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Bringing out the Dead – 1999


This overlooked Scorsese gem features no gangsters, and regular collaborators Robert De Niro and Leonardo Di Caprio are nowhere to be found, yet it still marks a kind of purifying return to his earliest hit, marking his fourth and last collaboration with screenwriter and tormented soul Paul Schrader. It’s an acid trip, following a series of nights in the life of a slowly mentally disintegrating paramedic (Nicolas Cage on at the top of his Cage-ness), brought to sizzling life by kaleidoscopic cinematography and a dark sense of humor, and very much worth (re)discovering.

Naked Island – 1960


We owe Kaneto Shindo some incredibly atmospheric horror films, making it easy to overlook this unusual classic. There’s barely a story – or even dialogue – in this slice of life of a family living alone on a mostly barren island, going through their routine, combatting the elements. Shindo finds compelling drama in the smallest moments, and when tragedy strikes, it kicks the wind out of you. Minimalism at its very best.

Army of Shadows – 1969


Jean-Pierre Melville was a cool, meticulous filmmaker, and that style makes this razor-sharp treatment of resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied France all the more powerful. From the wearing tension these men and women bore everyday, to a botched rescue and how to deal with traitors, it would be suffocatingly intense or ridiculously bombastic in lesser hands. Melville’s detached fascination makes it completely spellbinding.

eXistenZ – 1999


This one came out at the worst possible time, right ahead of the much-anticipated Matrix. Looking back today, it deserves to be rediscovered, because under that unnerving layer of Cronenbergian body horror is a much more pertinent, probable and urgent discussion about the very nature of reality.

The Man Who Would Be King – 1975


John Huston tried for ages to get his Kipling adaptation off the ground, first with Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart as the two leads, ex-military British ruffians who con their way into ruling over an isolated Central Asian kingdom. In the end, all his stars alined for the better, and we were treated to this widescreen bonanza, with Sean Connery and Michael Cain topping the credits. Loads of fun!

Shadow of the Vampire – 2000


This unlikely team-up of John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe, Eddie Izzard and Nicolas Cage (as producer) explores the myth behind the silent German classic Nosferatu, wherein maverick filmmaker F.W. Murnau hired an actual vampire as the star of his horror masterpiece. Dafoe chews scenery as the titular fiend, but the real monster on display is Malkovich. Do yourself a favor and check this one out!

Blade Runner 2049 – 2017


Our favorite film of 2017, a sequel that work both on its own and as a successor to the revolutionary original, BR2049 is less showy than that classic but arguably has more emotion, pathos and visual splendor. If you are patient with it, the rewards are innumerable.

Cabiria – 1914


If you ever have one of those days that never end and pile indignity upon failure, spare a thought to Cabiria’s protagonists. Outside of Shakespeare’s Pericles and Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, this is as far as you can push the notion of « being in the wrong place at the wrong time » is such a concentrated time frame. It is also one of the most spectacular epics of silent cinema, and its sheer scale could give many modern movies a run for their money.

For All Mankind – 1989


Composed exclusively of amazing archive shots charting the entire moon program, and using astronauts’ voices to tell the story, Al Reinert’s landmark film is less a documentary and more a visual tone-poem about humanity’s most awe-inspiring endeavor. If you’re feeling a bit down about our performance as a species lately, feast your eyes on this: it packs more wonder in every grainy frame than can be found in all of 2001 or Interstellar.

Paris, Texas – 1984


If you had to define melancholy, you’d be hard pressed to do any better than simply mention Wim Wenders’ classic. Shooting American landscapes like only a foreigner could and conducting his wonderful cast like a master, he creates a film graced with intangible poetry and profound heartache. None of this sounds like fun viewing, but the result is spellbinding stuff, all to the sound of Ry Cooder’s unforgettable score.