I just love how 90s this film is. It’s the perfect college film without being too pretentious with its subject matter, even though it does have a few moments of it. Richard Linklater knows how to frame his dialogue so well with his characters that make up for the blandness of them, for the most part. However, since Slacker has no main characters or real arching narrative, it works perfectly and thus makes it my favorite out of all of his films.
I know this may seem like a boring choice considering this is Kurosawa’s most famous film, but I can’t help but think back and realize how incredible he structured this film. Despite the grand scope of the film, I felt this tight-knit attachment to the main characters that makes them special and memorable. As far as Japanese Cinema goes, you can’t ever go wrong with this one.
I’ve learned that whenever I watch a film that has a scene of people cooking something, I know that that film is brilliant. Goodfellas, The Godfather, and Fargo come to mind when I think about this. Coen Brothers have never failed to impress me with their wide variety of styles in each film. Even if there is a film of theirs I may not be fond of, there is still this lingering aesthetic and tone that feels unique from each of their films. Fargo is by far their best attempt at a black comedy and probably one of my favorites in the genre. What is also amazing is how even the villains in this film are likable enough despite their despicable actions thanks in part to the brilliant screenplay by the Coens.
A lot of critics believe Gomorrah to be the crime film that demolished all the great crime films before it. I definitely believe them. Sure the characters aren’t exactly larger than life in The Godfather, Goodfellas, or Scareface (1932), however I feel that’s how to make a crime film better. All of the characters in Gomorrah feel like actual people and not Hollywood actors you are familiar with in mob films. It crawls into your skin about how real the film feels in telling a story about multiple people and their lives involved in criminal mob activity in Italy.
Robert Crumb has always been a fascinating figure to me. It goes to show you that any weirdo can gain fame through drawing obscene cartoon characters in comic books during the time when the underground comic book scene was thriving in the 60s. As such, this is my favorite documentary. It paints a really clear picture of who the man is and how his fame sort of became a burden to him like how most artists typically handle it. It isn’t afraid to show a dark side to the people that it portrays. It is breathtaking in its honesty, which is something that you don’t see that much in documentaries anymore.
The ultimate portrayal of how culture shock is to many people who don’t know about the culture they have been thrust upon. I’m sure Lost in Translation isn’t the most accurate portrayal of how foreigners settle into Japan as all experiences are different. But I wouldn’t say this is even a film about the country itself. It is a portrait of alienation that becomes engrossing from beginning to end as you follow Bill Murray across his adventures with Scarlett Johansson trying to find meaning in life in a place that they know nothing about.
Truth be told, I’m not the biggest Tarantino fan. I used to be, but then after a while after watching this film at least twenty times I realized why I enjoy this film the most than his other efforts: His characters, despite their flaws, all have humanity in them that you can latch onto. Thanks to Tarantino’s brilliant writing, all the Tarantino quips and lingo are at their finest with Pulp Fiction. Many scenes of this film I will always remember no matter how long I may live.
Jim Jarmusch is a director that I highly admire and will always watch any of his films that I can get my hands on. Mystery Train is one film that masters the technique of showing different perspectives in an anthology set in the same location that they all interconnect. Edited together brilliantly, it is heartfelt, funny, and most of all it captures the essence of how independent filmmaking should be.
When you talk about epic scales, The Last Emperor should be the film that captures that essence perfectly and masterfully. Portraying the last Emperor of China before the Second Sino-Japanese War, it is one of the greatest depictions of a historical figure I’ve seen in film. It does not sugar coat him, nor does it demonize him. It simply portrays him as a person who was put on the throne when was only two years old and never once lived a life as a normal child. Bernardo Bertolucci outdone himself with the shots that he devised with famed cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. Not to mention the fact that they used actual locations in China, including the Forbidden City, makes the film have an authentic feel to it that makes it glorious.
This was a movie that my parents let me watch over and over again along with Star Wars. I loved it back then and I can still find it to be a gem in 90s cinema that a lot of people seem to forget among fans of film. It was truly one of the first movies to really show what it was like for astronauts during the space race to go to the moon in all of its technicalities and realism. All of the characters from the lunar module and mission control are given great screen time thanks to the tremendous editing giving us different perspectives of that event. Not to mention it has one of my favorite scores by composer James Horner who was taken away from us too soon.
If there was a movie that was the ultimate cinematography film, The Spirit of the Beehive would be that movie. Every shot in this film is beauty personified. Also I’m a huge sucker for films that delve into the inner lives of children and how we see their naive perspective on life. It is portrayed with delicate innocence and drama that we can all relate to as kids living in a strange world filled with wonder and despair all at the same time.
My all time favorite comedy. Steve Martin and John Candy both work together perfectly in this 80s classic. It also reminds me how John Candy is one of those comedians that we all miss dearly and could’ve shown more comedic talent through his craft. Many gut busting laughs came from the absurdity of the jokes that pop up out of nowhere in true John Hughes fashion.
As far as French New Wave goes, this one gives off the best that the era had to offer. Antoine Doinel became one of my favorite movie characters from his childlike curiosities and actor Jean-Pierre Léaud’s brilliant performance at such a young age; this is apparent in last scene of the film where he is interrogated in one of the best scenes in film in my opinion. Hollow in its existential themes and human in its cinematography, you cannot get more french than this.
Depraved, perverted, brilliant, beautiful, and thought-provoking are five words that can describe this film accurately. Kubrick has always been my favorite mad genius of an artist, just how I like my artists to be. This is where he is at his most maddening. The look of the world is a truly unique dystopian setting that not many directors could ever replicate from tone and cinematography. Alex DeLarge makes for one of the most complex anti-heroes I’ve seen and if you can make a rapist likable you can pretty much make anyone likable.
This is where the Coen Brothers reached their peak in filmmaking. While Fargo is my favorite comedy by them, this is my overall favorite film by the duo. It was actually the first R-rated film I saw in theaters and it made me think differently about movies after it was over. Without it I don’t think I would have tried to scour through film history and tried to pick out what many consider to be classics and acclaimed by film connoisseurs. With some of Roger Deakin’s best cinematography and the most memorable villain in film, I can’t get enough about how much I love this film.
Another beloved Kubrick classic. The central benchmark for sci-fi films and is a technical marvel from the tense and slow pacing that makes the world feel alive and tightly composed in its cinematography. It’s one of those films that is boring but in a good way, it feels like it has to be boring in order for it to feel like an authentic film about the birth of mankind to its inevitable future endeavors. Plus I say that because I usually put it on when I want to go to bed.
I know this is technically documentary in animation style and I said Crumb was my favorite documentary, but I don’t necessarily view as such. It feels more like a docudrama of a war veteran’s thoughts and memories as a soldier through the perspectives of many who have witnessed the war he participated in. It is harrowing in its direction and execution of how it shows the brutality of war through the experiences of those who fought in it through their own accounts. Max Richter as the film’s composer certainly helps a lot.
I’ve already talked in detail in my review of this film. It is my all time favorite animated film of all time after all. Ironically I’m not the biggest Miyazaki fan like most people are so I guess that accounts for at least something.
I almost envision this as Dante’s Inferno if it were set in Vietnam. Yeah it may not be the most accurate depiction of the war since it is based off of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness which is not set during it. Nevertheless, it captures the anxiety of delving deep behind enemy lines and creates this psychedelic haze that fits perfectly with the 60s setting of the Vietnam War. Many moments left me speechless and dumbfounded by how different this film must’ve been for people that lived through that hell four years after the war was over. To this day I have yet to see a war film that could do the same thing; until I saw the next film.
Nothing would ever be the same after I saw Come and See. It was not that I was psychologically scarred by the film or horrified by its depictions of war crimes. It was simply because I found a film that did not feel like an actual film. It felt real. It sounded real. It looked real. Everything about it just felt incredibly genuine as a depiction of the horrors of the Eastern Front of World War II. I was completely blown away by how this film managed to put all of these elements together to create a masterful work that I don’t can ever be replicated again. It isn’t pretty and fun to look at, like how all war films should be. The best kind of war films are usually ones where you don’t want to be any of the characters in it. All it took was an arthouse film from the Soviet Union to prove us that films that portray war can achieve that perfectly.