Above all the Arts, Cinema reigns supreme to me. Cinema is more than art, it is a dialectical convergence of all that is art.
Not only do I consider many of these to be Great Films, but they are more so sentimental favorites. Juliet of The Spirits, Blow Up, and Wild Strawberries were my first Auteur driven experiences. The first I revel in for its imagination and color, the second for its pure existential questioning amidst Mod London, and the third for its deeply meditative sense of the human experience. Being There just floored me and I watched it on Showtime about 12 times when it was first released to cable. Gloria is a jazz poem that not too many favor but you have to admit Gena Rowlands is incredible years before Tarantino’s Kill Bill came on the scene. It also was one of my favorite films to watch with my mother. Some will laugh and scoff at Moulin Rouge but I think it is a flawed gem and it comforted me the summer that my mother, aunt, uncle, and a few cats passed on.
Cocteau’s La Belle et La Bete was a film I read about extensively as a child. It was a favorite long before I ever actually saw it. I recall seeing a very controversial still from Pasolini’s Arabian Nights in Playboy when I was 10. The scene never left my imagination nor has the film with its labyrinthine storytelling, and earthy sexuality told true to the spirit of that great collection of stories. Gloria Swanson became an idol of mine when I first saw her on television when I was about 5. She is a true movie star, and one of few I would actually swoon over. Sunset Blvd is one of the most perfect cinematic tales that there is, and her performance legendary.
Mullholland Drive, and 3 Women represent one of my favorite subjects, the dream and the subconscious. They are like being pulled into someone else’s dreams with all the fascination and unspoken terrors of the human psyche. The Discreet Charm of The Bourgeoise is very similar, but Bunuel’s sharp irony and social criticism set it apart. Ran is like a beautiful Japanese scroll with an incredible color palette. Its poetic tragedy and humanity and quest for meaning make it the greatest adaptation of anything Shakesperean. Last Year at Marienbad is pure cinematic, visual poetry as well as a puzzle box without any real solution.
Eyes Without a Face is the mother of the slasher genre really, but done with an elegance and poetry its descendants sorely lack. The Innocents is both an elegant ghost story, and a psychological horror tale about Victorian repression and sexual hysteria. The Butcher has the most frightening and chilling dialog of any film I have, and its ending is nightmarish to me. Kill Bill made me laugh and was a cathartic antidote for dealing with the absurdities of corporate culture. The Birds is close to being a great movie, but more importantly it was my first Hitchcock and it still is a “comfort” movie for me. Its Bergmanesque ending haunts me still.Read less