Chungking Express (1994, Kar Wai Wong) – This film, probably more than any other I’ve seen, reinforces why I love movies so much. Its stylistic flourishes evoke the best of filmmakers like Godard, and the two different romantic stories in the film unfold at an exhilarating pace.
The Battle of Algiers (1966, Gillo Pontecorvo) – It’s hard to believe you aren’t watching an actual documentary when seeing this film. It’s gritty, visceral, and difficult to watch at times, but looking in the eyes of the characters, you feel like this is real. I think it is the best movie about terrorism, its roots, and its consequences that has ever been made.
The Conformist (1970, Bernardo Bertolucci) – This is a strange and surreal journey into Fascist Italy prior to World War II. Beautiful cinematography captures Bertolucci’s interpretation of the era, and the protagonist, Clerici, may be one of the most fascinating (and pitiful) character studies out there.
Barton Fink (1991, Joel Coen) – A farcical, yet honest look at the creative process and what is described as “the life of the mind.” I also think this is the Coen Brothers’ best homage to a particular era, as sometimes their attention to details outweighs the value of the film itself.
Apocalypse Now (1979, Francis Ford Coppola) – Most likely my favorite war movie of all time (and based on one of my favorite novels), it utilizes the Vietnam War as the perfect backdrop for looking at the process of how one is driven to madness. It contains a number of unforgettable scenes and images that are difficult to shake.
The Virgin Spring (1960, Ingmar Bergman) – The gold standard for the ultimate “revenge movie.” Max Von Sydow’s performance as a tortured father of a girl who is raped and murdered is just one of many highlights of this film. It’s still powerful today; I can only imagine the responses it elicited back in 1960.
Dead Man (1995, Jim Jarmusch) – I believe that the majority of Westerns fall into the “romantic” or “violent” portrayals of the Old West. But I like Dead Man’s portrayal; that the Old West was a bizarre era in history filled with strange people. I like the spiritual journey that unfolds in the film, and Neil Young’s instrumental soundtrack is perfect for the setting.
Blade Runner (1982, Ridley Scott) – Neo-noir at its finest, and I think, one of the best science fiction films of all time. The score by Vangelis fits in perfectly, and Rutger Hauer’s speech to Harrison Ford at the end of the film remains one of my favorite scenes of any film.
8 ½ (1963, Federico Fellini) – It’s probably best to watch this film a couple of times, because the first viewing might seem like an irreverent blur. It’s not just a “movie about making a movie,” but deals with issues that many men struggle with. The “harem” scene is one of the most accurate portrayals of what a strange dream is like (at least in my weird mind).
Reprise (2006, Joachim Trier) – This film is most famously known as a story about what being a struggling young writer is like, but the study of the relationship between the two friends is what makes this movie so good in my mind. It captures the best and worst of what it is like to live through our early and mid-20s.
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