In the words of Beyoncé, “Oh how I’ve missed you, my love.” It feels good to be back in action and writing about what I know best. It goes without saying that A LOT has happened since we went on hiatus, but here on Divine Sinema, those bad things can’t hurt you. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy.
Over the months of quarantine, it’s become *painfully* obvious that I have not seen as many movies as the typical film buff. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be buff! I do. But I have an exceptionally hard time getting myself to care about outdated black and white films from the 1930’s that are still upheld as the greatest of all time. I know these movies have shaped film history. I respect them, but do not worship them. At the same time, what does it say about me as a filmmaker that I haven’t seen 7 Samurai or Barry Lyndon? Am I missing something? Some great source of inspiration that will only serve me in my future as a movie lover and creator? Does it make me a Bad Filmmaker? The short answer is obviously not, but then why do I feel guilty?
So, to cope with this existential clusterf*ck, I have made A List. I looked up several lists of ‘Essential Films Every Film Student/ Everyone/ Every Filmmaker Should See’ from esteemed institutions like AFI, BFI, Insider, and IMdB. I weeded out the obvious ones like Citizen Kane, Shawshank Redemption, and other movies that I personally studied a hundred times over in school. This list will be my journey through film as an adult and not as a student. It encompasses not only movies that I am embarrassed to say I have never seen, but also movies that I had never heard of up until I did my research. I would love to take anyone reading on the journey with me, as it will help me actually complete this self imposed Herculean task. I definitely do not foresee myself liking all of these movies, but that notion in itself is exciting. This is my exposure therapy into the world of black and white ‘masterworks’, as well as recent movies that flew completely under my radar for one reason or another. This is really me exposing myself right now. I will see, I will learn, I will grow. Without further ado, here is my list:
7 Samurai: Akira Kurosawa’s masterwork. Having already enjoyed Rashomon immensely, I am very excited for this one.
The Mirror: Andrei Tsarkovsky’s cerebral magnum opus. I am so excited to watch this piece of film poetry.
F for Fake: A mind bending Orson Welles joint.
The Headless Woman: Lucretia Martel’s spooky story of a woman descending into madness after she thinks she hits a person with her car. Martel also directed La Ciénaga, a favorite from my school days.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf: A classic that I should have seen years ago. Also apparently up until today, I didn’t even know how to spell this movie title.
X Raiders of the Lost Ark: Not Exactly my cup of tea, but so firmly engrained in pop culture I feel I owe myself the watch. Plus Harrison Ford, duh.
X Carrie: I know I know.
Little Women: Greta Gerwig’s most recent achievement. One to say I am embarrassed to never have gotten around to seeing.
If Beale Street Could Talk: As a huge fan of Moonlight, I am very embarrassed about this.
Mandy: A very recent experimental horror that put Nicholas Cage back on the map.
The Holy Mountain: Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1973 visionary feat.
Breathless: I don’t like french new wave, there I said it. This is quintessential Jean-Luc Goddard.
Metropolis: A highly stylized german expressionist achievement. Papí Fritz Lang delivers one of the first Sci-fi films.
Dead Ringers: One of David Cronenberg’s early psychological thrillers about Jeremy Irons playing twins….I’m scared already.
Cabinet of Dr. Caligeri: This pioneer movie literally invented the horror genre.
Rome, Open City: Roberto Rossellini at his gritty, neorealism finest.
Red Road: Andrea Arnold pre-American Honey. The story of a security camera observer who becomes obsessed with an ex-convict she happens to see.
Blackkklansman: The second most recent Spike Lee joint. Feel free to roast me for this one.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives: EXTREMELY excited for this cerebral, fantastical Cannes darling. The movie that put Thai film on the mf map.
M: Anotha one by Fritz Lang. Definitely not as excited about this story of a child murderer, but alas.
Red Desert: Michelangelo Antonioni helms a more recent (1964 lol) film with innovative uses of color and camerawork as we follow Giuliana while she declines into existential fear driven madness.
Donkey Skin/ Beauty and the Beast: I. CANT. WAIT. FOR. THESE. JEWELS. Obviously these are two different movies, one is the original story of Beauty and the Beast (1946) and then its reinterpretation by beautiful angel Jacques Demy. Both are supposed to be beautiful and fantastical a la The Red Shoes.
Fear Eats the Soul: Daddy Fassbinder explores interracial relationships, very excited for this one.
The Exiles: A drama / documentary hybrid about life as a young Native American.
Un Chien Andalou: Possibly the first surrealist film ever made, and of course it was co-written by Salvador Dalí. Can’t wait to be traumatized!
In the Mood for Love: Wong Kar-wai’s dynamic tale of love and loneliness. This movie brought Chinese cinema to the table for global audiences, along with its evil twin Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Dancer in the Dark: One of Lars von Trier’s first movies before he got into the weird stuff. Starring….Bjork?
Happy Together: Another Wong Kar-Wai spot on the list. This story is also dynamic and bold, but centers on the tumultuous relationship between two male Chinese nationals who move to Argentina for a better life.
Bonnie and Clyde: Fuck the Hays Code! This classic retelling of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde story.
Paprika: An acclaimed animation movie about dreams and all the mind bending aspects that go with them. I’ve seen bits and pieces of this nightmare masterpiece, but it’s high time I sat through it all.
Barry Lyndon: Okay y’all. Throughout my college career, a few pals and I actively sat down through all of Stanley Kubrick’s filmography. This is the last movie I have to watch to unlock this achievement.
Die Hard: Okay, don’t come for me please. This is just so out of my wheelhouse.
Enter the Dragon: No explanation needed, I just really want some Bruce Lee in my life.
La Dolce Vita: Italian zaddy Frederico Fellini’s magnum opus. Apparently it’s “the most stylish movie ever made.” Well, I guess we’ll see.
Shoplifters: Embarrassment is strong here. This is a Japanese movie about outcasts living off the radar of the rest of the world making a living off of petty theft.
Do the Right Thing: Racial tensions flare in this acclaimed Spike Lee joint.
Once Upon a Time in the West: The most epic of epic Spaghetti Westerns.
The Birds: Film Father Hitchcock’s second most iconic horror movie.
12 Angry Men: Sidney Lumet’s legal drama. Can wait for this one, but not forever.
Ben Hur: *eye roll*
The Handmaiden: This South Korean “erotic psychological thriller” has me tingly already.
Birth of a Nation: Dead ass last because I truly do not want to watch this.