- After Life (1998) .. Koreeda Hirokazu
Koreeda’s concept and execution are great. Dead people in a waiting station have to choose which memory to preserve on VHS before they lose their identities and become one with everything. Koreeda’s new film is Still Walking is also terrific.
- America, America (1963) .. Elia Kazan
Sure this one doesn't have a high profile star like Brando or Clift it has been unfairly overlooked, but it's still Kazan's most personal film, and it is one of the ultimate works of art about the immigrant experience (it's right up there with Pat Mora's "Immigrants" poem.)
- An Angel at My Table (1990) .. Jane Campion
Even though 'The Piano," received more acclaim, this biopic about a brave female artist is less preachy and more effective.
- At Close Range (1986) .. James Foley
This is the first film that proved that Sean Penn was destined for greatness, but Christopher Walken steals the show as a sadistic father who is the very definition of evil. Madonna’s songs were also used very effectively in the film.
- The Ballad of Narayama (1983) .. Imamura Shohei
This film shows the devastating effects of poverty on a small Japanese town.
- Battle Royale (2000) .. Fukasaku Kinji
Horrific hyper violent action film is like an Asian update of "Death Race 2000," mixed with "The Most Dangerous Game," but the sequel should be avoided.
- The Beguiled (1971) .. Don Siegel
Chilling Gothic thriller contains a very subdued Clint Eastwood and has effective scenes of mounting psychological horror.
- Benilde or the Virgin Mother (1975) .. Manoel de Oliveira
Obscure but magnificent film captures the mystery of religion in cinematic terms.
- Bitter Moon (1992) .. Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski has made better works of art, but few films have captured love/hate and pleasure/pain in romantic relationships as well or with this much audacity. The ending is devastating.
- Björk Volumen (1993-2002) .. various
I was originally going to go with just "Army of Me," but this is the richest, most creative collection of music videos I have ever come across, and the music is just as innovative.
- Black Cat, White Cat (1998) .. Emir Kusturica
If Fellini was a Romani, he could have made this.
- Black Girl (1966) .. Ousmane Sembene
Ousame Semen’s powerful short film about class and race set a high standard for African cinema.
- Bound (1996) .. The Wachowski Brothers
Sexy lesbian film noir fractures and redefines genre and gender limitations plus expectations.
- Branded to Kill (1967) .. Suzuki Seijun
Terrific Korean film about a hit man who is the very embodiment of cool.
- Bubba Ho-tep (2002) .. Don Coscarelli
Bruce Campbell as a man who thinks he is Elvis teams up with an African American man who believed he is JFK to protect their senior citizen home against a soul sucking reanimated mummy. Poignant tragic horror comedy has a sympathetic view of the plight of seniors.
- Buffalo '66 (1998) .. Vincent Gallo
Audacious low budget improvisational film has a unique random quality and Gallo plus Ricci have real chemistry. I also liked (gasp) “The Brown Bunny.”
- Cemetery Man (1994) .. Michele Soavi
Italian horror comedy is endlessly visually inventive and Rupert Everett is great as a cemetery keeper that can’t keep the corpses in their graves. Based on the Dylan Dog comic.
- Chunhyang (2000) .. Im Kwon-taek
Terrific Korean drama/biopic about tortured artist is a visually magnificent epic.
- Cobra Verde (1987) .. Werner Herzog
Exotic and disturbing German film is the last great Herzog/Kinski pairing.
- Cold Comfort Farm (1995) .. John Schlesinger
Utterly charming British film about a modern and bookish young woman who helps her old fashion shed relatives in the country get with the times. Kate Beckinsale is a delight and the film is ideally cast.
- Deep End (1971) .. Jerzy Skolimowski
Sinister and subtle film about sexual tension that crosses social divisions in
by Jerzy Skolimowksi compares well with Polanski's best work. England
- Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe (1959) .. Jean Renoir
This is the film that connects Jean Renoir to his impressionist father. It shows that each is a master in a different medium.
- Destry Rides Again (1939) .. George Marshall
George Marshall’s winning western comedy is an ideal vehicle for the all American James Stewart and the quintessentially German, Marlene Dietrich. Incidentally they have great chemistry.
- The Devil Rides Out (1968) .. Terence Fisher
Terence Fisher's eerie Hammer film is enthralling and hypnotic.
- Don't Bother to Knock (1952) ..
Ward Baker Roy
Marilyn Monroe gives her most intriguing, multi layered performance in this suspenseful nail biter about a psychotic baby sitter.
- Eve's Bayou (1997) .. Kasi Lemmons
Stunning directorial debut of Kasi Lemmons is poetic and intriguing.
- F for Fake (1974) .. Orson Welles
Orson Welles's documentary about fraud and magic sneaks up on you then pulls the rug out.
- Fists in the Pocket (1965) .. Marco Bellocchio
The dysfunctional family in Marco Belloccio's film's weird art film makes most of the families in American Indy films seem banal and obvious.
- Forbidden Games (1952) .. Rene Clement
Rene Clement's haunting film is about how youngsters in Nazi era
assimilate the death and mayhem into their fantasy world. France
- The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968) .. Robert Ellis Miller
Humanistic tale of a friendship between a girl and a deaf mute actually features a great Sandra Locke performance.
- The Horse's Mouth (1958) .. Ronald Neame
Before he played Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, Alec Guinness was one of the top comic geniuses in
, and his performance as an eccentric painter may be his best. England
- I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (2002) .. Sam Jones
This movie shows that there is still .00000006 % chance that a rock band can keep their integrity and still make.
- In the Presence of a Clown (1997) .. Ingmar Bergman
I felt that Sara band was overrated but this shot on TV film about an aging actor visited by the spirit of theater was one of the master's best late period works.
- Incubus Trailer (1965) .. Leslie Stevens
Although I loved this horror/art film (which was shot in Esperanto), the trailer is even better than the film.
- The Innocents (1961) .. Jack Clayton
Terrific film adaptation of "The Turn of the Screw" somehow manages to capture the ambiguity and psychological power of the novella.
- The Intruder (1962) .. Roger Corman
One of Roger Corman's few attempts at a socially conscious film making features (gasp) William Shatner as a race agitator.
- Invaders from Mars (1953) .. William Cameron Menzies
After I saw this sci-fi film (which captures a primal fear of kids), I dreamt that my own parents were swallowed up by the ground and replaced by alien drones. This would make a fine double feature with Roger Corman's "It Conquered the World (who could forget the carrot creature?)"
- Jacob's Ladder (1990) .. Adrian Lyne
Brainy and brilliantly scripted film may be sci-fi or metaphysical or all of or none of the above.
- Julien Donkey-Boy (1999) .. Harmony Korine
Of all the American entries in the Dogme'95 movement this acidic Harmony Korine film may come closest to realizing the movement's ideals.
- Kandahar (2001) .. Mohsen Makhmalbaf
An Afghan born woman goes back to the country of her birth to prevent her sister from committing suicide.
- The Kids Are Alright (1979) .. Jeff Stein
The Rolling Stones, Clash, and Beetles may have made better LPs, but the concert footage here shows that there has never been a better live band, and the interview clips are well chosen. The Keith Moon anchored live Who was an unbeatable force of nature.
- Kiki's Delivery Service (1989) ..
Thoroughly modern yet classic looking animated film about a young witch who uses her power of flight to start a business.
- The King of Comedy (1982) .. Martin Scorsese
Underrated mid period Scorsese film contains one of De Niro's best performances and it is about 10X better than "The Departed."
- Knife in the Head (1978) .. Reinhard Hauff
Great German film about a man with amnesia who is used as a tool by both parties exposes the hypocrisy of both the left and right.
- The Last Seduction (1994) .. John Dahl
Linda Fiorentino is the ultimate sociopathic femme fatale in this terrific crime film (she was robbed at the Oscars that year). Compared to this film, Basic Instinct is kid's stuff.
- Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971) .. John D. Hancock
This interesting and mostly forgotten horror film has all the absurd clarity of a twisted dream and has a wonderful lead performance by Zohra Lampert.
- Lick My Decals Off, Baby (1969) .. Captain Beefheart
This wonderful dada commercial (featuring Beefheart using an egg beater) is the only commercial which captured the anarchic spirit of modern art well. I can be seen on the Captain Beefheart Under Review DVD.
- Lilith (1964) .. Robert Rossen
Haunting love story of a therapist that falls for a schizophrenic mental patient that speaks in her own secret self invented language. Like everything Jean Seberg did, this has tragic overtones.
- Local Hero (1983) .. Bill Forsyth
Leisurely paced and charming little Scottish film about corporate colonization is well cast and lovingly directed.
- Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (1972) .. Misumi Kenji
Great adaptation of a manga series about a warrior/assassin who carries his baby son with him everywhere he goes.
- The Loved One (1965) .. Tony Richardson
This irreverent and inspired film parodies the absurdities in the funeral business. Terry Southern's deviously clever script is the true star.
- Maelström (2000) .. Denis Villeneuve
A woman feels great guilt when she falls for the son of the man that she killed in a hit and run, and the whole thing is narrated by talking fish heads (yes that's right.)
- Mafioso (1962) .. Alberto Lattuada
Riveting Italian caper film/classic about a couple who has a close encounter with the mafia when they visit a seemingly quiet Italian town.
- Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992) .. Mark Achbar & Peter Wintonick
Absorbing documentary about the brilliant linguist who became one of the most intelligent voices in the American left. The indictment of how we handled the
East Timorsituation is particularly troubling.
- Marnie (1964) .. Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcock’s compulsively watchable film stars the wonderful Tippi Hedren as a kleptomaniac, and Sean Connery is also delightful as the man who blackmails her into marriage.
- Matador (1986) .. Pedro Almodóvar
Pedro Almodovar may have made more mature works, but he would never be as artfully trangressive again. The best film ever film about the Freudian implications of bullfighting.
- Minnie the Moocher (1932) .. Dave Fleischer
Terrific Halloween themed cartoon short is surreal and unusual plus it makes great use of the title track which is performed live by Cab Callaway (I love those ghostly musicians.)
- Miracle in Milan (1951) .. Vittorio De Sica
Vittorio De Sica's great neorealist comedy about an angel who helps some squatters in post world war II Italy defend themselves against evil capitalists pave the way for DeMille's Ten Commandments but it is actually better.
- Mother of Tears (2007) .. Dario Argento
Delightfully campy Italian horror film completes the Suspiria trilogy with style, elegance, fear inducing suspense scenes, and many laughs (not all of them were intentional.) This is best scene as a Midnight film with a quasi drunk audience.
- My Dad Is 100 Years Old (2005) .. Guy Maddin
Isabella Rossellini’s wrote this mesmerizing and loving homage to her dad, and she finally shows the full range of her talent (playing Chaplin, Fellini and Louis B. Mayer.) And it's only 18 minutes.
- My Favorite Brunette (1947) .. Elliott Nugent
You can probably find this hysterical gangster spoof at your local dollar store or Walgreens for less than the price of a whopper.
- My Favourite Year (1982) .. Richard Benjamin
Peter O'Toole gives an unexpectedly brilliant comic performance as a hedonistic, bed hopping actor, and Mark Linn-Baker is the poor soul who is supposed to babysit him.
- Naked Killer (1992) .. Clarence Fok Yiu-leung
Erotic, arty, and trashy Asian Action film who begins to suspect that an assassin is his ex girlfriend.
- The New World (2005) .. Terrence Malick
Terrence Malick's tale of the legendary fictional relationship between Pocahontas and John Smith effectively captures the sense of wonder that took place when two civilizations cross paths.
- Night of the Demon (1957) .. Jacques Tourneur
Sophisticated and atmospheric occult film has a smart script and an unforgettable twist at the end. You can argue whether the demon sequence works after you see it.
- Orbit Commercial (2006) .. Mike Maguire
This dreamy advertisement featuring Snoop Dogg and Vanessa Branch is so "fabulous" that it transcends its intended audience of people with potty mouths. But I still think Snoop Dogg is going to hell.
- Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985) .. Tim Burton
No one but Tim Burton could have created such a magnificent, madcap world for Pee Wee to occupy.
- Persepolis (2007) .. Vincent Paronnaud & Marjane Satrapi
One of the most impressive and imaginative animated film explores that hurdles that a young woman must face when she is torn between modernism and traditionalism.
- The Pillow Book (1996) .. Peter Greenaway
Extremely intellectual film of a woman's revenge delves into the world of body modification
- Poetry in Motion (1982) .. Ron Mann
Ron Man's documentary collects some seminal poetry performances as well as some thoughtful, well chosen interview footage. There are many bizarre bits in here such as the performances by Ed Sanders (with a synthesizer tie) and the Four Horsemen. Whenever I play the Charles Bukowski interview segments (he thinks of writing poetry as a bowel movement) they inspire hysterical laughter (I still don’t think he’s a great poet.) I probably liked Jim Carroll’s cockroach story, Ginsberg’s segment, and Baraka’s whale poem the best.
- Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) .. Phillip Noyce
This biting Australian film documents the maltreatment of the aboriginals (kids were separated from the parents to assimilate them).
- The Red Balloon (1956) .. Albert LaMorisse
A lonely boy forges a strong bond with an intelligent balloon. The ending could not have been more winning or emotionally effective.
- The Rocking Horse Winner (1949) .. Anthony Pelissier
Powerful Lawrence adaptation captures the ambiguous perversity of the great short story it was based on.
- Saint Francis, God's Jester (1950) .. Roberto Rossellini
Minimalistic and pure religious biopic is episodic and masterfully use nonprofessional actors. Rossellini has unfairly been overshadowed by other Italian directors.
- Santa Sangre (1989) .. Alejandro Jodorowsky
Alejandro Jodorowsky's fantastically imaginative film simultaneously evokes Bunuel, Fellini, and Hitchcock yet it still retains its originality.
- The Savage Sleep (1991) .. Osceola Refetoff
Many of the images from Osceola Refetoff's short were obviously drawn from Kafka but this short (which was aired on Image Union) is as original as it is effective.)
- Seconds (1966) .. John Frankenheimer
Imaginative sci-fi flick about a man who gets a new body defies and transcends genre classification.
- Seduced and Abandoned (1964) .. Pietro Germi
Pietro Germi's film is about the unfairness of gender rules in
stars Stephania Sandrelli, whose life becomes a living hell after her fiancé abandons her. Italy
- The Seventh Victim (1943) .. Mark Robson
Subtle psychological horror film is about a woman who encounters a sinister satanic cult when she goes looking for her missing sister.
- Shock Corridor (1963) .. Samuel Fuller
Sam Fuller's b movie masterpiece is about a journalist who gets more than he bargains for when he allows himself to be committed in order to write an expose of the asylum.
- Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (1997) .. Kirby Dick
Very strange and unexpectedly touching tale of a man who is insensitive to pain who makes the most of what he has and becomes a performance artist.
- Six-String Samurai (1998) .. Lance Mungia
Hysterical and engaging B film/rock n roll martial arts film about a rock singer who known karate who travels across a post apocalyptic
and eventually competes against Satan to become the new king of rock’s roll. America
- Smoke Signals (1998) .. Chris Eyre
Amiable Native American comedy/road flick seemed inconsequential at first, but it stayed with me far longer than many films that were more honored, popular or critically acclaimed.
- Something Wild (1986) .. Jonathan Demme
Fresh take on the screwball comedy depicts a free spirited outlaw woman who seduces a straight laced corporate VIP and gets him to shed his inhibitions. This is like the "It Happened One Night" or "Ball of Fire” for the punk/new wave generation.
- Southland Tales (2006) .. Richard Kelly
I'm part of the .0006 of the population that thinks this is a worthy follow-up to the brilliant Donnie Darko. This was the only film I ever saw Sarah Michelle Gellar in that does not squander her talents.
- The Stunt Man (1980) .. Richard Rush
Peter O’Toole is a manipulative film director who plays mind games with the actors in his film. This prophetic film was one of the first great metafilms.
- Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) .. Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Well acted adaptation of a tortured poet who is punished for his carnal appetites. It’s impossible to find a better trio of leads (the film stars Taylor, Clift and Hepburn.)
- Tarnation (2003) .. Jonathan Caouette
Mesmerizing film is a biopic documentary collage which brilliantly incorporates works from extremely different sources. It’s the visual equivalent of a rap song.
- The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005) .. Tommy Lee Jones
This Peckinpah influenced road humor mixes grim drama with dark humor expertly, and Tommy Lee Jones can direct as well as he acts.
- Tromeo and Juliet (1996) .. Lloyd Kaufman
This splatterpunk version of the Shakespeare classic is a guilty pleasure which breaks every taboo in the book (Lemmy from Motorhead is the narrator), and it's the best Troma film.
- Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) .. Monte Hellman
This quintessential hippy road trip is the film that Easy Rider should have been. Monte Hellman handles the material well, and captures the essence of the rambling ‘60s counter culture.
- Urgh! A Music War (1981) .. Derek Burbidge
British collection of new wave, post punk, and underground acts is entertaining and unusual (my favorite parts are the Klaus Nomi and Cramps parts). But I could have done without the extended Police number at the end.
- Vinyl (1965) .. Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol’s film is the best example of his experimental work, and it was reputedly a big influence on Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.
- Walkabout (1971) .. Nicolas Roeg
Nicolas Roeg’s film about a Caucasian woman who crosses paths with an aboriginal boy engaged in an initiation rite is one of the most beautiful films ever.
- When the Levees Broke (2006) .. Spike Lee
Spike Lee’s devastating made for PBS series how government incompetence surrounding the floods in
is his most potent work of the decade. New Orleans
- You Killed Me First (1985) .. Richard Kern
Richard Kern's shockingly transgressive film about a disaffected art student is still one of the most shocking shorts ever, and the rawness is appropriate to the subject. It says more about the American family in 11 minutes than American Beauty expresses in two hours. Oh and Karen Finley plays the mom.