UMBERTO D.: Only saw this very recently. Spare and elegant story of life lessons and how much harder they get when we think we're too old for them. The central performances of Carlo Battisti and Maria Pia Casilio burn into the light from the screen, people in distress with the clocks ticking loudly. And I won't forget mention of Umberto's pooch whose presence assumes such enormous importance. A film of often unbearable pity this never cheapens into sentimentality. The dark before the dawn was never so haunting nor so warm.
ROMA: I love Fellini and I love even more the Fellini of the 70s like Amarcord or this big gloriously jammed canvas of a city portrait. From the Romans to the Fascists, from the loud life of families to moments of shivering stillness, Roma is a celebration of joy and wonder. The closing sequence of the motorbikes gliding through the city carries a real thrill.
ERASERHEAD: Because it is what it is and ever more shall be so.
THE TIN DRUM: Best literal adaptation of a novel ever. Gunther Grass's earthy epic of Oscar the monster who didn't want to grow as the world of grownups went psycho around him plays like the reader of the book's imagination as the pages turn. Didn't hurt having a perfect casting choice in David Bennent as young Mr Mazarath, either. Greatness!
APOCALYPSE NOW: Been playing The End on my SG lately and every time I do I think of the opening sequence of this film which blends a mesmerising piece of music with absorbing visuals that make us wonder at our awe at the sight of terrible destruction. That's only the beginning.
VIVRE SA VIE: By this one, Godard had retained all the lessons of neo-realism but could filter it through his own method and sentiment without drawing attention to it. He moved on from this and made sure no one missed his attention grabbing approaches but by then his politics was his muse. While I tend to prefer the mid to later 60s work for that very thing, Vivre Sa Vie shows him in full control of his style and substance which can still put the lie to any detractor's claim of flash for its own sake. Anna Karina outdoes her love-me turn in Une Femme to give us something aching and sublime. She is flesh. She is spirit (and I don't even have a concept of spirit!). Masterpiece!
GROUNDHOG DAY: One of the best rom coms ever: great fairy tale of repeat until you get it. Runs the gamut and even the heartwarming moments are saved by Bill Murray's top-of-game performance. And it's still funny as fuck.
THE TURIN HORSE: Because one of a kind is sometimes the same thing as greatness. Bela Tarr's swansong gives us an apocalypse of waiting in a very few long takes, using perceived screen time as a means of absorbing his audience into something rich and strange. Big and eerie and beautiful.
SUSPIRIA: Because it understands that nightmares are scary because we have no control over them. Only falters when it tries to explain itself.
SECONDS: The real Twilight Zone movie, this wish story in a
Kafkaesque world only millimetres beneath the normal one features one
of the most haunting performances you'll ever see. Rock Hudson's
Hollywood double life bleeds through the nightmare he embodies. The
ending manages to be both terrifying and heart rending.