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Movies that Matter

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Lawrence of Arabia
1965. Directed by David Lean. Stars Peter O'Toole , Alec Guiness, Omar Sharif, Anthony Quinn. This is a classic. Great screenplay, great directing, great acting. Even though the story was embellished, as David Lean tends to do, it's a great piece of cinema. I doubt it could be made today because of the cost, the number of extras, and the fact there's no sex (or even any women) in the entire movie.

A Clockwork Orange
1971. Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Stars Malcolm McDowell and Patrick Magee. One of Kubrick's best films, a great adaptation of the Anthony Burgess novel. Kubrick is master a creating bizarre personalities behind masks and this is no exception. Alex and his droogs have been a cult hit for decades. A timeless classic.

Repulsion
1966. Directed by Roman Polanski. Stars Catherine Deneuve. Polanski's first film outside of Poland, this is a violent and disturbing story of a young woman going insane. Polanski is a master at making ordinary things look sinister. Here, a bathtub, potato, and skinned rabbit create an atmosphere of stifling terror. Brilliant.

Casablanca
1943. Directed by Michael Curtiz. Stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Heinreid. A witty story of intrigue and lost love. Bogart stars as the cynical yet romantic Rick, who encounters a love from the past. So many great lines of dialog, many having become part of American culture. A simple story but quite compelling and worthy of multiple viewings.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
1968. Directed by Mike Nichols. Stars Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Sandy Dennis and George Segal. A brutal, amusing, sad and terrible look at a night with George and Martha. Burton and Taylor trade biting insults while drinking like fish. Don't get in the way of them. You'll need therapy after this one. Not a first date movie.

2001: A Space Odyssey
1968. Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Stars Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood. A brilliant adaptation of the Arthur C. Clarke novel. Explores the nature of man in the universe. Great score and special effects for the time. Great jump cut from bone to space ship. Suggests the danger of over-reliance on computers by the behavior of the murderous HAL. One of the best sci-fi films ever.

Five Easy Pieces
1970. Directed by Bob Rafelson. Stars Jack Nicholson. A dark brooding tale of a complex, gifted musician who struggles to come to terms with his existence. Nicholson is amazing as the troubled lead character. Great ending scene of Nicholson's character trying to understand himself.

Pulp Fiction
1994. Directed by Quentin Tarantino. Stars John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson. A cinematic whirlwind of witty dialog, action, blood and guts, and wicked humor. Great use of timing and flashbacks. Tarantino has created a film unlike anything you have ever seen.

Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog)
1924. Directed by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali. In French. One of the most bizarre avant-garde films ever made. No plot or story to speak of. Buñuel and Dali must have been a riot to hang out with. The famous first scene of a woman's eyeball getting sliced open is a still a masterpiece today. Great special effects for the time.

Annie Hall
1977. Directed by Woody Allen. Stars Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. One of Woody's best, and the Best Picture Oscar winner of 1977 (edging out Star Wars, no less). A witty, funny and sometimes sad look at Alvy Singer (Allen) and his girlfriend Annie Hall. As Allen explains in the opening monologue, his relationshis with women can be described by paraphrasing Groucho Marx: "I would never belong to a club that would have someone like me as a member." In other words, once a woman falls in love with him, he doesn't want her anymore. Hmmm...sounds familiar. Many great quotes, such as: "My grandmother never gave gifts. She was too busy getting raped by Cossacks."

The Bicycle Thief
1948. Directed by Vittorio de Sica. In Italian. A simple story of poor family in post-WWII Italy. A thief steals a man's bicycle and the rest of the film is about he and his son desperately trying to recover it. A bleak yet uplifting film about the struggle to survive in modern society.

The Maltese Falcon
1941. Directed by John Huston. Stars Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor. A classic film noir about a tangled web of deception, with Bogart as Sam Spade, a private detective trying to figure out who's lying and who's telling the truth. A bit dated but a great ending scene with Bogart and Astor.

The Great Escape
1963. Directed by John Sturgis. Stars Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, James Garner, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasance & James Coburn. Based on a true story, this is a great action film about a daring attempt to free 250 POWs from a German Stalag prison camp in 1944. Although it was significantly embellished for the American audience (no Americans actually escaped through the tunnel) this is a great story with excellent acting and pace throughout.

The Bridge on the River Kwai
1957. Directed by David Lean. Stars Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins. Set in the steamy jungles of Burma in WWII the film centers on British POWs who are ordered to build a railway bridge. After an initial standoff between the British colonel (Guinness) and the camp commander, the POWs construct the bridge with zeal, perhaps excessively so. Meanwhile, another team of commandos is sent out to destroy the bridge. A great drama and climactic ending, where the British colonel realizes what he has done.

Chinatown
1974. Directed by Roman Polanski. Stars Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. Classic in the film noir style. Nicholson excels as Jake Gittes, a private detective investigating a complicated case involving water and murder. The ending is typical Polanski: unresolved and grim. A great flick.

Harold and Maude

Trainspotting

Knife in the Water

Mulholland Drive
2001. Directed by David Lynch. Stars Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Harring. A bizarre dream of a film in which reality and illusion are blended together. Frustrating at first but you begin to understand after two or three viewings. One of Lynch's best films.

Blue Velvet
1986. Directed by David Lynch. Stars Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper and Laura Dern. Another bizarre, violent creation from the twisted mind of David Lynch. He creates an atmosphere of psychotic terror populated by the wierdest people imaginable, except maybe by Fellini. This is a strange, surreal mystery with classic Lynch twists and turns. A must-see.

Eraserhead
1976. Directed by David Lynch. Stars Jack Nance. Lynch's first feature film, Eraserhead defies description. It is a masterpiece of macabre and grotesque images set in a bizarre industrial setting. The story involves a strange man and his wife, their even stranger family, and their baby...well you have to see it to believe it. Still mostly undecipherable to me after repeated viewings. If anyone would like to interpret this film please e-mail me.

Pink Flamingos
1972. Directed by John Waters. Stars Divine, Mink Stole. The first movie from "the king of trash", this movie is a bizarre, gross tale of a battle for the filthiest people alive. A cult classic, people will look at you differently when you take them to see this for the first time. Dozens of classic lines, including the eggman, the singing asshole and Divine's philosophy on life: "Kill everyone now! Condone first degree murder! Advocate cannibalism! Eat shit! Filth is my politics, filth is my life!" A must-see for all degenerates.

A Man for all Seasons

Beckett

Manhattan

Rosemary's Baby
1968. Directed by Roman Polanski. Stars Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon and Ralph Bellamy. A chilling occult film that draws you deeper into the story minute by minute. Classic Polanski with his usual untidy ending. Farrow does a great job as the bewildered and terrified yet determined mother-to-be.

Cyrano de Bergerac

Schindler's List
1993. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Stars Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley and Ralph Fiennes. The riveting story of Oskar Schindler (Neeson), a Czech businessman out to make a quick buck during WWII by manufacturing crockery and field mess kits for the German army. But along the way he becomes sickened by the Nazi atrocities and transforms into a savior of his Jewish workers. As usual, Spielberg tells a great story with excellent performances by Kingsley as the quiet Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern and Fiennes as the sadistic Nazi Amon Goeth.

The Seventh Seal
1957. In Swedish. Directed by Ingmar Bergman. Stars Max von Sydow and Gunnar Bjornstrand. Set during the crusades, a knight and his squire return home to a land ravaged by the black death. Sydow's character engages in a game of chess with death while seeking salvation. Great cinema in the Bergman style.

A Streetcar Named Desire
1951. Directed by Elia Kazan. Stars Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden. A great adaptation of Tennessee Williams' play set in steamy New Orleans. Leigh is brilliant as the demented sister and Brando excels as the "stone-age" Stanley Kowalski. Great dialog and score. A classic.

Wild Strawberries
In Swedish.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Last Tango in Paris
1972. Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. Stars Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider. A controversial film when initially released, it still shocks today with its raw emotional performances and erotic theme. Brando's best performance as the aimless Paul desperately seeking human contact who seemingly knows his own fate. Don't see this if you are already depressed--it will make you feel worse.

Amores Perros (Love's a Bitch)
2000. Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Stars Gael García Bernal and Emilio Echevarría. In Spanish. A brutal film about a dysfunctional family, a tragic model, and an ex-terrorist embarking on a new path. This startling and gory film intertwines the lives of three people in a gruesome way, while using their dogs as a means of comfort, but also the reason for their plights. A poignant, sad, ironic tale that suggests we have descended to such depths that people treat their dogs better than other human beings. Worthy of multiple viewings.

The Exterminating Angel

In the Heat of the Night

Breaker Morant
1980. Directed by Bruce Beresford. Stars Edward Woodward and Jack Thompson. A captivating and riveting film about three Australian soldiers on trial for murder during the Boer War in South Africa. The protagonist, Harry "Breaker" Morant is brilliantly played by Woodward. This is a true story which vividly depicts the ugliness of international politics at the time and how England, South Africa and Australia conspired to punish the three soldiers, who are simply pawns in the game. What I love about this film is that at first the viewer is outraged at the injustice, but did the end justify the means? Is it really wrong to sacrifice a few people to save many?

The Birds

Cet Obscur Objet du Désir (That Obscure Object of Desire)
In French.

Cidade de Deus (City of God)
2002. In Portugese. Directed by Fernando Meirelles. Stars Alexandre Rodrigues. This is a violent and extremely disturbing film about gang warfare in the slums, or favelas, of Rio de Janeiro. Excellent cinematagraphy and pace, and a good story. But...I know life in the favela is tough but is this exaggerated? It is basd on a true strory but I have trouble beliving it is not embellished. It is so gruesome I hope that I am right.

Go

Buffalo 66

C'etait un Rendezvous
1976. Directed by Claude Lelouche. This short film is only 10 minutes long but it is the most riveting 10 minutes you will ever see. This is true cinema verite. Lelouch simply mounted a camera on the front of a Formula One race car and zoomed through the streets of Paris at an insanely high rate of speed. He was supposedly arrested after the first showing of the film. Made without any special effetcs, it harks back to a time of recklessness and unpolitical correctness. You just gotta see it.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
1965. Directed by Martin Ritt. Stars Richard Burton and Claire Bloom. Based on the novel by John Le Carre, this is a grim portrait of a cynical MI5 operative in Britain during the Cold War. Great acting as usual by Burton. A masterful plot with typical Le Carre twists. The last 15 minutes where the truth is revealed are some of the best in cinema.

Inglourious Basterds

The Fall

The Wannsee Conference

Man on Wire

Eastern Promises

No Country for Old Men

Borat

The Departed