Noriko's Dinner Table: The great and grating Sion Sonno wanted to extend the world of his magnificent Suicide Circle but didn't want to do a sequel. Solution? Make another film that moves in parallel. Not just that, but take the most difficult concept from the first film and make the paraquel all that. Sonno seems to be planet hopping with this epic of indentity. It's long and often confusing as characters assume new identities and roles but it's worth it. Watching it with an open mind (and a concentration span in robust health) feels like discovery.
Fellini's Roma: My favourite Fellini is not the canonical early work but the big brash wandering colour orgies of the 70s. Like this one.
Harold and Maude: Some films are all quirk and lose themselves in their own cuteness. Others never allow this to happen by keeping the central theme of the preciousness of life and the closeness of death centre stage in every scene. A masterpiece.
Baxter: Think of a talking animal movie. Now fancy that it was written by Jean Genet or Celine. Baxter is a bull terrier and only ever a dog but what a thing is a dog. If Baxter were human he'd be the old soldier at the bar with a Gauloise in his mouth and an astounding array of pickup lines. And beneath each, the darkness of the abyss of everyday life. Extraordinary film.
Seconds: Rock Hudson's genuine double life as a public A-list hunk and private gay man must have drawn him to this sobering tale derived from old three-wishes folktales. John Frankenheimer at full strength here, riding the wave that delivered not only this but The Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days in May. Impresses everyone I show it to.
Rollerball: Maybe this is partly nostalgia but I remember the thrill of seeing the concept of a social commentary sci-fi building on screen as it does here when the opposing teams of this ultra-brutal sport stand for their corporate anthems before possibly dying violently in the arena. I don't get that as much anymore with even strong sci-fi but this is as much age and weariness as it is any comment on the paucity of good stuff on the contemporary screen.
The Producers: Because it's still funny.
Jaws: This is the Stephen Spielberg film I like.
In the Company of Men: A scarifyingly candid look at male competition. Refined for the white collar world but only very slightly. The intensity of the social violence in this film is often repellent but never less than compelling. Writer/director Neil La Bute has never approached this level of power again. Pity, as it was his debut.