Greatest Films of All Time

Tags: 
  1. 9.5/10
  2. Citizen Kane-Welles (1941)
  3. Metropolis-Lang (1927) ["The Complete Metropolis", 147 minutes]
  4. Underground-Kusturica (1995)
  5. Brazil-Gilliam (1985) [The Final Cut, 142 minutes]
  6. Nostalghia-Tarkovsky (1983)
  7. Lost Highway-Lynch (1997)

  8. 9/10
  9. Touch of Evil-Welles (1958) [Restored Welles' Cut, 108 minutes]
  10. The Wild Bunch-Peckinpah (1969) [Director's Cut, 145 minutes]
  11. North By Northwest-Hitchcock (1959)
  12. The Kingdom-Von Trier (1994)
  13. Greed-Von Stroheim (1924) [Studio Cut, 140 minutes]
  14. Inland Empire-Lynch (2006)
  15. Possession-Zulawski (1981) [Original Cut, 123 minutes]
  16. Persona-Bergman (1966)
  17. The Passion of Joan of Arc-Dreyer (1927)
  18. Landscape in the Mist-Angelopoulos (1988)
  19. 2001: A Space Odyssey-Kubrick (1968)
  20. Hush...Hush Sweet Charlotte-Aldrich (1965)
  21. Mirror-Tarkovsky (1974)
  22. Nashville-Altman (1975)
  23. Natural Born Killers-Stone (1994) [Director's Cut, 123 minutes]
  24. Ikiru-Kurosawa (1952)
  25. Raiders of the Lost Ark-Spielberg (1981)
  26. Chinatown-Polanski (1974)
  27. The Traveling Players-Angelopoulos (1975)
  28. What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?-Aldrich (1962)
  29. Stalker-Tarkovsky (1979)
  30. Satantango-Tarr (1994)
  31. The Magnificent Ambersons-Welles (1942)
  32. The Sacrifice-Tarkovsky (1986)
  33. The Color of Paradise-Majidi (1998)
  34. Blade Runner-Scott (1982) [The Final Cut, 117 minutes]
  35. Taxi Driver-Scorsese (1976)
  36. Funny Games-Haneke (1997)
  37. The Killer-Woo (1989)
  38. L'Age D'Or-Bunuel (1930)
  39. The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover-Greenaway (1989)
  40. Ran-Kurosawa (1985)
  41. The Godfather-Coppola (1972)
  42. Leon: The Professional-Besson (1994)
  43. Pulp Fiction-Tarantino (1994)

Great stuff, the only two I haven't seen are Hiroshima, Mon Amour and The Mirror.

I don't like 8 1/2 and I'm also not a very big fan of The Wild Bunch either, but the rest are great choices; Citizen Kane and 2001: A Space Odyssey both make my top 10, with The Passion of Joan of Arc close behind.

I just watched Hiroshima, Mon Amour for the very first time tonight and it took my breath away. I'm not sure I've ever been more profoundly affected by a film before. It could move up on later viewing(s).

Though, be warned, if what you didn't like about 8 1/2 was its free forming structure, you may find Hiroshima, Mon Amour even more confounding/unbearable. It certainly has its share of detractors--it is very experimental/unconventional.

I'm so glad you discovered Hiroshima, Mon Amour. I absolutely love it too. It's one of the best examples of film as poetry that I've ever seen.

I don't know if you've seen Resnais's Last Year at Marienbad, but it's a film with a similar style that I also loved. You might not like it quite as much since there's not really any WWII elements (which definitely were part of what made Hiroshima so profoundly affecting), but I think you should definitely give it a shot.

Nope. Haven't seen Last Year at Marienbad but I am sure I will. Already I am in love with this director. He is clearly a genius. Hiroshima Mon Amour is the closest film I've found to the thematic and emotional singularity and power of the album Rock Bottom--it very well could be a 9.5 too (I'll be watching it again in the next couple days and will probably make a final verdict then)--the similarities beginning with Rock Bottom being a deep emotional outpouring of Wyatt's feelings in parallel to both his wife Alfreda and the cosmic universe, while Hiroshima, Mon Amour drawing parallels between the lovers and Nevers/Hiroshima. I can't get the film out of my head. Utterly miraculous.

Oh, I'll still definitely give it a try. I've been meaning to see it for some time.

Great. Let me know how it goes.

Great list. Kane, 2001, and Chinatown would all make my top 10. Also good to see Tarkovsky represented, although I'd probably go with Stalker myself.
Do Kurosawa, Mizoguchi and Renoir have a future on this list?

Ikiru and Rules of the Game are constantly vying for a spot, and they will be on here for sure when I extend it. Rashomon and Stalker as well. Ugetsu too.

Well, I watched Hiroshima, Mon Amour again tonight, for the second time overall, and it was somewhat upsetting. An amazing film no doubt (probably 8.75/10) but I really feel the need to stress that I made a mistake in even beginning to consider it in the same category of work of art as Rock Bottom. It's not even close. Rock Bottom and any 9.5/10 (Faust, Trout Mask, etc) are far above even the greatest films, it seems. I've only seen The Mirror once, so perhaps it still has a shot, and there are tons of other potential films, but I don't ever expect to find one on that level, and this second watch of Hiroshima, while amazing, only confirmed this.

This was a good lesson for myself in bringing home something I already thought I knew and could recognize without fail: that even a film with incredible themes and dialogue and acting will always fail to rank that high if it fails to reach such a level in emotional execution technically (most importantly for Hiroshima, Mon Amour was it's lack of drama with regards camera movement). An album or film in the 9.5 range is not only endowed with incredible themes but also executes them with astonishing movement and emotion (such as Citizen Kane, probably the ultimate tour de force of execution while conversely it's themes aren't really amazing or miraculous, thus holding it back from being a 9.5/10. Both of them at the highest level would create a profound experience on the order of Faust, Rock Bottom, etc.). So, I am somewhat sad to report that Hiroshima, Mon Amour is not the one--though to the savvy filmgoer I highly recommend experiencing it.

No more Mirror by Tarkovsky. A mesmerizing and beautiful film no doubt, but lacks enough emotional power. The film kind of drifts (albeit beautifully) and fails to build much more emotion than it begins with. Each shot or scene is often its own little film, without enough of an established focal point in which to derive and further the emotional experience of the viewer. This is accomplished to a certain degree by the very awe the film holds in its structure, by the stream of amazing shots, moments, scenes that enrapture the viewer, but in the end there's simply not enough there to qualify as a masterwork. It's a series of wondrous, nostalgic moments. I believe it's more superficial than Tarkovsky intended. I am sure it was an immensely emotional experience for him in particular, but his subjective experience fails to equally translate to the viewer, since we never fully connect or learn enough about what is going on with the characters. It doesn't treat us to enough emotional development and investment in the film to really get inside and become susceptible to what they're going through. With a bit more attention to this, I think it would likely be the greatest film of all time, but without it, it is perhaps the most accomplished non-masterpiece in film history.

Just removed Persona. Still too uncertain about it. I don't quite 'get' it yet. I own it so I'll have plenty of opportunity to familiarize myself enough with it to extract its full genius, and I wouldn't be surprised if it shoots itself into the higher echelon again, but for now it remains fascinating but not quite wholly satisfying enough to be on the list. It is among the most beguiling films in all the avant-garde for sure, and I do love it. Current rating I'd tag it with is an 8.75/10. However this could easily change as I've only seen it 2 times and it demands repeat viewings for a full understanding of its art and emotions.

I wouldn't mind at all if someone were willing to discuss the film with me. Perhaps it would help me see it on a new level of genius...

Luke, anybody?

Lukeprog recorded a commentary on Persona a while back that might have shed some light on it, but I can't find it anymore. I actually bookmarked it and planned to watch it when I bought the DVD; now I own the DVD, but the site doesn't seem to work. Luke, does that commentary still exist somewhere on the web?

Thanks AJ! That would be a great find. Hopefully Luke still has it available.

It would be truly idiotic if I found a commentary on my own DVD copy. It would serve me right since I always ignore the extras that come with DVDs. I'll check mine out tonight and see if it's on there.

I swiftly removed Night of the Hunter after a 2nd viewing proved to me that I had vastly overrated it. I'd probably rate it 7.75/10 now. I highly recommend it. It is a well made, excellent film. A balancing act between theatrical, expressive acting, lighting and set design, and swift, economic storytelling that darts between various guises of film past before poetically and magically transforming from nightmare to fable.

I removed Greed for now. It is almost certainly a 9/10+ but I need to pick it up (rent or from the library) watch it again, and re-evaluate where I'd rank it. I feel like I've ranked it too high (was #10) and I have no idea where to place it right now (likely somewhere in the 9.0 range instead of 9.25 range. So, until I decide via memory or see it again and make a new assertion, I'll be keeping it off the list.

Hey, aah... ya got Blue Velvet about twenty spots too low there... :-)

Hard to argue with you. It is an astonishing film full of the most severe candy-coated nostalgia for the lost Hollywood of yesteryear, and the most intense, wicked desires for the perversities our modern culture finds itself so fraught with today.

Have you read The Godfather the book?

No. Although I enjoy reading I don't have any time to take it up these days. I squeeze my personal entertainment time into film and albums.

How is it?

It is a fascinting read. I read the book before seeing the movie and I was wondering all through the movie that exactly what is so great about it. It is the book which is to be applauded, not the movie. I mean the movie is a replica of the book! There is very little the movie improvises over the book (Don Vito Croleone potrayed by Marlon Brando was nothing like I would've imagined and yet he was perfect to the T), while removing much of the book's cold mafioso feel. IMO, the book is far better than the movie. And don't get me started at Pacino's awful potrayal of Micheal Corleone. It hurts.

Well, usually books are superior to their film counterparts. Obviously I feel differently than you about Part I and II, as I think each are masterpieces--and I also feel Pacino's performances are superb. You can feel his soul crushing and the vibrancy of life depleting from him, especially as his paranoia reaches its height in Part II.

I echo your sentiments Afterhours about Pacino's performance in The Godfather. His performance is sublime starting out as a young guy with his whole life ahead of him not wanting to be involved in the 'family business' with his own ideas. Then onto becoming Don Corleone etc. and winding up basically a lonely old man. His portrayal is superb. It was based on Puzo's character and Puzo also wrote the screen play (with Copolla) and IMHO it is quite close to the book (though obviously huge chunks have been condensed otherwise it would have been about 6 hours long)!! I loved all 3 Godfather films but can understand people not being keen on the third (maybe the killer priests thing is not to everyone's taste....)
xx

We definitely see eye to eye on this one. What are your favorite films? Do you have any suggestions of films that you feel would have a good shot at making it on this list?

There a lot of films on here I disagree with, but I do think some are great, especially Touch of Evil, Vertigo, and Faust, which are certainly among the best films ever made. The Blue Angel is a disappointing pick: a good film and important in film history, but a weaker von Sternberg. To my mind The Devil Is A Woman is the best of his Dietrich films, and The Saga of Anatahan is his greatest masterpiece, but The Docks of New York, Morocco, Blonde Venus, and especially The Shanghai Gesture, which is absolutely stunning, are considerably better than The Blue Angel.

A couple other films on your list I love, some that I like, quite a few that I find worthless (Nashville, The Wild Bunch, all three Polanskis, Apocalpse Now, La Dolce Vita, Blade Runner, The Seventh Seal, Blue Velvet, and 2001).

My main reason for writing is your top pick. Maybe I should wait for your own review of the film first, but I was wondering, what other Welles have you seen? I find it baffling how anyone could claim Citizen Kane, his weakest film, is better than The Trial, or The Immortal Story, or F for Fake, three staggering masterpieces, not to mention The Lady From Shanghai, Othello, and Mr. Arkadin, each incredibly great films. If entertainment value is your main criteria, then sure, Citizen Kane is a very entertaining, gripping, and enjoyable film. As cinema though, it's just "good." It's Welles learning and growing, finding himself as an artist. If he had made only that film, I must say I would not find him very interesting as a filmmaker. His very next work, The Magnificent Ambersons, is a major step forward.

There a lot of films on here I disagree with, but I do think some are great, especially Touch of Evil, Vertigo, and Faust, which are certainly among the best films ever made.

Obviously, we agree here.

The Blue Angel is a disappointing pick: a good film and important in film history, but a weaker von Sternberg. To my mind The Devil Is A Woman is the best of his Dietrich films, and The Saga of Anatahan is his greatest masterpiece, but The Docks of New York, Morocco, Blonde Venus, and especially The Shanghai Gesture, which is absolutely stunning, are considerably better than The Blue Angel.

Never seen any of those Von Sternberg films, but if I do end up seeing them and agreeing with you, then Von Sternberg has got to be the greatest filmmaker who ever lived, because I find The Blue Angel to very clearly be a masterwork, a totally devastating look at the sacrifice of integrity for the sake of blind love, and at this point I am actually more concerned that I've underrated it than whether I've overrated it. Hopefully, I will be seeing it again soon and may be able to spit out an explanatory review then.

A couple other films on your list I love, some that I like, quite a few that I find worthless (Nashville, The Wild Bunch, all three Polanskis, Apocalpse Now, La Dolce Vita, Blade Runner, The Seventh Seal, Blue Velvet, and 2001).

Are these the worthless ones or ones you like/love?

My main reason for writing is your top pick. Maybe I should wait for your own review of the film first, but I was wondering, what other Welles have you seen?

Touch of Evil, Magnificent Ambersons, don't recall seeing any others...but believe me I eventually will. Welles is my favorite director.

I find it baffling how anyone could claim Citizen Kane, his weakest film, is better than The Trial, or The Immortal Story, or F for Fake, three staggering masterpieces, not to mention The Lady From Shanghai, Othello, and Mr. Arkadin, each incredibly great films.

Clearly I am alone in my assessment, and the choice of Citizen Kane is, admittedly, a questionable, naive choice. ( :

If entertainment value is your main criteria, then sure, Citizen Kane is a very entertaining, gripping, and enjoyable film. As cinema though, it's just "good."

This is such a startling statement I am at a loss of words as to how to counter. You've got me on this one. We clearly are viewing two separate films when we watch it. Overall emotional impact is my main criteria, as expressed through filmic language. Citizen Kane produces this in spades. It invented a new collaboration of filmic language that is the lifeblood of much of modern cinema.

It's Welles learning and growing, finding himself as an artist. If he had made only that film, I must say I would not find him very interesting as a filmmaker. His very next work, The Magnificent Ambersons, is a major step forward.

I don't think there is anything I can say to dissuade you. I find Citizen Kane vastly superior to Magnificent Ambersons (though I think Ambersons is indeed superb). I find Kane equal, or perhaps slightly superior, to Touch of Evil, (which is among the few other films I would seriously consider for the #1 position). I'll write my own review at some point which may or may not serve to illuminate my views for you. But I think the film very glaringly speaks for itself and it just needs to be watched with understanding and attention paid to the entire production, its depth of filmic communication, and all its audacious feats and emotional verve, while doing so.

Those films I mentioned are the ones I now find worthless. There was a time when I liked most of them though.

In my experience, an opinion of a film can change drastically as you see more work by that filmmaker. I would simply suggest you see more of Welles and von Sternberg. Indeed, when I first saw "Citizen Kane" and certainly "The Blue Angel", I thought they were among the best films I had seen.

Of course "Citizen Kane" is often chosen as Welles' masterpiece. I didn't mean to imply you were alone at all, just because I happen to write to you about it and not the thousands of other people out there who think it's one of the great masterpieces of cinema. I think we can both agree though that just because a lot of people claim something is great doesn't mean they're right. If I think of what are the best films I've ever seen, only a few would be on the typical "greatest films of all time" list, but even then the ones that would wind up on there are usually not the best films by that particular filmmaker. It seems to me that people always go for the easier film, the more simple and obvious one, as opposed to the richer, but more difficult work. This is very much the case with Welles, as with many others.

There is nothing in "Citizen Kane" that equals even the first 10 minutes of "The Magnificent Ambersons". I've seen both films a few times. "Ambersons" is by far the richer of the two, and one of his best films (which deserves, like all great films, to be viewed ON film), and gains much more from multiple viewings than "Kane".

For me each great filmmaker represents a different possibility for cinema. There's not a fixed criteria to judge all work by. If the viewer cares about their own idea of cinema more than that of the artist which is being expressed through their work, then in my opinion that viewer is not getting as much from cinema as they could be.

A filmmaker's later works are often the richest in my view because, among many other things, within them is a matured aesthetic and a full expression of a film language that is truly unlike any other, one that permeates every frame, every cut, every movement, every composition of the film. Mizoguchi's "Street of Shame", Murnau's "Tabu", Ford's "7 Women", Dreyer's "Gertrud", Lang's "The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse", are just some examples of films I think fall into this category. "F for Fake" would be another.

Well, I can assure you that, while there are certainly film watchers with much more expertise in the field than myself and much more knowledge of its history and pedigree, I don't think there is a very high percentage who watch film with as much attention to the collaborative emotional aspects that converge into its' whole as I do. I think it is very clear that all art, film included, is basically an emotional communication for the purpose of creating an effect, and I find it easy and extremely accurate to judge the merits of a film on this basis. I find this always agrees with my own response to the film, simply because that is what I look for and appreciate in all walks of art. I've seen Citizen Kane at least 15 times and it has never fallen since the 3rd or 4th viewing, so believe me, it is not up there based on hastened insight--and I too could give a damn about what the populous considers the greatest films--but I still must post the way I feel and so far I've found that with Citizen Kane film critics have indeed got it right (they understand the history and emotions of their medium much better than most rock critics, it seems). I am totally willing for another film to be greater if it infact exists. It is one of my dreams to one day happen upon a film worthy of 9.5/10 status. Probably the only thing that could do it would be a film equal or greater to the level of genius found in the greatest rock and jazz albums, such as Faust, Rock Bottom, A Love Supreme, Trout Mask Replica or Black Saint & The Sinner Lady--all 9.5/10's. If you know of some films along this line I'd be very curious to check them out, but already based on your strong disagreements with my top 3 choices (which are all clearly iron bound masterworks of the highest order in my opinion), it seems unlikely we'd consistently see things the same way.

"I think it is very clear that all art, film included, is basically an emotional communication for the purpose of creating an effect..."

This helps, because I could not disagree more. I find this an extremely limiting, and crippling, way to look at art. To me, aesthetic experience isn't based on "emotional communication." There is always something inhuman in the best art, too.

For me, what is great in Welles, or in Van Eyck or Bach for that matter, is often what he does with light and space, rhythm and texture, and the spatial "architecture" of the work: not just what's there, but the way it's put together.

Fellini, Bergman, Antonioni, Kubrick - to me they are empty stylists. There is certainly a style there, but it's meaningless, because in their work those things (light, rhythm, space) are trivial, and lack a meaningful and unique architecture. They take serious scripts and inject them to life with nice pictures. Most Bergman films could be a storybook and be just as effective.

I used to like "The Wild Bunch" a lot, but on second viewing found it aesthetically worthless. I've not seen any other Peckinpah though. Same with "Nashville".

I can tell you, as someone who likes all the albums you mentioned, there are so many films that are in a whole other world greatness.

If I were to recommend films and filmmakers, recommendations that of course you can take or leave, I would say start by picking up "By Brakhage" on DVD from Criterion. It's a poor grouping of his films overall, and they included at least one film that's not good at all ("The Stars are Beautiful"), but it's the easiest way to see his films. Watch those, and rewatch them, don't give up, I can almost guarantee they will eventually change the way you see.

In addition, Rossellini and Mizoguchi are absolute musts, and my two favorite filmmakers. I give my five favorites of both on my page of fifteen favorite filmmakers. For Rossellini, I'd suggest starting with "Flowers of St. Francis" if you haven't seen it, and then the Ingrid Bergman films if you can get them. With Mizoguchi, both "Ugetsu" and "Sansho Dayu" would be fine introductions, though contrary to popular opinion he has greater films. Also, Hawks is the best Hollywood filmmaker ever in my opinion. "Red River" wouldn't be a bad one to start with, and it, along with almost every film he made after it, is a masterpiece. I'd definitely put Hawks above Welles too.

And then there's Bresson, Murnau, Pialat, Sirk, Ford... Hou, Rivette, de Oliveira... Hitchcock, Cukor, Minnelli, Fuller, Borzage... and on and on...

"I think it is very clear that all art, film included, is basically an emotional communication for the purpose of creating an effect..."

This helps, because I could not disagree more. I find this an extremely limiting, and crippling, way to look at art. To me, aesthetic experience isn't based on "emotional communication." There is always something inhuman in the best art, too.

I highly doubt you've duplicated the scope of what I've said. If you could explain something about what's on screen in a film that isn't an emotional communication creating an effect...

Fellini, Bergman, Antonioni, Kubrick - to me they are empty stylists. There is certainly a style there, but it's meaningless, because in their work those things (light, rhythm, space) are trivial, and lack a meaningful and unique architecture. They take serious scripts and inject them to life with nice pictures. Most Bergman films could be a storybook and be just as effective.

I agree in some sense, but I find that "emptiness" works for Fellini in La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2 since the meaningless and randomness of life is part of what he's representing. Kubrick uses his coldness to depict characters and life as a radiant nightmare of distance and isolation. Antonioni has an astonishingly simplistic use of rhythm but utilizes the confusion and stasis of his characters' mental state to make simplicity become a sort of isolated madness. Bergman is one of the most unempty of all directors and I am not really sure how you could come to this conclusion.

I can tell you, as someone who likes all the albums you mentioned, there are so many films that are in a whole other world greatness.

I would love to find out you are right.

For me, what is great in Welles, or in Van Eyck or Bach for that matter, is often what he does with light and space, rhythm and texture, and the spatial "architecture" of the work: not just what's there, but the way it's put together.

I find Touch of Evil an astonishing masterpiece of these factors. The opening 30 minutes is perhaps the most extraordinary exercise in rhythm ever committed to film. All these things, space, architecture, rhythm, tension, are part of an emotional communication that is creating an effect.

If I were to recommend films and filmmakers, recommendations that of course you can take or leave, I would say start by picking up "By Brakhage" on DVD from Criterion. It's a poor grouping of his films overall, and they included at least one film that's not good at all ("The Stars are Beautiful"), but it's the easiest way to see his films. Watch those, and rewatch them, don't give up, I can almost guarantee they will eventually change the way you see.

I do have plans to see Dog Star Man very soon, so I'll let you know what I think

In addition, Rossellini and Mizoguchi are absolute musts, and my two favorite filmmakers. I give my five favorites of both on my page of fifteen favorite filmmakers. For Rossellini, I'd suggest starting with "Flowers of St. Francis" if you haven't seen it, and then the Ingrid Bergman films if you can get them. With Mizoguchi, both "Ugetsu" and "Sansho Dayu" would be fine introductions, though contrary to popular opinion he has greater films.

I own and love Ugetsu and plan on targeting more Mizoguchi, including Sansho Dayu. Not sure if I've seen Rossellini but as with all great directors I will get around to him sooner or later.

It's possible I'm misunderstanding what you mean by "emotional communication," but I stand by what I wrote, that there is something inhuman in great art that doesn't have to do with human emotion. The structure, the spatial architecture, for instance. I guess to put this in a huger sense: for me art is more about trying to understand the cosmos than communicating emotion. You probably haven't seen the work of Peter Kubelka because his films are pretty hard to see, but there's nothing in his "metric films" that could be called "emotional communication." And they are very, very great films. But even in classical Hollywood, I don't think of what's happening on the screen as an expression of emotion through film language at all. Take what could be called an emotionally overwhelming film, like, "How Green Was My Valley", one of Ford's best films. His nostalgic freezing of time, his use of space, it's really doing so much more than just expressing some idea or emotion. There's a whole universe there in his film, like there is in a single Bach cantata. Sure, an artist "communicates" something, but there's another side to it. There's something much huger and important in the work itself, that results from use of space, rhythm, and light.

About Fellini, Antonioni, and Kubrick, there is a huge difference between making films about emptiness, and making films that ARE empty. There's nothing there in the cutting between one image and the next in a film like "La Dolce Vita", there's nothing going on on a profound level with rhythm or space; he's just showing. I don't especially disagree with what you wrote about those three filmmakers. One could look at one of their films and see what you described. But is that all there is to cinema? Absolutely not. I used to like Bergman and Antonioni a lot, but upon discovering the work of truly great filmmakers, not only did their work shrink into insignificance but I found that aesthetically their films lacked substance.

My point about Bergman is that he only uses cinema, at best, to relate the characters to each other. His films are "serious" because they deal with great themes in a very literary manner.

Well, I certainly love "Touch of Evil" too, and the opening long take sort of sets up the space of the rest of the film in an amazing way. And then there's the last 20 minutes, in which the world falls apart.

Seeing "Dog Star Man" as your first Brakhage might be either overwhelming or underwhelming, depending on how much you get out of it, but in any case, do let me know what you think of it.

It's possible I'm misunderstanding what you mean by "emotional communication," but I stand by what I wrote, that there is something inhuman in great art that doesn't have to do with human emotion.

It seems like it. I am merely saying that every shot, everything on screen, is representative and a part of a communication by the artist that presents some level of emotion, whether significant or insignificant, and is there for the purpose of creating some effect, whether significant or insignificant. I simply judge the merit of a film by how significant of an effect it creates--which takes into account every dynamic involved, from space to rhythm to the performances, the beauty, the ugly, the camera movement or lack thereof, to the narrative structure, etc--the whole collaboration.

You probably haven't seen the work of Peter Kubelka because his films are pretty hard to see, but there's nothing in his "metric films" that could be called "emotional communication."

By saying this you would be stating that he is worthless, since you would be saying that he somehow shows something that creates no effect with the viewer (which is actually impossible).

There's something much huger and important in the work itself, that results from use of space, rhythm, and light.

Either you've misunderstood me, which seems most plausible and/or you seem to have lost contact with the fundamental of all art, which is simply a communication for the purpose of effect, human or inhuman, it doesn't matter. The collaboration of elements and each element individually came from the author/artist(s) involved, and can be observed, received, considered and understood, so is within the spectrum of potential human emotional capacity.

Seeing "Dog Star Man" as your first Brakhage might be either overwhelming or underwhelming, depending on how much you get out of it, but in any case, do let me know what you think of it.

The more emotionally impactful it is on multiple levels, the greater I will consider it. I've seen a small portion of it already and it was not difficult to watch at all, though I'll see how well the effect holds up over the length of a feature film when I eventually view it. It did peak my interest for the short period I watched it though.

Well, I certainly love "Touch of Evil" too, and the opening long take sort of sets up the space of the rest of the film in an amazing way. And then there's the last 20 minutes, in which the world falls apart.

Yea, it's incredible. Don't even get me going, or you'll force me to go watch my top 4 or 5 films again, meticulously dissecting their relative merits to decide which is the greatest. I'll never be able to get anything else done over the next couple days.

About Fellini, Antonioni, and Kubrick, there is a huge difference between making films about emptiness, and making films that ARE empty.

Of course, but there is such thing as emptiness being projected in such a way that it is profound and meaningful. I find a film like, say, Pearl Harbor more or less empty. I find a Kubrick film such as 2001 depicting a sort of emptiness, but this depiction is not accidental or fraught with senselessness, as in a film like Pearl Harbor. It is there to strike the idea that the characters are but pawns to the evolutions they are being subjected to. It is there to suggest that we are but pieces in a massive game being played. It is there to suggest that we are not in control of our own destinies (perhaps the most frightening thing of all). Kubrick does this by depicting the vastness and awe of space, the overwhelming beauty and majesty, the symmetry and ballet of flight and the universe--he makes everything around man immortal and indelible, but he contrasts this with characters that are relatively lifeless, made of stone, and trivial. In the narrative of the film he depicts man from being animalistic and barbaric--neandrothals, to being human but lost spiritually, merely a pawn in some game, a pawn to his own creations (HAL), to becoming spiritually enabled and one with the cosmos. Regardless of ones philosophical beliefs, this is a wondrous, overwhelming, original vision in cinema.

There's nothing there in the cutting between one image and the next in a film like "La Dolce Vita", there's nothing going on on a profound level with rhythm or space; he's just showing.

Well, its been awhile since I saw the film and I've only seen it once but I recall the series of events occuring quite beautifully and unfolding in very idiosynchratic ways that were representative of a director who truly poured himself into his vision and created his own rhythm as the scenes unfolded, so that they happened un-episodically and true to that of the lives being depicted. I found it to be about a man trying to find himself by trying to find his place in all these situations, amongst all this shallowness and these people, but really finding nothing except a disconnection--no matter how much he did, how involved he got, it was really just a superficial experience. I found it was about a man who was unable to change himself no matter how hard he tried. At the last party he ferociously attempts to break his own listlessness, as well as everyone elses--but it is in vain, until he reaches the beach and realizes he has made a real life connection--with the young girl. All of a sudden he has purpose. It is quite beautiful that this is done in such an unforced, unmannered way and that Fellini resists the temptation of overstating or oversentimentalizing it that most directors would fall into. Many of our most profound moments in life are unfulfilled moments, impossible potentialities, and I felt Fellini very brilliantly showed this, and showed that this is enough to change a man, even a man who has done and seen all this things--that human connection is what is vital, not simply human collaboration.

But "dissecting" the "relative merits" of a work is not the point! If that's what you do when you look at something you're immidiately distancing yourself from it. One must reach outside of themself, to engage with it.

What's the point if you're merely judging art against fixed standards? Great art breaks all the rules anyway: to me, every "dynamic" of a work you mentioned is inseparable from one another in a truly great film.

It's clear we're talking about two different things. I wrote about the cut from one image to the next in space, you wrote about the unfolding of events. You defended Kubrick and Fellini as storytellers, not as artists of cinema. But this is fine, we're obviously not going to agree.

But "dissecting" the "relative merits" of a work is not the point! If that's what you do when you look at something you're immidiately distancing yourself from it. One must reach outside of themself, to engage with it.

I'm sure your intentions are noble, but you're trying very hard to get me to feel as though I have a seriously flawed way of viewing film when it's just not going to happen. The fact is is that I enjoy film immensely and glean an extraordinary amount of reward from it, so I am not going to change what I look for, as it so clearly works for me on a level comparable to what I glean from music.

What's the point if you're merely judging art against fixed standards? Great art breaks all the rules anyway: to me, every "dynamic" of a work you mentioned is inseparable from one another in a truly great film.

You've managed to bend my "standards" into something fixed when infact they cover everything that could possibly happen in any film, any work of art.

It's clear we're talking about two different things. I wrote about the cut from one image to the next in space, you wrote about the unfolding of events. You defended Kubrick and Fellini as storytellers, not as artists of cinema. But this is fine, we're obviously not going to agree.

I wrote about the results of what they accomplished with their respective films, which is all that matters. How significant is the effect of what is produced on screen? That's what I wrote about. That is film. You can think about "artists of cinema" all you want. I'll go ahead and continue watching movies.

"...you're trying very hard to get me to feel as though I have a seriously flawed way of viewing film..."

Was never my intention. I believed we were merely arguing about what cinema is from different points of view. It wasn't my intention to attack your view, just argue with it.

What I meant by fixed stardards is this: if something works on all these different levels, that come together to make a strong emotional impact on the viewer, it is good. That's what it seemed to me what you were saying. To me what is most important is not the "effect" a work has on me (it's not a drug), but the physical properties of the work itself. OK, so we disagree.

Yea, that made it very clear. Thanks for rectifying.

We definitely disagree.

Interestingly enough, I just read a review by Roger Ebert on La Dolce Vita. He sees the ending differently than I do (a disconnection instead of a connection) which makes me only want to see it again. Made me think that I may have misduplicated it. Or, in a less likely scenario, he did (less likely because he's probably seen the film dozens of times and I've only seen it once).

I find it baffling how anyone could claim Citizen Kane, his weakest film, is better than The Trial, or The Immortal Story, or F for Fake, three staggering masterpieces

You must be baffled quite often.

I suppose this goes with one of my posts about albums, but...

Can you enjoy a terrible movie?

I like a lot of weird/crazy/insane/hilariously inept films, like the Forbidden Zone, the Untold Story (check that one out) and others. Is there no place to appreciate these films, if only for the entertainment they provide?

Also, I noticed that this best movies list has mainstream appeal, while the best albums list has far more lesser known albums. Why is that? Is it the more narrow conventions that the screen has?

Oh, and I agree with 2001 being great.

Also, I noticed that this best movies list has mainstream appeal, while the best albums list has far more lesser known albums. Why is that? Is it the more narrow conventions that the screen has?

First off, I need to update this list. Many of the 9.0's are no longer 9.0's, but probably still 8.0/10+. I'll get around to it soon...

The financial necessities of making a film virtually ensures that a great director is someone who is either very wealthy or has significant backup from persons who are wealthy, so has much more technology at his disposal to make something great in ratio to a music artist would in his/her craft. Despite this financial advantage (and perhaps even because of it) I still think music is a superior art, (it has significantly more masterpieces and 8.0/10+ works than film...at least that I've found so far), but I also think many more mainstream films have been superior to that of mainstream music--simply because of that fact--conversely I think independant music has far surpassed independant/non-mainstream film in the previous decades (this decade seems about equal). I also think it is much more important to film studios to recoup their investment many times over than it is of music so it essentially forces a great film to have more mainstream appeal. I also think it is easier for an audience to connect with an art film than that of "artful" music simply because a visual medium inherently is more immediately understandable to the human eye, than hearing is to the human ear.

Can you enjoy a terrible movie?

Well, terrible by definition, means a pile of shit, so no. However, there are many films that are brilliantly trashy or overblown, so much so that they become intensely emotional. Some masterful examples are:

Metropolis-Lang
Touch of Evil-Welles
The Wild Bunch-Peckinpah
Pulp Fiction-Tarrantino
Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte-Aldrich
Psycho-Hitchcock (A colossal joke and possibly the ultimate black comedy. I'm not sure too many average filmgoers realize this as it commonly appears on "scariest films of all time" which is ridiculous and completely misses the point)
The Kingdom-Von Trier

I like a lot of weird/crazy/insane/hilariously inept films, like the Forbidden Zone, the Untold Story (check that one out) and others. Is there no place to appreciate these films, if only for the entertainment they provide?

It really depends wholly on if it's wierdness and "ineptness" are emotional. The above films are amazing examples of this somehow coming together and occurring as great art.

To fully answer your entire question, I would say that I am less spoiled in film than that of music, so I still enjoy quite a few films in the 6.0/10 category and above, as opposed to music where I get bored pretty easily with anything below a 7.0/10.

I understand now. Thanks.

I know just what you mean about Tarantino's Pulp Fiction being overly and deliberately trashy yet still a masterpiece of cinema. It was in effect bringing comic-book-stylized-violence to real life, yet having very 3 dimensional characters, with flaws as well as an effortless cool, which is in a way humourous When Travolta & Jackson have just murdered Brett & Co. and have the kid in the car, and Travolta accidently blows his head off. Also, the messed up chronology of the film really adds to it, plus the way QT directs it is very unique and special in its own right.
I Watched 2001 again today by the way, for me it's probably the most profound piece of art (music or film or literature etc) I've ever experienced. That person above calling it an empty worthless film must be completely ignorant of the film's true purpose. Many images and ideas it presents are inexpressible in words, (one is the vastness of the universe compared to small insignificant mankind) or can be spoken about, but until you see the spacescapes and images that Kubrick presents you cannot experience the awe and profundity needed to make the point clear. Also, cinematically with all the techniques used it's a wonderfully mind-bending experience that blows you away, I can only imagine what it was like to have seen this on the big screen!

I agree, Pulp Fiction is a great film. I'd probably rate it 8.25/10. It definitely boasts one of the most intelligent and brilliantly comedic scripts of dialogue ever written.

I Watched 2001 again today by the way, for me it's probably the most profound piece of art (music or film or literature etc) I've ever experienced.

I certainly think it's up there. On the same level as Irrlicht. My personal opinion is that, despite how astonishing 2001 is, I think albums like Faust and Rock Bottom, or any 9.5/10, are significantly more powerful/profound.

I can only imagine what it was like to have seen this on the big screen!

It was truly amazing. Parable and I both went to see it and we were both astonished.

if you like Ikiru, then you should check out Wild Strawberries by Ingmar Bergman; and if you have and did not enjoy it at the same level as Ikiru then...well....

I love Wild Strawberries but I do need to see it again. I'd probably give it 8.0 or 8.25/10. But it's been awhile...

Repeated viewings of Ikiru have proven increasingly superior thus far.

Ikiru is superior, but not by much for now, though i have not seen either in a very long while. i still do not understand Vertigo's appeal. North By Northwest & Rear Window seem far superior to me. maybe it is the ending, which was a bit lame for a Hitchcock ending, but whatever it was i found it boring, but oh well. i really need to see Travelling Players!

Vertigo is incredible to me. Don't really know much of what to say outside of the short review I already wrote about it. As my standards raise closer to that of my music choices, I'm not even totally sure if it's a 9/10 anymore but its over-heated, obsessive, follied romance remains extremely compelling to me, and connecting to this I feel is very important towards experiencing or appreciating the full impact of the amazing finale (which I feel is among the greatest sequences in film history).

I do love North by Northwest and Rear Window as well. I must say though, I have yet to experience North by Northwest on such a high level as Scaruffi. I think I am likely missing something in it when I see it, or have yet to connect to it fully. I am pretty sure the key to it is the fact it is a never-ending stream of genre guises (even many times within the same scene) but even though I am mostly aware of this as it occurs on screen, so far it has yet to prove profound enough to me in order to consider it masterpiece level. It is very entertaining though, and at this point I'd give it at least 8/10.

i really need to see Travelling Players!

Definitely. Just saw it again last weekend and I was even more impressed than before. The choreography and complexity of how the scenes and sequences unfold is so natural and beautiful. The performances are some of the best ever. The film, as far as I know, seems to use nothing but completely natural lighting and "sets". It is such a real experience it seems like one is viewing a true historical document. And then there is the astonishing, seamless complexity of the narrative...

Why does IMDB recognise The Kingdom as a tv series rather than as a film?

Because it was originally a 4 part made-for-TV film.

Ahh I see thanks.

What are your opinions on La Dolce Vita, and its greatness in comparison to 8 1/2?

At one time I had La Dolce Vita as a 9/10. I think it's a remarkable film, probably 8.5/10. A meandering adult fantasy that vividly explores the inescapable meaninglessness of these peoples' lives. It clearly is the start of many of the things 8 1/2 employs, but I find 8 1/2 a bit more powerful in its autobiographical psychology and much more astonishing in its structural fantasy. Still, I could easily change my mind if I were to see La Dolce Vita again--I've only seen it once-- while I own 8 1/2 and have seen it numerous times.

Mirror, Tarkovsky's precious masterpiece, properly returns to my list. I made the mistake of previously seeing it on VHS and it dropped from #3 (9.25/10) to falling off the list (8.75/10). Tonight I watched it on DVD as I had the 1st time, and it was once again, as extraordinary as before.

Ignore the entry I posted above, written back when it was removed. I no longer share those sentiments, and I will never again make the mistake of watching the VHS version. The picture quality was mediocre and thus ruined much of the visual splendor of the film, which plays a major role in the emotional power of its stream of consciousness.

Hey man just thought I'd tell ya, just saw The Mirror and I was absolutely blown away, the film is overwhelming. The Mirror transcends film itself and overcomes the need for the linear storyline, instead giving a fractured, distorted view of the protagonist's life and his memories of childhood, in an almost disorientating manner yet one which does not detract from the film's greatness, it adds to it. It's extremely difficult to describe, but the Mirror really excels in every area, and for me could just knock 2001 off the top spot. I will definitely soon give it a rewatch.

Nice! I just viewed your updated lists. And of course I agree, a staggering film achievement. Its multitudes of artistic achievement provide an infinite onslaught of brilliant scenes, symbology, technique, etc. Very worthy of repeat viewings.

Incredibly, as of this morning, the complete, original version of Metropolis has been discovered in Argentina, after being thought totally lost for the last 80 years. Already among the most incredible films in history this should only serve as making it even more amazing! I can't wait for its rerelease!

Here's the link to the story which just broke in Germany and will probably be widely released soon in various cinematic/news outlets around the world.

http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/080702/ukw003.html?.v=101

That's awesome! I'm psyched to see the full version of the original film. :)

Yea man, the last version put together was already a blessing. Now this... Wow. What luck.

This is rather amazing news, and I'm playing missionary with it. Thank you!

It is one of my favorites films, and a complete version is perhaps second to discovering the lost original cut of The Magnificent Ambersons...

(Or maybe the final scene of Taxi Driver before the colors were defanged. )

Neither of those are ever going to happen, but wow! This did!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

This is rather amazing news, and I'm playing missionary with it. Thank you!

You're welcome. Thank Parable if you get a chance. He's who actually notified me of it.

It is one of my favorites films, and a complete version is perhaps second to discovering the lost original cut of The Magnificent Ambersons...

I'll agree with you on this, mainly because the lost cut of Magnificent Ambersons almost certainly made a bigger dent in its overall greatness than that of Metropolis. Though, I'd have to side with seeing the complete version of Von Stroheim's Greed as the holy grail of lost film.

(Or maybe the final scene of Taxi Driver before the colors were defanged. )

Ohhh, never knew about this...

Neither of those are ever going to happen, but wow! This did!

Yep, you never know. It's amazing these things just show up, and even more amazing they show up intact!

Shalom, y'all!

Thanks but I don't ski much

A complete Greed would certainly be another great find, but I'm not sure I'd want to sit through all of it. Twelve hours, was it? I can't recall...

Even if you skip the skiing, remember - if it's all downhill, just tuck your head and hold steady...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I thought it was 9, but 12, 9, 10 or 11 what's the difference anymore? By that point you're screwed, past the point of worrying about where your day and night (or weekend) has gone off to. ( :

The sources I just consulted all say around 9-10 hours. Wow.

I even have a reputation for being incredibly patient with films and enjoying many 3-5 hour movies, but that would try my limits, I fear...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I think I could do it, especially with Greed, but I'd probably split it into 3 or 4 parts.

Are you considering updating your 100 albums and film lists anytime in the near future?

Yes, but my intentions and my free time aren't quite lining up as of yet. Hopefully, I can finish one by year's end...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I'd like that. I would imagine others would too. ( :

Thank you. I'll try to get cracking.

I've been on a writing spree as of late, just little showing up here. I finished a monologue yesterday that will be performed here in town soon. I haven't written one in years, and I confess, I'm rather proud of it! :)

I hope the creativity and writing spill over here!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Wow, I am impressed! You are probably the finest writer on this site so I am not surprised actually.

Thank you! We'll see how it goes over with the public...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I even have a reputation for being incredibly patient with films and enjoying many 3-5 hour movies, but that would try my limits, I fear...

A film of that length would only be endurable as a serial like Les Vampires or Berlin Alexanderplatz.

Anyway, the 42-reel version of Greed (roughly nine hours) was merely a rough cut and never intended to be publicly screened. Stroheim personally trimmed the film down to 24-reels (about 5 hours), with the intention of having the film released in two parts, with time for dinner in between. Subsequently later, he had his friend Rex Ingram cut it down to 18-reels (about 3 1/2 to 4 hours in length). It is perhaps this latter version that should be considered "definitive" and most lamented.

Nevertheless, Greed is still one of the most powerful films I've seen, even in its truncated form.

Great information. Thanks!

I can swing it as a serial, although I wonder if it would lose some of its punch parceled out as such...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

What is Apocalypse Now for you? It was previously a 9, what lowered it in your opinion?

Probably an 8 or 8.5/10. I ended up rewatching the 9+ films and realized they were quite a bit better, more emotionally affecting. There's nothing really wrong with AN (I own the film and think it's mesmerizing), it's just not on that level. If it went totally batshit in the its surrealism and lost itself in a blitz of creativity over its last 3rd it would probably be great enough to make this list. As it is though, everything about it is superb and it's a near miracle the film was successful at all.

Haha yes, I see your point. Just watched Raging Bull again, it is amazing.

No kidding. A stunningly powerful film. I need to see it again soon (I've seen it about 7-8 times total).

I am excited to try Raging Bull, along with several others you've got that I haven't seen. I was very happy with The Wild Bunch & Citizen Kane :>. What are your thoughts on Taxi Driver? I watched it for what must have been the 7th time and the film is an incredible masterpiece. The performances, as I imagine you know, are phenomenal and Travis Bickle in particular is so intimately captured. I was delighted at Scorsese's attention to mise-en-scene, for example the calculated use of colours when Travis and Betsy have coffee for the first time. Right now I'm having a hard time imagining this director has done something better. I will let you know when I get ahold of Raging Bull. I'm also rather hungrily eyeballing Tarkovsky!

Yea, Taxi Driver is indeed superb. The finale is especially masterful--a brilliant display of editing and technique.

Raging Bull is very powerful. Sometimes I do think his masterpiece is actually Mean Streets though, so I highly recommend that as well.

And don't miss Tarkovsky. The Mirror is a miracle of a film. I would rank him or Welles as the all time greatest director. I'm mid-Nostalgia (the DVD was defective), but it was superb up to that point. Also, Stalker is mysterious, deeply philosophical/spiritual and absolutely spellbinding and Andrei Rublev has a shot at this list once I ever get around to watching it again.

Where would you rank Martin Scorsese in your all time greatest directors?

probably top 15-20

Would you mind listing your top 5 directors of all time? Thanks

great hip hop albums you should listen to

nas- illmatic (the greatest)
Eric B. & Rakim - Paid in Full
Big L - Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous
Black Star - Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star
Black Moon - Enta da Stage
Boogie Down Productions - Criminal Minded
Common - Resurrection
Company Flow - Funcrusher Plus
DJ Shadow - Endtroducing.....
Heltah Skeltah - Noturnal
Dr. Octagon - Dr. Octagonecologyst
GZA / Genius - Liquid Swords
Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt
Jedi Mind Tricks - Violent by Design
Jeru the Damaja - The Sun Rises in the East
Madvillain - Madvillainy
Masta Ace - A Long Hot Summer
MF DOOM - Operation: Doomsday
Mobb Deep - The Infamous...
Mos Def - Black on Both Sides
O.C. - Word...Life
The Pharcyde - Labcabincalifornia
Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...
Redman - Muddy Waters
Royce da 5'9" - Death Is Certain
Smif-N-Wessun - Dah Shinin'
A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders
Ultramagnetic MC's - Critical Beatdown
Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

and i can keep going ... these are really great hip hop albums, if your interested. i listen to alot of hip hop!

I'd have to think it through more to be sure but off the top of my foot here goes...

1. Welles or Tarkovsky
3. Bergman
4. Hitchcock
5. Kubrick or Kurosawa

great list, mine is

1.Sorsese
2.Welles
3.Bergman
4.Kubrick
5.Coppola

I saw a few films from Andrei tarkovsky, but dont really "get" his films. But they are visually well made.

So far the only Tarkovsky film I've got my hands on is Solaris, which I gobbled up greedily with my eyes, but that I thought had several flaws (especially the script, but also acting).

The main thing that struck me about Tarkovsky is that images from Solaris seem to be embedded in my mind (as clear as day) after only 1 viewing. Stalker is on its way from the library, I'll get back to you.

What other Welles films are worth seeing? I'm well acquainted with Citizen Kane and have viddied Touch of Evil only once, though based on these two films alone I can see Welles is one of the 10 greatest directors.

Anything I've seen by Welles is superb or at worst fascinating. He is the master.

The Trial & Magnificent Ambersons are both amazing. F For Fake is great as well.

I would recommend watching The Trial, Mr. Arkadin (the comprehensive version), and Lady from Shanghai; all three of which are near-masterpieces.

Jeepers von Creepersteins, it sounds like you cannot really go wrong with Orson Welles. Thanks for the recommendations, I really appreciate it. Do either of you know of any good websites to find excellent movies? The best one I know of at this point is: They Shoot Pictures, Dont They? I'm slowly working my way through their list.

While I don't agree with him as much as I do with music, Scaruffi is still the best for movies as he tends to follow virtually the same criteria for each.

Scaruffi is definitely a great resource. I would also recommend "Sight & Sound"; a monthly film magazine published by the British Film Institute.

If you had to choose, who do you think had a bigger impact on the quality of Raging Bull, Scorsese or De Niro?

I think De Niro because it was the greatest performance I have ever seen ...

Could go both ways...DeNiro helped convince Scorsese to even do the film in the first place, so...

But in terms of what's there to be seen and felt I think the way it's shot, the editing, the sudden cutting, the stunning fight sequences, slow motion, etc. has, altogether as great an impact as DeNiro's performance--obviously Scorsese being the director played a large role in DeNiro doing such an amazing job because (a) Scorsese always gets amazing performances out of his actors and (b) DeNiro, while always very good, isn't on the same level in his non-Scorsese films as he is in them.

thats a valid point but i think Robert DeNiro has more of an impact on acting then scorsese has on directing.

How would you rank all of the scorsese films you have seen.

I don't know...maybe:

Raging Bull
Mean Streets
Taxi Driver
The Departed
Goodfellas
Gangs of New York
Casino
The Color of Money

Great list. Im surprsised you like The Departed so much. I think its kinda overrated. Mine would be

Raging Bull
Taxi Driver
Mean Streets
Goodfellas
The King Of Comedy
Casino
After Hours
The Departed

i just saw Barry Lyndon and it may be the greatest film ever. I think its better than 2001 a space odyssey. What do you think of this film?

never seen it but I do plan on it someday

I second that recommendation. I think it's pretty brilliant, and I'd be curious to know what you thought of it as well.

Sounds like I should give it a go soon. Thanks.

Barry Lyndon is absolutely a must-see film. I don't feel any shame declaring it as Kubrick's best (2001 would be a close runner-up). It's certainly his most somber and restrained.

yea i think its his best too and in the five greatest films ever made!

Can you talk about Stalker at all? It left me rather confused and I'm not entirely convinced of it's greatness.

The main aspects for me are its amazing, beguiling visuals and how Tarkovsky and his cinematographer seem to erect something intensely metaphysical and spiritual out of the simple showing of what are fundamentally uninspiring, un-embellished looking scenes. The mesmerizing, methodical pacing, the authentic sets, the unique visual art of the scenes caught somewhere between eye-popping magic realism and a dulling, post apocalyptic desolation. The philosophical and moral discussions between the characters, the hypnotic and menacing environments bring to fruition constant expectation of some monumental and miraculous happenstance, and as this becomes increasingly evident it's not going to occur on that order of magnitude, the viewer looks for more than is really there--and sees it. And its all because Tarkovsky is so deft and such a master at illusion that he can even create it without specifically showing it. This science fiction isn't some distant, far off space opera, but rather a journey through the soul and the search for truth. The environment becomes its very own character with its very own soul and in the film it constantly acts upon the characters like God's guiding hands down their predetermined path. The viewer begins to see miracles occurring that aren't even there on screen, but only alluded to, derived from the hypnotic, coalescing aspects of the film and the elusiveness of its' unanswered mysteries. The viewer fills in the blanks and makes the film his God, his religion. The film grows into a real time, richly layered religious experience full of "sightings" not dissimilar to when people claim to see Jesus' depiction on the patterns of walls, etc. The Stalker leaves nothing really answered, but it turns the viewer into a believer of its own mysterious powers, and for that I find it uniquely spellbinding and immortal.

I watched it again last night and can absolutely understand why you rate it as highly as you do. Thanks for your words!

Forgive me if I'm being overly discreet, but, you are remarkably eloquent in your reviews, not to mention having a superb taste in music & film. Mind you, I'm surely a naive fellow, but I would think you are some kind of professional art critic. When did you start writing about art, and have you studied art history or something to that extent?

Very flattering but I'm not a pro and I haven't studied much. I used to write a good share of poetry and made it quite far in numerous poetry contests years ago so I think this skill "infiltrates" my prose and makes it more eloquent when I get similarly inspired.

Any chance you can post your old review of Mirror, maybe in the comments section?

I erased it. Sorry. I'll probably write a new, better edited one sometime soon. That one was interesting but more a blitzkrieg of ideas than a well-organized review.

Wow, what made Touch of Evil take number one?

Oh man...don't know if I can manage...

I watched it last night in what turned out to be the greatest cinematic experience of my life, and right up near the top of the heap of the most powerful experiences I've ever had within the world of art.

I was so blown away and overwhelmed that I could barely sit still. I was getting up and sitting down, shaking my head in disbelief and awe, pacing back and forth. A few times my roommate asked me some questions about something disrelated and I couldn't even concentrate on what the hell he was talking about.

Here was a film that was exploding off the screen, every aspect about it no matter the speed of execution being done with an intensity and aplomb that was being handled in such a state of genius and flare and magnificence. On the surface and in what is somewhat of a joke by Welles, it can appear to be merely an idiosynchratic well-made "B-movie" with some kicks and giggles to sit back and enjoy, but when one truly takes in all the emotion of it, it expands gloriously into something frightening and monstrous, a surreal nightmare, becoming unexpectedly and miraculously moving, simultaneously heroic and devastated, a monumental collapse, a courageous emotional eclipse of reality. It takes on a consciousness as Welles', and films', last stand. The collective madness and delirium of it all: the sensational mastery and mesmerizing execution of the unparalleled camera work, boasting so many momentum altering closeups, angles and sudden stops, slows, shifts in speed and movement in and between scenes that the pacing and rhythm is a work of art in itself, simultaneously free form and under total control, a thing of inscrutable awe; and the confusion and handling of space this creates out of what seems like random life, is downright impossible and breathtaking. The maniacal variation and explosive, magnificent theater of the acting performances, the astonishing handling and depth of sound (for instance, the opening long take is perhaps the greatest handling of sound effects in the history of cinema) creates a feverish dream, a sense of fantastic hysteria, an overwhelming religious experience, a beguiling atmosphere at turns ferocious, flamboyant and operatic, lonely and claustrophobic, suspenseful and hilarious, romantic and cruel, deftly overflowing out onto the screen in a fission of events, genres and stylistic revolution.

Nice! "Fission" is a great word. What I like about the film is this powerful fusion of surreal & hyper-real, while we have the sense of an expansive omniscience (though, at first glance, limited in the sleight-of-hand way that master magician Welles edits and shoots his scenes). We are seeing everything we should see but the truth is encoded. The camerawork and lighting and editing is just as hyper-real and surreal as the edge-of-the-seat acting. The bitter themes and ironic conclusions of the film are the bitter themes and ironic conclusions of real life. Life and art are nearly put on an even plane through Welles's graceful balance of the film medium's strengths and weaknesses.

What do you think of the scene where Quinlan visits Tana (Marlene Dietrich) and that piano is playing and he stops there and asks her for chili. It was like Welles lifted the film into a heavenly reflection on life and love and fate and romance, all at once.

The fascinating thing is that Quinlan felt justified to frame people because they were "guilty". In what sense was Vargas's wife or Vargas himself guilty?

Thanks for the response. I'll get back to you soon...

What do you think of the scene where Quinlan visits Tana (Marlene Dietrich) and that piano is playing and he stops there and asks her for chili. It was like Welles lifted the film into a heavenly reflection on life and love and fate and romance, all at once.

You got it. Amazing.

The fascinating thing is that Quinlan felt justified to frame people because they were "guilty". In what sense was Vargas's wife or Vargas himself guilty?

Everyone was guilty to him because that is how a criminal thinks. It is the mindset he must set himself up with in order to continue his behavior, in order to shield himself from the glare of his own harms. A criminal must find everyone else guilty to justify his own crimes as okay. If everyone else wasn't guilty than his crimes would be crimes. If he convinces himself they aren't crimes by convincing himself everyone else is doing the same thing (because a crime is basically a transgression against the mores of a group), then he can go on as if he's not doing too much, or any, wrongdoing. Vargas treated Quinlan like he was guilty, which Quinlan considered the ultimate justification, or reason, to then destroy Vargas, doing everything in his power to make Vargas guilty. His attempts to ruin his wife were extensions of destroying Vargas.

Whoa, brilliant insights on criminals. That is so true (and fascinating). There is something so human about that mindset, something very universal.

This is interesting because it assumes that everyone acts in a way they consider to be morally right. There are some criminals who are truly amoral and have no sense of wrong or right and there are some who know what they're doing is wrong but don't care (plainly immoral). I suppose the immoral are the ones still tied to traditional/communal norms of what is right and wrong, whereas the amoral guy does not see the difference at all (in the case of a psycopath, cannot even feel that difference, because they do not experience compassion or empathetic pain). That leaves one more possibility -- someone with a deluded sense of what the world is, who deliberately reconstructs right and wrong to justify his actions. This is a person who wants to, needs to, act morally, and feel that his actions are good, but is at odds with the norms of the community, so he creates an artificial, parallel world in which he can be right in most instances (and, as a result, others can be often wrong). I think that is an apt description of most demagogues.

Oh my, that last possibility left my head spinning! Perhaps because it reminds me of myself in many ways! It feels like that last description is fitting for the average human being, or humanity in general! : 0

Yikes, perhaps it is!

Good call on Psycho. Always been my favourite Hitchcock. Tony Perkins is wonderful and not exactly your typical Hitchcock leading male.

Yep. Along with featuring one of the most astonishing sequences in film history (shower scene), the film is the blackest of black comedies. Hitchock poking fun at issues that are quite bluntly maniacal and amoral--one of the most amoral movies ever--and completely psychotic, with even its psychosis being a practical joke, makes the film simultaneously hysterical, frightening (particularly the shower scene which amazingly and suddenly morphs the film from a black comedy straight into shocking horror) disturbingly personal and manipulative, a personal vendetta against the audience as well as film itself.

Careful. At this rate you're liable to become the authority on film as well. Oi vey, shouldn't you wanna take a break sometime? That shot where mama stabs the guy at the top of the staircase...why is that so terrifying? (rhetorical)

That IS a terrifying scene, almost more so than the shower scene. I think it's because Hitchcock simulates how things slow down when you're in a moment of panic or adrenaline. The odd shot of his falling body only amplifies and extends that moment into what seems an eternity. What's marvelous is that it works both emotionally (the moment of panic experienced by the audience) and aesthetically (the oddness of the camera angle and movement). But there is something in the editing too -- from the door opening to the overhead shot was a brilliant choice -- it accelerates from 0 to 100 in terms of fear.

Lost Highway has never quite made it into my top 3 Lynch films, though I admit it's fascinating in many ways. Also, it's nice to see Bergman's 3 top films (imo) on here. He is really one of the all time giants of cinema and has quite possibly made more masterpieces than anyone else.

Yea, I'd probably rank Bergman as the 3rd greatest director, behind Welles (#1) and Tarkovsky (#2). May go something like this:

1. Welles
2. Tarkovsky
3. Bergman
4. Kubrick
5. Polanski
6. Hitchcock
7. Kurosawa
8. Lang
9. Lynch
10. Scorsese
11. Coppola
12. Bunuel
13. Fellini
14. Chaplin
15. Von Trier

STALKER is really a deep work. I love that film. I think one of the things that is so great about it is the religious symbolism, primarily the use of the number 3 which relates of course to the Trinity. If I had to assign a character to each role (which is probably pretty stupid) I'd say Professor is Father, Writer the Son and Stalker the Holy Spirit. I'm writing this to you because I haven't really seen anyone talking about it, and I figured it was pretty obvious what with the Crown of Thorns Writer puts on himself. I'd like to know if you had any thoughts on it. To me the three men are very different and do embody certain cultural characteristics. I've always felt Stalker is the most vital of them though. He's the only one who can take them into the Zone. He's the only one who has Faith and believes in something. He's the only one who can reawaken their spirits jaded by cynical and snide rationalism. Writer is the Son because he get's 'sacrificed' to go into the Meat Eater (which reminds me of bowels), the Crown and also because he's immature and rebellious in general. I think that's all I have. Any thoughts? By the way, Touch of Evil kicks ass. I watched it again and realized how deep it was. Definitely needs a few more viewings, but very entertaining nonetheless and hysterical.

I actually agree with you completely and can't think of anything else to add. Nice summary of a truly remarkable film!

Though I'll write my own sooner or later, here's a few reviews of Hitchcock's staggering masterpiece Vertigo (recently rising back into my top 3 for the 2nd time), all of which echo many of my own views on the film (corrections in brackets).

Vertigo
Capsule by Dave Kehr
From the Chicago Reader

One of the landmarks--not merely of the movies, but of 20th-century art. Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 film extends the theme of Rear Window--the relationship of creator and creation--into the realm of love and sexuality, focusing on an isolated, inspired romantic (James Stewart) who pursues the spirit of a woman (the powerfully carnal Kim Novak). The film's dynamics of chase, capture, and escape parallel the artist's struggle with his work; the enraptured gaze of the Stewart character before the phantom he has created parallels the spectator's position in front of the movie screen. The famous motif of the fall is presented in horizontal rather than vertical space, so that it becomes not a satanic fall from grace, but a modernist fall into the image, into the artwork--a total absorption of the creator by his creation, which in the end is shown as synonymous with death. But a thematic analysis can only scratch the surface of this extraordinarily dense and commanding film, perhaps the most intensely personal movie to emerge from the Hollywood cinema. 128 min.

By David Ansen | NEWSWEEK

WHEN IT WAS RELEASED IN 1958, FEW people considered Vertigo Alfred Hitchcock's best. Other Hitch movies were tauter, scarier, more on-the-surface fun. "Vertigo" needed time for the audience to rise to its darkly rapturous level. This month it reopens in a glorious 70mm print that's been painstakingly restored by Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz. Now you can see Hitchcock's greatest, most personal (and kinkiest) movie afresh, with a new digitalized soundtrack that brings Bernard Herrmann's spiraling, haunted, "Tristan and Isolde"-infected score to the fore.

Why is this movie Hitchcock's masterpiece? Because no movie plunges us more deeply into the dizzying heart of erotic obsession. Because in Jimmy Stewart's fetishtic [fetishistic] pursuit of mystery woman Kim Novak--whom he transforms into the image of the dead woman he loved--Hitchcock created the cinema's most indelible metaphor for the objectification of desire. Because Stewart, playing a man free-falling into love, responds with a performance so harrowing in its ferocity it must have surprised even himself. Because Novak, that great slinky cat, imbues her double role with a mesmerizing poignance. Because the impeccable, dreamlike images of this ghostly Liebestod are so eerily beautiful they stay in your head forever. And because the older you get, and the more times you see it, the more [this] strange, chillingly romantic thriller pierces your heart.

My goodness there's been some upheaval lately on this list!

Yes. Such is the life of a list that must be gone over and tweaked until it is just right.

It's going through a very similar evolution as my music lists were, especially in their earlier stages.

No problem at all! I'm enjoying it!

Interesting that you seem to like David Lynch's less well-received work better than the films generally regarded as his classics. I haven't seen any of the Lynch films on your list, but I really love Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive, and he's made some other films I've liked too. Have you seen those films, and if so, what makes Lost Highway and Inland Empire superior to them in your mind?

I realize this was directed towards AfterHours, but I thought I'd throw in my two cents regarding Inland Empire:

It's a movie you have to go into with an open mind; there's very little structure and the viewer just has to go with the flow. The "storyline" isn't too important; instead Lynch focuses on delivering an extreme force of emotion with a considerable amount of skill. It's a film where you don't follow a plot, you follow the kaleidoscope of moods. Laura Dern is partly why the film is such a success; she's a chameleon who is crucial to the transmission of the aforementioned emotions. She holds up a mirror to whatever Lynch is trying to express, it's a tremendous performance. Also, for the first time in a long while, Lynch seems to be completely free; I feel as though the use of the digital medium allowed him to really let himself loose in ways he hadn't done in ages, perhaps since his debut. What you get with Inland Empire is his completely uninhibited id. With this type of new found freedom one would think it's quite easy for a film maker to fall flat; but Lynch is so disciplined, so passionate, and so skilled that the execution is perfect. It's amazing, he goes so close to the ledge with Inland Empire, and the way he pulls it off is absolutely breathtaking.

I actually do think that the storyline is very important in Inland Empire, and a huge part of what makes it so unsettling and revelatory. It's hard to make sense of because it was filmed in a sort of dream language that appears foreign to our conscious minds. As a result, it's able to communicate in ways that ordinary narrative could never achieve. It's one of the most 'unconscious' movies I've ever seen. Like a dream, it's the kind of experience you can derive a lot of meaning from and I definitely got at least a few messages from it, though like all dreams, you can never know entirely what it all meant. I absolutely agree about Laura Dern's performance and thought the entire cast was remarkably good. Dern's character had this peculiar ability to appear elegant, refined & graceful in one scene, but then look trashy, plebian & low in the next. And of course that doesn't begin to describe how much she changed over the course of the film. Inland is one of the most haunting and scariest movies I've ever seen. Highly recommended! But actually, I also thought the last 20 min or so were almost painfully slow (when she's walking through the dark corridors after the screw driver sequence). Oh my god, absolutely terrifying. Crazy movie.

As for Lost Highway, I'd rate it about a 7. I don't see what is so incredible about that one, though it's definitely interesting.

I really love Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive too. Amazingly, Lynch, one of the greatest directors of all time in my opinion, has 5 films I'd rate 8+, including those & Blue Velvet being a high 8.5/10. The difference between those and the two on my list is basically a matter of stronger, more vibrant and bleeding emotions unfolding over an increasingly expansive palette, creating a more overwhelming overall experience.

But gawd, Mullholland Dr and Eraserhead are astonishing in their own right and fully deserving of the highest praise.

Question: What do you think of, or have you seen any, John Cassavetes films? I think they're pretty damn amazing works of raw realism. Faces and A Woman Under The Influence are pretty damn choice ones of his filmography. But yeah, just mentioning after going "aww, no Cassavetes here? :c"

(actually... two more: ever seen any Yasujiro Ozu or Robert Bresson? They both have a very interesting zen-like tranquility and simplicity to their work. for Ozu, I'd suggest: Late Spring and Tokyo Story. And for Bresson, I'd suggest: Pickpocket and Au Hasard Balthazar)

(well, damn, and to continue the Brakhage bit from earlier comments I saw, Mothlight is one of my favourite short films. It's almost an Industrial or Musique-Concrete way of filmmaking.)

I'd rank Tokyo story very highly (8 or 8.5/10), just not quite up to this list. I think I've seen a Bresson film here or there...the two you mention are on my "to see" list. Re: Brakhage...I've watched some of Dog Man Star but need to see more before making any real judgment of his work(s).

I'm almost disappointed to see Nostalghia dropped (alllll the way to the second slot) because damn, I don't think a film has ever stayed with me this long, with such clarity. The profundity of it all is just extraordinary. There are so many layers to it, every time you uncover something in the film you're really discovering something new about life itself. It's a work of staggering genius and unwavering beauty. I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up finding its way into the number one spot of my own list.

Tarkovsky was one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, easily.

Yea, it's beyond incredible. To be precise, it didn't drop at all. It just got "overtaken" by Metropolis which, unbelievably, is even more emotionally powerful to me. But both are 9.5's, staggering in their own right.

Where necessary (such as Brazil, Touch of Evil, etc) I will be including the exact version of the film I am ranking here. Usually only the best version is great enough to rank this high. For instance, the initial theatrical release of Brazil is not a 9 to me but probably an 8 or 8.5.

Hey twin brother! We're going to do this on a separate list, to be posted in the very near future, okay!? Stop lying to these kind fellows!

I'm telling ya, man, Persona is frickin' genius.

It is really interesting you bring this up as I was just considering watching it tonight (I own it) but I chose to try Angelopoulos' Landscape In The Mist instead (which was extraordinary) ...I really go back and forth on Persona...its' one of the few films I shift dramatically on from viewing to viewing...between high 9 on some viewings, and 8-8.5 on others...every time it is amazing and it is clearly one of the most original works of art in cinema...but sometimes it seems to lack enough dramatic "content" and sort of drift by, while for other viewings its' emotional winter and deliberate stasis are so powerful as to make its' content seem infinite...

Any words of wisdom? Perhaps there is something I'm not quite grasping that would make it more consistent for me?

Just watched Persona and it was incredible

Yikes. What a stunting way to look at art - assigning arbitrary numerical rankings to objectify what is inherently subjective (a relationship). You ignore the fact that we experience different films in different ways and even the same film differently.

Your list is constantly changing yet you hold ground on certain works with such conviction.

I don't understand your need to substantiate your opinion with numbers. To me it just seems like a mechanism used to avoid actually discussing works. Scaruffi may have interesting tastes, but he certainly doesn't have interesting opinions, simultaneously using abstract language and concrete, systematic rankings. It makes no sense. Look at his review of VU's White Light/White Heat. He says the album is less impressive than VU and Nico, yet it contains the ultimate masterpiece of rock music, Sister Ray, which rivals Beethoven and Coltrane. What does that even mean!? In what way does it rival Beethoven? How are the two even remotely related? Scaruffi makes incredible claims and feels, "just because" is enough evidence to back it up.

And don't get me started on his opinions on film. He really needs to retitle his lists from "Greatest of All Time" to "My Personal Favorites". Splendor in the Grass? The 8th greatest film of all time?

Sounds like most of your issues lie with Piero Scaruffi. I recommend going to his site and e-mailing him.

Aside from that I lost interest in your post and comments directed at me because it is clear your primary purpose is an attempt to make me feel wrong and yourself right, as opposed to actual discussion aimed at finding out my thoughts, going over various points, etc.

Let's just agree to disagree and leave it at that.

My primary purpose was not to make you feel wrong. I dig the albums that you dig. We can co-dig these albums (and films for that matter, well for the most part).

My purpose was to try to get you to rethink such a systematic way of looking at art, that's all.

I just scrolled through the comments and saw way too much "well, the film was more like an 8.8 than an 8.9" and thought, "what the hell does that even mean?".

so i posted.

As far as I've seen virtually all reviewers use a numerical system to rate albums/films, usually a 5 or 10 or 100 point system. It's merely an assigned value or percentage out of a perceived perfection. A 10 would be some sort of perfection or ultimate greatness. A 9.5 is better than a 9, an 8.5 is better than an 8, etc. My "system" is based on the "emotional resonance or significance" the work has on me. It's just an opinion and nothing more. The films (or albums) are shown in order of the affect they have on me in that regard.

As far as more thorough comments as to what I think about a film, they're littered throughout this page and I've posted many of them throughout my top 10 music and film of the week page. Some of them are a sentence or less, just little capsules, some are more like a paragraph. All in all I simply haven't really gotten around to thoroughly reviewing my films lists. I have made some headway on my music ones which you can take a look at in my "Guide to my Greatest Albums" page.

I understand reviewers use rating systems as guides to whether they favor or dislike a text, but these ratings are never the content of the critiques themselves. You could easily substitute a four-star rating system with "i recommend it" or "not a huge fan". Your rating system actually makes claims about the quality of a piece of work. When you give an album a 9.5, you believe that actually means something (which of course it doesn't, it's just an arbitrary signifier). It's like if I said, "I give the Stooges' debut a gallon of orange juice, but Fun House only gets seven jars of jam."

It doesn't mean anything.

I think you're failing to understand something very simple with the rating system. Perhaps you can recall grade 6 math, we learned what a continuum is (or a 'real line'). Being a line it has two ends. You can use these lines to measure things, with (for example) numerical values. You can put a 0 at one end and a 10 at the other. In AfterHours' case, he is measuring how much he likes the emotional resonance and power of it. But you could simply replace that with how much he likes it or whatever your criteria are. This whole system is quite different from saying I give the Stooges 5 gallons of juice, unless of course you had a system where 5 gallons of juice meant something.

You're right: it doesn't mean anything factual. As I always say, it's subjective and merely an opinion being expressed. If you're not interested, that's totally okay but I'm not sure what your purpose is in sharing that.

In his opinion, White Light/White Heat is less impressive than VU and Nico on the whole, despite the fact that over a third of it is Sister Ray.

That just goes to show that he thinks the rest of the album is not masterful enough - doesn't seem contradictory. The title track is described as bringing one of their styles to perfection, while The Gift, Lady Godiva's Operation, and I Heard Her Call My Name are described in glowing terms, but to a lesser degree, and Here She Comes Now is just "mildy disquieting".

About Beethoven - I think that Scaruffi (and Afterhours) is interested in the emotional intensity of music and so chooses to compare music on that ground while ignoring stylistic differences. When I hear Sister Ray, rather than hearing a "proto-industrial jam" (per se), I just hear a tremendous outpouring of emotion. It almost sounds like this track is a living, breathing snake. It sounds like the musicians are possessed and that the track is being forced upon them, like it were playing them rather than them playing it. If he felt the same way and also got that same impression from a Beethoven symphony (I'm not really familiar with classical music), I could see this comparison working.

I don't think we can really infer anything from the fact that a critic doesn't use the word "opinion" or "personal". I don't think it implies that the opinions are being portrayed as facts. Just like when I was in high school English class and we'd have to write "personal essays", but were told never to start the sentences with "I think" because it was implied.