Sunday, July 31, 2016

Movie tweets to July 31, 2016


War Requiem (1989) – a modest Jarman work, but drawing powerfully from the dark ocean of war-related imagery, from the drab to the psychotic



Woman in the Dunes (1964) – despite Teshigahara’s facility, ultimately more a visually arresting entertainment than a vital exploration



A Walk in the Woods (2015) – Kwapis’ trek movie, sticking diligently to the most banal trails, makes Wild feel like the work of Antonioni



Three Songs about Lenin (1934) – for all Vertov’s cinematic commitment, feels now much like being preached at for a (rather long) hour



Sicario (2015) – Villeneuve’s often arresting but ultimately insufficiently complex probe into America’s murky moral and legal heart



A Drama of Jealousy (1970) – Scola’s interrogative approach doesn’t ultimately excavate much depth, for all the energy and incident



Touchy Feely (2013) – Shelton has some interesting concepts & juxtapositions, but her formal experiments feel like mere artistic groping



Echappement libre (1964) – Becker’s Belmondo/Seberg reteaming is zippy fun, but stuck in genre convention, where Breathless transcended it



Inside Out (2015) – intriguing to think such a film could illuminate consciousness, if it lived way further outside the Hollywood headspace



Repast (1951) – Naruse’s absorbing study of a strained marriage, finely tuned to the ever-present reminders of other roads not taken



She’s Funny that Way (2014) – Bogdanovich observes this heavygoing farce with a glassily emphatic intensity, underlining its disembodiment



La tete d’un homme (1933) – Duvivier’s Maigret mystery is compelling for its intense, visually engaged examination of twisted psychology



The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology (2015) – among much else, a useful reference point for untangling the wearisome mechanics of Trumpism



Three into Two Won’t Go (1969) – Hall’s rather flat, or alternatively, intriguingly muted drama of middle-class lies and disappointments



Histoire de Marie et Julien (2003) – Rivette’s brilliant “ghost” story, a film of most quietly intricate structural and emotional complexity



Love Story (1970) – a lot of undistinguished 70s cinema looks more textured with time; this particular one, not really so much



The Look of Silence (2014) – Oppenheimer’s brilliantly structured, devastatingly poised interrogation of overwhelming moral complexities



Too Late for Kisses (1949) – rather plainly visualized, but you feel the collective creative relish driving Scott’s patriarchy-busting moves



Irreversible (2002) – Noe’s notorious film: too (in its way) sincere to be exploitative, too nakedly experimental to be passionately admired



Cruising (1980) – Friedkin’s notorious film isn’t without artful ambiguity & distance, but hard to separate it from the shallow opportunism



Victoria (2015) – Schipper’s single-take virtuosity expresses something of Europe’s uncertain, alternatively giddy and traumatized momentum



Mister Roberts (1955) – Ford/LeRoy’s easygoing wartime chronicle remains a pleasant showcase for star interactions, dated attitudes aside



The Practice of Love (1985) – less striking than Export’s majestic Invisible Adversaries, but in its own way as pervasively disruptive



Exorcist II: the Heretic (1977) – Boorman succeeds in evading the original’s literal-mindedness, but struggles to articulate his own vision



Android Dreams (2014) – De Sosa’s desolate approach to science fiction seems to ring with echoes of Europe’s lost vitality and coherence



The Trial (1962) – Welles’ imposing if imperfect adaptation of Kafka, heavy with darkly blended visual, psychological and historical trauma



The Exquisite Corpus (2015) – Tscherkassky converts scraps of titillation into an incendiary, seductive yet accusatory cinematic labyrinth



The Ninth Configuration (1980) – Blatty’s provocative drama glimpses the vastness of American madness, but disappointingly averts its gaze



Szamanka (1996) – Zulawski’s feverish Last Tango, each combustible encounter marking one step closer to psychic (and actual?) apocalypse



I Confess (1953) – Hitchcock’s stark study of guilt and suppression, articulated at times in a fascinatingly purged, almost Bressonian style



Macaroni (1985) – little more than a Naples travelogue, with Scola deploying Lemmon and Mastroianni in the most obvious manner possible



An Enemy of the People (1978) – Schaefer’s far too stagy, actorly & unatmospheric version of the play, unequal to McQueen’s quiet commitment



Lunacy (2005) – Svankmajer’s imposing cinematic edifice, built (over-built?) at the intersection of free will, madness and unbound flesh



I Married a Witch (1942) – gimmicks and special effects (like Veronica Lake) aside, much of Clair’s high-concept comedy is pretty pedestrian



The Future (2013) – we already know the future isn’t what it used to be, but Carrasco makes the point with virtuosic low-budget strangeness



Thieves after Dark (1983) – Fuller’s fatalistic French thriller is too often bland and slack, but his signature isn’t entirely absent



Jimmy’s Hall (2014) – not a major Loach work, but it draws powerfully on ongoing institutional fear of worker organization and expression



Loving Couples (1964) – Zetterling’s astounding drama often seems to be drawing on the entirety of female experience, desire & suppression



Beasts of no Nation (2015) – Fukunaga leads us into incomprehensible experience; perhaps the film’s failures to illuminate it are deliberate



Fantastic Planet (1973) – Laloux’s fantasy defines its own artistic universe, powered by allegory, savagery, whimsy, vision and silliness



Nightcrawler (2014) – Gilroy quite ingeniously locates modern day vampirism in the overlap of TV news and morally vacuous career drive



Walkover (1965) – Skolimowski’s early films are endlessly diverting, pugnaciously grounded while elevated with a uniquely jagged energy



Trainwreck (2015) – less funny and investigative than any random episode of Schumer’s show, and laden down with trivial distractions



The 3 Penny Opera (1931) – Pabst’s filming is piercing at times, but at others it seems to drift, ending up rather shapeless and perplexing



The Gambler (2014) – Wyatt’s film delivers some old-fashioned pleasures, but too often seems merely to strike grimly superficial poses



Todo moro (1976) – Petri’s intense, eloquently scathing representation of Italy’s governing rot, darkly foreseeing a terrible cleansing



Eisenstein in Guanajuato (2015) – or maybe it’s just a penis-fixated buffoon masquerading as him, in one of Greenaway’s less imposing works



Adua & her Friends (1960) – Pietrangeli’s study of female collaboration is so pleasurable, their final failure hits all the more tragically



A Spell to Ward off the Darkness (2013) – or else to willingly succumb to it, in Russell/Rivers’ eccentric but mysteriously balanced study



Secrets (1971) – Saville’s study of a family and its transgressions searches too hard for shards of significance, but doesn’t entirely fail



Un chant d’amour (1950) – Genet’s remains one of cinema’s most beautifully expressed wishes, of an enacted desire that displaces the law



CQ (2001) – Coppola (no Peter Strickland) throws in plenty of cinephile-friendly eye candy, but overall it’s stylistically uninteresting



The Perfume of the Lady in Black (1974) – Barilli’s grab-bag trauma drama, rendered eerily coherent by sheer well-visualized conviction



Love & Mercy (2015) – Pohlad’s Brian Wilson biography, unusually attentive both to its characters and to the texture of the creative process



Quand tu liras cette letter (1953) – Melville packs a huge amount of social observation and contrast into this still bitingly adult drama



Love & Friendship (2016) – an expertly-judged and -balanced social dissection, extending Stillman’s slowly-accumulating perfect score



The Devil’s Eye (1960) – an oddly-premised Bergman “comedy” that’s both amusing and severe, complementing his other work of the period



Crimes of Passion (1984) – Russell’s sort-of-inspired sleaze opera, intermittently pointlessly posing as a serious investigation of desire



La course du lievre…(1972) – Clement’s amazingly cast crime drama encompasses numerous intriguing takes on the genre’s inherent fancifulness



Tangerine (2015) – Baker’s wonderfully energetic mini-odyssey, a very modern application of the everyone-has-her/his-reasons philosophy



That is the Dawn (1956) – Bunuel’s romantic drama, driven by deeply-felt social compassion, housing a calm but clear vein of transgression



The Falling (2014) – Morley’s enthralling fable of female mystery and complexity, exquisitely conceived and realized in every detail



Order of Death (1983) – Faenza’s murky storytelling doesn’t realize the potential of the premise, & certainly not of the imaginative casting



Within our Gates (1920) – Micheaux’s (objectively, often bizarrely choppy) storytelling expresses the tangled pain of black life in America



Be with Me (2005) – Khoo’s quiet drama of loss & longing doesn’t initially seem too special, but thrives through interesting juxtapositions



Obsession (1976) – De Palma’s immaculately sustained sensual reverie, channeling Vertigo’s acuteness into stunned, dream-like experience



On the Silver Globe (1988) – Zulawski’s unfinished forward-looking epic; sadly, a bit of a monotonous slog, for all its allusive power



Sabrina (1954) – not one of Wilder’s more incisive films, but an eternally pleasant confection, not least for the casting of course



The Salt of the Earth (2014) – Salgado’s work is soberingly limitless, but Wenders doesn’t bring much more than hushed reverence toward it



McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) – Altman’s “revisionism” mostly consists of discarding one cinematic myth for a stranger, dreamier replacement



Jane B. par Agnes V. (1988) – Varda’s blissfully inventive, ultra-Varda-ish placing of the evasive Birkin as the gateway to a cinematic maze



Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) – Hawks’ classic comedy of gender exaggeration, studded (!) with memorable (in various ways!) set-pieces



Misunderstood (2014) – Argento’s study of a largely unloved child, interestingly channeling the whims and extremes of her own sensibility



Tempest (1982) – a weird Mazursky project that plays almost like a bloated, unfocused parody of his best work; enjoyable viewing regardless



Sex is Comedy (2002) – a lighter yet still troubling work from Breillat, on the tensions underlying the portrayal of desire in cinema



Chicago (1927) – Urson’s precursor to the musical doesn’t exude much jazz age flavour but is enjoyable anyway, with a nice vein of cynicism



Dheepan (2015) – the derided ending is actually the most interesting artistic flourish in Audiard’s otherwise unremarkably scrupulous study



Laughter in the Dark (1969) – Nabokov’s fascinating tale probably should have yielded a sharper film than Richardson put together here



Goltzius and the Pelican Company (2012) – Greenaway remains a dauntingly astonishing architect of intellectual and cinematic structures



The Wild Duck (1976) – sad that Seberg registers so little in her final film, but it’s sensitive to the complexities of Ibsen’s play



Ricki and the Flash (2015) – Demme can’t tease much depth out of such trivial material; still, he delivers easy, if mostly flashless fun



La belle captive (1983) – one of Robbe-Grillet’s best films, crafting a stylish dream-logic narrative, pervaded by anxiety and obsession



Personal Velocity (2002) – Miller’s three-part film is an almost exemplary example of how small things, shown on screen, may become profound



Pepe le Moko (1937) – one still dreamily loses oneself in the doomed machinations, as much as in Duvivier’s fluent evocation of the Casbah



Queen of Earth (2015) – Perry’s virtuoso pivot from the flowing literacy of Listen Up Philip, deep into the unyielding contours of trauma



Battles without Honor and Humanity (1973) – and fought against a landscape largely free of hope or integrity, in Fukasaku’s gangster classic



They made me a Fugitive (1947) – Cavalcanti’s excellent study in post-war venality, hustling & despair, crackingly conceived & articulated



The Human Centipede (2009) – Six maintains the creepiness pretty well, but it’s all just too hermetically weird to have much evocative power



La tendre ennemie (1936) – in its investigation of female desire, Ophuls’ rather cluttered high-concept film calls ahead to Lola Montes



Everybody’s All-American (1988) – Hackford’s bland slog through years and regrets carries little deep sense of time, place or real character



Blanche (1971) – Borowczyk’s exquisitely controlled tale of repressed desire and manipulation, essential to a rounded view of his cinema



Magic Mike XXL (2015) – if nothing else, Jacobs’ film is striking for its near-total immersion in (a certain concept of) female pleasure



La chienne (1931) – irresistible early Renoir, telling its twisted tale with amused attentiveness to the complexities of human motivations



The Last Five Years (2014) – LaGravenese’s sweetly fluid musical, providing a more than adequate stop-off between more consequential movies



Rysopis (1965) – Skolimowski elevates the mundane through sustained imagination, pace, and affinity for everyday oddities and mysteries



She’s Gotta Have It (1986) – Lee’s joy-evoking, super-inventive debut, the all-time great cinematic appetizer to a staggeringly rich career



The Middleman (1976) – Ray’s studies of compromised modern India are among his most interesting work, despite some excessive underlining



Leviathan (2012) – Castaing-Taylor/Paravel’s turbulently meditative record/poem, wondrous and horrible, of the ocean and industrial man



Shoot the Pianist (1960) – Truffaut’s loosely discursive approach to the noir material feels largely as fresh and modern as ever



Invincible (2001) – Herzog is well-attuned to the material’s perverse elements, but too often falls merely into meandering, dour stateliness



A Walk Through H (1978) – Greenaway’s multi-layered journey, a dauntingly self-contained mythology that’s nevertheless bracingly liberating



Trois places pour le 26 (1988) – Demy’s overlooked last film, a happily retro musical that’s also a remarkable, transgressive investigation



The Symbol of the Unconquered (1920) – even in this incomplete state, Micheaux’s film provides a compelling window on racial complexities



A Hijacking (2012) – Lindholm’s drama provides a more quietly piercing, far less bombastic contrast to the broadly similar Captain Phillips



High Plains Drifter (1973) – Eastwood’s early film as director; a rigorously unfussy step on his long, active road of self-myth construction



La vie de famille (1985) – Doillon’s examination, both incisive & playful, of ambiguities that make a family (if the concept exists at all)



The Rink (1916) – Chaplin’s action-packed short is ultimately a showcase for ceaseless roller-skating aplomb, with Charlie’s delight evident



Les voleurs (1996) – one of Techine’s very best films, navigating its narrative and thematic complexities with near-supernatural assurance



Opening Night (1977) – a Cassavetes masterpiece, brilliantly expressing the traumas and liberating breakthroughs of acting and creation



My Neighbor Totoro (1988) – a more small-scale example of Miyazaki’s aesthetic – it’s the wondrous trippiness which mostly makes the movie



Nothing Sacred (1937) – Wellman’s classic, savvy comedy; the themes of public manipulation and rigged identification haven’t aged a bit



I’m Going Home (2001) – de Oliveira’s film has its own entrancing sense of ethicism and elegance, and some unexpectedly funny contrivances



Designing Woman (1957) – Minnelli’s romantic comedy is most alluring when the mostly mundane plotting gives way to cinematic exuberance



The Blue Room (2014) – Amalric’s intricately structured exercise in erotic, ominous fatalism, just about perfectly judged throughout



Best Friends (1982) – Jewison’s smoothly dawdling, star-caressing vehicle hardly registers as a comedy, or as anything at all really



Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild’s Revenge (1924) – for all its spectacle, Lang’s sequel is singularly governed by all-consuming obsession



Everybody Wants Some!! (2016) – Linklater in his most gracefully unforced mode, observing the tumble of competitiveness and camarderie



Black Lizard (1968) – Fukasaku’s crime/desire romp leaps through its knowingly outlandish narrative with gleeful, stylish self-awareness



The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2015) – Nelson’s linear approach sacrifices some fire and texture, but still vital viewing



A Lesson in Love (1954) – only an intermittently profound one though, in this fanciful, pleasantly over-stuffed early Bergman comedy



The Inner Life of Martin Frost (2007) – Auster’s ultra-Austerian journey through the mysteries of creativity, to no clear destination



Ro.Pa.Go.G (1963) – one of the best anthology films, leaving few aspects of consumerism unkicked; Pasolini’s segment is especially strong



Bringing out the Dead (1999) – Scorsese’s morally anguished drama is superbly rendered of course, but its darkness houses familiar ghosts



Je t’aime moi non plus (1976) – Gainsbourg’s amazing, desperate vision; a confused but unashamed psyche yelling from the world’s asshole



Miss Julie (2014) – Ullmann’s increasingly intense version of the play is more wrenching but less cinematically engaging than Sjoberg’s



The New Babylon (1929) – Kozintsev/Trauberg’s deeply immersed, full-to-bursting drama, an absolute highlight of the Soviet silent cinema



Chi-Raq (2015) – as vital as ever, Lee crafts an unflaggingly rich, angry engagement with violence, community and cinematic convention



Lola Montes (1955) – Ophuls’ gorgeous last film, limitless and liberated even as it places Lola in the most elegant of cinematic prisons



The American Dreamer (1971) – befitting its title, the portrait stamps Hopper as a gloriously messy amalgam, and a wondrous bullshitter



Documenteur (1981) – Varda’s typically frank portrayal of adaptation, suffused with quiet melancholy and ceaseless, deconstructive curiosity



An American Tragedy (1931) – Sternberg’s drama is best when immersed in shifty desire, and in the complexity of moral and social calculation



The Mysteries of Paris (2015) – a valuable stab, if haunted by absences, at the daunting task of supplementing Rivette’s masterpiece Out 1



“M” (1951) – Losey’s remake, less viscerally dazzling than the original, just as gripping for cinematic fluidity & steely social awareness



Max mon amour (1986) – Oshima’s woman-loves-chimp satire has a subversive premise and largely placid execution, which may be the main joke



Portrait of Jason (1967) – it’s impossible in Clarke’s amazing “portrait” to disentangle revelation from performance, form from content



Saint Laurent (2014) – Bonello’s consistently fascinating, highly multi-faceted exercise in the complexities of representation & appearance



Little Darlings (1980) – Maxwell’s film engages in some interesting ways with teen female attitudes, for all its simplification & silliness



Love One Another (1922) – Dreyer’s early, rather cluttered drama is entirely of this world, in all its frequent prejudice-stained ugliness



The Overnight (2015) – Brice jumps into his premise, enjoyably hits some safely naughty marks and quickly gets out, mission accomplished



Les carabiniers (1963) – Godard’s contempt for war’s squalid fantasies rings through every step of the film’s sparse, desperate inventions



Angel Heart (1987) – Parker’s lurid supernatural thriller, too silly and overdone to engage disciples either of the light or the dark



Okoto and Sasuke (1935) – a lovingly-told tale of devotion, more gentle in its social awareness than Shimazu’s more contemporary stories



Manglehorn (2014) – Green’s beguiling amalgam of conventional core narrative and eccentrically subjective, digressive, allusive elaboration



Black and White in Color (1976) – Annaud’s modest colonial satire, most memorable for the background authenticity of its Ivory Coast setting



The Revenant (2015) – Inarritu’s achievement is primarily a logistical and technical one, in a film of limited artistic texture otherwise



Entr’acte (1924) – the images in Clair’s short debut may carry limited bite, but his joy in cinematic play and movement is undiminished



The Graduate (1967) – Nichols’ classic has iconic moments to burn, but they barely seem now to cohere into a lastingly resonant whole



Diplomacy (2014) – Schlondorff’s old-fashioned but well-told elevation of dialogue and reflection over unquestioned military momentum



Divine Madness (1980) – Ritchie’s strong if straightforward showcase for an indelible, if inherently somewhat unknowable performer



2046 (2004) – Wong’s alluring extension of In the Mood for Love suggests a filmic universe & directorial mythology of infinite possibility



The Grapes of Wrath (1940) – aesthetic judgments hardly apply, when Ford’s drama of poverty and relocation still feels so achingly relevant



The Ugly One (2013) – Baudelaire’s poised reflection on war’s challenge to representation & reality, less fruitful than his documentaries



The Kid (1921) – Chaplin’s film is more calculation than cinematic dream, but the graceful sweetness at its centre remains captivating



The Sacrifice (1986) – despite some genuine marvels, Tarkovsky’s stately last film lacks the glorious stimulations of his greatest work



Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) – the premise of Forbes’ low-key thriller carries it along, despite a rather journeyman quality overall



Far from the Madding Crowd (2015) – it’s hard to identify any significant respect in which Vinterberg’s version improves on Schlesinger’s



Out One: Spectre (1974) – Rivette’s edited down, more narratively propulsive version interrogates reality and meaning no less brilliantly



Ex Machina (2015) – Garland’s pristine, isolating cinematic design perfectly reflects his ominous theme, explored with probing articulacy



Une vie (1958) – Astruc’s tale of a woman, deeply immersed in its characters’ ill-fated instincts and in their unsheltering surroundings



The Guest (2014) – Wingard’s entertaining if not too illuminating parable plays rather like a Schwarzeneggerized version of Teorema



The Trio’s Engagements (1937) – not a major Shimazu film, but with some pleasantly whimsical observation of male and organizational idiocies



Slow West (2015) – one admires the imaginative precision of Maclean’s engagement with genre, without really getting all that much out of it



Mon oncle d’Amerique (1980) – Resnais’ film often feels overly schematic, but is that what I really feel, or is it a conditioned response..?



The Russia House (1990) – Schepisi’s underpowered, underrevealing and under-romantic (although often over-written) le Carre adaptation



Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (1924) – Lang’s epic becomes gradually more Langian, as dragons and magic yield to conspiracy and moral weakness



Hungry Hearts (2014) – Costanzo’s would-be unsettling drama doesn’t exactly engage progressively with the complexities of motherhood



Le revelateur (1968) – Garrel’s astonishing cinema has always seemed to occupy its own quite unnerving narrative, psychic & thematic space



Nailed (2015) – Russell’s abandoned film feels like a lost cause from the start, lacking even the meagre virtues of his other recent work



Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) – one of Bergman’s many peaks, a grand piece of comedy styling, yet rigorous & morally intriguing throughout



It Follows (2014) – a metaphorical horror concept for the ages, fully realized through Mitchell’s terrific observation and tonal control



Morning for the Osone Family (1946) – despite its faults, Kinoshita’s study of home during war retains all the power of its moment in time



Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) – Abrams lurches from one ill-conceived notion to another, salvaging little of the original’s richness



Loulou (1980) – Pialat’s magnificently turbulent, never merely messy behavioral study has a naturalism that often feels virtually unmediated



Noah (2014) – Aronofsky’s stubbornly eccentric telling (why so few kick-ass animal shots!?) is overall more dour and dogged than visionary



Kino Eye (1924) – some of what Vertov’s eye sees is a bit tedious now, but his assertion of cinematic & social possibility remains gripping



Go Go Tales (2007) – a night in a strip joint, teeming with incident, perhaps (surprisingly?) Ferrara’s most tolerantly indulgent work



Tokyo Story (1953) – often plausibly cited as Ozu’s greatest work; certainly one of his most perfectly structured and complexly affecting



Interstellar (2014) – a very unbombastic space epic, defined as much by absence as engagement; perhaps Nolan’s most quietly satisfying film



Lancelot du lac (1974) – Bresson deploys extreme narrative & cinematic coding & reduction here; not his most transporting work, by design



Aloha (2015) – just about holds together, but whatever modest idiosyncrasy and emotional insight Crowe once possessed seems calcified by now



El (1953) – Bunuel’s wondrously controlled and expressive dissection of male passion and entitlement is among his (many many) finest films



Dying of the Light (2014) – for all the interesting frailty and moral fatigue at its centre, hardly the film one wishes for from Schrader



Our Neighbour, Miss Yae (1934) – Shimazu’s fine, surprisingly sexually aware film, demonstrating his great alertness & progressive curiosity



The Decline of Western Civilization Part III (1998) – a largely grim end to Spheeris’ trilogy, its choppy nature impeding its authenticity



Pauline at the Beach (1983) – one of Rohmer’s lighter works, although the narrative and psychological intricacy is as stunning as ever



The Crimson Kimono (1959) – a thriller that delves fascinatingly into cultural attitudes, with some prime examples of the Fuller cinema-fist



Letters to Max (2014) – a beautiful little film, in which Baudelaire’s teasing structure perfectly supports the complexities of his subject



It’s Alive (1974) – Cohen’s storytelling is frequently spasmodic and ragged, but the movie always retains its anxious, pained undercurrent



You, the Living (2007) – or the barely living, in Andersson’s uniquely indicting vision of an inwardly and outwardly drained existence



The Marriage Circle (1924) – Lubitsch’s fine comedy of mismatched desires, notable for a landmark portrayal of unashamed female horniness!



Battle Royale (2000) – Fukasaku’s teen slaughter epic provides some easy points of nihilistic identification, but not really too much else



Welcome to L.A. (1976) – Rudolph’s debut is overly posed and narrow in its preoccupations, even allowing that’s largely the point of it



Masques (1987) – Chabrol seems to be having an unambitious, genre-friendly good time here, which the audience can more or less buy into



In a Lonely Place (1950) – Ray’s spellbinding study of emotional instability pushes Bogart into a rawly confessional, deeply-affecting vein



Tomboy (2011) – Sciamma’s delicately captivating study is alert to every nuance of her protagonist’s psychology and environment



Over the Edge (1979) – Kaplan packs the film with piercing identification & pleasure points, all the way to the damn-the-consequences climax



In the Mood for Love (2000) – Wong weaves together countless structural audacities and aesthetic marvels with seductively intuitive mastery



Experiment in Terror (1962) – it’s intriguing to search for Edwards’ sensibility within such low-key (hardly experimental) early projects



The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1988) – Hara’s rough-edged but galvanizing, morally probing study of a uniquely possessed individual



The Exorcist (1973) – compared to the most penetrating horror films, an absorbing spectacle that stays safely at arm’s (or puke’s) length



The Anabasis of May and Fusako… (2011) – Baudelaire’s film is riveting both as modern history and as a reflection on identity & experience



Day of the Fight (1951) – even in its brevity and narrow focus, Kubrick’s early short seems heavy with existential emptiness and exhaustion



Son of Saul (2015) – for me, Nemes’ hyperactive narrative momentum constitutes a problematic artistic and ethical approach to the Holocaust



Harlan County, U.S.A. (1976) – Kopple’s moving reality poem encompasses an entire fraught history of weary steps forward, and others back



Juliet of the Spirits (1965) – all-out Fellini, maintaining an extraordinary level of invention, and yet feeling largely tedious and inert



Youth (2015) – hard to see Sorrentino’s film as much more than a beautiful, lugubrious idiocy, with vague glimpses of some greater design



What? (1972) – Polanski’s startlingly unpredictable vision of confinement shrouds its meticulous control under multi-faceted weirdness



What we Do in the Shadows (2014) – Clement and Waititi’s deadpan, idea-spurting vampire “documentary” is dead-on scrupulous to the end



Pather Panchali (1955) – the status of Ray’s film as a “human document” remains its great strength & to some extent its cinematic limitation



The Hateful Eight (2015) – Tarantino’s high-entertainment genre-hugging work drinks deeply from America’s bloody pools of trauma



No End (1985) – Kieslowski’s supernaturally-tinged drama of pragmatism and idealism lacks the composed equilibrium of his greater works



Laggies (2014) – Shelton’s lightweight comedy is all tedious plot mechanics and predictable insights, with disappointingly little complexity



A Brother and his Sister (1939) – Shimazu’s unusually articulate & observant film casts a quietly keen eye on workplace & family structures



The Big Short (2015) – McKay’s shouldn’t be the only version of this daunting history, but he presents it with terrific energy and skill



Augustine of Hippo (1972) – a perfectly-sustained work of investigation and evocation from Rossellini’s reflectively pedagogic late period



The Duke of Burgundy (2014) – Strickland’s minute control is structurally fascinating, but less viscerally galvanizing than hoped for



Blow-Up (1966) – Antonioni’s beautiful, unfaded enigma, overflowing with astonishing expressions of the interplay of experience and meaning



Story of my Death (2013) – Serra’s strange but masterfully sustained project, in part a meditation on cultural decay and metamorphosis



Ulzana’s Raid (1972) – Aldrich’s unnerving Western, an absorbing crucible for the era’s political and moral ambiguities and failings



The Puppetmaster (1993) – a rich, winding chronicle of personal and national vicissitudes, one of the central pillars of Hou study/worship



Of Human Bondage (1934) – still a gripping clash of acting styles, from Francis’ quiet naturalism to Davis’ all-conquering artificiality



The New Girlfriend (2014) – Ozon has a fresh and supple way with concepts of gender and identity, less so with visual and tonal convention



Girlfriends (1978) – Weill’s film, as fresh as ever, is still an unforced, beautifully intuitive compendium of female dilemmas and desires



Tom at the Farm (2013) – consistently contrived and unpleasant material, which Dolan does very little to elevate, or even make tolerable



Come Back, Africa (1959) – over fifty years on, Rogosin’s record of apartheid makes you feel as stirred and ashamed as it surely did then



The Makes (2009) – Baudelaire’s graceful little tribute to Antonioni, reflecting on the master’s almost limitless evocative power



My Ain Folk (1973) – the second part of Douglas’ miraculous trilogy, a film of austere but unforgettable social and cinematic revelations



The Congress (2013) – Folman’s impressively bewilderingly wild ride through identity & freedom spins somewhere between great vision & folly



Magnet of Doom (1963) – Melville’s very interesting, digressive semi-noir, a film with an odd air of simultaneous expansion and contraction



The Babadook (2014) – Kent’s instantly classic horror film, a terrifically well-considered expression of unresolved sadness and trauma



Levres de sang (1975) – one of Rollin’s most unified and sustained meditative narratives, somewhat more psychologically charged than usual



Smithereens (1982) – an enjoyable film, only partly successful at capturing its environment & culture, given Seidelman’s narrative tidiness



Happiness (1935) – Medvedkin’s distinctly eccentric, surrealistically flavoured parable of collectivism’s (& life’s) bumpy relative virtues



Big Eyes (2014) – Burton’s dismally zest-free film provides little hint of why we should care about Keane’s pleasantly minor achievements



Love and Anarchy (1973) – Wertmuller’s cinema of exclamation marks, although not without impact, is overall more grating than galvanizing



Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) – superb spectacle, but I don’t really understand the value judgment by which this would be the year’s best film



Il Grido (1957) – Antonioni’s masterpiece, highly specific about and yet transcending time and place, tracing a man’s doomed, futile freedom



Gallivant (1997) – Kotting’s warmly idiosyncratic road trip, finding in Britain an inexhaustible behavioural and cinematic playground



The Decline of Western Civilization Part II (1988) – Spheeris’ entertaining but overly superficial, context-light and freak-showish survey



Laila (1929) – Schneevoigt’s epic love story remains terrific viewing, more notable for scenic wonders than for stylistic or thematic ones



Losing Ground (1982) – Collins’ remarkable study overflows with fresh, original perspectives on its central relationship, on race & identity



The Land (1969) – a morally-charged film of historical and cultural interest, but Chahine too often feels like a messy, leaden director



The Captive (2014) – another unpleasant Egoyan failure, applying his woefully tired, self-important bag of tricks to a nasty core premise



Les liaisons dangereuses (1959) – even without hindsight, one could have guessed such stylish nastiness wouldn’t ultimately be Vadim’s bag



Spotlight (2015) – McCarthy’s process-oriented drama carries little lasting impact either as cinema or as a window on a poisoned institution



Planet of the Vampires (1965) - Bava’s sci-fi film is mostly just OK, lifted though by often striking, groovy-meets-haunting design & color



Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (2014) – the Zellners maintain a pleasant eccentricity, which is as big a pot of gold as the premise can deliver



By the Bluest of Seas (1936) – Barnet and Mardanin’s quasi-fairy tale, at once both a paean to and deconstruction of the collectivist dream



Moonlighting (1982) – Skolimowski’s modest but vastly resonant and observant docu-fable, teeming with moral challenges both small and vast



Daughters of the Dust (1991) – plunging us deeply into a distinct culture and ideology, Dash all but invents a new film language and rhythm



Araya (1959) – Benacerraf’s beautiful cultural record, gorgeously composed in all respects, although not without aspects of over-insistence



Tusk (2014) – perhaps the best man-into-walrus movie imaginable, given Smith’s new burst of “auteurist” life, and full-blubber acting



House (1977) – Obayashi’s is indeed a staggering creative barrage; is it a success measure if you mostly want to hide from it in a cellar? 



Listen to me Marlon (2015) – Riley’s overly prettified and fragmented approach to the most complexly reflection-worthy of screen actors



Mamma Roma (1962) – Pasolini’s stunning film, relishing both rough-hewn naturalism and theatricality, inevitably yielding profound suffering



Dear White People (2014) – Simien’s wonderfully alert, thought-provoking, multi-faceted case study, surely one of the year’s best films



Fascination (1979) – Rollin’s initially intriguing vampire tale ends up feeling a bit thin, and relatively restrained erotica-wise (darn!)



The Decline of Western Civilization (1981) – Spheeris’ indelible punk record thrills and repels, often (as the scene warrants) both at once



Enthusiasm (1931) – Vertov’s record of industrial achievement, generally less cinematically engaging now than his Man with a Movie Camera



Unbroken (2014) – Jolie’s chronicle of suffering and survival is highly polished, such that you mostly just squint helplessly before it



The Passenger (1975) – Antonioni’s inexhaustibly reflection-worthy triumph might actually be, if I had to choose, my favourite of all films



Jacquot de Nantes (1991) – a perfect gift from Varda for Demy-philes, a memoir/scrap book you absorb with constant delight, wanting no more



The Swarm (1978) – as if to illustrate the result of placing substantial resources & legendary actors in the hands of a bumbling simpleton



Noriko’s Dinner Table (2005) – Sono’s delicately mysterious exploration of teenage girl restlessness and the multiplicity of resolutions



Foreign Correspondent (1940) – Hitchcock’s thriller is more about can-do breeziness than complexity, but with several memorable set-pieces



Phoenix (2014) – Petzold intriguingly deploys his highly artificial, noir-ish premise to interrogate Germany’s post-war moral desolation



Westworld (1973) – typical Crichton concoction of an engaging governing concept neutered by mostly disappointing detailed execution



The Wind Rises (2013) – Miyazaki’s wonderful, perpetually graceful but gravely serious meditation on flight, dreams, fragility and death



Outrage (1950) – Lupino’s wide-ranging, highly alert study of assault & its aftermath, with one of Hollywood’s more ambiguous happy endings



Alice and Martin (1998) – very distinctively Techine’s in its narrative shifts and substitutions, and overriding sense of composed purpose



China 9, Liberty 37 (1978) – Hellman injects a few inventive flashes, but it’s mostly a disappointingly plain, straightforward western



The Assassin (2015) – beneath beautiful genre trappings, entirely recognizable as an application of Hou’s scintillating methodologies



Louisiana Story (1948) – Flaherty’s engaging, all-but-Disneyfied slice of southern life doesn’t carry much insight or significance now



The Sleeping Beauty (2010) – Breillat brilliantly springboards from Demy territory, into a complex representation of awakening and maturity



Vanishing Point (1971) – the “mythic” aspects of Sarafian’s classic road picture are strained, but it’s satisfyingly atmospheric & handsome



Taxi (2015) – Panahi navigates charmingly within Iran’s human & technological possibilities, in a work of gently subversive form & content



Cul-de-sac (1966) – Polanski’s unique comedy, a wickedly finely-dug hole at the literal, symbolic and psychological end of the road 



A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) – Amirpour’s interesting, if not that impactful, exercise in minimalist expectation-subversion



The Confession (1970) – Costa-Gavras’ informatively multi-faceted scream from the self-loathing heart of an ideologically righteous regime



Experimenter (2015) – the supple form of Almereyda’s sublimely stimulating film perfectly fits its protagonist’s restless investigations



Vengeance is Mine (1979) – an Imamura masterpiece, its directorial scope and control almost as terrifying as its unknowable protagonist



20,000 Days on Earth (2014) – holding “truth” and myth in perfect equilibrium, Forsyth and Pollard give the great Cave the film he deserves



Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965) – Paradjanov’s high-conviction, colour-saturated imagery is among cinema’s most hauntingly distinctive



Foxfire (2012) – unexpected choice of project for Cantet, sometimes feeling largely conventional, but quietly disruptive in various ways



The Nude Vampire (1970) – Rollin’s startling brand of visionary kink can be rather mesmerizing on its own terms, if not on anyone else’s



The Martian (2015) – Scott’s feels like a patchwork of earlier movies in too many respects, but one appreciates its unpretentious nimbleness



The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936) – less notable for the “crime” than, as always, for Renoir’s spellbinding human and moral orchestration



St. Vincent (2014) – Melfi’s ritualistic visit to cinema’s venerable odd-couple altar, the honoured sentimentality quotient well intact



The Seventh Seal (1957) – Bergman’s classic vision of life at its earthly limit, a lesson perhaps in the virtues of engaged equanimity



Junun (2015) – Anderson’s pleasant, resourceful but unforced observance of musical fusion occupies its own graceful space within the genre



The Two of Them (1978) – it’s rather sad that Meszaros’ astute study of women and their environment still seems so relatively unusual



Predestination (2014) – a seriously impressive feat of plotting by the Spierigs, and a one-of-a-kind manipulation of gender boundaries



Princess Yang Kwei Fei (1955) – Mizoguchi’s beautiful, deeply empathetic tale of the tragic constraints at the centre of opulent power



Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015) – for all Morgen’s strenuous efforts, Cobain’s is the archetypal narrative that mostly resists illumination



Old and New (1929) – Eisenstein’s hymn to agricultural modernization conveys virtually boundless belief in imagery and industry alike



Lucy (2014) – Besson’s fantasy of supercharged human capacity, a film so enjoyably unleashed that it actually does feel kind of liberating



The Merchant of Four Seasons (1972) – Fassbinder’s piercing, subversive study of death by small capitalistic steps, wretched 70’s-style



Just Tell me what you Want (1980) – perhaps Lumet was drawn to the idea of a “romantic comedy” containing almost nothing you’d call “sweet”



Je t’aime je t’aime (1968) – Resnais transforms a familiar sci-fi premise into a mesmerizing fabric of loss, regret and helpless experience



Kill the Messenger (2014) – Cuesta provides plenty to chew on, even if his storytelling frequently seems too straightforwardly seasoned



Sansho Dayu (1954) – Mizoguchi’s gorgeous, tragic masterpiece encompasses immense narrative scope and great emotional and moral delicacy



The Walk (2015) – expected 3-D spatial high-points aside, Zemeckis delivers disappointingly little high-wire-level cinematic poetry here



Christ Stopped at Eboli (1979) – Rosi’s quietly charged chronicle of exile and assimilation, impressive despite overly calculated elements



The Homesman (2014) – Jones again shows himself a darkly fascinating, alert director, crafting a very full and distinctively haunting tale



Elsa la rose (1966) – a charming Varda miniature, perhaps expressing a gentle wish for her own creative and personal partnership to endure?



You’re Next (2011) – Wingard slashes through the familiar set-up with skill and intelligence, although hardly to a genre-transforming extent



A Page of Madness (1926) – Kinugasa’s deeply disorienting onslaught of expressionistic images still leaves you ravished, and reeling



Magic in the Moonlight (2014) – Allen muses pleasantly again on the meaning of existence, tapping Rex Harrison more than Ingmar Bergman



Bad Luck (1960) – Munk’s well-sustained sad-sack comedy, in which the hero’s misfortunes reflect Poland’s ever-evolving traps and pitfalls



Going Clear (2015) – as pristine and well-organized as all Gibney’s work, which as usual constitutes both a strength and a limitation



That Obscure Object of Desire (1977) – Bunuel’s final masterpiece is both elemental & cosmic, a gracefully pointed undermining of everything



Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) – Reeves’ sequel loses most of the first film’s pleasures, for a lot of standard-issue dystopian gloom



Tokyo Twilight (1957) – one of Ozu’s saddest, most desolate works, filled with indelible brief studies of loneliness and thwarted hope



The Misfits (1960) – Huston/Miller’s doom-ridden drama blends wrenching emotional observation and uncomfortable writerly/actorly excess 



Le garcu (1995) – Pialat’s last film explores familiar territory, but with all his brilliant feeling for turbulent, contradictory experience



Klute (1971) – Pakula’s investigation of sexual identities and narratives sometimes seems forced, but still a fascinating mesh of elements



Mommy (2014) – for a “natural filmmaker” of Dolan’s energy and panache, it’s a shame how substantively unrewarding his films ultimately feel



To Be or Not to Be (1942) – Lubitsch’s legendary wartime comedy is a masterpiece of structure, magically navigating moral darkness and light



Dreams (1990) – over time, it’s easier to tolerate Kurosawa’s visual & thematic didacticism here, to succumb to what’s beautiful in the film



Rio Lobo (1970) – Hawks’ last film is highly enjoyable, but it doesn’t have the emotional and behavioural coherence of its predecessors 



Love (2015) – Noe’s erotic meditation, shimmering with sometimes naïve conviction, at least doesn’t lack for intriguing moods and constructs



Night of the Living Dead (1968) – the brilliantly stark beginning to it all, with Romero’s chilling concept already rich in implication



Cure: the Life of Another (2014) – Staka’s politically-charged ghost story of sorts engages imaginatively & hauntingly with Europe’s traumas



Psychomania (1973) – certainly a nutballish concoction, but a more gleefully unhinged director would probably have helped (or “helped”)



Pirates (1986) – or, way too many knives in the water, given the strain of appreciating Polanski’s sensibility within this handsome oddity



Death of a President (1977) – Kawalerowicz’s deeply-immersed exploration of the complexity of political calculation, influence & consequence



Get on Up (2014) – Taylor’s approaches Brown’s life as a structurally audacious hall of memories, with overly academic, passionless results



The Bad Sleep Well (1960) – high-end pulp revenge drama, steered by Kurosawa into a gripping exploration of power in all its manifestations



Jimi: all is by my side (2013) – Ridley’s reflectiveness, alert to racial politics & cultural ambiguities, intriguingly rejects biopic norms



Les hautes solitudes (1974) – Garrel’s singular viewing experience, both liberating and troubling, permeated by Seberg’s sad resonances



Rosewater (2014) – Stewart’s mostly forgettable debut, too weighed down with artificialities to yield much emotion or sense of discovery



Days of Youth (1929) – Ozu’s silent film is largely driven by delightful goofiness, but you already feel greater reflectiveness percolating



The Color Wheel (2011) – Perry’s uneasy comedy is always smart and stimulating, then in its closing scenes becomes quietly remarkable



The Tin Drum (1979) – as filmed by Schlondorff, a conceptual carnival that seldom feels like a very illuminating engagement with history



Citizenfour (2014) – perhaps the rather muted impact of Poitras’ Snowden documentary fits the shadowy nature of the threat, I don’t know



The Last Day of Summer (1958) – …or maybe of anything at all, in Konwicki’s starkly beautiful, ultimately rather slight two-person encounter



S.O.B. (1981) – a festering evisceration of Hollywood from Edwards’ most fascinating period, bleakly seeped in the attitudes it disparages



Noroit (1976) – Rivette’s “pirate movie” is perhaps his most intensely strange; a complex dance with genre, narrative and performance



Love is Strange (2014) – it’s strange and often sad, and so is the way the world intrudes on it, in Sachs’ beautifully judged reverie



Macario (1960) – Gavaldon’s wonderful fable of death and illusion, full of magical elements, but with a properly stark sense of suffering



Mistress America (2015) – another Baumbach high-water mark in contemporary comedy, with wonderful, fully-loaded pace and unforced complexity



Helle (1972) – a quiet period study of small-town dysfunction; helps somewhat to broaden the usual view of Vadim, albeit not that memorably



The Skeleton Twins (2014) – Johnson’s film is often quite distinctively morose, but then settles for flimsy, uninteresting images of repair



Partner (1968) – another compelling early Bertolucci masterwork – a deeply strange embrace of untapped otherness, of unrealized revolution



Results (2015) – Bujalski’s most conventional, least interesting film overall, despite its engaging riffing on life-philosophy cliches



The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972) – Fassbinder’s landmark power study, told through startling visual and psychological compositions



Grace of Monaco (2014) – quite striking for Dahan’s explorations of artifice and performance, although a lot of the rest is pretty mundane



The Ipcress File (1965) – the first Harry Palmer movie is solid nuts-and-bolts entertainment, driven by unsubtle class-based discomfort



Tournee (2010) – Amalric’s directing, like his acting, distinctively blends provocation and desolation, the mercurial and the rueful



Bell Book and Candle (1958) – Quine’s ponderous Novak/Stewart bewitchment comedy gains some unwarranted interest from its odd Vertigo echoes



The Night of the Hunted (1980) – Rollin’s haunting premise spawns a lot of poignantly creepy image making, despite some narrative jerkiness



The Rose (1979) – Rydell’s ever-fascinating interplay of a somewhat unremarkable narrative and the mesmerizing presence at its centre



Le petit lieutenant (2005) – Beauvois’ extremely engrossing, surprising police drama encompasses a vast amount of low-key, fluid complexity



Journey into Fear (1943) – Foster’s tight little drama, dense with threat and behavioural eccentricity, and more than a trace of Welles



Level Five (1997) – a lesser-known Marker masterpiece, fascinated with new technologies, deeply aware of their capacity for obscuring truth



MASH (1970) – now seems not so much irreverent as merely crude and chaotic, despite the many points of Altmanesque interest



Triple Agent (2004) – Rohmer’s late masterpiece, a stunning reflection on the interplay of personal and political positioning and action



I Know Where I’m Going! (1945) – a wonderful spell of culture and community, woven by Powell’s lovely imagery and compelling interactions



Calvary (2014) – McDonagh serves up cracking lines and scenes like free drinks at a bar, so you hardly bother about the big picture, if any



Le baby sitter (1975) – an enjoyable, unsurprising thriller, Clement’s last; somewhat distinguished by his empathy for his lead actresses



Palo Alto (2013) – Coppola delves hauntingly into teenage experience; maybe the absence of much that feels new is largely the point of it



Young Torless (1966) – Schlondorff’s tale of evolving self-awareness doesn’t engage much as a film, for all its underlying complexities



Irrational Man (2015) – Allen’s bleak central concept often seems imperfectly articulated, and yet the film has a stark confessional force



Travelling Actors (1940) – one of Naruse’s quirkier explorations is pleasant but mostly slight, up until its whimsically liberating ending



Fury (2014) – Ayer’s exploration of war’s unfathomable psychological complexities evokes great respect, but little real sense of discovery



More (1969) – Schroeder’s sensually eventful dive into the period’s freedoms and risks; more striking now for the highs than for the lows



Jinxed! (1982) – Siegel’s last film, potentially an effectively peculiar little thriller, lacks his usual artful shaping and control of tone



Faraon (1966) – Kawalerowicz’s politically charged Egyptian epic increasingly turns inward, absorbingly exploring the limitations of power



Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2014) – Lee repositions Ganja and Hess as an apparent cautionary parable on the draining of purpose and engagement



Scandal (1950) – Kurosawa’s libel yarn is enjoyable viewing, its real heart increasingly coming to lie in a mini-Ikiru-like character study



Savage Messiah (1972) – an energetic account of a difficult relationship, but one of the more monotonous works of Russell’s peak period



The Dreamers (2003) – Bertolucci’s erotic piece of nostalgia/denial all but wallows (quite mesmerizingly, to me) in its gorgeous irrelevancy



And God Created Woman (1956) – Vadim’s notorious breakthrough has a surprisingly desultory quality, punctuated by flashes of Bardot delirium



Kiss me, Stupid (1964) – Wilder’s nasty comedy of small-town moral hypocrisy leaves you little left to believe in (under God or otherwise)



Jeune & jolie (2013) – Ozon both titillates us with & deconstructs a teenage whore story, but would have done better with less of the former



Juggernaut (1974) – an enjoyably rollicking creation, with Lester bringing a distinct wryness to the impressively assembled disaster cliches



Lore (2012) – Shortland’s affecting journey through end-of-war Germany, quietly resonant about the breakdown of morality and certainty



The Boat (1921) – another master class in Keaton’s gorgeously multi-faceted imagination; Buster’s uniqueness transforms the world itself



The Second Game (2014) – with no visuals except dreary old soccer footage, Porumboiu whips up a stimulating personal & philosophical dynamic



Some Call it Loving (1973) – Harris’ entirely unique meditation, fanciful but utterly serious, on fantasy & play & their tragic limitations



The Territory (1981) – Ruiz transforms a relatively accessible core narrative into something wondrously, startlingly strange & implicating 



Othello (1952) – Welles’ highly stripped down version of the play, a brilliantly visualized and sustained study of manipulation and weakness



Eden (2014) – the thrill of the scene, the emptiness at its centre; Hansen-Love holds it all in terrific, minutely observant equilibrium



The House that Dripped Blood (1971) – Duffell’s solid anthology, from a time when everyone involved knew exactly how seriously to play it



Absolute Beginners (1986) – Temple’s ambitious period musical remains a disappointment, most everything about it seeming forced & affectless



Mother (1926) – Pudovkin’s drama of coalescing revolution remains stirring of course, but more narrowly so than his great Storm over Asia



Maps to the Stars (2014) – a Hollywood of disturbing rituals, excesses and breakdowns; fascinating, if not Cronenberg’s most vital work



Tout le monde il en a deux (1974) – rampantly porny Rollin work, built on a ritualistically dressed-up tussle between free and coerced sex



Boogie Nights (1997) – Anderson’s tremendously entertaining breakthrough, one of cinema’s more unique explorations of family structures



Eroica (1958) – two wartime stories from the astonishing Munk, fully demonstrating his great range of cinematic fluidity and human awareness



A Most Wanted Man (2014) – Corbijn’s defiantly generic Le Carre adaptation, perhaps great for connoisseurs of comparative movie spycraft



Rashomon (1950) – gripping for Kurosawa’s narrative cleverness & bold visualization, more than for its often-cited philosophical reflections



Blackhat (2015) – in a necessarily uneasy fusion, Mann applies his shimmering, tangible classicism to a new world of power and threat



All these Women (1964) – Bergman’s arch, male-effacing comedy is pitched very differently from his usual work, but it mostly just irritates



The Jersey Boys (2014) – Eastwood embraces the material’s artificiality, playing with ideas of memory, of the slipperiness of experience



The Spider’s Stratagem (1970) – an endlessly alluring early Bertolucci work, forged from his intuitive mastery of analytical, probing cinema



Belle (2013) – Asante’s historical drama is aesthetically conventional and overly glib, but skillfully sets out its complexities and ironies



Rape (1969) – Lennon/Ono’s unsettling tracking of a woman, implicitly questioning our collective complicity in multiple forms of violation



A Pigeon sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (2014) – and did it damn well, thanks to Andersson’s mind-boggling exactitude and scope



The Fortune (1975) – an extremely minor interlude for Nichols and all involved; striking ending, but feels like you wait a long time for it



The Face you Deserve (2004) – one’s interest in Gomes’ unique, super-creative exploration of male anxiety ultimately dwindles a bit, sadly



Too Much Johnson (1938) – restoration of lost Welles footage, seemingly showcasing modest early inventiveness, and a youthful playfulness!



The Wonders (2014) – Rohrwacher’s family study is most fascinating at its Erice-like simplest; its grander inventions are a little puzzling



Gimme Shelter (1970) – the Maysles’ Rolling Stones film, justly famous for some of the most scarily vivid concert footage ever recorded



Warsaw Bridge (1989) – Portabella’s typically ravishing, challenging meditation on the generation of meaning and beauty in art and life



Johnny Guitar (1954) – Ray’s legendary Western, endlessly and gleefully analyzable for its intensely realized psychological maneuvering



Up the Yangtze (2007) – Chang’s film is a great eye-opener, even if it’s somewhat burdened with clichéd “great documentary” trappings



Play it as it Lays (1972) – Perry’s rather stunning exploration of existential despair, artfully hyped-up and yet chillingly naturalistic



No Man’s Land (1985) – another fascinating meditation by Tanner on inner and outer states of exile, if perhaps not his most fully-developed



The Awful Truth (1937) – McCarey’s joyous, wonderfully transgressive comedy; the very epitome of the kind of film they don’t make any more



From what is before (2014) – Diaz’s very long but immensely rewarding, unsettling, morally anguished study of utter induced destruction



Vault of Horror (1973) – Baker punches home the formula as if he, rather than the central storytellers, had been living it for eternity



The Mill and the Cross (2011) – Majewski’s deep exploration of a painting spawns an often ravishing dialogue between worlds and forms 



Daguerrotypes (1976) – Varda’s lovely, nostalgia-provoking record of her neighbourhood finds poignant magic in life’s mundane repetitions



Computer Chess (2013) – Bujalski’s super-smart comedy comes to suggest a weird, troubling synthesis; chess’s infinite possibility unleashed!



The Quiet Duel (1949) – Kurosawa’s stark, somewhat overdone drama of disease and sacrifice; moving for Mifune’s repressed pain and desire



American Sniper (2014) – Eastwood’s huge hit compels for its pared-away qualities, supporting multiple political/cultural interpretations



The Conformist (1970) – Bertolucci’s dark masterpiece is a stunning mesh of thematic and psychological richness, and compositional mastery



Keep the Lights On (2012) – Sachs’ modest but quietly impressive film, on how the weight of time and hurt gradually blocks out the flame



A Report on the Party and the Guests (1966) – Nemec’s fable of influence and coercion, allowing as much absurdist parallelism as one wishes



Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – Gunn’s well-calibrated nuttiness and oddball intimacy provide a nice trail through the digital overkill



The Bride wore Black (1968) – an intriguing blend of well-sustained “Hitchcockian” surface and milder-mannered Truffaut-ian subtext 



Third Person (2013) – it’s clear from the start this will be another Haggis waste of time; the only surprise is in finding out just how much



Strike (1925) - if not the “best” of Eisenstein’s films, the easiest to succumb to as pure narrative and (sometimes crude) visceral assault



Top Five (2014) – given an overly busy set-up, it’s a surprise Rock’s movie breathes as much as it does; no surprise about the laughs though



Le gai savoir (1969) – Godard’s almost spiritually austere work of cinematic divestment, reexamining the nature of knowledge and meaning



ABBA the Movie (1977) – by Hallstrom’s later standards, almost a gritty, cinematically fearless, no-holds-barred expose (well, almost)



Oil City Confidential (2009) – Temple can’t resist overly revving up his Dr. Feelgood documentary, but a grounded portrait still emerges



Three Faces of a Woman (1965) – Antonioni’s introduction has a recognizably desolate quality, contrasting oddly with the other two segments



Beyond the Lights (2014) – mostly conventional material, highly elevated by Prince-Bythewood’s awareness & empathy, & by the fine Mbatha-Raw



L’opera mouffe (1958) – Varda’s early short already illustrates her very distinctive brand of cinematic joy and wondrous fearlessness



Trash Humpers (2009) – well, Korine’s trash humpers aren’t really my type, but as visions of America go, I’ll take it over Ted Cruz’s



Bed and Sofa (1927) – Room’s Stalin-era Jules et Jim, vibrant with the pulse of new times, increasingly interesting for its sexual politics



Words and Pictures (2013) – Schepisi’s comedy does full justice to neither, but builds reasonable goodwill through its fluency and sincerity



Pearls of the Deep (1966) – a five-part Czech New Wave anthology, overflowing with creative energy, although periodically rather grating



Still Alice (2014) – Glatzer/Westmoreland demand little more of the viewer than reverent sympathy, which Moore of course makes easy to give



A Geisha (1953) – one of Mizoguchi’s finest, most quietly devastating films, chillingly frank about the reality of the geisha’s existence



Tales from the Crypt (1972) – Francis’ horror anthology delivers reliably no-nonsense, if often somewhat elderly-feeling squeamishness



A Zed & Two Noughts (1985) – Greenaway’s gorgeously rich intellectual frolic, dense with intertwining concepts of organization and decay



Master of the House (1925) – lacks the intense depths of Dreyer’s later works, but it’s notable for its detailed examination of domesticity



While we’re Young (2014) – Baumbach’s become virtually a brand for reliable mature pleasure, but this particular entry is a bit mechanical



Shoot First, Die Later (1974) – no-nonsense Di Leo drama ends by asserting crime doesn’t pay, but doesn’t make honesty look so hot either



Eyes Wide Shut (1999) – Kubrick’s final film is a grippingly strange deep dive into the convolutions of desire, repression and power



Street Without End (1934) – Naruse’s highly engaged, socially aware slice of life, focusing ultimately on a woman’s strength, and its cost



Afternoon Delight (2013) – Soloway’s comedy has much of the frankness and emotional acuity of her major subsequent achivement, Transparent



La notte (1961) – maybe Antonioni’s most exacting work of his great period, befitting its exploration of spiritual contortment & maroonment



Selma (2014) – DuVernay’s sombrely elegant, anguishingly ever-relevant investigation, far outpacing conventional historical reconstruction



Que viva Mexico! (1932) – reconstruction of Eisenstein’s unfinished work conveys its vast ambition, grappling with both beauty and cruelty



Far from the Madding Crowd (1967) – Schlesinger’s adaptation, although amply watchable, might be viewed as overly passive in various ways



Le Week-End (2013) – the film’s bittersweet character dance always feels too tidy and compressed; if only Cassavetes had gotten hold of it..



Miss Julie (1951) – Sjoberg elegantly and resourcefully “opens up” the play, while preserving its charged, fascinating shifts and shadings



Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) – still effective as an upper-class weepy, but Benton’s reticence and tidiness resist real pain and discovery



Epidemic (1987) – early expectation-confounding von Trier film is most appealing at its lightest; overall, it’s a bit academic & distancing



Intolerance (1916) – one can enjoy Griffith’s epic melodrama (often a bit bewilderingly) as spectacle, but little in it resonates deeply now



Persepolis (2007) – an effective rendering of Satrapi’s autobiographical material, although impacting mostly as an accomplished curio



Pretty Baby (1978) – Shields is still fascinating, but Malle’s then-controversial provocations and ambiguities seem overly studied now



Hard to be a God (2013) – German’s “science-fiction” epic like no other, astoundingly well-realized, knowingly oppressive and exhausting



Meet Marlon Brando (1966) – Brando’s gleeful waywardness with interviewers makes for as great & evasive a show as many of his actual roles



Slumming (2006) – Glawogger’s comedy is initially rather grating, but intriguingly works its way to an unexpectedly reflective final stretch



The Sailor who fell from Grace with the Sea (1976) – Carlino’s diverting but pretty silly blend of romanticism, erotica, and creepy kids



Clouds of Sils Maria (2014) – Assayas crafts some classic art-movie pleasures and complexities, while musing seductively on changing times



Un chien andalou (1929) – in Bunuel’s hands, aggressive incoherence becomes a form of grace, measured by unforgettably potent images



Videodrome (1983) – still an amazing Cronenberg vision, even if his fleshy fusions are some way from our sterile screen-induced reality



The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971) – one of Argento’s more mundane works, seldom very striking either as a narrative or as a cinematic rush



Fading Gigolo (2013) – Turturro’s reticent approach, and the film’s gentle acting, emphasize the fading rather more than anything else



Torment (1944) – Sjoberg’s ungainly drama is most compelling for the sense of scriptwriter Bergman developing his inclinations and concerns



Wild (2014) – Vallee vividly weaves together experience, emotion and memory; but the film never seems particularly important or compelling



Army in the Shadows (1969) – Melville’s Resistance drama charts the war’s brutal spiritual toll; the loneliness behind each act of heroism



Upstream Color (2013) – Carruth’s consistently wondrous, very high-concept but intimately grounded flow of heightened moments and mysteries



By the Law (1926) – Kuleshov’s intense drama of crime & punishment; fascinating as cinema, a bit less so as moral/psychological exploration



A Most Violent Year (2014) – Chandor’s somewhat underwhelming drama, most intriguing for how it undercuts the apparent promise in its title



The Demoniacs (1974) – Rollin’s disjointed mumbo-jumbo is more striking than it deserves to be, if only for its rather plaintive weirdness



The Double (2013) – Ayoade’s fable rapidly becomes thin and aesthetically limited, granted that it hardly seems intended as anything else



Libel (1959) – Asquith’s actor-friendly but largely staid, contrived courtroom drama, modestly enhanced by its subtext of class envy



Winter Sleep (2014) – Ceylan’s long study of character & conscience is very fine, although the work of a careful builder more than of a poet



Killer’s Kiss (1955) – a tight little crime/chase narrative, transformed throughout by Kubrick’s fascinated eye and simmering ambition



Ushpizin (2004) – Dar’s film sometimes feels headed toward stuffiness, but is truly deeply felt, and more subtle than it initially appears



Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) – the film’s beauty & confidence surely indicated Cimino would go places; could never have guessed where…



Hurlevent (1985) – Bronte as a spatial and thematic labyrinth; the result is entirely Rivette, but less rewarding than his other works



Regeneration (1915) – Walsh’s early gangster film has relatively epic ambition, and a strong affinity for social deprivation and division



White God (2014) – Mundruczo’s dog epic is pretty interesting as a logistical exercise, not so much thematically, or in any other way



Confessions of a Driving Instructor (1976) – a formulaic crowd-pleaser, rather weirdly interesting for its air of class-driven joylessness



The Theory of Everything (2014) – actually, it’s mostly the same old theories of tastefully life-affirming, conventionally well-acted cinema



Les dames du bois du Boulogne (1945) – Bresson’s piercing study of desire & manipulation, more tolerant of conventions than his later work



Carrie (2013) – hopes of a distinct perspective from Peirce are mostly unrealized, perhaps constrained by the material’s inherent hysteria



The Language of Love (1969) – odd, often stilted Swedish amalgam of sober instruction and flagrant titillation; “dated” hardly captures it…



Beyond Rangoon (1995) – Boorman’s drama maintains strong momentum and humanitarian outrage, but many aspects seem simplistic and untextured



The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974) – Herzog’s chronicle of difference explains little, but it’s a memorable exercise in multi-faceted oddity



Edge of Tomorrow (2014) – Liman’s live/die/repeat opus, imaginative enough in some ways to make you regret all the ways in which it isn’t



Le Testament du Docteur Cordelier (1959) – Renoir’s compassion for human desire and weakness elevates otherwise hokey Jekyll/Hyde material



­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Bad Words (2013) – Bateman’s debut is drearily tidy and smooth - too conventionally “good” for all the “bad” stuff to make it worthwhile



Bay of Angels (1963) – Demy’s drama is finely attuned both to gambling’s idiocy & its intoxication, as he surely was to those of film itself



The Fall of the Louse of Usher (2002) – Russell’s deliriously silly home movie at least has an age-defying, semi-infectious joy about it



Ryan’s Daughter (1970) – Lean’s epic is far less passionate than a plot summary might seem to demand, yielding a rather beautiful enigma



The Silence before Bach (2007) – the graceful, fun complexity of Portabella’s methods meshes into an evocative, nicely contemporary tribute



The Three Caballeros (1944) – odd Disney patchwork; trivially pleasant, tediously dated and weirdly trippy in more or less equal measure



The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (2010) – Ujica’s brilliant assembly of imposing official truths and simultaneously chilling falsehood



The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975) – mostly conventional piece of anxiety-ridden Simon shtick, somewhat interesting as a time capsule



Wild Tales (2014) – of course, wildness alone only takes you so far; most interesting for Szifron’s intermittent shards of social commentary



The Professionals (1966) – none more professional than Brooks himself, as compared to Peckinpah’s feverish genius with similar material



Fallen Angels (1995) – a near-peak in Wong’s shimmering cinema of connection & memory, thrillingly intertwining the fleeting & the enduring



Theatre of Blood (1973) – what a mix – imaginatively nasty lowbrow thrills, and an actual relish for hammy Shakespearean declaiming!



Robinson in Ruins (2010) – Keiller’s meditation on landscape and consciousness, charting a unique intersection of serenity and ominousness



Storm over Asia (1928) – Pudovkin’s Mongolian epic is a brilliantly cinematic dissection of exploitation, with an unforgettable finale



Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013) – Pavich’s lively telling of the “visionary” failed project likely goes down easier than the work itself would have



Eden and After (1970) – Robbe-Grillet’s fragmented (even for him), beautifully chilly enigma navigates between the confined and the unbound



Tattoo (1981) – the skin art is lovely, but the stuff with three-dimensional people is mostly a silly puddle of lurid black ink



Loin du Vietnam (1967) – furious multi-director tapestry; functions now as an amalgam of historical record and ambiguous aesthetic mirage



Blood Ties (2013) – Canet’s attempt at an American movie of classic sweep and impact never acquires much power, conviction or atmosphere



Madame de…(1953) – Ophuls’ apparent beautiful frivolity reveals itself as a highly serious expression of society’s restrictions on women



Whiplash (2014) – Chazelle’s overpraised, no more than superficially gripping film is highly artificial on matters of life and art alike



Company Limited (1971) – Ray’s study of the price of success has all his piercing subtlety, even if the overall trajectory is a bit forced



Perfect Sense (2011) – Mackenzie’s high-concept film is a highly intriguing, observant expression of humanity’s fragility and resilience



Black Panthers (1968) – Varda’s fascinated brief portrait of the movement may temporarily stir you into forgetting our despairing present



Force majeure (2014) – Ostlund’s handsome study of relationship complexities doesn’t ring very true, for all its well-crafted ambiguities