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Le Silence de la Mer – 1949

Our film of the week is a subtle masterpiece: in Jean-Pierre Melville’s « Silence de la Mer », an old man and his niece have to share their home with an occupying German officer. They express their protest through a vow of silence. With a lot less blood but more complex emotions, it does for WWII films what « Hateful Eight » did for Westerns, and revealed a new great talent of world cinema, already a virtuoso in his startling debut.

Letter Never Sent – 1959

While The Revenant tears through screens across the world, it’s time to rediscover the virtuoso man-against-nature classic Letter Never Sent, the apotheosis of Mikhail (Soy Cuba!) Kalatozov’s career. Handheld, long-take wide-angle cinematography has rarely, if ever, been this stunning!

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp – 1943

Our end of year viewing recommendation is, inevitably, about friendship and the passage of time, but celebrates the things that stubbornly remain the same. If you haven’t seen The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp before, you’re in for a real treat. It takes courage and skill to make such a poignant, thoughtful anti-war film right as World War II was raging on, but this masterpiece transcends its context and has something touching to say about any era. One of our favorites.

Akira – 1988

Our film of the week is one of the very best sci-fi fantasy films ever made, a visual spectacle that will make your mind and eyes melt. No, it’s not Star Wars, it’s Akira, the trojan horse through which anime entered Western theaters and consciousness, and the moment we realized animation could be sophisticated, intelligent, and very un-kid-friendly.

The Horse’s Mouth – 1958

Our film of the week is the Alec Guinness-starring masterpiece « The Horse’s Mouth ». One of Obi Wan’s finest performances in the only film he ever wrote, it’s a beautiful examination of artist’s torments and insecurities, all memorably scored to Sergei Prokofiev’s Lt Kijé.

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas – 1998

Here we have a film famously best enjoyed under the influence – and inspired by a book undoubtedly created under the influence. You’d be in for a trip, but also missing out on what a meticulously inventive rollercoaster Terry Gilliam and his fearless stars have crafted.

Matango – 1963

Happy Halloween! For those of you considering an evening indoor before a flickering screen, we strongly recommend Godzilla-creator Inoshiro Honda’s overlooked masterpiece Matango, aka « Fungus of Terror » or « Curse of the Mushroom People ». Like most Honda films, there’s a tense, eerie and effective nightmare hiding under the shlocky title and advertising, and you can’t help but think this one might have given David Cronenberg an idea or two.

Tabu – 2012

If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s probably that time of year when things get really colorful outside. Here’s some classy black and white magic to sooth your eyeballs, our film of the week, Tabu. It’s a beautiful, playful and original little masterpiece that shows how cinema can still surprise you, even without 9-digit budgets and giant robots…

City of Life and Death – 2009

This week we’re turning East and focusing on a very brutal and powerful film: Chuan Lu’s City of Life and Death, a gritty, all-black-and-white depiction of the fall and occupation of Nanjing by Japanese troops. On a technical level, it is right up there with Spielberg’s WWII efforts while arguably showing a lesser known but more savage side of the war. It also dares to look deeper into the darker reaches of the human soul than those films, and the result is often painful to watch, and harder still to look away from. Unmissable!

Waltz With Bashir – 2008

How do you make a documentary about something as abstract and subjective as memory, particularly with as politically thorny a context as the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon? In the groundbreaking Waltz With Bashir, Ari Folman takes us through an animated journey through war trauma and the unreliability of memory in times of conflict, all to the haunted tune Max Richter’s mournful score. It’s a daring and rewarding work, and when, towards the end, real footage finally intrudes, uncommented and raw, it delivers a shocking, memorable payload. Unmissable!