We are at the 100 year anniversary of cinema so here are some of my favorite movies. I watched part of the 'AFI top 100' on TV and I was just NOT feeling their selections. I only included one movie per filmmaker. No documentaries either, strictly feature films. I admit, there are a lot of old movies and 'classics' I havent seen but this list represents what has resonated with me the most.
This is the real thing. Full-on unadulterated expression from the mind of a 23 year old genius. If you only saw this once when it came out in 97, look again. It grows on you and gets better with each viewing. Trust me.
The masterpiece that changed my life when I saw it in 10th grade. The darkside of a seemingly normal life was revealed in the most surreal and beautiful way. It was a toss up between this and Fire Walk With Me to represent Lynch.
Paths of Glory
This is the best film about about war and the absurdity of the human condition. I get angry every time I watch this. The injustice depicted is almost unbearable. It was impossible to chose one film to rep Kubrick. A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, 2001, Eyes Wide Shut, and Dr. Strangelove are all incredible.
Cries and Whispers
Ingmar Bergman creates a haunting emotional portait of three women. He shows us things we know happen but don't want to think about. This film comes at you in a different way than any other. With this movie, and his other far out classic Persona, he truely took cinema to its limits. The work of a man that has mastered his art at his most creative. Mind blowing.
Naked is Mike Leighs film about a conflicted and philosophical man wandering the streets of a poor London neighboorhood. The film was improvised by the actors, then shot. The dialogue is so incredible, it blows my mind to think it was improvised. Contains some of my favorite acting ever, by David Thelewis and Katrin Cartlidge. It is dark, unpleasent, disturbing, thought provoking, and one of the great artistic acheivments in recent times.
Festen (The Celebration)
The first in the Dogme95 method of filmmaking (no props, all naturally occuring light, only hand held camera work, etc..) uses the rules of the manifesto to the best result. The point of Dogme was to bring film back to a raw state, void of unnessecary complications, relying on writing, acting, and passion. Festen has the very best of all of these things. I shead a tear every time I see the letter reading scene. Not everyone I know digs this movie like I do, but check it out if you like heavy dramas.
Aguirre: The Wrath of God
Werner Herzog is my favorite artist alive. I have watched over 40 of his films and read everything I can about his methods. While some of his films dont work as well as others, they all contain some kind of revelatory moment or estatic truth that you can't find anywhere but in his work. The cinematography in Aguirre is sublime. It contains an all time classic performance from Klaus Kinski and was made on a stolen camera in the jungles of Peru.
The Holy Mountain
The most psychedelic film ever made. I didnt know images like the ones in this film were conceivable until I saw it in high school. It was recently released in theaters again after 30 years of being bootlegged due to a buisness deal gone bad. This was one of the most intense experiences in a movie theater I've ever had. The movie is about perception, alchemy, searching for meaning, and getting high. Alexander Jodorowsky made it the early 70s after living with his cast and crew in a commune for month in order to prepare for the shoot. It was all communal living, meditation, and sex. They brought in a Guru from from India who gave them LSD. The result is a mind boggling and enlightning journey towards understanding the mystical experience.
The most underrated and misunderstood film ever. A lot of people have been waiting for someone to make a film on this level and we are thankful Darren Aronofsky did. It went over most peoples heads or maybe it just appeals to New Age psychonaut freaks like me. I don't know. The film contains three stories existing in three states of consciousness or time/space. A couples love connects them all and thats essentially what the story is about. Sort of. It is also about death, evolution, consciousness expansion, eternal life, pain, loss, and whatever else you can get out of it. Instead of CGI, it features stunning micro-photography of chemical reactions to represent space. One of the boldest and ambitious films I've ever seen.
What Is It?
This film takes it all to a whole new level. A film about the inner workings of a young deformed mans psyche and the heirarchy of ‘dueling demi-gods’ within his mind. The only way to see this is in the theater, and the filmmaker, Crispin Hellion Glover, is always present to perform a slideshow presentation beforehand and an in depth Q and A afterward. The film deals with breaking taboo and Crispin says it is a reaction to his experiences as an actor in Hollywood. Most of the cast have downs syndrome. I think Crispin used them as a metaphor for living outside of society and culture. The most visionary and original film I’ve seen in a long, long time, maybe ever.
The Piano Teacher
Deprevity. Sex. Loneliness. Power. Micheal Hanekes masterpiece is a dark, twisted, and stunningly beautiful portrayl of one of the most complicated relationships ever caught on film.