Thursday, October 22, 2020

Movie tweets to October 22, 2020 (4 of 4)

 

 

Can you Ever Forgive Me? (2018) – Heller maximizes the story’s crowd-pleasing potential while cultivating an adequate thematic depth

 

Anne-Marie (1936) – Bernard’s beguiling film blends soaring ambitions and earthly affinities, although its gender role rebellion peters out

 

Wild Style (1982) – Ahearn’s film prioritizes multi-faceted, digressive observation over plot, with happily ragged, celebratory results

 

La menace (1977) – Corneau’s (maybe too) cleverly-conceived drama is a bit under-involving, despite plenty of great notions and spectacle

 

Booksmart (2019) – Wilde’s not too funny wild-night comedy feels largely hollow, hermetic and strained, for all its tolerant open-mindedness

 

He Who is Without Sin…(1952) – Matarazzo’s melodrama, immersed in separation and suffering, is grandly watchable, if a bit blandly played

 

Defending Your Life (1991) – probably not Brooks’ conceptually tightest movie, but more than adequately funny and philosophically engaging

 

The Executioner (1963) – Berlanga’s mesmerizingly assured black comedy expertly tightens an economic & moral vice on its overwhelmed victim

 

Sorry to Bother You (2018) – Riley’s uniquely-calibrated satire-and-then-some riffs richly on economic exploitation and cultural degradation

 

Emitai (1971) – Sembene’s highly arresting, clear-sighted, fabulously visualized confrontation of Senegalese culture and malign colonialism

 

Born in Flames (1983) – Borden’s amazing, teeming, defiantly attack-mode vision-collage foresees our failed, big-lie-infused landscape

 

Les portes de la nuit (1946) – Carne’s often lovely (when not over-mythologized) fatalistic drama, rooted in vivid post-Liberation anxiety

 

Museum Hours (2012) – Cohen’s extraordinarily astute, warmly illuminated (but not unshadowed) window on personal and aesthetic engagement

 

Fata Morgana (1971) – timeless myth-spawning magnificence yields to the human stain in Herzog’s rather magnificently opportunistic reverie

 

I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020) – Kaufman’s inspiredly weird expression of the wondrous intimacy & frightening immensity of connection

 

Gate of Hell (1953) – Kinugasa’s famous tragedy is prettily decorative, but its restrained anguish makes a relatively modest impact now

 

The Departed (2006) – Scorsese’s Oscar-winner ranks among his more alienatingly self-contained demonstrations of technical mastery

 

Bambole (1965) – four directors, four hot female stars, and four easy-to-take but mostly forgettable stories of repressed sexuality

 

Widows (2018) – McQueen’s crime drama has intimations of wide-angle, socially astute greatness, unrealized in the climactic narrative flurry

 

Scent of a Woman (1974) – Risi’s original moves along briskly and scenically, but its hectoring, leering notion of charm rapidly wears thin

 

You are Not I (1981) – variously other-worldly and creepily drab, Driver’s short-ish film sets out an implication-infused identity enigma

 

The Old and the New (1929) – Eisenstein’s industrial paean is deliriously vivid and venerating, both transcending and obliterating humanity

 

Dolemite is my Name (2019) – Brewer and Murphy put on a great show, although it’s a bit light both as character study and cultural history

 

Othon (1970) – Straub and Huillet craft a methodical challenge to preconceptions of historical recreation and narrative representation

 

Afterglow (1997) – Rudolph successfully pitches a potentially straightforward romantic melodrama on the heightened edge of absurdity

 

Awaara (1951) – Kapoor’s grand melodrama hits expressively fantastic notes & small, socially critical ones with equally accomplished swagger

 

Suburbicon (2018) – Clooney’s weirdly ungainly blending of unremarkable film noir, toothless satire and bloodless social commentary

 

The Naked Island (1960) – Shindo’s distilled study of barren lives is certainly memorable, despite counterproductive imposed constraints 

 

Empty Suitcases (1980) – Gordon’s mind-filling film feels largely, if not yet entirely, despairing of male-determined cinema & society alike

 

Forza Bastia (1978) – Tati’s rediscovered day-of-the-match footage is nicely observed fun, but real life resists the sublimely Tati-esque

 

The Report (2019) – Burns’ perhaps artfully dullish record plays rather too familiarly, but effectively puts across its multiple outrages

 

Les visiteurs du soir (1942) – Carne’s fantasy of supernatural intervention is rather too heavygoing, despite its alluring narrative folds

 

The Handmaid’s Tale (1990) – Schlondorff’s adaptation collapses into little more than random notions, mostly drained of allegorical force

 

The Purple Taxi (1977) – Boisset’s Irish-set drama appeals for its once in a lifetime cast, but is mostly empty gestures and pronouncements

 

The Sisters Brothers (2018) – Audiard pulls off the genre swagger, but the film’s heart is subtly ironic and ambiguously vulnerable 

 

Burden of Love (1955) – Kawashima’s eye-opening, pregnancy-festooned, progressively issue-laden narrative makes for quite unusual comedy

 

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) – there’s much that lingers, maybe forever, in Scorsese’s calculated interrogation of Biblical cliché

 

Something Different (1963) – Chytilova’s intimately alert study of two female lives, marked by contrasting frustrations and compromises

 

Us (2019) – Peele weaves in some mild metaphorical interest, but overall the film plays much more conventionally & repetitively than Get Out

 

Scorpio (1973) – fairly average international spy games, elevated by the cast, when not hampered by Winner’s very basic cinematic instincts

 

Whisper of the Heart (1995) – Kondo’s happiness-provoking, fantasy-inflected love story, rooted in the interaction of dreams and commitment

 

Broken Blossoms (1919) – Griffith’s sensibility now seems crass on several fronts, but the film’s central melancholy spell somehow endures

 

Cities of Last Things (2018) – Ho’s concept-heavy drama ultimately feels rather too removed, but is impeccably structured and populated

 

Blume in Love (1973) – Mazursky’s delightfully regulated film embraces idealized romanticism all the better for seeing right through it

 

The Shipwrecker (1984) – Buhler’s coolly cerebral engagement with Sterling Hayden sounds more formally interesting than it actually is

 

Pushover (1954) – Quine’s expertly paced and plotted thriller is mostly all surface, but one of consistently devious, voyeuristic pleasures

 

Slack Bay (2016) – Dumont’s class-conscious farce swirls with affectations, peculiarities and taboos, while somehow seeming integrated

 

Walden (1969) – Mekas’ great submergence in a life fully lived and felt, asserting both the specificity and universality of experience

 

Water Lilies (2007) – Sciamma’s quietly enchanting study of personality and desire in formation; of femininity as structured display

 

Saturday Night Fever (1977) – Badham’s strutting classic of sorts, less airy (and more bitingly misogynistic) than the myth might suggest

 

Season of the Devil (2018) – one of Diaz’s more concentrated works, an extended, aching song of loss and grief in the face of brutality

 

Curse of the Cat People (1944) – Lewton’s beautiful evocation of intertwined isolations, marked by captivating play of light and shadow

 

The Invincibles (1994) – Graf’s politically-charged police thriller reaches for grandeur, but lets in too many slack and dilutive elements

 

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) – Carpenter executes his shrewdly absurd siege narrative with the maximum in existentially-charged stylization

 

Nobody’s Daughter Haewon (2013) – with the most finely light-footed seriousness, Hong enmeshes us in shifting internal & external realities

 

Nightfall (1956) – Tourneur’s film travels from urban darkness to open snowy landscapes, powerfully expressing the passage to redemption

 

Revenge (1989) – Shinarbayev’s narrative of grim earthly imperatives, shimmeringly told through poetically unbound structures and images

 

The Caretaker (1963) – Pinter’s inexhaustibly rich and provocative text, more memorable here for the acting than the cinematic realization

 

Everybody Knows (2018) – from a somewhat limited narrative, Farhadi crafts an insinuating portrait of widespread, if well-concealed, rot

 

That’s the Way of the World (1975) – Shore’s record-industry drama (Keitel produces EWF!) has enough substance to transcend curio status

 

La haine (1995) – Kassovitz’s often-inspired lightning-bolt film surveys and sparks multitudes, its ambition in some ways counterproductive

 

Air Raid Wardens (1943) – some standardly enjoyable Laurel and Hardy set-pieces surmount a blandly unaccommodating homefront framework

 

Marriage Story (2019) – Baumbach’s smart film overflows with interesting moves and details, while often feeling too studied at key moments

 

The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (1968) – Straub/Huillet’s beautiful, ethical, exactingly rigorous yet deeply alert historical evocation

 

Parting Glances (1986) – narrative artificiality aside, Sherwood’s classic bearing-of-witness film contains much that’s true and surprising

 

Mexican Bus Ride (1952) – beneath Bunuel’s convivially eventful surface lies a more deliciously biting vein of transgressive calculation

 

First Man (2018) – Chazelle’s most interesting film to date, for its intimate physicality and recessive core, and its surprising absences

 

Baal (1970) – Schlondorff’s Fassbinder-starring Brecht adaptation is rough-hewn, repellent and yet stubbornly, ambiguously insinuating

 

The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981) – Reisz and Pinter’s strategy holds up well, although the risk is consummately minimized throughout

 

Apart from You (1933) – Naruse’s emotionally resonant silent drama surveys a thankless world of gender-based injustice and imposed sacrifice

 

Sightseers (2012) – Wheatley drolly injects bloody murder into the latter-day strained reality of heritage Englishness’ bucolic surface

 

Body of my Enemy (1976) – Verneuil’s brassily enjoyable, focus-shifting clutter of a drama eventually submits to revenge-genre mechanics

 

Da 5 Bloods (2020) – Lee embraces melodrama with relish, as a scaffold for a passionately haunted, digressive survey of unending fracture

 

War and Peace (1966) – whatever its imposed constraints, Bondarchuk’s massive epic is a constant visual and logistical astonishment

 

Requiem for a Dream (2000) – Aronofsky’s awe-inspiring but largely unmoving parade of suffering is the most hypnotic of unwatchable movies

 

The Balloon (1956) – Kawashima’s absorbing family drama sets off understated spiritual searching against harder-edged modern pragmatism

 

Mid90s (2018) – Hill’s film evidences a fine touch with mood, interaction, and implication, although ultimately pulls up a bit short

 

Insiang (1976) – Brocka’s sensationally impactful tale of female oppression and revenge both transcends and deeply reflects its setting

 

Sidewalk Stories (1989) – Lane’s (mostly) silent comedy is cutely conceived, but really no great shakes in any aspect of its execution

 

Lettres d’amour (1942) – Autant-Lara’s romantic farce is deftly enough assembled, but rather passionlessly relentless in its complications

 

Burning Cane (2019) – the remarkable Youmans crafts a broodingly and intuitively coherent, if sometimes overwrought, cultural portrait

 

The Tree of Guernica (1975) – Arrabal’s vision is as much possessed as painterly, but it’s scathingly attuned to war’s corrosive decadence

 

When Pigs Fly (1993) – Driver’s unusual ghost story has beautiful elements, although overall lands more conventionally than her Sleepwalk

 

L’arme a gauche (1965) – a solid enough drama, moving from exoticism to remoteness, but probably Sautet’s least interesting work overall

 

The Old Man & the Gun (2018) – Lowery’s genial, warmly-textured showcase for the cherishable Redford, a film of knowingly small virtues

 

Le marginal (1983) – Deray’s grabbag of set-ups and confrontations, more than capably held together by conviction and attitude (Belmondo!)

 

Drive a Crooked Road (1954) – Quine’s snappily-written (by Blake Edwards) little crime drama, drawing shrewdly on social and sexual envy

 

Only Yesterday (1991) – Takahata’s very sweet expression of a present untidily informed by the past, with its delightfully-conceived ending

 

The Panic in Needle Park (1971) – Schatzberg’s unyielding study of addiction encompasses bleak documentary and disorienting stylization

 

Cosmos (2015) – Zulawski’s fulsomely strange, ever-renewing creation intrigues as cinematic sculpting, while hardly aiming to satisfy

 

Homework (1989) – Kiarostami’s utterly fascinating, formally enveloping testimony on Iran’s education system is humane and quietly ominous

 

The Fallen Idol (1948) – Reed’s spatially engrossing, delicately observed, emotionally scarred drama, hampered by a rushed-seeming ending

 

Noise (2006) – Assayas’ often aurally challenging, always rigorously observed record of spectrum-spanning “art rock festival” performances

 

“Doc” (1971) – Perry’s sparsely eloquent emphasis on frailty and loneliness makes for an unusual, if perhaps overly absent-feeling Western

 

Sophia Antipolis (2018) – Vernier is rapidly becoming a master chronicler of a fractured, confused age, fusing the discovered and imagined

 

The Lineup (1958) – with incisive precision and awareness, Siegel navigates a landscape shot through with malign implication and connection

 

Milou en Mai (1990) – Malle’s fusion of personal and political is pleasant but incompletely realized, seeming to grab at this and that

 

Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) – Haskin’s often handsome concoction intrigues most in its lonely early stages, becoming hokier as it goes on

 

Knife + Heart (2018) – Gonzalez’s rather astonishing fever drama grips and transfixes with every rich, luridly provocative frame and concept

 

The Day of the Locust (1975) – Schlesinger’s adaptation feels by turns overwhelmed and inspired, attaining a distinctively pained blankness

 

Subway (1985) – Besson’s subterranean circus has no shortage of strikingly strutting acts, but it’s hard to care much about most of them

 

The Navigator (1924) – Keaton’s maritime comedy is filled with great gags, although lacks the personalized allure of his very best films

 

Camille Claudel 1915 (2013) – Dumont’s immaculate contrasting of physical and spiritual confinement shimmers with hope and injustice

 

Dark Star (1974) – Carpenter’s beguiling comedic space flick, handled with a perfect blend of disillusioned hokiness and expansive vision

 

Yella (2007) – Petzold immaculately posits modern Germany’s sleek entrepreneurial sheen as an excluded woman’s moment-of-death fantasy

 

Witness for the Prosecution (1957) – Wilder’s hermetic courtroom drama rattles happily along to the big reveal, flush on star charisma

 

Arabian Nights: Volume 3 (2015) – Gomes concludes by easing deeply & beautifully into fundamental (yet myth-tinged) connection & continuity

 

The Appointment (1969) – channeling European art film influences, Lumet creates an interesting if not very substantial romantic enigma

 

Antigone (1992) – with typically exacting precision, Straub/Huillet cause the material to at once recede and (as terrible warning) advance

 

Bonnie Scotland (1935) – a brightly-executed Laurel and Hardy feature, with the amazing pair at their most easefully funny and captivating

 

Golden Exits (2017) – Perry’s relationship study doesn’t hold the attention like his other works, albeit that might sort of be its point

 

L’enfant secret (1979) – Garrel’s study of an eroding relationship is an extraordinary emanation of separate, hurting, fractured cinema

 

Luminous Motion (1998) – Gordon’s astutely disturbing, wonderment-infused weirdo-parable on the stagnating capacity of traditional family

 

Sylvie et le fantome (1946) – Autant-Lara’s film is pure escapism, skillful and delicate, but its artificiality doesn’t approach poetry

 

Suspiria (2018) – Guadagnino lets loose (and then some) with quite amazing results, spawning a gorgeously textured, deeply inhabited vision

 

Docteur Popaul (1972) – a somewhat depressingly leering dark comedy (I suppose) from the well-populated slack end of Chabrol’s oeuvre

 

Cane River (1982) –  even the many imperfections of Jenkins’ rediscovered historically-conscious romance are cherishable and informative

 

Babette Goes to War (1959) – Christian-Jaque’s undistinguished WW2 comedy/drama barely even seems interested in, or really aware of Bardot

 

The Wife (2017) – despite the barnbusting lead performances, Runge’s drama is too tinny and under-powered to leave much of an impact

 

The Incubus (1981) – Hough’s opportunistic, low-conviction horror movie at least has Cassavetes and an allusively intense conclusion

 

Weekend at Dunkirk (1964) – Verneuil’s epic has epic moments to match Nolan’s, linked by muscularly varied incident and moral inquiry

 

Camera Buff (1979) – Kieslowski’s study of cinema as liberator & destroyer relies on relatively easy ironies, but masterfully charted ones

 

A Star is Born (2018) – Cooper’s treatment is well-inhabited and pleasurable, without dispelling the air of anachronism and redundancy

 

Un carnet de bal (1937) – a variedly episodic drama, limited by its artificial premise, elevated by Duvivier’s unerringly attuned control

 

Totally F****ed Up (1993) – Araki’s energetically inquisitive film is a near-hypnotic meeting of stylization and vulnerable authenticity

 

Coup de Grace (1976) – Schlondorff’s undercurrent-heavy Russian civil war drama is visually haunting, yet surely overly distancing

 

Ray Meets Helen (2017) – Rudolph’s comeback film doesn’t play entirely steadily, which generally aids its dreamily distanced peculiarity

 

Montparnasse 19 (1958) – Becker’s portrait of Modigliani is hauntingly pained, although barely explores the specificity of his vision

 

White of the Eye (1987) – Cammell, as weirdly possessed as his protagonist, pushes a conventional narrative toward the primally visionary

 

Un singe en hiver (1962) – a rather peculiar film by the often overlooked Verneuil, but not lacking in thematic ambition and reflectiveness

 

Octavio is Dead! (2018) – Lee hits her stride with the pleasantly-handled gender-fluid interactions, but bogs down in claptrap elsewhere

 

Dead Ringers (1988) – Cronenberg’s insularly concentrated, rather schematic tale exudes uneasy fascination, not least for Irons’ expertise

 

The Dawns here are Quiet (1972) – Rostotskiy’s war drama is strong when immersed in action and setting, weaker in its more fanciful aspects

 

Only One Night (1939) – Molander’s lively but overstated culture-clash drama glaringly underserves its female characters in particular

 

Cameraperson (2016) – Johnson’s emotion-spanning, ethically stimulating, overall riveting tapestry of personal and professional witnessing

 

Manila in the Claws of Light (1975) – Brocka’s utterly vivid and gripping, devastating illumination of a teeming, predatory environment

 

The Watermelon Woman (1996) – Dunye’s unusual, cannily loose-feeling film pleasurably challenges narrative, sexual and canonical norms

 

The Golden Coach (1953) – one happily submits to Renoir’s sumptuous artificiality, while rather missing the connectivity of his finest work

 

Leave no Trace (2018) – Granik’s well-observed, quietly tragic chronicle evokes broader fractures & strangenesses at the core of America

 

The Moment of Truth (1965) – Rosi indelibly records the substance & mystique of bullfighting as glorious, perhaps life force-eroding horror

 

Tucker: the Man and his Dream (1988) – Coppola’s happily indefatigable chronicle feels like rather too much dream and too little real man

 

I Will Walk Like a Crazy Horse (1973) – Arrabal’s fiery, provocative vision is as unbound as its title, yet with a tender, even devout core

 

Eyes, Ears and Throats (2019) – a marvelously assembled collection of restored punk films; likely to set off a weird, irrational longing

 

L’eternel retour (1943) – Cocteau’s boldly winding retelling of classic material is vividly strange & lovely, strongly realized by Delannoy

 

Privilege (1990) – Rainer’s amazing film constantly shifts and pivots, deconstructing itself & much else in serious yet celebratory manner

 

Les mistons (1957) – even in 18 minutes, Truffaut’s nimble, resourceful early short encompasses a range of emotion and life experience

 

The Eyes of Orson Welles (2018) – Cousins’ enthralling letter to Welles analyzes, illuminates, (sometimes) grates, and in no way exhausts

 

L’invenzione di Morel (1974) – Greco’s rather heavily-expressed enigma belongs to a time of cinema as grand concept and physical destination

 

Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) – the central motor of female inspiration remains powerful, although Seidelman allows in too much silliness

 

A Man Vanishes (1967) – the terse initial momentum of Imamura’s investigation rewardingly stalls and spins and semi-surrenders to invention

 

Beast (2017) – a much superior serial killer drama, for Pearce’s deft local observation and its sensitively unconventional characterizations

 

Limite (1931) – Peixoto’s only film is an astounding, inexhaustibly gorgeous flow of water, light, observation, allusion and mystery

 

Jennifer 8 (1992) – Robinson’s drama is appealing when at its more thoughtful, but ultimately all but falls apart in an unseemly rush

 

Bread and Chocolate (1974) – Brusati’s comedy is at times too broad, at others bland, at its best when drawing on exile and dispossession

 

Support the Girls (2018) – Bujalski’s seemingly unassuming film yield layers of piercing, socially and economically indicting observation

 

Till We Meet Again (1955) – Kawashima’s smoothly ambitious but rather restricted melodrama, ultimately marked by poignant unfulfillment

 

Patty Hearst (1988) – Schrader’s artfully evasive study often feels almost narcotized, but his formal intelligence gradually imposes itself

 

Greed in the Sun (1964) – Verneuil’s duel in the desert never acquires much depth, but grips through sustained forceful sun-baked swagger

 

Did you Wonder who Fired the Gun? (2017) – Wilkerson’s dark investigation, driven by a loathing drink of long-festering familial poison

 

Mado (1976) – another fascinating exercise in structure and group dynamics from peak-period Sautet, rich in personal and social implication

 

Girl 6 (1996) – Lee’s representation-preoccupied, intriguingly evasive film of seductive presences built on long-established absences

 

Two People (1945) – Dreyer’s disowned intimate drama feels rushed and inadequately articulated, yet exudes a strange, stark purity

 

Crazy Rich Asians (2018) – Chu’s movie is cannily executed throughout, although the “craziness” is mostly of an opulently oppressive nature

 

Taipei Story (1985) – Yang and Hou’s transfixingly well-rendered study of personal and societal hollowing in the shadow of modernization

 

Peeping Tom (1959) – Powell’s extraordinarily rich, luridly committed expression of cinema as mirror, excavator, lover and destroyer

 

Besieged (1998) – the film has its questionable aspects, but Bertolucci’s quicksilver mastery of cinema remains sensuously thrilling

 

“10” (1979) – probably Edwards’ most study-worthy, self-revealing film, cinematically fascinating & rich in ambiguities (& sure, it’s funny)

 

Home (2008) – Meier crafts a highly memorable family drama, powered by nuanced relationships and a terrifically-visualized overall concept

 

Wild 90 (1968) – Mailer’s confined behavioural experiment doesn’t light too many interesting fires, despite repeatedly pugnacious attempts

 

Mercuriales (2014) – Vernier’s strangely stunning film shifts deftly between multiple states and moods, at once delicate and troubled

 

Hot Biskits (1931) – Williams’ busy all-African-American short comedy prioritizes clean execution over cultural revelation or flavor

 

A Year of the Quiet Sun (1984) – Zanussi’s pain-infused post-war romance follows unusual, searching paths, but never fully takes hold

 

Barry Lyndon (1975) – Kubrick’s inexhaustible historical chronicle negotiates the gloriously palpable and the pervasively unknowable

 

Cold War (2018) – Pawlikowski’s film possesses an immensely graceful economy, spanning epochal life shifts & intimate behavioural mysteries

 

This Sporting Life (1963) – Anderson’s powerfully physical drama explores masculinity both as imposing gift and as uncomprehending curse

 

Daddy Nostalgia (1990) – Tavernier’s quiet surface yields a warm tapestry of actual & figurative separations, of intertwined joys & regrets

 

The War of the Worlds (1953) – Haskin’s vision of overmatched mankind, memorable for its bleakly beautiful, almost reverential images

 

Arabian Nights: Volume 2 (2015) – Gomes’ (relatively) more somberly-rooted second segment is a rich excavation of connection and consequence

 

The Point (1971) – Wolf and Nilsson’s tuneful, sweetly peculiar animation is at once trippy, satirical and, uh, pointedly message-bearing

 

Le monde vivant (2003) – Green’s open-eyed fairy tale emanates delighted conviction, even as it deconstructs and absurdifies itself

 

White Zombie (1932) – Halperin’s Haitian-set grab-bag has its moments,  but lacks for an overall insinuating coherence of tone or vision

 

Burning (2018) – Lee’s quietly glowing masterpiece is a socially resonant cinematic mystery, crossing contrasting states of being and action

 

Return of the Pink Panther (1975) – perhaps the best Clouseau movie, or at least the best synopsis of its strangely contoured universe

 

Rendez-vous (1985) – an extremity-embracing narrative of personal and artistic discovery, held together by Techine’s customary smoothness

 

All Night Long (1962) – Dearden’s jazz-world Othello is mostly just an overwritten curio, but not lacking for musical compensations

 

Kommunisten (2014) – Straub’s repositioning of extracts from past work gently affirms the breadth, beauty & courage of his work with Huillet

 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) – Siegel’s terrific, propulsive narrative contains one of cinema’s great, ever-renewable allegories

 

A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery (2016) – Diaz’s epic voyage of engagement with history and myth, to the limits of understanding and grief

 

Their First Mistake (1932) – among Laurel and Hardy’s strongest and certainly most subtext-heavy shorts; one only wishes it were longer

 

The Stranger (1991) – Ray ends his career on a physically restricted but intellectually engaged note, emphasizing awareness & reconciliation

 

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) – Meyer’s jaw-dropping vision marries chronic superficiality & bizarrely committed, rutting intensity

 

The Love Witch (2017) – a visual, tonal and thematic vision not so much implemented as lusciously exhaled by the iconoclastic Biller

 

Innocence Unprotected (1968) – Makaveyev’s new-film-made-from-an-old-one is a happy but scrupulous assertion of freedom and persistence

 

Hollywood Shuffle (1987) – Townsend’s happily ramshackle, sort-of-groundbreaking, funny-enough stirring of celebration and condemnation

 

Gribiche (1926) – Feyder’s contrasting of working-class spontaneity with deadened moneyed formality remains most formally & tonally pleasing

 

Under the Silver Lake (2018) – Mitchell’s lush, highly fanciful investigation is at once relentlessly revelatory and callowly static

 

Maitresse (1976) – Schroeder provides ample sympathetic provocations, but the film’s broader strategies ultimately ring rather hollow

 

Orlando (1992) – a key reference point in the cinema of gender construction, while also, in Potter’s hands, an exquisitely quizzical romp

 

Memories of Underdevelopment (1968) – an absorbingly cerebral social & personal document by Alea, crafted as near-emblematic art cinema

 

Exhibition (2013) – Hogg positions and repositions our spectatorship with near-eerie assurance within her remarkable installation-like film

 

Welcome Mr. Marshall! (1953) – Berlanga’s kowtowing-to-the-Yanks comedy has a few satirical highlights amid a lot of heavy foot-dragging drama

 

Kiss Me Goodbye (1982) – Mulligan’s feeble comedy is inexplicably bland, showing little affinity for or curiosity in its ghostly premise

 

Wildwechsel (1973) – Fassbinder’s “jail bait” drama may be one of his more conventional provocations, but no less bitingly executed

 

BlackKklansman (2018) – a secondary Lee work, most valuable & piercing when least constrained by the often rather plainly executed narrative

 

The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (1939) – Mizoguchi’s exquisite tragic love story contrasts formal performance and besieged intimacy

 

Crooklyn (1994) – Lee’s family chronicle has modest but well-realized ambitions, illustrating his capacity for warmly lived-in observation

 

Nausicaa (1970) – Varda’s overlooked collage of Grecian mythologies & realities fulfillingly spans the didactic, bizarre, personal & poetic

 

Krisha (2015) – in its searing balance of naturalism & formal audacity, Shults’ perspective on familial trauma may well prove unforgettable

 

Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959) – Dutt’s last directorial work is hauntingly bleak, almost seeming as a prophesy of looming self-obliteration

 

Popeye (1980) – Altman’s strange, attractively visualized project shrouds its “entertainment” in self-absorbed, semi-penetrable mystery

 

La ronde (1964) – Vadim’s version is handsomely mounted, elegantly amused and quite enjoyably played, but the interest gradually deflates

 

The Death of Stalin (2018) – Iannucci’s expertly-stylized absurdist patina serves to darkly accentuate the underlying moral emptiness

 

Beaubourg (1977) – Rossellini’s last film explores the Pompidou Centre with classical grace, prioritizing observation over deconstruction

 

The Comfort of Strangers (1990) – Schrader extracts every drop of archly twisted beauty from the story, but it still doesn’t amount to much

 

La Marseillaise (1938) – Renoir’s approach to history, encompassing both grand spectacle and easy intimacy, remains quietly radical

 

Archipelago (2010) – probably Hogg’s least vital work to date, but nevertheless one of grippingly impressive empathy and controlled tension

 

Badou Boy (1970) – Mambety’s dizzying short, at once a deeply-rooted celebration and a radical deconstruction, all but overwhelms the senses

 

Escape from New York (1981) – one wishes Carpenter’s smartly hokey drama spent less time on escaping, more on relishing its bizarro New York

 

Tales of Ginza (1955) – Kawashima’s ambitiously genre and tone-spanning melodrama gets rather weighed down with complications and oddities

 

Private Life (2018) – Jenkins’ bitterly humorous chronicle is compelling and existentially charged, although perhaps rather too mannered

 

Sanjuro (1962) – Kurosawa’s more tightly-conceived extension of Yojimbo makes for a narratively and tonally rather repetitive experience

 

Prospero’s Books (1991) – an astonishing Tempest, magicked at the peak of Greenaway’s daunting textual, imaginative & organizational powers

 

Les choses de la vie (1970) – Sautet’s film grips for its structural and logistical panache, while feeling underachieved as character study

 

Stinking Heaven (2015) – Silver’s impressively harrowing yet withholding study of the promises and agonizing limits of idealized community

 

The Passionate Friends (1949) – a most repressed form of passion, and somewhat of filmmaking, but certainly elevated by Lean’s precision

 

Police Story 2 (1988) – as enjoyable for Chan’s unforced geniality as for its near-exhausting-to-watch, somehow noble technical prowess

 

The Shootist (1976) – Wayne’s aptly final film is hard to resist, even if Siegel pushes the themes and conflicts rather too thickly

 

Shoplifters (2018) – with consummate skill, Koreeda crafts a fresh and fully-realized, complexly layered perspective on family and morality

 

Time Without Pity (1957) – Losey suffuses his race-against-time drama in sufficient pained emotion to push through the many deficiencies

 

Unknown Pleasures (2002) – Jia hauntingly channels China’s confusing evolution, the desultory personal vacuums within its modernity

 

Night Must Fall (1964) – Reisz and Finney both dissect and relish in the unpleasant material, leaving one both impressed and dissatisfied

 

Arabian Nights: Volume 1 (2015) – Gomes’ trilogy comes rapidly to colourful, rabble-rousing life, triumphantly spanning the unspannable 

 

Idaho Transfer (1973) – Fonda’s laid-back, evasive time travel fantasy has a nice angle on the slow extinguishment of youthful idealism

 

The Last Battle (1983) – Besson’s future-world showdown is basically thin and unedifying stuff, although kitted out with some style

 

Verdict: Not Guilty (1933) – the Gists’ vision of heavenly judgment is severely (if a bit shakily) yet tangibly and redemptively realized

 

Atlantique (2019) – Diop’s wonderful film is entirely fresh and alert, and yet with the sense of inevitable, eternally-returning myth

 

Jubilee (1978) – Jarman’s fabulous, visually and aurally full-to-bursting, sexually liberated punk fantasia both condemns and commemorates

 

The Juniper Tree (1990) – Keene’s tale of witchcraft and isolation makes for thin cinematic poetry, memorable only in lonely spurts

 

Sapphire (1959) – Dearden’s vivid, racially charged investigation both challenges and embodies a plethora of prejudices and assumptions

 

Bitter Money (2016) – Wang’s grave observation of modern China, tracking flickers of human individuality in an oppressive industrial machine

 

Staircase (1969) – Donen’s tedious, inadequately empathetic study of an aging gay couple seems poorly implemented by almost any measure

 

O Fantasma (2000) – Rodrigues’ amazing nocturnal vision of restless sexuality and desire drifts into a leather-clad feral wasteland

 

Female Trouble (1974) – below Waters’ delirious, tear-it-down odyssey may lie an empathetic dissection of the social construct of femininity

 

I Am Not a Witch (2017) – Nyoni’s film teems with well-observed visual and cultural astonishments, while often feeling somewhat held back

 

Moonrise (1948) – Borzage’s wondrously calibrated drama, possessed of haunting visual and narrative articulacy and expressive delicacy

 

Angst (1983) – Kargl’s close-up study of a startlingly vivid killer resists any sort of embrace, but is too smart and distinctive to dismiss

 

Maidstone (1970) – Mailer’s pugnacious patchwork of heightened “reality” is a highly of-its-time tumble of limitations and liberations

 

Border (2018) – Abbasi’s seriously strange, disquieting, multiple-boundary-exploring film is seeped in moral allusions and challenges

 

The Scapegoat (1959) – Hamer’s story of switched identities is entertaining enough, but feels overly formal and superficially inhabited

 

Petits freres (1999) – Doillon’s eventful picture of near-lawless youth is often depressing, ultimately hopeful (not entirely convincingly)

 

Harper (1966) – Smight’s attitude-heavy private eye flick is smoothly handled and spikily written, but the cynicism digs merely tan-deep

 

La Sapienza (2014) – Green’s wondrously distinct film nurtures a wryly life-, light-- and love-asserting core within its formal trappings 

 

Black Jack (1979) – Loach’s often grimly-anchored adventure yarn prioritizes its extraordinary period flavour over easy narrative momentum

 

The Death of Empedocles (1986) – Straub/Huillet’s text-heavy, formally rigorous performance work is strangely beautiful, even transcendent

 

Putting Pants on Philip (1927) – a formative Laurel & Hardy work with a breezy air of communal engagement, and a priapically energized Stan

 

L for Leisure (2014) – Kalman/Horn’s smartly evasive reflection on non-work, as multi-faceted institution and dreamy semi-glimpsed gateway

 

Suzaki Paradise Red Light (1956) – Kawashima’s study of marginal lives, both facilitated and slightly limited by its tolerant incisiveness

 

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988) – Kaufman’s adaptation is in too many ways titillating and posturing, rather than investigative

 

Yojimbo (1961) – Kurosawa’s sly action film is masterfully visualized and structurally striking, but hollower than one wishes of a classic

 

Eighth Grade (2018) – not that I would know, but Burnham’s well-modulated study feels authentically, often excruciatingly tuned-in

 

Joi Baba Felunath (1979) – Ray’s easygoing, scenic detective story is a knowingly minor work, defined mainly by relaxed interactions

 

Dave Chappelle’s Block Party (2006) – there may be times when Gondry’s happy record is just exactly what you need (and, wow, Erykah Badu!)

 

La grande illusion (1937) – a Renoir masterpiece, holding myriad complexities and subtleties in almost mystically perfect equilibrium

 

Dark River (2017) – Barnard’s drama builds Gothic elements onto naturalistic observation, impacting a little less than her earlier work

 

L’homme en colere (1979) – Pinoteau’s very basic action picture is at once slapdash & unimaginative, with minor time-capsule compensations

 

Yentl (1983) – Streisand’s musical has an enterprising core, self-regardingly wrapped in oblivious timidity and sterile handsomeness 

 

Secrets of Women (1952) – Bergman’s series of variously flat or overdone vignettes presages the smiles of later, more fully-achieved works

 

The Kindergarten Teacher (2018) – Colangelo’s unusually unsettling drama, rooted in distorted idealism, anchored by a sensational Gyllenhaal

 

Viva l’Italia (1961) – a Garibaldi film of ample grand spectacle, anchored by Rossellini’s unforced, probing approach to recreating history

 

Jackie Brown (1997) – one of Tarantino’s most conceptually restrained, pleasurably observed and seasoned, and treasurably cast films

 

Serie noire (1979) – Corneau injects a brilliantly unbound Dewaere into the drabbest of crime film milieus, with fine & distinctive results

 

Sun Don’t Shine (2012) – Seimetz’s fine, hauntingly fraught character study, built on genre-displaced noir-ish motivations and anxieties

 

Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family (1941) – Ozu’s semi-precursor to Tokyo Story calmly excavates familial faultlines and hypocrisies

 

Hide in Plain Sight (1980) – Caan’s only directorial credit has some decent feeling and observation, but is rather too narratively sketchy

 

Un flic (1972) – Melville’s notionally rather unambitious last film moves further toward wordless abstraction, as if to a vanishing point

 

Don’t Worry, he Won’t Get Far on Foot (2018) – Van Sant drowns his film in group therapy tedium, barely cracking Callahan’s artistic engine

 

Robinson Crusoe (1954) – a diverting and colourful telling of the tale, particularly when most gripped by Bunuel’s expressive capacity

 

Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (1992) – Harris’ portrait is spikily exuberant, emotionally compelling and smartly politically charged

 

Barrier (1966) – the remarkable Skolimowski charts a disorienting, almost hallucinatory path through troubled personal & societal landscapes

 

The Selfish Giant (2013) – Barnard’s powerful drama is painfully true to its deeply challenged community, yet not without a troubling beauty

 

The Cage (1975) – Granier-Deferre’s confinement drama plays its modest cards pretty strongly, all the way to an oddly satisfying ending

 

Near Dark (1987) – if not Bigelow’s best film, maybe the one you’d rescue first from the sunrise inferno, for its confident genre swagger

 

Der var engang (1922) – an incompletely surviving Dreyer work, of limited thematic interest, but not without feeling and expressive gravity

 

Annihilation (2018) – Garland’s film grips as a creepily insinuating allegory of environmental weirding, less so in its overdrawn specifics

 

Vincent, Francois, Paul…(1974) – an engaging study of weary male life passages, typifying Sautet’s structural and observational subtlety

 

Blow Out (1981) – a classic de Palma set-up, finding a relative integrity in disreputable material, and a terrible kind of commemoration

 

Pyaasa (1957) – Dutt’s finely-expressed melodrama, an emotionally unwavering elevation of artistic purity over money-grabbing venality

 

Hello Again (2017) – a valuable, generally pleasant record of LaChiusa’s great musical, if more jarring and less unified than would be ideal

 

Mickey One (1965) – a mesmerizingly observed yet wildly unbound existential mystery, as Penn and Beatty accelerate into their great periods

 

Goodbye South, Goodbye (1996) – Hou’s enveloping study of inter-dependence in the midst of distance – from past roots and present paradigms

 

The Ritz (1976) – Lester’s film, in concept a liberatingly open-minded breathless farce, in practice makes for rather tedious viewing

 

Shirkers (2018) – Tan places her long-lost movie within a lightly reflective quasi-detective story, to colourful and mostly pleasing effect

 

Man’s Castle (1933) – its somewhat insipidly conceived heroine aside, Borzage’s love story is delicately observed and often spikily funny

 

Swann in Love (1984) – Schlondorff’s Proust adaptation is meticulously considered, but it barely breathes or bleeds or bites or evokes

 

The Duelists (1977) – Scott’s episodic debut has plenty of actorly and pictorial interest, but never pierces very deeply, even less wounds

 

Sicilian Ghost Story (2017) – Grassadonia and Piazza’s absorbingly unusual negotiation between grim reality and liberating dream-life

 

Room at the Top (1959) – Clayton’s intensely class and power-conscious drama feels overwrought now, but it retains an elemental basic force

 

Mysterious Object at Noon (2000) – Weerasethakul’s film is at once intimate and limitless, wondrously invented while patiently unearthed

 

The Maidens of Fetish Street (1966) – Resnick’s string of grubby fantasies is fitfully semi-persuasive as a quasi-poetic essay on obsession

 

Tricked (2012) – Verhoeven’s brightly-executed, only modestly biting drama hardly evidences the flaunted innovation of its creative process

 

Lost Horizon (1973) – Jarrott’s famous flop isn’t so difficult to get through, but has only superficial beauty & little artistic coherence

 

Police Story (1985) – even for non-genre-aficionados, Chan’s breathlessly uplifting action-farce is impressively conceived and executed

 

Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940) – Taurog’s super-smooth Astaire-Powell teaming is among the most blissful of musicals, non-auteur division

 

Girl (2018) – Dhont’s absorbing transgender portrait balances reticence and exactitude, marked by intense attention to fragile physicality

 

Claudine (1974) – Berry’s small classic explores edge-of-its-tether black working class culture with rambunctious, almost radical frankness

 

Workers, Peasants (2001) – Straub/Huillet’s mysteriously perfect meeting of form and content, infused with the dignity of human endeavour

 

The Son of Joseph (2016) – Green deploys his uniquely-honed aesthetic strategies to perhaps their loveliest, warmest and funniest ends 

 

The Savage Innocents (1960) – Ray’s polar drama has an authentic core, but it’s often barely visible through the glaring, grating weaknesses

 

La nuit de Varennes (1982) – Scola’s expansively-conceived, pedagogically-minded French Revolution mash-up is a great, garrulous ride

 

The Long Good Friday (1979) – Mackenzie’s in-the-zone gangster drama piles strength upon strength, while overstating its thematic case a bit

 

High Flying Bird (2019) – Soderbergh gives the film a steely, probing intelligence, but it remains overly artificial and under-involving

 

Destiny (1921) – Lang’s mythology- & magic-heavy tale is most impactful now when anticipating later, more concentrated Langian conspiracies

 

Streamers (1983) – Altman’s incisive Rabe adaptation slices into the inherently unstable, desire-suppressing theatre of the military

 

Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (1978) – Blier’s relentlessly transgression-laden comedy feels at once fully achieved and largely affectless

 

First Reformed (2018) – Schrader’s agonized drama is at once significantly overstated, even crass, and yet rather magnificently rendered

 

Queimada! (1969) – Pontecorvo’s vivid drama of revolution and colonial meddling is problematic and bumpy, but always grandly provocative

 

Freeway (1996) – mythic echoes count for little in Bright’s enjoyably disreputable B-movie, enlivened by Witherspoon in her best ever mode

 

Razzia sur la chnouf (1955) – Decoin’s atmospheric drug-trade expose teems with character & incident, tersely anchored by the imposing Gabin

 

Lucky (2017) – Lynch constructs a fine late showcase for Stanton, lightly seasoned with philosophical investigations & existential mysteries

 

Viaggio con Anita (1979) – Monicelli’s murky, often attitudinally ugly comedy lurches arbitrarily along, wasting a displaced Hawn

 

Prince of the City (1981) – Lumet’s exactingly subtle study slowly exposes its initial exultation as an ethically untethered illusion

 

A Mother Should be Loved (1934) – even in incomplete surviving form, Ozu’s silent film is emotionally compelling and visually eloquent

 

Tully (2018) – Reitman and Cody’s study of motherhood is well-observed and empathetic and also utterly misconceived, in roughly equal parts

 

L’emmerdeur (1973) – Molinaro doesn’t offer much beyond briskness and a quirky casting pairing, but it still beats Wilder’s leaden remake

 

Funny Ha Ha (2002) – Bujalski perfectly channels a generation’s faltering adulthood, with the film’s modest means reflecting its milieu

 

Love in the City (1953) – a valuably auteur-heavy docu-fiction compilation, much more socially & existentially bleak than the title suggests

 

Submergence (2017) – Wenders’ strained narrative mostly fails to productively interrogate or stimulate, even less to create cinematic poetry

 

The Rite (1969) – Bergman’s study of art and authority in conflict is somewhat overstated and grotesque, and yet comprehensively stunning

 

The Falcon and the Snowman (1985) – Schlesinger’s spy drama is smoothly executed, but rather too politically and emotionally lightweight

 

Toute une vie (1974) – Lelouch’s romantic epic expands outward with hypnotically vast ambition, at the cost of a recurring emptiness

 

The Dressmaker (2015) – a borderline-gratingly eccentric patchwork, consistently well-stitched by Moorhouse, but with skin-deep impact

 

De Mayerling a Sarajevo (1940) – an unusual Ophuls work in its mesh of ominous political specificity and elegantly timeless romanticism

 

Barton Fink (1991) – the Coens’ painstaking, gusto-infused, yet largely affectless vision of Hollywood as (at least) existential purgatory

 

Une histoire simple (1978) – Sautet’s empathetic, anxiety-attuned study is appealing, but less striking than his propulsive genre work

 

The Rider (2017) – Zhao’s gloriously considered and observed film engages uniquely with damaged masculinity and compromised sense of purpose

 

Le cave se rebiffe (1961) – Grainger’s counterfeiter drama, entirely typical of late Gabin, plays pretty well if hardly too distinctively

 

Sophie’s Choice (1982) – despite its “classic” elements, Pakula’s reverent but mis-weighted adaptation is among his less impressive films

 

Le notti di Cabiria (1957) – for all its heavy pathos, one willingly yields by now to the contours of Fellini’s film as those of a classic

 

Ready Player One (2018) – Spielberg notionally asserts the primacy of reality, while rejecting it with dazzlingly kinetic repetitiveness

 

Sextette (1977) – an astounding concoction, hardly lacking in bizarro interest, “directed” by Hughes with a sense of despairing hopelessness

 

And Life Goes On (1992) – Kiarostami’s journey through extreme human resilience exemplifies his masterly, expansively interrogative method

 

Bed of Roses (1933) – La Cava’s girls-on-the-make comedy packs plenty of plot, but gets flatter and less snappy as the girls get gooder

 

Western (2017) – Grisebach’s well-observed study of cross-cultural aspirations and realities, richly lodged in the folds of modern Europe

 

The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) – Taylor’s no-dawdling adaptation doesn’t have much individuality, nor much relish for the sheer weirdness

 

A Short Film About Killing (1988) – a promise chillingly kept: Kieslowski achieves a multi-faceted, if knowingly circumscribed perfection

 

Oh…Rosalinda!! (1955) – for all its formal excellence, Powell and Pressburger’s late musical too often feels rather distant and academic

 

Bergman Island (2004) – Nyrerod’s satisfyingly frank, often poignant (if highly selective) portrait of a filmic lion in isolated winter

 

Guns of the Trees (1961) – Mekas’ incompletely realized (as acknowledged) debut is nonetheless productively strange, whimsical and engaged

 

Tabu (2012) – Gomes’ singularly surprising film, in which classical cinematic dream-making  emerges from artful contemporary complexity

 

Cuba (1979) – Lester’s romance-infused drama veers from knowing classicism into uninvolving artificiality, despite many interesting elements

 

The Emperor of Peru (1982) – a pretty enjoyable kid-friendly fantasy, especially when Arrabal brings the subdued peculiarity to the fore

 

Sergeant York (1941) – among the least Hawksian and most conventionally emotion-stoking of Hawks films, but not entirely unmoving

 

Let the Girls Play (2018) – Hallard’s breezy film prioritizes bright & easy narrative, at the cost of much deeper engagement or illumination

 

Sunday too Far Away (1975) – Hannam’s study of the sheep-shearing life is modest in most respects, but always anthropologically interesting

 

Le pont des arts (2004) – Green’s beautiful expression of art’s transcendent, connective possibilities, and the associated earthly threats

 

Cool Hand Luke (1967) – the rebellion in Rosenberg’s drama is mainly skin-deep, albeit very charismatic, glisteningly photographed skin

 

A Useful Life (2010) – Veiroj’s study of enforced transition is nicely done throughout, with particular resonance for aging cineastes (hi!)

 

To Catch a Thief (1955) – Hitchcock’s mostly shallow distraction often pushes scenic sophistication into the realm of pure abstraction

 

Class Relations (1984) – Straub/Huillet’s stark vision of a serially enmeshing, subjugating America is among their most powerful works

 

Get Carter (1971) – Hodges’ gangster classic is a hard-to-look-away negotiation between cold-eyed genre swagger and locally-rooted grit

 

La pelicula infinita (2018) – Listorti’s compilation taps into what might be cinema’s secret dream, of becoming pure Lynchian conspiracy

 

Swiss Miss (1938) – worth it for Laurel, Hardy, the St. Bernard and the piano, despite the dull setting and stodgy wraparound material

 

Benny’s Video (1992) – Haneke’s ambiguous fable of technology-fueled deterioration is effective but limited as both diagnosis and prophecy

 

The Hot Rock (1972) – Yates’ film may be the epitome of the undemandingly creative, pleasantly acted, un-bothersomely weightless caper flick

 

The Man from Nowhere (2010) – Lee’s pitting of enigmatic protagonist against the sleazy world is muscularly stylish, but mostly unmoving

 

Satan in High Heels (1962) – Intrator’s melodrama spins its wheels for much of the time, seldom living up to the title’s sleazy promise

 

True Stories (1986) – Byrne’s eye-filling journey through puzzlin’ modern-day evidence and fancy is one of the great cinematic one-offs

 

Wild Strawberries (1957) – among Bergman’s most classically impeccable, all-seeing studies, less disquieting than his later savage peaks

 

You Were Never Really Here (2017) – Ramsay’s striking but minor film infuses low-grade melodrama with dark texture & traumatic implication

 

Un papillon sur l’epaule (1978) – Deray’s enjoyable journey of conspiracy-tinged bemusement, toward an arrival point of limited clarity

 

Bottle Rocket (1996) – Anderson’s uncannily out-of-the-box-Andersonian debut is a happy string of variously peculiar, absurd & sweet notions

 

Antoine et Antoinette (1947) – Becker impeccably ventilates his sweetly simple narrative with a bustling wealth of flavorful observation

 

Isle of Dogs (2018) – eccentric material even for Anderson, laying on layers of oddity and separation with happy, beguiling hermeticism

 

The Ear (1970) – Kachyna’s fluently uneasy exploration of a toxic marriage, backgrounded by pervasive state-driven insecurity & infiltration

 

See You in the Morning (1989) – Pakula’s interesting but rather too aridly analytical exploration of modern familial infrastructure

 

The Sicilian Clan (1969) – given the great trio of stars, it’s a pity Verneuil’s crime epic isn’t more tonally and thematically striking

 

Darkest Hour (2017) – it feels like such overly- polished & -orchestrated slabs of history should have run their course, but apparently not

 

Archimede, le clochard (1959) – hardly a demanding work, but lifted by its verbal ornateness and by Grangier’s loose, unfussy handling

 

Babylon (1980) – Rosso’s electrifying portrait of community, in all its exuberant complexity, transcendent aspiration and besieged reality

 

Max et les ferrailleurs (1971) – Sautet’s drama drives home its strong premise, within a rich observance of contrasting tones & moralities

 

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) – the Coens’ beautifully-judged, existentially-charged journey along the Western-genre spectrum of doom

 

The President (1919) – Dreyer’s penetrating drama of transgression and guilt, well-attuned to recurring patriarchal arrogance and injustice

 

Career Girls (1997) – simple and yet increasingly expansive, even mystical, Leigh enjoyably explores the complicated energies of friendship

 

Le voleur de crimes (1969) – Trintignant’s tale of proud self-obliteration is a bit too slight, for all its sustained eccentric intensity

 

Disobedience (2017) – Lelio appears almost eerily attuned to the material & milieu, creating a consistently, observantly subtle experience

 

Car Wash (1976) – even when embracing dumbness, Schultz’s comedy has winning interactions and a persistent feeling for societal currents

 

L’infant de l’hiver (1989) – early but quite assured Assayas work shows his feeling for emotional structures, if not yet fully inhabited

 

The Lost Weekend (1945) – Wilder’s literately wrenching drama is hardly uninteresting, but now seems over-emphatic in many respects

 

The Dreamed Path (2016) – Beckermann contrasts conversations between generations, crafting an alluring sense of communion across them

 

Unman, Wittering & Zigo (1971) – Mackenzie’s drama of British public school malevolence: no If, but effective on its own off-putting terms

 

Deep Crimson (1996) – Ripstein gives the macabre story an effective if limited air of twisted vulnerability and lurking deep-black comedy

 

A Countess from Hong Kong (1967) – Chaplin’s last film is hardly a success, but may be grudgingly admired for its stubborn artificiality

 

Stray Dogs (2013) – Tsai’s film is persistently, hauntingly touching and connective, despite its unique, withholding strangeness 

 

China Gate (1957) – Fuller’s artifice-transcending Apocalypse Now-like quest digs deeply & rawly into racial prejudice & political ambiguity

 

L’oeuvre au noir (1988) – Delvaux’s Inquisition-era drama leavens its prevailing studious gravity with idiosyncratic inquiry & observation

 

The Fury (1978) – the film bursts with sensational De Palma sequences, while ultimately seeming perplexingly unworthy of his attention

 

Black Tide (2018) – Zonka’s no-one-is-innocent police drama is pretty effective, despite its ample doses of hamminess and overstatement

 

The Music Box (1932) – a reliable delight for Stan and Ollie’s beautifully textured interplay, although this isn’t its richest expression

 

Farewell, Babylon! (1993) – out of not that much, Arrabal spins a mostly diverting, happily eccentric quasi-narrative (and time capsule)

 

Thank God it’s Friday (1978) – Klane’s sanitized, inoffensive diversion offers prototypical character antics and credits-to-credits disco

 

Visages villages (2017) – Varda and JR’s enchanting, sweetly poignant journey overflows with productive, respectful engagement and invention

 

House on Bare Mountain (1962) – Frost brings some real zest to his nudie-centric narrative, but it’s unfortunately only minimally infectious

 

Too Early/Too Late (1982) – Straub/Huillet’s impeccably measured indictment of capitalism’s crushing of natural dignity, agency and beauty

 

Stalag 17 (1953) – Wilder’s blend of dark drama and dumb comedy is well-paced and -calculated rather to the point of alienating coldness

 

Au poste! (2018) – Dupieux’s amiably goofy police-interrogation comedy playfully and unpredictably interrogates its own form and content

 

The Skin Game (1931) – a dated but still quite biting tale of conflicting values and prejudices, lifted by the odd Hitchcockian flourish

 

Mala noche (1986) – Van Sant’s first feature is perhaps still his most personally expressed, emotionally frank & sociologically interesting

 

Les naufragés de l'île de la Tortue (1976) – Rozier’s singular comedy celebrates openness to chance and discovery, in life and (and as) art

 

The Post (2017) – a softly conventional treatment of the material by any measure, but Spielberg certainly runs a polished, assured show

 

Paw (1959) – Henning-Jensen’s tale of a “boy of two worlds” is scenically pleasurable, while depending on simplistic cultural oppositions

 

Hammett (1982) – Wenders navigates fluidly within conventions and ambiguities, at once objectively distanced and seductively enmeshed

 

Profound Desires of the Gods (1968) – a compelling provocation, for all Imamura’s calculated drawing on primitivism and transgression

 

The 15:17 to Paris (2018) – Eastwood’s intriguingly experimental take on the material roots the heroism in extreme unadorned ordinariness

 

The Old Gun (1975) – Enrico discomfitingly steers from honorably anguished evocation of war to near exploitation-genre-type vengeance

 

Water (1985) – Clement’s cluttered colonial farce hits wanly at easy political targets, entirely ignoring the real tragedy of its premise

 

The Song of Home (1925) – Mizoguchi’s somewhat schematic and inevitably ragged early film already shows his deep feeling and individualism

 

Film Stars don’t die in Liverpool (2017) – McGuigan’s appealing but minor historical footnote lacks much sense of faded Hollywood glamour

 

Pravda (1970) – viewed at a time of brutally ascendant capitalism, the Vertov Group’s rather plaintive seriousness becomes reinvigorated

 

Fort Apache the Bronx (1981) – Petrie’s focus-shifting, episodically-ambitious cop drama ultimately lacks authorial strength and flavour

 

Days of Hate (1954) – Nilsson’s concise tale of an obsessed woman carries a pervasive oneiric quality, creating its own unsettling texture

 

Female Human Animal (2018) – Appignanesi constructs an absorbing, informatively provocative investigation, although not without missteps

 

Melodie en sous-sol (1963) – Verneuil’s unhurried handling & some nifty moves lift the caper mechanics, and then there’s also Delon & Gabin

 

How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989) – Robinson’s very patchy & unsatisfactory film does retain shards of eloquence & conceptual grandeur

 

Le maître-nageur (1979) – Trintignant’s weirdo satire is dotted with piercing moments, within an uncompromisingly whimsical overall scheme

 

Phantom Thread (2017) – Anderson thrillingly evokes a hermetic creative world, in all its nuanced glory and seeping underlying instability

 

Goupi mains rouges (1943) – Becker’s bustling story of familial conflicts, evidencing all his supple mastery with character and incident

 

Permanent Vacation (1980) – a lonely study, modest in scope and in resources, but satisfactorily equipped with emerging Jarmuschian attitude

 

Le secret (1974) – Enrico’s intriguingly enigmatic if not ultimately too illuminating drama, drawing deeply on charismatic star presence

 

22 July (2018) – Greengrass’ reverent recreation is as solid as expected, but tends toward over-conventionality in its tone and focus

 

La casa del angel (1957) – Nilsson’s atmospheric study of emerging sexuality, beautifully poised between innocence, repression and menace

 

Heathers (1988) – Lehmann’s multi-kind-of-iconic, black-as-death-and-then-some, parody-transcending comedy still surprises and impresses

 

Classe tous risques (1960) – Sautet puts across the packed narrative with the optimum meeting of pacey toughness and immersed sensitivity

 

Molly’s Game (2017) – Sorkin’s mannered skill verges by now on grating self-parody, generating a pointless, uninterestingly proficient film

 

Craig’s Wife (1936) – Arzner’s condensed drama of a woman’s unraveling, filled with precise observation and wide-reaching social implication

 

Cure (1997) – with quietly creeping mastery, Kurosawa extends his terrific genre premise into broader implication and destabilization

 

The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979) – Alda and Schatzberg’s genteel calibrations and contrasts go down too soothingly to matter much now

 

Amour fou (2014) – Hausner transfixingly crafts a highly-poised, allusive reflection on freedom and its personal and societal ambiguities

 

Shadows (1959) – from the start, Cassavetes was the greatest & coolest of behavioral choreographers & investigators, also of shit disturbers

 

A Short Film about Love (1988) – a shivery prison of a film, but conceived and executed by Kieslowski with almost breathtaking exactitude

 

Charlie Bubbles (1968) – Finney’s one film as director is both formally striking and pensively authentic, if ultimately overly elusive

 

Roma (2018) – Cuaron’s grandly (almost disquietingly) well-achieved evocation, marked by shimmering observation and stunning set-pieces

 

Renaldo and Clara (1978) – Dylan wraps his Rolling Thunder tour record in wryly messy observation and wistfully eccentric playacting

 

Alexandria Again and Forever (1989) – Chahine’s full-blooded, politically charged outburst, overwhelmed by endless self-mythologizing

 

Cops (1922) – Keaton and Cline’s priceless short ranks among the most fluently and elegantly unbroken twenty minutes of comedy on film

 

120 battements par minute (2017) – Campillo’s essential, perfectly-calibrated memoir of Act Up - Paris is galvanizing and heartbreaking

 

The Late Show (1977) – the (forced) Carney/Tomlin teaming only partially elevates the prevailing ordinariness of Benton’s comedic film noir

 

Palermo Shooting (2008) – Wenders’ citing of Bergman & Antonioni only confirms his own film’s gimmicky, if proficiently explored, hollowness

 

Dementia (1955) – Parker’s sinisterly sleazy vision is a striking, if ultimately rather hollow assembly of troubled surfaces and notions

 

Senoritas (2013) – Rodriguez’s observation of a young woman balances intimacy & isolation, connectivity & anomie, revelation & unknowability

 

Kaleidoscope (1966) – Smight’s low-impact caper illustrates Beatty’s oddly recurring career-long affinity to flat, undemanding material

 

La balance (1982) – Swaim’s multi-faceted crime drama is skillful but not really genre-defying, rendering its stature rather mysterious

 

The Wrath of God (1972) – Nelson’s rambunctious movie is mostly notions and affectations, devoid of any Peckinpah-like coalescing spirit

 

A Fantastic Woman (2017) – a few grace notes aside, Lelio’s film draws its strength from sympathetic dignity rather than radicalism

 

The Flying Deuces (1939) – an enjoyably rickety Laurel and Hardy feature, with a peculiarly (ultimately nuttily) morbid underlying streak

 

The Voice of the Moon (1990) – Fellini’s last film doesn’t lack for characteristic flourishes, but seldom fully galvanizes or inspires

 

Bloodbrothers (1978) – Mulligan doesn’t seem ideally attuned to the boisterous material, although it’s dotted with searching moments

 

Patience (after Sebald) (2012) – Gee’s superbly-crafted essay film is at once dramatization, elucidation, extrapolation and pilgrimage

 

Little Peach (1958) – Naruse immerses himself deeply, often rawly, into the grind of marriage; as a woman’s choice, and as her subjugation

 

Finders Keepers (1984) – Lester’s breathless comedy is a relative marvel of pacing and organization, but one of pretty hollow consequence

 

Du rififi a Paname (1966) – given the raw elements (Gabin vs Raft!), de La Patelliere’s international crime mishmash is pretty underwhelming

 

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) – McDonagh’s largely grotesque contrivance should have been shunned more than lauded

 

Du cote d’Orouet (1971) – beneath its easy pleasures, Rozier’s understated film explores under-examined lives & the institution of leisure

 

Scrubbers (1982) – Zetterling’s raucously humane study of female confinement, with an almost Kubrickian attunement to visionary strangeness

 

La petite Lise (1930) – Gremillon’s drama is suffused in fatalistic brooding, with sequences of intense, almost disembodied physicality

 

Unsane (2018) – for all Soderbergh’s practiced intensity, the movie’s ultimate impact doesn’t much transcend that of standard fraught peril

 

Foxtrot (1976) – Ripstein’s sputtering tale of class-fueled desert island breakdown is underpowered both as drama and as wartime allegory

 

Southern Comfort (1981) – at the engaged peak of his terse powers, Hill elevates a nastily conceived narrative to near-classic status

 

Ten to sen (1958) – apparently based on classic detective material, but Kobayashi’s extremely perfunctory handling hardly brings that out

 

The Shape of Water (2017) – del Toro’s immaculately-textured film is no doubt an immediate classic, and yet a barely relevant trifle

 

The Girl with a Pistol (1968) – Monicelli’s rather messy Vitti-goes-to-Britain movie teems with time-capsule, culture-clash interest

 

The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) – Makavejev’s strangely suppressed film barely hits as satire, maybe all the better to evoke dark corporate gravity

 

The Scientific Cardplayer (1972) – an enjoyably inventive, bitterly class-conscious parable, despite Comencini’s constraints as a stylist

 

The Other Side of the Wind (2018) – a thrilling, teeming Welles reclamation, at once interrogatingly present and receding into unknowability

 

Lo squadron bianco (1936) – Genina’s crisp but memorably visualized drama of self-exile and redemption belongs in the canon of desert movies

 

Bad Timing (1980) – probably not Roeg’s most pleasurable film, but among his most fearlessly transgressive, destabilizing and accusatory

 

Man on the Roof (1976) – Widerberg grounds his memorable climactic set-piece in a well-stewed portrait of police force contrasts & tensions

 

Downsizing (2017) – Payne’s ambitious film has many incremental strengths, none of which mitigate against a dissipated overall impact

 

La tete contre les murs (1959) – with appalled restraint, Franju probes the disquietingly exploitable morality of mental hospitalization

 

Withnail & I (1987) – Robinson’s enduringly funny comedic memoir, anchored by the priceless Grant, shot through with existential panic

 

The Great Silence (1968) – Corbucci’s strikingly wintery western pitilessly depicts the extinction of all goodness under a twisted law

 

Red Sparrow (2018) – Lawrence maintains an impersonal & unmoving efficiency, obliviously punctuated with regular nastiness & exploitation

 

La califfa (1970) – Bevilacqua suffuses his film in jaggedly politicized provocations and oppositions, to rather unclear ultimate ends

 

In the Line of Fire (1993) – Petersen’s highly proficient, characterless thriller stands at the very top rank of third-tier Eastwood films

 

L’auberge rouge (1923) – Epstein is among the most ominously fascinated, and visually and psychologically engaging, of silent directors

 

Battle of the Sexes (2017) – King’s personal & political history might deserve a movie less suffused in Hollywoodian slickness & calculation

 

Der Fall (1972) – you’ll seldom see a detective film that suppresses genre swagger as thoroughly as does Bruh’s absorbingly morose study

 

Modern Problems (1981) – Shapiro’s laughlessly scattershot telekinesis-themed comedy is poorly conceived and even more wretchedly executed

 

Signori & signori (1966) – Germi’s high-energy farce traffics ruthlessly in chronic sexual compulsion & its surrounding societal hypocrisies

 

A Field in England (2013) – Wheatley’s strange and remarkable creation, earthily and unearthily celebratory while seeped in ominous stasis

 

The Lady of Musashino (1951) – Mizoguchi’s tenderly clear-eyed study of a refined tradition eroded by urbanization, by modern moralities

 

Harlequin (1980) – Wincer’s drama steadily descends into lofty supernatural grab-bag, with unconvincing political/allegorical seasoning

 

Cesar and Rosalie (1972) – …and David, as Sautet’s well-played love triangle takes on more structurally and emotionally radical undertones

 

Marjorie Prime (2017) – Almereyda’s superbly-crafted, implication-heavy exploration of the evolving malleability of identity and memory

 

The Plough and the Stars (1936) – a concentrated study in Ford’s ruefully sentimental, gratingly celebratory, helplessly tribal Irishness

 

On ne meurt que deux fois (1985) – Deray’s investigation has an off-kilter, iconic Rampling-charged appeal, when not seeming overly murky

 

California Split (1974) – on repeat viewings, Altman’s texturally absorbing gambling study feels defined primarily by its ultimate emptiness

 

Quand on a 17 ans (2016) – Techine’s fine study of turbulent teenage attraction, richly rooted in its environment, in behavioural mysteries

 

The Killing (1956) – Kubrick’s first great filmic enigma, layering exacting detail over pervasive (if not yet cosmic) existential absence

 

Car Cemetery (1983) – Arrabal’s punky/kinky post-apocalyptic fantasia feels as much constrained as inspired by its Biblical parallels

 

The Illustrated Man (1969) – Smight’s Bradbury adaptation is consistently portentous, unenjoyably acted, and aggressively meaningless

 

Un beau soleil interieur (2017) – yet another captivating Denis masterpiece, shimmering with structural and observational delicacies

 

Comes a Horseman (1978) – an unusual setting for Pakula, but its thematic links to his greatest works gradually come into satisfying focus

 

Les uns et les autres (1981) – as Lelouch’s epic, performance-heavy spectacle expands toward greatness, its core feels smaller and emptier

 

The Paleface (1922) – Keaton’s film fascinates as performance and even as existential mystery, even as it now offends in many other respects

 

Happy as Lazzarro (2018) – at once intensely observed and serenely imagined, Rohrwacher’s graceful vision is perhaps improbably persuasive

 

Freebie and the Bean (1974) – amid all the goofy excess, Rush’s more intimately off-kilter sensibility shows through pretty regularly

 

Theories des ensembles (1990) – a delightful mini-Marker, as simple as a bedtime story, yet deeply technologically & philosophically engaged

 

Dishonored (1931) – Sternberg’s sensationally atmospheric showcase for Dietrich, at her most seductively amused and reality-bending

 

Sleeping Sickness (2011) – Kohler’s fascinatingly measured observations encompass a bracing range of cultural and political complexity

 

Gypsy (1962) – an adequate record of potentially sensational material, only shallowly tapped by LeRoy, and with imperfect lead casting

 

Mille milliards de dollars (1982) – Verneuil’s investigation of malign corporate power remains relevant, despite its suboptimal execution

 

Hustle (1975) – Aldrich’s stark, rather incompletely-realized drama is a melancholy channeling of its period’s confusions & contradictions

 

9 doigts (2017) – Ossang’s punkish spinning of myth and genre sustains a handsomely intense artificiality, but never really galvanizes

 

The Reckless Moment (1949) – Ophuls’ fascinating incursion of noir-ish menace into superficially perfect (but confining) domesticity

 

La belle noiseuse (1991) – Rivette’s film about a painting yields some of his most exquisitely realized ambiguities and complexities

 

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969) – Pollack’s film always feels a little too removed from the fatigue & stench & ultimate hopelessness

 

Francofonia (2015) – Sokurov’s heavily-executed blend of recreation, history and reflection informs, but only intermittently stimulates

 

Saint Jack (1979) – one of Bogdanovich’s best films, navigated with understated skill, and great facility with character and atmosphere

 

Un coeur en hiver (1989) – Sautet’s study of emotional distance is exquisitely calibrated, but ranks below his more connective work

 

Sons of the Desert (1933) – prime Laurel & Hardy, the spousal dynamic adding a deliriously weird subtext to their eternal codependency

 

The Land of Steady Habits (2018) – probably Holofcener’s flattest & least resonant work, albeit that might kind of be its sociological point

 

Edouard et Caroline (1951) – Becker’s beautiful little relationship study, marked by the most delicate visual and emotional calibration

 

Micki & Maude (1984) – a comedy from just past the end of Edwards’ great period, always enjoyably proficient but only sporadically inspired

 

The Stranger within a Woman (1966) – Naruse, at his engrossing bleakest, introduces an extreme rupture into a familiar domestic structure

 

Outside In (2017) – as in much of Shelton’s work, the carefully sensitive observation ultimately yields a limited lasting consequence

 

Dorian Gray (1970) – interesting less for the narrative updating than for Dallamano’s committed channeling of period style and decadence

 

Mary Jane’s Not a Virgin Anymore (1996) – Jacobson’s likeably rough-edged film infuses lurking darkness into sex-positive collegiality

 

Six et demi onze (1927) – Epstein’s doomed romance is structurally & visually fascinating, regarding photography both as marvel & threat

 

Black Panther (2018) –  Coogler’s cinematic exuberance and sharply-honed contemporary instincts largely surmount the conventional aspects

 

Anna (1967) – Koralnik’s love letter to Karina is a rather dreamily eccentric treat, a closer relative to long-form music video than to Demy

 

Sea of Love (1989) – Becker’s serial killer drama is hardly memorable as narrative, but has pretty strong writerly and actorly texture

 

El sopar (1974) – Portabella’s alert witnessing of lives forged by resistance, allowing neither easy articulation nor clear arrival point

 

Call me by your Name (2017) – Guadagnino’s aspirational vision of love and pain is aesthetically impressive, if more as statue than flesh

 

Le dos au mur (1958) – Molinaro’s neatly-plotted adultery and blackmail drama maintains interest despite its overly passionless execution

 

Mr. Jealousy (1997) – Baumbach’s identity-in-formation early work is too artificially & repressively conceived, but goes down easily enough

 

Three Daughters (1961) – Ray’s rather unwieldy trilogy: two sensitively rendered if limited vignettes bracketing an unremarkable ghost story

 

The Stairs (2016) – Gibson’s study of middle-aged addiction in Toronto is a humane act of witness-bearing, devoid of false certainties

 

Madame Rosa (1977) – Mizrahi’s film is certainly more morally provocative and unsentimental than it sounds in outline, if calculatingly so

 

Willie and Phil (1980) – Mazursky’s over-affable take-off on Jules et Jim extends tolerant pleasantness to the point of near-affectlessness

 

Un nomme La Rocca (1961) – Becker and Belmondo allow the rather perplexingly shifting narrative a quasi-Melvillian stylistic coherence

 

All the Money in the World (2017) – Scott’s monotonous charting of easy oppositions is as handsome and under-invested as all his late work

 

La spiaggia (1954) – Lattuada’s summer resort melodrama becomes increasingly sharp in its social criticism, embodied in a distinctive ending

 

Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol (1990) – Mekas’ deeply-lived personal memorial doesn’t deny the viewer a propulsive voyeuristic thrill

 

Jacob the Liar (1974) – Beyer’s triflingly empathetic fable offers trite foreground interest at the cost of an obscured ultimate horror

 

Hello Destroyer (2016) – Funk’s sad character study is also a persuasive indictment of a rampant hypocrisy at the heart of Canadian culture

 

An American Romance (1944) – Vidor’s grand hymn to exceptionalism eschews subtlety in favour of surrender-inducing physicality & incident

 

Beau pere (1981) – Blier’s transgressive love story stays on the right side of complete ickiness, with Dewaere an empathetic focal point

 

Jack of Diamonds (1967) – Taylor’s slick caper delivers strictly generic distractions, notwithstanding its unctuously-treated “guest stars”

 

Madame Hyde (2017) – Bozon puts the worn-out concept to surprisingly stimulating use, as a renewal of personal and pedagogic communication

 

The Medusa Touch (1978) – Gold’s smart handling of the melodrama allows the film an improbable degree of grounded, widely-indicting power

 

L’Anglaise et le duc (2001) – a fine extension of Rohmer’s oeuvre, stimulating both as naturalistic recreation and historical interrogation

 

Libeled Lady (1936) – Conway’s pacey screwball comedy is a confident delight, if a bit more mechanical and skin-deep than the genre’s highs

 

Boro in the Box (2011) – Mandico’s deliciously iconoclastic short film pays Borowczyk the most liberated yet loving tribute imaginable

 

The Jokers (1967) – Winner’s appealingly-conceived, happily thrown-together caper is certainly more fun than his later wearisome cinema

 

The Last Metro (1980) – Truffaut’s film is consistently and eventfully engaging, at the cost of greater historical bite or evocative power

 

Piranha (1978) – Dante’s early mayhem-fest is zippily written and zestily executed, with nicely judged infusions of political resonance

 

Voyage a travers le cinema francais (2016) – completely irresistible of course, curated by Tavernier with delightful, frank individuality

 

Lured (1947) – Sirk’s enjoyably busy, focus-shifting thriller, enlivened by its steady critique of woman as societal bait and decoration

 

Orson Welles: One Man Band (1995) – Silovic’s mesmerizing assembly properly celebrates Welles’ restless, often joyous creative radicalism

 

Midnight Lace (1960) – Miller’s suspense film has an enjoyably Hitchcockian surface & structure, less so the underlying acuity & intensity

 

Blind Massage (2014) – Lou’s informative, often-surprising portrait of an alternative community spans sensitivity, sensuality and turbulence

 

Funny Lady (1975) – leaving aside a few tunes and the easy nostalgia, Ross turns in a mostly dreary, going-through-the-motions sequel

 

Quelques jours avec moi (1988) – Sautet steers his eccentric narrative toward a quirkily engaging emphasis on connection and acceptance

 

County Hospital (1932) – if only for the “hard-boiled eggs and nuts,” a solid core element of the indelible Laurel and Hardy mythology

 

Mother! (2017) – Aronofsky’s tritely magnificent expression of monstrous creativity works best when in blackly satiric, discomfiting mode

 

Le Marie du port (1950) – Carne’s polished attentiveness to messy motivations and behaviour elevates an otherwise minor if eventful romance

 

Bad Lieutenant (1992) – Ferrara and Keitel’s absolute tour de force in absurd revelation, confounding one’s rational judgment and taste

 

Up to his Ears (1965) – despite de Broca’s ravishing set-pieces and backdrops, the film’s thematic weightlessness tips into insipidity

 

Werewolf (2016) – McKenzie’s hauntingly close, sparse study of addiction both as deprivation and as near-wondrous, if doomed, fulfilment

 

Nea (1976) – Kaplan’s lively “young Emmanuelle” story acts out the classic ambiguities of female-desire centric, female-directed cinema

 

Street of No Return (1989) – Fuller’s displaced but largely effective last film lands some old-style punches, under an often peculiar gloss

 

Aerograd (1935) – Dovzhenko fulfils propagandistic stipulations while (more interestingly) crafting a darkly intimate cultural study

 

I, Tonya (2017) – Gillespie’s tiresomely over-active movie is at best ineffectual & anthropologically shallow, at its worst barely tolerable

 

I fidanzati (1963) – notable for Olmi’s distinctive placement of romantic realization within almost peerless social & industrial observation

 

The Music of Chance (1993) – Haas is well attuned to the mysterious alternative-paradigm sort-of-coherence of the Austerian tone and method

 

L’invitation (1973) – Goretta skillfully crafts the characters and group dynamics, but the film seldom feels notably challenging or profound

 

For the Plasma (2014) – Bingham/Molzam craft a sparsely alluring, if surely under-developed, negotiation between specificity & transcendence

 

Ajatrik (1958) – Ghatak invests his episodic tale of a poor-man-and-his-car with consistently raw, widely observant emotion and power

 

Fever Pitch (1985) – Brooks’ disparaged drama provides strong doses of troubled observation & reportorial snap, its narrative excesses aside

 

Funeral Parade of Roses (1969) – Matsumoto’s transgender-centered drama ranges from the representationally striking to the trite and lurid

 

Lady Bird (2017) – Gerwig’s debut exhibits wonderful deftness, counterpointed by a warm, wise feeling for frustrations and anxieties

 

The Deadly Trap (1971) – Clement’s faltering grafting of Gaslight-type anxiety narrative onto vague mass-conspiracy drama, or vice versa

 

Nighthawks (1981) – Malmuth’s New York terrorism drama does OK for pacy spectacle but lacks much context (especially in post 9/11 hindsight)

 

Paradis perdu (1940) – Gance’s multi-generational story of love and loss is well-told on its own too-often tritely sentimental terms

 

Miss Sloane (2016) – Madden’s tiresome lobbyist drama feels as overly polished and inauthentically calculating as its political targets

 

Le tigre aime la chair fraiche (1964) – Chabrol handles the shenanigans with some style and deadpan wit, although to inherently limited ends

 

Repo Man (1984) – Cox’s classic mash-up retains a weirdly indelible stylistic and attitudinal coherence, even as the fun rapidly wears thin

 

Un borghese piccolo piccolo (1977) – Monicelli slyly takes a seeming “average man” satire in a rather startlingly subversive direction

 

Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017) – Gilroy’s diverting character study is impressively thoughtful, but narratively rather over-extended

 

A Girl in Every Port (1928) – a prototypically Hawksian dynamic makes for solid formative viewing, spiced & strangified by the iconic Brooks

 

The Double Life of Veronique (1991) – Kieslowski’s existential mystery, both propelled & (of course) restricted by its alluring calibrations

 

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) – a largely bland caper, absent Jewison’s meshing of relentless materialism with stylistic over-consumption

 

Neighboring Sounds (2012) – Filho’s geographically-specific life study is masterfully constructed, vibrantly observed, sociologically rich

 

Crazy Mama (1975) – Demme’s good humour and flair with wacky group dynamics can only do so much to elevate the thin, constrained material

 

Maine Ocean (1986) – Rozier’s unbound narrative encompasses everything from communal goofiness to virtually end-of-the-world-type solitude

 

You’ll Never Get Rich (1941) – Lanfield’s Astaire-Hayworth match-up goes too light on song and dance, too heavy on turgid complications

 

The Strange Little Cat (2013) – with composed idiosyncrasy, Zurcher charts the mundanity, mystery and latent horror of family interactions

 

The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969) – the peculiar blend of whimsy and commentary only fitfully flourishes under Forbes’ overwhelmed direction

 

Cache (2005) – Haneke’s brilliantly articulated film carries an immense implicative scope, leaving almost no points of certainty or comfort

 

The Main Event (1979) – any potential for a nicely crackling face-off is squandered by substantial lack of punch, in all departments

 

Pieta (2012) – for all the film’s superficial diversions, Kim’s concepts and instincts seem mostly grotesque, contorted and deadening

 

The Fixer Uppers (1935) – an adequate but somewhat peculiarly-conceived Laurel and Hardy short, rather limiting their classic interplay

 

Garcon! (1983) – a relatively minor Sautet work, yet an utterly pleasurable, marvelously orchestrated anecdote of compromise and renewal

 

Coogan’s Bluff (1968) – Siegel’s mastery of space, attitude and pacing elevates the (now unfavourably dated) narrative’s easy oppositions

 

The Bridges of Sarajevo (2014) – a largely successful, if overly dutiful-feeling anthology, satisfyingly varied in style and perspective

 

The Groundstar Conspiracy (1972) – Johnson’s high-concept premise is offset by a vulnerable human core, to moderately diverting effect

 

Husbands and Lovers (1991) – Bolognini’s overly prettified tale of agonized polyamory is far better at exposing bodies than emotional truth

 

The Disaster Artist (2017) – Franco’s watchably breezy but unimportant quasi-tribute feels more like a borrowed ride than an actual one

 

La nuit de carrefour (1932) – Renoir’s early crime drama, fascinatingly rooted in the sensual and behavioural textures of shadowy lives

 

Looker (1981) – Crichton’s forward-looking thriller doesn’t lack for interesting concepts, nor sadly for uninteresting narrative & character

 

Sudden Rain (1956) – Naruse’s small-scale drama subtly charts perhaps-irresolvable familial and communal anxieties and discontentments

 

Keanu (2016) – enjoyable but thematically blunted Key and Peele romp has future Oscar-winning screenwriter all over it (uh, not really…)

 

Vice and Virtue (1963) – Vadim’s rather grotesque visual and narrative concepts do little to illuminate the morality of war, or of anything

 

Eureka (1983) – Roeg’s strange, mythically-infused tale of intertwined discovery and loss is as productively challenging as any of his works

 

Le parfum de la dame en noir (1931) – L’Herbier dispatches the somewhat creaky narrative with some panache, if minimal broader implication

 

Blade Runner 2049 (2017) – despite any number of impressive & thoughtful concepts, Villeneuve’s film is more trudge than transporting vision

 

The Arrival of Joachim Stiller (1976) – Kumel’s winding tale of faith and influence is distinctly eccentric, but very shrewd and winning

 

Wolfen (1981) – Wadleigh’s genre picture generally feels rather distant and underinvolving, despite various points of broader resonance

 

Manon 70 (1968) – Aurel’s film provides rather too much easy enjoyment & prettiness to fully impress as an investigation of moral relativity

 

Their Finest (2016) – Scherfig’s quite stirring film articulately explores cinematic compromises while (unironically?) capitulating to them

 

A Woman’s Face (1938) – Molander’s enjoyable melodrama never transcends absurdity, skipping along on easy transitions and contrasts

 

Slaves of New York (1989) – the movie has its pleasures, but Ivory never feels sufficiently close to the milieu or its anxieties & attitudes

 

The Lion Hunters (1966) – Rouch’s hypnotically rich chronicle of the hunt, as respectful of its layered myths as of its meticulous realities

 

Detroit (2017) – Bigelow applies her visceral organizational skills to still-incendiary material, evoking a deep and righteous anger

 

Malj (1977) – Ilic’s ominously-styled short film is certainly one of the more singular expressions of survival and escape in cinema history

 

The Morning After (1986) – one of Lumet’s more low-impact dramas, embodying a missed opportunity to engage with Fonda’s shifting star image

 

Les plus belles escroqueries du monde (1964) – Godard’s closing segment subtly indicts the mostly undemanding pleasures that precede it

 

The Lost City of Z (2016) – Gray’s historical drama, rich with old-fashioned pioneering grandeur, feels at once unresolved and inevitable

 

Le rideau cramoisi (1953) – Astruc’s seductively enigmatic short story of desire would be the blackest of comedies, if pitched differently

 

Heist (2001) – it’s narratively clever of course, but also chilly and mechanical, suffused in Mamet’s writerly affectations and maneuvers

 

The Third Lover (1962) – a modest but effective study of envy and malign intervention, perfectly suited to Chabrol’s fascinated scrutiny

 

Dunkirk (2017) – Nolan’s formally impressive, immersive recreation transcends genre norms in many ways, remains limited by them in others

 

Imperative (1982) – Zanussi’s honorable but forced philosophical investigation ultimately just about overcomes its rather arid gravity

 

The Blot (1921) – Weber’s silent landmark remains immensely empathetic and intimately moving, shimmering with intertwined complexities

 

Things to Come (2016) – an absorbing, probing tapestry of life adjustments & passages, luminously woven by Hansen-Love & embodied by Huppert

 

Big Bad Mama (1974) – Carver’s loosely-driven period piece is brashly engaging, even if its main commitment is to redneck-brand titillation

 

Docteur Chance (1997) – Ossang’s road movie is a strangely beautiful artifice, placing doomed, pouting momentum over conventional coherence

 

Brief Ecstasy (1937) – Greville’s alert handling of stodgy melodrama, not least the (unresolved) emphasis on female intellectual fulfilment

 

In the Fade (2017) – Akin’s drama is mostly schematic & sensationalistic, relying heavily for any sense of coherence on Kruger’s conviction

 

The Drowning Pool (1975) – Rosenberg’s polished but no-big-deal detective flick almost seems weightily reflective by latter-day standards

 

Invitation au voyage (1982) – when not feeling forced, Del Monte’s transgressive pop-inflected odyssey sustains a darkly romantic charge

 

Bedtime Story (1964) – Levy’s confidently-motoring, savvily twisting artificiality, with Niven and Brando an abstractly empathetic tag team

 

The Unknown Girl (2016) – the Dardennes’ spartan but hauntingly acute investigation of the nature and toll of responsibility and redemption

 

Night Call Nurses (1972) – Kaplan’s lively exploitation picture actually is almost as preoccupied with trauma & activism as with titillation

 

Mahjong (1996) – Yang’s film teems with incident and stringent moral implication, but doesn’t cohere as pleasingly as his greatest works

 

The Fly (1958) – Neumann’s straight-faced absurdity benefits from its visual and vague thematic kinship to the period’s domestic melodramas

 

Happy End (2017) – Haneke’s utterly enveloping study of multi-faceted destabilization; of intertwining literal and figurative death wishes

 

The Toolbox Murders (1978) – Donnelly gets the highlights, if that’s what they are, out of the way early; the rest is mostly a blank

 

Veronika Voss (1982) – Fassbinder positions his Sunset Boulevard-like narrative as a window on cold-hearted cultural & historical transition

 

King & Country (1964) – Losey’s concentrated case study of wartime inhumanity is potently visualized, but narrow in its scope and impact

 

The Dreamed Path (2016) – a bit less satisfying than Schanelec’s previous work, despite its impeccable precision and alluring layerings

 

Show People (1928) – an early example of Hollywood’s self-absorption, conveyed by Vidor in his lightest, most happily celebratory vein

 

Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud (1995) – Sautet’s fine body of work ends on a delicately woven, immaculately restrained study of life transitions

 

The Eiger Sanction (1975) – Eastwood delivers on the material’s scenic potential, and doesn’t seem to aim to fire anything else out of it

 

Logan Lucky (2017) – Soderbergh’s well-made caper comedy doesn’t amount to much, despite its bedrock of cultural sympathy and attentiveness

 

Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (1969) – Oshima’s astounding exercise in narrative rebellion, powered by a kind of aggressive semi-callowness

 

Labyrinth (1986) – Henson’s fantasy never cooks up much magic, but has the occasional striking element, and Bowie! (sure, not prime Bowie)

 

Lac aux dames (1934) – Allegret’s pleasant film delivers varied incident and (surprising) titillation more surely than emotional depth

 

Southside with You (2016) – Tanne doesn’t tap Linklater-type enchantment, but any Obama mythology/nostalgic longing is pretty irresistible

 

The Empty Canvas (1963) – Damiani’s tale of obsession and frustration provides plenty of interest, despite its overall aesthetic modesty

 

Stealing Beauty (1996) – Bertolucci’s Tuscan contrivance skirts insipidity, and yet his sensuous cinematic observation remains remarkable

 

La fievre monte a El Pao (1959) – Bunuel’s socially-conscious, somberly-rendered drama, underlain by moral compromise & twisted desire

 

Beatriz at Dinner (2017) – Arteta’s largely well-played if unsurprising clash of worldviews isn’t exactly a beacon of hope for progressives

 

The Woman in Blue (1973) – Deville ultimately steers an initially flimsy-seeming enigma into more intriguing, pensively reflective territory

 

The Hand (1981) – Stone does pretty well at giving events a fraught, varied texture (kinda like JFK!), but the upside is inherently limited

 

La pyramide humaine (1961) – Rouch’s fascinating , forgivably earnest meeting of cultures is both cinematic experiment & idealistic reverie

 

Gimme Danger (2016) – Jarmusch’s Stooges documentary is an archival delight, contemplative for all its (never dangerous) visual energy

 

Farewell to Spring (1959) – for all its empathetic care, Kinoshita’s study of maturing friendship in wrenching times seldom pierces deeply

 

Crossroads (1986) – the dubiously-conceived myth-inflected narrative reduces Hill to ambling triviality; the music is the main compensation

 

The Girls (1968) – Zetterling’s innovatively provocative clash of art and life interrogates just about every stale assumption about women

 

Fahrenheit 451 (2018) – Bahrani’s insufficiently-reflective, repetitively-pounding filming feels like a missed opportunity in every respect

 

From the Clouds to the Resistance (1979) – Straub/Huillet challengingly interrogate the persistence of humanity’s violent submission to myth

 

Mascara (1987) – Conrad’s myth-stained melodrama feels forged in committed inside-out queerness, however oddly framed, located and expressed

 

The Eagle with Two Heads (1948) – Cocteau’s grandly singular structure of political and regal intrigue, rendering twisted tragedy as triumph

 

The Comedian (2016) – in no way a Pupkin-update (if only!) but still a relative triumph for De Niro, if one of easy effects and pleasures

 

Le Tigre se parfume a la dynamite (1965) – raggedly-plotted espionage stuff, so loosely controlled by Chabrol as to seem mildly subversive

 

Personal Best (1982) – Towne’s sports film remains a stimulatingly problematic text in representing female physicality and fluid desire

 

Numero zero (1971) – Eustache’s respectful record of his grandmother’s life testimony, a pure channeling of weary, turbulent experience

 

Brad’s Status (2017) – White’s preoccupied character study never transcends “first world problems”-type introspection and self-readjustment

 

L’oro di Roma (1961) – Lizzani’s piercing but constrained drama doesn’t quite rank among the cinema of occupation’s most lasting works

 

Lulu on the Bridge (1997) – for all its clunky peculiarities, Auster’s film intrigues for its sense of elemental investigation and pleasure

 

Party Girl (1958) – Ray’s rather bumpy melodrama is most compelling for its central sense of worn-out decency, under siege by empty swagger

 

La soledad (2016) – Armand’s film hardly lacks for haunted, bewildered impact, even as he pushes too hard to encompass Venezuela’s tragedy

 

The Man who Knew too Much (1934) – Hitchcock’s effective thriller, pushing throughout toward greater future depth & psychological complexity

 

Grandeur et decadence… (1986) – Godard treads fairly lightly & affectionately through times of change, rendering you poignantly stimulated

 

The Domino Principle (1977) – Kramer’s serviceable assassination thriller falters at delivering much on its apparent grander ambitions

 

Ismael’s Ghosts (2017) – Desplechin may be dancing on the spot, but the choreography and rhythms remain uniquely beguiling and stimulating

 

The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1969) – Lerner’s quite compelling opening out of Shaffer’s fascinating sun-drenched, humanity-stained quest

 

Fado majeur et mineur (1994) – a grave yet playfully confounding fragment from Ruiz’s bottomless cinema of echoes, layers and dreams

 

Telefon (1977) – an effective thriller for Siegel’s assured tone and pacing and the anxious subtext, although with muted ultimate impact

 

Victoria (2016) – Triet’s end-of-her-tether comedy seems to aspire to a wilder, more tempestuous tone than its cutes and clutter allow

 

The Seventh Victim (1943) – Lewton and Robson’s quietly threat-laden devil worshipper drama leaves a complexly troubled aftertaste

 

Un mauvais fils (1980) – an astutely-measured, searching study of incremental renewal, a peak illustration of Sautet’s more intimate mode

 

The Choirboys (1977) – the material should surely sing of a messed-up America more scabrously and roughly than it does in Aldrich’s hands

 

Orly (2010) – Schanelec sets out pleasingly innovative routes into the well-established existential possibilities of airport departures

 

Topaz (1969) – Hitchcock’s late film at times seems stolid and artificial, at other times almost experimental in its shifts and abstractions

 

A Confucian Confusion (1994) – Yang’s sharply genial study of a society where economic growth outpaces the emotional and intellectual kind

 

Hardcore (1979) – a strong, inherently diverting film, but for Schrader, something of a missed moral, sociological and stylistic opportunity

 

La loi de la jungle (2016) – Peretjatko’s satire of unprincipled development is mostly a goofy slog, with little real bite or panache

 

The Man in the White Suit (1951) – Mackendrick’s smart, sure-footed comedy, cleverly foreseeing the looming fragility of industrial society

 

Eaux profondes (1981) – Deville’s Highsmith adaptation falls a bit short overall, despite striking stylistic, tonal and structural moves

 

Pass Over (2018) – Lee’s exemplary filming of vivid theatrical material, a Godot-like expression of America’s complex culture of oppression

 

Les nouveaux messieurs (1929) – Feyder’s silent drama stirringly contrasts the promise of the left & the practiced persistence of the right

 

Blue Black Permanent (1992) – Tait’s wonderfully measured, alert conversation between generations, and reflection on seeing and recording

 

Anima nera (1962) – Rossellini ruthlessly deconstructs the stereotype of male irresponsibility, stripping it down to its outmaneuvered core

 

I Called Him Morgan (2016) – Collin makes unusually effective use of archival materials, crafting a haunting memoir of thwarted artistry

 

Ugetsu (1953) – Mizoguchi’s chillingly beautiful tale of earthly tumult & fracture that lets in the ghosts of temptation, & those of comfort

 

HealtH (1980) – Altman’s thinly allegorical satire is enjoyable enough, but rather too defined by the transient hollowness it observes

 

A Woman’s Decision (1975) – Zanussi’s study is one of his looser works, but deeply attuned to existential anxieties and social heaviness

 

Wonder Wheel (2017) – one of Allen’s more sustained late works shifts effectively from easeful period evocation into stark, pitiless tragedy

 

The Walls of Malapaga (1949) – Clement’s doomed romance endures for its immersion in time and place, despite its familiarly fatalistic core

 

Surrender (1987) – Belson’s lazily-handled comedy of intertwined emotional and economic anxiety never works up much pace or punch

 

La punition (1962) – Rouch’s captivating (seemingly Varda-inflected?) meditation on the freedom and limitation of exploration and encounter

 

Lady Macbeth (2016) – Oldroyd’s chilling drama: superbly sparse and confined, yet infused with an ambiguous air of broader societal shifting

 

Les amis (1971) – Blain’s calmly radical treatment of potentially transgressive material, carefully evasive and indirect, never merely coy

 

Tequila Sunrise (1988) – Towne’s film is an able study in structure, mood and light, until plot mechanics ultimately triumph over all else

 

A double tour (1959) – Chabrol extracts just about every tortured, loathing nuance possible from the ultimately somewhat thin material

 

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) – Reeves’ is an impressively conceived and sustained vision, if seldom very conceptually stimulating

 

Immortal Love (1961) – Kinoshita’s eventful drama of relentless familial pain is rather too dutiful & restrained to penetrate as it intends

 

Star 80 (1983) – Fosse’s filmography ends in flashy disappointment, extracting little of substance from its unpleasant case history 

 

The Tenant (1976) – Polanski’s effective if rather over-elaborated tale of paranoia, at its best when evoking anxiety and persecution

 

A United Kingdom (2016) – Asante’s welcome excavation of a significant historical episode feels a little more stifled than necessary

 

Zouzou (1934) – Allegret’s atmospherically bustling, often saucy rags-to-riches tale provides an effective showcase for Josephine Baker

 

Things Change (1988) – a pleasant, well-played trifle, but Mamet’s affinity for such pervasively genre-limited cinema is hard to figure out

 

Bande a part (1964) – Godard’s legendary film pulsates with the allure of losing oneself in an invented moment, and with its sadness

 

The Trip to Spain (2017) – a get-together as ingratiatingly familiar by now as any mainstream franchise, but funny and seductive throughout

 

T. R. Baskin (1971) – a film of modest virtues, since contemporary dehumanization and personal enigma aren’t Ross’s most natural territory

 

The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood (1990) – wrecked by censorship, Makhmalbef’s family chronicle speaks tremulously to the trauma of revolution

 

The Devil is a Woman (1935) – von Sternberg/Dietrich’s rather coldly capricious last film lacks the overwhelming allure of its predecessors

 

A Decent Woman (2016) – Rinner’s well-crafted showdown of nudists and materialists is too straightforward to really stir or challenge

 

The Rowdyman (1972) – Carter/Pinsent’s film chugs along rather too easily to achieve lasting impact, other than as a marker of time & place

 

Histoires d’Amerique (1988) – Akerman’s mesh of jokes & testimony is both celebratory & eerie, mirroring the fraught Jewish-American odyssey

 

Cactus Flower (1969) – the familiarly-honed material neither stings nor blossoms cinematically, but Saks navigates it pleasantly enough

 

Bird People (2014) – Ferran extends the weary metaphorical possibilities of airports to wondrously extreme, persuasively unfettered heights

 

The Yin and the Yang of Mr. Go (1970) – Meredith’s jumbled, pseudo-idealistic action-comedy, suffused in dopiness and antiquated attitudes

 

Sankofa (1993) – Gerima’s always strikingly-conceived, often astounding expression of reborn communion with past culture and injustice

 

Isle of the Dead (1945) – a modest narrative, but suffused with Lewton’s remarkable shadow-infused play of preoccupation and fragility

 

The Handmaiden (2016) – likely Park’s best film, if only for obscuring his hermetic limitations with sheer narrative & visual sumptuousness

 

Mandingo (1975) – Fleischer’s terrifyingly well-realized exploration of slave-owning America’s moral and psychological wretchedness

 

The Supplement (2002) – Zanussi’s interesting exercise in fleshing out the bones of an earlier film, rather labored on its own terms though

 

Single Room Furnished (1968) – Mansfield is strikingly plaintive in her last film, which Cimber generally handles with a decent touch

 

The Square (2017) – Ostlund’s sleek, assured exhibit of a film, an impressively multi-pronged exploration of art-world ethics & absurdities

 

Blue Collar (1978) – Schrader’s powerful debut remains a key film of its period about labour, race, power and their complex interaction

 

The Case is Closed (1982) – with understated power and empathy, Sen dissects the bottomless inequalities and injustices of Indian society

 

The Narrow Margin (1952) – Fleischer’s terse and tight thriller is great viewing, but ranks below film noir’s thematic and sensual peaks

 

Queen of Katwe (2016) – Nair delivers the expected tale of colourful odds-beating assertion, with an (equally expected) absence of much else

 

Being Two isn’t Easy (1962) – Ichikawa’s eyes-of-a-child slice-of-life drama is at best trifling, and frequently tedious and/or insipid

 

9 to 5 (1980) – Higgins’ easy-to-take comedy can be seen now as unnecessarily and counterproductively rigged, and only half-woke at best

 

The French Way (1945) – De Baroncelli’s low-energy farce makes poor use of Josephine Baker, largely pushed to the narrative’s bland margins

 

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) – Lanthimos’ imposing if knowingly alienating exercise in ominous, mythologically-informed displacement

 

Slap the Monster on Page One (1972) – Bellocchio’s dark study of establishment hypocrisy remains potent, for all the territory’s familiarity

 

Iceman (1984) – notwithstanding its Sorkin-ish science chatter, Schepisi’s drama just gets increasingly silly, contrived and clumsy

 

Les enfants terribles (1950) – a mesmerizing, disruptive amalgam of Cocteau’s poetic extremity & Melville’s skeptical, unsparing observation

 

I, Daniel Blake (2016) – near-vanishing-point Loach, the weight of injustice reducing a quietly worthy man to a dying assertion of identity

 

The Structure of Crystal (1969) – Zanussi’s understated reflection on relative freedoms, a very subtle posing of the personal as political

 

Lookin’ to Get Out (1982) – the movie sustains a superficial, raucous energy, but it all matters far less than Ashby’s enduring earlier work

 

Torso (1973) – the impact of Martino’s lascivious, committed fluidity is rather limited by the film’s thematically sparse narrative

 

The Florida Project (2017) – Baker’s sociologically, morally & stylistically rich study walks an immaculate line between cute & troubling

 

L’argent (1928) – L’Herbier’s milestone silent drama, epically grappling with the unequal power and morality of man and financial markets

 

Rough Cut (1980) – a passable caper, but would be low-energy, textureless stuff from anyone, let alone a film notionally signed by Siegel

 

Jaguar (1968) – Rouch’s dizzyingly stimulating country-to-city African odyssey throbs with incident and underlying social implication

 

Paterson (2016) – Jarmusch’s masterful observation of inner lives, an implicit rebuke to the prevailing brainlessness of dominant culture

 

The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978) – Olmi’s moving chronicle of peasant life, encompassing generous humanism and quiet political indictment

 

Dreamscape (1984) – Ruben’s thriller falls short of Pakula on one hand and Ken Russell on the other, but is good, lightly-implicating fun

 

The Silence (1963) – Bergman’s highly arresting study of conflict and flight is one of his most sensuous, implication-laden enigmas

 

Girls Trip (2017) – Lee’s energetic movie doesn’t flag, but the narrative & moral trajectory & sexual frankness are predictably calibrated

 

It (1927) – Bow still radiates - if not all of “it” - at least a big piece of it, showcased by Badger’s admiring, fleet-footed narrative

 

Dog Day (1984) – Boisset’s injection of the iconic Marvin into a raucously bawdy French rustic context shambolically fails to come off

 

Justine (1969) – Cukor’s formally impressive but distant film feels too inertly classical to tap the material’s rich potential complexities

 

Antiporno (2016) – Sono at once creates candy-porn, jerks off to it and blows it up, in formally impressive if ideologically suspect style

 

The Klansman (1974) – Young’s film stimulates for its wretched sociological background, more than for its ploddingly ugly foreground drama

 

Une etrange affaire (1981) – Granier-Deferre’s elegant, mysterious but precise fable of charismatic leadership and its reality-bending orbit

 

The Whole Town’s Talking (1935) – an enjoyably fast-paced if never biting comedy, a fluent adjunct to Ford’s primary cinematic achievement

 

Mountains may Depart (2015) – Jia’s limitlessly fascinating straddling of experiences, of personal and societal shifts and displacements

 

Time after Time (1979) – Meyer’s high-concept film appeals most for its pleasant incongruities, before fraught plot mechanics take over

 

Purple Butterfly (2003) – Lou’s historical reverie/thriller is frequently dreamily enveloping, at other times rather murkily disorienting

 

The Queen’s Guards (1961) – a pageantry-seeped military memoir, with Powell fitfully engaged by its more skeptical and anguished elements

 

Cezanne et moi (2016) – for better & worse, Thompson scenically observes her epochal protagonists more than she stylistically channels them

 

Cisco Pike (1972) – Norton’s loose-limbed drug-dealer drama, a great little time capsule of in-the-moment presences and interactions

 

Chronicle of a Death Foretold (1987) – Rosi’s only superficially engaging adaptation is heavy with over-deliberation and over-prettification

 

Battling Butler (1926) – a pleasant but relatively subdued Keaton comedy, not equaling the cinematic and physical grace of his best works

 

Roxanne Roxanne (2017) – Larnell’s intuitively-shaped, empathetic chronicle, emphasizing Shante’s perseverance against chronic male weakness

 

Porte des lilas (1957) – Clair’s late film feels like a settling for less, but finds some darker veins within its small-scale observation

 

The First Deadly Sin (1980) – Hutton handles the weary procedural aspect solidly enough, but flails at the apparent broader intentions

 

Mother Kusters goes to Heaven (1975) – Fassbinder’s stylistically restrained but utterly fascinating exercise in frustration and venality

 

Norman (2016) – Cedar’s nimble film, at its best in exploring the textures of connection, ultimately leaves a softer impact than one hopes

 

Amore et rabbia (1969) – five varied provocations, most notably Bertolucci’s possessed performance art and Godard’s interrogative beauty

 

Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) – Murakami delivers some colorfully goofy visions of community, stranded among much anonymous space padding

 

La beaute du diable (1950) – Clair’s fine treatment of Faust, propelled throughout by exquisite narrative fluidity and directorial elegance

 

Last Flag Flying (2017) – Linklater’s knowingly old-fashioned Vietnam reunion odyssey sinks easefully into contradictory American attitudes

 

Petit a petit (1970) – beneath its loose, often goofy surface, Rouch’s film reflects on the delights & limitations of cultural interchange

 

Suburbia (1984) – Spheeris’ super-cool, attitude-heavy vision of (inevitably doomed) alternative community amid a hostile & clueless society

 

Liliom (1934) –  a rather draggy supernaturally-infused tale of redeemed brutishness, notable though as an uncharacteristic Lang work

 

Free Fire (2016) – Wheatley tightly concocts a carnage-strewn, no-way-out, near-vanishing-point of genre cinema, to somewhat unclear ends

 

The Condemned of Altona (1962) – despite its heavy-footedness, De Sica’s brooding Sartre adaptation wades in fascinating moral waters

 

Dreamchild (1985) – Millar and Potter’s reverie nimbly spans ages and registers, but the calculated restraint and taste limits its impact

 

Bellissima (1951) – Visconti’s neo-realist grounding is merely an intermittent anchor for choreographic flourishes and actorly histrionics

 

Obvious Child (2014) – of course, the (modest yet meaningful) virtue of Robespierre’s abortion-centered comedy is its very ordinariness

 

Kleinhoff Hotel (1977) – Lizzani’s erotic drama is calculatingly exploitative, and yet not without a striking commitment and preoccupation

 

Max Dugan Returns (1983) – Ross/Simon’s low-impact comedy would be a grim study of moral and material surrender, if it meant anything at all

 

Fraulein Doktor (1969) – hints of decadence & a powerful final battle scene aside, Lattuada’s war drama is largely mechanical & passionless

 

Gold (2016) – Gaghan’s Bre-X fictionalization maintains interest, but one often wishes for the hand of a Mann or Pakula (or Eureka’s Roeg!)

 

Portrait of Madame Yuki (1950) – another calmly potent Mizoguchi study of toxic gender relations, ultimately all but conflating sex & death

 

Track 29 (1988) – Roeg/Potter’s mostly underwhelming drama layers rather strained elaborations on top of a central psychological enigma

 

Irezumi (1966) – Masumura’s bloodily devouring, desirous melodrama; one of his more straightforward works, but utterly gripping throughout 

 

Manifesto (2015) – Rosefeldt’s unique high-concept piece is a near-marvel of organization, imagination, pedagogery and pure performance

 

Lust for Life (1956) –  Minnelli’s expressive powers are ironically constrained by fidelity to Van Gogh’s; but Douglas compels throughout

 

La naissance du jour (1980) – Demy’s small-scale literary adaptation most intrigues for fleetingly complex glimpses of his unique sensibility

 

The Getaway (1972) – a decent thriller on its own terms, although a minor, morally weightless work in the context of Peckinpah’s cinema

 

Wet Woman in the Wind (2016) – Shiota ventilates the brisk soft-porn material with an appealingly deadpan, lightly absurdist sensibility

 

The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) – at its frequent finest, a transporting, sensitive, evocative record of Welles’ immense cinematic fluency

 

Decoder (1984) – Muscha’s brooding drama is appealingly dated in its punkish analog trappings, very little so in its broader preoccupations

 

Leo the Last (1970) – Boorman’s peculiar, voyeuristic sociological parable/channeling of revolutionary desires/chaotic provocation

 

Journey to the West (2014) – Tsai’s (slowly!) dreamy and gracefully funny short film, seemingly carrying a subtext of understated indictment

 

Madigan (1968) – Siegel’s tough, propulsive detective thriller; impeccably weaving moral contrasts and shadings and shifting perspectives

 

Marseille (2004) – Schanelec’s impressively considered film crafts a most unusual alchemy of person & place, & expression of new beginning

 

No Blade of Grass (1970) – Wilde’s environmental collapse thriller is at best a brash visual assault, at (frequent) worst unhinged & jarring

 

Informe general II (2016) – Portabella’s clear-eyed if genteel charting of the gulf between small-group awareness and state-wide torpor

 

The Leopard Man (1943) – Lewton/Tourneur’s brilliantly-sustained classic, a haunting, seldom-equaled marriage of delicacy and pained gravity

 

Salto nel vuoto (1980) – for all Bellocchio’s acuity, this repression-laden, corroded-establishment drama is a bit too heavy & unsurprising

 

Lost Lost Lost (1976) – but also vibrantly and permanently found; in Mekas’ absorbing survey of exile, arrival, evolution and community

 

Journey to the Shore (2015) – Kurosawa’s calm rewriting of our metaphysical universe, studiously free of conventional genre trappings

 

The Bronze Buckaroo (1939) – Kahn’s bare-bones all-black Western carries its unstated otherness with shambling charm, but few fireworks

 

The Constant Factor (1980) – Zanussi’s almost mathematically powerful study of pervasive corruption and the limits of a moral response to it

 

Colossal (2016) – could Vigalondo have foreseen that his out-there movie would so resonate as a remarkable allegory of Trumpian menace?

 

Come Drink with Me (1966) – vividly enjoyable but not yet full-throttle Hu, in terms of both raw technique and underlying sensuousness

 

Superstar (1988) – Haynes’ Karen Carpenter bio-pic is at once an eerily multi-faceted investigation, and a negation of any such possibility

 

Ossessione (1943) – hard not to think of Visconti’s adaptation primarily in earthier, hungrier contrast to its Hollywood counterparts

 

Alien: Covenant (2017) - Scott sure knows how to punch it out, but the feeling of repetition, redundancy and overreach is insurmountable

 

Birds in Peru (1968) – Gary’s ritualistic, sun-baked ceremony of sex, death & fate taps (albeit rather strenuously) a sparse elemental power

 

Working Girl (1988) – Nichols’ overvalued comedy, heavily dependent on reality-obscuring simplifications, feels now like a dusty relic

 

I Will Buy You (1956) – Kobayashi’s (rather strenuously) heavy-hearted baseball scouting drama is among the most somber of sports films

 

Fences (2016) – Washington does right by the (inherently not so cinematic) play, such that you lose yourself in the language and evocation

 

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970) – De Sica’s rather familiarly, elegantly rarified, but nonetheless moving drama of looming Holocaust

 

Galaxina (1980) – Sachs’ genre parody is perplexing in most ways, hardly aiming for quality yet drearily tentative in its raunchy cheesiness

 

Letters by a Novice (1960) – an artful mixture of austere investigation and calculating decadence, seemingly entirely up Lattuada’s alley

 

The Beguiled (2017) – Coppola’s restraint and feeling for female community serves here to push the material toward virtual invisibility

 

The Music (1972) – Masumura/Mishima’s astonishingly-rendered, pained erotic extremity, conflating psychoanalysis & transgressive invention

 

Revolution (1985) – Hudson’s film is mostly effective when channeling chaotic mass experience, much less so in its narrative contrivances

 

Mammy Water (1953) – Rouch’s brief but teeming study exuberantly straddles eye-filling actualities and respectfully-presented myths

 

Christine (2016) – Campos renders a sad real-life tale as a case study in pervasive discomfort, and in coping mechanisms taken and spurned

 

Michael Kohlhass (1969) – Schlondorff’s tale of injustice and rebellion, its impact rather muddied by its attempt to channel the sixties

 

Maria’s Lovers (1984) – Konchalovsky’s minor post-war drama feels mostly trivial and arbitrary, not tapping its actors’ considerable powers

 

The National Health (1973) – Gold/Nichols’ carefully-gauged hospital comedy, its diagnosis both directly scathing and challengingly evasive

 

Marguerite & Julien (2015) – Donzelli’s period-bending treatment of transgressive material, intriguingly straddling history & romantic myth

 

A Woman of Paris (1923) – its modest sensitivity to female perspective & desire aside, Chaplin’s drama is of limited cinematic interest now

 

Mourir a 30 ans (1982) – Goupil’s memoir of 1968, somberly but piercingly contrasting all-consuming activism & subsequent directionlessness

 

The Night Visitor (1971) – Benedek’s ingenious thriller delivers fascinating logistics, although its echoes of Bergman are merely frost-deep

 

Raw (2016) – at its harrowing best, Ducournau’s vivid film is a startling expression of the scorching, perilous power of female desire

 

Tom Jones (1963) – occasional pell-mell interest aside, Richardson’s relentless opportunism now seems mostly tiring and alienating

 

Lost Persons Area (2009) – Strubbe’s representation of Europe’s shifting order is highly well-conceived, but carries a muted overall impact

 

The Reckoning (1970) – Gold’s super-meaty class-conscious drama, anchored by Williamson’s sensationally contemptuous, possessed presence

 

Une jeunesse allemande (2015) – Periot’s absorbing film conveys the turbulent passing of a very era-specific melding of culture and action

 

Raw Deal (1948) – under Mann’s alert handling, a thriller narrative of hard-driving visual eloquence, suffused with unfulfilled longing

 

Kung-fu master! (1988) – no director can bridge loveliness and social transgression as easefully yet meaningfully as the incomparable Varda

 

Julia (1977) – Redgrave’s moving presence aside, Zinnemann’s lead-footed memory piece seldom feels fully-inhabited or very evocative

 

The Future Perfect (2016) – Wohlatz’s beguiling study of a young immigrant’s multiple aspirations, navigating self-assertion & assimilation

 

Station Six-Sahara (1963) – superficially a potboiler, but infused by Holt with substantial behavioral relish & subtle structural mysteries

 

A Cat in the Brain (1990) – pure immersive cinema of a kind, although Fulci’s show of anguished self-reflection is only semi-persuasive

 

Story of a Love Story (1973) – Frankenheimer’s all-but-lost film is ceaselessly if strenuously investigative, and surprisingly rewarding

 

A Ghost Story (2017) – Lowery’s extraordinarily well-judged amalgamation of tangibly-depicted myths and sparse, searching ambiguities

 

The Mascot (1934) – Starewicz’s remarkable stop-motion adventure is an early spanning of Toy Story & Tim Burton, of the cute & the freaky

 

Goya’s Ghosts (2006) – the narrative contrivances of Forman’s blandly handsome film seriously weaken its historical and cultural impact

 

La terra trema (1948) – Visconti’s searching emphasis on realism is moving, yet highly mediated, arguably undermined by wider ambitions

 

Snowden (2016) – Stone applies relative directorial restraint to potentially paranoia-strewn material, with respectable but limited results

 

The Corruption of Chris Miller (1973) – Bardem’s expressively visualized semi-elevation of a lurid killer narrative, with a dash of Persona!

 

Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) – Coppola affectionately makes it all feel more meaningful than it is, aided by seen-the-future-level casting

 

My Second Brother (1959) – the major impact of Imamura’s engaging and committed early film lies in its bleak social and economic awareness

 

Wonderstruck (2017) – Haynes’ parallel lives story has the multi-dimensional beauty of a diorama, to be meticulously explored and caressed

 

L’attentat (1972) – Boisset’s solid, wide-ranging entry into a classic tradition, finding corruption and complacency inside every dark suit

 

Death Proof (2007) – hard not to admire Tarantino’s artful balance of leisurely good spirits, deceptive finesse, and insistent disposability

 

Marketa Lazarova (1967) – Vlacil’s turbulent, imposing historical chronicle, both vividly direct & narratively elusive, even hallucinatory

 

The Bad Batch (2016) – Amirpour’s film becomes increasingly intriguing, as a sly subversion of swaggering post-apocalypse-type cliches

 

Kill! (1971) –  Gary’s murky drug-trade thriller, fitfully sparked by the tussle between intellectual ambitions and mostly pulpish execution

 

Wrong is Right (1982) – Brooks’ well-titled farce-attack is both absurd & prescient, stylistically uncertain & (thus) pretty much on target

 

The Burmese Harp (1956) – Ichikawa’s transcendence-seeking tale of post-war Burma seldom surpasses superficial grandeur and spirituality

 

Good Time (2017) – the Safdies’ very striking blend of propulsively inventive crime narrative and extraordinary observational directness

 

The Golden Fortress (1974) – you might view Ray’s handling of the flamboyant material either as overly staid, or as carefully interrogative

 

Heat (1995) – a modern genre landmark, for Mann’s awe-inspiring, deeply-searching mastery of narrative, visual and thematic geometry

 

La ligne de demarcation (1966) – Chabrol’s effective Occupation drama emphasizes dogged collective solidarity over individual heroism

 

Hidden Figures (2016) – Melfi’s bland conventionality leaves little basis for distinguishing inspirational truths from trite exaggerations

 

Dear Summer Sister (1972) – Oshima’s unusual, oddly troubling layering of an almost naively beaming surface on deeply fractured depths

 

Mike’s Murder (1984) – Bridges plays observantly and languidly with textures and contrasting milieus, although to limited ultimate ends

 

Les maitres fous (1955) – Rouch’s unique, often astonishing anthropological record also acts as a savage parody of hollow colonial pomp

 

Wonder Woman (2017) – Jenkins’ blockbuster is pretty fresh and engagingly literate, when not lost in interminable pyrotechnic abstraction

 

A Special Day (1977) – Scola’s precisely rendered study of a brief encounter, affectingly contrasting intimate truths and national delusions

 

Casino (1995) – illustrating Scorsese both at his most technically unimpeachable, and at his most relentlessly & under-rewardingly hermetic

 

Vie privee (1962) – Malle rather peculiarly extrapolates Bardot’s immense if rather shallow mythology into a fatalistic death ritual

 

Nocturnal Animals (2016) – Ford’s tiresomely pretentious, airlessly “well-crafted” drama is almost entirely unpleasant and unedifying

 

The Penal Colony (1970) – Ruiz’s strangely ominous creation almost seems now like a prediction of degrading political & factual objectivity

 

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1982) – Petit’s film is less a detective story than a genre- and gender-defying study in absence and darkness

 

Mother Never Dies (1942) – Naruse’s moving story of life after loss, rather more sentimental (& ultimately jingoistic) than his finest work

 

My Cousin Rachel (2017) – Michell’s drama of suspicion and desire avoids Gothic excess, but at the cost of diluted ambiguity and impact

 

The Silent Partner (1978) – Duke’s pretty nifty, sometimes surprisingly raw thriller, cherishable as an all-time-great Toronto time-capsule

 

In the White City (1983) – Tanner’s questing cinema finds here its most mythic port of call, experience and memory shimmeringly intertwining

 

Hud (1963) – the physical and emotional territory of Ritt’s bleak drama frequently evokes stronger, less constrained films, before and since

 

Frantz (2016) – with customarily precise yet somewhat passionless virtuosity, Ozon navigates post-war misdirections and compromises

 

Steelyard Blues (1973) – Myerson’s frequently grating drop-out comedy does happily elevate at times (mostly due to the inspired Peter Boyle)

 

Une vieille maitresse (2007) – Breillat’s brilliant 19th century drama, composed yet destabilizing, of a desire that pushes toward death

 

Carmen Jones (1954) – Preminger’s all-black musical now seems more like an artificialized denial of black culture than an elevation of it

 

The Other Side of Hope (2017) – Kaurismaki’s customarily well-honed, wide-ranging and supple survey of multi-cultural dreams and realities

 

Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (1972) – Mekas’ remarkable, captivating memory film, feeling at once unfiltered and highly mediated

 

The Girl from Trieste (1982) – Campanile’s undercharged story of obsession does find its way to a strikingly doomed, alienated finale

 

Hot Thrills and Warm Chills (1967) – for Berry, thrills and chills evidently drive their own unknowable laws of narrative, framing & pacing

 

Nocturama (2016) – Bonello’s sleekly knowing, trite yet stimulating terrorism drama sleekly rejects conventional representational dilemmas

 

Real Life (1979) – Brooks’ evasively fascinating, at least semi-premonitory collision of showbiz stylization and documentary-style flatness

 

Life as a Fatal Sexually Transmitted Disease (2000) – Zanussi’s drama pushes as hard as its title, but attains a sort of cranky magnificence

 

Veiled Aristocrats (1932) – Micheaux’s clear-eyed, ultimately celebratory assertion of racial identity and (also!) female self-determination

 

Baby Driver (2017) – for the most part, the film zooms & flies on Wright’s happy cinematic air, infused with barely flagging creative joy

 

Moderato Cantabile (1960) – one of the period’s memorably doomed enigmatic encounters, hauntingly observed by Brook (& Antonioni’s spirit?)

 

Phobia (1980) – if only Huston had brought some bleak relish and a greater sense of the absurd to the mechanical serial killer narrative…

 

The Man who Put his Will on Film (1970) – Oshima’s stark enigma seems to posit cinema as a shifting, almost autonomously malevolent threat

 

Jackie (2016) – at once highly immersive and dreamlike, Larrain’s precise recreation taps the ambiguities of intimate witnessing of history

 

Haxan (1922) – Christensen’s unequaled blend of historical pedagogy, lurid fantasy & socially-aware self-reflection remains quite remarkable

 

Rollover (1981) – few films ever grappled with global financial complexity as Pakula’s does, even fewer with such stylistic audaciousness

 

Le temps de mourir (1970) – paranoia spawns its own bleak destiny in Farwagi’s enigmatic, occasionally striking drama of predestination

 

Logan (2017) – Mangold at least brings some modest literacy, cinematic grandeur & emotional frailty to the essentially meaningless material

 

Moi, un noir (1958) – Rouch’s vastly impactful study of African exile, aspiration & resentment remains ambiguously revelatory & troubling

 

Mr. Patman (1980) – in various oddly interesting ways, Guillermin’s murky drama symbolizes its strange, displaced era in Canadian cinema

 

Monsieur Klein (1976) – Losey’s dark case history of the Holocaust’s perversion of fate and rationality, articulated with unforced mastery

 

La La Land (2016) – Chazelle’s airily pretty but passionless appropriation of classic forms yields only fleeting, if not vapid pleasures

 

The Champagne Murders (1967) – an enjoyably anxious exercise in highly-designed, ambiguous confinement; second-tier Chabrol at best though

 

The Color of Money (1986) – Scorsese’s perhaps most underrated movie, placing stark psychological structures within restless cinematic ones

 

Trois jours a vivre (1957) – Grainger’s rather rushed marriage of backstage theatrics and noir-type tension never satisfactorily coheres

 

A Quiet Passion (2017) - Davies' outstanding study of Emily Dickinson enthralls with its sensitivity and precise charting of complexities

 

La memoire courte (1979) – de Gregorio’s increasingly bracing, Rivette-tinged investigation into evasive histories and unreliable narrators

 

I Dreamt I Woke Up (1991) – Boorman’s loving exploration of his Irish home, both facilitated and cluttered by playfully mythic inventions

 

Ten Nights in a Bar Room (1926) – Calnek’s tale of lost moral compasses ultimately rather chills for its repurposed imagery of mob justice

 

I Am Madame Bovary (2016) – Feng’s alert, tragi-comic charting of classically thwarted female determination in an age of dismal bureaucracy

 

Monterey Pop (1968) – Pennebaker’s (too short!) concert film contains some indelible, almost incomparably vivid images of key performers

 

Wimbledon Stage (2001) – Amalric’s enigmatic investigation of a non-writing writer balances persuasive mystery & lightly-observed detail

 

There was a Crooked Man (1970) – Mankiewicz’s late-career slumming exercise maintains its brassy swagger, but it’s all offputtingly coarse

 

The City Below (2010) – Hochhausler’s quite fascinating immersion in intertwined possibilities – personal & corporate, elevating & ominous

 

He Ran all the Way (1951) – a modest set-up, boosted by Berry’s expressive direction and Garfield’s hauntingly tortured final performance

 

Vanishing Point (1984) – like cinematic breath, Ruiz’s film draws in toward its ominous secrets, out toward a world of cryptic possibilities

 

The Goodbye Girl (1977) – under the narcotic-like patter, Simon’s comedies now seem relentlessly complacent and behaviorally under-engaged

 

Europe, she Loves (2016) – Gassmann’s observant study of marooned modern youth presses the “Europe is lost” theme rather too single-mindedly

 

The Nest of the Cuckoo Birds (1965) – Williams’ rediscovered, obsession-ridden oddity is proudly defiant, yet often strangely lovely

 

The Diary of Lady M (1993) – Tanner’s intimate films with Mezieres are strong and progressive, but more transient than his major works

 

Murder on the Orient Express (1974) – Lumet’s (indeed) plushly train-like version doesn’t allow the concept or the cast much fresh air

 

First they Killed my Father (2017) – for all its committed skill, Jolie’s memoir of 1970’s Cambodia feels overly mediated and composed

 

Bride of Frankenstein (1935) – Whale’s grandly-visualized horror milestone teems with intense repression & feeling, amid wondrous mythology

 

Cheerful Wind (1981) – Hou’s early film belongs very much to his lighter, even goofy, side, but already hints at the scope of his concerns

 

The Birth of a Nation (2016) – Parker’s persistent lack of subtlety fortunately doesn’t obscure the film’s central, primally righteous force

 

Manji (1964) – Masumura’s creepily expansive (if hardly optimistic) vision of desire and fulfilment at once thrills and repels you

 

Full Metal Jacket (1987) – Kubrick immerses us in soldiering and war as a journey into hermetic, edge-of-madness self-fictionalization

 

Traffic Jam (1979) – Comencini gradually supplants the initial broad comedy with a bleak portrait of societal paralysis and venality

 

The End of the Tour (2015) – who knows whether Ponsoldt’s film captures the “real” Wallace, but it’s persuasive on its own intimate terms

 

Cesar (1936) – Pagnol’s prolonged talkiness increasingly impresses as a form of psychologically and sociologically engaged modernism

 

War Machine (2017) – Michod’s McChrystal-by-another-name semi-satire is mostly heavy-footed stuff, often seeming tonally all wrong

 

Camouflage (1977) – Zanussi’s confidently scathing portrait of the multi-faceted rot, if not outright madness, underlying hermetic academia

 

Cutter’s Way (1981) – Passer’s brilliantly, evasively tortured film seems even more prescient in a fractured, dark-fantasy-ridden America

 

Charulata (1964) – the perfectly nuanced sensitivity of such genteelly interiorized Ray films is both their majesty and their limitation

 

Silence (2016) – a luminously immersed testing of faith, in which the relative silence of “Scorsese” may be as prominent as that of God

 

Joe Bullet (1973) – for all its pulp limitations, de Witt’s apartheid-era drama buzzes with the possibility of unconstrained action

 

Desert Hearts (1985) – Deitch’s beautiful period story of women in love, a restrained small step & clear-eyed large one for American cinema

 

La traversee de Paris (1956) – Autant-Lara’s rather grating Occupation comedy increasingly flails around as it grasps at darker resonance

 

Queen & Country (2014) – a mostly pleasing cinematic withdrawal by Boorman into memoir, dense with calmly-observed anxiety & repression

 

Ludwig (1973) – a study of anguished royalty, typifying Visconti’s problematic placement between turgidity and genuine tormented grandeur

 

Mudbound (2017) – Rees’ patient, ultimately traumatizing drama presages the geographic & cultural divides that will all but consume America

 

Dragon Inn (1967) – Hu’s gorgeous classic sinks with relish into genre skirmishes while increasingly seeming to dream beyond it, toward Zen

 

To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) – Friedkin’s strangely compelling straddling of vulgar disposability and almost spiritually-infused certainty

 

Le mouton enrage (1974) – Deville’s evasively peculiar comedy of compromised self-determination, built on bleakly twisted underpinnings

 

Personal Shopper (2016) – Assayas’ scintillating cinematic tapestry, woven from a myriad of artistic and existential strivings and mysteries

 

Ten Minutes to Live (1932) – hard to surmount the limitations of Micheaux’s revue/drama, likely the least necessary of his surviving films

 

Good Men, Good Women (1995) – Hou’s impeccable work of reflective commemoration, spanning generations of national and personal traumas

 

Escape from Alcatraz (1979) – Siegel’s classic escape film is a tersely vivid tapestry of figurative, spiritual and physical confinements

 

Jauja (2014) – in Alonso’s beautiful, respectful cinema of discovery and exile, the potentially startling flows as naturally as clear water

 

Barefoot in the Park (1967) – Simon’s facile writing now seems beyond machine-like, almost monstrous in its faking of human intercourse

 

On Body and Soul (2017) – Enyedi’s beautifully attentive film, on what our dreams know better than our tired, ritualistic waking minds

 

Little Murders (1971) – Arkin’s black, black comedy has a highly distinctive angle on contemporary alienation, disarray and screwed-up hope

 

The Future is Woman (1984) – Ferreri strikingly (if not so subtly) welds an amped-up disco surface onto an elemental, nurturing underbelly

 

Woman of the Year (1942) – considered at a time of yawning cultural divide, the central conflict of Stevens’ comedy seems all the fresher

 

The Human Surge (2016) – Williams’ artfully rough-hewn global survey captures cultural parallels & divergences, possibilities & confinements

 

Child’s Play (1972) – a limited, contrived piece of theater, but lifted by Lumet’s dark shaping and by crackerjack actorly presences

 

To Die Like a Man (2009) – Rodrigues’ fascinating, melancholy film, rich with unusual representations of performance and self-assertion

 

The Chase (1966) – Penn’s overstuffed but powerful, premonitory allegory of American delusion, ugliness and societal incoherence

 

Land of Mine (2015) – an effective depiction by Zandvliet of post-war abstractions, even if it follows familiar emotional and dramatic beats

 

Just a Gigolo (1979) – Hemmings’ film doesn’t exhibit much relish for the period/setting, the decadence nor (most sadly) its striking cast

 

L’amant double (2017) – Ozon’s sleek, erotic creepy-twin melodrama is to lasting cinema what phantom pregnancies are to population growth

 

The Flying Ace (1926) – Norman’s niftily plotted and quite fluid thriller doesn’t mention or hint at race, which fuels its quiet radicalism

 

Ce jour-la (2003) – Ruiz’s singular comedy progresses from rather grating wackiness to (I think) strangely complex allegorical depths

 

The Brood (1979) – one of Cronenberg’s less gripping or persuasive creations, at least up to the eye-popping, repulsion-rich final stretch

 

Toni Erdmann (2016) – Ade’s highly successful serio-comic investigation of our faltering personal and collective spontaneity & connectivity

 

The Bellboy (1960) – Lewis’ engagingly alienating (if that makes sense) directorial debut, at once formally exacting & conceptually unbound

 

The State I am in (2000) – Petzold’s coolly allusive drama of modernity possessed by past; endless flight indistinguishable from stasis

 

Daisy Miller (1974) – Bogdanovich’s pleasant but passionless James adaptation, limited by insufficient tonal and analytical precision

 

Okja (2017) – Boon’s film feels ultimately like a soft punch, despite all its whimsy, biting satire, technical panache and general oddness

 

One A.M. (1916) – an impeccable exhibition of dexterity, although feeling now rather as if Chaplin barely sensed the audience beyond himself

 

Querelle (1982) – Fassbinder’s remarkable, no-way-back meditation; a ritualistic, anguishing enacting of intertwined awakening and death

 

The Founder (2016) – Hancock’s flavorless McDonald’s origin story doesn’t even hint at the fast food industry’s mostly toxic social legacy

 

Three Rooms in Manhattan (1965) – clash-of-culture interest aside, Carne’s over-extended study in romantic anguish falls mostly flat

 

So Fine (1981) – Bergman’s comedy is enjoyable and varied enough but never really sparks, with the central gimmick contributing little

 

Les maries de l’an deux (1971) – Rappeneau puts together a grand, fast-paced historical romp, little of which seems to matter much now

 

The Big Sick (2017) – absent its modest contribution to filmic diversity, Showalter’s comedy would be no more than unremarkably pleasant

 

Letter from Siberia (1958) – Marker at once descends deeply and ethically into his complex subject, and seems to whimsically ascend above it

 

Pi (1998) – perhaps Aronofsky’s most lasting film, pounding its way to some kind of jittery coherence (if not necessarily persuasiveness)

 

Flic story (1975) – a largely familiar detective/gangster structure, enhanced by actorly charisma & Deray’s evocation of post-war weariness

 

Lion (2016) – Davis’ quite offputtingly well-polished, sociologically and otherwise mostly valueless piece of one-in-a-million feel-goodery

 

Seisaku’s Wife (1965) – Masumura (epically under-celebrated) unflinchingly depicts the repression and meanness at the heart of rural society

 

Chain Letters (1985) – Rappaport’s distinctive take on contemporary unease feels at once highly stylized and yet near-randomly unearthed

 

I Am Self-Sufficient (1976) – Moretti’s early film is a bit underpowered, even allowing that dissatisfied lassitude is its main fuel source

 

Get Out (2017) – Peele’s metaphorically-charged horror comedy is sharp and eerily effective, yet has surely been too generously appraised

 

My Love has been Burning (1949) – Mizoguchi’s film is an absolute landmark in the cinema of women’s rights, activism and self-determination

 

Xanadu (1980) – Greenwald’s mostly ill-considered, what-were-they-thinking mishmash at least exhibits a spurting idiosyncratic dreaminess

 

Elle (2016) – hard to know how to react to Verhoeven’s elegantly calculated displacements, or (beyond admiring Huppert) how much even to try

 

The Deadly Affair (1966) – Lumet and le Carre’s familiarly solid, unshowy exercise in institutional, ethical and domestic exhaustion

 

Eden (2001) – Gitai’s evocation of 1940s Israel feels like a boringly missed opportunity, allowing only flashes of insight or identification

 

Shampoo (1975) – Ashby/Towne’s impeccable utilization, extension and ultimate (transient) hollowing-out of the bottomless Beatty mystique

 

Sacro GRA (2013) – Rosi’s well-caught quotidian observations seem to hint at an underlying unifying loss, a troubling existential darkness

 

Sergeant Madden (1939) – about five parts unimportantly enjoyable police drama to one part visually and thematically engaged von Sternberg

 

13 Tzameti (2005) – Babluani’s tight, unsentimental drama is impressively (if not that consequentially) fully-imagined in every detail

 

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976) – a Holmes/Freud mash-up more stimulating in Meyer’s concept than in Ross’s blandly rendered actuality

 

Neruda (2016) – Larrain’s meta-fiction narrative might have seemed strained, in the hands of a less graceful weaver of cinematic tapestries

 

All Fall Down (1962) – Frankenheimer’s family melodrama has plenty of meat and color, but ultimately lacks emotional and expressive potency

 

Cobra Verde (1987) – Herzog’s drama piles on eye-filling scenes, while surely grappling inadequately with the representation of slavery

 

All that Jazz (1979) – Fosse’s cinematic testimony is a whirl of the repellent and the visionary, artistic virtuosity and mere restlessness

 

Scabbard Samurai (2010) – Matsumoto’s is the most enjoyably Letterman-ish samurai movie we’re likely to see, cutesy sentimentality aside

 

I Was a Male War Bride (1949) – Hawks’ brilliantly unforced comedy of frustration and denial, soberly building to a classic final stretch

 

Pars vite et reviens tard (2007) – Wargnier drives an interesting urban paranoia premise toward strictly superficial, convoluted rewards

 

Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street (1973) – Fuller’s rather peculiar German thriller is at once classical and chaotic, immediate and abstracted

 

Julieta (2016) – Almodovar’s sensuous melodrama hardly seems aware of real life’s messy textures, but easily envelops on its own terms

 

Uptight (1968) – Dassin’s powerful, often anguished informer melodrama, galvanized by the era’s tensions, debates and social realities

 

Historias extraordinarias (2008) – Llinas’ binge of storytelling, drunk on narrative possibility, while retaining an evenly wry sobriety

 

Pete ‘n’ Tillie (1972) – Ritt’s episodic, philosophical, often bitter comedy, propelled by beautifully dry writing, directing and acting

 

Abuse of Weakness (2013) – Breillat’s fascinating, masterfully-controlled case study in the ambiguous exercise of power and exploitation

 

Birthright (1939) – for all its imperfections, Micheaux’s drama is a deeply-felt expression of anger at persistent belittlement & injustice

 

Shadows in Paradise (1986) – an emblematic illustration of Kaurismaki’s peculiar melding of gloomy denial and tight-lipped hopefulness

 

Asparagus (1979) – Pitt’s brief, vivid, sensuous animation drinks/sucks from strange, deep pools/organs of individual & collective desire

 

It’s only the end of the world (2016) – largely dour & limited family material, but rather interestingly interrogated & ventilated by Dolan

 

Indecent Desires (1968) – marginally interesting for Wishman’s modestly innovative structure of desire, and for its starkly pitiless ending

 

Symbol (2009) – Matsumoto’s great tease of a movie, positing utter nonsense as the heart of all meaning & connection (or something anyway…)

 

The War between Men and Women (1972) – Shavelson’s pretty ambitious Thurber-inspired comedy too often bogs down in tedious wheel-spinning

 

Potiche (2010) – Ozon’s broad, breezy tale of female awakening plays pretty successfully with garishly outdated attitudes and aesthetics

 

Eleven P.M. (1928) – Maurice’s drama is often confusingly articulated, but still intrigues for its sad, ultimately other-worldly conviction

 

Plein sud (1981) – Beraud’s preoccupied drama of erotic collision and chaotic personal reinvention is pleasingly engaged and unpredictable

 

Arrival (2016) – Villeneuve’s well-crafted alien visitor drama ultimately privileges dreaminess over investigation, rather disappointingly

 

Farewell, friend (1968) – Herman’s twisty thriller is well-plotted and -paced and has the striking Delon-Bronson team-up, so that’s all good

 

Until the end of the World (1991) – a great escalation of Wenders’ movie wanderlust, yet a relative stagnation in his artistic expansiveness

 

Le trio infernal (1974) – Girod’s rather rigidly nasty piece of period decadence makes only a modest satirical or stylistic impact

 

The Dinner (2017) – more a fussy dog’s breakfast of family anguish, as Moverman unenjoyably and indigestibly burns up the cinematic kitchen

 

Rififi (1955) – the film now might seem alternatively either conventional or forced, but Dassin finds in it a pained, pessimistic coherence

 

Author! Author! (1982) – interesting only for stray glimpses of a preoccupied centre, but barely breaking through Hiller’s ineffectual gloss

 

A Touch of Zen (1971) – Hu’s great epic travels from rich, intimate narrative to an astounding relinquishment of earthly and cinematic bonds

 

Rules don’t Apply (2016) – Beatty’s fascinating exercise in evasiveness – his subject’s, his own, that of his film’s preoccupied playfulness

 

I knew her well (1965) – Pietrangeli’s brilliantly observant, assumption-challenging study of a young woman, both celebratory and sobering

 

Local Hero (1983) – for every nicely observed element of Forsyth’s widely-treasured film, there’s another that seems crass or undercooked

 

Shock Treatment (1973) – the hedonistic sheen of Jessua’s breezy modern vampirism drama is more striking than the cynical underpinning

 

The Lovers (2017) – navigating most deftly between lightness and gravity, Jacobs explores ideas of intertwined withering and renewal

 

Toni (1935) – Renoir’s tragic drama of thwarted desire and ambition; as always, rich in broader, impeccably-seeded social implication

 

Modern Romance (1981) – one of Brooks’ best & most elusively funny films, at once universal & distinctly, itchily precise (space floor?!)

 

‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore (1971) – Griffi’s film sustains a suitably pained if somewhat overly prettified air, on the way to its bloody finale

 

I Am Not Your Negro (2016) – for all its clear strengths, Peck’s film is maybe a less electric interlocutor than Baldwin’s work would merit

 

Not Reconciled (1965) – Straub’s brief work implicitly rebukes an entire tradition of stale, conventional narrative and representation

 

He Knows you’re Alone (1980) – a moderately lively slasher, limited by Mastroianni’s lack of cinematic relish, nastiness-wise or otherwise

 

Two English Girls (1971) – one of the finest illustrations of Truffaut’s navigation between intimacy & distance, whimsicality & formality

 

Song to Song (2017) – Malick’s immersive new cinema remains both vital & alienating, experience & sensation at once elevated & flattened

 

Sunday in Peking (1956) – viewing China primarily as bucolic fulfilment of past dreams, Marker could hardly imagine the shape of its future

 

Swamp Thing (1982) – Craven’s film isn’t very dramatically or thematically imposing, but skips by on bursts of broadly-etched zestiness

 

Ecce bombo (1978) – Moretti’s early not-quite comedy is a rather interestingly ungraspable exercise in blankness and dissatisfaction

 

20th Century Women (2016) – for all its vivid sincerity, Mills’ film seems strained & artificial next to, say, Reichardt’s Certain Women

 

La chamade (1968) – not much in Cavalier’s film penetrates too deeply, albeit that the sense of weightlessness is inherent to the theme

 

Werner Herzog eats his Shoe (1980) – worth seeing just for the concept, even if the movie is short on actual unambiguous shoe-eating

 

Shadowman (1974) – Franju’s late, sporadically insinuating thriller provides some elemental narrative pleasures, but limited overall potency

 

T2 Trainspotting (2017) – strained regrets aside, Boyle’s sequel has a lot of synthetic-feeling energy & conflict, but little real feeling

 

Utamaro and his Five Women (1946) – Mizoguchi’s captivating, deeply-connected reflection on integrity and self-determination in art and love

 

The First Monday in October (1981) – time-capsule interest aside, Neame’s plodding semi-comedy doesn’t argue a very stirring case for itself

 

In a Year with 13 Moons (1978) – among Fassbinder’s most extreme expressions of trauma, querulously balancing intimacy and ungraspability

 

Loving (2016) – Nichols’ study appeals most for its reticence; its quiet observance of social revolution embodied by unassuming people

 

Le trou (1960) – Becker’s near-hypnotic prison escape drama builds to a devastating final evaluation of relative freedom and morality

 

Some Kind of Hero (1982) – Pressman’s overly brisk downward-spiral Vietnam vet movie needed more character, and a far less flimsy redemption

 

The Outside Man (1973) – a terse, efficient thriller, vastly elevated by Deray’s fascinated immersion in Los Angeles geography and culture

 

The Meyerowitz Stories (2017) – despite inspired stretches and overall consummate skill, the film doesn’t much extend our sense of Baumbach

 

Conflagration (1958) – Ichikawa’s hermetic but intensely gripping tale, darkly propelled by barely expressible self-loathing and anguish

 

Compromising Positions (1985) – Perry’s not-exactly-Lynchian exposure of suburban secrets and discontent plays it a bit too soft throughout

 

Story of Sin (1975) – Borowczyk painstakingly, almost austerely charts the moral ambiguities underlying his potentially lurid chronicle

 

The Eyes of my Mother (2016) – hard not to admire Pesce’s straddling of tranquility & malevolence, while also praying for release from it

 

Red Angel (1966) – Masumura’s amazing study of war’s perverting yet cleansing effects, suffused in physical and psychic damage and suffering

 

Eyewitness (1981) – beneath its rather conventional surface, Yates’ drama is heavy with the detritus of America’s scarred moral landscape

 

Sauvage innocence (2001) – a mesmerizingly-executed slow collision with fate, perhaps somewhat conventionally conceived for Garrel though

 

The Electric Horseman (1979) – a nice little ramble, leaving aside the inherent hypocrisy of its anti-corporate, simplicity-embracing creed

 

A Man called Ove (2015) – Holm at least brings some decent warmth to his distinctly familiar-feeling melting-of-a-crusty-old-man tale

 

The Bedford Incident (1965) – Harris navigates a grippingly mirthless course to a highly Strangelove-ian abstract/realist end-point

 

Amelie (2001) – Jeunet’s notably skillful crowdpleaser no doubt hits every target for which it aims, albeit they’re mostly valueless ones

 

1,000 Convicts and a Woman (1971) – the title is pretty much the only relish-worthy aspect of this largely joyless British contrivance

 

Century of Birthing (2011) – Diaz’s mighty reflection on faith, creativity and commitment, encompassing the grotesque and the sublime

 

It’s Always Fair Weather (1955) – if only Donen/Kelly’s musical could have dug even deeper into the melancholy that tempers its exuberance..

 

Thomas in Love (2000) – Renders maintains the governing gimmick quite ably, but the film doesn’t leave much lasting impression of any kind

 

The Mackintosh Man (1973) – a rather plain drama, but lifted by Huston’s seasoned, unshowy pleasure in the life-draining spy machinations

 

Ruined Heart…(2014) – Khavn’s doomed criminal/whore love story is a strikingly individual, aggressively visualized performance-art piece

 

Bad Girls go to Hell (1965) – Wishman injects a trace of quiet authorial sympathy into a generally disembodied & mechanical victimhood drama

 

Danton (1983) – Wajda skillfully navigates historical events & oppositions, yet his film hardly taps the revolution’s complex momentousness

 

Our Souls at Night (2017) – you wish the still-magnetic stars were in harder-edged material, but a pleasing movie on its own flaccid terms

 

Casque d’Or (1952) – Becker’s drama of doomed romance might almost embody the huge virtues of the period’s French cinema, & its limitations

 

The Loveless (1981) – Bigelow/Montgomery’s striking collision, at once direct & evasive, of classic biker aesthetics & small-town repression

 

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974) – among Fassbinder’s most precise, unerring works; occupying a unique space between reverie & social document

 

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016) – Lee’s engaging cavalcade of American idiocies and failings is generally more dutiful than incisive

 

Record of a Tenement Gentleman (1947) – Ozu’s exquisite portrait, both bleak and hopeful, of a post-war community’s gradual rehumanization

 

Paris, Texas (1984) – Wenders’ finely weighted, and yet somewhat forced, navigation between old- and new-world connections and ruptures

 

Police Woman (1973) – an often disengaged-feeling martial arts potboiler, suffused in the kind of mediocrity one can be nostalgic about

 

The Light between Oceans (2016) –  Cianfrance’s tragi-romance is mostly pleasantly if unremarkably old-fashioned, without being cloying

 

Odd Obsession (1959) – Ichikawa’s darkly preoccupied family drama might have a racy synopsis, but is a largely monotonous viewing experience

 

Critical Care (1997) – interesting enough material, not lacking in care, but Lumet needed to give it some extra fire, or kick, or passion…

 

Turkish Delight (1973) – few films have immersed themselves in gleeful, unashamed animal spirits as boisterously as Verhoeven does here

 

Berlin Syndrome (2017) – the grimly unappealing core material ultimately proves unworthy of Shortland’s multi-faceted engagement with it

 

3 hommes a abattre (1980) – Deray’s efficient but rather mechanical man-in-the-wrong-place thriller feels only intermittently engaged

 

The Girl from Chicago (1932) – its depiction of varying morality aside, one of Micheaux’s weaker, more thematically limited surviving films

 

Ares (2016) – Benes’ grim vision of a strained future benefits from being viewed in fanciful hindsight as a pumped-up prophecy of Macron!

 

Rabid (1977) – Cronenberg’s vividly punishing early work effectively occupies the intersection of intimate and collective anxieties

 

Chungking Express (1994) – perhaps the most purely enjoyable, kinetic, wondrously intuitive expression of Wong’s beautiful cinematic gifts

 

The Big Clock (1948) – Farrow’s structurally-striking thriller is great to watch, but lacks the thematic & tonal depths of classic noir

 

John From (2015) – Nicolau’s idiosyncratic, precise deconstruction of teenage dreams & rituals, in the most beguiling of sun-kissed packages

 

The Driver’s Seat (1973) – Griffi’s odd little jigsaw movie (with Taylor & Warhol!) draws fairly effectively on the era’s multiple anxieties

 

Oldboy (2003) – no doubt a gift from Park to genre fans, bringing a patina of tragic grandeur to its manipulations and contrivances

 

The Sorcerors (1967) – Reeves’ great little mind-control drama, seeped in local texture, agonized emotion and overall genre mastery

 

Evolution (2015) – Hadzihailovic’s eerily precise, mythic tale of ritual and mutation; suffused in alienated, somehow accusatory beauty

 

Born to Win (1971) – Passer’s sadly under-remembered movie is a distinctive blend of eccentric delight and grim, no-way-out junkiehood

 

The Factory (2004) – Loznitsa’s short study sets out unchanging brutal realities, couched within semi-abstract, almost wondrous mystery

 

The Scar of Shame (1927) – some biting thematic elements aside, Perugini’s drama is a bit less notable than other “race film” landmarks

 

Spetters (1980) – Verhoeven propels the broadly-drawn, often biting material with his swift, brutally frank cinematic, social & moral relish

 

Barry (2016) – Gandhi’s gentle Obama mythology now seems as far removed as Columbus, given America’s current Presidential atrocities

 

Investigation of a Citizen above Suspicion (1970) – the orderliness of Petri’s comedy of degraded power may feel weirdly comforting now

 

Blue Steel (1989) – Bigelow’s minutely alert but short-of-redemptive visualization of a dispiritingly ugly relentless killer narrative

 

Rome, Open City (1945) – one feels Rossellini methodically constructing, if not yet fully crossing, a bridge to cinematic modernity

 

Night will Fall (2014) – Singer’s chronicle of recovered Holocaust film is reverent and moving, but can it ever pierce us sufficiently now?

 

La prisonniere (1968) – Clouzot’s strained last film is most gripped & gripping when immersed in pure cinematic &/or behavioral manipulation

 

Kicking and Screaming (1995) – Baumbach’s debut lacks much overall punch, but provides many appealing, often quite Stillman-esque fragments

 

Stavisky (1974) – Resnais’ sumptuous surface incrreasingly yields a study of extraordinary complexity, subtlety and regretful allusiveness

 

The Girl with all the Gifts (2016) – McCarthy’s impeccable character-driven vision both delivers and transcends zombie-genre pleasures

 

Touchez pas au grisbi (1954) – Becker’s famous, precisely rendered crime drama, marked throughout by wearily understated observation

 

Starman (1984) – Carpenter’s basic-feeling alien visitor road movie is generally pleasant, but no great shakes in any department whatsoever

 

Storm Children (2014) – Diaz’s observation of devastation; a quietly challenging fusion of pictorial mastery and sociological helplessness

 

The Sandpiper (1965) – pretty insipid stuff in all respects, with Minnelli’s expressive mastery seemingly shamed into timid submission

 

Trance (2006) – Villaverde’s study of enforced prostitution finds startling, quasi-mythic ways to chart the limits of our identification

 

The Spy who Loved Me (1977) – a sporadically pretty but hollow & unengaged Bond epic, hardly sustaining the “nobody does it better” branding

 

Jonas et Lila, a demain (1999) – Tanner’s enthralling late-career investigation is allusive & romantic, but also alert to threats & limits

 

The Lodger (1927) – Hitchcock’s tightly gripping silent film foretells his later masterly explorations of sexual obsession and trauma

 

Therese Desqueyroux (2012) – Miller’s careful but unsurprising telling feels far less alive and piercing than Franju’s earlier version

 

The Shooting (1966) – Hellman’s mythic ambitions can seem rather strained, but the film nevertheless emanates a strange, sparse power

 

Demain on demenage (2004) – in its own celebratory yet haunted way, Akerman’s comedy is as radically destructive as her epic Jeanne Dielman

 

Prime Cut (1972) – Ritchie’s should-be classic thriller is sparsely & scenically articulated, on a startlingly weird underlying sensibility

 

Our Little Sister (2015) – Koreeda’s Ozu-lite tale is overly prettified and hardly momentous, but filled with subtle, satisfying virtues

 

Hellbound train (1930) – for all its hectoring strangeness, Gist’s film is a raggedly authentic cry of wide-ranging societal anguish

 

Grenouilles (1983) – Arrieta’s short film plays engagingly (in its minimal, abstracted way) with low-budget genre myths and contrivances

 

The Accountant (2016) – O’Connor’s weirdly over-stuffed narrative is all debits and few credits, bursts of accounting-talk notwithstanding

 

Sounds from the Mountain (1954) – Naruse’s masterfully observed, often severely piercing study of faltering relationships and structures

 

What Women Want (2000) – Meyers’ unmemorable comedy is largely free of complexities, ambiguities or ironies (oh, or of real laughs either)

 

The Tenth Victim (1965) – Petri’s playful futuristic thriller is diverting and good-looking, but doesn’t have his later forceful bite

 

The Last Married Couple in America (1980) – beneath the standard contrivances, Cates provides bitter glances at a vast emotional wasteland

 

Keetje Tippel (1975) – a strikingly expansive chronicle of social and sexual exploitation, well-served by Verhoeven’s unflinching brashness

 

American Honey (2016) – Arnold’s microcosm of strained capitalism; a lovely, piercingly observant odyssey of cinematic pollen-gathering

 

The Village Teacher (1947) – initial promise as a character study yields to Donskoy’s dutifully reverent evocation of Soviet achievements

 

Black Hawk Down (2001) – despite Scott’s exacting focus on immersive authenticity, the film doesn’t really expand the genre’s vocabulary

 

Description d’un combat (1960) – Marker strains to see Israel’s future, and (of course) fails, even as the most effortless of time travelers

 

Black or White (2014) – Binder’s tidily balanced conventionality hardly allows his greater thematic ambitions (such as they are) to flourish

 

Drunken Master (1978) – whatever one’s affinity for the genre, Chan’s almost constant, cleanly-observed ultra-physicality is mesmerizing

 

Mirror, Mirror (1990) – Sargenti smartly positions the lurid Carrie-like material to reflect female desires, insecurities, bonds and rifts

 

The 400 Blows (1959) – Truffaut’s film taps a romantically poignant, searching totality that binds and transcends the sum of its parts

 

Cafe Society (2016) – hardly a fully-achieved Allen film, but appealing for its gorgeous surfaces and quietly regretful, dreamy undertones

 

Les bas-fonds (1936) – Renoir’s peerlessly varied observation of social complexities culminates in offsetting states of relative liberation

 

Captive (1986) – Mayersberg’s somewhat detached but resonant reflection on, perhaps, the intertwined confinements of storybook princesses

 

The Triplets of Belleville (2003) – Chomet’s wonderfully-executed animated treasure, pitched at a previously uncharted angle to the world

 

Model Shop (1969) – Demy’s treasurably dead-end American film, drifting plaintively at an intersection of drab depression & displaced beauty

 

Florentina Hubaldo, CTE (2012) – Diaz’s ultimately devastating investigation of the cruel contours and legacy of extreme personal trauma

 

Scum (1979) – Clarke’s unsparing portrait of callous institutional uselessness ultimately verges on draining, Kubrickian horror fantasy

 

Ashik Kerib (1988) – less satisfying than his earlier works, Parajanov’s fantasy spans both painstaking conservation and hermetic denial

 

The Exile (1931) – Micheaux’s film groundbreakingly digs into racial constructs and perceptions, technical limitations notwithstanding

 

Big Man Japan (2007) – Matsumoto wittily spins his superhero mumbo-jumbo-mythmaking to absurd lengths, & yet finds a rumpled grandeur there

 

Magnificent Obsession (1954) – Sirk immaculately renders the astounding plot contrivances  & settings as confining as they are transcending

 

Fire at Sea (2016) – Rosi’s suprising, quietly audacious approach to the migrant crisis draws out sharply tragic parallels and oppositions

 

They’re a Weird Mob (1966) –  a proficient if often toothless romp, elevated by Powell’s playfully brutal observations of masculinity

 

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) – it’s hardly worth recalling the nominal plot, but Gans’ escalating abandon makes some kind of impression

 

The Spook who sat by the Door (1973) – Dixon’s remarkable, incendiary blend of biting satire and deadly serious revolutionary quasi-prophecy

 

In a Glass Cage (1985) – for all Villalonga’s exacting skill with challenging material, there’s little to be gained from watching the film

 

Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A. (1946) – Williams’ rather under-realized melodrama teems with interesting, sometimes provocative fragments

 

Denial (2016) – any contribution to the cinema of rationality is ever-timely and valuable, despite Jackson’s overly conventional instincts

 

Two Women (1960) – De Sica’s ending largely retains its bleak power, but much of the film’s querulous suffering feels strenuously calculated

 

A Beautiful Mind (2001) – Howard’s highly watchable (of course), not unmoving movie is laden with predictable simplifications & limitations

 

Le Amiche (1955) – Antonioni’s early masterpiece, suffused with spiritual misalignment beneath its ceaselessly observant, probing surface

 

James White (2015) – a film of essentially small parameters, but deftly seeded by Mond & the fine actors with unusual hurts & grace notes

 

Pointilly (1972) – Arrieta’s fragment of preoccupation (and abuse?), both watchful and mythic, is intriguing enough that you wish for more

 

The Last Days of Chez Nous (1992) – Armstrong’s modest but vividly, expansively observed drama of familial transitions and displacements

 

Menilmontant (1926) – Kirsanoff’s supremely haunting narrative is a glory of cinema’s expressive power, both as disruption and as comforter

 

Certain Women (2016) – Reichardt’s exquisitely observed and geographically rooted, deeply-felt study in circumscribed but meaningful lives

 

That Man from Rio (1964) – de Broca’s pantheon-worthy romp, its underlying coldness mightily offset by the epically charismatic Belmondo

 

Unrelated (2007) – Hogg demonstrates a superb, sometimes quietly heartbreaking feeling for the shifts in human connection, and their victims

 

O Henry’s Full House (1952) – Hawks’ sequence aside, the use of five directors doesn’t prevent a frequent feeling of sanitized repetition

 

Sogni d’oro (1981) – Moretti’s incident-filled 8 ½-type self-mythology is at once sort of unsummarizably brilliant, yet mostly uninteresting

 

Nude on the Moon (1961) – hard to imagine whose erotic reveries would exactly have been satisfied by Phelan/Wishman’s perplexing fantasy

 

Dog Days (2001) – Seidl’s unique deployment of cinema’s inherent voyeurism opens up knowingly problematic yet oddly expansive sexual terrain

 

Puzzle of a Downfall Child (1970) – Schatzberg’s study of a fashion model taps both the industry’s modish surfaces and its enervating heart

 

The Salesman (2016) – Farhadi’s well-honed investigative method again probes rewardingly into Iran’s distinct yet very human hypocrisies

 

The Thing from Another World (1951) – it’s true - Nyby’s classic yarn most enthralls for the constantly masterful Hawksian group dynamics

 

Le cent et une nuits de Simon Cinema (1995) – Varda’s goofy, ramshackle star-studded homage teems with defiantly elemental creative pleasure

 

Dr. Strangelove (1964) – a lasting achivement, if frequently a stifling one, for Kubrick’s visual grandeur and structural cleverness

 

The Tribe (2014) – Slaboshpitsky’s stylization is arguably overdone, but the film is still something of a startling triumph on its own terms

 

Christopher Strong (1933) – Arzner’s fascinating study of intertwined female capacity and (both self- and externally-imposed) limitations

 

The Settlement (2002) – Loznitsa crafts his film almost as strange displaced science fiction, but challenges us to see the humanity within

 

De Palma (2015) – Baumbach and Kasdan deliver just about as effective and illuminating a survey as one can imagine in the time allotted

 

The New Land (1972) – the second part of Troell’s fine saga, as eerily well-attuned to the new life’s isolation as to its grand belonging

 

Married to the Mob (1988) – on its own terms, capable only of demonstrating Demme to be a proficient enhancer of largely turgid material

 

Jack Frost (1964) – Rou’s charmingly tangible musical fantasy evokes its magical rustical world with beguiling, knowing primitivism

 

Equity (2016) – Menon’s control and the well-worked-out script make for gripping viewing, despite the project’s narrow, hermetic nature

 

Listen to Britain (1942) – Jennings and McAllister bring diverse observations of a challenged nation into precise, watchful equilibrium

 

The Legend of Suram Fortress (1985) – Parajanov/Abashidze’s film is an alluring, somewhat weary emissary from a far-off aesthetic tradition

 

The Last Picture Show (1971) – Bogdanovich’s haunting film merits its reputation, even if its poetic desolation can feel over-calculated

 

An Investigation on the Night that Won’t Forget (2012) – Diaz’s commemoration could hardly be cinematically simpler, or more vastly human

 

Year of the Dragon (1985) – Cimino’s provocatively flawed but often brashly scintillating expression of America’s escalating tribal madness

 

La carriere de Suzanne (1963) – Rohmer’s second moral tale, dense with deeply considered relationships, is among the most rawly complex 

 

The Sea of Trees (2015) – an increasingly depressing slog through the forest, as the full depth of Van Sant’s insipidity blooms into view

 

Double Indemnity (1944) – a fascinating noir web, with Wilder’s snappy perfection almost entering a zone of spiritually-drained abstraction

 

Cemetery of Splendour (2015) – as always, Apichatpong’s exquisite perceptions seem to open up wondrous new spiritual and narrative spaces

 

The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) – Kloves’ film poses at being harder-edged than it is, but is pleasingly seeped in taciturn charisma

 

Requiem for a Vampire (1971) – Rollin seems rather lacking in conviction here, leaden plotting somewhat undercutting his erotic ritualism

 

Pride (2014) – Warchus’ calculating film is hardly hard-edged, but is pleasing & persuasive in its evocation of community & shared struggle

 

Wind Across the Everglades (1958) – hardly as focused as Ray’s best work, but increasingly propelled by a central relish and intensity

 

Italian for Beginners (2000) – Scherfig unproductively applies the minimal ‘Dogme’ style to a contrived piece of romantic wish-fulfilment

 

White Girl (2016) – somewhat familiar territory, greatly ventilated by Wood’s alert direction and Saylor’s fascinatingly vital fragility

 

Los Olvidados (1950) – Bunuel’s grimly indelible landmark, its severe sociological potency magnified through constant expressive mastery

 

Psycho II (1983) – Franklin references the original’s general form and assorted content with aplomb, but can’t revive its potent substance

 

The Man who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) – Ford’s film remains a key if subdued reference point in exploring America’s founding myths & lies

 

Under the Shadow (2016) – much in Anvari’s “ghost” story feels overly generic, for all its powerful metaphoric and social elements

 

eXistenZ (1999) – a fascinating, if relatively more rigid expression of Cronenberg’s magnificently unsettled, premonitionary sensibility

 

Belladonna of Sadness (1973) – Yamamoto’s weirdly lovely submission to narrative and artistic iconoclasm, stoked by recurrent erotic frenzy

 

I Smile Back (2015) – Palky’s film is most interesting for Silverman’s complex presence, and for hints of a broader critique of domesticity

 

The Frozen North (1922) – enjoyable, relatively low-key Keaton short is somewhat harder-edged than expected, until its dreamy final reveal

 

The Asthenic Syndrome (1990) – Muratova’s remarkable, overspilling expression of our screwed-up, deadened societal train to nowhere

 

The Shipping News (2001) – Hallstrom’s adaptation feels frosted, distant and overly compressed, achieving little of lasting interest

 

Andrei Rublev (1969) – Tarkovsky’s inexhaustible, daunting recreation; cinema as teeming, immersive, cruel and transcendent pilgrimage

 

A Hologram for the King (2016) – it’s enjoyable and sociologically diverting, even if Tykwer’s crisp proficiency doesn’t yield much depth

 

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) – Mankiewicz’s lugubrious drama warrants no more than a minor place in the museum of cinematic repression

 

JLG/JLG (1994) – Godard’s beguiling self-mythology, possessed by mourning and retrenchment while (of course) restlessly investigative

 

Sausage Party (2016) – as craftily polished as a supermarket tomato, Tiernan & Vernon’s (let’s say) liberation fantasy is tirelessly amazing

 

The Emigrants (1971) – Troell’s steady, entirely persuasive chronicle draws its power from wondrous faith, rooted in stark necessity

 

The Last of England (1987) – Jarman’s scorching evocation of a death-spiraling Britain; perhaps overdone but forgivably and masterfully so

 

The Last Vacation (1947) – Renoir might have found vitality in this family vignette; Leenhardt assembles pretty, undistinguished mechanics

 

A Bigger Splash (2015) – not ultimately a major film, but galvanized by Guadagnino’s ravishing taste in cinematic and emotional architecture

 

The Age of the Medici (1973) – Rossellini’s unerring rationality and measured clarity sustains a mesmerizing historical representation

 

The Crying Game (1992) – Jordan’s singular fusion of political and romantic destinies; fascinating despite its soft, unresolved heart

 

A Quiet Place in the Country (1968) – the narrative’s generic aspects fetter Petri’s fine madness, notwithstanding its anti-consumerist bite

 

The Childhood of a Leader (2015) – Corbet audaciously & painstakingly represents our futile desire to trace back evil to explicable origins

 

Wedding in Blood (1973) – a straightforward Chabrol drama, with all his practiced skill but little of narrative or psychological distinction

 

Moonlight (2016) – Jenkins’ utterly enveloping, structurally impeccable study carries a wondrous sense of elevation, immersion and destiny

 

Le Testament d’Orphee (1959) – Cocteau’s farewell film, a marvelously strange but enraptured assertion of restless poetic sensibility

 

Body Double (1984) – one’s assessment would drown in reservations, if not for De Palma’s often ravishing, utterly spellbinding scenemaking

 

The Sidewalk is Gone (2002) – but even in such a relatively minor diversion, Tsai’s peculiar deadpan poetry of absences remains alluring

 

Villain (1971) – Tuchner’s slab of British gangland nastiness; only modest surprises, but should satisfy most cravings for red meat

 

Divines (2016) – Benyamina’s deeply-rooted yet transcendent drama of young female overreach radiates thrilling cinematic and human energy

 

The Wild Bunch (1969) – in its chilling nihilistic perfection, Peckinpah’s tirelessly orchestrated epic remains an astonishment to behold

 

Cafe Lumiere (2003) – Hou pays beautiful tribute to Ozu’s complex grace and mild quirks, while noting Japan’s subsequent social evolution

 

The Big Sky (1952) – a work of grand spectacle and classic Hawksian human structures, tapping the faultlines of the nation’s harsh formation

 

The Innocents (2016) – Fontaine’s stark drama is moving and well-told, if ultimately slightly lacking in cinematic and moral distinctiveness

 

Winter Kills (1979) – Richert plays drolly with America’s unquenchable, helplessly romantic obsessions with conspiracy, power & myth-making

 

Demons (1985) – Bava’s gorily concentrated relish-fest may be, if nothing else, the movie a Billy Idol/Motley Crue et al soundtrack needs

 

You Only Live Twice (1967) – the fifth Bond film is already a largely ponderous experience, visual excellence & skin-deep “exoticism” aside

 

High-Rise (2015) – Wheatley’s fearsomely well-orchestrated, tightly-packed adaptation encompasses epochs of social delusions and faultlines

 

The Third Generation (1978) – Fassbinder’s pitiless diagnosis of post-war Germany as little more than a political and behavioral toilet

 

The Mirror has Two Faces (1996) – the movie’s vaguely affirmative core gets smothered by Streisand’s gooey, superficial manipulations

 

Hour of the Wolf (1968) – with ruthless concision, Bergman extrapolates the preoccupations of the artistic sensibility into pure horror film

 

Dog Eat Dog (2016) – Schrader impressively ventilates and transcends his paltry material, but the film still feels way beneath him

 

The Phantom of the Moulin-Rouge (1925) – Clair’s central dream of mischievous transcendence just about wins out over stodgy plotting

 

Second-Hand Hearts (1981) – one hopes Ashby’s angle was affectionately sociological more than raucous condescenion, but it’s tough to tell

 

Fellini’s Casanova (1976) – maybe Fellini’s most undervalued film, weary with the toll of such relentless pursuit and climax and aftermath

 

Danny Collins (2015) – in the absence of much else, Fogelman’s film feels as if everyone involved was basically just enjoying Pacino’s act

 

The Games of Angels (1964) – Borowczyk’s brief animation of industrialized destruction lies among his most precisely calculated visions

 

The Postman always Rings Twice (1981) – the mild erotic charge aside, Rafelson’s interest in the dated material remains a little mysterious

 

Wet Dreams (1974) – best known for Nick Ray’s (hauntingly wrecked) piece, but diverting throughout as a giddy/dirty conceptual time capsule

 

Little Men (2016) – another fine, minutely calibrated work from Sachs, deeply sympathetic to practical, economic and human limitations

 

La belle et la bete (1946) – Cocteau’s delightfully articulated, emotionally vivid myth, suffused in magic both as facilitator & as barrier

 

Winter of our Dreams (1981) – almost every scene of Duigan’s modest but precise drama feels possessed by some form of loss, lack or absence

 

Aquarius (2016) – Filho’s film teems with exquisitely measured social and personal observation, indelibly anchored by the incredible Braga

 

The Owl and the Pussycat (1970) – Ross’s drab comedy now looks like a time capsule for a particular strain of ugliness and coarseness

 

Une femme de menage (2002) – Berri’s film has all the prototypical virtues of French cinema, even if nothing about it is too surprising

 

Private Property (1960) – Stevens’ rediscovered class-conscious drama has a pretty effective angle on catastrophic envy and desire

 

The Wave (2015) – Uthaug’s throwback fjord disaster movie is just about passably watchable, as long as you can shut out the dialogue

 

The Trouble with Harry (1955) – for all its dark-sounding premise, Hitchcock’s comedy is mostly a trifling diversion from his major work

 

The Official Story (1985) – Puenzo’s solid study of political awakening is perhaps more conventionally executed than its theme requires

 

The Terminal Man (1974) – modestly cautionary "mind control" drama, enhanced by Hodges’ chilly, astute, deliberately-paced precision

 

Elegy to the Visitor from the Revolution (2011) – Diaz’ shimmering lament, suffused with loss, yet powered by the hope inherent in creation

 

Go Down, Death! (1944) – Williams’ morality tale remains startling for its potent conviction in the intervening reality of heaven and hell

 

The Oberwald Mystery (1980) – an unusual expression of Antonioni’s pervasive disquiet, emphasizing its technical modernity, yet lost in time

 

Sleeping Giant (2015) – Cividino ventilates his simple tale through superb feeling for youthful behaviour, morality and environment

 

Juste avant la nuit (1971) – Chabrol’s eerily well-controlled examination of transgression, guilt and morality; among his strongest works

 

Manchester by the Sea (2016) – Lonergan’s film isn’t without humour, but makes its mark as a rare sustained study of the contours of sadness

 

A Simple Story (1959) – aptly named, and yet the meticulousness and purity of Hanoun’s observation is its own kind of aesthetic complexity

 

Cannery Row (1982) –  Ward’s desired mythic artifice never entirely gels, but I may never forget the Nolte/Winger dancing scene at least

 

Nathalie Granger (1972) – Duras’ film is calm and almost narrative-free, yet seems to draw on a world of individual and systemic trauma

 

Lost River (2014) – Gosling’s strikingly weirdo directorial effort is strangely haunting, for all its stylistic and narrative excesses

 

Le roman de Werther (1938) – Ophuls’ eloquent, emotionally gripping tragic love story pulsates with his empathetic cinematic elegance

 

I Am Sam (2001) – Nelson’s film is such obvious nonsense that it’s best to treat the whole thing as an absurd parody, which mostly works

 

Salut les cubains! (1971) – Varda’s joyous (if arguably underly-politicized?) creativity renders still photographs as breathless as dance

 

Joy (2015) – perhaps the most straightforwardly satisfying example of Russell’s facility for effortless-seeming, intuitive organization

 

Onibaba (1964) – Shindo’s striking dark tapestry; perhaps not a work of great depth, but one of memorably needy, lusty, fearful texture

 

That’s Entertainment! III (1994) – a workmanlike compilation overall, distinctly lifted by some striking previously unseen material

 

Les intrigues de Sylvia Couski (1975) – Arrieta’s intriguingly elusive film; a highly fluid, open exercise in identity and performance

 

The Search (2014) – Hazanavicius provides some strikingly bleak recreations, but his narrative structure is overly limiting and unpersuasive

 

The Tiger of Eschnapur (1959) – almost at career-end, Lang concocts his most exotically ravishing expression of his ensnaring narrative

 

The Verdict (1982) – Lumet positions familiar material as a gripping wintery vision of light in the personal and institutional darkness

 

Business is Business (1971) – beneath the brash shenanigans, Verhoeven’s film is a somewhat wistful survey of a bleak sexual landscape

 

Hell or High Water (2016) – Mackenzie reaches a bit too strenuously for broader resonance, but it’s still a super-solid, loss-seeped drama

 

What did the Lady Forget (1937) – Ozu’s mildly provocative early sound film has all his smooth facility with distinctive family structures

 

I Ought to be in Pictures (1982) – hardly feels like Simon or Ross were really trying, but weary old-time know-how holds it together

 

The President (2014) – Makhmalbaf’s deeply-felt odyssey constitutes a desolately resonant reference point for Trump-fueled despair

 

Eldridge Cleaver (1970) –  Klein’s punchy portrait should strike our politically destitute era as hard as ever, as iconography & as attitude

 

Fruits of Passion (1981) – Terayama’s committed but inherently rather detached film of intense erotic presences within structuring absences

 

The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956) – Walsh’s provocative deconstruction of women and/as currency, presented with suitably brassy polish

 

Rams (2015) – Hakonarson’s film is surprisingly satisfying both as quirky sociological window and as cornerstone of the sheep-film pantheon

 

Out of Season (1975) – Bridges’ meaningless, glumly-acted drama feels like observing a turgid funeral march toward a well-signposted grave

 

Lessons of Darkness (1992) – Herzog’s relatively conventional pictorial mastery communicates reverence but too, at times, unexpressed horror

 

49th Parallel (1941) – Powell’s Nazis-in-Canada epic still excites with its ambition and commitment, despite its over-emphatic aspects

 

Life of Riley (2014) – a perfect end point for Resnais: a magnificent artificiality, suffused with dreamy yet intricate cinematic mystery

 

Score (1974) – Metzger’s full-bodied, fairy-tale-inflected, cinematically & verbally quite well-articulated celebration of bisexual hedonism

 

Melancholia (2008) – Diaz’s enormously striking, anguished, necessarily fractured expression of relentless personal and national trauma

 

Grass (1925) – Cooper and Schoedsack’s documentary odyssey falls a little short of cinematic grandeur, for all its many stunning images

 

Maggie’s Plan (2015) – the Miller/Gerwig brand names feel to be severely flagging in this unaccountably mechanical, low-insight effort

 

Courage for every day (1964) – Schorm’s fluidly observed but not greatly distinctive study of escalating (righteous) rage against the system

 

Mistress (1992) – Primus’ love/hate Hollywood vignette occasionally spins its general flatness into something more interestingly dark

 

Perceval le gallois (1978) – tonally & structurally, one of Rohmer’s most distinctive works, but no less morally & sociologically bracing

 

Knight of Cups (2015) – hard to assess whether Malick is trapped in cinematic affectation, or in some sense truly artistically liberated

 

The Sorrow and the Pity (1969) – Ophuls’ milestone film is (true to the history it addresses) as pervasively unsatisfying as it is imposing

 

Heat (1986) – the movie has hints of something darker and dreamier, but Richards’ sometimes appealing rhythms aren’t enough to get there

 

The Ghost that Never Returns (1930) – Room’s drama is just about as hauntingly evocative as its title, with terrifically visualized moments

 

Captain Fantastic (2016) – the film’s weaknesses are easily forgiven, given Ross’s genial skill and the inherent appeal of non-conformity

 

The Exterminating Angel (1962) – Bunuel’s brilliantly strange expression of the corrupt stasis at the heart of the ruling establishments

 

Time out of Mind (2014) – Moverman’s largely effective study of homelessness, drawing on both immersed realism and resourceful artifice

 

The Demons (1973) – on paper it sounds like a feverish trash explosion, but in practice Franco renders it plodding, flat and repetitive 

 

Viva (2007) – Biller’s immensely pleasurable, perfectly designed and sustained 70’s evocation/parody/critique/lament/you name it…

 

Mr. Freedom (1969) – Klein’s remarkable piece of pop-art distills American grandstanding to a hyperactive, brightly coloured junkyard

 

Swiss Army Man (2016) – just when you think there can be no new love stories, Kwan and Scheinert’s dank yet delicate oddity proves otherwise

 

The Ballad of Narayama (1958) - Kinoshita’s grim tale has a sustained beauty, but one of sustained artificiality, and inherent distance

 

Ornette: Made in America (1985) – Clarke’s strategically eccentric approach perfectly complements Coleman’s genially iconoclastic power

 

Bang Gang (2015) – Husson’s study of “modern love” is accomplished and searching in some respects, overly posed and perfunctory in others

 

The Front (1976) – Ritt’s blacklist comedy is rather too sparse and unatmospheric to leave much of an impression, beyond dutiful admiration

 

Love Battles (2013) – Doillon & the actors arrive at some memorably erotic physical & emotional architecture, which must count for something

 

Primary (1960) – Drew’s alert and stimulating time-capsule study of the low-tech drudgery and mundanity on the road to ultimate power

 

Ashes (2012) – Apichatpong dreams briefly, turbulently of pushing his cinema away, but ultimately it returns, in all its elemental beauty

 

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) – perhaps Peckinpah’s greatest, most epically rueful film, seeped in a decay both romantic and terrible

 

City of Women (1980) – only Fellini could rattle around deep inside his own ass with such sustained, unbound, happily problematic brilliance

 

The Spy in Black (1939) – Powell’s well-paced film certainly points toward the confidence and scope of his soon-to-follow masterworks

 

Green Room (2015) – hard to give much of a damn about Saulnier’s drama, for all its attention to detail and engagingly naturalistic aspects

 

The Marquise of O (1976) – Rohmer’s striking case study of tangled proprieties & impulses provides a strong adjunct to his core achievement

 

Big Trouble (1986) – feels most like Cassavetes when the messy narrative yields to an eccentric observance of life as actorly improvisation

 

Liebelei (1933) – not as glorious as Ophuls’ later works, but demonstrating all the elements of his expansive, empathetic cinematic mastery

 

Born to be Blue (2015) – Budreau’s Chet Baker film benefits from Hawke’s performance, but feels overly formal and emotionally distanced

 

L’ange et la femme (1977) – Carle’s strange, sparse, isolated fantasy somehow seems to draw on Quebec’s politically-charged otherness

 

Short Term 12 (2013) – Cretton’s film is deft and often quite moving, even if driven by a familiar form of narrative over-compression

 

The Pumpkin Eater (1964) – striking when at its most rawly, despairingly Pinteresque; at other times it feels forced in its icy alienation

 

11 Minutes (2015) – Skolimowski’s exercise in connection & causation is skillful, but certainly more limited & mannered than his best work

 

Sudden Impact (1983) – Eastwood’s brash portrayal of America as crime-ridden cesspit; one hopes the intention was at least quasi-satiric

 

Oyuki the Virgin (1935) – Mizoguchi’s study of female self-determination against society’s disdain; not as potent now as his greatest works

 

Sunset Song (2015) – Davies’ beautiful, intimate deeply-rooted rural chronicle holds a wealth of sociological and philosophical complexity

 

Blood and Black Lace (1964) – Bava at lurid play in his perfect stylized milieu; the results are often ravishing, if only fleetingly

 

Money Monster (2016) – Foster’s movie is to an impactful topical commentary as a bunch of tweets are to an eloquently reflective essay

 

Le chat (1971) – Granier-Deferre’s sober tale, somewhat more enduring than the clapped-out lives it depicts; Gabin/Signoret obviously help

 

The Lobster (2015) – Lanthimos’ unique comedy expresses with superb elegance the desperate tyranny of our social and cultural ideologies

 

The Battle of the Sexes (1928) – one perhaps detects Griffith most keenly when the battling yields to depicting stupidity and suffering

 

Vagabond (1985) – Varda’s calmly expansive approach places questions of self-determination vs. victimhood into constant, doomed tension

 

Trumbo (2015) – I suppose it’s somewhat ironic that Roach’s portrayal of a writer’s fiery defiance should be so safe and pedestrian

 

Woyzeck (1979) – Herzog’s small-scale film encompasses a wealth of twisted observation, with Kinski’s staggering presence at its fulcrum

 

Midnight Special (2016) – Nichols brings it a reflective sheen and classy casting, but ultimately it’s just more unilluminating hocus-pocus

 

Festival panafricain d’Alger (1969) – Klein’s productively exhausting record pulsates with music, incident and hunger for revolution

 

The D Train (2015) – Mogul/Paul’s comedy of renewal through sexual and social repositioning stops well short of scorching the tracks

 

Dernier domicile connu (1970) – Giovanni’s solid worn-out-shoe-leather police drama, seeped in disillusionment at societal shortcomings

 

Neighbors (1981) – Avildsen’s stiff corpse of a comedy, surely one of the more clueless efforts ever turned in by an Oscar-winning director

 

Coming Home (2014) – Zhang’s drama is no doubt heartfelt, but ultimately a trifling way of dealing with politically charged material

 

Night Mail (1936) – Watt and Wright’s propulsive portrait of pre-war Britain evokes both industrial ingenuity and menial human confinement

 

Tale of Tales (2015) – Garrone’s happy if unimportant blend of the inconsequentiality of bedtime stories, & the adult dreams to follow later

 

Super Fly (1972) – O’Neal’s mountainously iconic presence thrives mightily against Parks’ provocatively textured cinematic rhythms

 

Le beau marriage (1982) – Rohmer’s merely superficially slight comedy somehow seems to foresee the vexing weightlessness of the online era

 

45 Years (2015) – Haigh’s wondrously acted (or inhabited) study is a quietly tragic masterpiece of emotional calibration and evocation

 

The Lickerish Quartet (1970) – Metzger asserts erotica’s reality-bending power, and all but seduces/bludgeons you into believing it

 

Interior. Leather Bar. (2013) – Franco/Mathews’s film is certainly fascinating, even if marked as much by glibness as by profound reflection

 

Princesse Tam-Tam (1935) – Greville’s movie would be of little interest, beyond its compromised, contradictory use of Josephine Baker

 

The Shallows (2016) – Collet-Serra’s concentrated (and, yes, un-deep) woman-in-peril drama does sustain a certain sensationalistic beauty

 

La rupture (1970) – Chabrol pushes events & characterizations near absurdity, all the better to emphasize the film’s central moral strength

 

Anomalisa (2015) – the existential despair and inner heaviness may not be so new, but Kaufman’s astounding expression of it certainly is

 

Un certo giorno (1968) – Olmi’s calmly probing observation of a business executive, musing on the contingencies of success and contentment

 

Black Widow (1987) – for all its limitations, Rafelson’s drama is perpetually alluring for its immersion in female desire and fascination

 

All our Desires (2011) – Lioret’s amalgam of modest social crusade & hankie-friendly melodrama; smooth, but rather perplexingly forgettable

 

The Phynx (1970) – Katzin’s bizarre, leaden attempt at a madcap generation-spanning celebrity-strewn romp evokes near-total bewilderment

 

By the Sea (2015) – generally interesting but persistently limited attempt by Jolie to occupy the cinematic territory of past masters

 

The Night Heaven Fell (1958) – Vadim delivers accomplished Bardot-ogling, but his largely bleak film talks of passion more than it evokes it

 

Roar (1981) –  much as Harrison’s one-of-a-kind movie asserts man/beast harmony, the sense of otherness and threat is often plain terrifying

 

Messidor (1979) – another sparsely transporting study by Tanner, of the intertwined living & dying fueled by directionless, doomed movement

 

The Sky Trembles…(2015) – Rivers’ powerfully disquieting drama, seemingly a challenge to underexamined ideas of cinema as cultural leveler

 

The French (1982) – Klein’s wide-ranging tournament record, free of pumped-up glamour, teeming with solid time capsule-type pleasures now

 

Yolanda and the Thief (1945) – not the most coherent of musicals, but Minnelli’s expressive mastery compensates for its deficiencies

 

The Witch (2015) – Eggers’ impressive film navigates with imposingly chilly finesse between disparate occurrences and uncertainties

 

Nora Helmer (1974) – Fassbinder gives Ibsen’s play a fascinatingly ritualistic tone, eloquently evoking social and psychological constraints

 

The Neon Demon (2016) – like its subject, Refn’s film of fleetingly alluring surfaces & concepts seems designed to be rapidly disposed of

 

Mr. and Mrs. Kabal’s Theatre (1967) – Borowczyk’s disquieting, sparse animation, studded with piercing dreams of real-world erotica ahead

 

Straight Outta Compton (2015) – Gray’s essentially old-fashioned telling often falls a bit flat, excepting when it taps into social currents

 

La promesse (1996) – emblematic Dardenne brothers work, applying propulsive narrative technique to searching, socially-grounded material

 

Ill Met by Moonlight (1957) – a well-told yarn, but too narrow in its scope for Powell and Pressburger’s masterful sensibility to flourish

 

Starstruck (1982) – Armstrong happily delivers the requisite tacky set-pieces, while never losing her sense of social and cultural realities

 

Mauvaise graine (1934) – Wilder’s debut (!) is an appealing if rather rushed drama, more at ease with the convivial than the hard-bitten

 

The Forbidden Room (2015) – Maddin/Johnson’s astounding, unprecedented creation, crafted with volcanic relish from cinema’s scrappy margins

 

Serail (1976) – de Gregorio’s playful and yet deadly serious mystery, drawing ever-inward while suggesting limitless further unpackings

 

Hail, Caesar! (2016) – with consummate skill, the Coens celebrate both the technical mastery and mythic reach of classic Hollywood

 

Demons 2 (1986) – the movie races along in its opportunistically haphazard way, seldom providing much basis for rating Bava Jr. as a stylist

 

Frankenstein must be Destroyed (1969) – Fisher’s study in escalating anguish and doom is intensely focused, if stately by modern standards

 

Steve Jobs (2015) – Boyle/Sorkin’s highly structured, mannered, repetitive approach falls flat, to the point of near-boredom by the end

 

The Goalie’s Anxiety…(1972) – from Wenders’ early, questing period; full of smart moves, but not ultimately yielding his richest outcomes

 

Code 46 (2003) – Winterbottom’s enigmatic semi-thriller, a deadened distillation of elements from similar films, never seems necessary

 

Full Moon in Paris (1984) – Rohmer’s beautifully structured (albeit highly typical) study of a young woman’s doomed idealistic overreach

 

Leave her to Heaven (1945) – Stahl paints the prettiest of aspirational postcards, then lets loose Tierney’s sensational malevolence

 

The Invitation (2015) – Kusama expertly shapes the Purge-like premise into a human exploration as well as a genre-friendly creep-out

 

Edvard Munch (1974) – Watkins’ rewarding multi-facteted investigation, intimately evocative while insisting on social and historical context

 

99 Homes (2014) – Bahrani’s film is full of compelling observation, fortunately not too obscured by the labored, unconvincing plot mechanics

 

Spirits of the Dead (1968) – Malle, Fellini & Vadim execute their respective segments with solidity, tortured razzle-dazzle & shamelessness

 

Spectre (2015) – Mendes’ digitized spectacle-making often fleetingly dazzles, but the film’s heart feels entirely weary, if not absent

 

Heremias (2006) – Diaz’ long but monumentally rewarding narrative of wrenching personal evolution in a cruel, unyielding environment

 

My Brilliant Career (1979) – Armstrong’s eternally pleasurable, well-observed study of a vibrant young woman determined to set her own path

 

The Treasure (2015) – Porumboiu holds the drudgeries of existence and the possibility of mythic triumph in mysteriously perfect balance

 

Things to Come (1936) – the film’s strident certainty is hard to warm to now, no less than the oppressive scale of Menzies’ visualizations

 

Sid and Nancy (1986) – Cox ably charts the relationship’s raucous otherness, but at the (inevitable?) cost of a rather wearying film

 

The Virgin’s Bed (1969) – even as it utterly strangifies the Biblical references, Garrel’s stark film is carried by revolutionary faith

 

Creed (2015) – Coogler’s object lesson in renewing familiar devices & structures, through sensitivity to character, & sheer cinematic smarts

 

The Sunday Woman (1975) – Comencini’s mystery has an appealing cast and playful streak, but just succumbs to endless unilluminating tangles

 

Last Love (2013) – Nettelbeck’s glossy, deadening sap-odyssey lurches shambolically from one meaningless exchange/confrontation to another

 

Lightning (1952) – Naruse’s customarily acute observation of family turmoil winds its way to a quiet assertion of self-determination

 

Suffragette (2015) – much in Gavron’s scrupulous film is stirring, but such a history surely demanded a more radical, wayward presentation

 

The Strange Affair (1968) – and also just a bit strained, as Greene jazzes up a familiar trajectory through seediness and stained decency

 

Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine (2005) – Tscherkassky reconfigures violent Western genre pleasures as deep cinematic trauma

 

Room (2015) – Abrahamson’s affinity for the child’s perceptions, & for the competing confinements of lived experiences, bring it in solidly

 

May Days (1978) – Klein’s loosely-compiled record of Paris 1968, a wistful/stirring reference point for dreams of counter-Trumpian action?

 

Paris by Night (1989) – Hare’s sharp modern noir, a politically charged deconstruction of Rampling’s superbly incarnated protagonist

 

Camille 2000 (1969) – the plot and characters barely register really, but Metzger’s erotic set-pieces are something to contemplate

 

Hitchcock Truffaut (2015) – Jones’ essay film is a twinkling, maturely-flavoured drink from one of film culture’s inexhaustible fountains

 

Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) – Brooks’ fragmented, impressionistic filming and Keaton’s idiosyncrasy yield a fascinatingly evasive study

 

Conte d’ete (1996) – Rohmer’s beautiful study of, essentially, behavioural and emotional shallowness, against a setting of quiet continuity

 

Crimson Peak (2015) – not untypically, the blood all flows through del Toro’s design and imagery, seldom through his pale narrative

 

Viktor und Viktoria (1932) – Schunzel’s zippy little trifle, not a major entry in the cinema of desire, even less that of queerness

 

Dirty Pretty Things (2002) – Frears provides plenty to grimly chew over, but sacrifices some penetration for the sake of thriller mechanics

 

Female Vampire (1972) – the only structuring principle of Franco’s trudging, barely sentient grab-bag is Romay’s perpetually naked body

 

The Danish Girl (2015) – Hooper’s deadening sensitivity & caution often seem like a denial of the story’s physical & emotional specificity

 

The Running Man (1963) – Reed’s cat-and-mouse drama trots blandly along, seemingly barely engaged with the material’s possibilities

 

Trances (1981) – El Maanouni’s multi-faceted exploration of performance & environment; informative & rousing, if not quite deliriously so

 

Two Men in Town (2014) – Bouchareb’s chronicle of the hateful erosion of new beginnings, most interesting in its wider angle moments

 

Du cote de la cote (1958) – Varda’s exquisite cataloguing of sights from the Riviera, ultimately as attuned to exclusion as to celebration

 

Concussion (2015) – Landesman only sporadically rises above soft-centered pedestrianism to evoke, say, the steel and scope of a Michael Mann

 

Nada (1974) – Chabrol’s brisk terrorism drama often flirts with quasi-absurdity; but then, it seems to ask, what political project doesn’t?

 

River of Grass (1994) – Reichardt’s not unrewarding but often rather peculiar debut is far from her most unified or fully realized work

 

The Camp Followers (1965) – Zurlini’s desolate odyssey of war and sexual brutality accumulates in despairing, near-disbelieving power

 

Every Thing Will Be Fine (2015) – occasionally interesting for its icy dread and regret, but Wenders generally feels rather marooned here

 

Charley Varrick (1973) – Siegel’s memorable thriller, a beautifully structured abstraction layered with terse observation and texture

 

Ceremonie d’amour (1987) – Borowczyk’s late return to form, almost like an interrogation held within an erotically-charged private structure

 

Bright Road (1953) – the sentimental, insulated triviality of Mayer’s film largely undermines the historical significance of its black cast

 

On my Way (2013) – Bercot plays around with Deneuve’s star image and lasting if wearier allure, to pleasant if not very significant effect

 

The Warriors (1979) – propelled by Hill’s feeling for edgy confrontations in ominous spaces; civilization out at the margins, if anywhere

 

Perdida (2009) – a little treat of a movie, albeit rather softball-ish, as Garcia-Besne excavates intertwined family & film industry history

 

Commandment Keeper Church… (1940) – in their frail endurance, Hurston’s fragmented recordings evoke a quiet sea of reverence, and some fear