|10, I mean, 11
(titles link to IMDB. Films subject to change.)
Dr. Strangelove, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
How could I have forgotten this one? Kubrick's masterwork is an extremely funny movie about an extremely depressing
subject. Originally, Kubrick had meant to craft a drama, but he gave up in the face of the absurdity of the subject
matter and developed a black comedy. Probably Peter Sellers' best performance on film.
My Life as a Dog
While not artistically in the league of the other films on this list, no other film brings forth my emotion like
this one. Sweet, touching, sad, and utlimately affirming, it's definitely among the truest films I've seen.
One of my most depressing filmgoing experiences was seeing this with a group of friends. Inundated with realist
film and TeeVee, they were unable to lose themselves in the fantastical allegory. Don't watch this thinking it's
another episode of "NYPD Blue."
Anyway, for my money, the best film ever made in America.
Der Letzte Mann
(The Last Laugh)
Watching this film, I get drunk observing the obvious ingenuity and play that was at hand in its production. Made
in 1924 at Germany's groundbreaking Ufa Studios, this simple tale of a hotel doorman's fall from grace features
amazing cinematic exposition. Cinematographer Karl Freund's "unchained camera" allowed F.W. Murnau to
tell the story purely visually with such power that only one intertitle is used throughout this entire silent film
(and that to introduce an epilogue).
Shadow of a Doubt
The Master's masterpiece. Watching it on video, I quite enjoyed it. Seeing it in a theater, I was blown out of
my chair. The look that Uncle Charlie cuts his niece at the dinner table when he realizes she knows filled me with
Touch of Evil
Orson Welles' genius is rarely debated. Take Citizen Kane.... please. Touch of Evil is a far more
engrossing, thrilling, and ultimately cinematic work of art. Not even Charlton Heston's "Mexican" detective
mars this film--Welles' brilliance incorporates this incongruity into the ever bizarre world of the film.
Gotta have a Keaton flick in this list. Almost chose Steamboat Bill, Jr., but decided upon this film because
of it's brilliantly self-aware use of film-within-a-film. The cleverness and inventiveness of the gags haven't
been matched in over 70 years. And don't tell me you're not amazed at the dive-through-the-costume-box gag.
Nobody better understood the workings of film than Hitchcock. Whereas Shadow of a Doubt is my personal favorite,
I feel that Notorious is his best film. The object fetishism (follow the key!), the balcony kiss, the brutally
twisted plot, my favorite character actor (Claude Rains), the scintilliating photography, all this combines for
a theater-going experience nonpareil.
High and Low
While his samurai costume dramas earn deservedly high praise, this modern-day detective tale is my favorite Kurosawa
movie. Toshiro Mifune's measured intensity (and looking good in a suit!), a brilliant depiction of precise and
piecemeal detective legwork, and the stunning use of extra-widescreen, this proves to be one of his most intricate
and enthralling films. Also, dig how Western-ized everything is.
Perhaps the most blissfully anarchic film ever made. This is the final film of their Paramount era, which I consider
far superior to the more polished spectacles they went on to produce at MGM. Anyway, this is the film with the
Groucho/Harpo mirror gag. 'Nuff said.
Don't see this on video. I did, and stopped watching it 30 minutes in. I kept hearing how great it was, and thought
I'd give it another chance at the local rep theater. Obviously, I'm glad I did. Excruciatingly paced, it's a marvel
of minimalist cinema. Video viewing leads too easily to distractions; when enveloped by the big screen, with every
gesture amplified, only then can you understand this masterwork.