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The Mystery of Picasso – 1956

Imagine you could sit with one of the defining artists of our times and push them to create whatever came to mind in real time. That is just the palyful exercise put to screen by legendary director Henri-George Clouzot and icon Pablo Picasso. It’s as interesting as you’d expect, but also far more entertaining and visually compelling.

A Matter of Life and Death – 1946

Powell and Pressburger films all have that special something, like fairytales without the saccharine. Of all their output, this one – the story of a downed airman bargaining for more time on this Earth to live out a romantic encounter – teeters closest to melodrama, but it’s just so irresistible you can’t help but love it.

Jubal – 1956

Love them or hate them, Westerns offer a unique canvas with the potential to make even the most intimate tale biblical in scope. Such is the case with this lesser-known gem featuring amazing turns from Ernest Borgnine, Rod Steiger, Glen Ford and Valerie French.

Satyricon – 1969

Also known as the time Fellini went too far, Satyricon is divisive, vulgar, monumental, unforgettable… it is also tedious and needlessly weird in parts, but few films have an ounce of this one’s inventiveness or ambition, and that’s something to be truly treasured.

Death of Stalin – 2017

We like a hearty dose of Armando Iannucci-penned vitriol, and this satire of the behind-the-scenes fight for power following the death of Joseph Stalin is his crown jewel. What a cast, what cheek… who could have imagined totalitarianism could be this much mean-spirited fun? Our favorite film of 2017.

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!