My film-hunter's top 500 movies, and why I love film

by oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddy_Merckx | created - 15 Dec 2011 | updated - 3 months ago | Public

This is not a greatest films list, it's a personal favourites list (I don't know how to make a greatest films list). The first 100 movies in the list have my notes by them, I hope to write notes for the rest of the movies that don't have automatic summaries or pictures, so that you can see more than just a title and a date, but it's is an extremely laborious process and so I hope you'll bear with me. Some of the films I last saw a long time ago, and so to write my notes I've had to look at my reviews from the time, or have a real scrabble around in the toolbox to remember exactly what triggers ignited my passion for the film in question so markedly. I hope you'll forgive me if a few of the comments are therefore slim. I've tried to make them as personal and conversational as possible. As a whole document I hope the reviews and this intro make clear why I absolutely adore films, and if you don't already share this passion, why it could be for you. Roberta Flack once sung (and the Fugees later covered) a song called Killing Me Softly, a lyric of which goes, "Strummin' my pain with his fingers. Singing my life with his words. Killing me softly with his song." That's a great deal of the appeal of the movies to me, as well as trying to reach a better understanding of life (of mine and others' emotions in particular), and attaining sensations of grace.

Types of films and aesthetics I have a penchant for.

There's several types of films here, classic auteur films from the likes of control freaks von Sternberg/Lang/Welles/Borzage/Bresson; films that programmers clunkily refer to as artist's film and video/experimental film/avant-garde cinema, by folks like Dorsky/Hutton/Klahr/Jordan/Bokanowski/Fischinger/Deren; films that I'd call Amerarkana (low profile, minimalist, enchanted, anonymous American crime/horror), The Music of Chance/The Kill-Off/Liebestraum/Crawlspace/The Passion of Darkly Noon; dreamlike films, such as La Nuit Fantastique/Dementia/Amer/Judex/Fascination/The Alphabet Murders; film noir; films with unrequited love, particularly The Unsent Letter and Les Enfants du Paradis; films portraying outsider experiences, films about the art of living (these are mainly French); portrayals of ecstatic experiences; westerns; films dealing with the fact of the human body (as opposed to cerebral films) and human lifecycle such as the Cremaster Cycle, False Aging, Stereo, Belly of An Architect, and Seconds; well-handled treatments of Buddhism (Kim Ki-Duk films); films regarding existential folly such as Youth Without Youth and the Shanghai Gesture; films with fairy-light-style diegetic lighting (this means lighting that comes from within the fictional world of the film as opposed to huge lights behind the camera) such as This World, Then The Fireworks; films showcasing great/interesting interior design, like David Lynch films or White of the Eye (not usually felt to be the primary merits of these movies of course!). I was a teenager in the '90s so there are quite a few '90s genre movies in the mix, particularly '90s action movies, that I love, if taken at face value these can be hard to understand, but they're all visually beautiful and generally have something clever going on under the surface, examples being Wes Craven's Shocker, Richard Stanley's Hardware, Albert Pyun's Adrenalin: Fear the Rush and Russell Mulcahy's Silent Trigger. Emotionally-resonant film treatments of metanoia, or the process or realising that you never knew yourself, or that your conception of the world is/was entirely wrong, for example Pasolini's Oedipus Rex, The Shanghai Gesture, Night Sun, and Shutter Island (The Truman Show wouldn't qualify because it's other people fooling Truman rather than himself). Films within the tradition of Bildung, or a film version of the Entwicklungsroman, that is to say stories of hard won personal growth, such as Adam and America America, and perhaps the opposite, "what doesn't kill you makes you weaker" (my little joke treatment of Nietzsche's famous phrase) type stories such as Apartment Zero, or even films where these ends are shown as beginning as a forked path (Franklyn). Escapism is an obvious one that I share in common with everyone! Films that deal with perception or the nature of the mind, such as Memento, The Prestige, La Nuit Des Traquées. Recently highly aesthetic treatments of people discovering their sexuality (not for erotic content) such as Lewis Klahr's Pony Glass, Philip Ridley's The Passion of Darkly Noon or Steven Shainberg's Secretary. All sorts of films really. In another person's words, IMDb User Ear_Poisoner pointed out to me on the List and Recommendations forum, "your interest tends to more visual and tonal experience rather than narrative based.". I also like for films to be intriguing or interesting, I want lots of secondary neural detonations after the movie has ended. Speaking of explosions I think the idea for me has always been that a movie should blow my mind, so I sometimes find the distinction between entertainment and art movies moot in that they're just different ways of achieving the same end.

A note on availability, and how to see more of these should you wish to.

A lot of the films in this list are not available on dvd or blu-ray in your region, or just not available on dvd or blu-ray at all. Here's some suggestions. Hack your DVD/Blu-ray player so that it plays whatever you want it to play, this is usually dead easy with DVD. I drew the short straw and bought a hard-to-hack player, but for a small fee and a remote control in the post, this obstacle was overcome. I still buy and watch VHS tapes all the time where the dvd is out of print; the last batch of VHS players made will play SECAM, PAL, NTSC, anything you want, though you have to buy these off restorers now. Other outlets. There are websites all over the world selling official dvds that you won't find in chain stores or just any store if you don't live in a capital city in an affluent country: the German Filmmuseum website, Re:Voir, FNAC for Spain, the Danish Film Institute, the University of Massachussets (DEFA archive films), Amazon has various branch outs in other countries, even the Japanese Amazon is usable to non-Japanese speakers, with a little patience and thought. You can get Minerva Classics and Raro Video films off of Italian Amazon, and many more! Some directors even sell DVDs on their own websites, like Jon Jost, Ken Jacobs, Frederick Wiseman, Barbara Hammer, and Barney Platts-Mills (and I'm sure many others). Travelling to see films is not an unreasonable thing if you are able. I am happy to travel over 100 miles to see a film that I'm dying to see and can't be seen any other way. If you'd do the same to see the Mona Lisa, why not do it for the film equivalent? Go to a good film festival. All sorts of amazing films play at film festivals and nowhere else, if you complain about the quality of contemporary films, this is the shot in the arm you need! Cannes requires a special effort (you would need press accreditation), however large urban festivals such as London, TIFF, NYFF, are just as good in terms of quality, and will take the cream of the Cannes, Berlin, and Venice crop. All sorts of other amazing niche ones are around such as Pordenone for silents and Oberhausen for shorts. A large majority of the short films mentioned are on Youtube, Vimeo, Google Video, or UbuWeb, don't miss out! Rental/streaming services like Netflix, MUBI, LoveFilm, they're all there for you. Phone a friend for more info on this, but there are also invitation-only websites where members download genuinely unavailable movies, these are a treasure trove. Blind buying. An expensive habit, but can be eye-opening. Making sure you understand your taste is good for blind buying, this means that you will do well more often than not when you buy, get used to knowing what sorts of elements in a film you like, and who is good at recommending them. If you recognise that you've never enjoyed a portmanteau film, don't blind buy one! Local cinemas you don't know about. They are often around, and the folks inside will not bolt the doors and eat your entrails (unless they do). Often they can be a bit grungy and dilapidated, and there's not fifteen different varieties of cokey cola, abbattoir slurry in a bun (hot dogs), and buckets of million percent mark-up popped corn; however these facilities often offer alternatives like absinthe and apple pie (at least mine does), and they show different movies.

Warnings and confusions.

The list can be confusing to mainstream fans (I've no beef with people whose dreams are mirrored by the blockbuster makers, but also not much in common). I often get a response from people who have seen the say 20 mainstream movies on the list (and nothing else), where they just tell me the entire list is rubbish because the movies mentioned aren't much kop by mainstream criteria. I tend to enjoy these movies when they become zany and unabandoned, examples being The Spirit and Bad Boys II. The gradual process where I came to really enjoy movies mostly involved realising that I disagreed strongly with the implied values in mainstream film (promiscuous people generally dying first in horror movies would be an example of an implied value, i.e. promiscuity is bad).

To avoid confusion it's worth pointing out that although I enjoy irony in every day conversation, none of the appreciation of films listed below is ironic. There are five Roger Corman movies on the list, but they're there in earnestness, that particular gentleman was fond of subtext, in my opinion he was a bona fide auteur, and a socially comitted filmmaker.

Miscellaneous notes and typically requested statistics.

**The average IMDb rating of these films at the current time is 7.1/10. The highest is 9.0/10 for The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, the ones under 5.0/10 are:

Eye of the Beholder (1999 - Stephan Elliott) 4.9/10 The Face of an Angel (2014 - Michael Winterbottom) 4.7/10 Ett Hål i mitt hjärta / A Hole in My Heart (2004 - Lukas Moodysson) 4.6/10 Gas! -Or- It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It. (1970 - Roger Corman) 3.9/10 Adrenalin: Fear the Rush (1996 - Albert Pyun) 3.9/10

Always take the IMDb rating with a pinch of salt!

**Whenever publishing something like this before I always get asked about the director count, so here it is to pre-empt the question. It's slightly spurious in the sense that, with only three films extant (and only one available on dvd), no matter how much I like Sadao Yamanaka's work he can't ever get to the top, whereas, Fritz Lang must eventually triumph with such a large filmography. 3 films: Peter Greenaway, Michaelangelo Antonioni, Dario Argento, Oskar Fischinger, Manoel de Oliveira, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Alex Cox, Jean-Luc Godard, Orson Welles, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Jacques Rivette, Matthew Barney (taking Cremaster 3 and 4 as two separate films), Monte Hellman, and Werner Herzog. 4 films: Fritz Lang, Lewis Klahr and René Laloux. 5 films: Marguerite Duras, Lars von Trier and Roman Polanski.

** There are several films here which are particularly subjective personal choices, the main example is The History of Mr Polly, I've feel a very close personal similarity to the character of Mr Polly. This probably bought the film to life for me a lot more than for another viewer. This is as opposed to Les enfants du Paradis where pretty much anyone is going to associate with at least one of the characters.

** A hopefully diminishing list of films that are on my top 500 but not on IMDb is below. Usually I try and get these films added to IMDb and antnield of criterionforum has also helped with this.

94 Art Herstory (1974 - Hermine Freed) 181 Exit (1971 - Denys Irving & Naomi Zack) 319 Wolkenschatten (2014 - Anja Dornieden & Juan David Gonzålez Monroy) 397 Dach / Roof (1994 - Anja Czioska) 429 Schwebebahn (1995 - Darren Almond)

Please don't be afraid to leave me recommendations if you have any, no-one alive has ever watched more than a fraction of the good stuff!

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1. Ana-ta-han (1953)

Approved | 92 min | Drama, War

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Josef von Sternberg directed, photographed, provides the voice-over narration and wrote the screenplay (from a based-on-actual event novel by Michiro Maruyana translated by Younghill Kang) ... See full summary »

Director: Josef von Sternberg | Stars: Akemi Negishi, Tadashi Suganuma, Kisaburo Sawamura, Shôji Nakayama

Votes: 574 | Gross: $0.05M

2. Les maîtres du temps (1982)

78 min | Animation, Adventure, Sci-Fi

7.5
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Piel, a 7 or 8 year old boy, is alone on the desert planet Perdide, only survivor of an attack by giant hornets. Calling for help, Piel's father's friend Jaffar keeps contact with the kid ... See full summary »

Director: René Laloux | Stars: Jean Valmont, Michel Elias, Frédéric Legros, Yves-Marie Maurin

Votes: 4,240

I first saw this film when I was a little boy in its English-language dub. It haunted me for years later, and all I could remember was that there was a this little boy like me lost in a strange forest with glowing red and yellow fruits. I came across it quite by chance in it's French-language version, which is what you should see if you're an adult. It has the most amazing upbeat but weird soundtrack and is staggeringly beautiful in every single way you could think of. It works for all ages and has themes regarding the importance of individuality, and the possibility for redemptive acts, the nature of childhood and loss, the passing of time, and metanoia. It is scary and tender, and wonderful and I am very grateful to all the artists involved.

3. Le soulier de satin (1985)

410 min | Drama

7.1
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During the century of the Spanish Gold, Doña Prouhèze, wife of a nobleman, deeply loves Don Rodrigo, who is forced to leave Spain and go to America. Meanwhile Prouhèze is sent to Africa to ... See full summary »

Director: Manoel de Oliveira | Stars: Luís Miguel Cintra, Patricia Barzyk, Anne Consigny, Anne Gautier

Votes: 121

The Satin Slipper is a near seven hour metafictional trans-continental theatrical epic, realised by Manoel de Oliveira from the staged period drama of Paul Claudel. It is weighty, inspiring, and exquisitely beautiful. The movie opens with two quotes, which frame the film, regarding the mysterious ways of God, the second of which, "etiam peccata", "even sins", is a reference to St Augustine, who added this to a then famous phrase, giving, "Omnia cooperantur in bonum, etiam peccata", which is to say that everything happens for the glory of God, even sin.

The opening scene contains an exhortation by a dying priest, that his brother, Don Rodrigo, who has given up his studying for the priesthood, in favour of an exploration of power, for yoking the world to his will, be led back onto the path of righteousness, and that his sins be Augustinian in nature. Rodrigo's journey provides a skeleton for the movie, which however contains numerous supplementary stories and messages.

After the introduction, I do not think that you could watch straight the next nearly seven hours of this film without going mad, or rather it would be like holding a cup and letting the continuous pouring of wisdom and beauty overflow and go all over the floor. The Satin Slipper has seven hours of content, of talking where it pays to listen.

There will be home truths for everyone here, but for me Dona Prouheze's condemnation of her husband Don Pelagio, "Or it may be he is so proud, to make me love him, he disdains to appeal to anything other than the truth.". I also liked pearls of wisdom such as couples only loving what they build together, and descriptions of love, such as the feeling of regret for the time you did not know your lover.

The excesses of God's plan seem often to be exorbitant, even for One so mysterious, twice a whole ship of people drown in aid of details of the destinies of two of the main characters, and highly winsome characters often exist on this earth only as auxiliaries to the blithe. The message here may well be about tyranny, but also that the vast majority of people on earth can only expect to hear stories and get used, with the implication that they should prepare for the next life. The fruits of Rodrigo's labour, a tremendous gift, are rudely compensated for by his humiliation.

4. Donkey Skin (1970)

Not Rated | 91 min | Drama, Family, Fantasy

7.1
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70 Metascore

A fairy godmother helps a princess disguise herself so she won't have to marry a man she doesn't love.

Director: Jacques Demy | Stars: Catherine Deneuve, Jean Marais, Jacques Perrin, Micheline Presle

Votes: 3,169

Lovely is an excellent word. To me it describes someone or an aspect of someone you can't not love. The folks that made this movie transmitted and transmuted a lot of their beauty for the world to see when they made this movie. They are lovely, and Peau d'Ane is a lovely movie.

A movie without malice, set in a sugary Medieval noplace, it has a colour scheme from a Chagall painting, bright and joyful.

The story is about a princess who has to avoid marrying her father, and find true love. Despite some of the content theoretically being quite strong, the movie comes off as being utterly absent of ill feeling. Watching is like being a child again and sung a tale by your mother, if it ever takes a serious tone it's a faux serious tone.

Peau d'Ane singing a song about baking a cake for her love is a highlight for me.

The only actual problem with the film is that it ends.

5. Vertigo (1958)

PG | 128 min | Mystery, Romance, Thriller

8.4
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A San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend's wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore

Votes: 285,004 | Gross: $3.20M

6. America America (1963)

Not Rated | 174 min | Drama

7.8
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A young Anatolian Greek, entrusted with his family's fortune, loses it en route to Istanbul and dreams of going to the United States.

Director: Elia Kazan | Stars: Stathis Giallelis, Frank Wolff, Elena Karam, Harry Davis

Votes: 3,925

I've never personally experienced migration. However Elia Kazan's highly personal project America America had me fighting back tears all the time, with it's depiction of the peregrinations involved in searching for a safe life for yourself and your family. We're not talking about a small film here though, it's got it all going on, meditations about what it is to be a man, and how to become one, passion buried deep inside, screaming to escape, quiet desperate lives, friendship, the possibilty of altruism. It wasn't shot by any old chump either, double Oscar laureate Haskell Wexler here revelling in his first big budget shot at the big time. Over three hours of souls etched on film, buckle up!

7. Eden and After (1970)

Unrated | 93 min | Drama

6.8
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A group of French students are drawn into the psychological and sexual games of a mysterious Dutchman. Once they sample his "fear powder" the students experience a series of hallucinations.

Director: Alain Robbe-Grillet | Stars: Catherine Jourdan, Pierre Zimmer, Richard Leduc, Lorraine Rainer

Votes: 759

A metafictional film where a group of bored French students who play out theatrical games of sex and death are visited by a gent who offers them "poudre de peur" or powder of fear, a drug which removes their inhibitions and sees them off to Tunisia for real games of sex and murder and sadomasochism, or is it all just more theatre / hallucination? Although arguably you would provoke fear responses from anyone who caught you watching this, it's actually fundamentally chaste and geometric, the fantasy of a bookworm and maths student. Much of the spirit of the Zanzibar filmmakers may be here, in a twisted and warped form; the idea of the film more being to provoke recognition of ideologies and conditionings in which the viewer exists. A very bad idea for a watch if you're not used to freethinking (freethinking is seen as a meliorative word, but I'm here to tell you of it's neutrality, freethinking is by no means a good plan). Its high position on this list is a testament to its power.

8. Khrustalyov, My Car! (1998)

137 min | Comedy, Drama

7.7
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Military doctor General Klenski is arrested in Stalin's Russia in 1953 during an anti-Semitic political campaign accused of being a participant in so-called "doctors' plot".

Director: Aleksey German | Stars: Yuriy Tsurilo, Nina Ruslanova, Mikhail Dementyev, Aleksandr Bashirov

Votes: 1,047

German's films are a joy to watch for any addict of film as an artform, the level of the technical achievement is practically miraculous. With Khrustalyov the entire film is composed of takes that most directors would never even try to attempt. The camera is in almost constant motion, close to a large number of actors coordinating with it with full intimacy. It is a bravura effort. To me it really outdoes Fellini in terms of a display of cultural colourfulness (stuff like Roma), and it's in black and white!

The film mostly follows General Klensky, a doctor with a military rank, who is in charge of a large dysfunctional hospital, and a large dysfunctional family, during a period where Communism had turned into a personlity cult of Stalin, and was hysterically lashing out at both friend and foe.

It makes me laugh a lot, all the silly little things which were happening all the time, tiny instances of slapstick. It's also a very subtle movie, there's a bit later on in the movie where Klensky looks out of quite a small window at a little bird that's staring back, pretty fleetingly, it's hard to describe how it made me feel, it was poetic in the way Pasolini can be at his very best. Hard to describe the sublime but I'll attempt, it was like the bird was a spectator, looking at the crazy humans from a much better off place (even though it's perched on a wintery branch), it just kind of made me feel the sheer madness of Russia at that time. Going back to Roma, it also has this connection with the past too, there's definitely a nostalgia for Tsarist times.

Reading up a little bit about the historical background helps a lot with this one, e.g. about the doctors plot and the anti-Zionist purge etc.

What does an intelligent man do in a crazy world? It's such a schizophrenic movie!

9. Cesarée (1978)

10 min | Short

6.3
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A short film Marguerite Duras which documents the Tuileries Gardens.

Director: Marguerite Duras | Star: Marguerite Duras

Votes: 147

Cesarée leaves me speechless with every watch, Duras' voice is magnetic. Rosenbaum has described her as a narcissist, if that's so, Cesarée is a splendiferous fragrant tiger-lily of narcissism. It's narrated by the inexorable and love-wracked voice of Marguerite Duras herself, the Prix Goncourt winning novelist. Duras, high priestess, prostrate at the altar of Venus in this film. How curious is cinema that, what would be my favourite film on another day, should prove to have been made from unused shots of another? That it should be made by a writer who considers the images secondary to the narrated text? The images themselves are mostly lovely tracking shots of the Tuileries Gardens, and the Malliol sculptures inhabiting it at the time. Amy Flamer's violin score is a harrow to the soul, making you wonder if there is any difference between love, longing, and grief.

Suetonius records in his "Lives of the Caesars" that Emperor Titus had fallen in love with Queen Berenice, but against both of their wills he had found it necessary to expel her from Rome. They never met again, this is the story Duras relates. On the subject of the images being leftovers from Le Navire Night, I have read that huge-hearted Marguerite, on occasion, cooked for the crew of her films, I bet she made a mean bubble-and-squeak!

10. Gymnopédies (1965)

6 min | Animation, Short

6.0
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An experimental short from Larry Jordan in which a horse rider and gymnast are filmed.

Director: Larry Jordan

Votes: 141

The Soundtrack of this stop motion collage short is indeed Satie's Gymnopedie #1. The movie is all footage of old engravings/etchings tinted blue. I absolutely love the innocence of the whole thing, such as an androgynous angel with a fig leaf fluttering along the screen. It's a sexless affair that luxuriates in naive Victorian fantasies of the world beyond the boarding school and the library. It's also about the protean nature of thought streams and the beauty of ideas and dreams. Something that I massively enjoy in terms of technique is seeing reversals in motion, which is why the micro-short Newark Athlete of 1891 (William K.L. Dickson) is more than a curiosity to me and indeed a pleasure (the movie shows a gent swinging Indian clubs, played forwards and then reversed back mid swing, at the current time both movies are available on YouTube)

11. Children of Paradise (1945)

Not Rated | 189 min | Drama, Romance

8.3
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The theatrical life of a beautiful courtesan and the four men who love her.

Director: Marcel Carné | Stars: Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault, Pierre Brasseur, Pierre Renoir

Votes: 15,678

I saw a re-release of Les Enfants du Paradis at a film festival and the announcer introduced it by saying, "If you have seen this film before, it needs no introduction, if you have not seen it before, I have only this to say, I envy you.". There are not many films that a hardened programmer might say this about, and I totally agree. Although I abhor objectivity Les Enfants du Paradis, is probably the greatest film ever made. The title refers to the section of a theater auditorium, paradise, which is at the rear of the theatre and is the cheapest part. The children of the paradise are the merry masses who make up the audience in this area of the theatre (the characters and the action revolve around a variety theatre). The movie covers love and heartbreak from many angles, there are many characters to associate with however for me Baptiste is the one, poor oversensitive Baptiste who does not apprehend the simplicity of love. Watching his emotions tearing him apart is perhaps the most savage thing I have seen in the cinema and speaks to the audacity of the filmmakers, so realistic it verges on the profane. The stage act he performs after his initial letdown made me feel that I was not watching a movie, but that some strange alchemist had distilled life and poured it on the screen, I was literally rapt with agony and ecstasy.

12. Dodsworth (1936)

Passed | 101 min | Drama, Romance

8.1
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A retired auto manufacturer and his wife take a long-planned European vacation only to find that they want very different things from life.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton, Paul Lukas, Mary Astor

Votes: 6,771

13. Ferdinand the Bull (1938)

Approved | 8 min | Animation, Short, Comedy

7.2
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Little Ferdinand the bull is stung by a bumblebee when men come to pick a bull for a fight. When he gets in the arena, all he cares about are the flowers in the matador's hands.

Director: Dick Rickard | Stars: Don Wilson, Walt Disney, Milt Kahl

Votes: 1,757

This is a 10 minute Disney short that neatly points out that you should not be afraid of being different. Ferdinand the Bull likes sitting under his cork tree and smelling flowers whilst the other bulls butt heads and jump around. He has beautiful brown eyes, black velvet back, cream undercarriage, and a tuft of blue hair on his smiley head. I have fairly uncanny connections with this short, I was always bigger than the other kids, and I'm still taller than anyone I ever meet, always kept my own company, never wanted to be competitive, had a mother who was worried that I didn't play along with the other kids, have a childish grin, and I specialised in botany at university. It is hard for me to watch this and not cry. Ferdinand the Bull is a thoroughly lovely short and won the Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons) in 1938.

14. Club de femmes (1936)

81 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

6.6
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A hotel for women-only and catering to working girls is the setting for not being able to get a USA PCA seal-of-approval for this French-film, but New York City's 55th Playhouse played it ... See full summary »

Director: Jacques Deval | Stars: Danielle Darrieux, Betty Stockfeld, Else Argal, Raymond Galle

Votes: 53

Club de femmes is a story about a stylish modern hotel run for women in Paris. The young lady lodgers pay a nominal rent amount and the balance is picked up by a charity/league of decency that is trying to stop them being exploited (lured into prostitution or dishonored by men of ill repute). It's a loving and sympathetic film that follows a variety of these women during a formative period in their lives. It's as camp as you like. It is as elegant as you would want a film to be. The scene where Alice falls in love with Juliette, sketching her as she swims, is the most beautiful moment I have seen in film. Claire (Danielle Darrieux) kissing her boyfriend whilst he wears her pyjamas is somewhat blissfully confusing. It's just a wonderful film, directed by Patrick Deval and assisted by Jean Delannoy.

15. Zardoz (1974)

R | 105 min | Fantasy, Sci-Fi

5.8
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In the distant future, a savage trained only to kill finds a way into the community of bored immortals that alone preserves humanity's achievements.

Director: John Boorman | Stars: Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling, Sara Kestelman, John Alderton

Votes: 16,402

Sherlock Holmes is recorded by Dr John Watson as having mentioned the "...giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared". Similarly Zardoz was made in 1974 and the world is still not prepared for its colourfulness and its anti-elitism. It was created completely outside of the Overton window of its time and still outside of the current window. I was put off from watching it for many years by seeing pictures of Sean Connery in a ridiculous skimpy orange ammo-belt outfit, please don't let the same happen to you.

16. Li'l Quinquin (2014)

Not Rated | 206 min | Comedy, Crime, Mystery

7.4
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79 Metascore

A murder mystery that opens with the discovery of human body parts stuffed inside a cow on the outskirts of a small channel town in northern France.

Stars: Alane Delhaye, Lucy Caron, Bernard Pruvost, Philippe Jore

Votes: 2,008

This was the turning point in Dumont's career, when he started to use comedy to lighten some of his rather weighty messaging. The movie also has an excellent attitude to the mentally disabled.

17. The Spiral Staircase (1946)

Approved | 83 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In 1916, a shadowy serial killer is targeting women with "afflictions"; one night during a thunderstorm, the mute Helen feels menaced.

Director: Robert Siodmak | Stars: Dorothy McGuire, George Brent, Ethel Barrymore, Kent Smith

Votes: 7,365

A fundamentally perfect corker of a horror movie, with more emphasis on tension, suspension and implication than any actual violence. I absolutely adore Old Dark House movies, and will happily watch even bad ones, but this is not just for the likes of me. The premise of the movie is pretty nasty, there's a guy who likes to kill women with disabilities, which is quite unforgivable one must admit. The conceit here is that the girl who is mute (the protagonist) cannot scream when he comes for her. It's a gen-yoo-eyne old fashioned hide-behind-the-sofa cuddle-your-loved-ones horror movie that can set the hairs on your back standing up.

18. Amer (2009)

Not Rated | 90 min | Horror, Thriller

6.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
72 Metascore

As a young girl Ana was a rebellious child. She was also tormented by images of death and a shadowy, ominous figure in black. Now an adult, she is once again tormented by shadowy, other-worldly forms.

Directors: Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani | Stars: Cassandra Forêt, Charlotte Eugène Guibeaud, Marie Bos, Biancamaria D'Amato

Votes: 4,732

Amer is the French word for bitter. It is a plot-light study of the life of Ana, as a girl, a teenager, and as a young women. To call it impressionistic would imply a superficial capturing of moments in her life, however the film is deeply inside her experiences. Amer is a sensorium. I have a lot of connection with it, in that my strongest memories involve kaleidoscopic childhood nightmares, and fleeting encounters with members of the opposite gender wearing highly sexualised clothing.

In terms of lineage, it comes from giallo, and indeed uses classic giallo film scores, and had colour-explosion cinematography tracing from Bava and Argento. I think it is not sufficient to call Amer a homage though, in that I think it improves upon the aesthetic, and is essentially the best-looking movie I have ever seen.

It's a tough film in that it's really not clear what happens in the last segment, potentially a descent into madness, potentially pursual by a maniac.

19. Obitateli (1970)

9 min | Documentary, Short

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A reflection on the relationship between wildlife and humans.

Director: Artavazd Peleshian

Votes: 263

20. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

14 min | Short

8.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A woman returning home falls asleep and has vivid dreams that may or may not be happening in reality. Through repetitive images and complete mismatching of the objective view of time and space, her dark inner desires play out on-screen.

Directors: Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid | Stars: Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid

Votes: 8,139

Maya Deren's lasting legacy, shot with her first husband Alexander Hammid, and scored by her second, Toru Takemitsu, this film has had many interpretations. I've no real interest in rational interpretations of the film, for me it's title says it all. Why not the dreams of a woman sleeping in a house with a carbon monoxide leak, or on an acid trip. I know that from the instant I saw the first scene, from the moment the sunflower is handed down in front of me, that I had fallen in love with the film. It strips absolutely everything away, it is an animal film, I think about what I imagine a fox in a forest thinks when it skulks through the undergrowth and the pools of light, feeling and instinct only. The phone is off the hook, the connection to all this crud that makes humans so grotesque, the bills and the self-control and the conditioning. An Attenborough documentary on plants once showed an emerald-eyed black panther rolling around in the jungle, drunk on catnip, that's what this movie makes me for just a few minutes.

21. The Pumpkin Eater (1964)

Not Rated | 118 min | Drama

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Film screenwriter Jake Armitage and his wife Jo Armitage live in London with six of Jo's eight children, with the two eldest boys at boarding school. The children are spread over Jo's three... See full summary »

Director: Jack Clayton | Stars: Anne Bancroft, Peter Finch, James Mason, Janine Gray

Votes: 1,525

Anne Bancroft's grave has a statue of an angel weeping perched on top of it. There can be no doubt that this is merely a faithful representation of what was happening in heaven as the gift of her life left the earth. She was in my opinion a truly estimable person who makes the modern era's idols looks unutterably ridiculous. The Pumpkin Eater is a movie about a relationship and a family, of Jo and Jake Armitage (Anne Bancroft and Peter Finch). Jo is one of those wonderful people who shame you by comparison, a self-sacrificing mother, full of soul and passion, denying herself even the most minor of pleasures, an entity that exists only to give. Jake is a serial adulterer who tries his level best to stop this from damaging his marriage, but at the end of the day can only follow his nature. On a personal level, Jo reminded me very much of my mother. No less than Harold Pinter wrote the screenplay for this one. Yes, once upon a time adults went to see adult films like this at the cinema, deep films, though you can scarcely believe it if you see what they go and watch now. The only film approaching this in modern times that I can think of is Revolutionary Road.

22. Napoleon (1927)

240 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A film about the French general's youth and early military career.

Director: Abel Gance | Stars: Albert Dieudonné, Vladimir Roudenko, Edmond Van Daële, Alexandre Koubitzky

Votes: 5,863

23. Heaven's Gate (1980)

R | 325 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

6.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
57 Metascore

A dramatization of the real-life Johnson County War in 1890 Wyoming, in which a Sheriff born into wealth, attempts to protect immigrant farmers from rich cattle interests.

Director: Michael Cimino | Stars: Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, John Hurt, Sam Waterston

Votes: 11,139 | Gross: $3.48M

24. Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále (2006)

R | 113 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
72 Metascore

A look at the glamorous life at an old-world Prague hotel.

Director: Jirí Menzel | Stars: Ivan Barnev, Oldrich Kaiser, Julia Jentsch, Marián Labuda

Votes: 6,643 | Gross: $0.62M

25. The Bat Whispers (1930)

83 min | Crime, Thriller, Horror

6.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A master criminal terrorizes the occupants of an isolated country mansion.

Director: Roland West | Stars: Chance Ward, Richard Tucker, Wilson Benge, DeWitt Jennings

Votes: 672

So this is just a joy to watch, pure comfort viewing, a mystery thriller about a highly skilled criminal called the Bat. Some of the camerawork is so lovely, there are two points where a camera does a huge swoop along sets that are models and then there's a match cut into a life-size set. You can just have these extremely elegant moments on rewind. This beauty and craft in special effects, I would argue got lost a long time ago. This despite it being much cheaper than modern techniques and more satisfying, I'd argue that the only visually interesting part of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull was the model shooting, where there's a temple purchased above the Nazca Lines.

It turns into an Old Dark House movie. I have to admit that this is my very favourite genre of movie, however it's one with a history of imperfect realisations, and this a very rare good one. Sometimes you have to admit that in very fanciful films with little higher pretensions, the dialogue can shame much more serious-minded films, and this is the case in this one where a maid scolds her lady.

There's something refreshing in the visual format of this film, I doubt there are many films floating around that were shot on 65 mil and in an aspect ratio of 2:1 !

26. La nuit fantastique (1942)

103 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Denis is distracted: he's studying all day for philosophy exams and working all night at the flower market; plus, whenever he closes his eyes, he dreams of a mysterious woman in white. His ... See full summary »

Director: Marcel L'Herbier | Stars: Fernand Gravey, Micheline Presle, Saturnin Fabre, Charles Granval

Votes: 228

A student dreamer who works in a flower market falls asleep and has a wonderful dream about a lady in white whom he falls in love and must save from a rotter, it's nonsensical and beautiful and makes me really appreciate all over again the terms fantastic and night, finally not being abused. This movie is an asylum into which you can climb, it is an impervious haven where the bastards can't get you. It has an American dvd release, but it's gone out-of-print and new copies are retailing at about $100. Should anyone who is filthy rich be grateful for the steers on this list, it would put a smile on my face that a chisel couldn't remove if you bought me the beautiful original poster!

27. Shutter Island (2010)

R | 138 min | Mystery, Thriller

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
63 Metascore

In 1954, a U.S. Marshal investigates the disappearance of a murderer, who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Emily Mortimer, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley

Votes: 904,871 | Gross: $128.01M

Shutter Island is many things to many people. For me it was a story of a man hiding from himself who undergoes a metanoiac transformation that I hugely identified with. It's got other elements that go in my favourite cooking, a music literate soundtrack to die for (I have literally wept to Dinah Washington singing "This Bitter Earth", and then there's all sorts of goodies from avant-garde composers like Adams and Cage) and unrestrained voluptuous visuals.

28. Fünf Patronenhülsen (1960)

87 min | War

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The Spanish Civil War in the year 1936. Five brigadiers are singled out to stay behind in the Spanish Sierras and fend off the fascist enemy while the rest of the troops recede. They are ... See full summary »

Director: Frank Beyer | Stars: Ernst Busch, Erwin Geschonneck, Manfred Krug, Edwin Marian

Votes: 132

The time of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), at least in this movie, is a time of idealism and solidarity, when soldiers of conscience came from all over the world to fight in the International Brigades against the Fascists of Spain, Italy, and Germany (and the American corporations who eagerly supplied Franco and his rebels). In reality, whilst I'm sure there was a large flavour of comradeship, there was also a great deal of factionalism on the Republican side, fomented in part by the Soviet sponsors.

As to the story, Commissar Wittig, five volunteers and a radioman stay behind in the trenches of the Jarama front to cover the retreat of the Republican forces to the Ebro river. They spend a witching hour in the deserted trenches, using up all the heavy machine gun ammo on the enemy before fleeing into the hills. They are chased and chased again, and over again, until their bodies and their ideals are brittle, will they shatter?

29. Deadfall (1968)

R | 120 min | Crime, Drama

5.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Cat burglar Henry Clarke and his accomplices, the Moreaus, attempt to steal diamonds from the château of millionaire Salinas. However, Henry's partners in crime aren't the most emotionally stable people.

Director: Bryan Forbes | Stars: Michael Caine, Giovanna Ralli, Vladek Sheybal, Emilio Rodríguez

Votes: 576

Deadfall is one of the great underrated movies, and I'll tell you why in a bit. What everyone seems more than appreciative about, is the greatness of the piece that John Barry wrote for it, Romance For Guitar And Orchestra, which he appears during the movie personally conducting, intercut with scenes from a robbery. People are mostly happy that the robbery scene is great as well.

What really chills my bones in that robbery scene is the triumph of the will (a phrase unfortunately robbed of it's awe by Leni Riefenstahl), how Henry bends matters to his will, and you can feel the bruises and lacerations that came with that in the scene.

It's unfortunate that the art house crowd haven't get round to this one, and it's more Michael Caine completists and genre fans, because it's truly exceptional. It probably has my favourite joke in a movie, deliciously dark, "What's the use in happiness, it can't buy you money.". Nietzsche's idea that, "Man does not strive after happiness; only the Englishman does that." always brings a smile to my face.

The movie is full of jaded, weary, and intelligent people, into whose web falls jewel thief Henry. The thing about these people is that they do actually all love, they have hearts, it's their great secret. It's really, despite the crazily beautiful robbing, a movie about love, bitterness, and youth versus growing old. I liked a lot of things in the movie, how Fé sees through the fatalism of the men, how facades come crumbling down, how there's all this lovely turquoisey colouring going on.

30. Au coeur de la vie (1963)

95 min | Drama, War

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

This Civil War anthology adapts three Ambrose Bierce stories "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," "Chickamauga" and "The Mockingbird."

Director: Robert Enrico | Stars: Roger Jacquet, Anne Cornaly, Stéphane Fey, Pierre Boffety

Votes: 79

This compendium of three Ambrose Bierce US Civil War short story adapatations is primarily know for the part "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge", which has often been shown separately. This part is probably the strongest of the three, and has a yearning for life that is very accessible. Chickamauga and A Mockingbird are the other two parts and are very special indeed. It is very strange to me that the two most authentic looking American Civil War movies were made by Europeans (the other is American Torso, directed by Gábor Bódy), and both use Ambrose Bierce as source. These are eerie, macabre and sublime stories that are perfectly realised.

31. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

PG | 115 min | Drama, Mystery

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

During a rural summer picnic, a few students and a teacher from an Australian girls' school vanish without a trace. Their absence frustrates and haunts the people left behind.

Director: Peter Weir | Stars: Rachel Roberts, Anne-Louise Lambert, Vivean Gray, Helen Morse

Votes: 27,685 | Gross: $0.23M

A beautiful unsolved mystery. A group of Australian schoolgirls and one of their teacher go missing forever on a field trip to Hanging Rock. It's just that simple. Something makes me feel that the girls just turned into sunshine, that youth so giddy and guileless scintillated into light. The hard thing about this movie is that it has to end and you have to get off the sofa and get back to living.

32. Three Colors: Blue (1993)

R | 98 min | Drama, Music, Mystery

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
85 Metascore

A woman struggles to find a way to live her life after the death of her husband and child.

Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski | Stars: Juliette Binoche, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Julie Delpy, Benoît Régent

Votes: 70,129 | Gross: $1.32M

I learnt about having ice cream "affogato" from this movie, and Kieslowski uses it metaphorically, to portray a woman hurting herself, guilty to take pleasure in life after the death of her husband, desperate for surcease from grief. I watched this as a youngin and was transfixed by this rapacious performance from Juliette Binoche, who gave her all in this movie, physically hurting herself for the famous ivy scene.

33. The Liberation of the Mannique Mechanique (1967)

15 min | Short

5.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

An experimental short film by Steven Arnold in which manikins in a department store come to life.

Director: Steven Arnold

Votes: 86

34. Mavro livadi (2009)

104 min | Drama, Romance

5.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

Greece, 1654. A seriously wounded Janissary arrives at a cloister situated on a cliff, and the sisters take him in and care for him. Sister Anthi, one of those who tends him, falls in love ... See full summary »

Director: Vardis Marinakis | Stars: Sofia Georgovassili, Hristos Passalis, Despina Bebedelli, Maria Panouria

Votes: 577

35. La fin du jour (1939)

99 min | Drama

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Aged penniless actors are living in a old people's home. They always talk about their past glory or failures. One day Raphael Saint-Clair comes; he has been a famous actor and had a lot of ... See full summary »

Director: Julien Duvivier | Stars: Victor Francen, Michel Simon, Louis Jouvet, Madeleine Ozeray

Votes: 468

36. Upstream Color (2013)

Not Rated | 96 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

6.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
81 Metascore

A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.

Director: Shane Carruth | Stars: Amy Seimetz, Frank Mosley, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig

Votes: 26,340 | Gross: $0.44M

37. The Grand Maneuver (1955)

106 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

6.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A French lieutenant makes a bet that he can seduce any woman in town in the two weeks before his regiment leaves for maneuvers, but his chosen target (a Parisian divorcée) isn't like other girls he's known.

Director: René Clair | Stars: Michèle Morgan, Gérard Philipe, Jean Desailly, Pierre Dux

Votes: 736

38. Redland (2009)

105 min | Drama

7.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

As a family struggles to survive in rural isolation during the Great Depression, their daughter's secret affair begins a journey into the unknown.

Director: Asiel Norton | Stars: Mark Aaron, Lucy Adden, Sean Thomas, Bernadette Murray

Votes: 87

39. Excalibur (1981)

PG | 140 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
56 Metascore

Merlin the magician helps Arthur Pendragon unite the Britons around the Round Table of Camelot, even as dark forces conspire to tear it apart.

Director: John Boorman | Stars: Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren, Nicholas Clay, Cherie Lunghi

Votes: 50,262 | Gross: $34.97M

40. Happiness (1935)

Not Rated | 95 min | Comedy, Drama

7.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A hapless loser (with the surname of Loser) undergoes misadventures with avaracious clergy, a tired horse, and a walking granary (among other things) on his road to collectivized happiness.

Director: Aleksandr Medvedkin | Stars: Pyotr Zinovyev, Yelena Yegorova, Nikolay Cherkasov, Mikhail Gipsi

Votes: 780

41. Accattone (1961)

Not Rated | 117 min | Drama

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A pimp with no other means to provide for himself finds his life spiraling out of control when his prostitute is sent to prison.

Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini | Stars: Franco Citti, Franca Pasut, Silvana Corsini, Paola Guidi

Votes: 5,964

Accattone is a Roman pimp who lives off his girlfriend Maddalena's earnings. Pasolini's cheeky aim is to put forward this young man as a modern saint. To this end he lathers Bach's St Matthew's Passion (inspired by the Apostle's experience of the crucifixion of Christ) over scenes of Accattone's life. In one of Accattone's first scenes he's shown devouring a slice of tomato, displayed horizontally as if a cardinal's galero, whilst an sculpture of perhaps a guardian angel can be seen over his shoulder in the distance (an anti-clerical pro-Christ stance seems to be a consistent theme for Pasolini). Later, a prophecy regarding Accattone's descent is eerily similar to Christ's pronunciation of Peter's forthcoming triple renunciation.

Whatever Accattone is, he's not sunless; when he tries out the world of work (legitimate work involving labour), he becomes Vittorio, his Christian name, and the light goes out. The film reminds me very much of Fassbinder's Gods of the Plague in that sense, young men with brio but no skills or education who, given the choice between drudgery or crime, choose crime. Both films polemicise against urban post-industrial capitalist societies, which have become increasingly removed from the milieu in which humanity evolved and is "designed" to cope with.

42. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

R | 159 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
68 Metascore

A New York City doctor, who is married to an art curator, pushes himself on a harrowing and dangerous night-long odyssey of sexual and moral discovery after his wife admits that she once almost cheated on him.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Todd Field, Sydney Pollack

Votes: 251,034 | Gross: $55.69M

Jocelyn Pook worked out that if she played Romanian liturgical chant backwards it sounded like the primal deranged hymn of a secret society of Nietzschean master moralists. How did she do that? How did Stanley "Special K" Kubrick manage to pick out Shostakovich's Waltz from his Jazz Suite #2 as the perfect psychosexual mood setter for a Schnitzler adaptation? Kubrick's vast mastery makes Otto Muehl's attempts to open the same doors look positively peasantish.

43. Parsifal (1982)

PG | 255 min | Drama, Music

7.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Richard Wagner's last opera has remained controversial since its first performance for its unique, and, for some, unsavory blending of religious and erotic themes and imagery. Based on one ... See full summary »

Director: Hans-Jürgen Syberberg | Stars: Armin Jordan, Martin Sperr, Robert Lloyd, Michael Kutter

Votes: 209

44. Jauja (2014)

Not Rated | 109 min | Drama, Western

6.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
77 Metascore

A father and daughter journey from Denmark to an unknown desert that exists in a realm beyond the confines of civilization.

Director: Lisandro Alonso | Stars: Viggo Mortensen, Ghita Nørby, Viilbjørk Malling Agger, Esteban Bigliardi

Votes: 3,194

45. A Farewell to Arms (1932)

Unrated | 80 min | Drama, Romance, War

6.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

An American ambulance driver and an English nurse fall in love in Italy during World War I.

Director: Frank Borzage | Stars: Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes, Adolphe Menjou, Mary Philips

Votes: 3,949

46. The Sword of Doom (1966)

Not Rated | 119 min | Action, Drama

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Through his unconscionable actions against others, a sociopath samurai builds a trail of vendettas that follow him closely.

Director: Kihachi Okamoto | Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Michiyo Aratama, Yûzô Kayama, Yôko Naitô

Votes: 7,632

The Sword of Doom is about a Samurai, Ryunosuke Tsukue, who is brimful of contempt for society and its compromises, a one man army he ruthlessly murders anyone he sees fit. A man of extreme integrity, one senses that his fate could have gone either way depending on chance alone. As it is he turns his hand against every man, becoming an inhumanly isolated monomaniac who takes ostracisation and loneliness to its limits in his quest for purity. The Sword of Doom is an awe-inducing film about a man who cultivates his rage until it turns into a forest he becomes lost in. One cannot watch this film other than with respect and a sign to ward off the evil eye.

47. Konets vechnosti (1987)

137 min | Sci-Fi

6.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Based on the novel by Isaac Asimov.The End of Eternity is a science fiction film with mystery and thriller elements on the subjects of time travel and social engineering.

Director: Andrei Yermash | Stars: Oleg Vavilov, Vera Sotnikova, Georgi Zhzhyonov, Sergey Yurskiy

Votes: 144

48. King of New York (1990)

R | 103 min | Crime, Thriller

7.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A drug kingpin is released from prison and seeks to take total control of the criminal underworld in order to give back to the community.

Director: Abel Ferrara | Stars: Christopher Walken, David Caruso, Laurence Fishburne, Victor Argo

Votes: 25,907 | Gross: $2.55M

King of New York may not have been the most acclaimed movie ever but if you were to base the acclaim on the number of posters of the movie on the walls of teenage boys and young men, it rapidly becomes more of a noteworthy film. I'm still hep with a load of these stylish, macho, antagonistic, freewheeling movies, and the movie has a soundtrack to match, full of body-shaking beats.

Frank White is a gangster who gets out of prison and decides to do it right this time, he gathers his interracial gang to him and starts taking over New York's rackets, whilst funding altruistic projects and blamming away the less racially inclusive gangs.

Musically of interest as the soundtrack is great, standout for me being rap by Schoolly D.

It is without doubt one of the coolest movies ever made.

49. Angel's Egg (1985)

71 min | Animation, Drama, Fantasy

7.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A mysterious young girl wanders a desolate, otherworldly landscape, carrying a large egg.

Director: Mamoru Oshii | Stars: Mako Hyôdô, Jinpachi Nezu, Kei'ichi Noda

Votes: 4,143

50. Medea (1988 TV Movie)

76 min | Drama

7.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
84 Metascore

Medea is in Corinth with Jason and their two young sons. King Kreon wants to reward Jason for his exploits: he gives the hand of his daughter, Glauce, to Jason as well as the promise of the... See full summary »

Director: Lars von Trier | Stars: Udo Kier, Kirsten Olesen, Henning Jensen, Solbjørg Højfeldt

Votes: 2,623 | Gross: $0.02M

As a child I was obsessed by the Greek Myths, my copy of Grimal's Dictionary of Classical Mythology fairly fell to pieces, though Graves' The Greek Myths fared better because my school put a protective plastic jacket on the hard copy of it that I stole. Every year that goes by they get stronger to me emotionally. Medea's is the ultimate of these stories, she is a knowledgeable, capable, powerful, emotional, mystical woman who is not afraid of putting her cards face down on the table and putting all her chips in the middle for love. I aspire to be worthy of such woman.

Von Trier filmed Carl Theodor Dreyer's script of Medea for TV. It is a beautiful piece of video art, astonishing in it's use of experimental techniques. Kirsten Olesen's portrayal of Medea, seems to take Falconetti as inspiration.

51. Army of Darkness (1992)

R | 81 min | Comedy, Horror

7.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
57 Metascore

A man is accidentally transported to 1300 A.D., where he must battle an army of the dead and retrieve the Necronomicon so he can return home.

Director: Sam Raimi | Stars: Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert, Ian Abercrombie

Votes: 141,554 | Gross: $11.50M

Ash is fundamentally someone who copes, he's got this crappy hopeless life, he gets transported into a terrible world where he has a hopeless task to accomplish, absolutely no-one is one his wavelength, all he can do is be an audience for his own stand-up comedy. He throws himself at his life and his task with aplomb, and there is nothing about that which is not admirable.

Unlike the other two Evil Dead movies, I actually find this one incredibly scary, particularly when he's fighting versions of himself, but also when he finds the three Necronomicons.

52. Andrei Rublev (1966)

Not Rated | 205 min | Biography, Drama, History

8.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

The life, times and afflictions of the fifteenth-century Russian iconographer.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky | Stars: Anatoliy Solonitsyn, Ivan Lapikov, Nikolay Grinko, Nikolay Sergeev

Votes: 29,403

A titanic film that hardly requires any introduction or recommendation from me. A film of scope, ambition, technical virtuosity, and unparalleled genius. It shows you the lives of folks back in 15th century Russia, and lets you know all about the purpose of creativity and the relationship between artists and power structures. It's a film of almost appalling weight by one Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky, a man who had the creativity of one hundred thousand people crammed into his one poor cranium.

53. Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)

R | 110 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

6.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  
49 Metascore

Despite being under heavy sedation, a young woman tries to make her way out of the Arboria Institute, a secluded, quasifuturistic commune.

Director: Panos Cosmatos | Stars: Eva Bourne, Michael Rogers, Scott Hylands, Rondel Reynoldson

Votes: 7,877 | Gross: $0.06M

54. Altair (1995)

10 min | Animation, Short

7.0
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Director: Lewis Klahr

Votes: 76

The most intoxicating of Lewis Klahr's collage shorts that I have seen. A night-blossoming alcoholic noir dream set to moonlight and "Lullaby" from Stravinsky's 1919 version of "The Firebird" Suite. Lewis is a collector-supremo of ephemera, he gets cut-outs from old magazines, comic books, and odd little found items and animates them using stop motion photography. Altair is set in the post-WWII era (the Bernstein recording of Stravinsky would put it at 1957 if used alone), and is full of strange glamour, romance, power, luxury, and pain in the night, images of cocktail menus from the day, and passé liquor bottles fly by (Old Forester being the most evocative for me). False Aging from 2008 comes off as the most meaningful, heartfelt, and worthy of Klahr's films, but Altair is where my heart is at. One of the great things about Klahr's films is that he shows off his taste in music which ranges all over the place from Rap to Ravel and always seems to be just right.

55. At Sea (2007)

60 min | Documentary

7.4
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This is a soundless story of the building of 'Toledo Spirit', the container ship, its sailing and eventual beaching. Insignificant men crawl on cranes and gantries to build it and other men, sans the equipment, scrape it after beaching.

Director: Peter B. Hutton

Votes: 179

56. The Parallel Street (1962)

86 min | Drama

7.2
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Feature-documentary "pointing up a thousand facets of this world and probing to determine what may lie beneath the surface".

Director: Ferdinand Khittl | Stars: Friedrich Joloff, Ernst Marbeck, Wilfried Schröpfer, Herbert Tiede

Votes: 116

The film stays with a group of five men sat in a room at night in lamp-lit darkness puzzling over a series of documents and images. Their task is to understand the documents, understand their unifying theme, understand who prepared the documents. Erasure awaits them should they fail this task; they have three nights to complete it. A weary yet sympathetic clerk watches over them, supplying them with supplementary information and advice where required. The film is heavily allegorical, perhaps bitterly so. The men are somnambulists, blindly following baseless conventions, focusing on irrelevant minutiae, bickering, endlessly deliberating without coming to any action or conclusion, mentally blocked. Life itself as three nights.

Khittl made no fiction films save this one, perhaps he managed to say it all in just one go. What I haven't mentioned is that it's a deliriously beautiful film at times, lots of luscious photography from all over the world that serve as the documents for the individuals to study.

57. Marie Antoinette (2006)

PG-13 | 123 min | Biography, Drama, History

6.4
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65 Metascore

The retelling of France's iconic but ill-fated queen, Marie Antoinette. From her betrothal and marriage to Louis XVI at 15 to her reign as queen at 19 and to the end of her reign as queen, and ultimately the fall of Versailles.

Director: Sofia Coppola | Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Rip Torn, Judy Davis

Votes: 87,268 | Gross: $15.96M

58. Winter (2008)

22 min | Short

7.1
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Director: Nathaniel Dorsky

Votes: 22

Nathaniel Dorsky makes short films with no narratives or actors, visual works that have some sort of thematic coherence only. Visual poetry is a cliche that doesn't go far enough to describe his work. He often ends up using focus and framing to produce abstract images from what he's photographed whose origins are hard to decipher. Unfortunately his works are limited to playing at festivals and special screenings. He hinted in a talk he gave that he may allow dvd released after he is dead, but for now he sees himself as more like Vivaldi, prefering to accompany his work when it is displayed. Winter is quite a magnificent piece where "peace comes dropping slow" in the words of Yeats.

59. Zacharovannaya Desna (1964)

81 min | Fantasy

7.5
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Director: Yuliya Solntseva | Stars: Boris Andreyev, Evgeniy Bondarenko, Vladimir Goncharov, Zinaida Kirienko

Votes: 52

60. Les mains négatives (1978)

14 min | Short

6.7
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Director: Marguerite Duras | Star: Marguerite Duras

Votes: 123

As with Cesarée, Les mains négatives ("Negative Hands") is made of unused footage from Duras' Le Navire Night project. The footage is of Paris at dusk, Durassian images passe-partout (tonal images). The voiceover concerns ancient cave art, in particular petrogylphs of hands. Amy Flamer's violin score produces a feeling of intense longing, which is what Duras is all about. Les mains négatives is fundamentally a gesamtkunstwerk, a universal art work where several art forms are utilised. The narration unites literature with film: that which is fundamental to literature, is the quality where the reader has the liberty to conjure up their own mental images in response to the author's directions. The actual images on the screen, are tonal in nature. The images you develop yourself in your mind's eye are the real images of the film. So the film is about people leaving behind their hand prints in caves eons ago (the paint goes around the hands, so they are literally negative hands, only viewable because of their absence). Why did they do this, why is this something that Duras wants to draw attention to? For me they're simply recording their existence, standing up against immensity, against the unknowable. It's about equality, every hand print looks the same, everyone equal in eternity. Duras attempts the impossible, she attempts to bridge the gap between people, to reach out to the sea of souls of the past in the spirit of love. I've written more in a user comment on the relevant IMDb page.

61. Moderato cantabile (1960)

91 min | Drama

6.9
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A wealthy and bored woman is witness of a murder in affection and meets another witness. She asks him about the history of the victim and falls in love with him.

Director: Peter Brook | Stars: Jeanne Moreau, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Pascale de Boysson, Jean Deschamps

Votes: 533

62. Maska (2010)

23 min | Short, Fantasy

7.3
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Directors: Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay | Star: Magdalena Cielecka

Votes: 101

63. For a Few Dollars More (1965)

R | 132 min | Western

8.3
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Two bounty hunters with the same intentions team up to track down a Western outlaw.

Director: Sergio Leone | Stars: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volontè, Mario Brega

Votes: 181,114 | Gross: $15.00M

So it turns out that Clint wasn't the man with no name here, because he's called Monco, even if you only hear that once! Anyway, the second two dollars movies I love the best, because they are so fluid. A Fistful of Dollars is all set in the same place, it's a static film, I have little interest in it. Why not watch Eastwood's own High Plain's Drifter instead, or the oneiric remake with Bruce Willis, Last Man Standing?

Monco and Colonel Mortimer, bounty hunters extraordinares, are out for el Indio's hide. The movie is ritualistic, features expanded time, and has one of the great soundtracks. Movies can save your life, and at university, when everything was caving in, I would slide the VHS of this in and everything was alright. I've watched this one tens of times, and it never loses anything.

64. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

R | 178 min | Western

8.9
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90 Metascore

A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.

Director: Sergio Leone | Stars: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef, Aldo Giuffrè

Votes: 562,777 | Gross: $6.10M

It's more the bad guy that you sympathise with, the bad guy who's a sadist so you don't sympathise with, and the guy who's there for comic relief, but that's not such a catchy title. This film doesn't need much selling, arguably having the greatest soundtrack, it's pure comfort watching. Analysis can be like acid, and I prefer not to analyse storytelling, however plot elements that I'm very keen on in this movie regard food, Angel Eyes stew-stealing at the start of the movie and Tuco's nervous eating in the Andersonville camp (Onibaba and Kuleshov's Po Zakonu are other great movies that capture the viscerality of our fellow primates stealing and protecting their grub). This seems to tap into something primal, much like the greasiness and unshaved look of the characters.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a miracle, a syzygy, all the elements that make a movie lining up in perfection, even the out of synch dialogue of minor characters seems to positively bring something to the party. Leone's background in sword and sandal movies stood him in good stead here for the civil war battle scenes, which bring a dimension to the film that no other spags have. The soundtrack is an experimental bizarrerie of unusual sounds that has no right to be so astonishingly successful on every level.

65. Le grand jeu (1934)

120 min | Drama, Romance

7.3
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Pierre (Pierre Richard-Willm), a young lawyer, has enormous debts due to his mistress Florence (Marie Bell), and her whims of luxury life. Pierre has gone too far and put the family firm in... See full summary »

Director: Jacques Feyder | Stars: Marie Bell, Pierre Richard-Willm, Charles Vanel, Georges Pitoëff

Votes: 292

Very few movies for me have captured the tragedy and pageantry of life in one fell swoop, the other two are Les Enfants du Paradis and The Satin Slipper, supernatural titles which must be uttered only in awe. These are decidedly Promethean movies, which beg a thunderbolt from above for their creators. Such movies through their genius seem sacrilegious.

Exuberant, blithe and foolish, Belle Époque nitwit Pierre lives a pampered lifestyle with a sinecure at the family bank. Innocently in love with a man eater, he throws more and more "borrowed" money into the fire of her greed in the hopes of putting it out. Years of disgrace follow where Pierre must learn to be a man like other men, to silently put up with being un raté, to watch his life slide out of view, to take his pleasures where he can in exile with the Foreign Legion.

Le Grand Jeu is a film that makes one to wonder if God didn't conflate lust and love when He created the world. The filmmakers create their own world in miniature here, a world where people live with the ghouls of their pasts sat on their shoulders, loving without being loved back, cursed by lust unattainable, or attainable and consuming, damned one way or the other. It was a refreshingly raunchy movie with quite the most triple-x-rated cabaret song, from La môme Dauville (Lyn Clevers). Whilst lust does seem to inhibit the possibility of true love, male lust in particular is treated as something natural and not to be ashamed of.

So the world is a casino and our fortunes dictated by Fortuna (the great game of the title). One's only weapon against all this seems to be morale. That seems the key message of what is I would say, a perfect movie (it's probably also pretty similar in that regards to Les Enfants Du Paradis, and no surprise to find out that Marcel Carné was an assistant on this movie). Marie Bell and Pierre Richard-Willm act their hearts out here.

66. A Canterbury Tale (1944)

Not Rated | 124 min | Comedy, Drama, Mystery

7.7
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Three modern day pilgrims investigate a bizarre crime in a small town on the way to Canterbury.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger | Stars: Eric Portman, Sheila Sim, Dennis Price, John Sweet

Votes: 4,117

67. Natural Born Killers (1994)

R | 118 min | Crime, Drama

7.3
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74 Metascore

Two victims of traumatized childhoods become lovers and psychopathic serial murderers irresponsibly glorified by the mass media.

Director: Oliver Stone | Stars: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Rodney Dangerfield

Votes: 188,343 | Gross: $50.28M

68. The Pied Piper (1986)

53 min | Animation, Fantasy, Horror

8.0
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The story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin with a twist.

Director: Jirí Barta | Stars: Oldrich Kaiser, Jirí Lábus, Michal Pavlícek, Vilém Cok

Votes: 804

69. The Keep (1983)

R | 96 min | Horror

5.8
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34 Metascore

Nazis are forced to turn to a Jewish historian for help in battling the ancient demon they have inadvertently freed from its prison.

Director: Michael Mann | Stars: Scott Glenn, Ian McKellen, Alberta Watson, Jürgen Prochnow

Votes: 9,150 | Gross: $3.76M

People usually apologise for this film when they write reviews of partial admiration. The studio cut the movie from Mann's 3 hours to one and a half. Let me be clear that this movie requires no apologies from me. To to me it's really great how things happen fairly spontaneously and it doesn't need so much explanation. It tackles religious matters with audacity, and is about as atmospheric as a movie can be.

The plot is about a band of Nazi stormtroopers who awake an ancient devil in the Carpathian mountains.

70. Entezar (1974)

43 min | Short

7.0
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One of Naderi's most beautiful films, a kind of magical realist parable that follows a boy's daily chore: bringing an elegant glass bowl to get filled with ice, and then returning home. The... See full summary »

Director: Amir Naderi | Stars: Zohreh Ghahremani, Hasan Heidari, Farzaneh Yousefi

Votes: 21

71. Lucifer Rising (1972)

29 min | Short, Fantasy

7.2
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Egyptian gods summons the angel Lucifer - in order to usher in a new occult age.

Director: Kenneth Anger | Stars: Kenneth Anger, Bobby Beausoleil, Donald Cammell, Haydn Couts

Votes: 2,153

Lucifer Rising is one of the great short films, but you have to be some sort of extreme enthusiast to come by even the great short films these days, and so I won't assume you know all about it. Inspired by Aleister Crowley and the Occult, it is about the feeling of being a God, the occult, creation and ritual. Crowley is represented in this one scene and a docrtinal representative of his attended the making of the movie. Crowley wrote a poem called the "Hymn to Lucifer" where he explained Lucifer's significance in his religion of Thelema. The poem points to the fallen angel Lucifer as a bringer of knowledge and love, things that folks were cast out of Eden for, Crowley explains. Thelema gets rid of the Golden Rule, and suggests that people should do as they will, a sole ethical princple, which is not to say that they should wallow in bestiality and egoistic impulse, but that they should fulfil their purpose. Knowledge and sexual desire (both forbidden in Eden), are what it's all about. Lucifer was "sun-souled", and I thin you definitely get that in this film.

If you read my explanation of why I like Meshes of the Afternoon, you will see that I talked about the separation of the conscious from the subconscious, of the dissolution of superego. That's what Thelema is all about to, and this movie. Definitely another one to add to the list is Acéphale.

I am a moralist but I definitely find this stuff valuable and worth savouring.

72. Six et demi onze (1927)

84 min | Drama

7.2
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A renowned doctor and his brother live and work together until the brother falls in love with Marie, a singer, and gives up medicine to be with her. After a time however, she misses her old... See full summary »

Director: Jean Epstein | Stars: Edmond Van Daële, Suzy Pierson, Nino Constantini, René Ferté

Votes: 58

73. Camille (1936)

Passed | 109 min | Drama, Romance

7.5
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A Parisian courtesan must choose between the young man who loves her and the callous baron who wants her, even as her own health begins to fail.

Director: George Cukor | Stars: Greta Garbo, Robert Taylor, Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan

Votes: 6,157 | Gross: $1.15M

74. Another Sky (1954)

86 min | Drama

7.2
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After a puritan youth, a young English woman discovers her sensuality in North-Africa.

Director: Gavin Lambert | Stars: Catherine Lacey, Ahmed Ben Mohammed, Lee Montague, Victoria Grayson

Votes: 59

Cahiers du Cinema is not the only magazine where critics have taken up the gauntlet and gone onto filmmaking. Gavin Lambert of Sight & Sound directed this his only film, about a repressed englishwoman in Morocco, journeying into fugue. The psychological enormity of a tight-laced englishwoman of this era vanishing into Morocco is awe-inspiring to me, especially as it's not some cop-out blossoming into a higher conciousness or gregarious new personality, but rather represents an erasure of roots in favour of scorched adobe and desert purity. The night after watching this, when I went to sleep I could hear feel the dunes outside my window. Like Paul Bowles, who was a personal friend of Lambert, and who inspired the films, I've felt the call of Morocco, and of fugue. See also The Sheltering Sky, also on this list.

75. A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1972)

R | 106 min | Comedy, Drama

6.9
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A couple uses extremely black comedy to survive taking care of a daughter who is nearly completely brain dead. They take turns doing the daughter's voice and stare into the eyes of death ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Medak | Stars: Alan Bates, Janet Suzman, Peter Bowles, Sheila Gish

Votes: 349

Quite without being aware of the fact beforehand, I noticed during A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, that the film was shot in my home town of Bristol, so I don't know how much of its placement is what the Americans call a "hometown decision". But the way it brings my skin alive and makes me want to cry probably suggest otherwise.

It's a movie about two parents who are both attempting to have careers whilst bringing up a child in what is called a permanent vegetative state. They're two beautiful people who try their best to keep their spirits up and look after their unresponsive daughter (the Jo Egg of the title). I think what the film, most simply is about, is being human, about love and altruism and looking after one another even in the face of nil return. The scene where Elgar's Nimrod is played whilst the parents tend to Jo still brings tears to my mind just thinking about it.

76. Liquid Sky (1982)

R | 112 min | Sci-Fi

6.2
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Invisible aliens in a tiny flying saucer come to Earth looking for heroin. They land on top of a New York apartment inhabited by a drug dealer and her female, androgynous, bisexual ... See full summary »

Director: Slava Tsukerman | Stars: Anne Carlisle, Paula E. Sheppard, Susan Doukas, Otto von Wernherr

Votes: 4,308

Liquid Sky is probably the coolest film ever made. A wildly unhinged soundtrack to die for includes of all things an electronic recasting of Orff's Trionfo di Afrodite. Liquid Sky by the by is a slang for heroin. The characters are mostly New York scenesters with attitude and androgyny. All this is hyped up enough but then comes a UFO of miniature aliens from far far away and photography that would give Stan Brakhage a stiffy. The type of thing your daddy would have sent you away to military school for if he caught you watching.

77. Hours for Jerome (1982)

45 min

6.9
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It is a "silent tone poem" recording the daily events of Dorsky and his partner, artist Jerome Hiler around Lake Owassa in New Jersey and in Manhattan.

Director: Nathaniel Dorsky

Votes: 12

Hours for Jerome is a serene recording of beautiful moments in the lives of a handful of people over a period of a few years. It is currently Nathaniel Dorsky's longest movie, and was the first in which he gave up on sound. His cinema from then on relied on images alone, trying to encapsulate an inner state of calm and splendour, which arises from public spaces shot in silence, at a speed only subconsciously perceptible as slower than real time (18 frames per second versus the 24 at which it was shot). What's different here compared to his later films is that there's some razzmatazz editing, more of the energy of youth. The Hours of the title are named after the medieval book of hours, which were illuminated collections of psalms and prayers. Jerome is Jerome Hiler, Nathaniel Dorsky's partner.

Nathaniel Dorsky turns the cinema into a temple.

78. Brigands-Chapter VII (1996)

129 min | Comedy, Drama

7.1
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King Vano rides bravely off into battle, but only after ensuring his passionate Queen is safely locked in her chastity belt.

Director: Otar Iosseliani | Stars: Amiran Amiranashvili, Davit Gogibedashvili, Giorgi Tsintsadze, Nino Orjonikidze

Votes: 265

I am waiting to see a bad Georgian film although once when I spoke to a Georgian director (Levan Koguashvili) he said to me that Georgian domestic cinema is very mundane and panders to the lowest common denominator! In any case Brigands is part of the very fine internationalist tradition of Georgian film. Its idea is fairly simple, that all the historic rulers of Russia have always been brigands, whether they be warlords, commissars or oligarchs, this is expanded upon at length in a series of historical vignettes, comic in their banality. William Lubtchansky does the photography, which of course means that the entire film is a sheer pleasure to watch. One of my favourite scenes in film history is the extremely comic scene in this film where a Stalin-type character crawls up the carpet in a Tsarist official's office and emerges from behind his desk to dispatch him.

79. Voyager (1991)

PG-13 | 117 min | Drama, Romance

6.7
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Walter Faber has survived a crash with an airplane. His next trip is by ship. On board this ship he meets the enchanting Sabeth and they have a passionate love affair. Together they travel ... See full summary »

Director: Volker Schlöndorff | Stars: Sam Shepard, Julie Delpy, Barbara Sukowa, Dieter Kirchlechner

Votes: 2,541 | Gross: $0.52M

So Homo Faber (Latin for a man who forges his own destiny) is Walter Faber, a prodigal engineer, who seems like a laid back cross between Fitzcarraldo and Brunel. He's too caught up in his romance with engineering to seize the moment and the girl. He is reminiscent in this sense of Dominic in "Youth Without Youth", and Zetterstrøm in "Allegro" (excellent films), both love-blind men caught up in their pursuits (linguistics and piano playing). As Cupid is the real God and reigns over drama, these men must be punished.

Highly beautiful high concept high production values globe-trotting noir about a man who didn't understand being human. I watched this with my mother and I think she wanted to throttle the guy at one point.

80. Careful (1992)

Not Rated | 100 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

7.2
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In the Alpine village of Tolzbad in the 1800s, the townsfolk talk quietly and restrain their movements lest they incur avalanches. This atmosphere lends itself to repressed emotions - shown... See full summary »

Director: Guy Maddin | Stars: Kyle McCulloch, Gosia Dobrowolska, Sarah Neville, Brent Neale

Votes: 1,525

Where better to escape than the mountains? Guy Maddin latterly became overtly auto-biographical in his work and I think the magic went, but his early features, are brilliant homages to old movies, Bergfilme here. This started a whole kick for me, Der Heilige Berge, Das Blaue Licht, and Die weiße Hölle vom Piz Palü. The duel scene is particularly memorable. The peculiar situation in this film is that everyone in the village up in the mountains, Tolzbad, has to be quiet the whole time in order to avoid avalanches. The situation is allegorical regarding repressed sexuality.

81. The History of Mr. Polly (1949)

Approved | 95 min | Drama

6.8
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Quiet and somewhat direction-less, Alfred Polly uses the money he inherits from his father to marry and to set up shop in a small town. His heart is in neither of these enterprises and he ... See full summary »

Director: Anthony Pelissier | Stars: John Mills, Sally Ann Howes, Betty Ann Davies, Megs Jenkins

Votes: 446

A very personal choice from me here, based on a story by HG Wells. Mr Polly is a Victorian shop clerk with no place in life, he spends his days in reverie, daydreaming on the job and reading Chretien de Troyes. He is spat out and must begin his long journey to find a place where his sensibilities are welcome, and he can finally put down roots. I have so many tears for this film.

82. I Was an Adventuress (1940)

Not Rated | 81 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

6.8
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A pair of crooks (von Stroheim and Lorre) use a phony countess (Zorina) who winds up falling in love with one of their victims (Greene).

Director: Gregory Ratoff | Stars: Vera Zorina, Richard Greene, Erich von Stroheim, Peter Lorre

Votes: 157

83. The Mystery of Oberwald (1980)

129 min | Drama, Romance

6.4
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A hunted man breaks into the castle at Oberwald to kill the Queen, but faints before doing so. He is Sebastian, the splitting image of the King who was assassinated on his wedding day. The ... See full summary »

Director: Michelangelo Antonioni | Stars: Monica Vitti, Paolo Bonacelli, Franco Branciaroli, Luigi Diberti

Votes: 639

84. The Neon Demon (2016)

R | 118 min | Horror, Thriller

6.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
51 Metascore

When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn | Stars: Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Karl Glusman

Votes: 60,408 | Gross: $1.33M

"So I asked myself, of all the melancholy topics, what, according to the universal understanding of mankind, is the most tragic? Death. And when is this most tragic of melancholy topics most poetical? When it most loosely alludes itself to beauty. The death, therefore, of a beautiful girl is unquestionably the most poetic topic in the world." So spoke the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe in Francis Ford Coppola's movie Twixt. These words are a paraphrasing of Poe's own writing, from his essay "The Philosophy of Composition". Coppola and Refn both seem to have taken some interest in using Elle Fanning in films about the death of a beautiful woman. The topic is insanely fascinating in this presentation.

The Neon Demon is about a girl who goes to Los Angeles in order to become a top model. The work, compliments, admirers and envy all start to roll in. The movie is essentially thematic, largely relying on the visual and on atmosphere.

NWR is an extreme addict of beauty, and the movie contains some staggeringly voluptuous photography. The message is that physical beauty is superficial. But there is no sanctimony to be had from Refn here, on the contrary he goes for full immersion, a beauty-holic on a bender. The film is a testimony to the power of beauty, it is a mesmeric, galvanic glory. The tail end of the beast mutates into images you see only in rare dreams, a mix of the abject and the byzantine. A judgemental reaction to this dreamworld would be a nonsensical act.

85. Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949)

Not Rated | 84 min | Comedy, Horror, Mystery

7.1
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Two employees of a secluded hotel investigate a murder on the premises in which the goofy bellboy is the prime suspect.

Director: Charles Barton | Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Boris Karloff, Lenore Aubert

Votes: 3,066

This is on my list for much the same reason as Lewis Klahr's Altair, it's a melange of post war glamour, mystery and murder set in a plush hotel, and it always seems like night-time. I feel a strange overwhelming sympathy for Lou Costello's character Freddie Phillips, an incompetent bellhop, always hoping that something good happens for him. There's some weird scenes set in a system of grottoes near the hotel that takes this to the next league of heartbroken nocturnal zaniness.

86. Grenouilles (1983)

80 min | Drama

6.0
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Director: Adolfo Arrieta | Stars: Anne Wiazemsky, Adolfo Arrieta, Xavier Grandès, Pascal Greggory

Votes: 26

87. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

96 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A witness of an attack, a writer becomes stalked by a serial killer.

Director: Dario Argento | Stars: Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno, Eva Renzi

Votes: 13,722

This is the first giallo I ever watched (often seedy Italian murder mysteries, with as many hallmarks as film noir). It's as good as it gets so far, according to my discoveries. The centerpiece murder at the start moves me a lot, the sense of mystery and powerlessness of the main character to intervene. What I really like with Argento murderers is their sheer insanity and pain. The really good giallo are also just plain odd. The lighting is also a critical thing, deserted Italian streets in the 70s at night just seem to have something about them. I like the white telephones too (there is actually a genre of Italian comedy called "white telephone" films).

88. O Pintor e a Cidade (1956)

26 min | Documentary, Short

7.2
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A painter wanders around the city of Oporto painting what he sees: old and modern buildings, people arriving and leaving work in the factories, children playing.

Director: Manoel de Oliveira | Star: António Cruz

Votes: 177

Oliveira's first colour movie is a wordless dialogue between a filmmaker and a painter. Each portray the city of Porto according to their own ability. It very much comes off as a synergistic process where the images are informed by each of the techniques. There's a "motion painting" scene at one point that is almost as beautiful as you can get, showing the light changing over the city. I felt as I watched the movie, seeing the city in the round, that God was perhaps involved in the planning. It has been a source of interest for me that Oliveira was making films during a dictatorship, and yet none of them are known for their criticism of Salazar. And yet the only time I saw people who looked out of place was when there were policeman around. I think he took a render unto Caesar view.

89. Kaos (1984)

R | 188 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

8.0
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Five stories by Luigi Pirandello set in turn-of-the-century Italy.

Directors: Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani | Stars: Margarita Lozano, Orazio Torrisi, Carlo Cartier, Biagio Barone

Votes: 2,039 | Gross: $0.33M

Moments of intense joy always seem to me to be fleeting and unexpected, even unrecognised when they're happening. In life they can be so rare that they have an intensity that they last down the years, even if you sometimes don't realise their power at the time. The Taviani brothers capture what is probably the most glorious scene in cinema history, an unpper class family undergoing forced migration from Sicily to Malta after political disturbance, experience a moment of peace in the Aeolian Islands, the children careening down a pumice chute to the sea.

Kaos contains a collection of five stories from the Tavianis, of slightly varying quality. As a leftie I particularly admire the poltical ones, The Jar, and Requiem. The stories are all from Sicily's past.

90. The Scalphunters (1968)

Not Rated | 102 min | Comedy, Western

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Forced to trade his valuable furs for a well-educated escaped slave, a rugged trapper vows to recover the pelts from the Indians and later the renegades that killed them.

Director: Sydney Pollack | Stars: Burt Lancaster, Shelley Winters, Telly Savalas, Ossie Davis

Votes: 2,580

I have a huge admiration for Burt Lancaster and his films. There is no actor I know of who had such spirit, humanity and plain good vibes as Burt Lancaster. He's alwas bursting with energy, and you can often sense his roots as an acrobat in the movies. If a movie encapsulates his spirit more than The Scalphunters, let me know. This one has fallen through the cracks somehow, because it has no real categorisation, it is a Western in a sense, but it's so zany and experimental and joyous that it comes across like no other film. The feel of it to me was more like a William Morris novel. You've got at least three actors in this movie competing to have the most fun, and enough reversals in stereotype that it makes Johnny Guitar look staid.

One of the great movies, but far ahead of its time. In definite need of more exposure, pretty much an open secret amongst buffs that this is one of the great sleepers.

91. World of Tomorrow (2015)

G | 17 min | Animation, Short, Comedy

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A little girl is taken on a mind-bending tour of her distant future.

Director: Don Hertzfeldt | Stars: Julia Pott, Winona Mae, Sara Cushman

Votes: 6,950

92. Skorbnoye beschuvstviye (1987)

110 min | Drama

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Family and friends gather in a decadent house to party. Despite their delusive distinction a raw passion for sex and violence comes to light.

Director: Aleksandr Sokurov | Stars: Ramaz Chkhikvadze, Alla Osipenko, Irina Sokolova, Tatyana Yegorova

Votes: 226

Sokurov's incredible and hermetic adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's play Heartbreak House. It has all the dolorous feel that the title Mournful Unconcern implies. What is heartbreak here? It is quite a hard concept to understand these days, as almost everyone is heartbroken (or is that just my view from inside the bell jar?). There was once abroad the spirit of self-improvement, of a thirst for knowledge, of loving every man. Who knows if this was just the case for a microcosm of Victorian society, or whether it was something to be found at large all over the civilised world? Matthew Arnold once wrote "The Sea of Faith / Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore / Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled. / But now I only hear / It's melancholy, lone, withdrawing roar...". That was some time ago so I suspect anomie ebbs and flows.

There's a part of Cries and Whispers where Bergman shows the transformation to heartbreak in Marie, the doctor (David) who has come to see her dying sister describes Maria's change in countenance to her,

"'Come here, Marie. Come. Look at yourself in the mirror. You’re beautiful. You’re probably more beautiful now than before. But you’ve changed a lot too. I want you to see how you’ve changed. Now your eyes cast quick, calculating side glances. You used to look ahead, straightforwardly, openly, unmasked. Your mouth has taken on an expression of discontent and hunger. It used to be so soft. Your complexion is pale now. You use makeup. Your fine, broad forehead now has four wrinkles above each brow. No, you can’t see it in this light, but you can in broad daylight. Do you know what caused those wrinkles?’ ‘No.’ ‘Indifference, Marie. And this fine line that runs from ear to chin isn’t as obvious any more. But it’s etched there by your easygoing, indolent ways. And there, by the bridge of your nose. Why do you sneer so often, Marie? You see it? You sneer too often. See, Marie? And look under your eyes. The sharp, scarcely noticeable lines of your impatience and your ennui.'"

This is a good one for a double bill I think. Sokurov, as well as Tarr, Bartas, Tarkovsky, and a whole generation of Eastern European filmmakers have perhaps filmed the cinema of heartbreak. It's something that's happened to me in my lifetime, the thirst for knowledge has led to acquaintance with the ideas of Marx and Kropotkin, of Marcel Mauss and Guy Debord, of a stream of intellectuals who have proposed great ideals that have been annihilated by historical events of the twentieth century, or latterly who have pulled back the stone of society and let us see the woodlice crawl. Faced with the hijacking of the Marxist-Leninist movement, with the failures of '68, with the ideas of Milton Friedman running wild, a generation of filmmakers produced the cinema of heartbreak. So what do heartbroken people do? We make money and we amuse ourselves, and now I don't even think we know that we are heartbroken.

In terms of what you see in the film, it has a strange anaesthetic quality that renders you almost unable to recall any particular scene in the movie, or an idea of any general direction of plot. A house of the heartbroken in the midst of nowhere contains refugees from a war going on outside and heartbroken aesthetes, they don't even acknowledge the war is happening.

93. Cube (1997)

R | 90 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
61 Metascore

Six complete strangers of widely varying personality characteristics are involuntarily placed in an endless maze containing deadly traps.

Director: Vincenzo Natali | Stars: Nicole de Boer, Maurice Dean Wint, David Hewlett, Andrew Miller

Votes: 178,103 | Gross: $0.50M

The best way to experience this horror movie is probably to not know anything about it beforehand. However should you be curious:

Seven strangers named after famous prisons awake in an infernal cube-shaped environment. Together they must attempt to harness their different strengths in order to escape. Each room they enter appears the same, however some hide deadly traps.

To an extent the movie is a philosophical one, which suggests that we are doomed as individuals in a modern self-perpetuating unregulated technological environment unless we act together. However if you have a gruesome tooth / macabre sensibility and like Grand Guignol (scenes of elaborately staged theatrical murders strung together) this is for you too.

94. Touki Bouki (1973)

Not Rated | 85 min | Drama

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Mory, a cowherd, and Anta, a university student, try to make money in order to go to Paris and leave their boring past behind.

Director: Djibril Diop Mambéty | Stars: Magaye Niang, Mareme Niang, Aminata Fall, Ousseynou Diop

Votes: 1,567

Mambéty has been called the African Godard, but there's also the spirit of Buñuel and Fellini in Touki Bouki, really stuff on a parallel too, not cheaply imitative.

Mory and Anta are boyfriend and girlfriend who want what basically anyone wants, safety, prosperity and personal fulfilment. They're cerebral folk who find it hard to fit into traditional Senegalese roles and yearn to emigrate to France. So the film is about their struggle to migrate. It's fascinating though because, the footage of ordinary people in Senegal is clearly sentimental, and the French in Senegal are shown as having little regard for blacks, regarding them as children. What Mory and Anta want is basically mythical. This film is so universal as well! How many people yearn for the acceptance of a group of individuals that couldn't care less about them and that they're better than? How many people suffer looking upon the gulf between the way the world is and how they'd prefer it to be?

The Fellinian flights of the mind really catapult this film into the pantheon of the great films in my opinion. Watcher beware, there are graphic scenes of animal slaughter in the movie!

95. Hatsu yume (1981)

56 min | Documentary

7.1
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Add a Plot

Director: Bill Viola

Votes: 32

96. Jûjiro (1928)

74 min | Drama

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

After falling in love with a courtesan, Rikiya is blinded by ash during a fight in a brothel. Believing the blindness permanent and his opponent dead, Rikiya goes back home to his sister. ... See full summary »

Director: Teinosuke Kinugasa | Stars: Akiko Chihaya, Junosuke Bandô, Yukiko Ogawa, Ippei Sôma

Votes: 239

Kinugasa is famous amongst the community of silent filmgoers for his film A Page of Madness. There's no reason why the name wouldn't apply to this fever dream of a film just as admirably.

The English release title was something like Shadows of the Yoshiwara, the Yoshiwara district of Edo was an area that shogunate decree had set aside as a red-light district in the 17th Century. Inside this district, expressionistically depicted in a permanent nighttime, live a young man and his seamstress sister. The young man has developed amour fou for O-yume, an uber-vamp courtesan. When I think of her I'm reminded of a 12th century sculpture I saw in the Victoria and Albert museum, you can find it using a search engine, "Mahakala", who is the vengeful face of Lord Shiva. Mahakala has fangs and a belt of severed heads, really a gruesome sculpture. O-yume is no less wild and ferocious, she has not a feeling in the world for the young man who pursues her, she uses him for whatever cash value he can provide, he is a milking cow. The young man neglects his meek sister who provides for them, and sprints down the path towards ruin. Will he be saved?

Scores for silent films can be fairly crucial, a piano accompanist is often no good, especially for highly expressionistic material like this. This was made most clear to me when listening to old Frank Borzage western shorts and hearing an ole time banjo accompaniment. The accompaniment whilst I was watching Jujiro was a duel between experimental electronic musicians Matthew Bourne and the Birdman of Alkijazz.

97. The Lady with the Dog (1960)

89 min | Drama, Romance

7.5
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In the Nineteenth Century, at the seaside resort of Yalta, the upper class Dimitri Gurov from Moscow meets Anna Sergeyovna walking with her little dog. Both have unhappy marriages: Dimitri ... See full summary »

Director: Iosif Kheifits | Stars: Iya Savvina, Aleksey Batalov, Nina Alisova, Panteleymon Krymov

Votes: 746

98. Burn! (1969)

GP | 112 min | Action, Drama

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
72 Metascore

The professional mercenary Sir William Walker instigates a slave revolt on the Caribbean island of Queimada in order to help improve the British sugar trade. Years later he is sent again to... See full summary »

Director: Gillo Pontecorvo | Stars: Marlon Brando, Evaristo Márquez, Renato Salvatori, Dana Ghia

Votes: 3,652

Queimada has been a formative film for me, one of those films that genuinely changes your life. Particularly in this case it informed my politics. It makes it really clear that when a system disadvantages a majority, the only way out of that is via education. People who know nothing cannot help themselves.

Queimada is a Portuguese colony, an island where slaves grow sugar cane so that the salons of Europe may have sweet delicacies at tea time. The slaves are treated with brutality. An englishman, Sir William Walker (played by Marlon Brando) arrives and foments a revolution, but only so that he can swap the colonial mastership from the crown of Portugal to that of England (once the workers realise that they cannot sustain themselves, e.g. they have no knowledge of medicine and trade, Walker offers them new masters under slightly better conditions than before).

Remains utterly relevant for today, where people are hungry for change, but not for knowledge.

99. Knife in the Water (1962)

Not Rated | 94 min | Drama, Thriller

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

On their way to a sailing trip, an aging husband and wife invite along an emphatic young hitchhiker out of sheer patronization.

Director: Roman Polanski | Stars: Leon Niemczyk, Jolanta Umecka, Zygmunt Malanowicz, Anna Ciepielewska

Votes: 16,448

100. The Red and the White (1967)

Not Rated | 90 min | Drama, War

7.8
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In 1919, Hungarian Communists aid the Bolsheviks' defeat of Czarists, the Whites. Near the Volga, a monastery and a field hospital are held by one side then the other. Captives are executed... See full summary »

Director: Miklós Jancsó | Stars: József Madaras, Tibor Molnár, András Kozák, Jácint Juhász

Votes: 2,651

A very simple movie about the fight between monarchists and revolutionaries in Civil War era Russia. Really very much more timeless than that though. In the ancient Christian versions of the tales of Arthur, God would help guide the lance of the righteous knight against the wicked knight. In the Red and the White randomness is the key, life and death happens according to whether someone turns left or right, hides or doesn't. It highlights that in war there is never any justice. The camera goes on a random walk through the random violence. The whole movie is a distillation of this point.