subject with great respect and sympathy, Schoendoerffer adds a note of irony and sadness.  He skilfully avoids glorifying war, yet his films are poignant, emotionally tense, and also curiously cold and distant. Le Crabe-tambour is among his best work, thanks largely to some extraordinary camera work from Raoul Coutard which masterfully conveys both a sense of awesome scale and also great intimacy." - Ammon Haggerty, Shift
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The Czech Year
Jirí Trnka   New   
Spalicek (original title)
Chosen by Josef Sryck (Sight & Sound, 1972)
1947 | 75m | Col | Czechoslovakia
"Like the painter Ales, who illustrated Czech national songs, the traditional customs and tales of the Czech village are told in six separate sequences: "Shrovetide," "Spring," "Legend About St. Prokop," "The Fair," "The Feast" and "Bethlehem." - The Big Cartoon Database
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Wikipedia
         
Crossroads
Bruce Conner
Chosen by Raphael Bassan (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1976 | 36m | BW | USA
"Crossroads is masterfully assembled from declassified footage of the first underwater atomic bomb test at Bikini Atol. The film begins with a view from shore looking out towards a cluster of decommissioned Japanese battleships. A wave rolls slowly and birds can faintly be heard. Knowing what's to come only enhances the anticipation as the scene waits in a suspended state of quiet and calm. When the bomb is finally detonated, the spectacle is met with silence. Not until many moments later does the sound - an unrelenting blast - reach the viewer." - Ammon Haggerty, Shift
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Hell on Frisco Bay
 
The Cruise
Bennett Miller   New   
Chosen by Edward Norton (Rotten Tomatoes, 2010)
1998 | 76m | Col-BW | USA
"This fascinating though repetitive character study proves that not all narcissists require conventional forms of recognition to perpetuate their grandiosity—or to find fulfillment." - Lisa Alspector, Chicago Reader
"This unclassifiable indie feature evidently started out as a performance documentary capturing the spiels and routines of Timothy 'Speed' Levitch, an ineffably camp (but self-proclaimed straight) New York City tour guide. He approaches each bus ride through the metropolis as a new situationist experiment in psycho-geography... Your response to the movie depends on your response to Levitch himself." - Tony Rayns, Time Out
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Darling Lili
Blake Edwards
Chosen by Peter Tonguette (Senses of Cinema, 2006)
1970 | 136m | Col | USA
"Edwards's camera work is breathtaking from the first frame to the last, and the moral issues are handled with tremendous sophistication beneath a veneer of treacle. Worth seeing and worth liking, even if it takes some effort." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"A commercial failure that was savaged and ridiculed at the time, Darling Lili is a glorious film. Edwards' wedding present to Julie Andrews, it is yet another instalment of his ongoing celebration of innocence as the great virtue of life. To understand the film, a simple enough love/spy story set in World War I, one simply has to accept that love (and jealousy) is more important than winning wars." - Phil Hardy, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  DVD Savant
         
David and Bathsheba
Henry King
Chosen by Jean-Loup Bourget (Positif, 1991)
1951 | 116m | Col | USA
"Fans of Biblical epics will find a lot to like in David and Bathsheba; although there's little here that will appeal to those who don't look favorably upon the genre. The script is predictably overblown, filled with the kind of bombast and stilted melodrama that is to be expected. It's ridiculous, yet in its own strange way, it works. It is also, typically, both too reverent and too "Hollywood"-ized; also like most Biblical epics of the period, it takes advantage of its religious underpinnings to indulge in some lurid sensuality." - Craig Butler, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Variety
 
Death of a President
Jerzy Kawalerowicz
Smierc prezydenta (original title)
Chosen by Jean-Louis Leutrat (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1978 | 144m | Col | Poland
"Śmierć Prezydenta is a very typical political film. It is based on very precise and accurate documentation of political events [the election and assassination of the first president of Poland, the atheist and non-political Gabriel Narutowicz, in 1922]. In the dialogue, we even copied what people said in real life. So the history is shown day by day, exactly as it was." - Jerzy Kawalerowicz, Kinoeye Interview
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Film Reference
 
Death Takes a Holiday
Mitchell Leisen
Chosen by Jose Maria Latorre (Nickel Odeon, 1997)
1934 | 78m | BW | USA
"One of the oddball projects Paramount was fond of in the early 30s, though not one of the most successful. Death (Fredric March, in what some would say was typecasting) disguises himself as a prince and visits an aristocratic Italian family. It's partly based on a Maxwell Anderson play, which means the windy dialogue is interrupted only by crushingly predictable plot events (Death falls in love). Mitchell Leisen hadn't yet developed the light touch with actors he would display memorably later in the decade, though some of his trademark pictorial effects are in evidence." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
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Demolition d'un mur
Louis Lumière
Demolition of a Wall (English title)
Chosen by Alain Carou (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1896 | 1m | BW | France
"Though minor in content, viisually Demolition of a Wall (Demolition d'un mur, 1896) is highly effective. It's another brief one-shot scene showing laborers knocking down a thick old stone wall, using some kind of hand-cranked jack to push over, then mashing the pieces. The scene becomes clouded white with dust when the wall tumbles." - Wild Realm Reviews
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The Deserter and the Nomads
Juraj Jakubisko
Zbehovia a pútnici (original title)
Chosen by Gianalberto Bendazzi (Sight & Sound, 1972)
1968 | 120m | Col | Italy-Czechoslovakia
"Three tales of war, the first being by far the best... With colour and images guided by folk art and a tang of surrealism, Jakubisko shapes his material into a sort of medieval death's jest-book, with Death himself eagerly waiting to reap his harvest. Technique unfortunately begins to run rather wild in the rest of the film, all zooms, filters, distortions and wild arabesques. But the main problem is that the two remaining stories (WWII and a future nuclear holocaust) tend to ram home the message about the continuing horrors of war with a dull thud. An extraordinary, offbeat movie all the same." - Tom Milne, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The New York Times
 
The Desperate Hours
William Wyler   New   
Chosen by Kaneto Shindo (Kinema Junpo, 1999)
1955 | 112m | BW | USA
"A trio of convicts on the run terrorise an average American suburban family headed by Fredric March. One of a number of '50s films which revealed the paranoia lurking under the facade of the American dream, this time the respectability and security of the family being disrupted with a vengeance. Humphrey Bogart clearly enjoys himself as a man with no redeeming features, and he's well supported by the other two (Dewey Martin, Robert Middleton). Wyler directs efficiently, if somewhat mechanically." - Chris Petit, Time Out
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Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam
John R. Cherry III
Chosen by Luke Y. Thompson (Rotten Tomatoes, 2003)
1986 | 97m | Col | USA
"This comedy is a showcase for Jim Varney (of "Hey Vern! It's your old buddy Ernest!" fame) who plays several different roles, including Laughin' Jack, Dr. Otto, Guy Dandy, and others. Dr. Otto is a crazed and evil scientist intent on becoming a world dictator. One of his plans is to send the global economy into oblivion and towards that goal, he invents an appearance-altering device that allows him to assume any guise he chooses." - Eleanor Mannikka, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Let's Get Dangerous
 
Don Quixote
G.W. Pabst
Adventures of Don Quixote (alternative title)
Chosen by Ludwig Gesek (Sight & Sound, 1982)
1933 | 73m | BW | France-UK
"This is a bleak, comfortless adaptation, emphasising madness, failure and death. But as an evocation of period and of sun-baked Iberian languor, it shows how stylish a film-maker Pabst could be. The ending is pure despair: Quixote dead, the police burning his books, and long, long slow-motion shots (reprised by Truffaut in Fahrenheit 451) of pages curling up in agony, accompanied by Ibert's vigorous score." - Bob Baker, Time Out
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Le Dossier 51
Michel Deville
Chosen by Phillip Noyce (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1978 | 108m | Col | France-West Germany
"An effectively sinister paranoid thriller, an exercise in voyeuristic point-of-view which consists almost entirely of the detailed surveillance file constructed by a foreign intelligence agency in an attempt to 'turn' a totally unwitting minor French diplomat. A sleek technocratic nightmare of the impossibility of maintaining privacy, it plays fearfully ambiguous games with its audience, inviting complicity in piecing together manipulatable 'evidence'." - Paul Taylor, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Films de  France
         
Dream of a Rarebit Fiend
Edwin S. Porter
Chosen by Bob Baker (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1906 | 7m | BW | USA
"Few films that were originally heralded for their technical ingenuity have kept their ability to inspire of awe over the years. Méliès' works, for example, have become little more than interesting chores for film historians. Porter's adaptation of Winsor McCay's comic, Dream of a Rarebit Fiend, is the exception that proves the rule, immersing the spectator in a world that may lack clarity, but speaks of the life all of us experience." - Ion Martea, Culture Wars
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  YouTube
 
The Dupes
Tewfik Saleh
Al-makhdu'un (original title)
Chosen by B. Abdou (Sight & Sound, 1982)
1972 | 107m | BW | Syria
"This tragic, ironic drama is a Syrian film featuring an Egyptian director working from a book by famed Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani. The film is not ideologically heavy-handed, though it is clear where the sympathies of the filmmakers lie. It tells the story of three Palestinians in exile, and their journey to seek riches in oil-rich Kuwait. Together, they take a ride with an emasculated, greedy water-truck driver. They must be concealed in a very dangerous manner during border crossings, and tragedy follows." - Clarke Fountain, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Cinemasy
 
Dust
Marion Hansel
Chosen by Anneke Smelik (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1985 | 88m | Col | Belgium-France
"Hänsel's stark adaptation of JM Coetzee's In the Heart of the Country is a strangely interior film, viewed through the lonely eyes of the repressed Magda (Jane Birkin). As the film somewhat uneasily blends reality and fantasy, family bonds are twisted, master-servant roles are reversed, and 'the work of generations falls to ruins'. But for all its admirable evocation of Magda's mounting hatred and hysteria, Hänsel's approach is finally flawed by its careful adherence to introspective, literary qualities." - Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The New York Times
         
East Side Story
Dana Ranga
Chosen by Kenneth Turan (Steadycam, 2007)
1997 | 80m | Col | Germany-USA-France
"Ranga and Horn's insights into communist film production and their story of how the communist musical triumphed or withered in its various settings offer plenty of food for thought. It's a grand subject, worth considering for more than its camp value." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"This documentary on the little known story of socialist musicals casts a colourful light on screen life behind the Iron Curtain, a place and time where the pressure on film-makers was to deliver didactic propaganda in the Socialist Realist vein, while light entertainment was frowned on as expensive decadence." - Nick Bradshaw, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Gerald Peary
 
El Paso Wrecking Corp.
Joe Gage
Chosen by Dennis Dermody (Village Voice, 1999)
1978 | 94m | Col | USA
"Joe Gage directed this pioneering gay adult feature, the sequel to his groundbreaking Kansas City Trucking Company. Picking up where the first film left off, El Paso Wrecking Corp. finds Gene (Fred Halsted) and Hank (Richard Locke) fired from their jobs after an alcohol-fueled altercation. Determined to find new employment, Gene and Hank set out in search of opportunities in the blue-collar workforce, but they frequently become distracted by other men along the way." - Mark Deming, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Bright Lights Film Journal
 
Elasticity
Chick Strand
Chosen by Barbara Hammer (Facets, 2003)
1976 | 25m | Col | USA
"Impressionistic surrealism in three acts. The approach is literary experimental with optical effects. There are three mental states that are interesting: amnesia, euphoria and ecstasy. Amnesia is not knowing who you are and wanting desperately to know. I call this the White Night. Euphoria is not knowing who you are and not caring. This is the Dream of Meditation. Ecstasy is knowing exactly who you are and still not caring. I call this the Memory of the Future." - Los Angeles Film Forum
Amazon  |  IMDB | Canyon Cinema  |  Portland Mercury
         
Elite Squad
José Padilha
Tropa de Elite (original title)
Chosen by John Malkovich (Rotten Tomatoes, 2009)
2007 | 115m | Col | Brazil-Netherlands-USA
"Director José Padilha’s fictional follow-up to his 2002 doc Bus 174 looks at the dangers of life in the slums of Rio through the eyes of the city’s various law enforcement agencies... Viewed as a pumped-up action movie, Elite Squad is sold short by its awkward structure, first swooping into the favela to deal with sundry gunplay, drug crime and police corruption, then tailing off on a Full Metal Jacket style training camp where prospective BOPE candidates are put through the gruelling wringer. It is impressively made, but leaves a nasty taste in the mouth." - David Jenkins, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Metacritic
 
Emitai
Ousmane Sembene
Chosen by Charles Burnett (Facets, 2003)
1971 | 103m | Col | Senegal
"A strong statement from Sembene about the forms of oppression practised by the French in West Africa. Set during World War II, it deals with the staggered annihilation of a small tribe that attempts to resist the exploitation of its labour and resources... conventional film, but it succeeds in its aim, clarifying the logic of the colonial struggle through a specific example." - John Du Cane, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The New York Times
 
L'Enfant Secret
Philippe Garrel
Chosen by Adrian Martin (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1982 | 92m | BW | France
"A man communicates that he has suffered. A filmmaker claims to be testifying for his generation. An experience struggles to become a story. A frozen narrative still burns. Is it a film? If so, then L’Enfant secret bears little resemblance to what passes today as French cinema. ‘Suffering’, ‘testimony’, ‘experience’, ‘narrative’ ill-seen, ill said, old-fashioned words, words that frighten. Let’s start again." - Serge Daney, Rouge
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  UCLA Film & Television Archive
         
Everybody's Fine
Giuseppe Tornatore
Stanno tutti bene (original title)
Chosen by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (Steadycam, 2007)
1990 | 112m | Col | Italy-France
"Tornatore's follow-up to Cinema Paradiso isn't quite so dewy-eyed, but will still have cynics retching into their popcorn... There is a melodramatic plot lurch, a haunting dream sequence, a well-handled autumnal love affair, and a neat twist at the end. Like Cinema Paradiso, it's expertly manipulative and good-looking, though a tad darker. Marcello Mastroianni gambols through it." - Suzi Feay, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Washington Post
 
Execution: A Story of Mary
Elfi Mikesch   New   
Execution: A Study of Mary (alternative title)
Chosen by Monika Treut (PopcornQ, 1997)
1979 | 28m | BW | West Germany
"Elfi Mikesch was born in 1940 as a daughter of a projectionist in Austria... In 1984 she founded the company in Hamburg Monika Treut hyena / Hyaena-turned-film production and together with Monika Treut made the movie Seduction. Besides her experimental films, she also filmed for ZDF documentary commissioned works, such as I often think of Hawaii, for which she received the 1978 National Film Award in the category of ‘feature-length film with no story line’." - MUBI
Amazon  |  IMDB
 
Fährmann Maria
Frank Wisbar
Death and the Maiden (English title)
Chosen by Italo Manzi (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1936 | 85m | BW | Germany
"Moody and atmospheric and shot in the style of early silent films with very little dialogue and ponderous pacing, this mystical account of love and death was very popular when it was released... While this film has a large cult following it certainly has had its share of controversy. Sybille Schmitz reputedly was having an affair with Joseph Goebbels which might explain why the film's script passed the censors." - Carl de Vogt.org
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  24 Lies per Second
         
Falling in Love
Ulu Grosbard
Chosen by Enrique Cerezo (Nickel Odeon, 1997)
1984 | 107m | Col | USA
"It's Brief Encounter bleached and sweetened for the 80s, with Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro as the two happily married suburbanites who meet and fall in love on the commuter train to New York. Ulu Grosbard's soft, anonymous direction takes all the sting out of the dramatic situation." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"Coincidences are difficult to get right in any romantic movie, yet here they are piled on without regard for sense or subtlety, while the script is so concerned to give its big names equal screen time that it fails to establish an innocuous but hardly compelling love story of the old school." - David Pirie, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)
 
Farewell, Home Sweet Home
Otar Iosseliani   New   
Adieu, plancher des vaches! (original title)
Chosen by Tom Luddy (Facets, 2003)
1999 | 118m | Col | France-Switzerland-Italy
"The artistry with which the beautifully articulated imagery—and very little dialogue—is used to dramatize the elaborate plot is undeniable, as are the moments of sheer brilliance. But the social themes behind the cleverly, even subtly ironic experiences of the astonishing number of characters seem to evaporate as the credits roll." - Lisa Alspector, Chicago Reader
"It's a hugely charming piece, wondrously inventive, consistently witty, engaging in its devotion to the joys of wine, women and song, and somewhat deeper than it first appears." - Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The Guardian
 

La Fièvre monte à El Pao

Luis Buñuel
Chosen by Nelson Pereira dos Santos (Balaio, 1996)
1959 | 97m | BW | France-Mexico
"Gérard Philippe's last role before his death from cancer, playing a small-time government administrator whose time comes when the governor is assassinated and he temporarily takes over until a successor is appointed... It's hardly major Buñuel - he himself blamed its shortcomings on the inevitable compromises of a co-production - but his view of greed, hypocrisy and cruelty is as lucidly sardonic as ever, and the portrait of the dangers of trying to improve a totalitarian regime from the inside remains as relevant today as when the film was made." - Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Films de France
         

La Fin du jour

Julien Duvivier
The End of the Day (English title)
Chosen by David Cairns (Senses of Cinema, 2003)
1939 | 99m | BW | France
"Set in an abbey that serves as a retirement home for actors, rife with squabbles, jealousies and remembrances of past glory, to which a threat of closure adds waves of despairing self-pity, La Fin du Jour once rated highly as a biting depictment (like La Règle du Jeu though in a different key) of the decadence of France just before World War II. Despite its dark edges, it hasn't worn nearly so well as Renoir's masterpiece, with a complacently whimsical sentimentality constantly threatening to break through. The performances, though, are terrific." - Tom Milne, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The New York Times
 

15/67: TV

Kurt Kren
Chosen by Stefan Grissemann (Profil, 2004)
1967 | 7m | BW | Austria
"Five aspects of a peopled scene are repeated 21 times by duplication. Black frames interrupt running. It is more interesting to be thoroughly exasperated than merely distracted by some boringly mediocrity." - Kurt Kren
"Oftentimes Kren has considered construction first (frame counts, number of exposures and the like) whilst the image remains unprepared. 15/67 TV, for example, was filmed solely as a result of some friends being late to meet him and he became bored as a result." - Home Cinema
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Vienna Independent Shorts
 
Finye
Souleymane Cissé
The Wind (English title)
Chosen by Nick Roddick (John Kobal Poll, 1988)
1982 | 100m | Col | Mali
"While less impressive than Souleymane Cisse's subsequent Brightness, this 1982 feature about campus rebellion and ancestral, tribal memories in contemporary Africa is full of fascination." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"A campus protest movie, complete with drugs, generation gaps, fascistic policing and boy-girl problems... No one is caricatured, and the film develops its conflicts with splendid directness, shifting easily between realism and fantasy. It boils down to a fairly simple argument for liberal democracy, but the specifics of the setting give it an immediacy that an equivalent western film could never approach." - Tony Rayns, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The Case for Global Film
         
Flicka och hyacinter
Hasse Ekman   New   
Girl with Hyacinths (English title)
Chosen by Emma Gray Munthe (Nollnollfilm, 2006)
1950 | 89m | BW | Sweden
"I see Flicka och hyacinter as a film noir. There are so many genre traits that it very likely was consciously inspired by the films we today call film noir. It is part of the 'film noir family', but a distant, Swedish relative; a relative that also seems to be akin both to the German expressionism and French poetic realism, whose sad determinism can be seen as an influence on the overall sense in Flicka och hyacinter that no one can escape their destiny." - Mariah Larsson, Swedish Film: An Introduction and Reader (Google Books)
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Lolita's Classics
 
The Flesh and the Fiends
John Gilling   New   
Mania (alternative title)
Chosen by Jean-Pierre Bouyxou (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1960 | 87m | BW | UK
"A somewhat rickety old chiller (to the backdoor of Dr Knox's Edinburgh medical academy come the 'Resurrectionists') not helped by the stiff second leads, June Laverick and Dermot Walsh, but much enlivened by the black-comic caperings of Donald Pleasence (Ulster accent and rolling eyes) and George Rose (a very simple-minded killer) as the body-snatchers Hare and Burke." - John Pym, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Eccentric Cinema
 
Flower in the Rainy Night
Wang Tung   New   
Kan hai de ri zi (original title)
Chosen by Yvonne Welbon (PopcornQ, 1997)
1983 | 95m | Col | Taiwan
"A winner of a few awards in Asia, this film is about Pai Mei (Lu Hsiao-feng) a young woman who was sold into prostitution by her foster family when she was still a child. In spite of her degrading and dangerous existence, Pai Mei decides to get pregnant and have the child she has always wanted, and then she leaves the brothel to go work on a farm. Her kindness as a mother, the transformation in her life, and the quiet, serene side of rural living -- with neighbors willing to help when they can -- creates a hopeful ending that fits with the rest of this completely fictional story from Communist China." - Eleanor Mannikka, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  MUBI
         
Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell
Terence Fisher
Chosen by Michel Marmin (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1973 | 93m | Col | UK
"Fisher's last film is a disappointment. Using the already well-proven formula, it offers the Baron this time as a doctor in a criminal asylum for the insane, secretly working with his assistant towards creating yet another life. Things begin well, with Fisher adding some atmospheric touches and Peter Cushing suggesting a man undermined by his excessive rationality. Unfortunately the script, which treads a wavering line between jerky comedy and seriousness, soon dissipates anyone else's better intentions." - Chris Petit, Time Out
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Friedemann Bach
Traugott Müller
Chosen by Nebojsa Pajkic (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1941 | 102m | BW | Germany
"Friedemann Bach is a German 1941 film depicting the life of Johann Sebastian Bachs son Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. The film is based on Albert Emil Brachvogels novel Friedemann Bach. Wilhelm Friedemann Bach is shown as a gifted son trying to escape his father's shadows." - Wikipedia
"It's a delightful and touching film about a very talented musician, the eldest son of Sebastian Bach. Along with Amadeus I'd call this film the best portrait of a musician on the screen." - IMDB User Review
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  YouTube
 
Fuera De Aquí!
Jorge Sanjinés
Llocsi Caimanta, fuera de aquí (original title)
Chosen by Park Kwang-su (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1977 | 102m | BW | Ecuador-Bolivia
"This film is not a single person’s work, nor a single author’s, it is the collective work of my colleagues from the AKAMAU Group, and it is also the work of many farmers friends who took a great part in its achievement. Its aim is quite clear : to be a means of liberation, a weapon in the war for independance which we, Latin Americans, are waging against imperialism. The events shown in this film are drawn from documents and facts which we have reconstituted to unmask our ennemies." - Jorge Sanjinés
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Jump Cut
         
Funeral Rites
Zdenek Sirový
Smutecní slavnost (original title); Funeral Ceremony (alternative title)
Chosen by Verina Glaessner (Time Out, 1995)
1969 | 70m | BW | Czechoslovakia
"In this Czech movie, the story of the widow of a former landowner who was stripped of all his belongings is told. The man himself has died, but his widow is determined that somehow she will manage to get him buried in the family crypt, despite opposition from party officials. However, her activities served to remind people of their old values, and they are roused to protest against the government. This movie was filmed during a brief thaw in the cold war, but was withheld from circulation until 1990, as the thaw was not sustained long enough for it to be distributed." - Clarke Fountain, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Barbican Film
 
Ganga
Rajen Tarafder
The River (English title)
Chosen by Jacques Rivette (Sight & Sound, 1962)
1959 | 105m | BW | India
"Satyajit Ray’s path-breaking masterpiece Pather Panchali (1955) had an immediate and fundamental impact on the culture of filmmaking in Bengal... Rajen Tarafdar’s Ganga is one of the more successful films of this transformation – a film that is still remembered as a powerful yet sensitive depiction of the poor fishermen whose lives are irrevocably entwined with the flux of the great river... Dinen Gupta’s black and white cinematography elegantly captures the ever-changing panorama of the river Ganga through a series of complex tracking and panning shots." - Upperstall.com
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Allmovie
 
The German Chainsaw Massacre
Christoph Schlingensief
Das Deutsche Kettensägen Massaker (original title)
Chosen by Enno Patalas (Steadycam, 2007)
1990 | 63m | Col | Germany
"A bloody and demented blend of Brechtian political satire and Texas Chain Saw Massacre-style horror, this shrieking gore-fest is set during the first hours after German reunification. Fleeing from the East, hapless victims fall prey to a crazed family of human butchers, who introduce them to the pleasures of the Free Market by noisily hacking, bludgeoning and chainsawing them to death. Abrasive, relentless, cruelly funny and enjoyably deranged." - Nigel Floyd, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Talking Pictures
         
Gion Festival
Kenji Mizoguchi   New   
Gion matsuri (original title)
Chosen by Agustin L. Sotto (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1933 | 86m | BW | Japan
"The comparisons are as inevitable as they are unfashionable," wrote James Quandt, introducing the centenary retrospective of the films of Kenji Mizoguchi. "Mizoguchi is cinema’s Shakespeare, its Bach or Beethoven, its Rembrandt, Titian or Picasso."  If this remains a minority opinion, it’s not because others have tried him and found him wanting. Mizoguchi is either admired or ignored. If he is, as I believe, the greatest of Japanese directors, then he has eluded general recognition as such only through unpropitious circumstances." - Alexander Jacoby, Senses of Cinema
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Bright Lights Film Journal
 
The Girl and Her Trust
D.W. Griffith
Chosen by Stuart Klawans (Village Voice, 1999)
1912 | 15m | BW | USA
"This exciting drama from D.W. Griffith was a remake of his earlier The Lonedale Operator... This film shows that after four years cranking out one or two films a week, Griffith had become a talented director. The "traveling shots" of the train speeding to the rescue, as well as quick editing, made this a suspenseful film for its day." - Bruce Calvert, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  YouTube
 
The Girl from Rio
Jesus Franco
The Seven Secrets of Sumuru (original title); Future Women (alternative title)
Chosen by Hassan Hosseini (Iranian Film Poll, 2009)
1969 | 94m | Col | West Germany-Spain-USA
"Set to a lively samba-flavored lounge score by Daniel White, The Girl from Rio blithely bounces along from one ridiculous set-piece to the next, rarely making any sense, until it finally self-destructs in the disastrously botched finale. As the hero, Richard Wyler is a complete dud (that jacket has got to go!), punching a lot more air than henchmen. All the film's action scenes are pathetic. Other shots are clumsily recycled to bridge scenes or pad out the running time." - Brian Lindsey, Eccentric Cinema
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Film Freak Central
         
Go! Go! Go!
Marie Menken
Chosen by Stan Brakhage (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1964 | 12m | Col | USA
"Menken (who animated the chess sequence in Maya Deren's At Land) embraced various animation techniques – collage, stop-motion cinematography – as a direct extension of her painting. Yet for Menken, animation also became a way of radically transforming the world around her, reimagining postwar New York City, for example, in her masterpiece of single frame cinematography Go! Go! Go! (1962-64), a work that condenses two years of patient documentary filmmaking into a delirious and exhilarating vision of a hyperactive city." - Harvard Film Archive
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Exposure Project
 
Le Grand jeu
Jacques Feyder
Chosen by Alexandre Arnoux (Cinematheque Belgique, 1952)
1934 | 120m | BW | France
"Once famed for its supposedly Pirandellian casting of Marie Bell as a honky tonk temptress whose chiselled features remind hero Richard Willm of the Parisian beauty (also played by Bell) he had joined the Foreign Legion precisely 'to forget'. Le Grand Jeu is short on directorial presence, but long on atmosphere: heat, sand, flies, cheap absinthe, and Françoise Rosay poring over greasy Tarot cards behind a rustling bead curtain." - Gilbert Adair, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Films de France
 
Great Citizen
Fridrikh Ermler
Velikiy grazhdanin (original title)
Chosen by Robert Vas (Sight & Sound, 1962)
1938 | 252m | BW | USSR
"Few Russian filmmakers genuflected at the altar of Marxist-Leninism with as much frequency-and with as much skill-as documentary director Friedrich Ermler. Filmed over a two-year period, The Great Citizen is a two-part reaction of the events surrounding the infamous "Purge Trials" engineered by Josef Stalin... American prints of The Great Citizen were compressed into a single, 114-minute feature film, rendering the already complex plotline incomprehensible to those unfamiliar with the original trials." - Hal Erickson, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  JSTOR
         
The Great Madcap
Luis Buñuel
El Gran Calavera (original title)
Chosen by Juan B. Heinink (Nickel Odeon, 1997)
1949 | 92m | BW | Mexico
"Though it's arguably Buñuel's most accessible film, The Great Madcap confronts a moral dilemma ever-present in Buñuel's work: that money paves the road for callousness and misguided complacency... It's a deceptively simple story built on multiple layers of deceit. Ever the humanist, Buñuel complicates matters when Pablo (Ruebén Rojo) sees insult in rich men using his impoverishment as a moral litmus test. In the end, though, he too must swallow his humility and an unusually optimistic Buñuel suggests that love conquers all." - Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Cinepassion
 
The Guardsman
Sidney Franklin
Chosen by Noel Coward (Cinematheque Belgique, 1952)
1931 | 89m | BW | USA
"Director Sidney Franklin was an expert at transposing plays to the screen in smooth, seamless fashion. He was, thus, the ideal man to direct this adaptation of Ferenc Molnar's play about backstage rivalry... once the backstage section of the story kicks in, Franklin's skills kick in on all cylinders, in a lively, caustically witty comedic romance, and the movie never slows down from there across its brisk 89-minute running time... The Guardsman has lost little of its luster across 75-plus years." - Bruce Eder, Allmovie
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La Gueule de l'autre
Pierre Tchernia
The Other One's Mug (English title)
Chosen by Jean Tulard (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1979 | 100m | Col | France
"You get two Michel Serrault’s for the price of one in this frothy mix of satirical comedy and burlesque farce written by the popular actor-writer Jean Poiret (whose best known work is the original stage version of La Cage aux folles)... In this film he plays two very different characters, a cowardly politician and a timid comedian made famous by a deodorant ad... The comedy is typically French – relying mainly on clever wordplay, which is often very subtle – although there is also a fair amount of theatrical farce to help move things along." - James Travers, Films de France
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A Guy Named Joe
Victor Fleming
Chosen by Steven Spielberg (Empire, 1989)
1943 | 120m | BW | USA
"A Guy Named Joe walks a fine line between realistic World War II drama and fantasy, and it does so successfully for 95 percent of its two-hour-and-one-minute length, ending up an excellent example of how to make this kind of movie work. It's not quite as ambitious as the slightly similar Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger fantasy A Matter of Life and Death, but it has its own conjuring trick to pull off, mostly in the acting and dramatic departments rather than special effects, which are minimal." - Bruce Eder, Allmovie
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Heat and Sunlight
Rob Nilsson
Chosen by Catherine Hardwick (Newsweek, 2008)
1988 | 98m | Col | USA
"The method of letting the cast improvise a whole film was the extraordinary achievement of Heat and Sunlight, one of Rob Nilsson's earlier and best-known films... Heat and Sunlight has the kind of naturalistic acting and dramatic punch seen in Cassavetes – hardly surprising as Nilsson regards Cassavetes as one of his mentors. Like Cassavetes, most of Nilsson's films are male-centered or show a propensity for masculine angst. In many ways, Nilsson's resolute independence and passionate streak is a symptom of such masculinity." - Stephen Teo, Senses of Cinema
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  DVD Town
 
His Butler's Sister
Frank Borzage
Chosen by Mike Wallington (Sight & Sound, 1972)
1943 | 94m | BW | USA
"His Butler's Sister is a silly little Deanna Durbin vehicle, but if its charms are modest, they are nonetheless very real. Chief among those charms, of course, is La Durbin herself. She's a curious creature, an actress with a diva-like soprano yet a most un-diva-like personality.... Frank Borzage directs with style and skill, and all adds up to a lightweight but enjoyable little trifle." - Craig Butler, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Variety
         
Hitch-Hike
Pasquale Festa Campanile
Autostop rosso sangue (original title)
Chosen by Dominik Graf (Steadycam, 2007)
1977 | 104m | Col | Italy
"Hitch-Hike is a heartwarmingly unpleasant film. Beginning as a quirky road movie, it blossoms into a scathingly cynical thriller which has a remarkably nihilstic view of relationships, both between men and women and between men. Unseen in Britain for many years, it has been called a 'lost classic', which might be overstating the case somewhat. But it's certainly a genuinely tense and exciting thriller and the kind of film which, gratifyingly, restores your lack of faith in human nature." - Home Cinema
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Savage Cinema
 
Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go
Kim Longinotto
Chosen by Havana Marking (IonCinema!, 2009)
2007 | 100m | Col | UK
"Training her camera on the staff and pupils of Oxford's Mullbury Bush School for children with acute behavioural problems, Kim Longinotto manages to tease out a disturbing, deeply moving and even at times, darkly comic portrait of an institution which is seen as a last chance saloon for its many troubled pupils. Avoiding sensationalism by tastefully editing out scenes of violence and dispensing with the forced narrative arc which seems de rigeur in most documentary films these days, Longinotto's gentle struggle to inject objectivity into the form means that the viewer is (for once) allowed to read the material as they wish." - David Jenkins, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Pop Matters
 
Hold That Ghost
Arthur Lubin
Chosen by Terry Jones (Facets, 2003)
1941 | 86m | BW | USA
"Fans of Abbott and Costello will have a field day with Hold That Ghost; those not so in tune with the boys will be less enthralled, but even they may find themselves chuckling several times throughout Ghost. Coming quite early in the duo's film career, Ghost finds the boys still in fresh form -- and their timing has rarely been better." - Craig Butler, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  TCM
         
The Home and the World
Satyajit Ray
Ghare-Baire (original title)
Chosen by Claire Denis (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1984 | 130m | Col | India
"The film is slow, studied, and observed with a fanatic attention to the smallest gestures and glances, which helps to fill out the somewhat schematic structure Ray has inherited from his source (a novel by Rabindranath Tagore)." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"One could accuse the film of being talky and static, but the formal elegance, sure sense of pace, and uniformly excellent performances guarantee a moving experience. " - Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)
 
L'Homme du large
Marcel L'Herbier
Man of the Sea (English title)
Chosen by Anne-Marie Baron (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1920 | 84m | BW | France
"L’Homme du large, Marcel L’Herbier’s first great film, offers an extraordinarily compelling portrayal of the forces of good and evil that motivate human behaviour. Whilst it does not have the huge epic scale of some of L’Herbier’s subsequent films, it is nonetheless a masterwork of cinematic storytelling and uses a dazzling range of photographic techniques to hold the audience’s attention... The historic importance of L’Homme du large is summed up Henri Langlois, who described the film as the first example of "écriture cinématographique." - James Travers, Films de France
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Wikipedia
 
Hong Kong 1941
Po-Chih Leong
Dang doi lai ming (original title)
Chosen by Udagawa Koyo (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1984 | 100m | Col | Hong Kong
"This melodrama is one of many that have embraced the period setting of Hong Kong during the Japanese occupation of World War II... Similar to films like Casablanca, Hong Kong 1941 is a good example of how Hong Kong cinema has made much use of this period and the theme of love in a desperate time. However, the film also depicts the brutality that occurred during the occupation, and the portrayal of the Japanese invasion force in this film reflects a deep resentment that parallels the representations of the German Nazis in Western film." - Jonathan E. Laxamana, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Eye for Film
         
El Hotel eléctrico
Segundo de Chomón
The Electric Hotel (English title)
Chosen by Tote Trenas (Nickel Odeon, 1997)
1908 | 8m | BW | Spain-France
"Segundo de Chomón (1871–1929) worked independently during the final years of the nineteenth century and early years of the twentieth to develop a number of special effects or trick films. His most inventive creation was El Hotel eléctrico (The Electric Hotel , 1908), which depicts a fully automated hotel in which a man is automatically shaved and his wife's hair is combed." - Film Reference
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Dailymotion
 
The Hour-Glass Sanatorium
Wojciech Has
Sanatorium pod klepsydra (original title); The Sandglass (alternative title)
Chosen by Jean-Paul Torok (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1973 | 124m | Col | Poland
"The Sandglass is a bewilderment of dreams, a labyrinth of decay. Written and directed by Wojciech J. Has in 1973, this non-narrative work was based on a collection of short stories by "Poland's Kafka," Bruno Schulz. Hailed as a classic, it is nevertheless a torturous trip down the rapids of the stream of consciousness. An exploration of immortality, memory and the functions of psychoanalysis, The Sandglass pours out its grains of wisdom in a deluge of ambiguity. Not for clock-watchers or fans of quick pace or plot, this old timepiece runs on Greenwich Godot." - Rita Kempley, The Washington Post
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Electric Sheep Magazine
 
How a Mosquito Operates
Winsor McCay
Chosen by Mike Leigh (Empire, 2008)
1912 | 6m | BW | USA
"How a Mosquito Operates may not be the first animated film (that honor is most often attributed to J. Stuart Blackton's 1906 Humorous Phases of Funny Faces), but it holds a secure place in film history as one of Winsor McCay's pioneering experiments in cartoon art... The film was an enormous success, laying the groundwork for McCay's most famous animated work, Gertie the Dinosaur." - Mark Pittillo, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  YouTube
         
The Hunters
Theo Angelopoulos
Kynigoi, Oi (original title)
Chosen by Mari Kuttna (Sight & Sound, 1982)
1977 | 168m | Col | Greece | Drama
"The Hunters reflects how a man of my generation sees Greek history, a history whose continuation blends with the years of my own life. It is a study of the historical conscience of the Greek bourgeoisie. In Greece, the ruling class is afraid of history and, for this reason, hides it. The Hunters  starts from this premise." - Theo Angelopoulos
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Cinepassion
 
Island of Terror
Terence Fisher   New   
Chosen by David Robert Mitchell (IonCinema!, 2011)
1966 | 90m | Col | UK
"This creepy yet clunky sci-fi-horror flick boasts one of the coolest monsters ever to grace the silver screen -- radioactive silicone beings ("silicates") that suck the calcium right out of your bones. They look like a cross between giant turtles, ostriches, and octopi, and they reproduce asexually every few hours by splitting in half and spilling out their glowing, spaghetti-like innards. With the exception of these creatures du jour and the eerie electronic sounds that emanate from them, Island of Terror is a fairly standard-issue lab-coats-versus-creatures flick in the mold of superior genre fare such as 1954's Them." - Brian J. Dillard, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  DVD Talk
 
The Iron Crown
Alessandro Blasetti
La Corona di ferro (original title)
Chosen by Elliott Stein (Village Voice, 1999)
1941 | 97m | BW | Italy
"A pseudo-historical fantasy based on a naive plot... which tried to create a kind of Italian saga in the style of Die Niebelungenlied... Blasetti, the true eclectic, mixed in everything he could think of, including Ariosto and the Grimm Brothers, while his directing drew heavily on early Fritz Lang." - Mira Liehm
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Ozus' World Movie Reviews
         
It Happens Every Spring
Lloyd Bacon
Chosen by Glenn Myrent (Facets, 2003)
1949 | 87m | BW | USA
"In this little gem of a comedy, Ray Milland has a ball -- a baseball -- and what he does to it turns the whole sports world topsy-turvy and sets high standards for later sports films about athletes with secret weapons... What is so good about this film is that it keeps its tongue in its cheek, allowing the clever script, special effects, straight-faced acting, and goofy scenarios to work their magic... It Happens Every Spring is one of the finest sports films ever made -- in a quiet, unassuming way." - Mike Cummings, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The New York Times
 
Jaguar
Jean Rouch
Chosen by Jill Godmilow (Facets, 2003)
1967 | 110m | Col | France
"Jaguar is a semi-fictional story about three young men who leave Niger to find work in Ghana prior to its independence. Rouch invited the major characters to improvise a narrative over the footage, which is an amazing and often funny document in its own right. If you care about cinema and haven't yet encountered Rouch, this shouldn't be missed." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"A charming ‘ethnographic fantasy’ about three young men from the Niger Savannah seeking work and experience in Ghana’s cities for a season." - Gareth Evans, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Dennis Grunes
 
Jazz Dance
Roger Tilton   New   
Chosen by Damien Chazelle (IonCinema!, 2010)
1954 | 22m | BW | USA
"With camerawork and editing years ahead of its time, Jazz Dance captures the exuberance and kinetic beauty of a Lower Manhattan dance club. Richard Leacock and the other cameramen could only shoot for 11 seconds at a time before having to change reels. But with inventive shooting by Leacock, who planted himself right in the middle of the action, you can almost smell the sweat and feel the beat." - Shannon Abel, HOTDOCS
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Chicago Reader
         
Jericho
Henri Calef
Chosen by Alain Ferrari (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1946 | 139m | BW | France
"Once the French film industry was able to make WWII epics, it did so with a vengeance. Jericho is the true story of the bombing of the Nazi-held prison at Amiens. It is argued that, while the RAF took an enormous public-relations risk in the bombing, the end result was largely salutary, resulting in freedom for 50 French hostages. The dramatic portions of the film share space with newsreel footage of the actual attack. One of the better films of its kind, Jericho failed to make a dent in the U.S. market, which at the time was inundated with war pictures." - Hal Erickson, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The New York Times
 
Jewish Luck
Alexis Granowsky
Evreyskoe schaste (original title)
Chosen by J. Hoberman (Profil, 2004)
1925 | 100m | BW | USSR
"A window onto a vanished world, this silent Soviet comedy takes place in czarist Russia and brings to the screen Menakhem Mendl, the hapless daydreamer created by Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem... The movie was directed by Alexander Granovsky, a veteran of the Moscow Yiddish State Art Theater, and shot by Eduard Tisse, who later worked with Eisenstein; they create numerous striking images, but none so unsettling as when Mendl dreams of exporting hundreds of brides to America—they arrive packed in railway freight cars." - Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Seagull Films
 
A Journey That Wasn't
Pierre Huyghe   New   
Chosen by Alistair Banks Griffin (IonCinema!, 2010)
2006 | 23m | Col | USA
"Huyghe’s practice explores the convergence of reality and fiction, memory and history, and various modes of cultural reproduction through the use of a diverse range of media that includes film, video, sound, animation, sculpture, and architecture. His work finds a spectacular manifestation in A Journey That Wasn’t, which merges a real Antarctic travelogue with its staged epilogue... A Journey That Wasn’t also suggests a range of complex and contemporary social topics—in particular, humanity’s simultaneous destruction of nature and yearning for utopia. - Walker Art.org
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The Sound of Eye
         
Kung-fu Master!
Agnès Varda
Chosen by Miranda July (The Guardian, 2008)
1987 | 80m | Col | France
"Not a martial arts movie (the title refers to a video game) but a provocative 1988 French feature starring and based on a story by the talented English/French actress Jane Birkin... Varda's serene and unrhetorical handling of the loaded subject—underlined with sympathy and understanding for all of the characters, and full of both wit and tenderness—is what gives this picture its charge." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The New York Times
 
The Landlord
Hal Ashby
Chosen by Alexander Payne (Facets, 2003)
1970 | 113m | Col | USA
"Ashby's first film as director - produced by Norman Jewison, whose regular editor Ashby had been - this was coolly received when first released. Presumably its anarchic satire on the mores and assumptions of the American Way of Life were thought to be in bad taste... Ashby's film (like the later and much more successful The Last Detail) operates through the freewheeling juxtaposition of characters in unlikely situations. Worth a look." - Phil Hardy, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   The Village Voice (J. Hoberman)
 
The Last Hole
Herbert Achternbusch
Das Letzte Loch (original title)
Chosen by Hans Gunther Pflaum (Steadycam, 2007)
1981 | 92m | BW | West Germany
"Even the fact that Achternbusch scripted the most wilfully bizarre Herzog feature - Heart of Glass, in which the entire cast performed under hypnosis - doesn't prepare one for the strangeness of his own films. Where Herzog has sought increasing comfort in grandiose visions and international travel, Achternbusch is less romantic and more defiantly Bavarian... One hesitates to call this unsettling film a comedy, as its laughter is the stuff of nightmare. What right has anyone to laugh after too many are dead? But, says Achternbusch, what else can one do?" - Chris Petit, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Anthology Film Archives
         
Last Life in the Universe
Pen-Ek Ratanaruang
Ruang rak noi nid mahasan (original title)
Chosen by Alexandra Seitz (Steadycam, 2007)
2003 | 112m | Col | Thailand-Netherlands-Hong Kong-UK
"Strange and elusive, this 2003 Thai feature by Pen-ek Ratanaruang traces the deepening relationship between a reserved, suicidal Japanese man... and an angry young Thai woman... The elegant cinematography is by Chris Doyle." - J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader
"Hardly anything happens, but the film grips like a thriller; tone and pace, atmosphere and imagery tell voluminous stories of their own. It has Doyle's best camerawork since Happy Together and a snazzy cameo from Takashi Miike in shades and a snakeskin suit." - Tony Rayns, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Metacritic
 
The Last Stage
Wanda Jakubowska
Ostatni etap (original title)
Chosen by Louis Daquin (Cinematheque Belgique, 1952)
1948 | 81m | BW | Poland
"I hardly know where to begin -- a Polish film about life in Auschwitz, made less than three years after liberation of the camp, shot on location in Auschwitz itself, using real liberated prisoners as extras, filmed by a woman (female Polish directors in the '40s?) who had been imprisoned in Auschwitz just three years earlier... The film is inevitably modest about torture and annihilation, but not by '40s standards, and a long montage panning over mountains of leftover coats, shoes, toys and prosthetic limbs is a breathtaker, especially when you realize the filmmaker might well have used the real detritus found at the camp." - Michael Atkinson, IFC
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   DVD Savant Review
 
Late August, Early September
Olivier Assayas   New   
Fin août, début septembre (original title)
Chosen by Ry Russo-Young (IonCinema!, 2010)
1999 | 111m | Col | France
"What's unexpected as well as moving about this 1998 film by Olivier Assayas, at least in relation to his other recent features (Cold Water, Irma Vep), is how sweet tempered most of it is... Assayas's sense of how relationships evolve between people over time is conveyed with a rich and vivid novelistic density." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"Assayas has a recognisable vision of a world - late twenty-somethings running around, stumbling into careers they're unsure of, falling into relationships they're not committed to - but he lets the story happen offscreen... It's a bit like a Woody Allen film without the kvetching or the wisecracks, but younger and more vital." - Tom Charity, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Sight & Sound
         
Leap Into the Void
Marco Bellocchio
Salto nel vuoto (original title); A Leap in the Dark (alternative title)
Chosen by Jean-Philippe Domecq (Positif, 1991)
1980 | 120m | Col | Italy
"Bellocchio's quirky subversion of bourgeois family values revives all the strengths of two earlier works (Fists in the Pocket and In the Name of the Father) with its tale of a middle-aged, incestuously puritanical judge (Michel Piccoli) gradually destroyed by the hesitant love affair between his sister (Anouk Aimée) and a young anarchist actor. The treatment is perhaps less cruel, but Bellocchio continues the stylisation and claustrophobia of his earlier images - and with them the debt to the wise, angry, anti-patriarchal cinema of Jean Vigo." - Chris Auty, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Allmovie
 
La Ley de Herodes
Luis Estrada   New   
Herod's Law (English title)
Chosen by Simeon Tegel (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1999 | 120m | Col | Mexico
"This delirious 1999 comic fable is a caustic indictment of Mexico's seedy political culture as well as director Luis Estrada's tribute to Touch of Evil, Orson Welles's giddily baroque tale of corruption over the border...  Estrada references Welles throughout with his low-angle deep-focus shots, grotesque close-ups, and brassy sound track. The actors are uniformly excellent, embracing their arch roles without succumbing to caricature." - Ted Shen, Chicago Reader
"This black comedy takes satirical swipes at connivance, corruption and the self-serving attitude of Mexican politicians in a country ruled by the same party for seven decades. In a spooky irony, the government tried to ban the film. They failed and lost the election." - Jan Fuscoe, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Metacritic
 
A Life for a Life
Yevgeni Bauer
Zhizn za zhizn (original title); Her Sister's Rival (alternative title)
Chosen by Julian Graffy (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1916 | 66m | BW | Russia
"Although based on a French novel by Georges Ohnet, the film, adapted to a Russian setting, perfectly conveys the decadence of the late Tsarist era. A fortune-hunting prince marries the wealthy daughter of a female industrialist while carrying on an affair with his wife’s foster sister who is married to a businessman she does not love. After spending much of his wife’s money, he forges promissory notes and is about to be arrested when his mother-in-law shoots him." - William M. Drew
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Film Reference
         
Light Years Away
Alain Tanner
Les Années lumière (original title)
Chosen by Guglielmo Biraghi (John Kobal Poll, 1988)
1981 | 105m | Col | France-Switzerland
"The first English-language film of Swiss director Alain Tanner is in large part a preachy, static, gaseously mystical muddle... Tanner's good sense seems to have deserted him in every department but that of mise-en-scene; the images remain crisp and intelligently conceived even as the sound track fogs over in Carlos Castaneda-isms." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"The film is mysterious without being mystifying or unduly solemn. Clear as mud, in fact, with the compelling logic of a dream. The real puzzle (though it's not a complaint) is why a politically discursive film-maker like Tanner  has taken up this mystic and ritualistic fable." - Jennifer Selway, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Films de France
 
The Lion Has Seven Heads
Glauber Rocha
Der Leone Have Sept Cabeças (original title)
Chosen by Christian Braad Thomsen (Sight & Sound, 1972)
1970 | 103m | Col | Congo-France-Italy
"Rocha's film intends to demonstrate the contradictions of imperialism in Africa and to reveal the dynamics of the revolutionary process, of struggle against it. It is filmed theatre, self-consciously and confessedly Brechtian in its method... Very didactic and banally filmed, it tends toward a condescending populism, a rip-off analysis that doesn't seem to stem from a strong engagement with the subject, despite the clarity/accuracy of the general argument. The signs have no life." - John Du Cane, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Cinepassion
 
Little Dieter Needs to Fly
Werner Herzog
Chosen by Robert Sarafian (Iranian Film Poll, 2009)
1997 | 80m | Col | France-UK-Germany
"A U.S. Navy pilot, Dieter Dengler was shot down over Laos in 1966 and became a prisoner of war. In this deceptively conventional 1997 documentary by Werner Herzog, Dengler recounts and reenacts his astonishing story; it's so rehearsed and so incredible that it sometimes sounds exaggerated or even fabricated, yet there's never any doubt that he's been to hell and back. The strangely low-key dramatizations were shot on location." - Lisa Alspector, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Slant Magazine
         
The Long Day's Dying
Peter Collinson
Chosen by Trevor Steele Taylor (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1968 | 93m | Col | UK
"A clumsy adaptation of Alan White's fine novel about four lost soldiers - three British paratroopers and a German who becomes their prisoner... The novel's rather interesting argument, that a highly trained soldier can revel in his skill as a killer and yet remain a pacifist, gets lost in hysterical overstatement, much camera trickery, insistent soft-focus photography, and a script by Charles Wood which is unwisely cast as a poetic stream-of-consciousness monologue. Excellent performances, though, especially from Tom Bell." - Tom Milne, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   TIME Magazine
 
Macaroni
Ettore Scola   New   
Maccheroni (original title)
Chosen by Fernando Leon de Aranoa (El Pais, 2009)
1985 | 104m | Col | Italy
"While Jack Lemmon is as effectively professional as ever as the surly grouch regenerated by the Neapolitan way of life, it is Marcello Mastroianni who steals the show. Perfectly attuned to the film's easygoing examination of the gulf between reality and fantasy, hopes and disillusionment, Mastroianni manages to make convincing a man stricken with a singularly fertile form of insanity and blessed with a heart as huge and warm as Vesuvius." - Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Roger Ebert
 
Maciste all'inferno
Riccardo Freda
The Witch's Curse (English title)
Chosen by Richard Dyer (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1962 | 79m | Col | Italy
"Sporting only his trademark loincloth, Italian superhero Maciste shows up in the Scottish village of Loch Lake in the 17th century, where the winsome Martha is about to be burned as a witch... En route, he faces such perils of hell as serpents, a giant, an evil vulture and, curiously, stampeding cattle. Such unembarrassed loopiness should be amusing, but Freda's poker-faced manner plus the dullest of casts ensure that tedium sets in early: confirmation that the early-'60s muscleman cycle produced only small pleasures at best." - Bob Baker, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   B-Movie Central
         
Madamigella di Maupin
Mauro Bolognini
Mademoiselle de Maupin (French title)
Chosen by Frederic Vitoux (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1966 | 95m | Col | Italy-Spain-France
"Madamigella di Maupin was a lavish Technicolor romp based on Theophile Gautier's raunchy novel, about a cross-dressing swordswoman (Catherine Spaak) who blithely seduces lovers of both sexes. Virtually unseen today, the film does have its admirers. The critic Ronald Bergan, who slated Bolognini for his "pictorially self-conscious" style, conceded that Maupin "was less of a drag than usual." - David Melville, Senses of Cinema
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Allmovie
 
The Maggie
Alexander Mackendrick
High and Dry (alternative title)
Chosen by Michael Caton-Jones (Time Out, 1995)
1954 | 93m | BW | UK
"Alexander Mackendrick always managed to bring an undertone of social reality to the comic fantasies he directed for Britain's Ealing Studios, and for that reason they remain in the mind much longer than those of his colleagues." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"The cruel comedy of a rich Yank being slowly tormented by the canny crew of an ancient Scots cargo boat gave Mackendrick and Ealing's resident American writer William Rose latitude to explore, in both autobiographical and wider cultural terms, the contradictions of the Old World and the New." - Paul Taylor, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  BFI Screen Online
 
The Man Who Disappeared Yesterday
Masahiro Makino   New   
Kino kieta otoko (original title)
Chosen by Koichi Yamada (Sight & Sound, 1982)
1941 | 89m | BW | Japan
"An adaptation of W. S. Van Dyke's film of The Thin Man (1934), this humorous murder mystery is said to have been filmed in only ten days by Makino, who directed over 250 films throughout his career." - Andre Soares, Alt Film Guide
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Wikipedia
         
Manila by Night
Ishmael Bernal
City After Dark (alternative title)
Chosen by Joel David (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1980 | 150m | Col | Philippines
"Banned from export at the time by Imelda Marcos herself, this was Ishmael Bernal's masterpiece: a deeply truthful celebration of the night street-life he knew and loved in all its squalor, pain and joy. The characters are authentic flaming creatures (fags, dykes, bisexuals, hookers of all genders, dopers, plus assorted petty criminals)... It remains impressive for its honesty and candour, its daringly original structure, its Cassavetes-worthy improvisations and its complete lack of phoney compassion for its fraught and wasted characters." - Tony Rayns, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Film Revisited
 
Marcides
Yousry Nasrallah
Mercedes (alternative title)
Chosen by Hamid Dabashi (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1993 | 108m | Col | Egypt-France
"Fans of helmer Yousry Nasrallah's first feature, Vols d'Ete, will be disappointed by his change of gear in Mercedes. This wise, would-be political, off-the-wall soap opera has an outrageous fascination of its own, but outside Egypt the pic's appeal looks limited to select fest auds... It's a heady cocktail which, kept under control, could have ended with a bang instead of bewilderment." - Deborah Young, Variety
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The New York Times
 
Marjoe
Howard Smith & Sarah Kernochan
Chosen by Russel Forster (Facets, 2004)
1972 | 88m | Col | USA
"Marjoe Gortner - the name's an amalgam of Mary and Joseph - began his career as a revivalist preacher at the age of four, broke off in his teens, but returned to the Church some years later, both eyes open and on the make. This documentary reveals that Marjoe really wants to belong to the Deity of Showbiz Rock... Marjoe talks frankly, even cynically, to the camera about his profession: the gimmicks, the money, the qualms, the hypocrisy involved. Only gradually do we realise that he is manipulating us and the film-makers just as readily as he used his congregations." - Chris Petit, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The Village Voice (Michael Atkinson)
         
Megaforce
Hal Needham
Chosen by Matt Stone (Animation World Network, 1997)
1982 | 99m | Col | USA
"The closest thing to a live-action version of the G.I. Joe cartoon series -- but less sophisticated -- Megaforce, from Smokey and the Bandit director Hal Needham, envisions future desert warfare fought with motorcycles that pop wheelies and launch missiles in slow motion... This quickly forgotten box-office bomb is corny and infantile enough that South Park co-creator Trey Parker has spoken of buying the rights and resurrecting the franchise in a joke sequel." - Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The Monster Shack
 
Michurin
Alexander Dovzhenko
Life in Bloom (English title)
Chosen by Jean-Paul Le Chanois (Cinematheque Belgique, 1952)
1948 | 103m | Col | USSR
"Alexander Dovzhenko's first color film and last completed feature was based on his play Life in Bloom, a biography (verging on hagiography) of the celebrated Russian botanist Ivan Michurin... Certain [Dovzhenko] characteristic touches show up here and there—some signature landscapes, a powerful passage evoking John Ford that shows Michurin's grief over his wife's death—but generally this is a feel-good Stalinist biopic. Perhaps the most interesting propaganda comes in the opening scene, when a wealthy American (speaking in English) attempts to lure Michurin to the States with untold riches." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Columbia University
 
Mondays in the Sun
Fernando Leon de Aranoa   New   
Los lunes al sol (original title
Chosen by Ricardo Darin (Fotogramas, 2008)
2002 | 113m | Col | Spain-France-Italy
"Like Fellini's I Vitelloni, this Spanish-French-Italian coproduction is a bittersweet epic about frustration and relative inertia, though with a somewhat older and wiser group of layabouts, and its contemporary relevance made it a box-office hit in Spain." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"Painted mostly in drab browns and greys, Mondays in the Sun doesn’t let much light in. Keenly characterised and daubed with dry humour, the film refuses to sentimentalise economic emasculation or underclass futility – it engineers only the smallest of triumphs for these stymied friends." - Jessica Winter, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Metacritic
         
Mondo Elvis
Tom Corboy
Chosen by Nancy Savoca (Facets, 2003)
1984 | 28m | Col | USA
"One would be hard-pressed to name a rock star with a more loyal fan following than Elvis Presley, but while most folks are content to listen to his records and watch his movies, there's a hardy breed of far more devoted admirers whose enthusiasm might seem more like obsession to outsiders. Mondo Elvis is a documentary which examines a handful of unusually passionate Elvis fans... Mondo Elvis allows its subjects to speak for themselves, and strives to regard them with a modicum of respect, despite their often bizarre stories." - Mark Deming, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   The Stuff You Gotta Watch
 
A Month in the Country
Pat O'Connor
Chosen by Alistair Owen (Time Out, 1995)
1987 | 96m | Col | UK
"In the summer of 1920, two traumatised victims of World War I meet in a Yorkshire village... O'Connor directs Simon Gray's script with great sensitivity. It's all taken at a gentle pace, but dullness is averted by a sly humour. The pretty-prettiness of Hovis commercials is not always avoided, and recurrent images of the apocalyptic painting, intended to give the rather pat plot a mystical resonance, don't; but all the performances are accomplished, and that of Colin Firth is brilliant." - Mark Sanderson, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   The Washington Post
 
La Morte-saison des amours
Pierre Kast
The Season for Love (English title)
Chosen by Paul Louis Thirard (Positif, 1991)
1961 | 100m | BW | France
"Like his friend and contemporary Eric Rohmer, Pierre Kast was fascinated by the moral ambiguities of what the alternative title of this film calls 'amorous liaisons', but he lacked Rohmer's Catholic sensibility and his impeccable sense of mise en scène. Instead La Morte-saison des amours offers a defiantly secular and argumentative vision of a situation where A loves B, who loves C, who loves D." - British Film Institute
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Allmovie
         
The Mothering Heart
D.W. Griffith
Chosen by Pierre Rissient (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1913 | 23m | BW | USA
"The culmination of Griffith's Biograph years, both artistically and chronologically, is The Mothering Heart, shot in 1913. By this time the Biograph allowed Griffith to expand some of his films to two reels, or about 25 minutes of running time... Lillian Gish's performance is astonishing, especially in the harrowing scene in which, after the death of her baby, she thrashes the bushes in her parents' garden with a switch. Griffith had pushed even the two-reel films he directed at the Biograph to their limit of expressiveness." - John Steinle, Senses of Cinema
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Silent Volume
 
Muqaddar Ka Sikandar
Prakash Mehra   New   
Chosen by Corey K. Creekmur (Facets, 2003)
1978 | 189m | Col | India
"Like many great masala films, the plot of Muqaddar ka sikandar is not easy to summarize. It has a little of everything - orphans, gangsters, mean rich dudes, time bombs, a dashing hero, a mysterious, beautiful courtesan, dream sequences, long lost mothers, a wild psychedelic dance club, and more. But it's also a little sadder and bleaker than much contemporaneous masala fare... I recommend Muqaddar ka sikandar heartily to anyone with a taste for masala, an interest in Bollywood's classics, and the willingness to shed a tear or two." - Filmi Geek
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Planet Bollybob
 
The Murderer Dimitri Karamazov
Fyodor Otsep
Der Mörder Dimitri Karamasoff (original title)
Chosen by Raymond Durgnat (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1931 | 93m | BW | Germany
"I am not familiar with the spacious novel from which this film was excavated - a fortunate fault that has allowed me to enjoy it without continual temptation to superimpose the present film on the remembered reading in order to see if they coincide. So, with immaculate disregard for its irreverent desecrations and its spotless fidelities - both unimportant - the present film is extremely powerful." - Jorge Luis Borges
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Allmovie
         
My Mother's Castle
Yves Robert
La Château de ma mère (original title)
Chosen by Bruce Bawer (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1990 | 98m | Col | France
"Yves Robert's follow-up to My Father's Glory continues his adaptation of Marcel Pagnol's memoirs about his childhood in Provence... Like many sequels, this is a bit of a step down from its predecessor; while the story, narration, and settings still carry a certain charm, the comedy and acting are somewhat broader." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"Unsurprisingly, this sequel to La Gloire de mon père is very similar in tone. Your attitude to it depends on whether you viewed the first film as a touching evocation of a Provence childhood, or as a tedious travelogue drowning in sentiment." - John Morrish, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   The Washington Post
 
Myra Breckinridge
Michael Sarne
Chosen by Wieland Speck (PopcornQ, 1997)
1970 | 94m | Col | USA
"It's possible to distinguish the ghost of a clever idea in Michael Sarne's disastrous 1970 rendition of Gore Vidal's novel, the idea being that you could have a good time making a sort of Danny Kaye, innocent-abroad picture about a sex-changed ball buster amok in the land of tinsel." - Don Druker, Chicago Reader
"As an adaptation of Gore Vidal's novel, this is a major travesty. As a Hollywood comedy, it's a major disaster. As a 20th Century-Fox movie, it's the best argument yet for employing a director who can direct. But as a Raquel Welch movie, it's better than most." - Tony Rayns, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   The Village Voice
 
Niemandsland
Victor Trivas
No Man's Land (English title); Hell on Earth (alternative title)
Chosen by Robert Hamer (Cinematheque Belgique, 1952)
1931 | 93m | BW | Germany
"Hell on Earth is the English-language title for the German antiwar drama Niemansland (No Man's Land). Most of the film takes place in a WW I trench, where five diverse individuals have been unwillingly thrust together... The pacifistic sentiments (not to mention the ethnic mix) of Niemansland would be verboten by the Nazi regime within a few years after its original 1931 release; indeed, all copies of this film were ordered to be destroyed by propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels." - Hal Erickson, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Internet Archive
         
Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy
Tracey Moffatt
Chosen by Lalitha Gopalan (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1989 | 19m | Col | Australia
"Formally, Moffatt's movie is a beautifully considered, carefully crafted 'tour' across various, symbolically loaded areas of space, wherein John Whitteron's steadily exploratory camerawork forces our gaze to look at certain, otherwise quite banal, objects and activities and to studiedly contemplate them, in all their sadly arrested beauty, in all their absurd tragi-comedy." - Peter Kemp, Senses of Cinema
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Dailymotion
 
Night Train
Jerzy Kawalerowicz
Pociag (original title)
Chosen by Tadeusz Soboelwski (John Kobal Poll, 1988)
1959 | 90m | BW | Poland
"Night Train is a taut, compelling, and insightful psychological portrait of emotional need, hysteria, and mob behavior. Using acute angle shots, high contrast lighting, and narrow, claustrophobic framing, Jerzy Kawalerowicz creates an unnaturally heightened sense of environment and perceptional acuity that reflect the passengers' subconscious duress and sublimated emotions." - Acquarello, Strictly Film School
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Bright Lights Film Journal
 
Nitrate Kisses
Barbara Hammer
Chosen by Carolee Schneemann (Facets, 2003)
1992 | 67m | BW | USA
"A strikingly shot and edited 1992 black-and-white documentary feature by experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer, about the effacing of gay experience from official histories, beginning with the life of novelist Willa Cather. Setting offscreen commentaries and conversations against various kinds of archival and new footage (including bold images of lovemaking between women in the 70s), this far-ranging and compelling essay seems limited only by the sound-bite and image-bite format, which gives it a slightly rushed feeling." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Chicago Weekly
         
O. Henry's Full House
Jean Negulesco / Henry Koster / Henry Hathaway / Henry King / Howard Hawks
Chosen by Eric Darnell (Animation World Network, 1998)
1952 | 117m | BW | USA
"John Steinbeck, looking and sounding disconcertingly like Ward Bond, hosts five tales by O Henry, of which only Hathaway's segment (The Clarion Call) is devoid of interest. Negulesco and King both contribute sentimental valentines (The Last Leaf and The Gift of the Magi) in which love transcends the miseries of illness and poverty respectively. Hawks' The Ransom of Red Chief is about two child-kidnappers who end up paying their victim's dad to take the little horror off their hands." - Bob Baker, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Combustible Celluloid
 
Odette
Herbert Wilcox
Chosen by Hans-Jürgen Syberberg (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1950 | 100m | BW | UK
"Anna Neagle portraying another Great Lady, this time Odette Churchill, the French wife of an Englishman, who spied for the French Resistance during World War II, was captured and tortured by the Nazis, but survived to be awarded the George Cross. Neagle acquits herself reasonably well, but the whole film is bogged down by a surfeit of respect and patriotism. The kind of film in which you know in advance exactly what will happen next." - Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Britmovie
 
Okay Bill
John G. Avildsen
Sweet Dreams (alternative title)
Chosen by James Toback (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1971 | 91m | Col | USA
"In this drama, a successful stockbroker periodically hops on a hog and heads for Greenwich Village in hopes of becoming a counterculture hippy. There seems to be few external reasons for these excursions as he is living the perfect middle-class dream with his beautiful, sensual wife. But she has no idea about his trips." - Sandra Brennan, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   BFI
         
Okie Noodling
Bradley Beesley
Chosen by Justine Nagan (Facets, 2004)
2001 | 57m | Col | USA
"As our culture becomes more homogenized and our lives more removed from the natural world, activities like hand fishing—or “noodling”—grow more charming. In this lively one-hour documentary Brad Beesley accompanies rural Oklahomans as they practice the “lost art” of diving for catfish... “Not a lot of people want to go underwater, stick their hands in a hole where they can't see anything, and get bit by something,” says one observer; Beesley's achievement is to make you feel that more should." - Fred Camper, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   The Austin Chronicle
 
The Old Actor
D.W. Griffith
Chosen by Charles Barr (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1912 | 17m | BW | USA
"The Old Actor was produced by the Eclipse Company, one of the lesser film firms of the pre-1910 years. Unable to find work or to provide for his family, an elderly thespian decides to end it all. He heads to the river, where he is prevented from jumping in by the superimposed image of his wife and children." - Hal Erickson, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   BFI
 
Old Joy
Kelly Reichardt   New   
Chosen by Andrew Haigh (IonCinema!, 2011)
2005 | 73m | Col | USA
"This quiet, elegiac road movie hinges on a few beautifully underplayed scenes between Daniel London and Will Oldham, but director Kelly Reichardt enlarges their emotional context with long stretches of western scenery pouring through the windows of London's car as he drives." - J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader
"Moods and emotions are not declared but inferred, measured in swollen pauses and fumbling overtures. As Gus Van Sant did in Gerry – another two-hander road trip that Old Joy superficially resembles – Reichardt lets the subtext do the talking. Such watchful reticence takes a bold, confident filmmaker." - Jessica Winter, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Metacritic
         
On Borrowed Time
Harold S. Bucquet
Chosen by Jean Delannoy (Cinematheque Belgique, 1952)
1939 | 99m | BW | USA
"Harold Bucquet, who handled the Dr. Kildare series at MGM, directed this maudlin 1939 fantasy in which a curmudgeonly grandfather (Lionel Barrymore, of course) stalls Death (in the guise of dapper Englishman Cedric Hardwicke) to prevent the forced adoption of his orphaned grandson (Bobs Watson). The film's studio back-lot version of small-town America and its glorious, sunlit heaven are painfully hokey, and while Bucquet nicely captures the camaraderie between Barrymore and Watson, the two of them provide enough ham for an Easter dinner." - Ted Shen, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Allmovie
 
One Hundred Children Waiting for a Train
Ignacio Agüero
Cien niños esperando un tren (original title)
Chosen by Nakano Rie (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1988 | 55m | Col | Chile
"One Hundred Children Waiting for  Train poetically tells the story of a group of Chilean children who discover a larger reality - and a different world - through the cinema. " - Icarus Films
"Gracefully photographed and simply produced, this documentary captures the wonder of discovery as these children's imaginations are tickled with celluloid magic and caring attention." - Pat Aufderheide, In These Times
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Film Reference
 
One Way or Another
Sara Gómez
De Cierta manera (original title)
Chosen by Andrea Weiss (PopcornQ, 1997)
1977 | 78m | BW | Cuba
"This extraordinary film, the first Cuban feature by a woman... Director Sara Gomez provocatively combines fiction sequences with documentary footage, and her playful use of form is both startling and purposeful... Sadly, Gomez died in 1974 while the film was being edited, and it wasn't completed until three years later." - Fred Camper, Chicago Reader
"As the title indicates, contradiction is the name of the game, and the film brilliantly counterposes macho cruelties and loyalties, socialist change and intractable traditions, revolutionary fervour and political authoritarianism." - Mandy Merck, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Jump Cut
         
The Oscar
Russell Rouse
Chosen by Edward Margulies (PopcornQ, 1997)
1966 | 119m | Col | USA
"Tacky Tinseltown soaper, logging the unscrupulous rise to stardom of an Academy-nominated actor in a succession of flashbacks, featuring numerous stellar walk-ons and dreadful dialogue. Co-scripted by sci-fi hero Harlan Ellison, based on the novel by Richard Sale, and directed by gimmick-master Rouse, whose The Thief contains not one line of dialogue, but who himself had a moment of true glory in co-scripting DOA." - Paul Taylor, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Ozu's World Movie Reviews
 
Paradise
Doris Dörrie
Paradies (original title)
Chosen by Dennis Harvey (PopcornQ, 1997)
1986 | 106m | Col | West Germany
"This 1986 film by German director Doris Dorrie begins as a light comedy. Viktor, a zoology professor, and his wife Angelika come across her old friend Lotte, who now lives alone in the country and reads novels while acting out the roles of key characters... The most interesting thing about the film is its uncertain tone: it's a mixture of realism and fantasy, comedy and tragedy, but it doesn't want to tell you how to take it... The whole is more puzzling than satisfying." - Fred Camper, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Film Reference
 
Les Parents terribles
Jean Cocteau
The Storm Within (English title)
Chosen by Claude Gauteur (Positif, 1991)
1948 | 98m | BW | France
"Jean Cocteau's filming of his 1938 play ten years later is both a lesson in mise en scene and an illustration of the paradox that accentuating the theatrical aspects of theater on-screen makes them quintessentially cinematic... Cocteau cuts and moves his camera in ways that are both eccentric and definitive." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"Les Parents Terribles is the opposite pole to a film like Orphée: Cocteau the airy purveyor of fantasy proving that he could keep his feet on the ground with the best of them in a gut-wrenching tale of incestuous emotional rivalries destroying a family from within." - Tom Milne, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Films de France
         
Partner
Bernardo Bertolucci
Chosen by Siegfried Schober (Sight & Sound, 1972)
1968 | 110m | Col | Italy
"Bernardo Bertolucci's third and seldom-shown feature is very much a reflection of its period—1968—but no less fascinating for that. Loosely based on Dostoyevski's The Double, and starring the remarkable Pierre Clementi, the film was made at the height of Godard's influence on younger European directors, and Bertolucci's first color film reflects his master in its loose narrative structure, its focus on student radicalism, its satire on consumerism... A bit all over the place, the film lacks the heartbreaking conviction of Before the Revolution, but it soars with manic, runaway energy." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   The Village Voice (Michael Atkinson)
 
Paruchizan Zenshi
Noriaki Tsuchimoto

Pre-Partisan (English title)
Chosen by Adriano Apra (Sight & Sound, 1972)
1969 | 122m | BW | Japan
"In the autumn of 1969, several fierce and violent confrontations took place in Kyoto between students and the police. The students raised barricades and threw Molotov cocktails, while the riot police with all their might tried to scatter the movement. The disturbances are known as the so-called ‘October Battle‘ and ‘November Battle‘. One of the causes was the announced visit by Japanese Prime Minister Sato to the United States. The film follows the activities of a controversial staff member of Kyoto University, who chose the students‘ side in their struggle against the power abuse by the authorities." - International Documentary Film Festival
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival
 
Passione d'Amore
Ettore Scola
Passion of Love (English title)
Chosen by Atif Yilmaz (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1981 | 118m | Col | France-Italy
"An Italian costume drama set in the 19th century, about a dashing young cavalry officer and his love. Senso, alas, it is not. After interminable mopings when the lovers are separated by his transfer to a remote frontier post, things brighten up momentarily with the appearance of a mysterious woman bearing a marked resemblance to Murnau's Nosferatu... Po faced nonsense with cardboard characters, it has excellent camerawork and nicely dry supporting performances from Trintignant and Blier." - Tom Milne, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   The New York Times
         
Le Père Noël est une ordure
Jean-Marie Poiré
Santa Clause is a Bastard (English title)
Chosen by Jean Dutourd (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1982 | 88m | Col | France
"Political incorrectness toward Christmas, Christian charity, and gender-bending informs this lively 1982 farce about workers at a suicide hotline colliding with various desperate eccentrics on Christmas Eve. Director Jean-Marie Poire wrote the script in collaboration with most of the major actors and their desire to be irreverent (the title translates as Santa Claus Is a Bastard) gets a mite monotonous." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Films de France
 
Pictures of the Old World
Dusan Hanák
Obrazy starého sveta (original title)
Chosen by Andrew James Horton (Facets, 2004)
1972 | 74m | BW | Czechoslovakia
"Pictures of the Old World is hardly the kind of film that could be expected to incur the wrath of the authorities. Yet, after a few screenings, it was banned and withdrawn until 1988. It is a documentary inspired by the photography of Martin Martinček who had travelled into some of most remote areas of the Tatra Mountains area, in the north of the country [Czechoslovakia], near the border with Poland... This is such a beautiful, non-political, non-polemical film that its official banning is just so mysterious." - Peter Hourigan, Senses of Cinema
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   University of Pittsburgh
 
Pink Narcissus
James Bidgood
Chosen by Tom Abell (PopcornQ, 1997)
1971 | 71m | Col | USA
"For years, Pink Narcissus was a film shrouded in mystery, known only to the most ardent fans of underground/gay cinema after a brief outing in the early '70s, and from a few awed reviews in the press... It's a hugely overblown sexual fantasy centering around one boy, a dark-haired, pouting young thing who drifts through various sets (sleazy street, club, Arabian Nights-style orgy), dressing up and dressing down, cruising and being cruised. It's all massively erotic, healthily funny and visually impressive, reminiscent of Lindsay Kemp, Kenneth Anger and their ilk." - Rupert Smith, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Bright Lights Film Journal
         
         
 
         
         
Pola X
Lèos Carax
Chosen by Shinji Aoyama (Kinema Junpo, 1999)
1999 | 134m | Col | France-Germany-Japan-Switzerland
"A 19th-century romantic inhabiting a universe as mythological as Jean Cocteau's, Carax has a wonderful cinematic eye and a personal feeling for editing rhythms, and his sense of overripeness and excess virtually defines him. He's as self-indulgent as they come, and we'd all be much the poorer if he weren't." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"Carax's long-awaited follow-up to Les Amants du Pont-Neuf is a misguided and narcissistic update of Melville's Pierre, or the Ambiguities... The first part is merely dull and vacuous; thereafter the film slides into absurdly pretentious bluster." - Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   The Village Voice (J. Hoberman)
 
The Prince of Tides
Barbra Streisand
Chosen by Cherd Songsri (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1991 | 132m | Col | USA
"For better and for worse, Streisand's directorial style calls to mind Delmer Daves in the 60s (Spencer's Mountain, Youngblood Hawke)... The results may seem overripe and dated in spots, but she coaxes a fine performance out of Nolte, and the other actors (herself included) acquit themselves honorably." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"Pat Conroy's novel of tears, treacle and trauma cries out for the Sirk treatment, but gets, thanks to Streisand, the sort of over-the-top endorsement Joan Crawford brought to Mildred Pierce." - Brian Case, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)
 
The Private Affairs of Bel Ami
Albert Lewin
Chosen by Brad Stevens (Senses of Cinema, 2000)
1947 | 112m | BW | USA
"A lovingly literate adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's novella about a soldier (George Sanders) returning from the wars without prospects, persuaded to capitalise on the good looks that seem irresistible to women... Set in a stylish evocation of 19th century Paris partly based on contemporary paintings, and partly (like the London of The Picture of Dorian Gray) a vivid product of the imagination, the film fascinatingly refuses to stigmatise its hero as he becomes increasingly and tragically mired... A sadly neglected film. " - Tom Milne, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Allmovie
         
The Promised Land
Andrzej Wajda
Ziemia obiecana (original title)
Chosen by Agnieszka Holland (Facets, 2003)
1974 | 179m | Col | Poland
"The story unfolds like a more cynical version of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre: instead of moving from rationality to gold-thirsty insanity, the three prospectors devolve from unpleasant greediness to utter despicability, making their tragic fate seem more like a long-overdue comeuppance. Wajda's humanitarian impulses are compromised somewhat by his Shylockian Jews and insatiable, bosom-heaving women; the film's sweeping vision and brilliant structure only make these shortcomings more glaring." - Adam Langer, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Strictly Film School
 
Purab Aur Pacchim
Manoj Kumar
Purab Aur Paschim (alternative spelling)
Chosen by Gurinder Chadha (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1970 | 175m | Col-BW | India
"Purab Aur Paschim made in 1970, was another one of Manoj Kumar's sagas on patriotism. Better known as Bharat Kumar, the actor-cum-director has made India and Indian-ness his forte in Hindi films. Purab Aur Paschim follows the same trend. And even though it is cliche-ridden, as most of Manoj Kumar's films are, the film does have a certain kind of honesty that serves as a powerful tool." - Yahoo! Movies (India)
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Passion for Cinema
 
The Quiet Duel
Akira Kurosawa
Shizukanaru kettô (original title); The Silent Duel (alternative title)
Chosen by Richard Williams (Animation World Network, 1996)
1949 | 95m | BW | Japan
"Based on a Japanese stage play, The Quiet Duel appears to be a heavily disguised parable about the long-range effects of the kind of militarism that led Japan to defeat in World War II... The screenplay's theatrical origins are not apparent in Mr. Kurosawa's easy, unobtrusive style, but they certainly are evident in a hysterical subplot involving the reappearance of the soldier who first infected the doctor, along with the poor soldier's pregnant wife." - Yahoo! Movies (India)
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Combustible Celluloid
         
The Quiet One
Sidney Meyers
Chosen by Joseph Strick (Facets, 2003)
1948 | 65m | BW | USA
"The Quiet One relates, in semi-documentary fashion, the inner workings of the Wiltwyck School for Boys at Esopus, New York. The nonprofessional cast is headed by Donald Thompson as emotionally disturbed youth Donald Peters... Of particular interest to modern viewers is the fact that Donald Thompson is black. Unlike other "socially conscious" films of the late 1940s, The Quiet One does not make Donald's race an issue in the proceedings; he is simply a disturbed young boy in need of sympathetic treatment." - Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Internet Archive
 
A Quiet Week in the House
Jan Svankmajer
Tichý týden v dome (original title)
Chosen by Keith Griffiths (Time Out, 1995)
1969 | 20m | Col-BW | Czechoslovakia
"A Quiet Week in the House is an early(ish) short from the King of Czechoslovakian surrealist shorts, Jan Svankmajer. It shows a man entering a normal-looking house before drilling holes in each of the rooms, day after day. Inside these rooms, everything from meat to furniture to items of clothing come alive... The film, first and foremost, acts as a testament to the fun you can have with a little imagination, and a condemnation of the monochromic existence you’ll live without one." - Cult of Cinema
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Wikipedia
 
 
La Rabbia
Pier Paolo Pasolini & Giovanni Guareschi
Rage (English title)
Chosen by Harun Farocki (Facets, 2003)
1963 | 104m | BW | Italy
"Why is our life tamed by unhappiness, anxiety, by the fear of a war? To answer this question I wrote this film, with no chronological order, and maybe not even a logical one... but with my political reasons and my poetic feeling." - Pier Paolo Pasolini
"Using clips of such subjects as the Congo in the early 60s, atomic blasts from 1956, a celebrity visit by Sophia Loren to an eel festival, and exploitation of workers at a Fiat plant... Pasolini speaks out against bigotry, intolerance, middle-class hypocrisies, human complacency and a host of other ills that concerned him." - Nathan Southern, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Film Society Lincoln Center
 
         
Racetrack
Frederick Wiseman
Chosen by Heddy Honigmann (Facets, 2003)
1985 | 114m | BW | USA
"Wiseman wanders around Belmont finding ripe, illustrative material, most of which fits into the abiding themes of his films, the melancholia peculiar to industrial societies, the emotional wages of materialism. Horse racing is a small industry comparatively, but it serves as a rich microcosm… It’s a super super film, from a super super filmmaker." - Tom Shales, The Washington Post
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Neil Young's Film Lounge
 
The Railroad Man
Pietro Germi
Il Ferroviere (original title)
Chosen by Takeshi Kitano (Time Out, 1995)
1956 | 116m | BW | Italy
"The director himself plays a boozy, autocratic engine driver who severs relations with his daughter over her love life and chases away his elder son, who's immersed in the usual teenage troubles. A suicide dies under his train, his drinking increases. He refuses to join a strike and is ostracised... It all ends in a warm Dickensian bath of Christmas Eve reconciliation. The blend of sharp observation and slick sentimentality is characteristic of the neo-realist cycle, of which this is a late, quite entertaining example." - Bob Baker, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Reverse Shot
 
Red Persimmon
Wang T'ung
Hong shi zi (original title)
Chosen by Tadao Sato (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1996 | 168m | Col | Taiwan
"This film recounts the circumstances surrounding director Wang Tung's flight from the Chinese mainland to Taiwan... Through reenactments of his memories, the story moves from harrowing moments of flight to their peaceful life before leaving became necessary. This family goes from a life of relative ease and comfort in China to one of daily hardship and toil, having lost all of their holdings during the move. Recalling these events, the director examines a traumatic event that is still vivid in the memories of Taiwan's older generations." - The Legacy Project
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Yes Asia
         
Re-Entry
Jordan Belson
Chosen by Michael Snow (Facets, 2003)
1964 | 7m | Col | USA
"As a yogi, Benson seeks the transcendence of the self. His personal cinema delineates the mechanics of transcendence in the rhetoric of abstractionism.  In Re-Entry he successfully synthesizes the Yogic and the cosmological elements in his art for the first time by forcefully abstracting and playing down both of them. The great advance of this film over all of his earlier work consists in the organization of its images into an intentional structure. " - P. Adams Sitney, Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   iotaCenter Biography
 
Regain
Marcel Pagnol
Harvest (English title)
Chosen by Edward Dmytryk (Cinematheque Belgique, 1952)
1937 | 105m | BW | France
"Allegorical peasant drama by Marcel Pagnol, author of the Marius/Fanny/Cesar trilogy, with a farmer and a cabaret singer coming together to resurrect a deserted village. More than most, Pagnol's films seem to represent the shortcomings of the pastoral “art cinema” of the 30s, but his handling of actors (including, here, Fernandel) often transcends the triteness of his conceptions." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Films de France
 
Relativity
Ed Emshwiller
Chosen by Bart Weiss (Facets, 2003)
1966 | 38m | Col | USA
"[A] beautifully photographed color montage of shots; insect, animal, man and galaxy; a sobering antidote to the orgy of subjectivism going on elsewhere." - Vincent Canby, The New York Times
"The artist's search for the meaning of his own existence is never-ending and takes many forms. Ed Emshwiller's remarkable epic, Relativity, continues this exploration with extraordinary frankness and rare technical skill. The sequence which symbolically portrays a woman at the moment of sexual climax is one of the most beautiful in the literature of film." - Willard Van Dyke
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The New York Times
         
Rendez-vous à Bray
André Delvaux
Rendezvous at Bray (English title)
Chosen by Hans Schiller (Sight & Sound, 1972)
1971 | 90m | Col | France-Belgium-West Germany
"On the surface, Delvaux's excursions into the ambiguous territory lying between fact and fantasy, past and present, may appear similar to the dry and difficult puzzles offered in the films of Resnais. But the Belgian seems a much warmer director, concerned with the emotional impulses behind dreams, combining dread and desire in both images and narrative. The result is a genuinely beautiful surrealism exploring the pains and joys of the human mind." - Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Jonathan Rosenbaum.com
 
The Rest is Silence
Helmut Käutner
Der Rest ist Schweigen (original title)
Chosen by Yoshio Shirai (Sight & Sound, 1982)
1959 | 106m | BW | Germany
"The Rest Is Silence, a German-made attempt to update Shakespeare, is one of the best and least self-conscious of this minor genre. As indicated by the title, the film's script is a "mufti" version of Hamlet, with young Hardy Kruger trying to prove that his uncle (Peter van Eyck) has killed his father. Direct references to the Shakespeare original abound, right down to the re-enactment of the crime for the benefit of the Uncle and the periodic appearances of the ghost of the hero's father." - Hal Erickson, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Moving Image Source
 
Der Riese
Michael Klier
Giant, The (English title)
Chosen by Chris Petit (Time Out, 1995)
1983 | 82m | Col-BW | West Germany
"An unconventionally constructed essay video on video surveillance in public space.The video uses documentary material from remote-control surveillance cameras on public streets, squares, shopping malls, and transit spaces like airports and train stations, as well as pictures from banks, department stores, supermarkets, and private grounds and buildings. The combination of various footage in a realistic style creates the impression of a central surveillance apparatus as an anonymous, powerful subject that omnipresently sees everything without itself being visible." - Reinhard Wolf
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Zemos98
         
Roma ore 11
Giuseppe De Santis
Rome 11:00 (English title)
Chosen by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (Facets, 2003)
1952 | 107m | BW | France-Italy
"A tragedy strikes when one hundred girls apply for a job as a typist and the staircase they pile up on suddenly collapses. Some are lightly wounded, some seriously injured, and one dies—the consequences on the lives of the applicants are vividly brought to life in this group portrait of young women struggling in the new urban work force." - MoMA
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  The New York Times
 
San Francisco
Anthony Stern
Chosen by Nicole Brenez (Kevin B. Lee survey, 2008)
1968 | 15m | Col | UK
"The filmic work of Anthony Stern derives from a radical energy that reveals for us, in figural terms, the life-drive. In 1968, San Francisco, a masterpiece of psychedelic cinesthesia, explodes cinema, seeking a liberation not only of every sense but also of representation itself – which no longer seems indexed to what is recorded, but connected directly, organically, to the energy of history." - Nicole Brenez, Rouge
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   BFI Screen Online
 
Sarraounia
Med Hondo
Chosen by James Leahy (Senses of Cinema, 2002)
1986 | 121m | Col | France-Burkina Faso
"Sarraounia is a young warrior queen of the Azna tribe, whose mastery of the ancient 'magic' skills of martial arts and pharmacology is first put to the test when she defends her people from attack by a neighbouring tribe... Everything here is grounded in careful but never pedantic historical research. The film is superbly crafted and expansive; the tone is celebratory, loud, assertive and spirited; but Hondo doesn't allow the visual and musical splendours to swamp his certainty that Africans need to learn to value and develop the identity that was theirs before the white man came." - Tony Rayns, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Harvard Film Archive
         
Schwechater
Peter Kubelka
Chosen by Fred Camper (Senses of Cinema, 2004)
1958 | 1m | Col | Austria
"Kubelka's achievement is that he has taken Soviet montage one step further. While Eisenstein used shots as the basic units and edited them together in a pattern to make meanings, Kubelka has gone back to the individual still frame as the essence of cinema. the fact that a projected film consists of 24 still images per second serves as the basis of his art." - Fred Camper
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   YouTube
 
Scum
Alan Clarke
Chosen by Jasper Sharp (The Cinematheque Top 10 Project, 2005)
1979 | 98m | Col | UK
"A toughened docudrama that carries the same force as the improvised weapons Ray Winstone uses to bludgeon his way through the Borstal power structure. A far-from-blunt instrument itself (and containing some necessary leavening humour), this is potentially knife-edge film-making: will audiences buy the reformist liberalism and stomach the violence, or in fact buy the violence and racism and miss the message? The careful calculations show, but you're still likely to leave at the end feeling righteously angry." - Paul Taylor, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Eye for Film
 
Sea Devils
Raoul Walsh
Chosen by Simon Mizrahi (John Kobal Poll, 1988)
1953 | 91m | Col | USA-UK
"Victor Hugo's Toilers of the Sea was none too faithfully adapted for the screen as Sea Devils. The hero is Guernsey-Island smuggler Gilliat (Rock Hudson); the heroine is glamorous British spy Drouette (Yvonne de Carlo)... Eventually, of course, Gilliat must rescue Drouette from the French, thereby preventing Napoleon's planned invasion of England. Shot on location, Sea Devils was directed with verve by Raoul Walsh." - Hal Erickson, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Slant Magazine
         
La Sentinelle
Arnaud Desplechin
The Sentinel (English title)
Chosen by Monte Hellman (Fifty Filmmakers Book, 2002)
1992 | 139m | Col | France
"A disturbing commentary on the aftermath of the cold war, this first feature by Arnaud Desplechin  has already won a cult following with its casual portraiture of a yuppie milieu, its fascinating mystery story, and its paranoid but morally concerned indictment of Europe in the early 90s." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"Uneven but fascinating movie in which a medical student from a diplomatic family suddenly finds himself the unexpected owner of a severed head, following which he's plunged into the dark confusing world of espionage. Too long for its own good, but packed with intriguing, beautifully observed details." - Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Senses of Cinema
 
Señor Droopy
Tex Avery   New   
Chosen by Pascal Manuel Heu (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1949 | 8m | Col | USA
"Droopy and the wolf compete in a bullfight; the winner can get anything they want from all of Mexico. Both are inspired by the photo of Lina Romay on the cover of a magazine. The bull at first finds Droopy laughable. Of course, the bullfight is anything but boring and traditional." - Jon Reeves, IMDB
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Metacafe
 
Separate Tables
Delbert Mann
Chosen by Joel Coen (Time Out, 1995)
1958 | 99m | BW | USA
"Delbert Mann's stiff adaptation of Terence Rattigan's stage play, set in a British seaside resort where all of the apparently elegant guests have—conveniently for the author—incredibly messy private lives. It's hard to believe that anything this academic and artificial was once considered great filmmaking, but you can look it up. David Niven and Wendy Hiller won Academy Awards; virtually everyone else was nominated." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   TCM
         
Short Circuit
John Badham
Chosen by Herschell Gordon Lewis (Fifty Filmmakers Book, 2002)
1986 | 98m | Col | USA
"A message film to please all ages. Goofy Steve Guttenberg plays a brilliant but totally reclusive inventor who has constructed robots with the power to nuke whole cities. At a military demonstration, the fifth of the series is struck by lightning, and receives the intelligence that it is alive.... Cuteness is never far off, though Badham has enough sense of pace, and the robotics are sufficiently inventive, to keep the laughs coming." - David Thompson, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)
 
The Sin of Nora Moran
Phil Goldstone
Chosen by Gilbert Adair (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1933 | 65m | BW | USA
"A majestic release that, thanks to a gorgeous restoration and a DVD release, has rightly earned a reputation as the nuttiest B-film of the 1930s... It is a flashback frenzy, boxes within boxes. A District Attorney tells the governor’s wife to burn the apparently incriminating love letters she’s found. In explaining why, the D. A. introduces a flashback (or is it a cutaway?) to Nora in prison. We then move into Nora’s mind and see her hard life, the low point occurring when she’s raped by a lion tamer." - David Bordwell, David Bordwell's Website on Cinema
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   TCM
 
Sissi
Ernst Marischka
Chosen by Gerard Lefort (El Mundo, 1995)
1955 | 102m | Col | Austria
"This 1955 romance was a big hit in its time, the first part of a trilogy that made the gorgeous Romy Schneider a star. She plays a 19th-century Bavarian princess whose older sister is slated to marry Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria. The young emperor meets Sissi by chance and falls for her without knowing who she is... Ernst Marischka's direction, with its awkwardly edited, postcard-pretty compositions, is as stilted as the elaborate Austrian court rituals against which Sissi—following the example of her rough-mannered but endearing father—rebels." - Fred Camper, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Allmovie
         
Sisters of the Gion
Kenji Mizoguchi
Gion no shimai (original title)
Chosen by John Harkness (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1936 | 69m | BW | Japan
"The masterpiece of Kenji Mizoguchi's prewar period, a subtle and compact film  that locates Mizoguchi's concern with the transitions of Japanese society in a conflict between two geisha sisters—one a pragmatist, the other a believer in tradition." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"Mizoguchi's tale of two geisha sisters is a bleak, enormously astute and affecting account of the physical, emotional and economic entrapment of women in traditional Japanese society.... Superbly acted, shot and scripted, this is searing stuff." - Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   The Criterion Collection
 
Slam
Marc Levin
Chosen by Mark Borchardt (Facets, 2003)
1998 | 103m | Col | USA
"Though not really as accomplished as it's cracked up to be, this Cannes and Sundance prizewinner about a young rap poet finding himself in prison with the help of a sensitive writing teacher has all the inspirational uplift it strives for, and some pretty good rap performances as well." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"This eschews the clichés of gangsta rap to find a new slant on African-American experience... Shot on actual locations in just nine days by Levin, a former documentarist, and improvised within a detailed scene-by-scene outline, this is a perplexing mix of truth and falsity, spontaneity and cliché." - Tom Charity, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)
 
So That You Can Live
Cinema Action
Chosen by Ashish Rajadhyaksha (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1982 | 83m | Col | UK
"This is a spiky and uncompromising non-fiction feature: part-biography, part-documentary, part-history, and part elegy to a dying landscape... Made by the independent Cinema Action collective, So That You Can Live avoids nudging its audience towards any facile political conclusion, however. Instead, the technical presentation of the film is used to destroy the illusion that this is a 'story' with a 'message', and to force the audience to make up its own mind." - Richard Rayner, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB | BFI Screen Online  |   BFI Screen Online: Cinema Action
         
The Sparrow
Youssef Chahine
Al-asfour (original title)
Chosen by Ferid Boughedir (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1972 | 105m | Col | Egypt
"The characters in this 1972 allegorical comedy drama, set in Egypt just before the Six Day War, deliberately invoke movie clichés with their courtship behavior and adroit manipulation of cigarettes. Obsessively composed shots subvert realism by being marvels of technique even as they advance the story of a young policeman, the adopted son of a military official, who learns his biological father is a legendary activist." - Lisa Alspector, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Al-Ahram Weekly
 
The Store
Frederick Wiseman
Chosen by Arthur Dong (PopcornQ, 1997)
1983 | 118m | Col | USA
"The store in question is Neiman Marcus's flagship (and corporate headquarters) in Dallas... Wiseman eavesdrops on jewelry sales, fashion shows, strategic meetings, training sessions, job interviews, photo shoots, and other protracted activities; company bigwig Stanley Marcus gets flattering attention, and Lady Bird Johnson makes a cameo appearance. The pursuit of consumerist pleasure has seldom been so glorified or so tedious—this sociological record is best saved for a time capsule." - Ted Shen, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   The New York Times
 
Stuck on You
Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly
Chosen by Michel Gondry (Newsweek, 2008)
2003 | 118m | Col | USA
"If you believe, as I do, that America is joined at the hip to the rest of the world but often in denial about it, then this cheerful comedy from the politically incorrect Farrelly brothers is bound to have some allegorical resonance." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"This film may be the upbeat, humanist conjoined-twin movie we've all been waiting for, but it could sure use more laughs. To be fair, the film has its moments, but these remain isolated, any comic momentum immediately squandered by the Farrellys' standard cackhanded direction." - Tom Charity, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Metacritic
         
Subete Ga Kurutteru
Seijun Suzuki
Everything Goes Wrong (English title); Everything is Crazy (alternative title)
Chosen by Shinozaki Makoto (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1960 | 71m | BW | Japan
"Fashion model Yoshiko Yatsu and Tamio Kawaji star in this grim drama about a pair of alienated teenagers falling into a life of crime and sadomasochistic games. Director Seijun Suzuki's film is similar to A Bout de Souffle in style, but takes its dissolute characters the traditional one step further into debauchery, typical of Asian entries in the New Wave cycle." - Robert Firsching, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   YouTube
 
Subway
Luc Besson
Chosen by Henrik Uth Jensen (Senses of Cinema, 2005)
1985 | 104m | Col | France
"Young French director Luc Besson aims for a little American slickness in this relentlessly empty action film: it zooms along from one arbitrary sequence to the next, and its only aim is to keep the audience pumped up with kinetic stimulation." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"Besson handles the action with consummate mastery. But the punk-chic style only accentuates the film's emptiness. That said, Adjani once again proves herself not only one of the most versatile actresses in European cinema, but also the most beautiful." - Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Kamera
 
Summer of '42
Robert Mulligan
Chosen by Jean-Claude Romer (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1971 | 102m | Col | USA
"Robert Mulligan brings all of his considerable gifts for atmosphere and lyrical emotionality to bear on Herman Raucher's screenplay, though the qualities of the film have been obscured by the many imitations it inspired. Perhaps too simple and damply nostalgic to rank with Mulligan's best work, but still illuminated by an intense identification with adolescent confusion." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"Zeroing in (with much of Mulligan's usual quiet sympathy) on adolescence and the moment of sexual awakening with the added weight of The Way We Were type of nostalgia, this is a mess of contradictions." - Phil Hardy, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)
         
A Swedish Love Story
Roy Andersson
En Kärlekshistoria (original title)
Chosen by Roumuald Karmakar (Profil, 2004)
1970 | 115m | Col | Sweden
"Swedish director Roy Andersson (Songs From the Second Floor) made his feature debut with this 1970 drama about a couple of sweet blond teenagers (Rolf Sohlman, Ann-Sofie Kylin) whose delighted exploration of each other contrasts starkly with their elders' angry and disappointed lives. Released domestically as A Love Story but retitled abroad to distinguish it from the Ryan O'Neal-Ali MacGraw blockbuster, this is a surprisingly piquant look at the pains and pleasures of first love, especially given the stunning bleakness of Andersson's later work." - J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   San Francisco International Film Festival
 
Sweet Charity
Bob Fosse
Chosen by Edwin Bernard (PopcornQ, 1997)
1969 | 133m | Col | USA
"The stylistic excesses of this 1969 Bob Fosse effort point the way to his Oscar-winning Cabaret while maintaining the Brechtian tone of the original Broadway musical, adapted from Fellini's Nights of Cabiria. Only marginally coherent, but it offers some substantial pleasures in the union of Shirley MacLaine, Chita Rivera, and Paula Kelly." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"The film belongs to Shirley MacLaine, splendidly funny as the 'extremely open, honest and stupid broad' who earns a dubious living as a taxi-dancer at the Fandango Ballroom... No masterpiece, but a generally underrated musical all the same." - Tom Milne, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Allmovie
 
Sweet Hunters
Ruy Guerra
Ternos Caçadores (original title)
Chosen by Jean A. Gili (Positif, 1991)
1973 | 115m | Col | France-Brazil-Panama
"An ornithologist (Sterling Hayden) goes on a field trip to a deserted island near the mainland with his wife (Maureen McNally) and small son, and is joined by the wife's sister (Susan Strasberg), who is getting over an abortion; later, an escaped convict (Stuart Whitman) is discovered. A situation which may seem naturalistic enough, but the form never is: incidents are isolated, cross-relations are oblique, emotions are unexplained. And as the narrative gradually coheres, Guerra daringly undercuts it with a series of disturbing emphases. As haunting and ambiguous as anything of Herzog's." - Tony Rayns, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Allmovie
         
Taiga
Ulrike Ottinger
Chosen by Berenice Reynaud (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1992 | 501m | Col | Germany
"Watching a film like Taiga is an undertaking entirely apart from the usual experiences we have at the movies. It is eight hours long, but comes in three parts... I am fully aware that an epic ethnographic documentary about the nomadic tribes of Mongolia is not a film most people think they want to see (indeed, my own feet dragged on my way into the theater). But for those who are curious, Taiga is an experience that causes us to think about why we live as we do, what it is to be human, and what is important in life." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   The New York Times
 
Target for Tonight
Harry Watt
Chosen by Elia Kazan (Cinematheque Belgique, 1952)
1941 | 50m | BW | UK
"Target for Tonight is another first-rate wartime documentary drama from the prolific writer-director Harry Watt, the onetime Robert Flaherty assistant whose talents truly blossomed under the guidance of master propagandist John Grierson...  Though the screenplay is obviously a composite of several missions, the film's irrefutable authenticity is stamped on every frame. Target for Tonight was not only the film that "made" Harry Watt's reputation, but it also served as the prototype for all the British WW2 "semi-documentaries" to come." - Hal Erickson, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   BFI Screen Online
 
Terminus
John Schlesinger
Chosen by Edgar Anstey (Sight & Sound, 1982)
1961 | 33m | BW | UK
"Capturing a single day at Waterloo station, Terminus combines two kinds of documentary filmmaking: a sort of cinema verité, a 'true' record of life passing by, and little stories that emerge, vanish, then reappear later in the film. Its many different perspectives - close-ups, long-shots, high and low angles - keep things lively... Terminus has deservedly won countless awards. The equally famous and much loved Night Mail seems patronising by comparison, annoying in its jokiness and light-weight artiness." - Ewan Davidson, BFI Screen Online
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Home Cinema
         
T.G.: Psychic Rally in Heaven
Derek Jarman
Chosen by Rod Stoneman (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1981 | 8m | Col | UK
"Derek Jarman's relation with the musical avant garde in pop is evident in the exquisite and aggressive T.G. Psychic Rally in Heaven, made with Throbbing Gristle (part of whom later became Psychic TV). His innovative image manipulation and refusal of rhythmical cutting is [also] displayed in The Queen is Dead for the Smiths." - Rod Stoneman, Kinema
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Google Videos
 
That Man from Rio
Philippe de Broca
L'homme de Rio (original title)
Chosen by Gary Crowdus (Facets, 2003)
1964 | 120m | Col | France-Italy
"A delightfully preposterous thriller (the McGuffin is some stolen Amazonian treasure), wittier than any of the Bond spoofs that subsequently flooded the market and a good deal racier than Raiders of the Lost Ark. Handsomely shot on location in Brazil, with Belmondo as the cheerfully indestructible hero who cliffhangs, climbs buildings, imitates Tarzan, parachutes almost into the jaws of a crocodile, and does his best to cope with the enchantingly unpredictable Dorléac (late lamented sister of Catherine Deneuve)." - Tom Milne, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Films de France
 
That Sinking Feeling
Bill Forsyth
Chosen by Whit Stillman (Time Out, 1995)
1979 | 92m | Col | UK
"Bill Forsyth's first film turns out to be his best, a wry and beguiling ethnic comedy in the tradition of Alexander Mackendrick's Tight Little Island... Shot in 16-millimeter on a very low budget, the film is clearly a local product meant for a local audience —which might be the secret of its authenticity and integrity." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"Refreshingly, in his first feature, Bill Forsyth successfully captured the subversively ironic optimism of the Glasgow streets and somehow managed to combine it with the good-humoured charm of the best Ealing comedies." - Scott Meek, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   The Guardian
         
These Thousand Hills
Richard Fleischer
Chosen by Miguel Marias (One-Line Review, 2009)
1959 | 96m | Col | USA
"Made for Fox as a handsome A film, These Thousand Hills is one of only three Fleischer Westerns. The earlier Bandido, captivating enough and filmed with Fleischer's customary visual flair, is a lesser but likeable movie, while the later The Spikes Gang (1974) is a minor work, coherent but thin. By contrast to both, These Thousand Hills is an exceptionally rich film with all Fleischer's qualities... Despite its lack of reputation, I believe that These Thousand Hills deserves to be considered one of the finest films of Richard Fleischer, a masterpiece of the Western, and a model work of classical cinema.." - Blake Lucas, The Film Journal
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   DVD Savant
 
The Thieving Magpie
Giulio Gianini & Emanuele Luzzati
La Gazza ladra (original title)
Chosen by Enzo D'Alo (Animation World Network, 1997)
1964 | 11m | Col | Italy
"The film tells a tale wherein a king and his hunters, on a bird hunt, are beaten by a magpie who steals their gems and ultimately destroys their village... The use of cut-out animation wasn’t mainstream at the time. This is years before Terry Gilliam made it somewhat fashionable. All of the Luzzati-Gianini films were totally inventive and creative within the form they established. Gianini’s animation was as dreamlike as Luzzati’s exciting designs. The films look to be designed somewhere between Chagall, Kirchner and stained-glass windows; the sensibilities are all Luzzati and Gianini." - Michael Sporn Animation, Inc.
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Animalarium
 
The Thing with Two Heads
Lee Frost
Chosen by Keith Uhlich (Senses of Cinema, 2003)
1972 | 93m | Col | USA
"One of AIP's carefully cultivated jokes-in-bad-taste, in which the head of a terminally ill, racist brain surgeon (Ray Milland) is grafted onto the body of a death row black (Roosevelt Grier) intent on clearing his name. This outrageous notion is milked for all it's worth as the two heads wisecrack away, tussle for control of 'the body', and charge around pursued by some inept cops. Special effects are in keeping with the general tone of the film and there are sufficient laughs along the way to sustain interest. Don't expect too much, though." - Chris Petit, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)
         
Three Waltzes
Ludwig Berger
Les Trois valses (original title)
Chosen by Raymond Chirat (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1938 | 90m | BW | France
"Trois Valses (Three Waltzes) was adapted from the operetta of the same name by Oscar Straus, Leopold Marchand and Albert Willemitz. The story is divided into three "acts", each occuring at a different point in time... Linking the three stories is Henri Guiol as the ever-ageing impresario who manages the careers of all three heroines." - Hal Erickson, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   The New York Times
 
Tiara Tahiti
Ted Kotcheff
Chosen by Hans Schifferle (Steadycam, 2007)
1962 | 100m | Col | UK
"Wartime tensions between working class Lt-Col John Mills and aristocratic Capt James Mason rumble on into peacetime and the South Seas, bringing further clashes between go-getting upstart and dissolute old money in this uneven mix of character study and situation comedy. Good roles for both the stars, but even co-writer Geoffrey Cotterell seemed at a loss in transferring the flavour of his original novel to the big screen. Lots of effort, but it doesn't really come off." - Trevor Johnston, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Britmovie
 
Time Stands Still
Peter Gothar
Megáll az idö (original title)
Chosen by Ed Lachman (Facets, 2003)
1981 | 99m | Col | Hungary
"Gothar's talent for creating smoky, menacing atmospheres and darkly enigmatic dramatic situations tends to obscure his concept—the result is a film that is, in some ways, too good for its own good, haunting, original, and impressive, but not really satisfying." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"An impressive period film which portrays the life of college kids in late '50s Hungary. Dubbed by some Hungarian Graffiti, this is always much more than a movie about students getting high on Coke (the capitalist drink) and screwing around." - Martyn Auty, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Ozus' World Movie Reviews
         
Tokyo Decadence
Ryu Murakami
Topâzu (original title)
Chosen by Donald Cammell (Time Out, 1995)
1992 | 112m | Col | Japan
"Given that, strictly speaking, 'decadence' refers less to hanky-panky pure and unfettered, than to some kind of decline or dearth of moral fibre, it's fair to say that this film from ageing enfant terrible writer and media personality Ryu Murakami displays as much decadence as do its subjects. Lacking the intellectual, emotional and philosophical rigours of, say, a film by Oshima, this brazenly voyeuristic nonsense is finally as incoherent and unilluminating as it's hackneyed." - Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Midnight Eye
 
Totò e Peppino divisi a Berlino
Giorgio Bianchi
Toto and Peppino Divided in Berlin (English title)
Chosen by Federico Fellini (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1962 | 103m | BW | Italy
"Toto and Peppino De Filippo are a pair of Neapolitan clothes peddlers who emigrate to Berlin, only to find themselves ensnared in cold war politics. Bribed by neo-Nazis, Toto poses as an Italian general being tried for war crimes, but after Peppino blows his cover the two wind up fleeing the Americans, the Germans, and the Soviets combined. Giorgio Bianchi directed this weak Italian farce, which nonetheless manages to score a few laughs at the expense of its innocents abroad." - Ted Shen, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Google Video
 
Los Traidores
Raymundo Gleyzer
The Traitors (English title)
Chosen by Fernando Martin Pena (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1972 | 113m | Col | Argentina
"Controversial documentary filmmaker Raymundo Gleyzer tried his hand at fiction in this fascinating drama concerning the rise of the Peron government in Argentina. Incorporating documentary footage into the drama, Gleyzer maintains his commitment to depict the tumultuous era with vivid realism." - Turner Classic Movies
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Chicago Public Radio
         
La Tregua
Sergio Renan   New   
The Truce (English title)
Chosen by Juan Jose Campanella (El Pais, 2009)
1974 | 108m | Col | Argentina
"In this comedy, life has lost its savor for a middle-aged widower. He keeps on at his job, but his grown children are a puzzle to him. However, when he begins an affair with a girl young enough to be his daughter, he experiences a brief sunny interlude." - Iotis Erlewine, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Wikipedia
 
Troll 2
Claudio Fragasso
Chosen by Betty Thomas (Fifty Filmmakers Book, 2002)
1990 | 95m | Col | Italy
"There are plenty of lousy horror movies out there, but few are as hypnotically awful as Troll II. Despite a basic level of technical professionalism, this is a movie that manages to fall apart on every level -- the story is nonsensical, the dialogue is tin-eared, the acting is even worse, the direction is ham-fisted, and the effects are of the joke-store-rubber-mask variety. That said, at least Troll II manages to infuse its badness with plenty of twisted personality." - Donald Guarisco, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review
 
Tsahal
Claude Lanzmann
Chosen by Claus Philipp (Senses of Cinema, 2002)
1994 | 316m | Col | France-Germany
"As in Shoah, which was nearly twice as long, Mr. Lanzmann explores memory by working entirely in the present, without archival battle scenes or historical narration to clarify the facts. Because Shoah applied these methods to the Holocaust, it was a much more devastating work, but Tsahal has its own impressive gravity. Beginning without fanfare, it listens to various officers recalling the horrors of the 1973 war, which is presented as a sobering and ultimately galvanizing experience for Israel's army." - Janet Maslin, The New York Times
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Emanuel Levy
         
25 Fireman's Street
István Szabó
Tüzoltó utca 25. (original title)
Chosen by Markku Tuuli (Sight & Sound, 1982)
1973 | 97m | Col | Hungary
"Comic, melancholy, ribald and hallucinatory, 25 Fireman's Street is both a groundbreaking entry into the New Hungarian Cinema of the seventies and a timeless, intoxicatingly rich moviemaking triumph. Director István Szabó masterfully evokes everything from Borges to Buñuel to Proust as he freely blends rich characterizations with visionary surrealism and kitchen sink realism... Through an affirming cascade of poetic wanderings through lives lived to the fullest, 25 Fireman's Street plots a personal map of Hungary’s fortunes from the Hapsburgs to the Soviets." - Kino International
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Allmovie
 
Ukamau
Jorge Sanjinés
And So it Is (English title)
Chosen by Jeanine Meerapfel (Sight & Sound, 1992)
1966 | 75m | BW | Bolivia
"Sanjinés made his first feature film, Ukamau, under the auspices of the Bolivian Film Institute, of which he was named director in 1965. A landmark in the history of Bolivian cinema, Ukamau is a sympathetic depiction of the social problems of the Andean peasantry shot exclusively in Aymara, an indigenous language. Because of the controversy surrounding the film, Sanjinés was fired from his post, but went on to become one of the most successful of Latin America's leftist filmmakers." - Film.com
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Film Reference
 
Uncut
John Greyson
Chosen by Yvonne Rainer (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1997 | 92m | Col | Canada
"Freely drawing from a variety of film genres, including musicals, the sudsy melodramas and documentaries and combing them with a free-flowing narrative and bright pop-art sensibilities, this hard-hitting experimental romp from Canadian filmmaker John Greyson packs a political wallop while satirically comparing and contrasting the issues of censorship and circumcision." - Sandra Brennan, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Bright Lights Film Journal
         
Urga
Nikita Mikhalkov
Close to Eden (English title)
Chosen by Nick Broomfield (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1990 | 106m | Col | France-USSR
" Mikhalkov here came up with a film full of narrative surprises. Set for the most part in the vast, empty steppes of Chinese Mongolia, it's partly a docudrama detailing the day-to-day existence of a herdsman's family, partly a fable about the material and spiritual threats facing a robust but largely forgotten culture... Admittedly, towards the end the narrative gets a little out of control, but much of it is very funny, and the engagingly naturalistic performances, the ravishing camerawork, and the mostly subtle use of natural symbols sustain interest throughout." - Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Los Angeles Times
 
Uwasa no onna
Kenji Mizoguchi
The Woman in the Rumour (English title); The Woman of Rumour (alternative English title)
Chosen by Chris Fujiwara (Steadycam, 2007)
1954 | 95m | BW | Japan
"This 1954 Kenji Mizoguchi film belongs to the director's greatest period, and if it isn't quite the equal in refinement and transcendent feeling of the films that surround it (Sansho the Bailiff and Ugetsu) it is still a stimulating work of art, executing some intriguing changes on Mizoguchi's standard plotline... The setting is Mizoguchi's beloved geisha district, which he envisions as a self-sufficient community of women, the sole refuge from vicious, hurtful male society." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   DVD Outsider
 
Valentin de las Sierras
Bruce Baillie
Chosen by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Favourite 10 Films, 2006)
1971 | 10m | Col | USA
"San Franciscan Baillie's lyrical mediation on time & place explores Chapala, Mexico through the colour, songs & weathered countenances of its indigenous inhabitants." - Melbourne Cinematheque
"Song of the revolutionary hero, Valentin, sung by Jose Santollo Nasido en Santa Cruz de la Soledad; Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico." - Harvard Film Archive
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   DailyMotion
         
A Very Natural Thing
Christopher Larkin
Chosen by Mark Christopher (PopcornQ, 1997)
1974 | 80m | Col | USA
"One of the first gay films to gain an above-ground release. As the title suggests, Christopher Larkin's feature is heavy on positive, healthy images—lots of romping in the surf and that kind of thing. It's more than a little dated now (and its R rating remains a total mystery), but this was a stage that had to be passed." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Bright Lights Film Journal
 
La Vida por delante
Fernando Fernán Gómez   New   
Life Ahead (English title)
Chosen by Nancy Berthier (Nickel Odeon, 1997)
1958 | 90m | Col | Spain
"In Life Ahead and Life Around Us (1959) , Gómez captures Spanish daily life in a colourful frieze of situations led by the young couple Fernán-Gómez and Analia Gadé which show authentic glimpses of the scarcity, the meanness and the general mess of the time. It is developed in a story with loops of more and more complex narrative temporality, though the protagonist's comments to the viewer, breaking the diegesis over and over again, in order to talk (to us) of his situation, past and present, while his wife sleeps peacefully." - Lorenzo J. Torres Hortelano, Directory of World Cinema: Spain (Google Books)
Amazon  |  IMDB  |  Spain is Culture
 
La vie commence demain
Nicole Védrès
Life Begins Tomorrow (English title)
Chosen by D.A. Pennebaker (Facets, 2003)
1949 | 86m | BW | France
"Documentary filmmaker Nicole Vedre's first semi-fictional feature was released in France in 1949 as La Vie Commence Demain. The film made it to the U.S. in 1952 as Life Begins Tomorrow. Made in cooperation with UNESCO, the film speculates on the future of mankind after the advent of Atomic Energy... Film clips of hospitals, schoolrooms, scientific laboratories, and even nightclubs are woven into Vedre's fascinating tapestry." - Hal Erickson, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   The New York Times
         
Waking Ned
Kirk Jones
Waking Ned Devine (alternative title)
Chosen by Doug Liman (BBC- Calling the Shots, 2005)
1998 | 91m | Col | UK-France-USA
"Though it strives for broad humor, pushing cuteness and light irony, this bland 1998 movie isn't exactly a comedy." - Lisa Alspector, Chicago Reader
"Rural Ireland, and the village of Tullymore is about to receive a rude awakening. According to the newspaper, someone in the community has just won the Irish national lottery, and it shouldn't be long before the truth will out... Charming performances and easygoing humour are the strengths of Jones's enjoyable Oirish romp, even if the romantic sub-plot's as flat as a peat bog." - Trevor Johnston, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Metacritic
 
The War of the Gargantuas
Ishirô Honda   New   
Furankenshutain no kaijû: Sanda tai Gaira (original title)
Chosen by Tim Burton (Rotten Tomatoes, 2010)
1966 | 93m | Col | Japan-USA
"The DVD release should help War of the Gargantuas garner its due recognition as one of the very best Japanese giant monster epics. It is, in fact, far superior to Toho's other kaiju offering of 1966, Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster. The classic Toho creative team of director Ishirô Honda, special effects master Eiji Tsuburaya, and musical director Akira Ifukube lend their typical solid efforts to Gargantuas." - Troy Guinn, Eccentric Cinema
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings
 
West Indies: The Fugitive Slaves of Liberty
Med Hondo
West Indies ou les nègres marrons de la liberté (original title)
Chosen by Don Ranvaud (Sight & Sound, 1982)
1979 | 110m | Col | France-Algeria-Mauritania
"Med Hondo’s West Indies is a revolutionary musical in both senses of the word. This witty, scathing production offers an angry view of West Indian history, using imaginative staging and a fluid visual style... Mobile camerawork and frequent narrative shifts take the actors through various vignettes about French colonialists invading the Indies, Caribbean natives lured to Paris, the process by which the islands were first settled and a lot more... Mr. Hondo leads the film through a long series of well-connected tableaux, culminating in an almost joyous call to arms." - Janet Maslin, The New York Times
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Jump Cut
         
White Heart
Daniel Barnett
Chosen by Phil Solomon (Facets, 2003)
1975 | 53m | Col | USA
"Many classic films of the American avant-garde try to make sense of the world or human consciousness, but this rarely screened 1975 work by Daniel Barnett asks whether we can understand anything at all. Disjointed and contrasting images (a man with a hose, a blimp in the sky) combine with sound fragments to frustrate expectation, redirecting one's attention to the considerable sensual qualities of the imagery." - Fred Camper, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB | White Light Cinema  |   Canyon Cinema
 
Who Killed Teddy Bear?
Joseph Cates
Chosen by George Kuchar (Facets, 2003)
1965 | 91m | BW | USA
"This 1965 cult classic only recently had its first UK screening. It wasn't banned, as such, rather rejected outright by British censors at the time of its release. Every frame is imbued with a glorious sleazy quality that rendered it impossible to cut. Forty years later it can still shock, more for its ahead-of-the-curve qualities...The acting isn't great, the plot is rather predictable, but where this scores is in the offhand manner with which it handles quite salacious material, and the period detail." - Phelim O'Neill, The Guardian
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   The Village Voice
 
Who's Singing Over There?
Slobodan Sijan
Ko to tamo peva (original title); Who Sings Over There (alternative title)
Chosen by Teshome Gabriel (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1980 | 86m | Col | Yugoslavia
"The time is 1941: a crowded bus travels over unpaved Yugoslavian terrain. In the manner of Stagecoach, the audience comes to know and grow fond of the various passengers: the lovers, the politician, the eccentrics, etc (each character is played by a well-known Yugoslav movie personality). The film's genial mood is unexpectedly shattered when a Nazi bomb scores a direct hit on the bus. The only surviving passengers are a pair of travelling gypsy musicians--hence the film's title." - Hal Erickson, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Wikipedia
         
Without Pity
Alberto Lattuada
Senza pietà (original title)
Chosen by Claude Autant-Lara (Cinematheque Belgique, 1952)
1948 | 94m | BW | Italy
"Lattuada was never known to shirk from a sociopolitical statement, even when it meant loss of revenue overseas. Without Pity's plot is based on an actual postwar dilemma: in Northern Italy, dozens of black American GIs chose to go AWOL rather than return to a racially divided United States... Reviewers in 1949 felt that Lattuada exercised poor taste in depicting the interracial romance: while these scenes cannot realistically be described as offensive when seen today, they are still quite frank by 1940s standards." - Hal Erickson, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Film Reference
 
Woman of Tokyo
Yasujiro Ozu
Tokyo no onna (original title)
Chosen by James Quandt (Facets, 2003)
1933 | 47m | BW | Japan
"The sacrificial theme in Woman of Tokyo recalls Mizoguchi—a young woman supports her brother through school by becoming a prostitute—but the elliptical and mysterious style is thoroughly Ozu's. This may be the most formally radical of his late silent pictures." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"Although Ozu was still resisting sound, this early melodrama, unlike many of his jaunty comedies of the time, contains definite hints of his later style, with its distinctive camera placement and concentrated use of interior space." - Trevor Johnston, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Strictly Film School
 
The Woman's Film
Louise Alaimo, Judy Smith and Ellen Sorren   New   
Chosen by Alexandra Juhasz (PopcornQ, 1997)
1971 | 40m | BW | USA
"Produced collectively by women, this documentary is a valuable historical document of the origins of the modern women's movement in the United States. The film delves into the lives of ordinary women from different races, educational levels and class Filmed mostly in small consciousness-raising groups, from which the women's movement grew, the women talk about the daily realities of their lives as wives, home-makers, and workers. They speak, sometimes with hesitancy, often with passion, about the oppression of women as they see it." - Third World Newsreel
Amazon  |  IMDB
         
You Have Been Weighed and Found Wanting
Lino Brocka
Tinimbang ka ngunit kulang (original title)
Chosen by David Hanan (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1974 | 126m | Col | Philippines
"A portrait of small-town oppressiveness in the Philippines, made during the Marcos government's imposition of martial law. Lino Brocka's 1974 film tells of two social outcasts struggling to survive the hypocritical condemnation of their fellow villagers; the tone ranges from comedy to tragedy to documentary observation of village rituals." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Noel Vera
 
The Young Guard
Sergei Gerasimov
Molodaya gvardiya (original title)
Chosen by Nenad Polimac (El Mundo, 1995)
1948 | 189m | BW | USSR
"In 1949, distinguished Soviet filmmaker Sergei Gerasimov made a visit to New York City, where he railed against the immoralities of Hollywood movies. Be that as it may, Gerasimov's The Young Guard managed to secure bookings in Manhattan... The film stars Vladimir Ivanov as Oleg Koshevol, a Russian teenager who nobly serves his mother-country during WW II... Originally released in two parts, The Young Guard was pared down to a single 135-minute release for American consumption. In its original from, the film was honored with a State Prize in the USSR." - Hal Erickson, Allmovie
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   International Historic Films
 
Yoyo
Pierre Étaix
Yo Yo (alternative title)
Chosen by Carole Wrona (Libre Journal du Cinéma, 2009)
1965 | 92m | BW | France
"The second and possibly the best of Etaix's features, which starts out by dogging Buster Keaton's footsteps as he plays a bored millionaire waited on hand and foot in his cháteau. This first half-hour, set during the last days of the silents, is shot without dialogue... Come 1929, the film shifts into a Chaplin mood... Etaix has just enough astringency to keep sentimentality at bay, and his mastery of the sight gag amply justifies Jerry Lewis' enthusiasm for the film, which is singularly beautifully shot by Jean Boffety." - Tom Milne, Time Out
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Allmovie
         
         
 
         
         
Zvenigora
Alexander Dovzhenko
Chosen by Tony Rayns (Sight & Sound, 2002)
1928 | 90m | Col | USSR
"Hailed by Sergei Eisenstein for its originality, this 1927 silent feature by Soviet director Alexander Dovzhenko is both a folktale and a paean to industrialization, its multiple stories and meanings turning propaganda into poetry... As always, Dovzhenko's brilliant montages are full of double meanings, with each shot undercut by the next: in one spectacular presentation of mining, agriculture, and metal work, the images seem to fuse together and tear apart, suggesting both the glory of man-made structures and the destruction necessary for their creation." - Fred Camper, Chicago Reader
Amazon  |  IMDB  |   Wonders in the Dark
  Ain't Nobody's Blues But My Own facts...

Films by Decade: 1890s - 1, 1900s - 2, 1910s - 6, 1920s - 4, 1930s - 16, 1940s - 26, 1950s - 27, 1960s - 39, 1970s - 52, 1980s - 41, 1990s - 28, 2000s - 8.

Directors with multiple films: Theo Angelopoulos 2, Luis Buñuel 2, Alexander Dovzhenko 2, Terence Fisher 2, D.W. Griffith 3, Med Hondo 2, Jerzy Kawalerowicz 2, Kenji Mizoguchi 3, Jorge Sanjinés 2, Ettore Scola 2, Wang Tung 2, and Frederick Wiseman 2.

Films by Country: Argentina 3, Australia 2, Austria 3, Belgium 1, Bolivia 1, Brazil 1, Canada 3, Chile 1, Congo 1, Cuba 1, Czechoslovakia 4, Ecuador 1, Egypt 2, France 43, Germany/West Germany 16, Greece 2, Hong Kong 2, Hungary 3, India 4, Italy 18, Japan 14, Mali 1, Mexico 2, Philippines 2, Poland 7, Portugal 1, Russia/USSR 6, Senegal 1, Spain 4, Sweden 2, Syria 1, Taiwan 2, Thailand 1, Turkey 1, UK 18, USA 74, Yugoslavia 1. 

Film Selections Sourced from: Animation World Network 4, Balaio 1, BBC 1, Cinematheque Belgique poll 9, El Mundo poll 3, El Pais 2, Empire 2, Facets poll 27, Fifty Filmmakers Book 4, Fotogramas 2, Ideele 1, IonCinema! 6, Iranian Film poll 2, John Kobal Book 6, Kevin B. Lee poll 1, Kinema Junpo 2, Kommersant 1, Libre Journal du Cinéma poll 20, Unknown source (Apichatpong Weerasethakul's selection) 1, Newsweek 2, Nickel Odeon poll 5, Nollnollfilm 1, One-Line Review poll 1, PopcornQ poll 16, Positif poll 8, Profil poll 3, Rotten Tomatoes 4, Senses of Cinema poll 10, Sight & Sound polls 77, Steadycam poll 9, The Cinematheque Top 10 Project 1, The Guardian 1, Time Out poll 12, Village Voice poll 4,YMDB 1.

Longest Films: Taiga (1992) 501 minutes, Tsahal (1994) 316 minutes, Great Citizen (1938) 252 minutes, Alexander the Great (1980) 235 minutes, and Chushingura (1962) 207 minutes.

Shortest Films: Demolition d'un mur (1896) 1 minute, Schwechater (1958) 1 minute, How a Mosquito Operates (1912) 6 minutes, Re-Entry (1964) 7 minutes, Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1906) 7 minutes, and 15/67: TV (1967) 7 minutes.

A spreadsheet listing of all 250 films can be downloaded from here (Microsoft EXCEL format).

The One-Line Review's The Obscure, the Forgotten, and the Unloved. 40 critically acclaimed but little seen should-be classics.

         
         
 
     
     

 

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