It's rather interesting how a simple, yet seductive joke, so to say, can bring you to those quality memories you forbid yourself to forget, but again, you did forget...Scrolling/deleting files from my computer (office breakdown?), I bumped into a very interesting conversation (often those interesting conversations are with yourself, as this is the case) I had few months ago, while thinking "How to make a valuable, effective yet influential Movie List to person who is semi-enrolled into 7th Art, while not avoiding some directors, authors and their work?" While replying to that, some might say "odd" question, I realized that no matter how strong you're committed to 7th Art for years (I might easily say decades), you still have no idea how to form a List like this...or, to put it more directly, how the hell did you think you're even competent to do so? Definitely, we are witnesses, for years/decades, that people, while appreciating movies, try to "play along" with artists in order to be a "part of the big picture", even though they personally don't deal with Art in everyday life. Why Seductive List? Seduction can be interpreted in several ways of course...Here, I was more focused on "flattering" to artists themselves, through their work. Once you see The List, you will, I am sure, understand what I meant. Let me stop you no more...
-not in a chronological, artful, cultural, mandatory or any other order-
Ladies and gents, let us begin with some small introduction, or shall I say, mandatory technical details about the extraordinary “ship” you’re about to embark on. The Author will be reviewing her knowledge of “hidden” directors, and through that review will be suggesting more than one movie from each director. The order of the movies is certainly not mandatory, but the follow-up agenda certainly is. The list you’re about to see has to be followed quite concentrated and well organized. During the selection on what to watch first, it's preferable to consult Author of the List. At the end, let me just say that I am fully honored to be your guide through this List.
· Kuroi Ame, Shohei Imamura, 1989. Movie received two “small” prizes on Cannes Film Festival. Plot appears rather simple but not the cinematography. Movie focuses on the consequences of Hiroshima bombing. Reviews of the movie were pretty high, and as expected, reviews are argumentative. Director also wrote the story. Probably one of the best movies regarding the aftermath of Hiroshima. Maybe it’s worth fully to consider also his two achievements, Vengeance is mine, 1979. and Unagi, 1997. Director has many awards, among them the most famous are Golden Palm for above mentioned Unagi and Golden Palm for Ballad of Narayama, 1983.
· Mickey one, Arthur Penn, 1965. Very good but rather simple plot. The movie is “famous” ‘cause of its impact on the Hollywood at that time. As you are probably aware, at that time Europe was leading with the Nouvelle Vague (New Wave), and Hollywood had to find an answer, a better cul-de-sac approach to their direction. Arthur Penn tried that here, with Warren Beatty in the main role. Movie has its film noir-ish “attitude”. Director was nominated three times for the Oscar, and all nominations were for direction. Besides above mentioned movie, you may consider watching Alice’s restaurant, 1969 (considering that you saw Bonnie and Clyde, 1967.).
· Le Boucher/The Butcher, Claude Chabrol, 1970. Another Nouvelle Vague director, one of the leading people in “mysterious” frames. Amazing direction. Le Boucher is pretty much simple thriller, with the drama bits left out on the surface. Suggestion: Dr. Popaul, 1972, dark comedy. Director nominated tons of times for prestigious European awards.
· Turtles can fly, Bahman Ghobadi, 2004. Typical presentations of refugees in Asia. Amazing story. Mandatory! Suggestion: This Iranian director was not fully known, until he made A time for drunken horses in 2000., and No one knows about Persian, 2009. Worth full.
· The stoning of Soraya M., Cyrus Nowrasteh, 2008. Well made adaptation of French book, which is based on a true story. It talks about Sharia law and its inhumanity. I am not, personally, crazy about adaptations, but as you are aware, some of them can be pretty good. This one surely is. The director is famous for his docudramas. Scroll a little bit through his work. Might be interesting.
· The secret in their eyes, Juan Jose Campanella, 2009. Won an Oscar this year for Best foreign film (this year was pretty “tough” in this category. Like I told you, besides Prophet and White Ribbon I already suggested, you may also pay attention to another nominee for Best foreign film, Ajami, from Israel). Movie follows a homicide cases with pure mystery bits.
· Naked lunch, David Cronenberg, 1991. Adaption. Again. But a very important one. One of the best pieces by one of my favorite directors of all time. I always preferred Cronenberg ‘cause of his sense of reality into non-reality. Especially here, in Naked lunch. One of the best lines in movie-script history is at the beginning of this movie. Woman explains to him that she’s “Kafka high”. The reason is pretty simple, yet complicated…..The movie’s plot surrounds exterminator and exterminating the bugs. His woman is stealing the insecticide as drug addiction. And while she’s injecting the “drug”, she says that she’s “Kafka high” ‘cause of famous novel by Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis, where his main character turns into an insect. Don’t have to explain Cronenberg that much, he is well known director, but I will mention few mandatory movies (some of it you already watched, of course), Shivers, Rabid, Videodrome, Crash, Existenz and of course History of violence, the masterpiece.
· Kes, Ken Loach, 1969. One of my favorite British directors of all time (of course, after Hitch) made a movie about a boy and his unusual grown up period. If you didn’t watch it by now, it’s definitely mandatory! It will appeal to you I can BET on it! Shows strength on a specific level. That’s why I’m suggestin’ it. It’s actually named in 100 best movies from Britain, if my memory serves me well, hm…..Ken Loach is pretty much esteemed in all film industrial circles. Though, they all paid attention to him after Family life he made in 1971., and after so many nominations and awards at Cannes film festival. Besides above mentioned, suggestions: Carla’s song, 1996. and The wind that shakes the Barley, 2006. (won the Golden Palm) which you have already seen.
· Frank Capra…..My fav at that time. My cinematic baby. He will be the basis of my future Master thesis at my Faculty, ‘cause of his propagandistic cinematic work. But I won’t suggest his propaganda work, I’ll suggest something a lil more softly…..Mr. Smith goes to Washington, 1939 and Arsenic and old lace, 1944 a very strange movie. It was an adaptation of the play. He received so many awards that I can’t even count ‘em.
· Madeo, Joon-ho Bong, 2009. Since that you love Asian cinema, there’s a possibility you’ve seen it already…..Amazing direction. She plays the role of the mother perfectly. Not so globally known, but it’s very good…..
· Suna no onna, Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1964. AMAZING CINEMATOGRAPHY! One of my favorite Asian piece. It was nominated for two Oscars actually, for direction and foreign film. Also at Cannes. Plot surrounds an entomologist who’s searchin’ insects on a beach. You’ll LOVE IT!
· Hope and glory, John Boorman, 1987. A lil bit autobiographical about a boy in Britain during the World war II. It was nominated for 5 Oscars as I recall, including cinematography which is very good. Boorman is a fine director. He made Deliverance in 1972. Fine fine film. You saw that probably, it’s a classic.
· Les uns et les autres (sometimes called Bolero, by famous Ravel’s composition) Claude Lelouch, 1981. My personal favorite. Has one of the best endings in movie history, with probably the best ballet ever filmed. It follows musicians and dancers through three generations through World war II. Very complicated plot even though it appears regular, random. Claude Lelouch is an amazing French director, made some fine films, among those are Les miserables, 1995., Vivre pour vivre, 1967. and Un homme et une femme, 1966. For the last one he won an Oscar for screenplay.
· Luis Bunuel, my personal psycho, one of the best people from that part of Europe. He was nominated only two times for Oscars for screenplay, and both of those you have to see, The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie, 1972., and That obscure object of desire, 1977. I could talk about him on and on and on…..But I won’t. Too boring. It’s enough to say that he was a genius. A cinematic genius. Besides above mentioned, mandatory are Viridiana, 1961., Belle de jour, 1967, and my personal favorite Un chien andalou, 1929., made with collaboration with Salvador Dali! Cinematic masterpiece!
· Birdy, Alan Parker, 1984. You probably saw this. It’s too typical, but nevertheless I’ll suggest it. Probably the only acting from Nicholas Cage that it’s bearable (of course, after Leaving Las Vegas, 1995.) talks about mental problems as a result/consequence of Vietnam war. Alan Parker is very very weird. Though, he has two masterpieces, for which he received nominations for direction at Oscars, Midnight express, 1978., and Mississippi burning, 1988.
· The longest day, Ken A., Andrew M., Bernhard W. and D. Zanuck – one of the most famous people from Hollywood, who started as a huge producer of the movies at the beginning of the Hollywood rise - 1962. The movie is brilliantly made. It’s divided into three sectors, and the division is not hidden, the division is obvious. Second world war, main day, three sides, American, British and German. If your father didn’t see it, HE HAS TO! Lots LOTS of famous people, well organized, yet well hidden. Won the Oscars for cinematography and Art direction. Well deserved!
· Noir et blancs en couleur, Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1976. Won the Oscar for best foreign movie. Absolutely deserved. You’ll love it specifically ‘cause of plot. The plot is amazing, surrounds French colonists in Africa. None famous in it, and not important at all. I think you mentioned it…..so perhaps you’ve seen it already…..can’t remember.
· Les sciences de reves, Michael Gondry, 2006. If not, it’s mandatory, but there’s a huge possibility you’ve seen it already. My favorite music videos director probably. The movie is weird. Charlotte Gainsbourg has a fantastic role in it.She did well. The guy in it depends on his dreams too much, and it gets out of hand. Well made.
· Fish tank, Andrea Arnold, 2009. Remember the Red road I suggested…..the same director, another interesting plot which surrounds a 15 year old girl and her environment. It was nominated for Golden palm. Worth full.
· Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Oh dear Lord…..I think I can talk about him over and over and over again. What a man. What a director. The stuff he made…..speechless. I could bore people with him all day long. It’s very hard to withdraw only a few movies for you to watch, but I’ll jus mention classics, Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss, 1982 – won Golden Berlin Bear, Der ehe der Maria Braun, 1979 – nominated for Berlin bear, Angst essen seele auf, 1974 – nominated for Cannes, and Lili Marleen, 1981 another masterpiece.
· Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, 1996. Not a big fan of portraits of big artists, but this one I love. Jefferey Wright played Basquiat so so well…..and fuckin’ David Bowie is Andy Warhol by choice!!!!! Maybe a lil bit subjective here since that I like the work of Basquiat, but I wouldn’t suggest it if I don’t have a good reason. Artistic reason at least…..Even your dearest Courtney Love plays in it. She actually pretty good, though it’s a short act.
· Taste of cherry, Abbas Kiarostami, 1997. I think I already talked to you about this very VERY slow movie. But a pretty much masterpiece on the corner of the slowness. The guy wants to commit suicide but can’t find anyone to help him in that deed, so to speak…..The film won the Golden palm that year in a very tough selection. Kiarostami was nominated for another fine film in 1999. The wind will carry us. Also a suggestion!
· And something rather crazy and horroristic for the far end - The black cat, Edgar Ulmer, with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. It’s a classic, which means you’ve probably seen it…..But I jus have to mention it, ‘cause it’s made amazingly for that period. Edgar Ulmer made Detour in 1945, another amazing movie. Both pretty eccentric but amazingly done.