The most informative film to-date on the film-making practice of one of the most influential directors in the history of cinema. Breathtaking shots of the sparse, unpeopled landscape, this film reveals why Ingmar Bergman's films are emblematized by the solitude of the director's own life.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
A groundbreaking film of the horror genre, the German Expressionist movement, and cinema-at large, Dr. Caligari is a must-watch for anyone interested in witnessing the best of the best of the early years of cinema. With its masterful use of tinted panels, the expressions on Dr. Caligari's and Cesare's faces, and its ominous and jarring music, this is a film you will not soon forget.
The first-ever adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, this version remains the most accurate text-to-screen adaptation of the novel to date. Notable for it's eerie atmosphere and the inter-titles' frequent unauthorized quoting of the text, much of the film is of its time but it's sure to delight viewers interested in the history of on-screen vampires.
Until the End of the World
1991 Germany, France, Australia
A gorgeous paen to modern life and the modern person's thirst for freedom and truth, Until the End of the World depicts how a "leap of faith" in the modern age can lead us down a rabbit-hole of obsessions and conspiratorial thinking until we cannot extricate ourselves from the fictions that we have created and which surround us regularly. Though it is not without its flaws, whenever the tacky narration feels like its about to overstay its welcome, Wenders is wise to switch to a vivid shot of the inimitable Australian landscape or insert a song from the film's incredible soundtrack. An absolute must-watch.
2009 Denmark, Germany, France
An absolutely grueling watch, just when Lars Von Trier makes it seem like there's hope for these characters to escape their neurosis, he douses your retinas with another pot of boiling profanity. Too artistic to be called "bad," yet perhaps too embroiled in the base to be deemed "good," this film is sure to make even the most desensitized viewers deeply unsettled. Proceed with caution.
There is life before Videodrome, and life after Videodrome. One of the most prescient meditations on the relationship between humanity and the technology they use in the modern age, told through a medium that revels in excess by a director who isn't afraid to push its limits. "Body-horror" at its very best.
Once you see this film, you can never watch an action movie again. I'm only half kidding. Funny Games is not for the faint of heart but, for those who think that the blood and gore of contemporary horror or the ultra-violence of action cinema has desensitized them from violence, this film will pummel your taste for suspense back into reality and make you realize the artificiality inherent to all on-screen violence.
Among the most poignant political statements in cinema, Harakiri concatenates the personal with the political, displaying the tension between loving both one's duty and one's family. With stunning cinematography, intricately staged choreography (which involved the use of real swords!), and Tatsuya Nakadai's impeccable acting, Harakiri is a feast for the eyes and catharsis for the soul. It doesn't get better than this.
Brutal. Incoherent. Pretentious. All words used to describe Irreversible and continue to mar Gaspar Noé's reputation to this day. I'm not sure if the labels are entirely unfair, but, what is indisputable is that Irreversible remains both one of the most controversial and influential films made in the last 20 years. For that reason alone, its presence cannot be easily dismissed.
Save the Green Planet!
This film is so strange, words will never describe it. Ostensibly about environmentalism and preserving the planet, the actual story depicts a horribly traumatized man falling into the "comfort" of his own labyrinth of conspiracies. A violent, dark, but often laugh-out-loud depiction of the postmodern condition, Save the Green Planet! is an unsung gem of cinematographic genius.
1985 United States, West Germany, United Kingdom
Unquestionably dated in terms of it's cinematography and plot, Sandy McLeod's organic acting and the naturalness with which she delivers Kathy Acker's strange, surreal dialogue keeps Variety thoroughly enjoyable. Bette Gordon was also friends with Jim Jarmusch, Sara Driver, Lydia Lunch, and Genesis P-Orridge, so for those interested in the history and cinematic production of the no-wave movement in New York during the 80s, this is a solid choice.
You can't talk about the modern action movie, or the rising prominence of South Korean cinema, without mentioning Park Chan-wook and Oldboy. At turns entertaining, confusing, and by the end, deeply disturbing, Oldboy is the kind of movie that if someone lent you on DVD, you should keep forever. I'm not one to advocate theft, but Oldboy really is just that good. Now stop questioning the moral ambiguity of this review, and watch it for yourself.
Woman in the Dunes
Sometimes viewed as a response to Alain Resnais' Hiroshima Mon Amour, Woman in the Dunes is a quintessential film of the Japanese New Wave. Mixing existential philosophy with the visceral portrayal of two people struggling to survive in the most adverse of conditions, the images you see in this film leave you craving for more. You can literally feel the sand and hear the wind bearing down on these bodies. Simply incredible. A must watch.
The Face of Another
The last film in Teshigahara's famous trilogy, this is the one which most resembles modern life and continues to elicit questions today. Featuring Tatsuya Nakadai, the face of the Japanese new wave and a spine-tingling soundtrack, the scene in the bar and everything that comes after about the doubling, or fracturing, of this man's identity remains chilling even after plastic surgery and biotechnology has been normalized in our society.
Funeral Parade of Roses
Funeral Parade of Roses is probably not like anything you've ever seen. Unapologetically confrontational and aggressively open about it's endorsement of homosexual and nonbinary relationships years before these ideas found acceptance in Western cinema, Funeral resembles the boldness of John Waters' greatest films, but with an exuberance for life that will leave you simultaneously questioning what you just watched and desperate for more.
The Holy Mountain
1973 Mexico, United States
When someone tells you a movie is weird, what do you normally think? Does it have a nonlinear narrative? Are the characters strange? Is the dialogue cryptic? Is it a film about a film? The Holy Mountain might not have been the first time that all of those characteristics found themselves in the same pit of bizarre cine-symbolism, but it is certainly among the most iconic. Nothing can possibly you prepare you for this labyrinth of the strange. Your adventure awaits.
Fando and Lis
Maybe the only Jodorowksy film whose story resembles something akin to normal, Fando y Lis famously caused a riot on the day it premiered in Mexico. Watching it today, even with the general acceptance of sexuality in cinema and media at large, you can still see why this was so provocative and how Jodorowsky's characteristic mode of representation––indulging in the weird and occult in all of their strangenesses––continues to influence avantgarde directors (and Kanye West!) to this day.
I Stand Alone
Gaspar Noé's oft-ignored first film remains one of the most intense cinematic experiences I've ever had. Depicting the inner life of a working-class French man, everything about this butcher is gross, from the way he comports himself to the way he treats his wife to the fantasies he has about his teenage daughter, yet, like all radically transgressive art, it's impossible to tear yourself away.
Enter the Void
2009 France, Germany, Italy
Mixing Buddhism with psychotropic drugs, watching Enter the Void immerses you into the mind of one very unordinary narrator. Disorienting, unpredictable, thrilling, and at times shockingly heartwarming, this film will take your eyes on a ride they will not soon forget.
Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom
1975 Italy, France
What's there to say about Salò that hasn't already been said? Is it disgusting? Yes. Are most of the events on screen unsimulated? Also yes. Will it make you throw your popcorn at the screen and hate whoever recommended it to you? Probably, yes. Should you still watch it? Well if you're interested in the history of transgressive and taboo cinema, or just really like to torture your eyeballs with movies that'd ruin worst enemies' days, absolutely.
I like transgressive cinema. I like gory horror movies. I even enjoy the occasional B movie. Cannibal Holocaust is all of the above, but, sad to say, it is not good. Do not watch this. 10/10, would not recommend.
Eyes Without a Face
1960 France, Italy
Oh boy, what a film. Eyes Without a Face was made in a time of rampant paranoia regarding plastic surgery, serious interrogation about humanity's relationship to technology, and what human nature is in the postwar world. It was also made when the horror movie, as a respectable genre, was first beginning to garner mainstream attention, releasing in the same year as Hitchcock's masterful Psycho. Eyes Without a Face, though not as shocking today, remains a must-watch for people interested in classic horror films that pushed the limits of censorship and that integrated the artistic styles of the 1920s-40s onto a stereoscopic landscape.