Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top 100 Films of the 20th Century – Part 22: Top 25 by Decade

Top 25 – 1900-1929

1)      Sunrise (1927) – directed by F.W. Murnau
2)      The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) – directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer
3)      Man with the Movie Camera (1929) – directed by Dziga Vertov
4)      Battleship Potemkin (1925) – directed by S.M. Eisenstein
5)      The General (1926) – directed by Buster Keaton
6)      Metropolis (1927) – directed by Fritz Lang
7)      Sherlock Jr. (1924) – directed by Buster Keaton
8)      Greed (1925) – directed by Erich von Stroheim
9)      Un chien andalou (1928) – directed by Luis Bunuel
10)   Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916) – directed by D.W. Griffith
11)   Nosferatu (1922) – directed by F.W. Murnau
12)   The Last Laugh (1924) – directed by F.W. Murnau
13)   Napoleon (1927) – directed by Abel Gance
14)   The Gold Rush (1925) – directed by Charles Chaplin
15)   A Trip to the Moon (1902) – directed by Georges Melies
16)   The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) – directed by Robert Wiene
17)   Pandora’s Box (1929) – directed by G.W. Pabst
18)   The Crowd (1928) – directed by King Vidor
19)   The Wind (1928) – directed by Victor Sjostrom
20)   The Big Parade (1925) – directed by King Vidor
21)   Safety Last (1923) – directed by Fred Newmeyer & Sam Taylor
22)   The Phantom of the Opera (1925) – directed by Rupert Julian
23)   Broken Blossoms (1919) – directed by D.W. Griffith
24)   The Kid (1921) – directed by Charles Chaplin
25)   Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) – directed by Charles F. Reisner and Buster Keaton

Top 25 – 1930s

1)      The Rules of the Game (1939) – directed by Jean Renoir
2)      Modern Times (1936) – directed by Charles Chaplin
3)      City Lights (1931) – directed by Charles Chaplin
4)      L’Atalante (1934) – directed by Jean Vigo
5)      La Grande Illusion (1937) – directed by Jean Renoir
6)      M (1931) – directed by Fritz Lang
7)      Bringing Up Baby (1938) – directed by Howard Hawks
8)      Gone with the Wind (1939) – directed by Victor Fleming
9)      The Lady Vanishes (1938) – directed by Alfred Hitchcock
10)   Stagecoach (1939) – directed by John Forrd
11)   The 39 Steps (1935) – directed by Alfred Hitchcock
12)   Partie de campagne (1936) – directed by Jean Renoir
13)   L’Age d’Or (1930) – directed by Luis Bunuel
14)   Trouble in Paradise (1932) – directed by Ernst Lubitsch
15)   The Wizard of Oz (1939) – directed by Victor Fleming
16)   Vampyr (1932) – directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer
17)   Only Angels Have Wings (1939) – directed by Howard Hawks
18)   Tabu (1931) – directed by F.W. Murnau
19)   Earth (1930) – directed by Aleksandr Dovzhenko
20)   The Story of the Late Chrysanthemums (1939) – directed by Mizoguchi Kenji
21)   I Was Born, But… (1932) – directed by Yasujiro Ozu
22)   Duck Soup (1933) – directed by Leo McCarey
23)   The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) – directed by Fritz Lang
24)   Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) – directed by Frank Lloyd
25)   It Happened One Night (1934) – directed by Frank Capra

Top 25 – 1940s

1)      Citizen Kane (1941) – directed by Orson Welles
2)      Bicycle Thieves (1948) – directed by Vittorio De Sica
3)      The Red Shoes (1948) – directed by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
4)      Casablanca (1942) – directed by Michael Curtiz
5)      The Third Man (1949) – directed by Carol Reed
6)      A Matter of Life and Death (1946) – directed by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
7)      The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) – directed by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
8)      Children of Paradise (1945) – directed by Marcel Carne
9)      A Canterbury Tale (1944) – directed by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
10)   The Great Dictator (1940) – directed by Charles Chaplin
11)   Brief Encounter (1945) – directed by David Lean
12)   Black Narcissus (1947) – directed by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
13)   Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948) – directed by Max Ophuls
14)   Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) – directed by Robert Hamer
15)   Notorious (1946) – directed by Alfred Hitchcock
16)   The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) – directed by William Wyler
17)   Rebecca (1940) – directed by Alfred Hitchcock
18)   Mrs. Miniver (1942) – directed by William Wyler
19)   Late Spring (1949) – directed by Yasujiro Ozu
20)   The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) – directed by Orson Welles
21)   The Lady Eve (1941) – directed by Preston Sturges
22)   His Girl Friday (1940) – directed by Howard Hawks
23)   Great Expectations (1946) – directed by David Lean
24)   Double Indemnity (1944) – directed by Billy Wilder
25)   The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) – directed by John Huston

Top 25 – 1950s

1)      Vertigo (1958) – directed by Alfred Hitchcock
2)      Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – directed by Stanley Donen
3)      Tokyo Story (1953) – directed by Yasujiro Ozu
4)      Seven Samurai (1954) – directed by Akira Kurosawa
5)      The 400 Blows (1959) – directed by Francois Truffaut
6)      The Searchers (1956) – directed by John Ford
7)      Rear Window (1954) – directed by Alfred Hitchcock
8)      Rashomon (1950) – directed by Akira Kurosawa
9)      The Night of the Hunter (1955) – directed by Charles Laughton
10)   Some Like It Hot (1959) – directed by Billy Wilder
11)   Sunset Blvd. (1950) – directed by Billy Wilder
12)   North by Northwest (1959) – directed by Alfred Hitchcock
13)   Touch of Evil (1958) – directed by Orson Welles
14)   The Seventh Seal (1957) – directed by Ingmar Bergman
15)   The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) – directed by David Lean
16)   Sweet Smell of Success (1957) – directed by Alexander Mackendrick
17)   On the Waterfront (1954) – directed by Elia Kazan
18)   All About Eve (1950) – directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
19)   Ben-Hur (1959) – directed by William Wyler
20)   Roman Holiday (1953) – directed by William Wyler
21)   The Wages of Fear (1953) – directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot
22)   Ordet (1955) – directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer
23)   Witness for the Prosecution (1957) – directed by Billy Wilder
24)   Paths of Glory (1957) – directed by Stanley Kubrick
25)   Diabolique (1954) – directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot

Top 25 – 1960s

1)      Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – directed by David Lean
2)      2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – directed by Stanley Kubrick
3)      8 ½ (1963) – directed by Federico Fellini
4)      Persona (1966) – directed by Ingmar Bergman
5)      The Battle of Algiers (1966) – directed by Gillo Pontecorvo
6)      Psycho (1960) – directed by Alfred Hitchcock
7)      Breathless (1960) – directed by Jean-Luc Godard
8)      Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) – directed by Sergio Leone
9)      The Leopard (1963) – directed by Luchino Visconti
10)   The Apartment (1960) – directed by Billy Wilder
11)   The Wild Bunch (1969) – directed by Sam Peckinpah
12)   Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) – directed by Stanley Kubrick
13)   The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) – directed by John Ford
14)   Kes (1969) – directed by Ken Loach
15)   Goldfinger (1964) – directed by Guy Hamilton
16)   To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) – directed by Robert Mulligan
17)   Army of Shadows (1969) – directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
18)   The Graduate (1967) – directed by Mike Nichols
19)   Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) – directed by Robert Bresson
20)   L’Avventura (1960) – directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
21)   Andrei Rublec (1966) – directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
22)   La Dolce Vita (1960) – directed by Federico Fellini
23)   The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) – directed by Sergio Leone
24)   Yojimbo (1961) – directed by Akira Kurosawa
25)   Bonnie and Clyde (1967) – directed by Arthur Penn

Top 25 – 1970s

1)      Apocalypse Now (1979) – directed by Francis Ford Coppola
2)      The Godfather (1972) – directed by Francis Ford Coppola
3)      Taxi Driver (1976) – directed by Martin Scorsese
4)      The Godfather: Part II (1974) – directed by Francis Ford Coppola
5)      Chinatown (1974) – directed by Roman Polanski
6)      Barry Lyndon (1975) – directed by Stanley Kubrick
7)      Nashville (1975) – directed by Robert Altman
8)      Days of Heaven (1978) – directed by Terrence Malick
9)      Annie Hall (1977) – directed by Woody Allen
10)   Don’t Look Now (1973) – directed by Nicolas Roeg
11)   Star Wars (1977) – directed by George Lucas
12)   The Conformist (1970) – directed by Bernardo Bertolucci
13)   A Woman Under the Influence (1974) – directed by John Cassavetes
14)   Badlands (1973) – directed by Terrence Malick
15)   One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) – directed by Milos Forman
16)   A Clockwork Orange (1971) – directed by Stanley Kubrick
17)   Mirror (1974) – directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
18)   The Conversation (1974) – directed by Francis Ford Coppola
19)   The Deer Hunter (1978) – directed by Michael Cimino
20)   Jaws (1975) – directed by Steve Spielberg
21)   Stalker (1979) – directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
22)   Network (1976) – directed by Sidney Lumet
23)   Day for Night (1973) – directed by Francois Truffaut
24)   Being There (1979) – directed by Hal Ashby
25)   Alien (1972) – directed by Ridley Scott

Top 25 – 1980s

1)      Raging Bull (1980) – directed by Martin Scorsese
2)      Blade Runner (1982) – directed by Ridley Scott
3)      The Shining (1980) – directed by Stanley Kubrick
4)      Once Upon a Time In America (1984) – directed by Sergio Leone
5)      Amadeus (1984) – directed by Milos Forman
6)      Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – directed by Steve Spielberg
7)      Ghostbusters (1984) – directed by Ivan Reitman
8)      Shoah (1985) – directed by Claude Lanzmann
9)      Close-Up (1989) – directed by Abbas Kiarostami
10)   Blue Velvet (1986) – directed by David Lynch
11)   Fanny and Alexander (1984) – directed by Ingmar Bergman
12)   L’argent (1983) – directed by Robert Bresson
13)   Come and See (1985) – directed by Elem Klimov
14)   E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) – directed by Steven Spielberg
15)   The Thin Blue Line (1988) – directed by Errol Morris
16)   The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – directed by Irvin Kershner
17)   Aliens (1986) – directed by James Cameron
18)   Back to the Future (1985) – directed by Robert Zemeckis
19)   Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) – directed by Steve Spielberg
20)   Das Boot (1981) – directed by Wolfgang Petersen
21)   Brazil (1985) – directed by Terry Gilliam
22)   The Killing Fields (1984) – directed by Roland Joffe
23)   Do the Right Thing (1989) – directed by Spike Lee
24)   The Untouchables (1987) – directed by Brian De Palma
25)   The Princess Bride (1987) – directed by Rob Reiner

Top 25 – 1990s

1)      Goodfellas (1990) – directed by Martin Scorsese
2)      Pulp Fiction (1994) – directed by Quentin Tarantino
3)      Three Colours: Blue (1993) – directed by Krzsztof Kieslowski
4)      Chungking Express (1994) – directed by Kar Wai Wong
5)      The Thin Red Line (1998) – directed by Terrence Malick
6)      Schindler’s List (1993) – directed by Steven Spielberg
7)      Trainspotting (1996) – directed by Danny Boyle
8)      The Big Lebowski (1998) – directed by The Coen Brothers
9)      Rushmore (1998) – directed by Wes Anderson
10)   Satantango (1994) – directed by Bela Tarr
11)   Beau Travail (1998) – directed by Claire Denis
12)   A Brighter Summer Day (1991) – directed by Edward Yang
13)   The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – directed by Jonathan Demme
14)   Fargo (1996) – directed by The Coen Brothers
15)   Unforgiven (1992) – directed by Clint Eastwood
16)   JFK (1991) – directed by Oliver Stone
17)   Three Colours: Red (1994) – directed by Krzysztof Kielowski
18)   Dances with Wolves (1990) – directed by Kevin Costner
19)   The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – directed by Frank Darabont
20)   Se7en (1995) – directed by David Fincher
21)   Saving Private Ryan (1998) – directed by Steven Spielberg
22)   Before Sunrise (1995) – directed by Richard Linklater
23)   Magnolia (1999) – directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
24)   Groundhog Day (1993) – directed by Harold Ramis
25)   Fight Club (1999) – directed by David Fincher

Top 25 – 2000s

1)      In the Mood for Love (2000) – directed by Kar Wai Wong
2)      Mulholland Dr. (2003) – directed by David Lynch
3)      The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)  – directed by Peter Jackson
4)      The Dark Knight (2008) – directed by Christopher Nolan
5)      WALL-E (2008) – directed by Andrew Stanton
6)      There Will Be Blood (2007) – directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
7)      Amelie (2001) – directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
8)      Spirited Away (2001) – directed by Miyazaki Hayao
9)      No Country for Old Men (2007) – directed by The Coen Brothers
10)   Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) – directed by Michel Gondry
11)   Memento (2000) – directed by Christopher Nolan
12)   The Departed (2006) – directed by Martin Scorsese
13)   Lost in Translation (2003) – directed by Sofia Coppola
14)   Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – directed by Guillermo del Toro
15)   Children of Men (2006) – directed by Alfonso Cuaron
16)   The Pianist (2002) – directed by Roman Polanski
17)   The Incredibles (2004) – directed by Brad Bird
18)   Cache [Hidden] (2004) – directed by Michael Haneke
19)   The Prestige (2006) – directed by Christopher Nolan
20)   The Lives of Others (2006) – directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
21)   Up (2009) – directed by Pete Docter
22)   City of God (2002) – directed by Fernando Meirelles
23)   4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2008) – directed by Cristian Mungiu
24)   The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) – directed by Julian Schnabel
25)   Far from Heaven (2002) – directed by Todd Haynes

Editor’s Personal Top 10 Favorites

1)      The Red Shoes (1948) – directed by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
2)      Ghostbusters (1984) – directed by Ivan Reitman
3)      The Dark Knight (2008) – directed by Christopher Nolan
4)      The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) – directed by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressbuger
5)      Lost in Translation (2003) – directed by Sofia Coppola
6)      Rushmore (1998) – directed by Wes Anderson
7)      Amelie (2001) – directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
8)      Inception (2010) – directed by Christopher Nolan
9)      Rebecca (1940) – directed by Alfred Hitchcock
10)   Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – directed by David Lean

Monday, August 25, 2014

Movie of the Week – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

This week’s movie: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Jefferson Smith is a naïve man who is appointed to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate by those in power in his state, thinking that he will not cause any trouble. Washington politics prove to be a rude awakening for Smith, as he decides to go head-to-head with political corruption, refusing to back down.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is one of American auteur Frank Capra’s greatest films. Capra promoted the ideals of American life with his films – a sense of morality and sentimentality. His best include: It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, You Can’t Take It with You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Arsenic and Old Lace, and It’s a Wonderful Life. On this film, he worked with composer Dimitri Tiomkin, cinematographer Joseph Walker, and art director Lionel Banks.

The cast is fantastic. The film stars James Stewart, and features Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold, Thomas Mitchell, and Harry Carey in support.

To some, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is sentimental nonsense. The film believes in moral people willing to stand up for what is right against seemingly insurmountable odds. Jefferson Smith is a man who cares deeply about what America means (freedom and so on) and wants to leave the country in better hands than he found it. The film may seem sentimental now because it is abundantly clear that Washington (and really government at almost every level) is completely corrupt and not filled with those looking to make the country or their states better (in almost all cases). Rather, our government has become a cesspool of special interest groups and powerful lobbyists who bog down and mare everything in their filth, as politicians now serve at the pleasure of those willing to fund their campaigns and give them jobs, speaking engagements, and other perks (these groups usually representing large corporate interests and religious groups – both of which put profit/ideology ahead of what is best for the country in the long run). We all know the system is desperately broken and completely disgustingly corrupt, but no one really cares. Today, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is nonsense because apathy has put us all in a deadly malaise. It is also poignant, however, because it showcases a man willing to fight against the system for something better. We should be so lucky to actually have men and women like that today. This film is just as powerful today because America is on the precipice of disaster. We were the leader in the world in almost every area. Now we fear progress, technology, freedom, immigrants, those who are different, knowledge – we champion ignorance, stupidity, lies, and fear. Apathy is easy when the system is so far gone that actually trying to do anything to make a difference just seems like a waste of time – and, our own lives consume all our time anyway. Again, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is just as important and powerful today. The smallest can make a difference, if only he or she would try and believe.

Trailer: Here
Available on: DVD and Video On-Demand

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Top 100 Films of the 20th Century – Part 21: 5-1

Rank: 5
Title: Sunrise
Release Year: 1927
Genre: Romance
Director: F.W. Murnau
Plot Summary: A married farmer falls under the spell of a sultry city woman who tries to convince him to drown his wife so that he can be with her.
What Makes It Special: Sunrise is stunningly beautiful. Its cinematography is groundbreaking and incredibly dynamic. In addition to being a visual marvel, it has a wonderfully deep emotional narrative as well. Love is at the center of the story, as German Expressionist filmmaker F.W. Murnau leaves behind some of his overbearing symbolism and politics to focus more acutely on the narrative of a man torn between the allure of the city and his simple life on the farm. The film is extraordinary in every way, with superb performances, directing, and unforgettable visuals.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray

Rank: 4
Release Year: 1968
Genre: Sci-Fi Drama
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Plot Summary: After humanity finds a mysterious object buried beneath the lunar surface, believing it is of alien origin, they set off on a quest to discover new life, bringing along the ultra-intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000.
What Makes It Special: Stanley Kubrick forever changed sci-fi cinema with 2001: A Space Odyssey, dramatically influencing everything to come after it. The film epitomizes our modern aesthetic for Space. Tonally, the film is also a masterpiece of suspense, tension, and atmosphere – the use of silence and darkness are as terrifying as any film monster (along with H.A.L.’s glowing red eye). 2001: A Space Odyssey marks the height of Kubrick’s style and directing prowess.  
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

Rank: 3
Title: Citizen Kane
Release Year: 1941
Genre: Mystery/Drama
Director: Orson Welles
Plot Summary: With his final words, publishing tycoon Charles Foster Kane uttered “Rose Bud”. Intent on discovering the meaning, newsman Jedediah Leland goes on an investigative assignment.
What Makes It Special: Coming from theatre, Orson Welles brought a whole new style and aesthetic to cinema, challenging everything. Citizen Kane remains today a profound work of art, Welles and his collaborators setting out to do everything different and more interesting. The result is a majestic film, both artistically and narratively. The film is loosely based on William Randolph Hearst, but the brilliance of the narrative comes from its story of a man who had everything except the one thing he really wanted, something that he lost long ago to his grand ambition. Citizen Kane is not just an influential film; it is the film that rewrote the language of artistic cinema. It is a touchstone of today’s movies – it is essential.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

Rank: 2
Title: Vertigo
Release Year: 1958
Genre: Mystery
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Plot Summary: Retired police detective, Scottie Ferguson, who now suffers from acrophobia due to an accident involving the death of an officer as well as almost his own death, is hired by a wealthy old friend to follow his wife around San Francisco. She is behaving peculiarly, but as Scottie follows her around he begins to become obsessed with her.
What Makes It Special: Vertigo was a complete critical and commercial failure upon its release. The film is incredibly dark, as Scottie’s obsession with Madeleine Elster is just plan creepy. Yet, Alfred Hitchcock’s film is profoundly compelling as well. Hitchcock has the audience on Scottie’s side completely, even though his behavior is disturbing. The film peers into our own souls, revealing something a bit ghoulish in us all. In addition to the film’s magnificent aesthetics, music, performances, writing, and directing, Hitchcock also offers one of cinema’s most fearless endings. It may have been a failure in 1958, but today it shines as the embodiment of cinematic narrative, character, and emotional mastery.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

Rank: 1
Release Year: 1962
Genre: Adventure/War Drama/Biography
Director: David Lean
Plot Summary: British officer T.E. Lawrence achieves wonders during his service in the Middle East during WWI.
What Makes It Special: David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia fulfills the promise of cinema in every way. It is a grand epic, featuring many of film’s most iconic and spectacular scenes. It is visually breathtaking, with startlingly beautiful photography and Lean’s flare for employing an ambitious and striking camera. Its music is absorbing and rousing. Peter O’Toole gives possibly the greatest film performance, and the supporting cast is excellent throughout. It is a film that challenges its viewer with its themes and ideas, while wholly entertaining and thrilling with its adventure, action, comedy, drama, and glorious locations. It is simply the finest film the medium has to offer.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

Top 100 Films of the 20th Century – Part 20: 10-6

Rank: 10
Release Year: 1952
Genre: Musical/Comedy
Cast: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and, Debbie Reynolds
Plot Summary: With the advent of sound, the transition for silent film companies and actors is a bit awkward, many left behind. Silent movie star Don Lockwood is determined to make the jump, doing everything he can to succeed – but will it all be enough.
What Makes It Special: Singin’ in the Rain does what few musical do, and does it extraordinarily well – it both puts on a brilliant show with grand, wonderful, and even funny musical numbers and it tells a great story (a cinematic imperative). Kelly, O’Connor, and Reynolds are fantastic, creating many of cinema’s most memorable moments. Though this film came out over sixty years ago, it still feels as fresh as ever and its music is just on the tip of our tongues. 
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

Rank: 9
Release Year: 1972
Genre: Gangster
Plot Summary: Don Vito Corleone is facing a choice. He must decide who will take over his crime syndicate. He has three sons to choose from: Sonny his eldest is a hothead, Fredo is very ill-suited, and Michael is reluctant (having never really taken an interest in the family business).
What Makes It Special: The Godfather is the quintessential gangster film in American cinema, building off all the great genre films that came before it (like: Little Caesar, The Public Enemy, Scarface, White Heat, and The Big Heat), creating a crime drama that is emotionally dense, with some of film’s most iconic characters, moments, and aesthetics. In many ways, it is still the genre film that all other genre films look up to and aspire to be.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

Rank: 8
Title: 8 1/2
Release Year: 1963
Genre: Drama
Director: Federico Fellini
Plot Summary: While working on his latest film, film director Guido Anselmi retreats into his memories and fantasies for inspiration.
What Makes It Special: 8 ½ is Federico Fellini’s surrealistic narrative, built on wonderfully evocative imagery. It is a film about creativity and inspiration, which can come from anywhere. It also about embracing passions: artistic, emotional, and physical. Simply, it is about life, and what we make of it. Aesthetically, it is utterly compelling as Fellini blends fantasy, memory, and reality into one continuous stream of consciousness. Life is inherently chaotic – we grasp for meaning through our passions, but like Guido we too can become overwhelmed as our own creativity is stymied by our own assigning of meaning – if everything is meaningful then nothing is meaningful. Fellini uses 8 ½ to project artistically the emotional turmoil of life (and more specifically, one’s mid-life crisis, as one realizes that death is ever on the horizon). It is smart, flashy, and essential.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

Rank: 7
Release Year: 1939
Genre: Satire
Director: Jean Renoir
Plot Summary: At the onset of WWII, a rich French family throws a hunting party for their friends. Everyone seems to be gracious, but they hide how they really feel, often involving their poor servants in their tangled affairs. Theirs is a frivolous existence.
What Makes It Special: Jean Renoir released The Rules of the Game in 1939 to an audience that was not ready to accept the truth about their decedent and trivial lives and decaying culture. The film was a disaster critically and commercially. Satirizing the dominate culture of one’s country is a bold move. Renoir was fed up with the way the upper classes lead unsubstantial lives at the cost of everyone else. Following WWII and the advent of New Wave Cinema in the 1950s-1960s in France, his film finally found its audience and has been regarded as a masterpiece ever since. The film works very well as a romantic dramedy, but it is also very cynical towards its characters. In fact, Renoir actively seems to detest them. It is funny, biting, and dramatically resonate.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

Rank: 6
Release Year: 1979
Genre: War Drama
Plot Summary: During the Vietnam War, American soldier Captain Willard is tasked with a dangerous mission. He must travel deep into the jungle of Cambodia to assassinate a renegade U.S. colonel. Kurtz has set himself up as a god among a local tribe. It is a journey into the darkness of man’s heart.
What Makes It Special: Francis Ford Coppola almost killed himself making his adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The production was marred with delays, tragedy, and hardship; but, Coppola emerged with something magnificent and utterly compelling and absorbing (the documentary chronicling the making of the film Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse is very good as well). The film goes down the rabbit hole, showcasing the horrors that man’s heart is capable. It is beautifully filmed (Vittorio Storaro’s photography and lighting are wondrous) and acted. It is wholly iconic.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand