10. “Rocco and His Brothers”, Luchino Visconti (1960)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list

Rocco and His Brothers

Rocco and His Brothers aka Rocco e i suoi fratelli

dir. Luchino Visconti scr. Luchino Visconti, Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Pasquale Festa Campanile, Massimo Franciosa, and Enrico Mediola based on the novel Il ponte della Ghisolfa by Giovanni Testori cin. Giuseppe Rotunno with Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori
Annie Girardot, Katina Paxinou, Spiros Focás, Max Cartier, and Rocco Vidolazzi

In 100 words: Visconti’s masterpiece has the sweep and the social critique of great literature with the emotions and grandeur of opera. Few films can match its silvery pearlescent images, impeccable narrative structure or its rich luscious score. The actors richly tapped into a convincing portrait of a tightly bonded family making compromises and questionable choices. The story is an astonishing take on the moral, spiritual, and effects of capitalism to family structures in post-war Italy. The film also breaks down masculinity in ways that are shockingly grotesque and enraging. Epic, daring, and perfect in so many ways, down to the music. Delon!

Other Movies for Context: Ah Visconti, my favorite lover of excess emotions. I love Senso (1954), his vibrant use of colors are expressive but his characters are all so emotional and love showing them. The Leopard (1963) is often called his best, but I find this one a bit too pompous and a little less discerning.


30. “Le Samouraï”, Jean-Pierre Melville (1967)

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

Le Samourai

Le Samouraï aka The Samurai 

dir. Jean-Pierre Melville scr. Jean-Pierre Melville and Georges Pellegrin cin. Henri Decae with Alain Delon, Francois Perier, Nathalie Delon, Cathy Rosier

In 100 words: Few directors have made such a career out of making relentless nihilism look and feel so chic the way Melville has despite the stark bleakness of his films. Samourai at least provides some emotional underpinnings within its stylish suits, icy colors, and spare designs by showing our assassin bored and disillusioned with his profession. Delon embodies this lonely assassin’s life by betraying some signs of numbness despite his cool nonchalant exterior. Plus, Melville’s meticulous cutting, balletic camera work, and precise staging are stunning: clean and clear, showing the audience when, where, and how things will unfold. Influential without a doubt.

Other Movies for Context: Melville’s fame among avid movie fans have only risen and reached a zenith in the last decade, with the release of his Army of Shadows (1969), a fascinating if unromantic take on the French Resistance during World War II. The only other movie of his I’ve seen is Le Cercle Rouge (1970), which certainly has the distinct Melville cool and the stylish shooting and editing. Great movies, but not necessarily the easiest movies to watch.