97. “The Terrorizers”, Edward Yang

Part of the 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.

The Terrorizers

The Terrorizers aka 恐怖分子

dir. Edward Yang (1986) scr. Hsiao Yeh and Edward Yang cin. Chang Chan with Cora Miao, Lee Li-Chun, Wang An, Ma Shao-chun

In 100 words: Often cryptic and deeply unsettling, Terrorizers set the foundation for New Taiwanese Cinema’s exploration of ennui and disaffection in post-war Taiwan. Yang’s cynical vision of modern urban life in Taipei presents characters that are in one way or another, stuck in purgatory, who are then undone by a series of coincidences. By employing Bressonian edits, cinematography that captures a dreamlike plasticity, and Ozu-esque framing of space, Yang perfectly visualizes emotional violence and internal desperation succinctly without becoming completely abstract. The script’s amorphous structure yields uncomfortable surprises, but the startling conclusion may actually be that living is the most terrifying thing.

Other Movies for Context: Essayists have often compared Yang’s film to those of Michaelangelo Antonioni’s, particularly his London-set Blow-Up (1966), about a photographer who think he captured in pictures a murder in progress. But The Terrorizers is very important in Taiwanese film history for paving the way for Tsai Ming Liang and other Taiwanese directors who focus on Taiwanese urban life. Tsai’s Vive L’Amour (1994) and What Time Is It There? (2001) are the most direct films that reference Yang. A more distant, and uh cringe-inducing brother of this movie, will probably be Paul Haggis’s Crash (2005), but that’s cow poop compared to this.

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99. “Irma Vep,” Olivier Assayas (1996)

 

Part of the 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen List.

Irma Vep

Irma Vep

dir. Olivier Assayas (1996) scr. Olivier Assayas cin. Eric Gautier with Maggie Cheung, Jean-Pierre Leaud, Nathalie Richard, Antoine Basler

In 100 words: Oscillating between cerebral and esoteric, Assayas’s engrossing and frisky metatextual film about filmmaking has plenty of jokes about the cinema and the people who make it. Its characters argue passionately about what exactly is ruining the state of current cinema, whether it’s intellectualism, the money-grubbiness of American movies, or the lack of inventiveness from new directors. But if the film sounds like an excruciating exercise in self-criticism, fear not. It’s full of hilariously neurotic backstage personalities that are all trying to survive, while Maggie Cheung, in a black latex bodysuit, is just trying to stay above it all. Bracing end.

Other Movies for Context: Sad to say that this is my first and only experience with Assayas’s work. I see frequent comparisons to Francois Truffaut’s Day for Night (1973), which I also haven’t seen. When I listen to these people have very ,casual and intellectual conversations, I think instantly of Mia Hansen-Love’s Things to Come (2016), which may not be as frisky or as playful as Irma but still engages you to think just as much.

100. “Raise the Red Lantern,” Zhang Yimou (1991)

Part of the 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen List.

Raise the Red Lantern

Raise the Red Lantern aka ‘大红灯笼高高挂’

dir. Zhang Yimou (1991) scr. Su Tong & Ni Zhen cin. Zhao Fei with Gong Li, Ma Jing-Wu, He Saifei, Cao Cui-Fen

In 100 words: Brilliantly opens with a close-up of its heroine’s face, bathed in a golden light, completely emptied out, and giving a Shakespearean monologue about a woman’s fate, Zhang Yimou’s landmark film explores the lives of women, fighting for the attention of a physically invisible but somehow omnipotent being. Lantern is a forceful indictment of patriarchal society, institutionally imposed sexism, and a biting study of human cruelty. Yimou’s gorgeous symmetrical frames, warm colors, and angular designs are rich in semiotics that accumulate power, while the editing ascribe meaning to the images’ juxtapositions, until the stunning conclusion. Gong Li will haunt you forever.

Other Movies for Context: Zhang Yimou was a great chronicler of women in China, and have made some incredible films, including Ju Dou (1990), which tackled similar ground as Red Lantern when it comes to women under stifling patriarchal structures and Not One Less (1999)my personal favorite from his oeuvre. Chen Kaige, another Chinese director from the same era had made grounds internationally with sensational political allegories, including Yellow Earth (1984) and Farewell my Concubine (1993), a film that just missed the Top 100.

 

 

 

 

The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen

Taxi Driver

Long ago, I’ve been obsessed with making lists and memorizing them, whether it be knowing the capitals of every country in the world in first grade, or the name of every damn Best Picture Oscar winner in high school, I was nutty for lists. I don’t know why it is. I just love a good list. In my recent turn as a cinephile, I’ve come to appreciate a great many bloggers, film critics and historians, and artists, mostly by coming across their lists for greatest films ever. These lists have become my source for what films to go see in my annual movie list. Lists like the Sight and Sound Top 250 or the 1001 Movies You Need to See Before You Die or the AFI Top 100 American films are just the basic bread and butter of all beginner cinephiles, I think. But sprinkle in there lists by specific bloggers, like my personal favorites Nathaniel Rogers and Nick Davis, professional film critics I admire, like Guy Lodge or Mike d’Angelo and of course Roger Ebert, and then by random searches for Greatest (Insert region) films ever, and you get a wide range of films that will take years to find and tackle. So what’s a cinephile to do? Well start digging in.

This year, I’ve reached a personal milestone: I’ve watched 1,500 movies in my lifetime (according to my handy dandy letterboxd). A small fraction compared to my favorite people’s film count, but an accomplishment to myself nevertheless. And back when I was still reading through all of these Greatest-film lists and dreaming of just watching all these films, I’ve long made a promise to myself that I will make my own Greatest Movie List and put it out there.

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A Year of Watching Cinema

I started 2016 with a commitment to watch 200-something movies that I thought anyone who loved cinema should see. The goal was to fundamentally understand why films do what they do: why do they cut here, why do they cue music here, why do they move the camera here. It was a learning process as much as it was just a film addict inhaling his chosen form of drug. But the overarching goal was to see as many film classics as possible so I can finally create my Best Films Ever list–something that has percolated in my mind since the very concept of cinema became alive to me sometime in 2009. I started with a list that I had shared earlier here (Letterboxd List), but as the year went by and as the availability of these films varied, I had to make changes to my screening.

travelling-players

The Travelling Players lived up to my expectations and more. I love it.

Overall, I made some startling (at least to me) observations about my viewing habits and about how I generally think about these films. Firstly, I am susceptible to liking a film for the sake of not breaking consensus. Certain films have a legendary stature that one surely doesn’t want to dispel, if only because it makes you seem out of your mind to think that what many people who’ve been watching movies far longer than you have, and who are probably smarter than you, are well, just okay or worse of all, crap. This was most evident to me upon watching certain films this year: Terry Gilliam’s Brazil was very well-decorated, I thought, but its humor felt overly broad and kind of desperate to me; Tie Xi Qu, Wang Bing’s “monumental” 10-hour documentary, at first felt great because I thought it covered so much ground about…well I don’t know what about really. I gave it an A-rating though. But when I thought about it a few days or weeks later, I was kinda mad at the film. It was so indulgent in how it forced audiences to go through all that snow and smoke, when it could have done so in less time, and with–which I will now admit fully–little payoffs. I think I was probably congratulating myself on getting through 10 grueling hours of the mundane and dust so I gave it that rating to justify watching all of that. And lastly, and I think most painfully to admit, Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard, which many critics, including Roger Ebert cite as his masterpiece. What critics say is a rich examination of a prince’s stately reaction to a dying world, felt like a beautifully crafted and exquisitely rendered, but ultimately boring depiction of rich people being haughty and vainglorious. It was full of caricatures that felt utterly un-illuminating, and even offensive on some counts. I still think its craft is A-rating worthy, but for the little emotional investments one can make in what feels like a hollow picture, it’s definitely and most certainly not Visconti’s best.

visconti-the-leopard

Visconti’s The Leopard is so dull, I wished I liked it better. I tried hard to love it.

Visconti’s film is a great jumping point to the second observation I made about my viewing habits. I have such great expectations about certain films that at times, it blinds me to their flaws, or if its flaws are utterly unacceptable to me, I come down even harder on them. Because Senso was such an utter delight for me, any of Visconti’s films would have made for necessary viewing, especially when film critics I trust give such high ratings for them. The Leopard was one of ten movies last year that I was most dying to watch, so to see it flatline, I was thoroughly disappointed. Still, after viewing it, I had convinced myself that I just didn’t really understand what was happening or that it’s really really good, so I just overlooked certain elements. But no…a week later, when you’re done with your denial, you start to actually look at the facts, and the fact is, you just didn’t care for it. At all. Several movies this year did that for me. Most egregiously, Billy Wilder’s wildly overrated The Apartment. This pungent “romantic comedy” was one of the most misguided films I’ve ever seen onscreen, mostly because its very concept was gross. What Wilder found funny, that whole suicide moment for example, felt thoroughly insulting and maybe even ignorant.

red-desert

Red Desert got me feeling like… I’m lost in mist.

And my last observation is that I tend to have certain biases for and against certain stories. I have an absolute distaste for films that often center on the ennui that rich people feel. It feels so utterly meaningless to me. As such, Michaelangelo Antonioni’s films are definitely not my type, unless they’re doing something else that feels new or exciting. The biggest victim this year is his film Red Desert, where characters just drift around and try to feel things in the middle of an industrial complex. The Leopard fits into this problem I have with “first world problem movies” as well. Preachy philosophical or socialist films are also not my type–Jean Luc Godard’s Weekend feel incredibly brazen and a touch insane in the first half but settles for his usual endless preaching of socialist-leftist-whateverist doctrine that sinks the second half and the entire film for me. It’s not that I don’t understand or even empathize with his thoughts, I just prefer seeing it incorporated in images and action, rather than pure dialogue. Lastly, Buddhist movies tend to put me to sleep, mostly because they rely on the whole idea of Zen, which may seem spiritual to others, but to me is just too meditative to really stay awake. As such, I struggled to get through Kon Ichikawa’s The Burmese Harp mostly because it was too “peaceful”, for lack of a better word.

On the opposite end of that spectrum, I have a special place for Catholic films, owing in part to my upbringing. Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise that Robert Bresson’s The Diary of a Country Priest became one of my favorite watches this year. In addition to being so technically excellent, it was also just an astonishing affirmation of Catholic faith. Similarly, I’m a sucker for huge historically sweeping stories or epic canvasses of life through a historical lens. Theo Angeloupolos’s The Travelling Players was my favorite of its kind this year.

In any case, in lieu of talking about all the films I’ve seen, I’ll give a rundown of several that I found noteworthy for one reason or another:

The best movie I saw for the first time this year: Robert Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest is an exceptionally told film on faith and spirituality, and does it through such simple techniques (fading background to black, shooting the priest behind bars, etc) but so precisely and so economically, that it reveals so much depth within the material. Claude Leydu as the priest gives probably one of the five performances I’ve seen onscreen.

diary-of-a-country-priest

Leydu is so amazing, one shudders to think of living up to a performance like that.

Runner up: Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita feels quite unusual for me in that while it portrays topics that I normally shun as I’ve noted earlier, they feel extremely well-drawn and well-examined. The beauty of Fellini’s film is that the landscape he creates here feel less gawdy or excessive than his earlier efforts, and they also feel spiritual in ways that his other films don’t.

la-dolce-vita

Gorgeous. Utterly gorgeous.

The worst movie: Eddie Romero’s Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kami Ngayon (As We Were) has to be, hopefully, the most lauded Filipino film that also egregiously suffers from its own pretensions of grandeur. Despite its picaresque images, and well crafted sets and costumes, everything from sound design to its ghoulish acting, to the damn score is so fraying and poorly judged. The editing is perplexing and wishywashy, and the plot is so ludicrous with characters that function more like set pieces and caricatures than real humans. There are bits that are good, especially the funny stuff at the beginning, but I don’t understand its status in the Philippines.

as-we-were

The father-son duo from You Were Weight But Found Wanting absolutely sucks here.

Runner up: Mikio Naruse’s Floating Clouds is, sad to say, the wrong kind of melodrama for me. Melodrama tends to have a negative connotation but not in my world. When done correctly, they feel closer to real life feelings filtered through sound, performance, and visuals. Imitation of Life or Secret Sunshine are two examples of excellent melodramas. Naruse’s Floating Clouds, on the other hand, feels painfully forced. The music often dictates what you should feel ahead of the “moments”, the visuals don’t say enough, and the performances oscillate between too self-conscious and too unsubtle. Worst of all, the situations themselves feel awfully mopey: no balance between good and bad situation, just completely a descent into suffering.

Biggest Surprise: I did not see Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low coming. Kurosawa is most well-known for his epic historical flicks, chief among them Seven SamuraiRashomon, and Ran. But forget about those films, because if you want the lowdown, Kurosawa’s absolutely finest hour is not any of those worshipped movies, but it’s this tightly coiled thriller that has few equals in world cinema. Having seen many of his previous works, I was sure I had an idea of what kind of director Kurosawa was–the showy kind, who draws attention to the craft, prefers spectacle over quiet dramas. But this is nothing like that. This is so subtly crafty, suggesting so much about what’s going on through the use of images, and how he carefully rearranges them. He navigated the push and pull of the drama so expertly, that by the end of it, my heart was racing. Few films can give me that kind of rollercoaster thrill, and even fewer have done it with such technical mastery. Bravo.

high_and_low_janus_web-detail-main

High and Low, Kurosawa’s true masterpiece.

Runner Up: Viewing Jean Renoir’s Grand Illusion comes with certain expectations about the master director. His film Rules of the Game is in the top 10 films of all time, and even though I thought it was very intelligent, it’s not exactly the most entertaining time at the cinema. It felt so stuffy and hit you with too much class discussions that I felt removed from the whole viewing experience. Thank goodness for Grand Illusion. This film has the same level of intelligence, but its humor is so much more accessible. Its criticism of class feels more organic to the piece, as it should since the film takes place in the middle of a world war. Not to mention its unimpeachable graceful camera movements. Few viewing experiences this year felt as joyful, as fun, and also as cerebral as this one.

grand-illusion

Renoir’s The Grand Illusion was such a grand experience. See it.

Biggest Disappointment: Obviously, The Leopard. See above.

Runner Up: Jacques Tati’s Playtime. I so wanted to like this given its very nature, but I think I got tired of the visual tableau motif around the 30-minute mark. I honestly don’t think I was born with a Tati funny bone. Like Roy Andersson after him, Tati’a tableaus are incredibly detailed constructions, lensed so well to capture such awesome still frames. The choreography is the obvious highlight as the film basically changes subjects as new characters enter the frame. There are certainly amusing moments and I did chuckle a few times, but mostly I was amused when I was expecting some side splitting comedy. Not for me though I admire its technical proficiency.

Film I Probably Won’t See Again: Klimov’s Come and See joins the ranks of Grave of the Fireflies and Shoah of films that, as extraordinary as they are, can never be viewed again because they impose such pain on my spirit and my mind, that viewing them again will possibly be torturous. Klimov’s film is all about perspective and his focus on what the child sees and feels and hears, gets you in the mindset of that kid. Therefore, you feel the same things he feel when he experiences these moments. But that kind of closeness to the character is paralyzing and I’ve had anxiety thinking about these images, so I’d rather not do it again. Great film though.

come-and-see-child

Traumatizing.

Runner Up: Kim Ki-young’s Woman of Fire is probably one of the worst remakes ever, and from the same director who made the original. True, there’s value to watching Kim’s use of colors and a more opened-up set-up to capture the changing times of Korea more accurately, but whereas the original The Handmaiden dwells on the excellent psychology of its star performance, this film decides to make her feral, animal-like, and so utterly and comically inhumane, that it left a sour taste in my mouth. Utterly repugnant.

 

My 2016 annual movie list

Here’s the list of movies that I plan on watching by the end of the year. I also give some justification for why I chose these movies. Over the year, I’ll update this list to reflect my progress.

The movies I curated here were based on a lot of lists I’ve read about the best films of a country or best films according to Sight and Sound poll in 2012. A lot of the movies are also admittedly movies that I’m curious to watch even if they’re not on this list. My hope is that by the end of the year, I have a greater sense to create my dream list of what I think are the best movies ever.

  1. 3 Women, Robert Altman (1978) — After watching Nashville and Gosford Park, I’m definitely a big fan of Altman’s work. Its story’s closeness to Bergman’s Persona made me even more curious.
  2. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, Cristian Mungiu (2007) — Palme d’Or winner and acclaim that I’ve been reading about since its release made me want to watch this movie for a while now. 
  3. 42nd Street, Lloyd Bacon (1933) — A Busby Berkeley choreographed musical? It’s about time I see one given my love for the genre! It’s a great counterpoint to Singin’ in the Rain too.
  4. 45 Years, Andrew Haigh (2015) — Best Actress nominee for 2015. Affection for Haigh after Weekend and Looking.
  5. A Man Escaped, Robert Bresson (1956) — I wasn’t quite as moved as I was after watching Au Hasard Balthazar, but I admire Bresson’s austere approach to filmmaking. Cited quite often as one of his best movies, definitely made me want to watch it.
  6. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, Rainier Werner Fassbinder (1974) — My introduction to Fassbinder! Plus, anything that resembles/homages Sirk’s All that Heaven Allows is a must-watch for this uber-fan of that film.
  7. Alice Adams, George Stevens (1935) — Lingering/permanent admiration for Kate Hepburn makes this a must-see. 
  8. All that Jazz, Bob Fosse (1979) — Cabaret is perfection, but I heard this is his masterpiece.
  9. Amarcord, Federico Fellini (1973) — I was a fan of 8 1/2 and Fellini is such a towering figure, I have to watch this film.
  10. Anak Dalita, Lamberto Avellana (1956) — Frequently cited as the finest Filipino film, the challenge will be to watch it in higher quality that what’s available currently.
  11. Antonio das Mortes, Glauber Rocha (1969) — Rocha is significant figure in the Third Cinema and Brazil’s film history. I heard this is his masterpiece a lot of times.
  12. Aparajito, Satyajit Ray (1957) — The second of the Apu trilogy, this follows the legendary (and one of the best films ever) Pather Panchali, made this absolutely vital. Rare Indian cinema that meshes with my sensibility.
  13. Apart from You, Mikio Naruse (1933) — He’s often cited as one of the unheralded geniuses of Japanese cinema. This is his earlier classic and it’s available on Hulu!
  14. The Apartment, Billy Wilder (1960) — A Best Picture winner, one of Wilder’s most popular movies, and Shirley Maclaine: Vital cinema to me.
  15. Army, Keisuke Kinoshita (1944) — Japanese war propaganda made by a very famous director contemporary of Kurosawa, Ozu, and Mizoguchi.
  16. Army of Shadows, Jean-Pierre Melville (1969) — The “rediscovery” of the movie in the late 2000s made me curious about what the fuss is all about.
  17. Au Revoir les Enfants, Louis Malle (1987) — High regard for the movie and the director among movie critics I admire made me curious.
  18. An Autumn Afternoon, Yasujiro Ozu (1962) — I’m an Ozu fan and this was his last film ever. 
  19. The Awful Truth, Leo McCarey (1937) — A classic screwball highly regarded, plus Dunner and Cary Grant, especially, made me want to watch.
  20. Badlands, Terrence Malick (1973) — The auspicious beginnings of one of the most poetic directors ever? Count me in!
  21. The Ballad of Narayama, Keisuke Kinoshita (1954) — I’m kind of scared to watch this given my absolute love for Imamura’s later version. But Ebert’s assurance makes me curious.
  22. Band of Outsiders, Jean Luc Godard (1964) — I figured out how to appreciate Godard so with a renewed sense of interest, I want to see this highly regarded film.
  23. Barry Lyndon, Stanley Kubrick (1975) — I want to be a Kubrick completist eventually and this puts me on that path.
  24. Batang West Side, Lav Diaz (2001) — Highly regarded among Filipino critics, this is often cited as his masterpiece. I loved Norte: The End of History as well. Hope to see it properly.
  25. Batch ’81, Mike de Leon (1982) — I’m obsessed with Kisapmata and de Leon seems like such a precise filmmaker.
  26. Beasts of the Southern Wild, Behn Zeitlin (2012) — The type of film that I tend to absorb, plus surprise Best Picture nominee and Best Director nominee! Quvenzhane!
  27. Beauty and the Beast, Jean Cocteau (1946) — The original B&B film! Curious as to how it all comes together.
  28. Before Sunrise, Richard Linklater (1995) — Linklater had me at hello.
  29. Before Sunset, Richard Linklater (2004) — Part 2 of a tremendous series.
  30. Belle de Jour, Luis Bunuel (1967) — I have immense interest in Bunuel’s career. Los Olvidados whetted my appetite but Viridiana was the main course meal. Hoping Belle is a tasty dessert.
  31. Beloved, Jonathan Demme (1998) — Toni Morrison’s novel is among my favorites. Demme’s Silence of the Lambs is among my favorites. Therefore, this movie should be among my favorites. Right?
  32. The Best Years of our Lives, Billy Wilder (1946) — A highly regarded Best Picture winner. I saw it a long time ago when I was a kid but can’t recall anything.
  33. A Better Tomorrow, John Woo (1986) — I’m a big fan of Chow Yun Fat and John Woo’s action films. This was his first giant hit and put him on the map to international stature.
  34. The Bicycle Thieves, Vittorio de Sica (1948) — Often heralded as one of the finest films ever and a great example of neorealism, this is cinema 101.
  35. The Big Lebowski, Joel & Ethan Coen (1998) — Cult classic status + Coen Bros + Julianne Moore + Jeff Bridges.
  36. Birth, Jonathan Glazer (2004) — Trusted film critics/bloggers say this is Nicole Kidman’s best performance. I’m living to see that long close up of her face in the opera in context.
  37. The Bitter Tears of Petra Kant, Rainier Werner Fassbinder (1972) — Strong fascination with Fassbinder and I need an intro his filmography. This is often cited as a must-see.
  38. Black God, White Devil, Glauber Rocha (1964) — Rocha’s international debut (?). Also a seminal film in the Third Cinema and Brazilian film.
  39. Blade Runner, Ridley Scott (1982) — I’m a fan of Scott’s films, including Aliens, Gladiator, and The Martian. This film is considered a sci-fi must-see.
  40. Blowup, Michaelangelo Antonioni (1966) — I didn’t really get into L’Avventura and I’m hoping this film convinces me to rewatch it. 
  41. Boat People, Ann Hui (1983) — I’m fascinated by films from a nonwestern perspective about the Vietnam refugee history post-war. A female perspective at that.
  42. Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, Paul Mazursky (1969) — My favorite blogger, Nathaniel Rogers, consider this an underrated gem. I’d like to see it myself.
  43. Branded to Kill, Seijun Suzuki (1967) — I missed out on a Freer Gallery screening but I’m always up for a Japanese Yakuza film. I heard he’s quite an uncommon genre filmmaker.
  44. Brazil, Terry Gilliam (1985) — Often mentioned for its brazen style and unconventional story, it’s been in my bubble for a while. It’s time I watch it.
  45. Breaking the Waves, Lars von Trier (1996) — I’m often floored by what von Trier shows onscreen regardless of how good/bad it is. Dancer in the Dark is my fave, with Dogville coming in close second. This is his first international success, I think.
  46. Brief Encounter, David Lean (1945) — I’m a sucker for doomed romances, but this film inspired Haynes’ Carol and I loved that movie. I liked the Lean movies I’ve seen.
  47. Bring It On, Peyton Reed (2000) — I loved this movie but for some reason I can’t remember crucial details. Looking forward to watching it again.
  48. Bringing Up Baby, Howard Hawks (1938) — His Girl Friday is genius, and Cary Grant + Kate Hepburn is a perfect match to me. Love the screwball plot as well.
  49. Bull Durham, Ron Shelton (1988) — People say this is Susan Sarandon’s best performance. I want to see exactly why.
  50. The Burmese Harp, Kon Ichikawa (1956) — I don’t normally do well with Buddhist/monk films but hoping this film’s stature break me out of that cycle.
  51. Cairo Station, Youseff Chahine (1958) — It was brought to my attention after Mark Cousins’ excellent The Film Odyssey. I needed an intro to Middle Eastern movies and this seemed mandatory.
  52. Chan is Missing, Wayne Wang (1982) — Mandatory text for Asian American cinema. Wang’s Joy Luck Club didn’t mesh well with me despite its topic so hoping this one lands.
  53. Chilsu and Mansu, Park Kwang Soo (1988) — Diving deeper into Korean cinema required some research. This was cited by a trusted blogger as special despite its topic.
  54. Chronicles of the Year of Fire, Mohammed Lakder-Hamina (1973) — Palme d’Or winner with a less reputable standing. I’m curious why. Plus, a rare film that takes on such a heavy topic.
  55. Claudine, John Berry (1974) — Nick Davis loves this movie and I’m curious as to why. I love these kind of stories and definitely this is in my wheelhouse.
  56. Cleo from 5 to 7, Agnes Verda (1962) — Verda is a legendary female director part of the French New Wave. This is an announcement of her talent.
  57. Come and See, Elem Klimov (1985) — Its placement in Sight and Sound made me curious but its stature among Russian film fans makes me want to watch this movie.
  58. Contempt, Jean Luc Godard (1963) — I’ve gotten over my fear of Godard and now I’m excited to see what else he got. Bardot is a selling point.
  59. Crimes and Misdemeanors, Woody Allen (1989) — I love Woody Allen and I just want to keep watching his greatest critical hits.
  60. The Crowd, King Vidor (1928) — It’s a legendary film and I want to know why. Plain and simple.
  61. Daughters of the Dust, Julie Dash (1991) — African American story with Toni Morrison-inflected drama directed by an African American woman? Rare and even rarer.
  62. Day of Wrath, Carl Theodore Dreyer (1943) — Passion of Joan of Arc is still peak cinema to me, and that’s all thanks to Dreyer. I’m ready to explore his filmography more.
  63. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Cristian Puiu (2005) — Venerated when it came out, it’s time to bring myself to watch it.
  64. Diary of a Country Priest, Robert Bresson (1951) — This is vital cinema if you’re a Catholic, apparently. Plus, Bresson is essential cinema.
  65. Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Luis Bunuel (1971) — I’m a Bunuel fan so this should be a joy to watch.
  66. Docks of New York, Josef von Sternberg (1928) — A silent film genius, according to many. The stills I’ve seen from Cousin’s series makes me want to watch this.
  67. Dog Day Afternoon, Sidney Lumet (1975) — Al Pacino was a true legend during the 70s. By many accounts, this is his best performance.
  68. Double Indemnity, Billy Wilder (1944) — I’m just damn bewildered by Wilder’s vast filmography. This sealed the deal for the rise of noir.
  69. The Double Life of Veronique, Kryzstof Kieslowski (1991) — The Three Colors series is pure blissful cinema. Hoping this one lives up to those three masterworks.
  70. Dr. Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick (1964) — Kubrick funny? Curious. It also has a cultish following.
  71. Duck Soup, Marx Brothers (1933) — They’re historical directors and this is apparently their greatest triumph.
  72. Earth, Alexander Dovzhenko (1930) — Earth is legendary among Russian cinema fans. I need to find out why. Dovzhenko is as venerated as Eisenstein.
  73. The End of Evangelion, Hideaki Anno & Kazuya Tsurumaki (1997) — This series was an awesome part of my childhood. I’d like to watch the whole thing from an adult perspective since I probably lost the deeper symbolism of the show.
  74. Eraserhead, David Lynch (1979) — Cult following + Lynch’s international acclaim made me curious.
  75. Erin Brockovich, Steven Soderbergh (2000) — OSCAR-WINNING JULIA FUCKING ROBERTS! That is all.
  76. The Exterminating Angel, Luis Bunuel (1962) — Again, it’s Luis Bunuel. What else can I say?
  77. Faces, John Cassavetes (1968) — Cassavetes is exciting cinema. I’m looking forward to this one.
  78. Fat Girl, Catherine Breillat (2001) — Fascinating title. Breillat has a status in international cinema.
  79. Floating Clouds, Mikio Naruse (1955) — Very famous in Japan. Naruse’s best film? I hope so.
  80. Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kami Ngayon? Eddie Romero (1976) — Romero is well-respected in my country. Hope I like this as much as lot of Filipinos do.
  81. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Howard Hawks (1953) — Marilyn Monroe! Howard Hawks! What else can I add?
  82. Gertrud, Carl Theodore Dreyer (1964) — J’adore Dreyer. Hope this female-centric film fits my bill.
  83. Giant, George Stevens (1956) — So many legendary actors in one film. 
  84. The Goddess, Wu Yonggang (1934) — Cousins’ film says of how important this is to Chinese cinema. Let’s hope it’s good.
  85. The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, Sergio Leone (1967) — Once Upon a Time in the West did nothing for me. I’m hoping this feels better.
  86. Goodbye South, Goodbye, Hou Hsiao Hsien (1996) — I often find Hou’s cinema difficult to penetrate, but I keep trying because I never know if I’m going to fall in love (City of Sadness, Millennium Mambo) or be bored to tears (The Puppetmaster, Flight of the Red Balloon).
  87. Goodfellas, Martin Scorsese (1991) — Scorsese is my type of director. This is standard fare but it’s well respected.
  88. The Gospel According to St. Matthew, Pier Paolo Pasolini (1964) — Curious because of Pasolini’s stature but also because of its legendary status.
  89. Grand Illusion, Jean Renoir (1937) — Renoir is legendary and after watching Rules of the Game, I have to see this one.
  90. The Grapes of Wrath, John Ford (1940) — John Ford is classic American cinema and this book is important American literature. Hope they mix well together.
  91. The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin (1940) — I love Chaplin and this one, his send up to Hitler, is the kind of film I look forward to.
  92. Hara-kiri, Masaki Kobayashi (1963) — I love me some Samurai movies and this classic film has the stature to back it up.
  93. Hard Boiled, John Woo (1992) — John Woo fan over here? Maybe! Hope this one is good.
  94. Hearts and Minds, Peter Davis (1974) — The Vietnam War is a such a fascinating topic that any documentary that talks about it, gets automatic must-watch for me.
  95. Heavenly Creatures, Peter Jackson (1994) — Jackson’s intro the world, along with one of my fave actresses, Kate Winslet, with interesting material, makes this film a must-watch.
  96. Hiroshima Mon Amour, Alain Resnais (1959) — Resnais is a cornerstone of the French New Wave. Emmanuelle Riva was fucking amazing in Amour. Drama about Hiroshima? Sign me up!
  97. The Holy Girl, Lucrecia Martel (2004) — Martel’s renown and the topic at hand coming from a non-western nation sounds intriguing to me.
  98. The House is Black, Forogh Farrokhzad (1963) — Cousins’ histography says this put Iranian cinema on the map. Short documentary on lepers sold me. 
  99. How Green Was My Valley, John Ford (1941) — Best Picture winner that beat Citizen Kane. Makes me curious how good can this movie be if it beat that.
  100. Hud, Paul Newman (1963) — Ritt’s movie Sounder featured a bona fide star performance from Cicely Tyson. This won Patricia Neal an Oscar and some say this Newman’s best performance. Would like to weigh in on that.
  101. The Human Condition, Masaki Kobayashi (1959) — Comes in three parts. Kobayashi an interesting often-misremembered director in Japanese cinema. The scale sounds excitingly daunting.
  102. Husbands and Wives, Woody Allen (1992) — I love Allen’s more serious stuff. This is on my way to seeing as much of his filmography as possible.
  103. I Was Born, But…, Yasujiro Ozu (1933) — I’m not familiar with Ozu’s early filmwork. I’d like to dip my toes in.
  104. Ieoh Island, Kim Ki Young (1977) — How Kim managed to make films that emphasize the sexuality of his women during a censor-prone period in Korea is a feat of its own.
  105. If…., Lindsey Anderson (1967) — This film gave birth to a lot of the violent films we see now. Its Palme d’Or-winning stature makes it attractive.
  106. In a Lonely Place, Nicholas Ray (1950) — Can’t believe I’ve only seen one Bogart movie (Casablanca) 
  107. In the Year of the Pig, Emilio de Antonio (1968) — de Antonio is an influential director of documentaries and this is his film on Vietnam in the midst of the war. 
  108. The Insect Woman, Shohei Imamura (1963) — Imamura is one of my all-time favorites. I haven’t seen his earlier works and I’d like to be a completist as much as possible.
  109. The Insider, Michael Mann (1999) — The kind of films that best fit my political junkie side. Its premise reminds me a bit of Network as well, and I loved that.
  110. The Intentions of Murder, Shohei Imamura (1964) — Another Imamura film. I just loveeee him.
  111. The Iron Giant, Brad Bird (1999) — I somehow missed this film when I was a kid. I hope I can still feel excited by it given its fame.
  112. The Jerk, Carl Reiner (1979) — One of Steve Martin’s most famous roles, I’d like to get in and see what it’s about.
  113. Julia, Eric Zonca (2009) — TILDA SWINTON. People say this is her best back in 2009. I  need to catch up.
  114. Kes, Ken Loach (1968) — Ken Loach’s debut put him on the map to be the most consistent entrant of Cannes main competition. This film shows up on Sight and Sound 2012’s Top 250.
  115. Killer of Sheep, Charles Burnett (1979) — Cousins’ film gave this a very special mention. Plus rare African American cinema that received such high praise needs to be explored.
  116. La Cienaga, Lucrecia Martel (2001) — Martel’s debut film; Giving this extra bonus points for being on Hulu.
  117. La Dolce Vita, Frederico Fellini (1960) — Fellini is cinematic treasure. Each of his films should be experienced.
  118. The Lady Eve, Preston Sturgess (1941) — Screwball comedy is up my alley. This is quite popular among trusted film blog sites.
  119. The Last of England, Derek Jarman (1986) — Jarman put Swinton on the map here. Jarman’s career is actually interesting. Queer cinema proper introduction.
  120. Last Year at Marienbad, Alain Resnais (1962) — Resnais is legendary. This film is often cited as his most complex and fascinating.
  121. Le Samourai, Jean-Pierre Melville (1967) — The interest around Melville caught my attention. This and Army of Shadows sound like mandatory viewing.
  122. The Leopard, Luchino Visconti (1963) — Visconti’s masterpiece, apparently, is this operatic melodrama. That all sounds like ME.
  123. The Letter, Billy Wilder (1940) — Bette Davis is the main attraction here. Besides that, Wilder is quite a steady important presence in American cinema.
  124. Listen to Britain, Humphrey Jennings (1942) — Cousins was very committed to this director’s brilliance. I need to watch it to evaluate.
  125. M, Fritz Lang (1931) — Lang’s Metropolis is a masterpiece without a doubt. This is my second foray to his filmography.
  126. The Magnificent Ambersons, Orson Welles (1948) — Welles’s second film after the brilliant and quite possibly the best film ever, Citizen Kane, is mandatory viewing.
  127. Malcolm X, Spike Lee (1993) — Do the Right Thing was special. Lee translates his anger and desire for justice into something magical on screen. Denzel’s best perf, apparently.
  128. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, John Ford (1963) — Somehow I can’t picture James Stewart in a western and yet here we are. Ford is rightly the master of westerns and I’ve loved his stuff before.
  129. The Manchurian Candidate, John Frankenheimer (1962) — I love me a bitchy mom who controls all the power. In fact that’s my favorite character. This seems like the most influential one.
  130. Marat/Sade, Peter Brooks (1967) — Something about the unusual style and the filmed theater piece angle of this film makes me curious. Nick Davis thinks highly of it.
  131. The Marriage of Maria Braun, Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1979) — As I mentioned earlier, I’m just picking the most famous titles from Fassbinder’s oeuvre to start with.
  132. McCabe and Mrs Miller, Robert Altman (1971) — Altman! Altman! Altman! This comes from his peak period where he could do no wrong to most critics. Plus Beatty & Christie.
  133.  Meet Me in St. Louis, Vincent Minnelli (1944) — People have said that this is one of the best musicals ever. Plus Minnelli and Garland together? Sounds like heaven.
  134. Melancholia, Lars von Trier (2012) — von Trier is brilliant and I love his work. Kirsten Dunst won Best Actress at Cannes for this. Must be worth the hype.
  135. Memories of Underdevelopment, Tomas Gutierrez Alea (1968) — I’ve been fascinated by non-western cinema and Alea has been a widely recognized master of Cuban cinema.
  136. Milk, Gus van Sant (2008) — Harvey Milk is an important figure in gay right. I was moved by the documentary on his life. Here’s hoping Penn & Van Sant bring justice to his life.
  137. Le Million, Rene Clair (1932) — Clair is a renowned early French filmmaker. The plot of this one seemed sweet and interesting. Hope it works out.
  138. Moulin Rouge, Baz Luhrmann (2001) — Love Kidman and McGregor. Pop musicals sound like a trifle but Lurhmann’s style can be hit or miss. Here’s hoping it’s a hit.
  139. The Mourning Forest, Naomi Kawase (2006) — Kawase is the kind of director that nobody hears about even with the numerous awards she has won. At the same time, her film descriptions sound like a fit for my sensibilities.
  140. Mulholland Drive, David Lynch (2001) — Legendary film from a legendary director from the previous decade. This is apparently a must-watch for all film enthusiasts.
  141. The Music Room, Satyajit Ray (1958) — Ray is legendary and his name is based on his Apu Trilogy. I wanted to venture out of that to see what else he’s got.
  142. My Night at Maud’s, Eric Rohmer (1969) — Rohmer’s name isn’t as well known as Godard or Truffaut but he is said to be just as important. This is my first trip to his oeuvre.
  143. Naked Childhood, Maurice Pialat (1968) — Pialat has a reputation hard to resist. His debut film should be a wonderful introduction to his career.
  144. The Naked Island, Kaneto Shindo (1960) — Its infamy intrigued me and its availability on the Criterion Collection sealed the deal. 
  145. Night and Fog, Alain Resnais (1955) — Resnais’s legendary documentary on the Holocaust seems like required viewing. Still reeling from Lanzmann’s Shoah though.
  146. The Night of the Hunter, Charles Loughton (1955) — Loughton’s one and only film received glorious praises from modern critics. Hoping to catch the fever as well.
  147. Night of the Living Dead, George Romero (1968) — Zombie movies are just not my thing. In fact, most horror movies aren’t my thing. But this gave birth to those films so as far as I’m concerned it’s important viewing.
  148. Nights of Cabiria, Frederico Fellini (1957) — Cousins gave this film a special treatment in his film. It seems like the most representative of Fellini’s work.
  149. Ninotchka, Ernst Lubitsch (1938) — I’ve never seen a Garbo film and Lubitsch has a strong reputation. Let’s kill two birds with one stone.
  150. North by Northwest, Alfred Hitchcock (1959) — At this point, what excuse can you give NOT to watch a Hitchcock movie? He’s genius.
  151. A Nos Amours, Maurice Pialat (1982) — Let’s start with what’s available to view for Pialat. In this case, the story sounds intriguing.
  152. Nosferatu, F.W. Murnau (1922) — This early silent classic has earned its way to legendary status. Murnau’s Sunrise was a beautiful film. Hoping this one has the same qualities.
  153. Nostalghia, Andrei Tarkovsky (1983) — A Tarkovsky fan right here. This is his second to the last film and I think his first outside of Russia. The stunning images that I found need context.
  154. Notorious, Alfred Hitchcock (1946) — Hitchcock again. But this time, with Ingrid Bergman. Some say this is her best performance and that’s exciting.
  155. Now, Voyager, Irvin Rapper (1942) — Davis, Hepburn, Bergman are like the holy trinity of my pre-Meryl actress list. This is required viewing for Davis fans, or so I hear.
  156. On the Waterfront, Elia Kazan (1954) — Kazan’s Oscar-winning status makes this important viewing for an Oscar nerd like me but Brando won his first Oscar for this. This makes me even more excited.
  157. Only Angels Have Wings, Howard Hawks (1939) — Hawks is often underappreciated according to critics. This is often cited as his masterwork. Hope the hype is worth it.
  158. Ordet, Carl Theodore Dreyer (1955) — Dreyer has few films and it’ll be worth watching most of them after watching The Passion of Joan of Arc. The religious angle of this film fits my interests.
  159. Orlando, Sally Potter (1992) — An early Tilda work and one where she plays a fascinating character. Should be mouth-watering.
  160. Out of the Past, Jacques Tournier (1947) — Legendary status of this film keeps me invested. Mitchum is a fascinating movie star since he’s not classically handsome.
  161. Paisan, Roberto Rossellini (1946) — I’ve not seen a Rossellini movie yet and I think any film nerd needs to watch him, since he helped popularize Italian realism.
  162. Pandora’s Box, GW Pabst (1929) — “Louise Brooks cut can save a commercial girl” – Top Model advice stuck in my head.  Plus, Pabst and film’s status make this a must-see.
  163. Paris, Texas, Wim Wenders (1984) — This won Wenders Palme d’Or and I’m just curious why it did. Plus, Wenders is a curiosity for me.
  164. The Pianist, Roman Polanski (2002) — Polanski is a classy filmmaker and I just love all of the movies I’ve seen from him. This won Adrien Brody an Oscar!
  165. Pickpocket, Robert Bresson (1959) — Bresson keeps showing up on my list for a reason: he’s a real cinematic treasure.
  166. Pigs and Battleships, Shohei Imamura (1961) — Imamura keeps showing up on my list for the same reason as well: He’s a favorite of mine.
  167. A Place in the Sun, George Stevens (1951) — Montgomery Clift is the only reason I need to watch this movie.
  168. Playtime, Jacques Tati (1968) — I’m not usually for weird mindfucks, but Tati’s reputation suggests I need to see this at least.
  169. The Pollen of Flowers, Ha Gil-jong (1972) — The gay undertones suggested in some sites for this movie make it a curious discovery, especially for early Korean cinema.
  170. Rear Window, Alfred Hitchcock (1954) — I’m just keeping all the Hitchock movies going.
  171. Rebel Without a Clause, Nicholas Ray (1955) — James Dean has such a giant legacy despite his small filmography that everyone needs to watch his films.
  172. Red Desert, Michaelangelo Antonioni (1964) — L’Avventura needs a rewatch to see if I can actually like it but here’s hoping this might work out.
  173. Reds, Warren Beatty (1980) — Beatty is said to be a fantastic director and this film won him many accolades. Hope to catch it before his new film this year.
  174. Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino (1992) — This film completes my Tarantino experience. After this, I’d have watched all his films.
  175. Rio Bravo, Howard Hawks (1959) — Hawks is immaculate at directing films. I love him and I’m hoping he can make me fully embrace westerns.
  176. The River, Jean Renoir  (1951) — Renoir is a incisive director. I need to continue watching his films.
  177. Rome, Open City, Roberto Rossellini (1945) — I need to continue seeing Rossellini’s movies to get over how much I disliked Journey to Italy.
  178. Safety Last!, Fred C. Newmeyer & Sam Taylor (1923) —Harry Lloyd looks like my roommate so I got curious plus that wall climbing stunt makes this a treat, I’m sure.
  179. Salo, 120 Days of Sodom, Pier Paolo Pasolini (1975) — Gotta love Pasolini’s balls for taking on such a nasty book.
  180. Sans Soleil, Chris Marker (1983) — I wasn’t such a fan of La Jetee, but this film’s cultural crosscutting seems like a match for me.
  181. The Scarlet Empress, Josef von Sternberg (1933) — Dietrich is a goddess. von Sternberg a genius. This sounds perfect.
  182. Seance on a Wet Afternoon, Bryan Forbes (1964) — Bryan Forbes has a reputation for giving actresses some weird roles that make them shine. I dig the cuckoo premise.
  183. The Seaside Village,  Kim Soo Yong (1965) — Korean cinema during the 1960s under the Park regime produced some odd stuff. This village of lesbians apparently ranks highly among Korean film lovers.
  184. Senso, Luchino Visconti (1954) — My first foray into Visconti. His operatic background and style seems to fit my general love of melodramatic art cinema. Here’s hoping this rocks.
  185. Shame, Ingmar Bergman (1968) — Bergman again. With Liv Ullman too. I’m already sold.
  186. Shanghai Express, Josef von Sternberg (1932) — An important text in Asian American cinema, especially with the presence of Anna May Wong. Von Sternbeg + Dietrich makes it even more necessary viewing for me.
  187. Sherlock Jr. Buster Keaton (1924) — I genuinely didn’t care for The General. I’m hoping that this one inspires me to like Buster Keaton.
  188. The Shop Around the Corner, Ernst Lubitsch (1940) — Often said to be Lubitsch’s best film, I’m hoping that I like it! James Stewart was such a great movie star.
  189. Smiles of a Summer Night, Ingmar Bergman (1955) — Bergman, again!
  190. Solaris, Andrei Tarkovsky (1972) — Tarkovsky completionist here. Admittedly, this one makes me nervous because I’m not a sci-fi movie kind of guy.
  191. Sopyonje, Im Kwon Taek (1993) — I’m a fan of Im’s work. Many people say this is his best and often cited as the most definitive Korean film ever.
  192. Splendid Outing, Kim Soo Young (1978) — More classic Korean cinema here. This one, starring the fantastic Yoon Jeong Hee from Poetry.
  193. Spring in a Small Town, Fei Mu (1948) — Often cited as one of the greatest, if not best, films to come out of China, the story gives me Ozu-esque vibes. I’m curious
  194. Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky (1979) — This has the most startling images I’ve seen in still frame from Tarkovsky outside of Mirror. Hoping it lives up to the hype.
  195. A Star is Born, George Cukor (1954) — Garland’s best work according to trusted film critics. Plus, important for gay culture to know this musical.
  196. The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums, Kenji Mizoguchi (1939) — Alarmed by how perfect his cinema has been after watching his last 3 films, I want to take it back to his old films.
  197. Suddenly, Last Summer. Joseph Mankiewicz (1959) — Hepburn + Taylor + Clift + the director of All About Eve + Tennessee Williams = !!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
  198. Suspiria, Dante Argento (1977) — Horror classic that doubles as art film? Worth a try.
  199. Syndromes and a Century, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (2007) — I was bored to tears by his Palme d’Or winner, but I never say never to Asian cinema (especially Southeast Asian! cinema), especially from someone as heralded as “Joe” .
  200. Synecdoche, New York, Charlie Kauffman (2008) — From the man who brought you Eternal Sunshine comes this more puzzling ode to depression. I am intrigued.
  201. Tabu, Miguel Gomes (2011) — Super acclaimed when it came out in 2011, I’m trying to catching what all the fuss was about.
  202. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, Fritz Lang (1933) — Trying to fill the holes of my early cinema watching. I’m a fan of Lang’s work too.
  203. Thelma & Louise, Ridley Scott (1991) — Brad Pitt’s debut is the cherry on top of a perfect actressy sundae. 
  204. They Shoot, Horses Don’t They?, Sydney Pollack (1969) — Gilmore Girls’s best episode (the dance marathon) was inspired by this movie. I just want to know what they know, you know?
  205. The Thin Red Line, Terrence Malick (1998) — Malick never disappoints with his images (having avoided his work post-Tree of Life). Many say this is his greatest accomplishment.
  206. Those Whom Death Refused, Flora Gomes (1990) — A rare cinematic landmark from Guinea-Bissau. That alone makes it mandatory viewing.
  207. Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks, Wang Bing (2002) — This 8-hr documentary on rural China sounds epic. I’m ready for some brain-exercises.
  208. Timbuktu, Abdheramane Sissasko (2014) — Hot off of Cannes and Oscar nominations, this west African film sounds exciting.
  209. Titicut Follies, Frederick Wiseman (1967) — The premise sounds frightening but Wiseman has always made for a great thoughtful seat through America.
  210. To Have and Have Not, Howard Hawks (1944) — The birth of Bogart + Bacall needs special attention.
  211. Touch of Evil, Orson Welles (1958) — Welles has had a fascinating career and no one seems to say a negative thing about his films.
  212. A Touch of Zen, King Hu (1971) — Its upcoming Criterion release is stunning news. It inspired the countless wuxia films that I grew up with.
  213. Tree of Blood, Flora Gomes 1996) — This film from Gomes was in competition at Cannes. Looking forward to broadening my African cinematic learning.
  214. Tropical Malady, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (2004) — A Thai gay romance from the most well-known Thai filmmaker. Sounds good to me!
  215. Trouble in Paradise, Ernst Lubitsch (1932) — Pre-code romance with some good word from Roger Ebert. Lubitsch has a great reputation.
  216. The Turin Horse, Bela Tarr (2011) — I haven’t developed the stomach to watch Tarr’s more famous Satantango but I’d like to sit through this one first.
  217. Twenty Four Eyes, Keisuke Kinoshita (1954) — I love me some Japanese cinema and Kinoshita has a strong reputation. 
  218. Under the Blossoming Cherry Tree, Masahiro Shinoda (1974) — Japanese films from the 70s were more murderous than the previous decade. This one was controversial.
  219. Velvet Goldmine, Todd Haynes (1998) — Haynes’ filmography has been super strong. I’m not really into this kind of music, but I trust Haynes to make it sing for me.
  220. Vengeance is Mine, Shohei Imamura (1979) — Imamura is one of my favorites. This is my first film from his 70s era.
  221. Videodrome, David Cronenberg (1983) — Body horror films aren’t my thing but a talking television that has giant lips sounds psycho enough for me.
  222. The Virgin Spring, Ingmar Bergman (1960) — Bergman.
  223. The Wages of Fear, Henri-Georges Clouzot (1953) — A super well-regarded film among cinephiles. This looks likely to be stunning.
  224. Wanda, Barbra Loden (1970) — Straight from American cinematic golden age and early independent cinema, this film by a woman about a woman seems mandatory viewing to me.
  225. The Way We Were, Barbra Streisand (1973) — Barbra’s song is perfect. Barbra IS perfect. Hope this one feels perfect too.
  226. Weekend, Jean-Luc Godard (1967) — Godard is infinitely more interesting when you attune your taste to his style (duh). Here’s hoping I continue to love his work.
  227. Werckmeister Harmonies, Bela Tarr (2000) — Continuing on my avoidance of his most famous work, I’m hoping that this one gives me ammo before sitting in for the inevitable.
  228. The Whisperers, Bryan Forbes (1967) — I have a soft spot for batty old women in films. Forbes make them crazy good to watch as well.
  229. White Material, Clair Denis (2009) — Denis’s colonial upbringing carries over to her work on postcolonial films. Mandatory viewing for IR kids like me.
  230. Wild Strawberries, Ingmar Bergman (1957) — Berg…
  231. Wings of Desire, Wim Wenders (1987) — Curious by the strong reaction to Wenders’ work and his sterling reputation among cinema enthusiasts.
  232. Woman of Fire, Kim Ki Young (1970) — Kim basically remakes his classic The Housemaid, except in color. Delicious-sounding to me.
  233. Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Pedro Almodovar (1988) — Have I mentioned how much I love Almodovar yet? He’s one of my first real auteur discoveries in high school and I can’t wait to watch this one.
  234. Yeelen, Souleymane Cisse (1987) — Well-known outside of Tsotsi, this film seems like one of the few mainstream (relatively-speaking) African movies out there.
  235. You Can Count on Me, Kenneth Lonergan (2000) — Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo are two amazing actors. This film has many admirers.

With that, I hope to watch all of these movies by the end of the year. Since I started in January and as of this writing, I’ve seen 76 movies on my list. I’m a little behind schedule but it’ll be easy to catch up. Hope to report the things I see here!

 

 

Where was I…

Two years ago, I created this blog hoping to keep a diary of some sort of the films I was trying to watch that year. It was a list called “100 Movie List for the Summer.” That kind of tanked when I got super busy and super not-in-the-mood to watch, much less write about the movies. Then, I went to Korea and just had a blast studying (read: doing the absolute minimum to do OK in my study-abroad classes) and enjoyed being abroad in a different culture. That time there also kick-started my appetite to watch movies again, especially classics and films from different cultures. So as I entered my last semester as a student in college, I tasked myself with watching some 200 movies in 2015. Immediately, I found it was difficult to maintain some sort of regular pattern to do that because there are just times when you have no interest at all in watching a movie that requires your full engagement or life was just super busy with schoolwork, worrying about after college, internship, job, directing a play, etc. Sure, there are movies I can watch with my brain turned off: give me a Nicolas Cage film or an Adam Sandler movie, and I can watch the whole thing without actually feeling exhausted or intellectually spent.

That feeling of watching movies just to fill the void of time doesn’t sit well with someone who has ambitions of watching some of the most heralded movies ever. I mean, I can’t just turn off my brain to watch a movie like Killer of Sheep by Charles Burnett or The Diary of a Country Priest by Robert Bresson. These are movies that require me to engage and to reserve my full brain space for them, otherwise I might miss the point or some crucial game-changing bit that may be important to getting the full experience. For example, the first time I saw Breathless by Godard, I had an utter disdain for his editing and his characters. I had to stop the movie 20 minutes in and completely wrote it off as a pointless exercise in profundity. Admittedly, I didn’t have the right feeling or desire to watch a movie at the time, least of all a movie made by Godard; I just wanted to watch it for the sake of watching a movie that showed up on my list. When I actually felt the urge to watch it two years later, my point of view changed dramatically; his edits felt so exciting, his rhythm magical, and his characters so funny, so frustrating, and yet so real. I gave the film an A+ and said at the time that the movie felt like a genuine thrill and a real challenge to movie-making that few directors, even now, can ever do.

So having said that, my 2015 was full of ups and downs as I navigated my post-college life. I aimed to watch 200 movies that year that I’ve never seen before and I hit that target by New Year’s Eve. Suffice to say, it was a struggle: there were months when I watched maybe 4 or 5 movies when I should have been watching at least 3 or 4 a week. Then, feeling invigorated, I would binge watch 3 or 4 in one day of my free time so I can catch up. My last two weeks of December were spent trying to catch up to the point that I saw 4 or 5, and sometimes 6 movies a day! In two weeks, I saw a total of 57 movies, averaging at about 5 movies a day. That’s insane! and that was exhausting. I never want to feel as if watching movies is a chore. I want them to feel genuinely exciting and interesting, like they normally are to me.

Nevertheless, I saw a lot of classics last year and I was happy about what I accomplished. This time around, I wanted to space my movies out as part of my plan to watch 230 movies that I’ve never seen before. Clearly, this requires me to be in the right mood quite often. But it turns out, when you move on from being unemployed after college to a steady job in the right field, your life picks up elsewhere. I suddenly feel invigorated to watch movies since I have the spare time (otherwise used to apply, mope around sadly, or complain about not having a job) to watch them and even the money to actually see some of them on the big screen!

With that said, I have a new list this year and out of the 230 movies I want to watch this year, I have so far watched 65 movies. I have a target to watch 4 movies by Sunday this week to keep pace with my schedule. I’ve seen a lot of movies so far that have given me new insights not only into life, but also the art of cinema itself and I can’t wait to share it here. As much as I can, at least. Writing about the movies gives me a good reason to sharpen my rhetoric, or understand my own feelings, or learn how to write better material. Things that I vowed to do before I turned 25 in January. Hopefully I can keep up.