Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Movie tweets to March 4, 2015 (2 of 4)

Detour (1945) – Ulmer’s fascinating drama reeks of poverty, loathing, grievance; with Savage as an outright scary agent of destruction

Favourites of the Moon (1984) – Iosseliani’s notable transition to the West, observing humanity’s densely intertwined freedoms & limitations

The Front Page (1974) – Wilder’s late remake has old-fashioned expertise all over, but a lot about it now seems coarse and mechanical

Blancanieves (2012) – Berger’s silent version of Snow White inevitably evokes The Artist, but generates a fuller (if still limited) response

Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) – must-see Keaton, especially for its triumphant finale, a gorgeous, graceful communion of man, chance & destiny

Timbuktu (2014) – Sissako’s starkly, chillingly beautiful expression of mankind’s self-destructive tangle of ideology, instinct and fate

Ghost in the Noonday Sun (1973) – a bumpy voyage through trivial Sellers/Milligan goonery: inspires a kind of respect at its very existence

Castaway (1986) – not perfect Roeg material, but an intriguing, fairly complex examination of mythic ambition yielding to human limits

The End of Summer (1961) – a fine late Ozu film, somewhat ominously exploring a complex opposition of self-determination and predestination

Exit through the Gift Shop (2010) – Banksy’s irresistible light provocation, very nicely embodying modern art’s perception/value paradoxes

The Middle of the World (1974) – Tanner’s mesmerizing, intimate but coolly analytical exploration of a time, a place and a love affair

Gone Girl (2014) – Fincher, for the second film in a row, applies a golden polish to mostly tedious, read-into-it-what-you-like melodrama

Les godelureaux (1961) – an early, often strangely gripping example of Chabrol’s forensic sensibility applied to odd, even anarchic material

Nothing Lasts Forever (1984) – Schiller’s odd comedic mashup gets by on threadbare charm, although a bit more substance wouldn’t have hurt

Madchen in Uniform (1931) – Sagan’s pioneeringly empathetic drama of female bonding and desire hardly seems dated, in the ways that matter

Captain America: the Winter Soldier (2014) – the Russos give it an appealingly no-nonsense, disillusioned quality, but it only goes so far

Stay as you are (1978) – content just to be working, Lattuada barely bothers pretending there’s any more to this than Kinski’s nude scenes

The Invisible Woman (2013) – Fiennes excels here as both actor and director, highly alert to emotional and social nuance and complexity

Uncle Yanco (1967) – Varda’s encounter with an American relative; a concise cinematic kiss to the joys of family, discovery, eccentricity…

Birdsong (2008) – Serra digs into the human experience of the Biblical three wise men; not a major film, but one composed with quiet power

Forbidden Planet (1956) – still a lovely piece of visual & aural design, but the narrative is a jarring tussle of the silly & sophisticated

Leviathan (2014) – Zvyagintsev’s film feels overly underlined, but maybe such a bleak vision of all-encompassing corruption demands no less

Chapter Two (1979) – low-energy Simon script isn’t very emotionally convincing as presented here, whatever its real-life underpinnings

The Quince Tree Sun (1992) – Erice’s detailed study of an artist attains a rare sense of privileged communion between observer and observed

Queen Kelly (1929) – what remains of von Stroheim’s abandoned epic is mostly a romantic romp, with delicious darker streaks (whips! whores!)

Two Days, One Night (2014) – a Dardenne fable, compassionately dramatizing the hopeless choices and “freedoms” of the working class now

The Blockhouse (1973) – Rees’ claustrophobic drama, perhaps aptly, is like taking a long squint at the murky shapes within a stagnant pool

The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982) – Greenaway’s breakthrough is almost chilling in its biting erudition and immense formal intelligence

The Boss (1973) – tightly plotted and executed Di Leo thriller doesn’t find too many points of spiritual light, on either side of the law

The Immigrant (2013) – Gray’s fine, luminous drama explores the profound contradictions of the American “dream”, its romance and corruption

Dreams (1955) – lesser-known Bergman examination of life’s poses and delusions has some piercing passages, but is rather limited as a whole

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011) – formidably ingenious at times, but was it worth saving a world of such polished abstraction?

The Clowns (1970) – engrossing Fellini semi-documentary celebrates/parallels the clown’s art while drawing out its unsettling undertones 

Oldboy (2013) – most interesting, if at all, for Lee’s lack of conventional polish, making the film seem removed to the point of abstraction

Outskirts (1933) – Barnet’s multi-faceted WW1 drama overflows with such variety and incident, it might take you half the film to catch up

The Humbling (2014) – Levinson’s close thematic cousin to Birdman is to me a more steadily insinuating film, and Pacino is mesmerizing

Playing with Fire (1975) – a lesser but still almost elementally enveloping Robbe-Grillet oddity, with his work’s customary pleasures (!)

Snowpiercer (2013) – Bong’s drama, despite its flourishes, never seems like more than a wackier variation on the same tired dystopian moves

My Childhood (1972) – Douglas’ classic short work is painfully, ethically stark, without any sense of contrivance, pathos or imposed meaning

Mood Indigo (2013) – Gondry in creative overdrive even by his standards – massively accomplished, and all cringingly painful to sit through

Too Late Blues (1961) – despite limitations, the hard-edged behavioral choreography here is at least halfway to fully-fledged Cassavetes

Chloe (1996) – without the spell of Karina/Cotillard, Berry’s fallen teenager drama would probably seem merely dull & sleazily calculating

A Star is Born (1937) – Wellman’s version is still pretty sharp, but most interesting now as the skeleton for Cukor’s richer rendition

Gloria (2013) – Lelio’s distinctively intimate character study is well-observed and satisfying, despite various points of excessive tidiness

The Out of Towners (1970) – Simon’s hysterical if not outright reactionary urban chronicle; interesting enough but hard to really enjoy

I Love Beijing (2001) – it’s highly interesting, but Ning’s character study doesn’t say much new on modern China, nor on existential drift

The Three Ages (1923) – not the best vehicle for Keaton’s sublime inventions - the high-concept structure limits as much as it liberates

Mur murs (1981) – Varda’s lively, socially aware study of murals makes the form, despite its impermanence, seem all but indispensable

The Vampire Lovers (1970) – pretty nimble narrative keeps shifting and renewing itself (in vampire-like fashion!) to very enjoyable effect

The Imitation Game (2014) – Tyldum’s comprehensively undistinguished slab of prestige cinema, a sterile parody of the film Turing deserves

The Kidnap Syndicate (1975) – fast-moving, anguished Di Leo thriller, emanating disgust at the decrepitude of corporate/rich person morality

Tim’s Vermeer (2013) – feels like Penn/Teller’s persuasive but overly breezy anecdote should be a more important film than it actually is

The Holy Mountain (1926) – Fanck’s grandly-visualized paean to physical and moral robustness is often physically gripping, otherwise turgid

Listen up Philip (2014) – overflowing with exquisite observations and ideas, but Perry’s ultimate arrival point is a bit disappointing

5 Dolls for an August Moon (1970) – forget the plot, just go with Bava’s super-charged fragments of beautiful decadence and moral emptiness

Into the Woods (2014) – Marshall does a stronger job with individual songs than with the overall shape and tone; still, better than nothing

La luxure (1962) – given the limited driving concept, it’s rather remarkable how much variety and incident Demy packs into this short work

Inherent Vice (2014) – Anderson sustains the sense of an intimately textured cinematic refuge against rampant, exhausting complexity  

The Italian Connection (1972) – Di Leo basically delivers one long pursuit, with all participants heading grimly toward complete wipe-out

Mr. Turner (2014) – Leigh’s entirely marvelous, staggeringly detailed exploration of existential vision and its surrounding infrastructure

Twins of Evil (1971) – Hough keeps this teeming grabbag of Hammer horror elements moving at a cracking pace, which is basically good enough

The Free Will (2006) – Glassner’s lengthy, often disturbing drama is consistently rewarding, despite various points of artistic coarseness

Angel Face (1952) – Preminger’s very interesting, genre-transcending drama, built around unusually multi-faceted characters and desires

Adieu, plancher des vaches! (1999) – at its best, Iosseliani’s elegantly wry observation evokes a graceful blend of Tati and late Bunuel

The Reluctant Dragon (1941) – one part dream factory to one part shameless Disney corporate promo; easy to surrender to it for 75 minutes

Treasure Island (1985) – Ruiz’s inventiveness sometimes evokes a malady, but more often a deeply ethical process of intellectual husbandry

Straight Time (1978) – Grosbard’s character study/crime drama is always interesting, even as formula moves push out sociological observation

Glass Lips (2007) – Majewski’s audacious exploration of family myth, trauma, madness; “difficult,” but at least fitfully beautiful   

The Barkleys of Broadway (1949) – Astaire/Rogers reunion never transcends a sense of going through the motions, albeit pretty good ones

El sur (1983) – Erice’s fascinating jewel of a film - extremely specific as to period, place and incident, and yet boundless, timeless….

The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) – a disappointingly straightforward Preminger melodrama in many ways, but its core is still affecting

Lea (2011) – Rolland’s study of a student/stripper is often well-observed, but covers familiar ground with ultimately unenlightening relish

Tess (1979) – in Polanski’s hands, the world’s wondrous beauty constitutes a cruel denial of the tragic structures and experiences within it

Life is Sweet (1990) – Leigh may have used his “laugh and just keep going” template a bit too often, but seldom more effectively than here

The Hands of Orlac (1924) – Wiene’s effectively if forcibly creepy drama doesn’t have the broader resonance of the great horror films

Non-Stop (2014) – Collet-Serra’s superficially clever (substantively dumb), enjoyably cast action flick; if nothing else, I’ve seen worse

Caliber 9 (1972) – Di Leo’s crisp, impactful drama, in a city where the law exists only to be subverted, evokes a more grounded Melville

The Sheltering Sky (1990) – Bertolucci’s beautiful, wayward African odyssey almost comes to evoke the refined traveler’s Apocalypse Now

Pastorali (1975) – Iosseliani’s mild anecdote is as restrained and quiet as a film could be, which makes it hard not to drift off from it…

Foxcatcher (2014) – Miller labors glacially over this unimportant anecdote of the uselessly screwed-up mega-rich, as if it actually mattered

The Passion of Anna (1969) – Bergman’s challenging but rewarding reflection, precise yet mysterious, on the creation of identity and truth

I Origins (2013) – Cahill’s film has a lot of smart thinking and writing, but doesn’t finally amount to much more than an ethereal “what if”

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) – so many moments and concepts from Wiene’s pioneering nightmare still shudder with madness and trauma

Regarding Susan Sontag (2014) – more in the line of popular than critical biography, rendering Sontag’s life into a tempestuous page-turner

Le bel indifferent (1957) – Demy’s early filming of Cocteau; effective, but inevitably limited by the piece’s deliberately severe parameters

Youth without Youth (2007) – Coppola’s over-deliberate, oppressively intricate weirdo concoction, lacking cinematic youth to say the least

Santa Claus has Blue Eyes (1967) – fine early work, both concise and sprawling, by Eustache, one of cinema’s most tragic curtailed masters

Altman (2014) – Mann’s survey of Altman’s life and work is a pleasant memory-jogger, but barely engages with the substance of his films

Baron Blood (1972) – even for the genre, Bava seems excessively tolerant here of dumb exposition & arbitrary narrative, between grisly peaks

Fruitvale Station (2013) – Coogler’s film has an unforced feeling for the strengths & limits of community, with a powerful cumulative impact

Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (1920) – in a time of rising anti-Semitism, Wegener’s myth remains a complex, troubling reference point

A Hard Day’s Night (1964) – even with no Beatles, this would be a smart, wide-ranging Lester satire/temperature taking; with them, well….

Meantime (1984) – one of the fascinating Leigh films where the abrasive bleakness pushes past realism, into a kind of stylistic dance

Le mepris (1963) – a Godard masterpiece that ceaselessly questions love & cinema, while yet evoking an imposing, almost timeless certainty

The Drop (2014) – on the whole a minor variation on extremely well-trodden ground, although Roskam & Hardy give it a warily watchful quality

Les horizons morts (1951) – Demy’s strenuous early short shows little hint of his future greatness; no less interesting for that of course

Out of the Furnace (2013) – Cooper’s sadly only semi-palatable amalgam of blue collar integrity and hackneyed, tedious cartoon thuggery

Lived Once a Song-Thrush (1972) – Iosseliani’s study of a life in constant motion, teeming with beguiling, somewhat cautionary observation

My Old Lady (2014) – Horovitz doesn’t fully realize the material’s darker aspects, relying on a lot of rather flat, sub-Avanti machinations

Winter Light (1962) – Bergman’s study of utter spiritual isolation, so sparse and withholding that the priest’s loneliness becomes our own

The Two Faces of January (2014) – Amini’s Highsmith adaptation is a solidly old-fashioned pleasure, but could use a dose of malicious glee

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) – Reineger’s beautifully expressive silhouetted images make much subsequent animation seem gauche

Dementia 13 (1963) – mainly of interest as Coppola’s debut, but that aside, a modestly moody and eccentric piece of concentrated mayhem

Vanishing Waves (2012) – whatever the intentions, Buozyte doesn’t deliver much more than a Lithuanian Altered States, and it’s less fun too

Oklahoma Crude (1973) – Kramer’s unpretentious comedy-drama might go down easier now than some of his more obviously “important” pictures

Nostalgia (1983) – Tarkovsky’s Italian film draws heavily on ideas of exile and mispurpose, ultimately crafting a grand vision of redemption

Moonfleet (1955) – perhaps unlikely Lang material, but much elevated by his hard-edged, astute depiction of dark, lusty human motives

Adieu au langage (2014) – Godard’s superbly disruptive film, deploying 3-D to extend his magnificent lifelong critique of human conventions

David Holzman’s Diary (1967) – McBride’s classic experiment seems a bit strained now, but still expresses the elemental joy & pain of cinema

Paganini (1989) – Kinski’s defiant, self-directed last film seems dragged up from some narrow corner of his distinctively turbulent psyche

Black Sunday (1977) – pretty solid, although of course Frankenheimer emphasizes exposition and set-pieces over politics and character

Venus in Fur (2013) – Polanski’s astute film of the play, both an affirmation of creation & an implied confessional on his own tangled past

Up the Junction (1968) – Collinson’s breezy chronicle of a rich girl’s working class adventures, kind of like a starter version of Ken Loach

Philomena (2013) – if only Coogan had livened things up a bit by goading Dench into the occasional Michael Caine or Al Pacino impression

Der verlorene (1951) – Lorre’s fascinatingly anguished post-war story has elements of “M”, but the madness now has eaten the nation’s soul

Lars and the Real Girl (2007) – Gillespie brings some finesse to the fable, but it’s still useless codswallop, nonsensical on every level

Trans-Europ Express (1967) – Robbe-Grillet loosens the narrative bondage, tightens the sexual kind; almost seems like light viewing now!

The Monuments Men (2014) – Clooney’s film could hardly be more ponderous and shallow, making its pontificating on culture merely eye-rolling

La drolesse (1979) – Doillon’s very distinctive study of a transgressive relationship, evoking the broader strangeness of social structures

Poison (1991) – one of Haynes’ best films, superbly appropriating/blending diverse styles for three radical, searching character studies

Il sorpasso (1962) – Risi’s largely captivating study of the joys, limits, tragedies of unrestrained momentum, amazingly embodied by Gassman

Birdman (2014) – Inarritu’s cleverly ambiguous extravaganza constantly recalibrates between intimacy & grandeur, to mostly interesting ends

Duet for Cannibals (1969) – Sontag’s Swedish film embodies a happy, hyper-engaged era when art cinema was the finest of causes, and of games

The Cat and the Canary (1927) – a prototype of the fine Hollywood tradition of presenting silly material with ultimately pointless panache

Our Beloved Month of August (2008) - Gomes’ playful, extremely smart film; a banquet that leaves you happily full and yet eager to eat again

Night Tide (1961) – far more gripping than a plot summary suggests, reflecting Harrington’s quietly rigorous attention to mood and character

Les Demoiselles ont eu 25 ans (1993) – for me anyway, Varda’s commemoration of Demy is one of the lovelier projects in recent cinema

Beat the Devil (1953) – an enjoyable off-kilter Huston yarn, even if nothing in it echoes as loudly as Bogart’s final rueful laughter

The Last of the Unjust (2013) – yet another towering moral & historical investigation from Lanzmann, with elements of aging self-reflection

The Terror (1963) – Corman puts an impressive unity on it despite its ragged nature, but “The Mild Interest” would still be a truer label…

Happy Together (1997) – an emblematic example of Wong’s very distinctive (potentially rather repetitive?) cinematic and emotional geography

Blind Husbands (1919) – less fully realized than Stroheim’s later films, but with a climax almost as rawly emotional & elementally physical

Promised Lands (1974) – Sontag’s interesting, not hugely prophetic film on Israel/Palestine privileges myth and trauma over specificity

Night Train to Lisbon (2013) – August’s multi-layered drama is intriguing for about ten minutes, but soon becomes a slow ride to nowhere

A Place for Lovers (1968) – De Sica’s turgid tragic-love-affair-against-beautiful-backdrops exercise seldom feels like anyone was trying

Metropolitan (1990) – Stillman’s first film instantly defines the Stillmanesque, deftly exploring an extremely precisely drawn social group

Donkey Skin (1970) - entirely satisfying as a children’s tale, but Demy also fills it with more complex, even rather disquieting resonances

Grudge Match (2013) – Segal’s glossily feeble concept movie, not worth wasting the most lightweight of critical punches on it

Hands over the City (1963) – Rosi’s incisive, ever-relevant dissection of how power relentlessly buys & bends social & political discourse

Flesh + Blood (1985) – the title accurately evokes the texture of Verhoeven’s melodrama, as if it were built from sheer visceral appetite

Sunflower (1970) – De Sica’s enjoyably episodic, old-fashioned wallow in wartime loss and noble suffering, broadly drawn to say the least

Kill Your Darlings (2013) – Krokidas largely overcomes the film’s familiar aspects with tightly structured, emotionally searching direction

The Doll (1919) – Lubitsch’s beautiful little comedy has a Melies-like happy inventiveness, and a more adult undertone of sexual anxiety

The Offence (1972) – Lumet’s examination of a cop at the end of his tether is technically well-executed, but ultimately distinctly hollow

The Wicked Lady (1983) – Winner’s instincts are consistently terrible, but at least you can sort of feel his enjoyment as he indulges them

Le joli mai (1963) – Marker and Lhomme’s ever-meaningful study of the social and psychic prisons that underlie the grand Parisian myth

Tabloid (2010) – Morris digs up an enjoyable old yarn and gives it his usual pizzazz, but it’s hard to pull any big insight from any of it

Le sabotier du Val de Loire (1956) – Demy’s beautiful early short study hints at the darker preoccupations that would underlie his own craft

Dream Lover (1986) – through escalating visual and thematic complexity, Pakula almost transcends the weaknesses of his central concept 

C’era una volta (1967) – if they gave a Nobel Prize for cinema, and Rosi won it, this tiresome fable sure as hell wouldn’t be the reason

Tracks (2013) – Curran makes the quest interesting enough, but what might peak-period Herzog and a female Klaus Kinski have unearthed in it?

Mes petites amoureuses (1974) – Eustache’s film, beneath a deceptively quiet surface, is exemplary in its navigating of formative memories

At Any Price (2012) – Bahrani’s eventful farming drama is too broadly drawn to be persuasive, with a disappointing lack of broader resonance

The House on Trubnaya Square (1928) – Barnet’s highly lively and varied comedy, one of the most delightful of the period’s Soviet classics

Old Joy (2006) – Reichardt’s perfectly observed, very gently ominous vignette of a friendship that’s seemingly inevitably run its course

Elevator to the Gallows (1958) – Malle’s classic thriller offsets its brilliantly contrived structure with a vein of melancholy fatalism

The Counselor (2013) – Scott and McCarthy’s interminable, head-shaking trash in deep thinker clothing; disgustingly full of itself

Marriage Italian Style (1964) – De Sica’s farce is more melancholy & fraught than its reputation may suggest, but not too demanding about it

School Daze (1988) – an early example of Lee’s dazzling strategic chaos, laying out faults & tensions beyond any easy narrative containment

Arsenal (1929) – Dovzhenko’s anguished symphony of loss and triumph, always galvanizing for its fragments, even when the whole is evasive

Rush (2013) – Howard’s perfectly-named boys with toys extravaganza does indeed deliver on its title (good thing it wasn’t called “Insight”)

Successive Slidings of Pleasure (1974) – Robbe-Grillet strangifies (but only so far) some reliably disreputable cinematic pleasures

Loving Memory (1971) – Tony Scott’s peculiar early study of quiet derangement, painstakingly designed and composed, but of limited impact

The Trip to Italy (2014) – a beautiful, funny sequel, making you realize the paucity of mature fun and cultural engagement in movies now

Les amants (1958) – the film often feels overly calculated, like much of Malle’s work, but the final rush of passion and escape is indelible

The Act of Killing (2012) –Oppenheimer’s moral ambiguity & formal inventions left me mostly cold, and I don’t think that’s me being limited

Walk on the Wild Side (1962) – Dmytryk’s mostly ludicrous, overcrowded melodrama doesn’t evidence much actual grasp of any kind of wild side

The Fourth Man (1983) – Verhoeven’s almost unhealthily entertaining drama, teeming with lusty, happily scandalous images and concepts

Who’ll Stop the Rain (1978) – Reisz’s solidly textured drama draws on the catalogue of post-Vietnam dysfunction, personal and institutional

Head-On (2004) – Akin’s easily absorbing high-energy tale ultimately seems like too much momentum and provocation, too little inner truth

The Pajama Game (1957) – Donen and Abbott’s gorgeous, varied musical, one of the decade’s best, and a positive portrayal of union power!

The World of Jacques Demy (1995) – Varda’s cinematic scrap book is so enthrallingly, lovingly assembled, potential quibbles hardly matter

Foolish Wives (1922) – the restored version of Stroheim’s grand dissection of posturing venality, built around his own hypnotic performance

Vert paradis (2003) – Bourdieu’s somber drama on the enduring influence of roots and home soil lacks any great defining energy or character

The Long Goodbye (1973) – one of Altman’s most perfectly realized films, wittily repositioning the classically abstracted film noir hero

Renoir (2012) – Bourdos’ dawdling study of the painter’s declining years is prettily useless, in the way you’ve seen a thousand times

The Immortal Story (1968) – Welles’ wonderful, haunting miniature of the limits of power, each strange frame brilliantly suffused with myth

Smash Palace (1981) – marital breakdown drama connects pretty well, despite some overly heavy writing & directorial underlining by Donaldson

Ars (1959) – Demy’s eloquent early short film on priestly devotion, implicitly expressing the director’s own profound sense of purpose

The Zero Theorem (2013) – Gilliam’s colourful fantasy is never dull, but doesn’t ultimately yield much revelation or allegorical weight

Pourquoi Israel (1973) – Lanzmann’s study of Israel’s complex, imperfect necessity - no less valuable now, much as you long for an update

The Big Lebowski (1998) – a one of a kind Coen invention; perhaps amounting to almost nothing, but almost mythically masterful about it

Le feu follet (1963) – Malle’s painstaking but forced study of an alcoholic’s final days only elicits a strained, frosty form of sympathy

Exit Elena (2012) – Silver’s deft, often cleverly excruciating portrayal of a hemmed-in young woman, a rare film that feels much too short

The Saga of Gosta Berling (1924) – Stiller’s long chronicle has many interesting social and gender dynamics; still somewhat stodgy though

The Best Man Holiday (2013) – no point resisting, Lee makes a near-perfect, super- aspirational, ideologically unthreatening modern weepy

Fox and his Friends (1975) – Fassbinder’s class-sensitive tale of systematic exploitation is somewhat schematic, but still nastily potent

True Confessions (1981) – Grosbard’s solid tale has interesting moral shadings, but still feels in the end like a mostly familiar sermon

Viaggio in Italia (1954) – Rossellini’s piercingly desolate investigation of marital decay, inner and external excavation, glimpsed renewal

Thanks for Sharing (2012) – Blumberg’s sex addiction comedy/drama is best at its darkest, but a lot of it is unthreateningly soft stroking

Les rendezvous d’Anna (1978) – Akerman’s hypnotic, highly formal study of the elusiveness of meaning and connection in (then) modern Europe

The Armstrong Lie (2013) – customarily smooth documentary off the Gibney assembly line: is the ultimate hollowness a conclusion or a flaw?

The Oyster Princess (1919) – sumptuously fleet-footed Lubitsch comedy is delightfully silly, even if its only target is the uselessly rich

Gospel According to Harry (1994) – highly artificial Majewski parody of all things American, maybe too clever for its own good, as they say

Black Moon (1975) – very peculiar adult fantasy, on a bedrock of strange, primal sexuality, and yep, that really is the same Louis Malle

Purple Noon (1960) – Clement’s irresistible if limited Ripley adaptation remains the elegant epitome of tanned, inscrutable scheming

The Formula (1980) – Avildsen’s high-concept drama is dull and poorly executed in all respects; watch Pakula’s masterful Rollover instead

El bruto (1953) – Bunuel is entirely immersed in the hard-edged human dynamics, powerfully built on pervasive struggle and social injustice

Night Moves (2013) – despite (possible) flaws, confirms Reichardt as a major stylistically gripping, thematically relevant American director

The Salamander (1971) – Tanner’s absorbing, socially-grounded but playful tale of the capacities and limitations of engaged storytelling

Deathtrap (1982) – Lumet’s film of the play is of little specific interest, but you might feel nostalgic for such old-time Hollywood filler

Fellini Satyricon (1969) – grandly visualized of course, and not without thematic/political interest, but often a tough slog nevertheless

In a World…(2013) – for all the fluidity and intelligence of Bell’s film, it leaves little more impression than a fleeting voice over

The Wildcat (1921) – weird and often quite wonderful comedy, not so much an example of the Lubitsch “touch” as of the Lubitsch happy slap

Boyhood (2014) – the escalatingly graceful power of Linklater’s core concept more than outweighs some missteps and over-idealization

Calcutta (1969) – Malle’s footage is barely less relevant now, defeating all easy platitudes about India, or about our shared humanity…

The Garden of Earthly Delights (2004) – Majewski’s very fine study, both intimate and vast, of love and death, deconstruction and connection

The Pied Piper (1972) – Demy’s fascinating version of the tale is surprisingly dark and socially pointed, immersed in ruling-class venality

Stranger by the Lake (2013) – Guiraudie’s compelling network of desire, both painstakingly detailed and a classic cinematic abstraction

Period of Adjustment (1962) – Hill makes Williams’ insecurity-strewn material mostly grating; how much yelling/shrieking can anyone take…?

Toute une nuit (1982) – Akerman’s often ravishing string of incidents moves toward something elemental about cinema, about experience itself

The Chapman Report (1962) – two breezy Cukor hours of cautiously titillating “racy” material, most revealing (if at all) in its limitations

Like Father, Like Son (2013) – Kore-eda’s often schematic & obvious tearjerker, still highly palatable for his practiced lightness of touch

The Visitor (1979) – epically misbegotten supernatural mishmash prompts just one key question: what the hell did Huston & Peckinpah think?

La commune (2000) – a near-magisterial (apparent) ending to Watkins’ astounding career; who else will even try to occupy such a place?

Destination Moon (1950) – Pichel and Heinlein’s now somewhat doddery but still highly worthy uncle to 2001, and to a myriad of others

Vic + Flo Saw a Bear (2013) – Cote’s quietly but deeply observant little drama admirably cuts its own path through the narrative forest

WUSA (1970) – Rosenberg ventures into the confused heart of America, but rapidly gets weighed down and overwhelmed, accomplishing little

The German Chainsaw Massacre (1990) – Schlingensief’s scabrous, semi-interesting expression of the psychic mess underlying reunification

Scarface (1932) – quintessentially nailed down by Hawks, with a still astonishingly expressive high-stakes blend of relish and disgust

The Roe’s Room (1997) – Majewski’s powerful if sometimes rather stifling spell reclaims mundane domestic space for both nature and culture

Electra Glide in Blue (1973) – like many a 70’s album cover, Guercio’s grandeur-deluded cop movie is both silly and quasi-magnificent

They all Lie (2009) – it may indeed be there’s nothing true in Pineiro’s film, beyond its inexhaustible delight in invention and interaction

Frenzy (1972) – Hitchcock’s penultimate movie is colorful & structurally interesting, but ultimately seems mainly like a nasty artificiality

Contraband (1940) – Powell in semi-Hitchcock vein, paying due tribute to the war effort while weaving in some stylishly improbable melodrama

The Attack (2012) – Doueiri’s focus on the personal enigma doesn’t ultimately serve the wrenching underlying politics particularly well

Sorcerer (1977) – despite its fine sequences, not really a Friedkin masterpiece, falling short as both spectacle and as existential odyssey

Korczak (1990) – Wajda’s tale of heroism in the ghetto surely miscalculates the balance of light and dark, however noble its intentions

$ (1971) – Beatty (doing lots of closing-stretch running) and Hawn serve as happy cogs in Brooks’ well-cranked if impersonal caper machine

Klown (2010) – a big comedy hit in Denmark – does this mean it’s a country consumed by deadly sexual and psychic malaise?...can’t decide…

Lost and Found (1979) – Frank’s weirdly underdeveloped, bleakly lurching attempt to make a second “Touch of Class” falls wretchedly short

Almayer’s Folly (2011) – Akerman’s visually stunning, deeply troubled drama, a meditation on the abidingly hurtful legacy of colonialism

The Pawnbroker (1965) – Lumet’s often moving drama retains its power, but its highly-strung manipulations are surely ethically questionable

Ariel (1988) – prime example of Kaurismaki’s mesmerizing, socially conscious if not ultimately that impactful fatalistic low-rent coolness

Semi-Tough (1977) – seems now like a rather odd grabbag of targets and notions, but Ritchie coaxes it into at least semi-satisfying shape

I’m So Excited (2013) – Almodovar’s oddly strenuous artificiality accumulates some minor resonance as a nutty modern-day melting pot

Camelot (1967) – Logan’s filming of the second-tier Lerner/Loewe musical doesn’t accomplish much more than a minimally acceptable record

Zombi 3 (1988) – poorly executed Walking-Dead-in-the-Philippines effort, bearing Fulci’s name but with little trace of his earlier signature

Performance (1970) – the core of Cammell/Roeg’s classic is less striking now, but the accumulation of style and detail remains mesmerizing

Enemy (2013) – Villeneuve sustains the tone of his modern-day enigma well, with finely-judged Lynchian touches, but even so it’s a bit thin

Cries and Whispers (1972) – a masterful, unsparing peak of Bergman’s mid-period, but less stimulating than many of the preceding works

Someone to Love (1987) – Jaglom’s rambling self-extrapolation would wear out its welcome pretty fast, if not for Welles, and Dave Frishberg!

Phantom (1922) – restored Murnau drama of human fallibility and pain is emotionally gripping throughout, often stunningly expressed

Buddy Buddy (1981) – a sad end to Wilder’s career, trying to disguise its lack of panache and energy with ill-judged bits of “raciness”

Black Sunday (1960) – briskly assembled but unremarkable basic material, made semi-classic by Bava’s sleek style and Steele’s iconic oddness

Still of the Night (1982) – Benton’s icy threading of Hitchcockian references is interesting enough, in a barren, academic kind of way

Informe general…(1977) – Portabella’s teeming information dossier for post-Franco Spain; exhilarated but also clear-sighted, even anxious

Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013) – unsurprisingly, worth little as history, but generally successful as sentimental evocation & commemoration

Nine Days of One Year (1962) – Romm dramatizes an intertwined scientific & personal quest; interesting in theory - in actuality mostly dull

Daniel (1983) – Lumet’s quiet approach to Doctorow’s gripping material emphasizes chilling loss and incomprehension over righteous anger

Jonah who will be 25 in the year 2000 (1976) – Tanner’s good-spirited but sharp-eyed portrait of a Europe drowning in sociological sludge

Escape Plan (2013) – meaningless action concoction doesn’t even deliver the trivial narrative pleasures one might have minimally expected

Viridiana (1961) – one of Bunuel’s most stunning films, an unprecedented, multi-faceted overturning of order, tradition and virtue

Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) – Sasdy turns in an efficiently solid, although seldom very stylistically striking, entry in the series

On the Road (2012) – easy to watch for Salles’ handsome image-making and the sheer volume of incident, but leaves sadly little impression

The Streetwalker (1976) – Borowczyk’s erotic mystery (of sorts) perhaps maintains its psychological and causal enigmas a bit too well?

Trail of the Pink Panther (1982) – Edwards’ weird patchwork might have been conceptually intriguing if it wasn’t so shoddy & self-satisfied

Viva Maria! (1965) – Malle’s ambitious, would-be rousing comedy is certainly beautiful to look at, but feels strangely inert to me

Promised Land (2012) – Van Sant in well-behaved message mode, sticking strictly to drilling pretty wells with nicely landscaped dirt

Face to Face (1976) – Bergman’s rather narrowly strained breakdown drama increasingly seems to be mainly about observing pure performance

The Normal Heart (2014) – Murphy’s adaptation is largely unremarkable as filmmaking, but still grippingly conveys Kramer’s powerful anger

Pigsty (1969) – Pasolini’s endlessly fascinating, biting, one-of-a-kind film bursts with great dialectical power and creative perversity

Shadow Dancer (2012) – Marsh’s worried Irish drama becomes increasingly consumed by spycraft mechanics, shedding much of its interest

A Flame in my Heart (1987) – Tanner’s gripping study of a passionate woman maneuvers rather too strenuously toward ambiguous desolation

Rollercoaster (1977) – Goldstone’s solidly-built drama has no depth, but is satisfying enough in an unshowy middle-aged kind of way 

Post Tenebras Lux (2012) – Reygadas’ beautifully imagined and visualized fusion of piercing localized detail and vast, ungraspable mystery

Railroaded! (1947) – Mann’s tight little film noir is no great shakes, but the thematic and visual play of light and dark is irresistible

We are the Best! (2013) – Moodysson’s perfectly judged expression of the (old-fashioned?) virtues of grabbing your own space & making noise

Kelly’s Heroes (1970) – Hutton’s logistically impressive but cold-blooded caper feels like it should/could have been a much richer satire

On the Beat (1995) – Ning’s intimate, revealing study of a Beijing police precinct sets out deep wells of personal and ideological fatigue

The Amorous Misadventures of Casanova (1977) – a sluggish Curtis blithely trashes what’s left of his image, propped up by rows of breasts

A King in New York (1957) – Chaplin’s generally dignified late summation, a sometimes sorrowful catalogue of American excesses and errors

City of Life and Death (2009) – Lu’s powerful, often harrowing drama of the Nanking horror, somewhat limited by its narrative calculations

Family Plot (1976) – notable as Hitchcock’s last, this pleasantly rambling, psychologically shallow creation isn’t so important otherwise

The Idiots (1998) – von Trier’s study of therapeutic cleansing (or is it?) is a perfect receptable for the likewise ambiguous Dogme virtues

Run of the Arrow (1957) – through a fascinatingly anguished protagonist, Fuller memorably expresses ongoing American errors and torments

Workingman’s Death (2005) – Glawogger’s remarkable, charged record of community and perseverance, more ambiguous than the title may suggest

The Wilby Conspiracy (1974) – turns out pretty mechanical in Nelson’s hands, only intermittently providing a meaningful window on apartheid

The Match Factory Girl (1990) – Kaurismaki’s exactingly composed, compact tale of suffering, almost has a touch of Bresson at times

The Quiet Man (1952) – Ford’s grandly romantic dream of Irish community, rich with intertwining simplifications and complexities

The Hunt (2012) – Vinterberg’s narrative has an inherent queasy power, but it’s the kind of film where you always know the dog won’t make it

Alice, Sweet Alice (1976) – Sole’s quite interesting amalgamation of procedural 70’s flatness and of visually striking grotesquerie

Rendezvous in Paris (1995) – wonderful three-part Rohmer illustration of the complexities & missteps of youthful self-examination & desire

In the Year of the Pig (1968) – De Antonio’s impeccable dissection of America’s moral self-destruction in Vietnam still leaves you chilled

Betty Blue (1986) – Beineix’s three-hour version often feels arbitrary and shallow, but the sex and nudity work OK as connective glue

So Young So Bad (1950) – Vorhaus/Ulmer’s ragged, sometimes oddly touching institution drama, forged from sincere but compromised liberalism

Ida (2013) – in classic art film manner, Pawlikowski’s human exploration rivetingly evokes post-war Poland’s personal and political traumas

A Star is Born (1976) – Pierson’s update is mostly a mess, but somehow shambles its way to an iconic kind of diverting goofiness

The Magician (1958) – Bergman’s film ultimately seems like a rather hollow trick, but it’s enthrallingly odd and intriguing throughout

Under the Skin (2013) – Glazer creates an instantly classic filmic myth that’s also an unsettling reflection on acting, being and desire

The Last Wave (1977) – despite much anthropological interest and Weir’s strong imagery, it ends up an unpersuasive mythological grab-bag

Many Wars Ago (1970) – Rosi’s powerful depiction of war as moral wasteland, gripping even if occupying mostly familiar cinematic territory

What Maisie Knew (2013) – McGehee/Siegel’s somewhat over-sculptured but still sad, quietly chilling study of monied parenting uselessness

Hotel des Ameriques (1981) – certainly recognizable but rather distant early Techine work, his sensibility perhaps not yet fully channeled

The World’s End (2013) – Wright’s snappy handling & feeling for personal crisis only makes it seem more colossally dumb than it already is

Statues Also Die (1953) – Resnais/Marker eloquently reflect on black art, seeming overly fascinated though by elements of black otherness

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) – Jarmusch’s “vampire movie” is a magnificent reverie on our zombie-like immersion in a deadening present

Brink of Life (1958) – a relatively small, sociologically curious Bergman film, with some strikingly humane moments, and some chilling ones

Valentino (1977) – Russell feels strangely neutered here, yielding a mostly flat & unrevealing film, although with some closing poignancy

London (1994) – Keiller’s multi-layered charting of the city’s eroding identity, very poignantly prophetic given subsequent developments

Dragnet Girl (1933) – one feels Ozu moving past the gangster melodramatics, burying into the story’s universal, deeply melancholy centre

Don Jon (2013) - Scarlett Johansson gets to be in a dull, mechanical movie; later on, Julianne Moore scores a relatively somewhat richer one

Evening Land (1977) – Watkins’ rare, densely-packed Danish work on the destruction of democracy, single-minded but still as grimly relevant

Blue Ruin (2013) – Saulnier’s intelligent genre exercise has its distinctive aspects, but not enough to warrant the general high praise

Adieu Philippine (1962) – Rozier’s sort-of-love triangle, depicting denial through constant motion, makes for pleasantly loose viewing

The Tempest (1979) – Jarman’s fascinating interpretation seems like a displaced meditation on the artist, alternatively preoccupied & joyous

Adore (2013) – feels like Fontaine should have gotten much more out of the potentially transgressive material than just a golden-hued ramble

Ichijo’s Wet Lust (1972) – Kumashiro’s odd erotic trifle has some fairly interesting psychology, but probably works better for specialists

Into the Night (1985) – Landis’ shiny comedy-thriller works as a fable of self-invention through storytelling, or something like that

The Blue Angel (1930) – Sternberg’s classic of self-destruction remains entirely riveting, a collision of artificiality and seedy modernity

August: Osage County (2013) – I remember a bit more to the play than shouting matches and tedious revelations, but you can’t tell that here

Private Vices, Public Virtues (1976) – Jancso’s increasingly interesting study of self-destructive decadence, a cousin to late Pasolini

That Championship Season (1982) – being charitable, maybe the movie’s creaky decrepitude helps seal the sense of a vanishing American male

Nocturne 29 (1968) – Portabella’s experimental film evokes Bunuel, Antonioni and others, while achieving its own gracefully mysterious unity

The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) – surprisingly effective end to the series, way less cheesy than its immediate predecessor anyway

Jimmy P (2013) – Desplechin’s most even-toned film in many ways inverts his usual expansive methods, creating a fascinating counterpoint

The Italian Straw Hat (1928) – Clair’s famous but distant farce is now more just interesting than it is funny or cinematically engaging

The Cannibals (1970) – Cavani’s beautifully weird provocation, a time capsule from when images of revolution seemed as necessary as sex

Pacific Rim (2013) – del Toro’s relentless epic is always powerfully realized, but disappointingly conventional, juvenile and affectless

Twenty-Four Eyes (1954) – if not the most complex Japanese film of the period, Kinoshita’s may at least evoke the most sustained sadness

The Shining (1980) – Kubrick’s study of (among other things) an overwhelmed man’s obliteration, a masterpiece of unease & strangeness

Mississippi Mermaid (1969) – Truffaut travels compellingly from classic, clue-strewn genre artificiality to bleak, gripping intimacy

Elysium (2013) – Blonkamp’s tiresomely hypocritical elite-toppling fantasy, with a conventionally overcooked grabbag of a narrative

Anita (Swedish Nymphet) (1973) – looks now like a chronicle of how the crappy drab 70s even screwed up the whole virgin/whore distinction

The Unknown Known (2013) – Morris’ prettily presented philosophically-tinged sorrow seems a poor substitute for the anger Rumsfeld deserves

Dr. Mabuse: the Gambler (1922) – Lang’s extended drama of societal and psychological manipulation, still amazingly potent and gripping

Women in Love (1970) – after forty years, Russell’s strongly-articulated film still seems almost radical in its no-nonsense frankness

The White Diamond (2004) – Herzog pushes into yet another interesting situation, but this time doesn’t really hit great thematic heights

Without Pity (1948) – Lattuada’s hell-on-earth neo-realist drama seems rather too tightly wound now, blurring the truth of its observations

Terminal Island (1973) – it’s true! – Rothman’s energetic film remains interesting both as a feminist statement & a broader progressive one

Daytime Drinking (2008) – Noh’s bleakly comic anecdote of bad luck aided by over-consumption; not revelatory, but intriguingly observed

The Great Race (1965) – Edwards presumably gets the extended triviality the way he wanted it, but it’s hardly his most enduring mode

Daughter of the Nile (1987) – Hou’s loss-heavy drama shares elements with many of his other films, but to a more minor effect than usual

The Laughing Policeman (1973) – Rosenberg’s solid but not Lumet-level police drama, as interested in process & wrong turns as in revelations

Jar City (2006) – whereby Iceland gets the cleverly grotesque drama that every land deserves, and Kormakur rightly arises to Hollywood

Touch of Evil (1958) – Welles’ masterpiece is rich with expressions of moral & physical decay, of the transition to a new politics & culture

5 Broken Cameras (2011) – deliberately incomplete as analysis or history, but remarkable and disturbing as personal testimony and witness

Across 110th Street (1972) – Shear’s busy, often sociologically astute drama, seems to have been aspiring to multi-faceted grandeur

Prenom Carmen (1983) – Godard’s beautiful, sexy (if arguably limited) concoction illustrates the immense adaptive richness of his methods

The Spy who Came in from the Cold (1965) – Ritt’s desolate drama, properly if strenuously chilly, and heavy with Burton’s self-disgust

Nymphomaniac, Vol. 2 (2014) – von Trier pulls back on the giddier inventions of part one, evolving into occasionally piercing bleakness

The Messiah (1975) – Rossellini’s evenly controlled, worthy last film emphasizes the sociological and cultural over the supernatural

The Purge (2013) – DeMonaco has a reasonably promising pulp premise, but plays it out in shallow, ideologically unthreatening monotony

Umbracle (1970) – Portabella’s unique film, at times alluring or ominous or both, taking a brave step toward a radically reconfigured cinema

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – one of Anderson’s best, refining his cinematic language even further, & allowing darker themes & portents

Love Meetings (1964) – Pasolini’s lively survey of sexual attitudes, in a nation of repressive conventions and largely unexamined instincts

The Thief who Came to Dinner (1973) – Yorkin’s undemanding fluff piece still has more adult contours than a modern-day equivalent would have

Wadjda (2012) – Al-Mansour’s film is largely conventional in tone & form, still riveting for what it depicts, & foresees for its protagonist

The Blue Gardenia (1953) – Lang’s generally atmospheric picture builds effectively, but is ultimately a bit underdeveloped in most respects

The Consequences of Love (2004) – Sorrentino impeccably delivers just about the least likely film one might expect from that title

The Paper Chase (1973) – Bridges’ briskly amiable, TV-spin-off-ready drama is pretty flimsy, once you strip off the handsome veneer

Nymphomaniac, Vol. 1 (2014) – von Trier artfully weaves provocations, positionings and ambiguities, but little in the film feels really new

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983) – Oshima’s sociologically potent POW film, also a Bowie-mystique-propelled, ravishing existential enigma

The Eclipse (1962) – Antonioni’s magnificent journey through the heavy puzzle of civilization, its interlocking beauty and order and chaos

The East (2013) – Batmanglij’s infiltration drama feels much like watching Costa-Gavras’ Betrayed again, with a slicker modern sheen

La collectionneuse (1967) – more academic & stifling than Rohmer’s subsequent wonderful films, even if that suits the characters & themes

The Spectacular Now (2013) – Ponsoldt & the actors generate some lovely moments, but the movie as a whole rather disappointingly peters out

Good News (1979) – Petri’s scathingly slippery comedy of scorching male inadequacy in a barely functioning, historically poisoned culture

The Great Gatsby (2013) – no doubt Luhrmann’s techniques can be justified as creative strategies, but they’re still mostly boring/annoying

Operation Thunderbolt (1977) – Golan’s authenticity-hungry Entebbe drama is fast and straightforward, with all the attaching pros and cons

20 Feet from Stardom (2013) – not fully developed as cultural history, but a pleasant, fluid essay on chance and pragmatism

La ronde (1950) – Ophuls’ beautiful, masterfully sustained artificiality, encompassing wonderful feeling for human frailty and turbulence

At Berkeley (2013) – Wiseman’s thoroughly absorbing record of the institution’s wonders, and the worrying practicalities of maintaining them

The Golden Thread (1965) – Ghatak’s bleakly powerful chronicle of personal rise & fall, torn from painful societal upheaval & confusion

This is the End (2013) – the more the fires burn and the returns diminish, the surer you are the wrong people got knocked off at the start 

Cousin cousine (1975) – Tacchella’s mostly plain, often forced little comedy at least has some happy non-conformity at its centre

Red Hook Summer (2012) – Lee’s most sustained and interesting movie for a while, not least for its startling sudden change of direction

Z (1969) – the emblematic Costa-Gavras film, employing somewhat dated techniques, but still enveloping, provocative and sadly relevant

Dallas Buyers Club (2013) – if time is limited, skip Vallee’s surface-scratching narrative and watch How to Survive a Plague instead

Mouchette (1967) – a young girl’s defeated negotiation with a largely pitiless world; one of Bresson’s most acute, overwhelming films

Oblivion (2013) – Kosinski’s sterile “vision” is laughably short of the humanity that it’s notionally concerned about redeeming

The Spiders (1919) – early example of Lang’s epic paranoia mode, at this point just hinting at the visual and thematic glories to come

Trance (2013) – Boyle’s aggressively incoherent “thriller” only becomes nastier and more wearying with each jarring forward motion

X, Y and Zee (1972) – Hutton’s drab direction is actually pretty well suited to Edna O’Brien’s fraught, emotionally claustrophobic material

From the Life of the Marionettes (1980) – Bergman, with clinical savagery, shreds one’s optimism about human structures and possibilities

Dead of Night (1972) – Clark’s dubious but never-dull horror expression of the psychopathy of Vietnam, with suitably anguished acting

The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012) – von Groeningen’s film is contrived but still surprisingly engrossing, distinctive in joy and pain alike

A Woman under the Influence (1974) – Cassavetes’ brilliant behavioural dance, on the wrenching fight between stability and inner truth

The Great Beauty (2013) – Sorrentino’s teeming depiction of the circus and the void gorgeously pulls out the stops as you seldom see now

Alice’s Restaurant (1969) – as it recedes in time, the bleaker aspects of Penn’s film become more prominent than Guthrie’s mythic wanderings

Close-Up (1990) – Kiarostami’s reflective classic, humanely alert to how social injustice might pervert cinematic identification

House by the River (1950) – second-tier Lang, but with piercing imagery, and a gripping portrayal of escalating, all-consuming venality

Love is all you Need (2012) – Bier tones down her frequent structural artificiality, but replaces it with little more than pretty pictures

Wake in Fright (1971) – Kotcheff’s memorably traumatic culture clash, all the more excruciating for being so sociologically convincing

Shark (1969) – a famously messed-up Fuller movie, but with plenty of interesting pieces, even if he couldn’t fully punch them into shape

The Past (2013) – Farhadi’s conventionally well-crafted film suggests he might end up as (artistically) hemmed in as his characters are

The Baby (1973) – a strange but not negligible entry in the annals of, uh, unusual female motivation, executed by Post in poker-faced manner

The Counterfeiters (2007) – Ruzowitzky’s over-awarded film is engrossing enough, though drawing on familiar themes and contrasts

Diary of a Chambermaid (1946) – a fascinating human mess, but less incisive than either Renoir’s earlier great work or Bunuel’s later remake

Gertrud (1964) – near-hypnotic for what we increasingly perceive as the brutal emotional implications beneath Dreyer’s ritualistic surface

Stoker (2013) – despite Park’s constant virtuosity, mostly the same old wine (and blood) in a cold-heartedly pretty new bottle

State of Siege (1972) – as scrupulous and propulsive as all Costa-Gavras’ peak work, but all seems rather abstract and distant now

Mud (2012) – Nichols has a lot (too much) going on plot-wise; most interesting when digging into the worried heart of community & family

Two Men in Manhattan (1959) – Melville explores a thicket of moral fractures, beneath his clear pleasure in the scintillating surfaces

Lola (1970) – a real oddity in Donner’s and Bronson’s filmographies, and a major undisciplined mess, although seems unlikely they cared

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) – smoothly executed, but Cianfrance doesn’t come close to the epic emotional sweep he seems to aim for

Heart of Glass (1976) – one of Herzog’s strangest films of the period, allowing us little choice but to be carried to the edge of the abyss

To the Wonder (2012) – Malick’s sustained investigation of the connectivity of things, pushing fascinatingly toward a fresh filmic grammar

M. Hulot’s Holiday (1953) – most fascinating for the variety of Hulot’s disruptions, the multiplicity of his challenges to regularity

Her (2013) – Jonze draws in many of our evolving age’s anxieties & uncertainties, but it’s a pretty drippy, one-note exploration of them

The House by the Cemetery (1981) – Fulci traumatically expresses a damaged collective subconscious (embodied by the “Freudstein” monster!)

Union Square (2011) – Savoca’s strangely minor ode to family ties seems like a vague starting point for a film rather than the thing itself

The Slightly Pregnant Man (1973) – a pleasant satire, maybe because Demy is more interested in the quirks of community than those of science

Berberian Sound System (2012) – Strickland’s fascinating cinematic side street, strange and distinctively unsettling at every turn

The Ruling Class (1972) – Medak’s satire finds some novel ways to hit at easy targets, although it drags almost as often as it dazzles

Me and You (2012) – “small” material no doubt, but hugely enlarged by Bertolucci’s classic capacity for human and cinematic interrogation

Silk Stockings (1957) – contains beautiful moments of Charisse and late-period Astaire at their best, so it’s easy to take the other parts

Reality (2012) – Garrone’s film delivers some reliable Fellini/De Sica-type diversion, but doesn’t really muster much of a cultural critique

The Godfather, Part Two (1974) – still a great example of contemporary myth-making, brilliantly drawing on America’s intertwined hypocrisies

Oasis (2002) – Lee sustains a knowingly discomfiting multi-layered challenge to the often self-serving prevailing ideas of behavioral ethics

The Last Movie (1971) – Hopper’s cherishably mad, ego-strewn work shudders with love of cinema even as it dreams of obliterating it

Whores’ Glory (2011) – Glawogger’s astoundingly comprehensive, achingly humane but unsentimental film breaks through layers of complacency

Gun Crazy (1950) – Lewis’ wondrously vivid, cinematically and psychologically compelling classic, justly valued as one of the genre's best

L’esquive (2003) – Kechiche’s breakthrough film, highly immersed in its specific subculture, charming at times, but under no illusions

Chinatown (1974) – Polanski’s classic is one of the most formally immaculate of modern films, unforgettable for its fluidity and complexity  

Beau travail (1999) – for all its strange power and complex engagement with masculinity, surpassed for me by most of Denis’ other films

Enter the Dragon (1973) – a shame that the price of admission for watching Bruce Lee had to be all the other turgid sub-Bondian crap

Quartet (2012) – making a weirdly late directing debut, Hoffman decides it’s enough just to get some quality old-timers and happily hang out

Solaris (1972) – Tarkovsky memorably explores the liberation and the turmoil of seeking escape from personal and bureaucratic heaviness

Spring Breakers (2012) – Korine’s strangely beautiful, well-sustained dream of varied turpitude; alive to the raw, malleable hunger of youth

La bataille du rail (1946) – not hard to feel one’s way into how stirring Clement’s chronicle of determination must have been at the time

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) – one of the Coens’ best-judged films, its unforced narrative of failure laced with gentle existential mysteries

Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) – Herzog’s fine take on the material becomes a poignant meditation on helplessness and decay

The Company you Keep (2012) – Redford barely articulates the ongoing relevance of the underground movement, except in cliched terms

The Creatures (1966) – Varda’s strange, haunting fantasy of imagination & exploitation; satisfyingly contrived in classic art-house style

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – Scorsese’s savage picture of ethical & moral vacuums in action; often astonishing yet also largely familiar

Anatahan (1953) – Sternberg somehow concentrates a whole world of inner churning and invention into this strange, highly-controlled tale

White Shadows (1924) – tempting to say one can feel Hitchcock’s presence in the background of this busy melodrama, but it would be a stretch

The Cars that ate Paris (1974) – Weir’s early work is an oddly sensitive, wittily Leone-inflected parody of community and its excesses

The Angels’ Share (2012) – after this and Looking for Eric, can feel a lot as if Loach’s socially-wired passion has become a form of shtick

One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (1977) – Varda’s gracefully biology-embracing celebration of women makes its political points lightly

American Hustle (2013) – another Russell movie that pretty much just goes by in a chaotic blur, with no great shape, meaning or impact

The Night Porter (1974) – Caviani’s study of Nazism’s abiding wreckage hardly constitutes the most significant perspective on the matter

Touch (1997) – unfortunately, not much of the Schrader touch comes through in this oddly passionless landscape of lost or incomplete souls

Stroszek (1977) – Herzog’s odd (of course) chronicle of America’s false promise; sadly meaningful despite its veins of coarse opportunism

Prisoners (2013) – Villeneuve’s ponderous film increasingly reveals itself as a grotesque contrivance, utterly lacking in moral seriousness

Une si jolie petite plage (1949) – Allegret’s fine, fatalistic drama, distinguished by an astonishing underbelly of exploitation and disgust

Pretty Maids all in a Row (1971) – has its peculiar merits, but Vadim could have made the satire much more biting and politically charged

Memories of Murder (2003) – Bong’s darkly ambiguity-laden serial killer piece is certainly a superior genre picture; not really much more

The Conversation (1974) – one of Coppola’s best observed movies, even if its examination of character and morality is blunted by contrivance

Comedy of Innocence (2000) – Ruiz leaves us elegantly disoriented about the truth & meaning of this peculiar tale, maybe those of all tales

Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) – given the attempts at "updating' the material, “Dracula A.D. 1972…maaan” might have been the better title

Nebraska (2013) – Payne’s bleakly flavorful, indelibly acted study of American limitations, ultimately as much fairy tale as social document

Rider on the Rain (1970) – Clement’s low-key drama has an appealingly melancholy undercurrent, but doesn’t amount to much otherwise

Private Benjamin (1980) – seems pretty thin now, but maybe audiences of the time were just desperate for any female self-discovery angle

Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970) – from Herzog’s most astonishingly fertile period, a bizarre but strangely meaningful vision of revolution

Magic Magic (2013) – Silva’s quite effective and distinctive appropriation of the “terrorized young woman” template (well-disguised though)

Xala (1975) – Sembene’s wonderful tale of corruption & impotence seems to encompass the pains, needs & rhythms of an entire time & place

Road to Nowhere (2010) – Hellman’s wildly self-referencing, somewhat over-extended cinematic maze is at least more compelling than not

Les cousins (1959) – Chabrol’s early film remains one of his best, ruthlessly laying out the cruel machinations of class and sex and fate

Eyes of Laura Mars (1978) – the opening & closing credits remain the most striking parts of Kershner’s overdone, not very sensible thriller

Days of Being Wild (1990) – for me, this early Wong film remains one of his best, eerily weaving emotion, denial, myth, clarity and loss

Loving (1970) – essentially familiar, overly male-centric material, but within those limits, Kershner does better than fine by it

US Go Home (1994) – by design slighter and plainer than most of Denis’ work, but still a lovely study of young emotions and desires

Demon Seed (1977) – Cammell’s film is careful and well-imagined in some respects, somewhat goofily, trippily over-reaching in others

La guerre est finie (1966) – fully satisfying on every level, and more gravely gripping now than Resnais’ better known earlier work

Twelve Years a Slave (2013) – always powerful and stimulating, but subject to many (albeit maybe inevitable) compromises and limitations

Yeelen (1987) – Cisse’s film stares into a densely mythic past; the absence of Africa’s present & future is both its strength & limitation

The Entertainer (1960) – off-stage as on-, too much in Richardson’s melodrama feels over-calculated now, but the pieces are flavorful

Zardoz (1974) – hard to know exactly how to react to Boorman’s multi-dimensional oddity; at best, the vision is arbitrary and sputtering

Sandra (1965) – an unusual Visconti film; a study of barely buried anguish that’s almost as chilling as any tale of actual ghosts

Killing them Softly (2012) – Dominik’s cinematic fluidity only makes the thudding mediocrity of his “big ideas” all the more insufferable

Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1970) – Bava’s intense but not quite fully charged, somewhat ragged expression of the ultimate wedding bell blues

Upstream (1927) – newly rediscovered Ford film in an atypical setting, narratively a bit thin but brimming with great zest and affection

The Battle of Chile, Part 3 (1975) – in a brilliant decision, Guzman circles back to tragically illuminate the underlying human commitment

Bullet to the Head (2013) – incredibly violent and absurd material, but you can tell there’s a conscientious old pro like Hill in charge

The Battle of Chile, Part 2 (1975) – Guzman builds impeccably on Part 1, crafting an unforgettable indictment of “nationalist” malignancy

42nd Street (1933) – Bacon keeps it snappy and colourful and business-like until Berkeley’s nuttily fascinating fantasias take over

The Wicker Man (1973) – still as gorgeously odd as ever; drawing with eerie flavour on a tangle of myths, repressions and human weirdness

Blue is the Warmest Color (2013) – Kechiche’s greatest hits album of pretty lesbianism, kept aloft by spellbinding observational dexterity

Spider Baby (1968) – is this a more weirdly touching depiction of familial unity than many more high-minded films, or am I just losing it..?

The Battle of Chile, Part 1 (1975) – Guzman’s precisely rendered, chillingly relevant essay ought to give Tea Partiers something to consider

God Bless America (2011) – Goldthwait’s justly angry opus often spellbinds with its furious eloquence, although less so with its body count

The House is Black (1963) – Farrozhzad’s stark record of leprosy sufferers all but dares a purportedly benevolent God to explain himself

Romantic Comedy (1983) – even though the generic quality is (presumably) deliberate, the intertwining of art & life couldn’t be much flatter

I am Cuba (1963) – Kalaztozov’s classic provocation has such constant virtuosic energy, the film rather overruns its own analytical capacity

All is Lost (2013) – might almost be Redford’s fascinating atonement for past vanities, facilitated by Chandor’s painstaking stripping down

La faute de l’abbe Mouret (1970) – Franju’s gripping if incompletely realized negotiation between Catholic guilt and flower child freedom

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) – Coppola ultimately pushes the film toward pure mood, design, encounter, without much enhancing its relevance

Cairo Station (1958) – Chahine’s heated potboiler remains surprisingly raw, stark and sexually charged, of great anthropological interest

Casting By (2012) – Donahue’s documentary, like so many others, shows little of the distinctive attitude it purports to explore & celebrate

Lisa and the Devil (1973) – Bava’s singular mix of old dark house slasher, romantically tinged dream logic, & Telly Savalas (with lollipop)!

The Paperboy (2012) – Daniels’ valiantly pathetic, expectations-dodging attempt to rule the “so bad it’s good” category

Black Girl (1966) – Sembene’s indelibly sensitive case history of colonialism's false promise, an apt stylistic anomaly in his body of work

Seduced and Abandoned (2013) – Toback and Baldwin’s highly engaging, though somewhat ramshackle, things-used-to-be-better ramble

Quadrophenia (1979) – Roddam’s film is really all about the attitude & the scrapes; doesn’t dig so deep as a social document, but no matter

Boy (1969) – one of Oshima’s most bitingly immaculate films, consistently evading all conventional expectations and interpretations

Sisters (1973) – still as enveloping a creation as almost any other De Palma, with Hitchcock yielding to something almost pre-Cronenbergian

Un Coeur en hiver (1992) – for all the limitations of such icy precision, Sautet does steer his protagonist to a certain perverse grandeur

That’s Life (1986) – unfortunately, it’s not clear anything about Edwards’ film actually is life, outside a purely movieland concept of it

Thomas the Impostor (1965) – one of Franju’s more austerely strange, multi-faceted works, with some unsettlingly beautiful images

Captain Phillips (2013) – Greengrass remains a master low-bullshit orchestrator, although it ends up mainly another hymn to American might

The Stranger (1967) – Visconti presents a dutifully handsome transcription of the book, rather than a productive filmic dialogue with it

A Touch of Class (1973) – Frank’s comedy, slack as it generally is, remains a productive discussion topic re cinema’s treatment of women

Sobibor, Oct. 14, 1943, 4 pm (2001) – a more concentrated illustration of Lanzmann’s methods, narratively gripping but superbly weighted

Betrayed (1988) – deeply unconvincing liberal-thrill melodrama, where Costa-Gavras’ energy seems spent on keeping up with the contrivances

Emak-Bakia (1927) – Man Ray luxuriates playfully in the possibilities of cinema, ultimately daring us to surrender to a sensual dream state

Save the Tiger (1973) – still a solid if over-extended drama; not quite the intended all-encompassing summation of its challenged times

A Touch of Sin (2013) – Jia’s provocatively bleak narrative, visual mastery and analytical precision makes this one of the year’s best films

Quick Change (1990) – given that Murray co-directed this amiable meander, it’s a bit strange and sad he kept himself on such a tight leash

King, Queen, Knave (1972) – Skolimowski’s odd little film, both classical and jitterily modern, sliding between caresses and knife-twists

Les maudits (1947) – Clement’s fascinatingly atmospheric dramatization of the perverse, malignant existential vacuum underlying Nazism

A Boy and his Dog (1975) – very strange, wayward material, which gets somewhat more striking as a distorted prophecy of American derangement

The Karski Report (2010) – a piercing annex to Lanzmann’s core achievement, on the Shoah's challenge to human capacity to believe & respond

Mean Streets (1973) – Scorsese likely never equaled this for raw empathetic conviction; much of what followed is (inevitably?) more mannered

Bastards (2013) - only for Denis could a film as richly controlled and allusive as this one seem like a relatively second-level work

Hell Drivers (1957) – Endfield’s socially-wired drama, with a once in a lifetime cast, is a pioneer of hurtling heavy-machine momentum

The Wicker Tree (2011) – Hardy’s late sequel doesn’t add much to the mythology, but has moments of intriguing (if rather diluted) flavour

The Working Class Goes to Heaven (1971) – Petri’s scathing analysis of industrialized labour, as a choice between capitulation and madness

Hitchcock (2012) – even less relevant to appreciating Hitchcock’s achievements than The Girl was, although somewhat more goofily enjoyable

Le notte bianchi (1957) – Visconti crafts a lovely artificiality, but Bresson’s later version of the same material would be truly remarkable

Gravity (2013) – Cuaron’s visual achievement is remarkable; in other respects, it’s either less impressive, or at best harder to assess

A Visitor from the Living (1999) – a quietly devastating work, as Lanzmann meticulously exposes past errors and continuing complacency

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974) – Hough’s no-bullshit, happily nihilistic chase movie; no great shakes, but pretty smart by today's standards

A Royal Affair (2012) – Arcel’s stuffy reliance on standard history-film vocabulary only squanders the material’s political resonance

Bullitt (1968) – Yates’ sparsely matter-of-fact styling holds up pretty well, & McQueen’s awesomely-controlled iconic presence even more so

Trouble Every Day (2001) – Denis applies her immense skill and fluidity to material with a unknowably dark heart, to remarkable effect

Airport ’77 (1977) – Jameson shows little passion for the dutiful melodrama, but perks up big-time when the mighty Navy rescue shows up

The Goddess (1934) – Wu’s silent Chinese classic is as fluidly complex and moving and as indelibly acted as any Hollywood film of the period

Enough Said (2013) – as smoothly insightful as all Holofcener’s work, but to more minor effect: could have said/shown/explored so much more

Eva (1962) – a fascinating entry in the ‘dangerous woman’ genre, marked by Losey’s masterfully heightened strangifying of every element 

Bay of Blood (1971) – Bava’s vividly enjoyable, gruesome parable on, I suppose, the unenjoyably gruesome toll of unchecked avarice

Excalibur (1981) – Boorman just about masterminds the nutty mythological mishmash into a moodily coherent, earthy vision

Shoah (1985) – Lanzmann far transcends the limitations of conventional documentary with mesmerizing, often startling authorial choices

World War Z (2013) – Forster delivers some striking sequences & jagged storytelling, but it’s been done before with much more sentient kick

Summer with Monika (1953) – the summer idyll aside, as close as Bergman ever made to a stripped-down, patriarchy-conscious kitchen-sinker

Stand Up Guys (2012) – Stevens’ modern-day Wild Bunch variation squanders all its potential gravity with endless cheap shots & contrivances

L'etoile de mer (1928) - Man Ray's early expression of the play of desire, fetishization and denial that fuels so much subsequent cinema

Town & Country (2001) – Beatty’s grievously unfocused return to Shampoo territory (with creakier bones) misses nearly every opportunity

A River Called Titash (1973) – Ghatak’s film often feels shaped out of pure pain, its confusions flowing directly from India’s injustices

Passion (2012) – De Palma persuasively creates a sustained state of waking dream, where nothing carries true weight or earthly consequence

Salon Kitty (1976) – Brass’ exploitation classic is more than just that – a real high-low hybrid like they truly don’t/can’t make any more

Goldfinger (1964) – rather like perusing an album of isolated iconic moments, with the reasons for that iconic-ness hard to remember now

Antiviral (2012) – Cronenberg Jr.’s boring, starkly imagined speculation is all premise, with little in the way of interesting elaboration

Parking (1985) – largely forgotten late Demy illustrates all his complexities – lovely, transgressive, piercing, banal, often all at once

The Impossible (2012) – the recreation is certainly impressive, but Bayona has little more in mind, the usual “human spirit” stuff aside

Le retour a la raison (1923) – Man Ray’s short film vividly (and, briefly, erotically) suggests how montage might encompass all things

This is 40 (2012) – Apatow no doubt effectively conveys the contours of his own life, but it’s not clear what that does for the rest of us

Cuadecuc vampire (1971) – Portabella’s intriguing repositioning of familiar material, reflecting on filmmaking’s rituals, its strange beauty

Drinking Buddies (2013) – higher-end casting gives Swanberg’s movie a finer sheen, but it doesn't really expand his artistic limits

Kanto Wanderer (1963) – Suzuki navigates to an endpoint of loneliness and displacement, setting out the stubborn toll of the yakuza code

Ishtar (1987) – May’s famous flop is actually pretty astute and clear-sighted on several levels, although still not her strongest film

Welcome (2009) – Lioret’s solidly multi-faceted film has lots of sociological interest, although the romantic fatalism is a mixed blessing

Linda Lovelace for President (1975) – an amiable softcore mess; Linda's satirical capacity starts off thin & only gets thinner as it goes on

Day for Night (1973) – among Truffaut’s most enjoyable creations, even if (or because) it downplays any possibility for directorial vision

Gambit (2012) – surely the plainest, most dispensable movie involving the Coen Brothers; seldom puts up more than the usual genre stakes

The Night of the Shooting Stars (1982) – an absorbing Taviani testimony, seemingly true to the texture of history, but quirkily seasoned

The Towering Inferno (1974) – as the 70’s disaster cycle goes, it’s no Airport; and hard to watch it now without thinking of 9/11 parallels

The Grandmaster (2013) – Wong doesn’t greatly expand his universe here, but still creates a meditative space of great, beautiful capacity

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956) – would have been so much richer and thematically eloquent in the hands of Sirk or Ray or Minnelli

Come Play With Me (1977) – only in a pretty sad time and place could this weird, titillating hybrid have been the (albeit minor) hit it was

In the House (2012) – Ozon’s fable on personal and artistic ethics and boundaries is poised and engaging, although without his earlier bite

Only When I Laugh (1981) – Simon’s customarily polished fragments don’t compensate this time for the lack of overall substance and bite

Death in Venice (1971) – Visconti embodies here what was once perceived (some places) as cinematic art, but it’s not so galvanizing now

Red Lights (2012) – Cortes seemingly seeks to become progressively dark and disorienting, but manages only silliness and incoherence

Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me (1972) – Truffaut pulls off his apparent ambition of making himself seem aggressively dumber than he really was

Clear History (2013) – length aside, David doesn’t stray too far here from the Curb Your Enthusiasm formula, but then, who needs him to?

La fiancee du pirate (1969) – Kaplan’s provocative, mud-throwing sex comedy is still enjoyably transgressive (in a museum piece kind of way)

Papillon (1973) – Schaffner’s approach is stylistically interesting at times, but no real reason to watch this over Bresson’s Man Escaped

Feeling Good (2010) – Etaix’s vision of imposed mediocrity is well-executed as always, but covers much the same ground as his other work

The Quiller Memorandum (1966) – hardly the genre’s high water mark, but draws with sparse precision on Cold War-era existential adriftness

Laurence Anyways (2012) – Dolan’s creative instincts, although rich and generous, are already starting to seem a bit over-stretched

Altered States (1980) – Russell’s fiercely committed Chayefsky//monster movie melting pot - too crazily compelling to worry about critiquing

Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (2001) – Imamura’s late work, a pleasant, scenic grabbag of oddities, ultimately seems only vaguely meaningful

Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) – Arzner’s sociologically penetrating masterpiece; both delicately executed and thematically tough-minded

The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle (1980) – Temple’s one of a kind time capsule, crazy and fascinating and at least as coherent as it needs

Pas sur la bouche (2003) – the title maladie sums up Resnais’ enchanting musical exploration of cinematic delight’s proximity to disquiet

Airport (1970) – Seaton's legendary, still quite fascinating hymn to the American machine that holds its fractured human components together

Bed and Board (1970) – showing Truffaut’s rare gift of making largely indifferent material unnaturally captivating; often quite funny too

Lovelace (2013) – a flat disappointment, with dubious narrative strategies, misplaced emphases and little feeling for emotional complexity 

Salvatore Giuliano (1962) – Rosi’s powerful, multi-faceted debut shows his style, sensibility and forceful clarity already fully formed

The Man with the Iron Fists (2012) – seemed unlikely that such a collection of elements could turn out so murky and dull, but there you go

Une femme est une femme (1961) – one of the most joyous films (a dazzlingly rigorous, political, creative, only-from-Godard joy) of its era

The Canyons (2013) – hardly a train wreck; Schrader’s dead-eyed execution is depressingly well attuned to the fuck-everything material

Le deuxieme souffle (1966) – Melville’s bleakly spellbinding piece of cinematic, moral, thematic architecture is among his very best works

Blue Jasmine (2013) – one of Allen’s late career peaks, with the usual strengths and limitations, but rather more social bite than usual

Ten Days Wonder (1972) – Chabrol’s strange but assured exercise in unreliable narration, drawing on rich and varied actorly resonances

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) – has plenty of low-key, oddball charm, but doesn’t ultimately amount to a hill of non-metaphysical beans

Stolen Kisses (1968) – hardly Truffaut’s most consequential film, but warmly illustrating his great capacity for interaction and nuance

American Gigolo (1980) – Schrader’s film is as compelling as ever, as shimmeringly absurd as America's decadence dictates it must be

The Intouchables (2011) – smoothly/shamelessly deploying some of the oldest formulae in the book, for some actual laugh-out-loud moments

The Twelve Chairs (1970) – interesting as a contrast to Brooks’ other work, although in truth he was probably right to go on by aiming lower

Le capital (2012) – Costa-Gavras’ handsome examination of global finance is ultimately too simplistic to yield much analytical power

I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (1968) – like nibbling forlornly on a mere hash brownie crumb, and wondering where the whole plate went

The Burglars (1971) – Verneuil’s caper movie is mostly plain and workmanlike at best, but with some striking extended action set-pieces

Only God Forgives (2013) – Refn’s mostly derided film is increasingly, troublingly fascinating for its formal embodiment of moral absence

Benjamin ou Les memories d’un puceau (1968) – Deville’s deft anecdote of hedonistic paradise fades as rapidly as most casual provocations

Blood and Wine (1996) – Rafelson’s unremarkable but pleasingly solid thriller, with some of Nicholson & (especially) Caine’s best late work

Antoine et Colette (1962) – very pleasant bite-sized piece (half an hour) of Truffaut-lite, with a nicely ironic but unforced arrival point

Smashed (2012) – Ponsoldt’s well-acted film has many sadly compelling moments, but perhaps moves too speedily from darkness to redemption

As Long as You’ve Got Your Health (1966) – Etaix’s mixed-bag anthology is at its best when elegantly skewering contemporary foolishness

Rumble Fish (1983) – Coppola’s aestheticized style creates an overly distanced viewing experience, even allowing that’s largely the point

Rebelle (2012) – Nguyen’s film is inevitably interesting, but dissipates its power and evocative force with trite storytelling decisions

Point Blank (1967) – still as tightly plotted & allusive as any thriller you can think of; Marvin pushes abstracted acting into a new realm

The Players (2012) – variable but mostly weak sex-themed comedy anthology provides ample time to muse on the oddity of Jean Dujardin’s Oscar

Badlands (1973) – if only the wonderfully allusive but grounded, character-attuned Malick had persisted for more than, well, one movie

Oslo, August 31st (2011) – Trier’s aesthetic calculations rather undermine the central devastation, for an oddly indifferent overall effect

Two Weeks in Another Town (1962) – Minnelli's expertly piercing account of exile and displacement, straddling the exotic and the downbeat

Vous n’avez encore rien vu (2012) – Resnais’ remarkable reflection on the inexhaustible glory of artistic creation shows him undiminished

Wild at Heart (1990) – kinetic and diverting, but among the more dispensable of Lynch’s major works, carrying something of a grabbag quality

Rendezvous at Bray (1971) – Delvaux’s immaculately-crafted period miniature, both painstakingly specific and emblematically enigmatic

Juno (2007) – Reitman maintains the film’s mega-distinctive tone very well, but it’s more technically than emotionally engaging

Happy Anniversary (1962) – Etaix/Carriere’s perfectly executed Oscar-winning short, a close cousin to Tati’s observer of modern problems

The Bling Ring (2013) – Coppola is mining a narrow vein of material lately, but it's a meaningful commentary on degraded values and morality

Le combat dans l’ile (1962) – Cavalier’s strangely structured but compelling thriller travels from political turbulence to romantic idealism

Killer Joe (2011) – beneath pretty much everyone involved, but at least they follow the golden rule: in for a penny, in for a pound

The Bear and the Doll (1970) – Deville’s rather stretched comedy works pretty well in showcasing Bardot’s beautiful pain in the ass quality

Sinister (2012) – Derrickson’s nastily inventive silliness might evoke various adjectives but strangely, “sinister” isn’t really one of them

French Cancan (1955) – Renoir’s matchless, tireless whirl of dance and colour and of the joy (and sometimes the cost) of the creative life

Frances Ha (2013) – by far Baumbach’s most wonderful film, marked by enchanting shifts, repositionings, heartbreaks and Gerwigian delights

The Ceremony (1971) – straining what can be absorbed on a first viewing, Oshima’s darkly handsome film is rigid with contempt and disgust

There Will Be Blood (2007) - Anderson takes classic raw materials, lays them like blood-spattered implements to bake under a murderous sun

The Suitor (1962) – wonderfully conceived, controlled and nuanced, but it’s still remarkable how rapidly Etaix would evolve from this start

People will Talk (1951) – a strange, unique, discursive movie, maybe the best evidence for Mankiewicz as a really distinctive director

Polisse (2011) – Maiwenn’s police drama is most piercing in its feeling for the children; otherwise often problematic (not unprodictively)

Another Woman (1988) – Allen’s meticulous but not particularly inspired box of regret doesn’t give Rowlands much space to unleash her power

Alexandra (2007) – one of Sokurov’s more easily accessible films, on the tough-minded persistence of human connection amid imposed bleakness

The Stranger (1946) – minor but with much interest, in particular when Welles’ sensibility emerges in the cracks in the polished surface

Raavanan (2010) – Ratnam keeps it revved up, but the persistent dramatic & emotional over-emphasis is wearying unless it’s really your thing

Separate Tables (1958)  - the tables surely seemed creaky even at the time, let alone now, despite the variable star power dining at them

Rupture (1961) – Etaix/Carriere’s funny, mordantly-subtexted debut short film is deftly handled, although evidently a set of training wheels

Starting Out in the Evening (2008) - Wagner's subtly crafted study is most uncommonly satisfying for such a knowingly "small" film

The Mattei Affair (1972) – one of Rosi’s most provocative, jam-packed investigations; a key film in cinema’s consideration of corporatism

Before Midnight (2013) - more hampered by contrivance & over-compression than its predecessors, even if dissatisfaction is part of the point

L’insoumis (1965) – Cavalier tersely takes Delon, in a classic fraught role, from political specificity to an existential vanishing point

Becket (1964) – powerful in a mainstream “great drama” kind of tradition; it’s often a joy to the ear, maybe not as much to the other senses

Three Times (2005) – Hou’s wonderfully poised, culturally specific trilogy about the abiding fragility and unreliability of human connection

The Arrangement (1969) – for all Kazan’s fascinating, raw neediness and experimentation, often seems naïve and forced next to his best work

Therese Desqueyroux (1962) – Franju’s masterly grasp of the complex constraints operating on Therese makes this perhaps his strongest film

Stories we tell (2012) – Polley’s family excavation is interesting enough, but the intimations of greater significance are mostly a stretch

There’s Always Tomorrow (1956) – Sirk’s starkly melancholy, typically visually eloquent slice of Eisenhower-era loneliness and compromise

Land of Milk and Honey (1971) – Etaix's mixed-bag documentary experiment, rather prophetic re Europe’s failure to reflect its aspirations

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – Nolan’s would-be “vision” is ultimately a mere grab-bag, puffed up with trivial patches of topical reference

Elle a passé tant d’heures sous les sunlights (1985) – Garrel’s difficult, unpandering, but rewarding reflection on memory & representation

Mulholland Drive (2001) – one of Lynch’s most astoundingly charged films, nothing short of masterly in its layerings and repositionings

The Cranes are Flying (1957) – Kalatozov’s classic; too sculptured to be fashionable now, but still a moving chronicle of war’s dislocation

Behind the Candelabra (2013) – for lack of a better term, would be more historically and psychologically piercing if it were, well, gayer

Monsieur Ripois (1954) – Clement’s tale of a Frenchman working through London women; much more unpredictable than that summary suggests

The Invisible War (2012) – Dick’s important, efficient and highly informative briefing document, on yet another sleazy institutional outrage

Le grand amour (1969) – just about perfectly paced, conceived and executed Etaix comedy, with a darker subtext about stifling of the spirit

Your Sister’s Sister (2011) – Shelton’s pleasantly crafted slice of emotional messiness, ultimately more aspirational than observational

Good Morning (1959) – one of Ozu’s lighter, more minor films overall, but still full of piercing insights, and glimpses of darker currents

The Outfit (1973) – Flynn’s lean-and-mean, no-nonsense action movie; their move against the system becomes an unforced existential quest

The Raid: Redemption (2011) – Evans executes the violent physicality with such detail and commitment, it becomes almost revelatory at times

They Live by Night (1949) – Ray’s achingly beautifully-crafted, socially conscious debut, with its wonderfully tender central performances

Something in the Air (2012) – Assayas’ romantic but thrillingly rigorous recreation of a time and place rich in possibility and engagement

The Osterman Weekend (1983) – the paranoid rot goes deep in Peckinpah’s intriguing, deeply disenchanted but overly mechanical thriller

Happy New Year (1973) – Lelouch demonstrates an enjoyably varied palate here, making this an unusually well-rounded, reflective caper flick

The Loneliest Planet (2011) – no doubt “slow cinema,” but superbly well-handled by Loktev and the actors, around a brilliant central concept

Marat/Sade (1967) – Brook’s film of his unique stage production; valuable for sure, but in truth hard to imagine watching it more than once

Trishna (2011) – pictorial quality aside, Winterbottom’s transition of Tess to contemporary India is a bit flat & politically under-charged

Thief (1981) – Mann’s early film, a fully achieved, shimmering vision of isolation, is already more than halfway to his highpoint of Heat

Yoyo (1965) – Etaix’s one-of-a-kind comedy reinvents and renews itself so often you lose count, but keeps you oddly, happily transfixed

The We and the I (2012) – Gondry’s workshop piece is interesting enough, “life-affirming” and somewhat horrifying in roughly equal measure

Landru (1963) – one of Chabrol’s more cluttered, if not overwhelmed, films, but crammed with stylistic, political and thematic interest

Mighty Aphrodite (1995) – one of post-peak Allen’s funniest films; fanciful and hardly relevant to anything, but well-controlled and -played

Pleins feux sur l’assassin (1961) – far from Franju’s strongest film; even a master can lapse into little more than moving pieces around

Prometheus (2012) – at least halfway to an intriguing thematic & mythic mix, but Scott’s instincts are too earthbound to cover the last half

Quadrille (1938) – Guitry extracts quite surprising mileage from his narrow situation, though some might just view it as a one-note talkfest

Room 237 (2012) – Ascher enjoyably & affectionately indulges the benign follies and occasional breakthroughs of cinematic preoccupation

Beyond the Clouds (1995) – Antonioni’s ravishing late reflection on creation, possibility, the inexhaustible mysteries of human structures

The Central Park Five (2012) – a well-made but conventional operation, on material which needed to feel like a furious untreated wound

A Man and a Woman (1966) – thin stuff, which in Lelouch’s hands actually does come to seem iconic (is “iconic” always a compliment though?)

Hope Springs (2012) – Streep & especially Jones give real, often moving performances, which the film as a whole only intermittently deserves

Underworld Beauty (1958) – pretty damn entertaining, powered by its relentless narrative and by any number of striking Suzuki “touches”

Premium Rush (2012) – Koepp’s bicycle courier thriller pretty much only does the one thing, but does it with a lot of imagination and zip

The Railroad Man (1956) – Germi’s family drama ultimately seems largely conventional next to the strongest work of his contemporaries

Lawless (2012) – given Hillcoat’s and Cave’s participation, an inexplicably flat, unatmospheric and uninvolving viewing experience

The Tree, the Mayor and the Mediatheque (1993) – maybe Rohmer’s reflection on the burden of empathetically grasping an issue's complexity?

Total Recall (2012) – Wiseman's visually and narratively cluttered, massively undistinguished, boring (and instantly recall-defying) remake

Socrates (1971) – Rossellini’s patient, precise examination constitutes an eternally relevant reference point for our own deranged culture

The Queen of Versailles (2011) – has its scraps of relevance and insight, but for the most part a somewhat random, grotesque spectacle

Les bonnes femmes (1960) – one of Chabrol’s most disquieting films, for its unforced observation and its astute, escalating sense of threat

Pariah (2011) – Rees’ film has a largely conventional frame, but with much that feels new, earning its ultimate sense of the light coming in

The Murderer Lives at Number 21 (1942) – a witty and literate early expression of Clouzot’s layered sense of scheming and malignity

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take 2 ½ (2005) – an old man’s indulgence, pleasantly playful and wide-eyed, even if with minimal ultimate impact

Touch of Death (1988) – creaky and fatigued next to Fulci’s greatest works, but still enjoyable for its grimly stunned sense of black comedy

Dark Horse (2011) – Solondz’ worldview remains limited, but the movie captures something poignant about the mental toll of being ordinary

Le quai des brumes (1938) - the sense of predestination limits Carne’s film as a human exploration, but it remains a pristine, charged dream

Phil Spector (2013) – Mamet’s expectation-confounding, only sporadically satisfying conception of the story as a darkly meditative “fable”

India: Matri Bhumi (1959) – Rossellini’s fictionalized documentary, extraordinarily poised between wonder & informed, premonitionary sadness

Blue Velvet (1986) – Lynch’s spellbinding, eternally rewarding meditation on the trauma and disquiet within the collective American psyche

Before I Forget (2007) – Nolot’s fine autobiographical reverie, excavating his very specific subculture in unsentimental, surprising detail

The China Syndrome (1979) – pushes familiar buttons of liberal indignation, but 34 years later, they're still such damn pushable buttons

This Must be the Place (2011) – Sorrentino’s distinctly, beautifully unprecedented cultural, geographical, historical, tonal, moral fusion

Blonde Venus (1932) – Sternberg puts through Dietrich through a breathless odyssey of submission, defiance, degradation, transcendence…

Like someone in love (2012) – Kiarostami’s luminous, endlessly compelling creation, far less problematically “enigmatic” than some have it

The Deer Hunter (1978) – Cimino’s messily powerful, flawed grapple with American community and incoherence remains as fascinating as ever

Les femmes (1969) – a dawdling, gauzy time capsule, not without interest, but unimaginative in its use of Bardot and in its sexual politics

Neil Young Journeys (2011) – Demme’s sideline in making moderately adorned Neil Young concert flicks beats stamp-collecting, as hobbies go

The Machine that Kills Bad People (1952) – Rossellini’s oddball fantasy appeals for its deep grounding in real people and real injustices

Breathless (1983) – McBride never puts together a meaningful critique of Gere’s character, and never draws productively on his kineticism

360 (2011) – Meirelles’ glacial deployment of the La Ronde structure isn't much of a gateway into character, meaning or globalization

The Big Sleep (1946) – Hawks’ classic investigation: famously confusing as detective story; utterly coherent in mood, attitude and character

Beyond the Hills (2012) – Mongiu’s painstaking attention to physical, psychological and social detail yields a riveting, provocative work

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) – Lynch compellingly (and weirdly, naturally) illuminates the darkness at the TV series’ tragic core

Culloden (1964) – Watkins’ debut is still savagely astonishing, laying out with painful vividness the human cost of imperial calculations

Post Mortem (2010) – Larrain’s creepily troubling illustration of how national atrocities perversely enable and spawn individual actions

Heaven’s Gate (1980) – the sad saga of Cimino’s fine film grimly resonates against its rich examination of America’s beautiful corruption

Bestiaire (2012) – Cote’s essay on watching animals is inherently interesting, even if the ethical space it occupies is largely familiar

The Wiz (1978) – at least Lumet makes it more fluent and coherent than the same era’s Sgt. Pepper musical; I know, faintest praise ever…

Ginger & Rosa (2012) – Potter gracefully and satisfyingly explores the interplay in charged times of radicalization and biological destiny

Fear (1954) – intriguing if largely conventional psychological thriller, made more disquieting by Rossellini’s observational exactitude

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) – Webb’s version is pleasant & resists being utterly deluged by digital artificiality, so I guess that’s fine

The War Game (1965) – Watkins’ indelible evocation of a nuclear attack on Britain almost seems more real than the reality we lived through

The Whole Family Works (1939) – Naruse’s sad, ultimately at best only conditionally optimistic tale of youth hemmed in by economic hardship

Life of Pi (2012) – Lee paints the prettiest of pictures, but the "story that’ll make you believe in God" stuff makes you roll your eyes

The Serpent’s Egg (1977) – unusual Bergman film – its disquieting preoccupation with loss of self acquires a new kind of resonance with time

Searching for Sugar Man (2012) – pleasant little anecdote from the margins of fame; hardly amounts to the year’s best documentary though

Germany Year Zero (1948) – chillingly gripping, illustrating how Rossellini’s neo-realism enhanced rather than rejected narrative models

Pennies from Heaven (1981) – Ross squanders Potter’s incredible source material with bland, unatmospheric handling and mostly poor casting

Les temoins (2007) – one of Techine’s most eloquent recent reveries, so poised that it’s easy to undervalue its complexity and breadth

Naked (1993) – a film of often dazzling, unsettlingly well-executed passages & concepts, even if not Leigh’s most perfectly conceived whole

The Fortune Cookie (1966) – expertly paced & structured (if disenchanted) Wilder comedy, with Matthau in peak form; couldn’t go down easier

Bullhead (2011) – the crime drama elements gradually recede, to reveal a rather unique study in masculinity and its turbulent sense of self

The Godfather (1972) – like a pilgrimage to the well from which all our subsequent ideas about powerful American adult storytelling flow

No (2012) – very skillful and engrossing, maybe too much so, as it slides away afterwards much faster than Larrain’s preceding two films

Caravaggio (1986) – Jarman’s deeply personal approach to the artist, crafting an aesthetically complex, emotionally dense filmic space

Suspicion (1941) – Hitchcock’s seductive, flawed film is perhaps most compelling for Grant’s fascinatingly, darkly ambiguous performance

Headhunters (2011) – a Norwegian entry in the global fight for supremacy in high-concept plotting – good fun, if limited otherwise

Beyond Therapy (1987) – the mismatch in Altman & Durang’s sensibilities increasingly yields something rather productively strange & lovely

Vincere (2009) – Bellocchio’s accomplished, visually muscular meditation on Fascism’s bizarre, distorting detritus and its cruel human cost

The Driver (1978) – Hill’s eternally fascinating genre distillation, a stylistic universe away from the tiresome excesses of such films now

The Gleaners and I: Two Years Later (2002) – stretching Varda’s gleaning metaphor to the limit, but hey, by now she can do what she likes!

Black Caesar (1973) – a great Cohen genre picture, with a smart, committed blend of strut and despair, and that startling, charged climax

Poppy (1935) – a finely realized, melancholy-tinged reflection on doing the “right” thing, if a little below Mizoguchi's greatest work

Wittgenstein (1993) – despite the film’s brevity and limitations, Jarman conveys both the torture and bliss of Wittgenstein’s life and work

2 Days in New York (2012) – compared to say Friends with Kids, Delpy at least generates some engaging silliness (Rock, Gallo, wacky French)

Santa Sangre (1989) – Jodorowsky gloriously sustains his intricate vision, you willingly surrender…but then at the end it means so little

Mea Maxima Culpa (2011) – Gibney tells the story chillingly well, but the sick rationalizations at its heart remain beyond comprehension

Zvenigora (1928) – despite Dovzhenko’s forceful expressive power, a bit taxing to succumb to across this span of time, distance and ideology

Nobody Walks (2012) – mostly successful study of a young woman’s complicated impact, even if its preoccupations are ultimately rather narrow

Diary of a Chambermaid (1964) – yet another uniquely poised, desire-ridden, politically charged Bunuel film, beyond anyone else’s imagining

Agency (1980) – tired Canadian paranoia thriller might have had a vague chance if Alan Pakula directed it, but he sure as hell didn't...

The Pilgrim (1923) – late Chaplin short film perfectly embodies the legend, moving smoothly between tightly executed, laugh-out-loud set-ups

Brighton Rock (2010) – one of those movies where you feel the filmmaking mechanics turn, never really creating a compelling cinematic space

Where Now are the Dreams of Youth? (1932) – Ozu’s fluid, funny silent film is as emotionally rich and eloquent as most garrulous talkies

Hysteria (2011) – Wexler chooses the most sterile possible approach – not enough hysteria, sex, dirt, anger, deprivation, anything

The Terrorizers (1986) – with great finesse, Yang builds to a finale privileging human sadness over our mechanistic narrative expectations

The Hunger Games (2012) – sadly under-nourishing, under-imagined, flatly realized; from the kiddie cookbook of dystopian fantasies

Days and Nights in the Forest (1970) – Ray’s film is increasingly, bleakly frank about the depth of India’s dysfunctionality and sadness

The Cabin in the Woods (2012) – hardly as stimulating a genre meta-rewrite as some suggested, although what about that monster purge scene!

The Organizer (1963) – compelling social justice filmmaking by Monicelli, even if it might seem a bit square next to the period’s key works

Arbitrage (2012) – squandered by gross simplifications & unhelpful contrivances, Jarecki’s artistic investment flames out, Madoff-style

Deux hommes dans la ville (1973) – striking if stolid exercise in misdirection; promises a standard Delon thriller, turns out much grimmer

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011) – rather surprisingly lovely, if only for its odd premise, scenic qualities & old-fashioned performances

Hiroshima, mon amour (1959) – Resnais’ narrative landmark, interrogating almost every aspect of itself, & of the world that made it possible

Marley (2012) – feels like Macdonald might almost have had too great a wealth of material to work with, ending up all but overwhelmed by it

The Beast (1975) – strange tale of erotic displacement, whereby Borowczyk conclusively seals his place in the history of the cinematic penis

Side Effects (2013) – Soderbergh intriguingly explores how our ethically hollowed-out culture easily spirals into total moral bankruptcy

This Man Must Die (1969) – one of Chabrol’s most impeccably sustained, quietly despairing studies in displaced human motivations and guilt

Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978) – just as the legend has it, remarkably foolish, wrong-headed, cheesy, misconceived, etc. etc.

Farewell my Queen (2012) – Jacquot’s vivid, elegantly charged humanization of an often-told story, dense with intermeshing perspectives

Trouble in Paradise (1932) – what they say about the “Lubitsch touch”, it’s all true! – it’s extraordinarily, tenderly elegant and deft

Monsieur Lazhar (2011) – Falardeau’s intentions for this elegant fable of recovery and catalysis are too modest to place much value on it

Gloria (1980) – flatly conventional by Cassavetes’ standards, enlivened throughout by his alertness to behavior, interaction, possibility

Where Do We Go Now? (2011) – well, Labaki seems to ask, why shouldn’t Middle Eastern conflicts also be fair game for an airheaded movie?

House Calls (1978) – I’m a bit of a sucker for such low-ambition, mature-skewing 70's comedies; this is a pretty low-wattage example though

The Day I Became a Woman (2000) – wonderful reflection on Iranian womanhood, built on Makhmalbaf’s starkly powerful images and concepts

Our Hospitality (1923) – Keaton’s conceptual precision and grace are still delightfully modern; his larger inventions remain astounding

The Woman in the Fifth (2011) – Pawlikowski sustains it pretty well, but sadly, if a thing’s not worth doing, it’s not worth doing well

Tomorrow Never Comes (1978) – standard siege drama with weird co-production trappings; Collinson can do little more than direct traffic

Amour (2012) – Haneke’s highly accomplished proposition that the primary horror of death lies in our fuzzy denials of its specificity

Cheyenne Autumn (1964) – this late, discursive Ford drama never completely satisfies, but maybe that’s what this grim history demands

Seven Beauties (1975) – hard to understand now how Wertmuller’s artful grotesqueries and unsophisticated morality ever caught such a wave

Friends with Kids (2011) – straining impotently to capture some kind of zeitgeist, Westfeldt’s film all but dissipates before your eyes

Jour de fete (1949) – Tati’s wonderfully sustained, often exhilaratingly paced debut, powered by a very sweet take on modern threats

Bernie (2011) – another finely entertaining example of Linklater’s prowess as the most easy-to-take of experimental American filmmakers

Fellini Roma (1972) – Fellini has never seemed that major to me, yet his committed situation-making here is surprisingly enveloping

Darling Companion (2012) – could Kasdan’s weirdly minor lost-dog chronicle possibly be meant as deadpan parody?...sadly, probably not…

Accattone (1961) – Pasolini’s stunning debut, anticipating all the turmoil, interrogation, profound social awareness of his subsequent work

Being Flynn (2012) – Weitz’s conventionally scrubbed notions of craft generally squander the actors’ willing waywardness and ferocity

Conversation Piece (1974) – Visconti’s claustrophobic study in politically-charged decadence; maybe more provocative in theory than practice

We Bought a Zoo (2011) – you know kids, they do say that once upon a time, some considered Cameron Crowe a significant American filmmaker

Woman in the Moon (1929) – Lang’s lumpy, only sporadically visionary amalgam of paranoid thriller and romantic reverie; enjoyable but weird

Inventing David Geffen (2012) – pleasantly crammed with good stories, but doesn’t get far on examining the nature and perils of such power

Vivement Dimanche (1983) – Truffaut’s handsome but low-stakes final film is hard to dislike, despite the mainly cursory storytelling

Zero Dark Thirty (2012) – accomplished and gripping, but plainly a selected narrative: Bigelow’s “just the facts” claims are disingenuous

Il posto (1961) – Olmi’s insinuating premonition, bearing a watchmaker’s detail and a sad prophet's reach, of the terrifying road ahead

Savages (2012) – despite the perverse romantic streak and practiced gleaming kineticism, as disposable a movie as Stone has ever made

La femme aux bottes rouges (1974) – Bunuel junior’s surreal-flavored film lacks his father’s elegant precision, mostly seeming just messy

All Night Long (1981) – mostly minor stuff, but with an appealingly offhand, understated quality, and maybe Streisand’s oddest performance

Rust and Bone (2012) – Audiard knowingly courts near-absurdity, but transcends it throughout with his superb feeling for human possibilities

The American Friend (1977) – one of Wenders’ most enduring works, a well-maintained thriller-fable on America’s cultural seepage into Europe

Keyhole (2011) – Maddin’s film noir version of The Shining perhaps; strangely tangible & persuasive even as it evades any easy assimilation

Black Narcissus (1947) – dramatizing a culture of rectitude at the tragic end of its tether, through Powell’s most intensely charged images

The Lady (2011) – Besson couldn’t have followed the standard biopic playbook much more dutifully, nor achieved much more negligible results

Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978) – the heavy-heartedness would be intriguing if Edwards did it deliberately, but he probably didn't...

Boudu sauve des eaux (1932) – Renoir is unparalleled in unforcedly evoking social fragility, the allure of so-called “creative destruction”

Django Unchained (2012) – a disappointment overall; this time round Tarantino’s tactics prove more stimulating in theory than practice

Weekend (1967) – Godard’s beautiful nightmare of a vision on the horror of the bourgeoisie and the further horror of overcoming it

Everybody Wins (1990) – just about the least a Reisz/Miller pairing could have yielded – ambitious but heavy-footed, with poor instincts

Barbara (2012) – with superb, almost subliminal precision, Petzold conveys the complex toll of lives lived under perverse constraints

The Yakuza (1975) – gets by on Pollack’s solid unforced genre mechanics, but its sense of Japan is superficial & unprobing to say the least

The Decameron (1970) – Pasolini’s utterly engrossing, highly diverse meditation on the earthly machinations that stifle our higher selves

A Late Quartet (2012) – a bit short on the transcendent moments Walken’s character talks about, although his final scene comes close to one

Desire (1937) – Guitry’s film stands far below the somewhat related (much more ambitious) Regle du jeu, but has its own pleasant contours

Breaking the Waves (1996) – almost absolute codswallop, no matter how much conviction von Trier and Watson bring to stirring up the pot

56 Up (2012) – Apted’s enduring project is severely limited as social history, but fascinating as a kind of serendipitous art installation

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974) – amiable, ultimately limited ramble of discovery; shows Scorsese’s resourcefulness if nothing else

The Leopard (1963) – Visconti’s absorbing, vastly pictorial but painstakingly subtle study of figures in a complexly eroding landscape

The Tempest (2010) – Taymor’s digital paintbox stifles almost as much as it liberates, yielding a fluid but distinctly non-tempestuous film

Les amants du Pont-Neuf (1991) – not hard to see why Carax paid such a sad price for this; even what’s beautiful about it often feels forced

Honky Tonk Freeway (1981) – incomprehensible choice for Schlesinger (he thought it was Altmanesque?) – treats its woman especially shabbily

A Talking Picture (2003) – de Oliveira’s wonderful, slyly courtly reflection on our collective cultural heritage, and hey, what an ending!

The Iron Petticoat (1956) – incredibly heavy-footed, laughless long-lost comedy, with Katharine Hepburn as bad as you’ll ever see her

Girl Model (2011) – a documentary on young girls lost in translation, commerce and hypocrisy; interesting, but lacking full analytical force

Gate of Flesh (1964) – Suzuki’s often luridly erotic and yet deeply felt tale, a true vision of post-war hell, turns morality on its head

Into the Abyss (2011) – Herzog has never before applied his sense of the absurd to such a stark case study, nor with such steely discipline

L’amore (1948) – Rossellini’s transfixing meditation on female desire in two extreme situations, and on the nature of cinematic performance

The Girl (2012) – trivial “study’ of Hitchcock/Hedren relationship has little apparent point, certainly won't aid one’s sense of his films

I Can’t Sleep (1994) – somewhat cruder than Denis’ greatest works, but with all her mastery of connection, implication and impermanence

Silver Linings Playbook (2012) – despite Russell’s facility for nervily wound-up interactions, overall it’s a sort of poor man’s Desplechin

The Canterbury Tales (1971) – my favourite of the trilogy, for Pasolini’s brilliant formal experimentation and eye-popping earthiness

Sherlock Jr. (1924) – beautifully structured Keaton film, still belongs near the centre of any essay on cinematic dreaming and inspiration

Miral (2010) – well-meaning Palestinian chronicle does little to advance Schnabel’s standing as a film artist, even less that as a thinker

Britannia Hospital (1982) – what hope was folded into Anderson’s O Lucky Man has largely congealed (although fascinatingly) by this point

A Fistful of Dollars (1964) – still entirely fascinating and striking, although Leone's work would acquire much more layering subsequently

Skyfall (2012) – Mendes ably restores something of Bond’s classic essence, but it mainly shows how meaningless that essence has become now

Feu Mathias Pascal (1926) – L’Herbier fluidly crafts an engrossing psychological & existential space, built around the compelling Mozzhukhin

Lincoln (2012) – an engrossing, stimulating study of political process, limited by Spielberg’s adherence to Great Man filmmaking conventions

Pola X (1999) – takes on the sense of a deeply troubled personal testimony by Carax, powered by thrilling edge-of-darkness performances

Lola Versus (2012) – Gerwig’s best efforts notwithstanding, not quite a fair fight, given the movie’s low ammunition re laughs and insights

 “M” (1931) – still an amazing example of Lang’s control and reach; just slightly less powerful in its breadth than his very greatest work

Autoerotic (2011) – Swanberg/Wingard’s offbeat sex anthology is mostly, what’s the word, flaccid...has trouble performing for the 72 minutes

Detective (1985) – Godard plays with notions of detection while luxuriating in star power – not his most important movie, but very seductive

Tabu (1931) – initially a bit tedious, then escalatingly dazzling and tragic as Murnau’s play of shadow, desire and loss comes to the fore

Marina Abramovic: the Artist is Present (2012) – fascinating, but the movie’s conventional seductiveness doesn’t particularly serve the work

Ivan the Terrible, Part Two (1958) – continues the sense of escalating aesthetic & psychological siege, with a remarkable colour sequence

Mysterious Skin (2004) – Araki’s brave, unforseeable chronicle of abuse & loss of self, ultimately marked by great seriousness of purpose

Ivan the Terrible, Part One (1943) – Eisenstein’s intense filmic sculpture on power's inner & outer architecture; still elementally powerful

An Almost Perfect Affair (1979) – seemingly the sad no-return point where Ritchie’s satirical and analytical instincts largely deserted him

Millennium Mambo (2001) – its impact is perhaps more fleeting than most of Hou’s films, but then that’s fundamental to its portrait of youth

Games (1967) – Harrington’s drama of manipulation twists out in largely predictable manner; most intriguing when it’s at its freakiest

Holy Motors (2012) – perhaps the year’s most necessary movie; Carax stares the death of film in the mouth and extracts inexhaustible life

The Super Cops (1974) – pleasantly loose Serpico-lite, hardly major, but with an unforced colour almost absent from Hollywood movies now

Norwegian Wood (2010) – adaptation of Murakami’s novel drifts around in finely-crafted wistfulness and bewilderment, to no great end

Bye Bye Braverman (1968) – one of the many oddities dotting Lumet’s career, with good local flavor, and a sense of lives beyond the frame

Import/Export (2007) – Seidl’s single-minded immersion in Euro-grimness is almost hypnotically thought-provoking, both to his credit and not

Dial M for Murder (1954) – Hitchcock’s drama is highly artificial but compelling, meshing us in a complex network of cruel intentions

Sans soleil (1983) – astounding expression of Marker's soaring consciousness; might almost prompt depression at one’s relative limitations

Flight (2012) – a strong central character study & meditation on relative morality, although significantly limited by Hollywood conventions

Once Upon a Time in America (1984) – Leone’s engrossing, sometimes odd epic – musing on the unreliability of memory and of experience itself

Sebastiane (1976) – Jarman/Humfress’s gorgeous poetic/political appropriation for gay cinema of previously underexplored space and language

The Hunger (1983) – Tony Scott’s meaninglessly stylish debut falls unproductively between various stools, despite amazingly iconic casting

The Sword of Doom (1966) – Okomoto’s samurai film is almost unbearably bottled-up at times, and then the bottle breaks, and goes on breaking

Terri (2011) – Jacobs delivers on "troubled teen" genre pleasures, while keeping his eye consistently on larger spiritual & societal issues

Trois couleurs: rouge (1994) – might it ultimately all be a fiction imagined (eavesdropped on?) by the judge, or a tangled, longing memory?

The Sessions (2012) – certainly engaging viewing; does sufficient justice to O’Brien that you tolerate the overly conventional pill-sugaring

La main du diable (1943) – Tourneur’s effectively creepy piece of mythological yarn-spinning; a great ride, with Occupation-era echoes

War Horse (2011) – Spielberg largely destroys the play's stark impact; the focus on the horse here does nothing to deepen our sense of war

Judex (1963) – Franju’s stylish version of the silent-era serial is enormously entertaining, knowingly emphasizing intrigue over implication

Sing your Song (2011) – an unwavering tribute to Belafonte rather than any sort of examination of him, but then, man, he's easily earned it

Death Watch (1980) – Tavernier’s rather weirdly conceived and visualized speculative fiction is always interesting but seldom impactful

Cloud Atlas (2012) – the time goes by handsomely enough, but I can’t for the life of me see any meaning, much less "vision," to the thing

Kagamijishi (1936) – Ozu’s short, respectful documentary on kabuki; encourages a reflection on how its conventions helped shape his own work

Dust Devil (1992) (final cut) – Stanley’s troubled vision is indeed often very striking and charged, although hardly 4 DVD’s worth of it

The Iron Lady (2011) – flaunting one lousy artistic judgment after another, as if cinema had learned nothing about engaging with history

The Model Couple (1977) – Klein’s diverting, eye-filling meditation on the demented wrong turns and existential drift of the modern method

The Swell Season (2011) – monumentally unimportant documentary on the post-Once Hansard/Irglova relationship – mainly for fans I guess

Salo (1975) – Pasolini’s intellect, cinematic architecture and moral courage are so vast here, he all but defeats your powers of reaction

In Time (2011) – Niccoll’s movie is all convoluted Occupy-type metaphor, little or no actual content, beyond the usual bewildering momentum

Eyes Without a Face (1959) – Franju’s hypnotically perverse, strangely meditative horror, elevated by amazingly haunting, iconic images

Mystery Train (1989) – one of Jarmusch’s less necessary films, but a very engaging meditation on America’s tangled cultural influence

The Portuguese Nun (2009) – Green’s film feels like Bresson exhaled and then merged with a Lisbon travel agent, which wouldn’t be all bad

A New Leaf (1971) – Matthau's entirely awesome in May’s at least quasi-awesome comedy, edited down from legendarily even greater awesomeness

Route Irish (2010) – a bit schematic overall, but Loach’s severely pessimistic ending makes its point effectively (albeit not a new one)

Masculin feminin (1966) – an inexhaustible film - Godard brilliantly intertwines provocation and beguilement, possibility and melancholy

Argo (2012) – occasionally evocative, and always well-paced, but inherently no more worthy or serious than the sci-fi crap it mocks

Secret Defense (1998) – Rivette’s masterly deployment of thriller-genre concepts, full of ambiguities, doublings, and productive oddities

Lord Love a Duck (1966) – once the dated college trappings get scratched away, Axelrod creates a surprisingly wide-ranging and morose satire

We Have a Pope (2011) – Moretti keeps it all shambling along, and it looks good, but it's ultimately hard to muster much more than a shrug

Vertigo (1958) – if not the “greatest” film, perhaps the most moving illustration of an impact cascading beyond the mere sum of the parts

Montenegro (1981) – can’t help but seem relatively conventional, even timid next to Makaveyev’s remarkable works of the previous decade

The Experiment (2010) – pretensions notwithstanding, useless as any kind of window on human behavior, but passable as a B-movie timewaster

La truite (1982) – Losey's film is intermittently stimulating; lacks the glistening slipperiness its central metaphor might seem to demand

Looper (2012) – impressively structured and paced; despite its mindbending concepts, has a very grimly practical sense of earthly limits

Story of Women (1988) – one of Chabrol’s finest later films - a painstaking, sensitive case study of twisted morality in wretched times

Down the Road Again (2011) – 40 years of nostalgia gives the movie a big head start, which Shebib’s heavy-handedness doesn’t quite squander

Goin Down the Road (1970) – still a landmark although, in hindsight, Shebib sacrifices some social impact & grit for narrative efficiency

Baby Doll (1956) – the hungry underbelly of sexual frustration is still fairly compelling; as a whole though, one of Kazan’s plainer works

Audition (1999) – Miike’s very gripping and pristinely disorienting classic, makes the best possible case for transparency in relationships…

The Master (2012) – Anderson’s mesmerizingly intense contemplation of the fractured, incoherent, lie-ridden post-WW2 American landscape

Sweet Movie (1974) – maybe only someone supremely rigorous in his passion for freedom could transgress as stunningly as Makavejev does here

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) – Durkin’s minutely judged, very effective, existentially creepy study of a young woman’s disorientation

Don Juan ’73 (1973) – Bardot is seldom even titillating in her last film; Vadim all but submerges her with portentous glossy mythmaking

Jeff Who Lives At Home (2011) – surprisingly pleasant and beguiling, but any movie that keeps referencing Signs is gonna be meaning-lite

Wind from the East (1970) – Godard et al’s provocation seems mostly lost in time, but still underlines the paucity of political dialogue now

Sleeping Beauty (2011) – Leigh’s icily crafted movie raises some familiar issues re female sexuality, not least by being so damn watchable

Bamboozled (2000) – for me, Lee’s most fascinating film, dense with ambiguities and as mysteriously, darkly complex as its subject requires

Nuit et brouillard (1955) – Resnais’ unsparing, undiminished essay on the evil of the camps and the venal seductiveness of forgetting

Trouble with the Curve (2012) – old-time bread-and-butter star vehicle throws nothing but softballs, and even then doesn’t always connect

Ivan’s Childhood (1962) – can see why some might value the sparser beauty of Tarkovsky’s debut over his later works (even if I myself don’t)

Margaret (2011) – crammed with fascinating behavior & debate, but (at least in the shorter version) rather lacks true complexity and mystery

Credo (1997) – early Bier work is a weirdly overstuffed cult drama, probably best seen as capturing an artistic personality in formation

The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) – yep, she must really have been a goddess, to be this magnetic amid such unbroken, joyless stiffness

The Future Is Now! (2011) – inexplicably peculiar meditation on it all; kind of The Trail of the Pink Panther of philosophical investigation

The Young One (1960) – raw, sweaty, transgression-laden island drama, not easily recognizable as Bunuel’s work (at least superficially)

In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011) – Jolie’s engaged debut is mostly proficient, but undermined by overly conventional instincts

Sweetie (1989) – Campion’s openness to varying structures is quietly & funnily radical, without diluting the feeling at the film's center

British Sounds (1970) – Godard/Roger’s manifesto for revolutionary cinema, built on a Britain at its drabbest – strangely romantic now..

Weekend (2011) – a politically charged repositioning of romantic conventions, deftly exploring the continuing compromises forced on gayness

Duck, you Sucker (1971) – Leone’s sort of displaced cartoon of modern America’s melting-pot origins; a great spectacle, even when overcooked

Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) – a neatly executed fantasy of middle-aged reinvigoration through paranoia, but still a step to lesser Allen

Harlan: In the Shadow of Jew Suess (2008) – the flood of family testimony often seems to obscure Veit Harlan more than it illuminates him

Seven Days in May (1964) – Frankenheimer’s political drama is rather arid at times, distinctly dated; still, good page-turner kind of stuff

Empty Nest (2008) – Argentinean Burman's increasingly impressive meditation on the shifting equilibrium between inner and outer lives

Scarecrow (1973) – Schatzberg’s bleak road movie (of sorts) is unusually attuned to underlying loss and pain, eschewing easy pictorialism

L’avventura (1960) – Antonioni’s legendary film is still overwhelming for its portrayal of modernity’s hopeless gaps and contradictions

Vito: A Man for all Seasons (2011) – a moving portrait of Russo, perhaps ironically more conventional in form than he deserves

Man with a Movie Camera (1929) – Vertov remains thrillingly provocative re the creative process (and for that matter, re everything else)

The Future (2011) – sure, July has things to say about the beauty and fragility of our moment in time,  but honestly, life’s just too short

The Cloud-capped Star (1960) – Ghatak's devastating study of a young woman's quiet destruction; the celluloid almost crumbles with shame

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) – for all its oddly mythic qualities, polished to a dark gleam, surely Fincher’s least crucial film

Les enfants du paradis (1945) – still dazzling & surprising, even if its cinematic & thematic power ranks slightly below the greatest films

Another Earth (2011) – hard to imagine a wetter, fuzzier and less productive use of the parallel world premise; watch Melancholia instead

Yol (1982) – its greatest vindication lies in its very existence – sociologically and politically heartbreaking even when flagging as cinema

Compliance (2012) – terrifically executed by Zobel, capable of bearing almost as much metaphorical weight as you want to place on it

Death of a Cyclist (1955) – Bardem's bleakly precise examination of the Spanish bourgeoisie's degraded morality and desperate ruthlessness

Repulsion (1965) – early instance of Polanski’s mastery of trauma & claustrophobia – still formally impressive, although inherently limited

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2010) – entertaining Ian Dury biography hits the rhythm stick real fast, still rather fails to illuminate his art

Red Beard (1965) – I prefer Kurosawa in this lower-key vein, although the film doesn’t ultimately yield much moral or thematic revelation

The Debt (2010) – dramatically and visually well-crafted by Madden, but at the cost of attaining the appropriate moral weight and complexity

Belle de jour (1967) – Bunuel’s astonishingly iconic reverie on fantasy and transgression; even the smallest moment feels indelibly rich

Buck and the Preacher (1972) – inherently interesting, but Poitier is too ordinary a director to exploit the historical & genre complexities

The Princess of Montpensier (2010) – Tavernier’s fascinating examination of a closed system, within which withdrawal is the only victory

The Doom Generation (1995) – wonderfully and sparsely iconic, as Araki comprehensively reshapes the meaning of a ‘heterosexual’ movie

Night and Day (2008) – ultimately seems like an endless series of evasions, although Hong almost makes this feel like an actual subject

The Best Years of our Lives (1946) – prime if largely conventional example of Hollywood’s classic fluidity, punctuated with piercing moments

House of Tolerance (2011) – Bonello’s painstaking recreation of a high-end Paris brothel; I’m torn on its merits, which is likely the point

The Private Files of J Edgar Hoover (1977) – Cohen makes Eastwood’s later version, for all its own strengths, seem unfocused & heavy-footed

Alps (2011) – in its own way (which sure isn’t anyone else’s) rather glacially magnificent, conveying Greece’s extreme existential turmoil

The Sunshine Boys (1975) – we all have our quirky tastes I guess - I find this cantankerous Matthau/Burns showdown just mesmerizing (sorry!)

Cold Water (1994) – early Assayas film already demonstrates his sensitivity and facility, although the overall trajectory is a bit forced

Restless (2011) – you might say it’s delicate and impressionistic; to me it’s ridiculously fey and dreary; a wanton denial of pain and death

Sawdust and Tinsel (1953) – riveting early-ish Bergman; a brutally unsparing depiction of the pain and resignation underlying the cavalcade

London Boulevard (2010) – quirky (if strained) characterizations provide the main entertaiment; the rest is mostly just the same old trudge

The Man who fell to Earth (1976) – almost always dazzling, unprecedented; although some other Roeg films achieve a greater cumulative impact

Alphaville (1965) - as we watch Godard’s sparse, feisty vision, we feel more deeply and creepily how much of ourselves has become imperiled

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) – Zeitlin's rather remarkable modern myth, sometimes ungainly, but crammed with odd, memorable fragments

Les biches (1968) – one of Chabrol’s great intuitive, unforced enigmas of the period, perpetually but subtly shifting to keep us off balance

The Rum Diary (2011) – strangely muted , tired-seeming fictionalization of Hunter Thompson’s origins; not enough rum, not enough anything

The Damned (1969) – one of Visconti’s sludgier films, pounding simplistically away at Nazism’s malleable ideology and inherent decadence

A Face in the Crowd (1957) – helplessly watchable, but one of Kazan’s more mechanical films, its ‘prophetic’ aspects heavily underlined

The Lemon Tree (2008) – pleasant enough as a fable and intermittent postcard; negligible as an engagement with Palestinian complexities

Night and the City (1950) – Dassin's gripping expression of post-war dislocation & frustration, propelled by Widmark’s terrific needy energy

Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981) – Ferreri’s seems like the wrong kind of madness though, yielding a disappointingly ordinary provocation

Page One: Inside the New York Times (2011) – solid stuff, but often feels like it focuses more on the page B6 than on the page A1 material

L’Age d’or (1930) – still astonishing for the scorpion-like precision of Bunuel’s transgressions, for the rawness and outrage at its center

Sex and the Single Girl (1964) – hard to imagine by what process the source material led to this flat movie, but also not worth dwelling on

Le gamin au velo (2011) – more handsomely conventional than other Dardenne films perhaps, but its existential core is entirely as compelling

Homicide (1991) – Mamet smartly (a bit too airlessly?) baits us with melodrama before implicitly chiding us for thinking it’s ever so simple

A Man Escaped (1956) – Bresson illustrates how in war even the slightest of gestures and moral determinations becomes more deeply charged

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) – if only the movie’s devices were calibrated with the same mysterious care as the punctuation of its title

Le cercle rouge (1970) – mesmerizingly, almost transcendentally poised; ultimately still a simpler creation than Melville’s greatest works

Red State (2011) – at least demonstrates that Smith can operate in a different register, although not ultimately one with much more depth

Cleo de 5 a 7 (1961) – Varda's beautiful, timeless artificiality – you lose yourself completely in the film’s graceful glides and pivots

The Devils (1971) – one of Russell’s must-see films; eccentric and no doubt “excessive,” but remarkably powerful, stirring and sustained

Trigger (2010) – a predictable narrative contrivance (rock-chick Sunshine Boys), but gracefully and affectionately executed in all respects

La Strada (1954) – like much (not all) Fellini, to me a rather grotesque, unrevealing creation, far from the true heights of Italian cinema

To Rome with Love (2012) – happily confirming Allen’s late, unfussy serenity; his gentle transcendence of temporal and sexual boundaries

Empire of Passion (1978) – a handsome enough yarn, precisely told; but ironically or not, one of Oshima’s least impactfully passionate

Bigger than Life (1956) – one of the finest of 50’s monster movies (in effect); spellbinding when Ray’s expressive energy hits its peak

Impardonnables (2011) – Techine’s work remains perpetually underrated, but this one, although very smooth, adds relatively little overall

Alice (1990) – however pleasant, one of Allen’s more dispensable movies up to that point - a thin, rarified chronicle of self-awareness

Westfront 1918 (1930) – Pabst’s recreations of battle have remarkable verisimilitude and texture, but the film as a whole is a bit too dour

Magic Mike (2012) – pretty much emblematic Soderbergh – a virtuoso performance, but never really letting you see the size of his junk

Tout va bien (1972) – Godard/Gorin’s terrific provocation, alert to modernization’s perverse beauty, but fundamentally near-despairing

Finian’s Rainbow (1968) – passable record of lovely and provocative material; could only ever have been made by Coppola (no, I’m joking)

The Guard (2011) - fills out its conventional outlines with good colour, sometimes too much of it (philosophy-quoting drug smugglers?!)

Le boucher (1969) – one of Chabrol’s most gripping forensic examinations, charting a sick knot of pain and lack beneath a bucolic surface

Body Heat (1981) – repeated viewings make the pastiche seem a bit over-calculated, but it remains probably Kasdan’s best-realized film

Mad Detective (2007) – a worthwhile dip into Hong Kong genre cinema, energized by inspired plottings of inner states (whether mad or not)

Spartacus (1960) – a magnificent spectacle, yielding amply satisfying (if incompletely realized) Kubrickian complexities and intertwinings

Take this Waltz (2011) – Polley’s film is full of wonder, but almost overly alive to possibilities, denying us any ultimate specificity

The Milky Way (1969) – another extraordinary Bunuel film, rendering Catholic dogma the fount of immense narrative dexterity and visual grace

Dream House (2011) - continuing the mystery of why these garish, unrewarding meta-reality concepts are so appealing even to mature directors

The Innocent (1976) – Visconti’s last film, built on familiar entanglements, increasingly reveals itself as a satisfyingly dark moral tale

Absence of Malice (1981) – very little rings true in Pollack’s contrived, largely passionless consideration of media’s valueless "truths"

Partie de champagne (1936) – only 45 minutes, unfinished by Renoir, but perfectly calibrated, almost seeming to contain the whole world

Higher Ground (2011) – Farmiga is as sensitive a director as an actor, although the film’s equanimity limits its power and political clout

Floating Weeds (1959) – Ozu’s masterly late exploring of chance, fate, compromise, inevitability; blissfully full, even if not his very best

The Help (2011) – quite moving in its moments of hard truth, but it’s unduly difficult to figure out which moments those actually are

Persona (1966) – Bergman’s indispensable marvel of a film, intimate and vast, containing (yet evading) everything from Brakhage to Kubrick

The End (1978) – well cast, and interestingly deadpan at times, but Reynolds too often delivers mere blankness in lieu of real darkness

Even the Rain (2010) – ultimately has too conventional a sensibility to fully realize its intertwining of cinematic & real-world engagement

Mad Love (1935) – an arresting if tenuous assembly of images and concepts, with Lorre’s hypnotic presence almost making it seem coherent

My Week with Marilyn (2011) – a nice little anecdote, mostly well-evoked, but not very revealing, hardly ever approaching a heat wave

The Idiot (1951) – Kurosawa pounds tediously away at his notion of a good man destroyed by a faithless world; only minimally rewarding

Harry and Tonto (1974) – far from Mazursky’s most resonant film, limited by its episodic nature, but still a pleasant chronicle of renewal

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2011) – a deeply resonant assembly, alert to history’s inevitable conflicting truths & to overriding ones

The King of Comedy (1983) – my favorite Scorsese film: still his most rigorously analytical work, and crammed with incidental pleasures

Tuesday, after Christmas (2010) – an observant Romanian relationship drama; familiar cinematic territory, but often remarkably well-mapped

The Steel Helmet (1951) – the film where Fuller became Fuller; extraordinarily concentrated & expressive, but also with an unsettling purity

Cosmopolis (2012) – for all its provocations and intelligence, feels like a staid establishment movie dreamed up from a position of comfort

The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979) – another gorgeously rich, politically resonant Fassbinder film, not quite the equal of Lola in my mind

The Myth of the American Sleepover (2010) – a piercingly poised and grave (if ultimately limited) study, remarkably free of "teen" clichés

The Flesh (1991) – Ferreri’s more garish, much less challenging or politically-charged variation on the central situation of his Last Woman

Cracking Up (1983) – bizarre by any measure, but at the risk of being pretentious, sort of holds together as a quasi-despairing Lewis vision

Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble (1972) – more schematic than Pialat’s greatest works, but no one better captured the shifting human mess

Haywire (2011) – Soderbergh's "take it or leave it" statement; completely watchable, seemingly designed to solicit only lukewarm reactions

City of the Living Dead (1980) – not as fully realized a vision as Fulci’s The Beyond, but compellingly direct, unsparing and transgressive

Moonrise Kingdom (2012) – a beautifully crafted aesthetic object, rendering dreamily irrelevant the question of whether Anderson's “limited”

Autumn Sonata (1978) – engrossing reverie on the pained incompatibility of art (if not life) & family, but far from Bergman’s fullest work

The Bed Sitting Room (1969) – if nothing else, maybe one of the preeminent statements on the sheer desolate weirdness of the British psyche

Hemingway and Gellhorn (2012) – sporadically interesting for its craft, but lacking in much texture, or even in a real sense of character

Le plus vieux métier du monde (1967) – compilation of prostitution sketches is mostly dire, until Godard massively redeems the whole thing

Dark Shadows (2012) – not much reason to have woken up this material, but it's fluent and precise enough that it actually almost feels alive

The Last Woman (1976) – Ferreri’s amazingly primal, intense, committed, justly notorious meditation on sexual and structural breakdown

Riff-Raff (1991) – well-observed like all Loach’s work, but it's too transient to satisfy (even if this reflects its characters' plight)

Hollywood Dreams (2006) – Jaglom generally strikes a distinctive, sometimes beguilingly weird perspective on familiar tensions and tinsel

Boccaccio ’70 (1962) – a 4-part anthology: Monicelli’s episode is the most socially resonant; Fellini’s the most cinematically irresistible

Mammoth (2009) – facile and handsome, but doesn’t amount to too much, beyond an obvious meditation on the vast inequities of existence

Lightning over Water (1980) – fascinating by any measure, and moving for what appears real in it; sometimes a bit grotesque for what doesn’t

Logan’s Run (1976) – mostly silly, plasticky and perfunctory, running past thirty years’ worth of contrivances and unaddressed plot issues

Miss Bala (2011) – consistently and artfully disorienting, with provocative undercurrents, but doesn’t accumulate to as much as you hope for

Pretty Poison (1968) – more pretty than truly poisonous perhaps, but a wickedly easy pleasure; Weld and Perkins are mesmerizingly perfect

The Iron Rose (1973) – a very well-sustained, unforced Rollin mood piece, largely set in one of cinema's most lovingly filmed cemeteries

Midnight Run (1988) – one of my favorite mainstream entertainments, so finely structured, written and acted it seems mysteriously profound

Rocco and his Brothers (1960) – Visconti’s epically sad tale of the city’s toll, forcing a painful reckoning of familial gains and losses

Detachment (2011) – a diverting mix: two parts the fiery, committed, resourceful "Lake of Fire" Tony Kaye, to one part the notorious nutball

Ginger and Fred (1986) – a resigned, unforced evocation of Fellini’s circus of life; the transience of it all is a large part of the point

And Everything is Going Fine (2010) – Soderbergh’s perfectly judged commemoration of Spalding Gray, entirely in Gray's own recorded words

Carry on Camping (1969) – has the core cast at their most comfortable and emblematic; flies by as rapidly and classily as a propelled bikini

Bob le Flambeur (1957) – less stylized than most of Melville’s later films, but entirely as magnificently calibrated, both mythic and humane

Carnage (2011) – highly engrossing for Polanski’s drolly painstaking control of the elements and of its constantly shifting equilibrium

The House of Mirth (2000) – a quietly devastating study in cruelty & sociological complexity, poignant for Davies’ lost decade in its wake

The Herd (1979) – a film that feels torn from Turkey’s land and heart, an increasingly powerful portrait of its fractures and corruptions

The Baron of Arizona (1950) – a great yarn, although Fuller’s cinematic fist had yet to fully clench (take the soft ending in particular)

A Complete History of my Sexual Failures (2008) – fills time well enough, but as filmic essays go, not exactly in Chris Marker territory

Le dejeuner sur l’herbe (1959) – Renoir’s fantasia on France’s (and Europe’s) soul in an age of “progress” – odd, and oddly prophetic

Straw Dogs (2011) – the original’s mesmerizing strangeness is smoothed down throughout. leaving just another efficiently repulsive mutt

Lola (1961) – Demy’s beautiful reverie on love and chance; places one foot in the limitations of reality, the other in dreams, never tumbles

The Long Day Closes (1992) – superbly clear-eyed cinematic poetry, true to memory's odd contours without ever seeming remotely indulgent

Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest (2011) – peppy, but without much perspective; sticks mostly inside the beat box

Leaves from Satan’s Book (1921) – early Dreyer meditation on the complexity of evil, full of interest, but lacks his later expressive power

The Sterile Cuckoo (1969) – Minnelli is sometimes touching, but the movie (unrecognizable as Pakula’s) too often turns away from the dark

Zidane: a 21st Century Portrait (2006) – intriguingly captures a loneliness within the hubbub, while strenuously aiming for the gallery wall

Sunrise (1927) – it’s still miraculous how Murnau intertwines the specific & the transcendent; at times the film’s capacity feels limitless

Gambit (1966) – a pleasant, modestly inventive dawdle, but with the rather stodgy affect typical of secondary star vehicles of the time

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011) – an increasingly impressive reflection on the eternal multiplicity of human fictions and fallibilities

I Shot Jesse James (1948) – terrifically paced, concentrated Fuller version of the Bob Ford tale, its tone cast in anguish and self-loathing

Death Line (1973) – not a big deal, but a witty, well-considered injection of gruesome urban mythology into mundane, unadorned Britishness

The Red and the White (1967) – Jancso’s starkly beautiful, immense vision of turmoil, capturing both mankind’s magnificence and its futility

Damsels in Distress (2011) – a quietly intense project in deconstruction & strangifying; its hermeticism at times both a strength & weakness

I vinti (1953) – relatively early, episodic Antonioni, with more of a sense of rolled-up sleeves, but filled with his intelligent precision

Warrior (2011) – well, you didn’t come here to find something new; ridiculous in the usual ways, but well-grounded and moving in others

Carry on Loving (1970) – funny by its own standards (which rely a lot on repression & drabness) - thank God if those standards aren’t yours

JCVD (2008) – has its moments, quite deftly handled, but doesn't amount to much given Van Damme's inherent limitations and insignificance

Pulp (1972) – surprisingly pleasurable in its knowing incoherence, radiating laid-back imagination and delight in invention and storytelling

The Hawks and the Sparrows (1966) – very peculiar, funny but despairing, deliberately largely ungraspable in its fable of inherent confusion

The Deep Blue Sea (2011) – spellbinding for its delicacy and control; in Davies’ hands the smallest of films can feel like the largest

Barcelona (1994) – very interesting, funny reflection on the necessity and limitations of sex, family, country, structures, theories, etc.

Story of a Prostitute (1965) – for all its frequent despairing expressive power, most of the thematic and emotional space is familiar

Cold Weather (2010) – a generation where established meaning no longer holds; being Sherlock Holmes is as plausible as having a real career

Days of 36 (1972) – seems to me to verge at times on very bleak deadpan comedy, to reveal the odd kinship between Angelopoulous and Tati

Outrage (2009) – a bit inconsistent & possibly opportunistic in its thesis, despite one’s sympathy for the examination of extreme hypocrisy

Le diable par la queue (1969) – seemingly intended as a madcap send-up of the useless, venal nobility; mostly feels like watching old drapes

Singles (1992) – pleasantly loose, unforced and flavorful, although Crowe’s observations are mostly either contrived or else unremarkable

Jericho (1937) – a crammed portrayal of a black man’s ascendancy; progressive and compromised in ways that can hardly be disentangled

Conte d’automne (1998) – another beautiful precisely calibrated Rohmer examination of relationships, musing on what’s innate versus imposed

Friends with Benefits (2011) – cheekily parodies some Hollywood clichés while chewing lustily on others, but at least everyone looks great

Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (1933) – stunning vision of crime and madness; the pessimism easily outweighs the notional victory of the good

Jesus Camp (2006) – anthropologically interesting for sure; some of the kids seem pretty happy, but I came out the same heathen I was before

Diary of a Country Priest (1950) – other Bresson films speak to me more directly, but this may be his most quietly complex and deeply felt

Beginners (2011) – ooh, isn’t life big and tough and scary and yet kind of, uh, sweet, and look how nicely and quirkily I captured all that

The Coward (1965) – an appealing Satyajit Ray miniature, illuminating both personal missteps and the stranglehold of societal expectations

Some Like it Hot (1959) – a terrifically maintained, if knowingly rather grotesque comic machine, by no means Wilder’s most resonant work..

Little White Lies (2010) – a French Big Chill of sorts; for all the glossiness and superficial skill, wearily over-calculated and artificial

The Last Hurrah (1958) – mostly warm-hearted dawdling & remembrance - it's a bit poignant its class-sensitive politics are still so relevant

Carry on England (1976) – lamentably old, tired and joyless; everyone seems too disengaged even ever to think of sex, let alone have any

Footnote (2011) – not ultimately such a major film, but enjoyably different, like taking time off to attend an enjoyably peppy seminar

The Man who would be King (1975) – perhaps Huston’s finest film, an adventure story with immense pictorial grandeur and behavioral relish

From the East (1993) – with great quiet intelligence, forces us to question our reading of the images & our sense of the underlying culture

Night Nurse (1931) – terrifically crisp, sexy, often cold-blooded illustration of the pre-Code sensibility, and of Stanwyck’s magnificence

Made in Dagenham (2010) – sacrifices grit and heart for easy formula; the movie might have trundled off the same assembly line it depicts

Padre Padrone (1977) – an interesting personal journey to enlightenment, quirkier and more lightly experimental than one might remember

Exposed (1983) – completely fascinating, odd and provocative; an artistic stream of consciousness barely possible in American cinema now

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) – the loveliest and most perfect (although not most complex) film by one of the directors I most cherish

Game Change (2012) – the movie is largely efficiently glossy, even amiable, assembly and memory-jogging - you supply your own revulsion

Pleasures of the Flesh (1965) – a lesser Oshima, ultimately mainly an exercise in bitter irony, but still startlingly well-articulated

Take Shelter (2011) – a horror movie of the most productive, resonant kind, calibrating modern American insecurities to the nearest dollar

Ordet (1955) – beautifully strange meditation on faith and knowledge, and how our dogma and culture may only obscure our sense of them

The Last Detail (1973) – grimly suggests the dehumanizing distortions of military culture; so darkly unadorned it seems almost radical now

Barbarella (1968) – generates some nostalgia for a time when a movie could be so confidently shabby and shoddy, but that’s about it

A Better Life (2011) – engages more from one’s preexisting sympathy for the immigrant experience than from any inherent skill or insight

Where is Liberty? (1954) – easy to imagine this as a standard star-driven comedy, but Rossellini makes it surprisingly socially resonant

Only Angels Have Wings (1939) – maybe Hawks’ most perfect self-expression, told with breathtaking behavioral and existential momentum

Heartbreaker (2010) – prime example of France beating Hollywood at its own game: utterly weightless, but the calculations mostly don't grate

Magnum Force (1973) – easy nostalgic diversion, despite a pervasive lack of subtlety and style and of any kind of analytical sensibility

The Crucified Lovers (1954) – so extraordinarily calibrated and well-told, the immense underlying social complexity might almost evade you

Filming ‘Othello’ (1978) – a wonderful late expression of Welles’ personality & creative force, if rather poignant for its modesty of means

The Beekeeper (1986) – much as if Angelopoulous was aspiring for the prototypical European “art house” picture (Mastroianni, young nudity..)

Rampart (2011) – hardly entirely successful, but constantly fascinating, bursting at the seams with incoherencies, implications and oddities

Sanders of the River (1935) – barely watchable as drama, but a grimly informative illustration of colonial attitudes and insecurities

Lacombe Lucien (1974) – extremely skillfully, sensitively controlled by Malle, but less cinematically exciting than Black Moon for instance

If a Tree Falls (2011) – a bit short of broader analysis, but maybe we’re so hopeless at this point that any analysis could only be a sham

The Nun (1966) – atypical for Rivette, but evidencing his interest in incoherent earthly structures and their toll, on women in particular

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) – fascinating, though Cassavetes is less focused here on expression than suppression & displacement

Seraphine (2008) – although interesting enough on its own terms, dwarfed by Pialat’s Van Gogh as an evocation of time, place and artistry

Under the Volcano (1984) – rather heavy-going chronicle, usually interesting for Finney’s showiness, but ultimately not very meaningful

Ceddo (1977) – gorgeous Senegalese film about a village jihad, stylistically almost unprecedented, but also still startlingly relevant

50/50 (2011) – constantly pleasant, but calibrates the pain and messiness too carefully, becoming  meaninglessly arbitrary and forgettable

Sauve qui peut (la vie) (1980) – constantly satisfying, even weirdly beguiling, as it deconstructs art, commerce...well, almost everything

Four Lions (2010) – a foul-mouthed suicide bomber comedy, often funny, quietly scary for its take on the "existential threat"'s mundanity

The Exile (1947) – nonsensical as history, and certainly thinner than Ophuls’ greatest works, but still captivatingly beautiful at times

In Darkness (2011) – largely undistinguished presentation of important material, obscuring truth and meaning with constantly lame choices

The Anderson Tapes (1971) – a secondary Lumet movie, but still with more substance & individuality than most American films can harness now

Van Gogh (1991) – a fascinating evocation of the man, but highly attuned to how the man will ultimately be subsumed by myth and commerce

Island of Lost Souls (1932) – terrifically grotesque, the early-Hollywood limitations actually weirdly nurturing the twisted creation theme

Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010) – quite a bit less rewarding than its Australian predecessor, but with the same underlying giddy romance

The Mirror (1975) – a precursor of sorts to Tree of Life, but even less compromising, envisaging a memory-cinema as unrestricted as a poem

Passion Play (2010) – not quite as unwatchable as some claimed, but everything about the movie squeaks heavily of training wheels (or wings)

Circle of Deceit (1981) – gripping evocation of Beirut, but increasingly weighed down by writerly notions that ultimately illuminate little

We Need to Talk about Kevin (2011) – powerfully visualizes all-consuming trauma and bewilderment, easily transcending echoes of (say) Orphan

Under Capricorn (1949) – a deliberately paced but rich study in psychological trauma, drawing on the sense of a land still in formation

Flowers of Shanghai (1998) – a rigorously unerotic, mesmerizing film about brothels, meshing desire, calculation, convention, oppression..

Starting Over (1979) – Pakula tries to do for romantic comedy what he already did for urban paranoia, with intriguingly peculiar results

Leon Morin, pretre (1961) – one of the most galvanizing of films "about" religion, astoundingly rich in (tightly-controlled) implication

The Whistleblower (2010) – a very well-maintained expose of institutional evil, somewhat limited by its conventional narrative strategies

L'amour en fuite (1979) – pleasantly nostalgic, seemingly reflecting Truffaut’s contentment with (or resignation to) the state of things

Celebrity (1998) – pretty diverting overall, not least for Branagh's car wreck performance, but with an unusually inert center for Allen

A nos amours (1983) – a vital text on female sexuality and self-definition; few movies match Pialat’s scintillating emotional contours  

Bad Teacher (2011) – if she was bad like the Keitel bad lieutenant was bad, and with real sick laughs, then it might be on to something...

Flavor of Green Tea over Rice (1952) – rarely for Ozu, the conciliatory ending is less persuasive than the earlier portrayal of fractures

Night Moves (1975) – one of the best 70's genre films - a detective investigation that illuminates a whole clueless country and culture 

Three Resurrected Drunkards (1968) – almost bewilderingly loopy at times, but deadly serious about the grim price of imperialist folly

The Interrupters (2011) – a vivid, moving documentary, about an America almost incalculably far removed from the deranged political debate

La vie est un roman (1983) – a strategically absurd fantasia on the tussle between imagination and education, our capacities and limitations

Mr. Arkadin (1955) – Welles reconfigures Citizen Kane’s brilliant investigation (almost as brilliantly) for a time of paranoia & confusion

Tyrannosaur (2011) – a volatile, mesmerizingly well-acted (if ultimately a bit thematically limited) treatment of broadly familiar territory

L’amour braque (1985) – perhaps the film where diminishing returns seriously start to set in on Zulawski’s stylish exercises in extremity

City Lights (1931) – a lot of it is conventional Chaplin, not to say that’s peanuts, but the ending really is transcendent (I cried again…)

Black Venus (2010) – an unsparing, chillingly fascinating examination of exploitation, indicting culture & science (& our viewership) alike

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) – gorgeously articulates the limitations of Englishness, while also embodying its abiding virtues

Mikey and Nicky (1976) – feels much like a Cassavetes movie, but somewhat tougher-minded, more preoccupied by an underlying malignancy

A Separation (2011) – the ambiguity has its contrived aspects, but still compelling for how it explores the complexities of Iranian culture

Super (2010) – a home-made superhero yarn that often plays like an anguished, violent character study; bemusing, but weirdly good in parts

Orphee (1950) – a wonderful reverie on poetic inspiration and identity, with an entirely unique blend of fancifulness and practicality

I Spit on Your Grave (2010) – you hate how unflinchingly effective this is; feels classier (but perhaps not truer) to view it as a metaphor

The Moon in the Gutter (1983) – many glorious moments, especially when pushing to the extreme, but overall an incompletely realized vision

Fear and Desire (1953) – despite its poverty of means, has a powerful Kubrickian sense of war as a moral labyrinth born in human inadequacy

Attack the Block (2011) – a pretty cool deal - a tight, accomplished monster movie and a credible piece of social observation, all in one!

Chinese Roulette (1976) – bourgeois Germany's poisonous loose ends shaken up and bottled; the kind of film Fassbinder could do in his sleep

A Dangerous Method (2011) – brilliantly rigorous, seeped in implication, quivering with the sense of modern ideology painfully taking shape

Le lieu du crime (1986) – a strong example of Techine’s evasive complexity; easy to overlook the quiet radicalism of its rejection of norms

Margin Call (2011) – plays flashily, often grippingly with the cream of a fiendishly complex situation; leaves what's below mostly untouched

Playtime (1967) – my favorite Tati, dense with details, patterns, cross-references, alive to both modernity's possibilities and its lacks

Forever Mine (1999) – unrecognizable as Schrader’s, except for a wan obsession theme; lacks the energy to make a virtue of the absurdity

Secret Sunshine (2007) – a film of great humanity and awareness, subtly but firmly critiquing the easy blather about closure and coping

Ganja & Hess (1973) – revolutionary, genre-transcending vampire movie is also a rich meditation on black identity, provocative at every turn

Pina (2011) – a near-miracle after two decades of unproductive, grating Wenders gyrations; made me engage with dance as I never have before

Source Code (2011) – one of those concept-dense movies that’s glossily clever but not very intelligent, ending up merely fancifully loopy

Landscape after Battle (1970) – effective at evoking the depth of trauma and confusion, but the calculated artistry sits rather heavily now

The Adjustment Bureau (2011) – dubious theology (oh sure, belief is all about free will), but great star chemistry, and good use of hats

L’amour a mort (1984) – an elegantly devastating reflection on the limitations of conventional discourse, and a key text about suicide

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) – admirably controlled, but this moral labyrinth is so well-explored already, hardly a new turn remains

The Housemaid (2010) – very interesting, if a bit limited; the evolution from the 1960 version eloquently indicts the widening social chasm

Shame (2011) – fascinating but utterly overwrought, a Spielberg movie for artisans; the hectoring title (why not, uh, "Glee"?!) says a lot

Roselyne et les lions (1989) – stunning lion taming sequences: the rest is variable and surprisingly conventional, but I can’t say I minded!

Bananas (1971) – funny enough of course, but feels more now like leafing through a formative notebook than like watching a realized movie

The Lost Son (1999) – doesn’t dishonor its terrifying subject, but the genre clutter is especially hard to take in the circumstances

The Artist (2011) – a pristinely engaging, even endearing oddity, especially when it uses silence as a strategy, not just a condition

Inferno (1980) – a diverting, tactile vision of all-consuming malignancy, although Argento’s visions never seem as potent as, say, Fulci’s

The Muppets (2011) - a happy enough Christmas compromise, especially if you enjoy old photos of the likes of Rich Little (and don’t you?)

The Devil (1972) – a scabrous, politically-charged vision of degradation, where the only hope of avoiding hell lies in man lacking a soul

Young Adult (2011) – lots of terrific observation and a striking cruel streak; suggests an even more fascinating, bleaker road not taken

The Illusionist (2010) – evokes Tati’s screen persona, but doesn’t otherwise feel like a Tati film, rendering the point a bit mysterious

Funny Face (1957) – a beautiful and joyous musical; for me it's perhaps the film best capturing Audrey Hepburn’s ethereally fragile appeal

L’Amour l’apres-midi (1972) – one of Rohmer’s most alluring films, a wonderful study in bourgeois diminishment of the capacity for action

The Ward (2010) – draws solidly and creepily on a long iconography of women oppressed by medicine, but the ending is woefully generic

Spies (1928) – Lang creates a sense of magnificent unreliability, of capitalistic advancement scheming absurdly, helplessly against itself

Hugo (2011) – Scorsese’s most cherishable picture in years; a dazzling feast of cinema, in generous commemoration of its origins

La femme publique (1984) – never achieves the alchemy of Zulawski’s best, feeling mostly rather sterile and distant, for all its provocation

Hanna (2011) – a fairy-tale for dehumanized, violent times; stylish and polished until it gleams, but essentially utterly silly and useless

I Only Want You to Love Me (1976) – more grimly resonant than ever in depicting how the math of a working man’s life just doesn’t add up

The Descendants (2011) – full of intriguing variations on familial parameters and responsibilities, but limited in its range and insights

Coup de torchon (1981) – a great little drama, laconically depicting escalating madness as a mirror for the perversions of colonialism

Unstoppable (2010) – an impressive exercise in physicality, raw industrial power, human limits, although with mostly conventional intentions

Le beau Serge (1958) – fascinating early Chabrol, with much terrific observation and flavour; less successful in its climactic spirituality

Family Diary (1962) – unusually somber and quietly anguished, defined by death and lost possibilities, and so knowingly embracing monotony

Limitless (2011) – entertaining in riffing on the material possibilities of enhanced capacity, but the inner life goes mostly unexamined

Violence at Noon (1966) –as fluidly bleak as any of Oshima’s movies, daring to posit double suicide as the only viable reward of love..

Possession (1981) – weirdly compelling parable of stagnation & renewal (sort of), built around fabulously outrageous scenes from a marriage

J. Edgar (2011) – an unusually quiet, oddly moving meditation on history, reflecting on the human frailty that drives the exercise of power

Sous le soleil de Satan (1987) – the film tempts us to read it too easily, reflecting our fallible tracing of God’s hand, and the devil’s..

Beeswax (2009) – engaging and well-observed, quite distinctive, but still a bit of a flyweight, lacking much thematic or existential impact

Fear of Fear (1975) – Fassbinder’s eerily well-controlled study of “mental illness” and its rationality as a coping strategy for a drab life

Two Weeks in Another Town (1962) – a piercing Minnelli melodrama of exile and displacement, cunningly straddling the exotic and the downbeat

L’important c’est d’aimer (1975) – like a Cassavetes film with bruised lipstick, on the necessity of extremity and pain in locking down love

Bill Cunningham New York (2010) – a pleasant chronicle of a decent man, but with no critical edge; about as important as last year's fashion

Blood Relatives (1978) – Chabrol in Montreal, seeming too preoccupied by logistics to make this much more than a perfunctory investigation

Melancholia (2011) – audacious by any measure, often stunning; I could imagine some restless soul responding to it as to nothing before

The Blacksmith (1922) – vivacious (if scattershot and fanciful) Keaton short, with enormous inventiveness and a terrific sense of pace

Equinox Flower (1958) – Ozu’s beautifully observed study of the inevitable capitulation of old men to the gentle strength of young women

Down by Law (1986) – a deadpan parable of existential repositioning, perfectly attuned to its raw ingredients (maybe Benigni in particular)

The Pearls of the Crown (1937) – quite the narrative banquet, full of inventive charm, but its impact is ultimately somewhat superficial

A Letter to Three Wives (1949) – irresistibly witty and poised, and sharp-eyed about the compromises entailed by the plush American Dream

SS Experiment Love Camp (1976) - bastardizing the moral decay of the Nazis to no good end, much of the time the film seems barely conscious

Submarine (2010) – a transplanted Annie Hall of sorts, crammed with minutely observed subtleties, flights of fancy, unconventional beauty..

The Third Part of the Night (1971) – strange, dislocating film on the degradation of war, both gruesomely intimate and wrenchingly visionary

Starting out in the Evening (2007) – very engrossing, surprisingly thematically and psychologically intricate, with a radiant Lauren Ambrose

Love Affair…the Missing Switchboard Operator (1967) – note Makavejev’s considerable sensitivity, often undervalued relative to his daring

One Night Stand (1997) – Figgis sure knows how to polish and jazzify conventional material, but falls short of working miracles with it

Attenberg (2010) – interesting if limited study of identity & the finding of one’s self, drawing much resonance from its bleak Greek setting

We Can’t Go Home Again (1976?) – a vital component of Ray’s overall artistic legend, by design almost impossible to anchor oneself within

Bitter Rice (1949) – perhaps crude if compared to Rossellini’s work of the period, but immensely pictorial, powerful, sexy and evocative

Love and other Drugs (2010) – uses up all its relative daring on the raunchy stuff, leaving everything else too often unfocused and bland

The Round Up (1966) – often feels like Kafka on the plains; masterfully done, although you respond as much to its theory as its practice

Page Eight (2011) – engrossing for its laconic articulacy, until its essential narrative thinness and familiar morality become inescapable

The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting (1979) – Ruiz is the most brilliant, if difficult, antidote to an easy, complacent mainstream cinema

Lost in America (1985) – very nicely and concisely exploring the compromise and existential sacrifice at the heart of what we call “success”

Le Havre (2011) – a very pleasant, elevating tale of community and everyday miracles, emphasizing the weight of every moment and connection

Bridesmaids (2011) – some nice invention & observation; certainly capable of being more biting & affecting, but then doesn't want to be

The Profession of Arms (2001) – a heavy-going study in the bygone processes and ethics of war; more interesting in theory than actuality

Night on Earth (1991) – so cool and easy to take, you could overlook the existential precision, how death increasingly occupies the fabric..

Barbe Bleu (2009) – gorgeously distinctive reverie on sexual destiny and  ideology; beautifully intuitive and complex, often surprising

Hot Blood (1956) – overflowing with hokiness and dubious storytelling, and yet compelling for Ray’s often savagely dynamic compositions

Everyone Else (2009) – another exquisite illustration that the shifting mysteries and pained edges of relationships will never be exhausted

The Electric House (1922) – reconstructed early Keaton with missing scenes; a bit too breezy and conceptual to deploy his greatness ideally

The Skin I Live In (2011) – lovingly and lovably absurd; Almodovar’s sumptuous conviction overrides just about all potential reservations

Insidious (2010) – impressively handled throughout, demonstrating the “haunted house” genre’s eternal capacity for renewal and embellishment

Merry-go-Round (1981) – not Rivette’s strongest, but still a wonderful, playful reverie on family trauma, narrative, creation and fantasy

Never Let Me Go (2010) – not a major film, but achingly sad almost throughout, and delicately seeded with thematic and ethical implication

Machine Gun McCain (1969) – appealingly terse, but the real pleasure is in the trace of a phantom Cassavetes/Rowlands movie buried within

Barney’s Version (2010) – bland, mechanical concoction is just one thing after another, lacking flavor, intimacy, sense of time or place...

Japanese Summer: Double Suicide (1967) – a remarkable distillation of lost, violent times and twisted instincts; never remotely predictable

The Way Back (2010) – depicting extreme human endeavor and myth as inseparable, marked by Weir's surprising but unshowy creative choices

Age of Consent (1969) – appealing for its wacky primitivism, but very ragged, seldom approaching Powell’s major works (albeit, what could?)

Alice ou la derniere fugue (1977) - stylish, under-appreciated Chabrol, a precursor to later meta-movies, with a diverting feminist slant

Sweetwater (2009) – majestically scenic and respectful, but also increasingly troubled, generating an unexpectedly complex after-effect

Man is not a Bird (1965) – maybe not, but engaging as this is, you feel Makavejev gearing up to fly onto splashier, wilder canvases

All Good Things (2010) – doesn’t achieve the complexity and allusiveness it aims for, merely seeming increasingly messy and mechanical

Taris, roi de l’eau  (1931) – a small thing, but its sense of joy and fascination  is delightfully consistent with Vigo’s more major works

Punishment Park (1971) – still startlingly provocative & compelling, clearly as relevant as ever post-Guantanamo Bay (as complacency rises)

Mysteries of Lisbon (2010) – an enthralling film - it feels capable of extending itself forever without ever sacrificing your devotion to it

The Cameraman (1928) – very enjoyable, but creaking from limited resources, seldom exhibiting the gracefulness of Keaton’s greatest films

Red Psalm (1972) – stunning for Jancso’s gorgeously fluid staging and filming; at times almost persuades you the revolution might triumph

George Harrison..Material World (2011) – mostly effective; best seen as a largely impressionistic seasoning to the overall Harrison myth

Shakespeare Wallah (1965) – shows how early on the Merchant Ivory approach was honed; it’s sensitive but strangely bland and affectless

Alexander Nevsky (1938) – resembles now an artifact from a worldview of expired grandeur, and strenuous (if still fascinating) artistry

The Ides of March (2011) – so lazy and deficient it tends to make you reassess all you supposedly believed about Clooney’s taste and smarts

Taxi zum klo (1980) – a significant milestone of gay and human rights cinema; still eye-opening (and informative!) in numerous ways

Valhalla Rising (2009) – murky and ponderous mythmaking, only minimally interesting; Refn is much more rewarding in his splashier Drive mode

Wild Rovers (1971) – a quietly solid yarn, but the mythic ambitions, and musings on morality and predestination, are never fully realized

Before the Revolution (1964) – Bertolucci’s still fascinating amalgam of (perhaps rather strained) societal pessimism and cinematic optimism

Vanishing on 7th Street (2010) – not for the first time, Anderson’s proficiency seems largely squandered on thin, unrewarding material

The Touch (1971) – has an oddly displaced quality (Elliott Gould?); interesting but thin, adding little to one’s overall sense of Bergman

Poetry (2010) – one of the most stunning recent films; a delicately beautiful but unsentimental study of liberation and transcendence

Tiny Furniture (2010) – well-considered, resourceful study of a generation pre-wired for status, still floundering on how to make it happen

Christiane F (1981) – still kinda makes you want to flirt with degradation, while allowing you to believe YOU wouldn’t be consumed by it

Network (1976) – as everyone says, still spookily relevant and prophetic, bracingly mature and literate, full of indelible actorly moments

Sing a Song of Sex (1967) – dazzlingly provocative, constantly astounding Oshima reflection on horny Japanese youth in deranged times

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) – mostly successful as a shrewd cartoon of finance’s lost soul: but the home stretch is disappointing

Zero de conduite (1933) – among cinema’s most remarkable 45 minutes, and most cherishable expressions of creative and institutional freedom

Caligula (1979) – generally enjoyable as a grand folly, often visually striking, but its relative strengths are lost in a morass of genitals

Moneyball (2011) – highly enjoyable throughout, but hardly a significant case study, unless you really strain for metaphorical applicability

L’enfant sauvage (1970) – fascinatingly quiet and economical, focusing productively on incremental progress and its associated morality

The Scarlet Empress (1934) – an astonishing unified vision, although the play of desire grips slightly less than Morocco or Shanghai Express

The Keys to the House (2004) – intensely focused on the joy and pain of the unpractised caregiver; narrow in its aims, but very successful

Maurice (1987) – succeeds at setting out the stifling intricacy of class structures, somewhat less at conveying the pain embedded in them

Smiley Face (2007) – has the inherent appeal of Araki’s worldview, but could have used more ambition, even if its heroine doesn’t need any

L’Atalante (1934) – still a unique vision, with one socially conscious foot firmly in this world, the other consumed by fevers and dreams

Drive (2011) – the rare mainstream film in which the use of “style” (and silence) is viscerally jolting and even intellectually provocative!

Combat d’amour en songe (2000) – a gorgeously elegant challenge to conventional narrative, at once highly rigorous and awesomely unbound

The April Fools (1969) – the Deneuve/Lemmon pairing never really makes emotional sense, especially when dropped into such a ramshackle movie

Le pont du Nord (1981) – has one of Rivette’s greatest endings, a mystically grand assertion of intuitive self-discovery and connection

Machete (2010) – sporadically strikes the right garish iconic retro pulp mix, but Machete himself is a fatally underdeveloped focal point

Drole de drama (1937) -  strange plotting indeed; always elegant, but lacking the inspiration to amount to more than the sum of its parts

Contagion (2011) – highly engrossing and informative; even its omissions speak to the inherently ungraspable nature of such  mass trauma

Revanche (2008) -  makes unusually productive use of outrageous genre contrivance, drawing power from tonal contrasts & social undercurrents

Wanda (1970) – remarkably free of vanity and artifice, a quietly militant challenge to conventional portrayals of “fallen” women

Innocents with Dirty Hands (1975) – ventilated by Chabrol’s feeling for human perversity,  but nevertheless mostly perfunctory/indifferent

Doubt (2008) – never more than a contrived theatrical extravaganza; enjoyable actorly tension at times, but philosophically mostly vacuous

Tulse Luper Suitcases, Pt 3: From Sark to the Finish (2003) – likely only for Greenaway completists; even for them, a rather dull work-out

The Defector (1966) – interesting but under-powered Cold War dynamics, gaining depth from its steely grey images and Clift’s evident pain

The Company Men (2010) – lots of interesting details, but hampered throughout by the simplifying, too-tidy effect of Hollywood conventions

A Time to Live and a Time to Die (1985) – gorgeously illustrating Hou’s remarkable capacity for capturing the totality of life experience

Mr. Nice (2010) – works well enough as a mildly colourful diversion, but doesn’t inhale the material deeply enough to make a major impact

The Spanish Earth (1937) – valuable as a bleak historical record, and for Hemingway’s narration, almost anticipating later neo-realism..

Genova (2008) – perhaps one of Winterbottom’s most subtly complex and intuitive works, with an often superb sense of mood and place

Tony Manero (2008) – meticulously considered, superbly nuanced Chilean study of a vicious criminal obsessed with Travolta’s iconic character

Jew Suss (1934) – still whips up appropriate revulsion, but most interesting now as a (rather stodgy) chronicle of personal redemption

Win Win (2011) – blows a potentially productive premise through relentless superficiality, shallow characterization and moral obviousness

Peppermint Frappe (1967) – less scintillating than the many films it evokes at times (Vertigo, Blow-Up, Bunuel...) , but well sustained

The Arbor (2010) – a film where even the possible weaknesses raise stimulating questions about the nature of representation/interpretation

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (1968) – a movie strenuously in search of itself, ultimately yielding a kind of deadpan existential comedy

Les egares (2003) – unusually intimate for Techine, examining how the destruction of war yields some capacity for liberation and reinvention

The City of Your Final Destination (2010) – some interesting reflection, but flatly handled; the title is more evocative than the movie

The Man who Loved Women (1983) – no "10," but oddly (and often somewhat intriguingly) recessive, as much a study in bemusement as “love”

Haut bas fragile (1995) – a great, beautiful Rivette meditation on the attaining of feminine self-determination, with a complex use of music

Tamara Drew (2010) – Tamara herself gets increasingly lost among generally odd and/or pointless (if scenic and easy-to-take) conceits

Deep End (1970) – a fabulous creation; a perfectly sustained play of repression and desire, brilliantly attentive to time, place, character

Toy Story 3 (2010) – has enormous panache, and persuasive moral resonance; sure, it's a calculated commercial machine, but what packaging...

The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (1945) – intriguing, but the entire film would be a mere strand in Kurosawa's later, fuller works

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) – probably just about as sane & smooth an origin story for the Apes mythology as one could ever devise

La ville des pirates (1983) – stunning piece of poetic mythology, unbound by normal rules, evoking the dark fluidity of creation & identity

Munich (2005) – potent in many ways, but never feels sufficiently complex; a comparison with Assayas’ Carlos underlines the limitations

Essential Killing (2010) – often intriguing but somewhat limited in its impact; clinical abstraction isn't Skolimowski’s best register

Land of the Pharoahs (1955) – great spectacle; you vaguely detect a Hawksian worldview in the ultimate affinity for pragmatism over grandeur

The Strange Hostel of Naked Pleasures (1975) – moody & wacky; almost convinces you at times it has a viable theological vision & purpose!

Stone (2010) – a surprisingly stimulating, but strange, incompletely realized attempt at exploring spiritual/moral purpose and awareness

Folies bourgeoisies (1976) – in many ways a weird, ill-handled mess, and yet that's appropriate to the film’s theme of chronic dysfunction

The Next Three Days (2010) – mostly diverting, with some handy crime hints, but overall impact is much like the last three Hollywood flicks

The Children are Watching Us (1944) –still a delicately provocative examination of social structures and desires in hopeless conflict 

Sleeper (1973) – an enduring modest pleasure; the loosely-knit absurdity seems almost radical now at times, compared to most of later Allen

Small Town Murder Songs (2010) – demonstrates Gass-Donnelly’s control and discipline, but just too narrow a canvas to warrant major praise

Wings of Desire (1987) – often beguiling, but looks now like the start of Wenders’ decline away from relevance, frequently into pure drivel

Piranha (2010) – smart exploitation package, as proficient at tits and ass as at mass trauma; a shame Aja isn’t feeding in a bigger tank

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) – so alluring you can hardly disentangle the (often staggeringly) radical from the playful

Madeleine (1950) – inherently interesting as sexual politics, although Lean's rather passionless craftsmanship doesn't seem ideally applied

Project Nim (2011) – the story’s still a useful reference point for considering our hopelessly confused attitudes & morality toward animals

Goto, Island of Love (1969) – gorgeously strange, as if from a parallel universe; causing regret for Borowczyk’s later narrower evolution

A Prairie Home Companion (2006) – one of the most delightful, magically appropriate (as if prophetic) end-points of any director’s career

Red Riding…1983 (2009) – even with a "happy ending" of sorts, horrifyingly extends the endemic corruption & moral decay of the earlier films

World on a Wire (1973) – a forerunner to Inception, plopped down in the magnificently grim, tackily existential laboratory of 70’s Germany

The Tillman Story (2010) -  another kick-ass exposure of institutional lies  and evasions, in effect of America’s fear of its own richness

Red Riding…1980 (2009) – a more claustrophobic, slightly less artful vision than the first film, but masterfully integrating real & imagined

Spirit of the Beehive (1973) – comes close to forging an alternative language of childhood, and the quiet darkness underlying its innocence

Divorce American Style (1967) – surprisingly biting, instructive and inventive satire at times, although it largely goes soft in the end

Red Riding…1974 (2009) – a narratively powerful 1970’s Yorkshire-set Chinatown of sorts; a grim vision of corruption and degradation

The Beyond (1981) -  Fulci's astonishing vision of breakdown between worlds, leaving normal horror movie conventions in the bloody beyond

The Tourist (2010) – takes itself too seriously in some ways, not seriously enough in others; astute direction & acting take a big vacation

Billy Budd (1962) - gripping, but like Ustinov himself, the obviousness of the calculations and emotions evokes respect rather than love

La signora di tutti (1934) – a superb investigation of a woman, exploring throughout the fragile dance of truth and illusion, life and death

The Trip (2010) – consistently and distinctively entertaining; although satisfying more in the way of a great meal than of a great poem

Casino Jack and the United States of Money (2010) – another pristine exposure (there’s a lot of ‘em) of the degradation at America's heart

Alice in the Cities (1974) – in some ways a familiar and contrived set-up, but increasingly intriguing for its echoes & lack of affectation

Kaboom (2010) – repositions raw materials of gay-friendly sex comedy as apocalyptic markers; softer than early Araki, but still subversive

The Strange World of Coffin Joe (1968) – strange is the least of it; certainly stamps Marins as an intriguing go-his-own-twisted-way auteur

Shoot the Moon (1982) – magnificently angry and agonized at times, but Parker’s heavy approach strangles more often than it nurtures overall

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010) – Herzog necessarily plays things straighter here than sometimes, but still delivers the “ecstatic truth”..

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) – clever and tonally astute, but you get that after ten minutes; ultimately monotonous and unrewarding

Vivre sa vie (1962) – for all its structural brilliance and bleakness, has a delicacy and even a relative optimism rare in later Godard

Handsome Harry (2010) – a small, maybe overly restrained, but interesting contribution to the cinema of gay identity reaching for the light

The Freethinker (1994) – long, deliberately disorienting but rewarding example of Watkins’ radical approach to historical investigation

Knight and Day (2010) – most engaging when it escapes the machine and surrenders to happy abstraction, which isn’t almost often enough

Les astronautes (1959) – a quirkily sweet 14-minute addition to cinematic dreams of transcendence, gently prophetic in its fragility

Macao (1952) – full of echoes of Sternberg’s earlier work, but comparatively mechanical and starved of true desire; easily watchable though

Police (1985) – a powerful and insinuating drama; astonishing in the scope of its reflection on the fluidity of morals, structures, emotions

The Tree of Life (2011) – Malick’s deployment of cinematic possibility is often stunning, but the film is too intangible to fully satisfy

Ashes and Diamonds (1958) – most complex of the trilogy; less rawly powerful than Kanal, but appropriately to its theme of moral bereftness

Freakonomics (2010) – much like the book, saturated in misplaced breeziness; even serious implications seem like mere mental masturbation

Victim (1961) – limited by the necessity of telling rather than showing, but remains a landmark, and still very moving and provocative

Lola (1981) – a scathing fever-dream of post-war Germany, as a new venality and savage self-gratification push rectitude to the sidelines

Joan Rivers: a Piece of Work (2010) – surprisingly revealing, informative & serious-minded; feels more important than it objectively should

Kings of the Road (1976) – a fascinating, unadorned & unforced amalgam of myth and character study; Wenders’ early stature was well-deserved

The Pie-Covered Wagon (1932) – emblematic Western drama enacted in ten minutes by toddlers; every bit as vital to film history as it sounds!

Divorce Italian Style (1961) – the title promises a romp, but the undercurrents are rather gloomy; sad characters grabbing at what they can…

Howl (2010) – an effective memorial, although I wonder if the animation (however proficient) doesn’t deny the essential nature of poetry

Kameradschaft (1931) – still imposing for its grim physicality; the ideology (let’s dissolve European borders!) has a different flavor now…

Let Me In (2010) – amazingly successful at evoking the spirit of the original without merely replicating or inadvertently parodying it

The Green Room (1978) – strange, almost perversely narrowly-focused film from Truffaut, alluring for its lack of compromise if nothing else

Too Big to Fail (2011) – interesting and remarkably efficient, but that’s also a limitation: we need the 6-hour Olivier Assayas version!

Kanal (1957) – a  powerful, unsparing  vision of war as the death of all dignity, light and hope; perhaps Wajda’s most enduring film

Red (2010) – even with that cast, doesn’t take long until diminishing returns set in; Malkovich hints at a more rewarding road not taken..

La Bande des quatre (1989) – one of Rivette’s most vulnerable-seeming works, clinging to art as protection against the chaos and darkness

Young Mr Lincoln (1939) – among much else, remarkably contemporary in its focus on Lincoln’s control of what we’d now call his ‘image’

Le petit theatre de Jean Renoir (1970) – a beautiful farewell, evoking his classic achievements while still pushing in quirky new directions

Midnight in Paris (2011) – Allen at his most easefully assured and pleasantly self-referencing, evoking the comfort level of his heyday

Miss Oyu (1951) – another fascinating study in longing suppressed by ideology and culture, twisting lives into perverse, tragic structures

Scott Walker : 30 Century Man (2006) – near-revelatory documentary on the musical genius (yes!), superbly explaining his achievement

Le doulos (1962) – grimmer than Melville’s later films; painstakingly grows into a near-textbook of existential survival strategies…

Catfish (2010) – hard to react to, beyond asking which of the participants in this relationship is really ultimately the sadder case study?

Os Canibais (1988) – a rather neat filmic joke, with increasingly tedious high art suddenly giving  way after an  hour to sheer nonsense

The Southerner (1945) – Renoir's mesmerizing study of a land still in formation, but already carrying much embedded ideology and enmity

Le quattro volte (2010) – a sublime viewing experience, maybe as much cosmic joke as profound meditation (but maybe there’s no difference..)

Such Good Friends (1971) – very strange, often remarkably perverse take on the acquiring of consciousness, with Burgess Meredith’s bare ass!

N.U. (1948) – a reminder, if it were needed, of the social observation and unforced humanity that nourished the roots of Antonioni’s work

Quantum of Solace (2008) – squanders almost every aspect of the Bond formula without injecting anything in return; messy and humorless

36 Quai des Orfevres (2004) – yet another movie seemingly inspired by Heat, but more proficient with guns and attitudes than with souls

Stage Fright (1950) – structural & tonal oddities & general eccentricities make a pretty interesting counterpoint to Hitchcock’s major work

The Maid (2009) – an unusual, sometimes blackly funny, ultimately shrewd and convincing take on a familiar theme of feminine self-discovery

The Naked Kiss (1964) - carries a remarkable ideological scope beneath a dazzlingly tight narrative, exposing weakness and corruption galore

A Generation (1955) – the film’s effectiveness as character drama and with ‘action’ sequences perhaps limits its resonance as history now…

Rabbit Hole (2010) – well-crafted of course, but never much more than a series of devices, lacking any distinct insight on loss or grief

L’enfance nue (1968) – magnificent, rigorous, deeply humane examination of an abandoned child, deep in “nature vs. nurture” implications

The Informer (1935) – despite Oscar-winning status, a minor Ford work; atmospheric, but forced and overwrought and insufficiently nuanced

Alamar (2009) – a beautiful film, often gently but radically apart from almost any other in its storytelling & relationship with the planet

I Love You Philip Morris (2009)  - always energetic and proficient, but never really meaningful; one scene feels much the same as the next…

Scenes from a Marriage (1973) –  a virtuoso, exhausting behavioral dance; eerily fascinating, even if only intermittently identifiable

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969) – easy to forget the seriousness (however genial) of Mazursky's underlying sociological investigation

Grown Up Movie Star (2009) – ultimately somewhat limited in its family dynamics, but with lots of real colour and provocation along the way

The River (1951) – a beautiful, gently complex meditation on maturity and acceptance, albeit deploying a selective portrait of India

Giallo (2009) – an oddly flat and mostly uninvolving Argento creation, with barely a trace of The Mother of Tears’ giddy flare and "vision"

Not Quite Hollywood (2008) – as happily galvanizing a documentary as you’ll ever see, breezily making the case for Australian genre cinema

A Tale of Springtime (1990) – despite the ultimate optimism, has a pervasive, fascinatingly conveyed sense of lives just missing the point..

Mother and Child (2009) – impressive, frequently even thrilling acting and characterization wins out over frequent over-calculation

Cronaca di un amore (1950) – fascinating early example of Antonioni’s filmic and emotional architecture, paving the way for later heights

Meek’s Cutoff  (2010) – a remarkably allusive, restrained, meaningful film; Reichardt is already one of the indispensable American directors

Trois couleurs: Bleu (1993) – handsome  and scintillating on its own terms, but in a way that’s ultimately unrevealing of real life I think

The Living End (1992) - still gorgeously vivid and provocative, even visionary, in setting out an unapologetic alternative ideology of HIV

Il Bidone (1955) – rooted in Fellini’s early grittiness while dropping hints of the greater sprawl ahead; a bit contrived, but engrossing

Slap Shot (1977) – hard to begrudge the film its semi-classic status; has a great feel for hockey lore and culture (the good, bad and ugly)

Last Train Home (2009) – finds an intimately gripping narrative within a life built on parameters and sacrifices one can hardly process

Nowhere Boy (2009) – a bit too polished to evoke the period, but a terrifically charismatic, legend-friendly portrayal of the young Lennon

The Case of the Grinning Cat (2004) – a very witty, graceful, dead serious but clear-sightedly optimistic essay on contemporary turbulence

Straw Dogs (1971) – still a savagely brilliant quasi-cartoon, but also an extreme, troubling parable on America’s directional crisis

Gente del Po (1943) – an 11-minute film that captures an entire grim, unchanging world; you feel Antonioni’s emerging mastery in every shot

Salt (2010) – very well-judged and controlled, with Jolie a perfect focal point; consistently seems much less absurd than it actually is

Notes toward an African Orestes (1970) - intriguing text on the relevance of our cultural heritage in diagnosing a complex, evolving world

The Party (1968) – it’s no Playtime, but still a fascinating fantasy on (relative) purity grinding down the venal (if only for one night)

The Adversary (1971) – an eloquent, troubled study of a transitional generation in India, oddly forgotten relative to Ray’s other works

Looking for Eric (2009) – much more fanciful than Loach’s usual work, with a significantly diluted impact; sadly, almost boring at times

Solutions locales pour un desordre global (2010) - terrifically provocative and informative, with no time for pointless gloss and "balance"

The Criminal Code (1931) – a cracking, expertly-paced crime drama, its moral preoccupations pointing the way to Hawks’ greatest works

W.R. – Mysteries Of the Organism (1971) – you remember the transgressive highpoints, but may forget the underlying vulnerability (of a kind)

Best Worst Movie (2009) – a documentary barely more objectively important than its subject, Troll 2, but no doubt a bit more warm and human

Paisan (1946) – perhaps the film that, through its amazing (if bleak) scope & humanity, best embodies the achievement of Italian neo-realism

This Movie is Broken (2010) – beguiling love song to Toronto, and to Broken Social Scene as embodying its diverse, romantic if messy heart

Proces de Jeanne d'Arc (1962) - perhaps a key counterbalancing statement by Bresson, in holding out the possibility of true transcendence

Fair Game (2010) - lacks the moral complexity of the greatest political movies, but still effective in pushing a lot of important buttons

The Soft Skin (1964) – a forensic, sociologically astute examination of a love affair; one of Truffaut’s gravest and most gripping films

The Great Dictator (1940) – a bizarre, brave amalgam of high and low; maybe its essential incoherence is its most potent statement on war

A la conquete du pole (1912) – as with much of Melies, delightful throughout, but also confirms his vision's repetitiveness and odd limits

Deep Throat (1972) – occasional goofiness aside, often now feels rather glum and grim, in part no doubt because of Lovelace's ambivalence

In a Better World (2010) – gripping throughout and often moving, but its modestly provocative thinking doesn't ultimately go too deep

One, Two, Three (1961) - a brilliantly constructed/paced comedic machine; one of Wilder’s most technically stunning  (if maybe not deepest)

When We Leave (2010) – engrossing and often moving, but too straightforward to evoke anything more complex than short-lived  blood-boiling

Ministry of Fear (1944) – a terrific, compact thriller; expertly & disorientatingly skeptical about allegiance, ideology, reality itself

Dr. Jekyll and his Wives (1981) – strangely alluring Borowczyk vision, driven less by eroticism than a dark sense of escalating desperation

The Last of Sheila (1973) – superbly conceived & pristinely executed; a nice cruel streak distinguishes  it from mere hermetic game-playing

La nostra vita (2010) – rattles glossily along, using up enough plot for two movies, but almost weirdly unprobing and unrevealing

Rebel Without a Cause (1955) - seems a bit forced and over-heated now, less subtle than Ray's greatest work, but Dean remains mesmerizing

The Seventh Continent (1989) – clinically eerie examination of a family’s utter breakdown; may leave you fearful for your own stability

We Live in Public (2009) – perhaps most interesting in contrast to The Social Network, emphasizing the capriciousness of success & “vision”

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