Fiction - Commercial - Corporate - Animation - Documentary

Richard III – 1955

It is very much a product of its time, but do not let that deter you from discovering this masterpiece by Lawrence Olivier – cinema’s great Shakespearian scholar. Unlike many of the films we love, the beauty is not in the form, though the undeniable craftsmanship does eventually make an impression. The real achievement, as Shakespeare aficionados would have it, is in the text, and how expertly it has been edited, rearranged and supplemented (curtesy of preceding play « Henry VI » and later authors Cibber and Garrick). If that doesn’t inspire you – and it did us, as our films section will soon reveal – then Olivier’s Blackadder-inspiring turn as the protagonist should do the trick.

Phantom of the Paradise – 1974

Musicals ain’t what they used to be, but to be fair they never used to be like this. This is a one-off of epic-proportions: Brian De Palma riffs on the Phantom of the Opera, but also channels Hitchcock and plants seeds that will inspire the likes of Rocky Horror Picture Show and Star Wars. No summary can do it justice so let’s just mention that it’s a wide-angle bonanza, confirms the genius of Paul Williams, stars the original Darth Vader prototype and has the nuttiest prison escape montage ever put to film.

Extreme Animation – 1991-2000

We’re on a bit of an animation binge at the moment. Nothing wrong with a Disney classic of course but we’re talking Jan Švankmajer and Phil Mulloy. Technically, they are worlds apart, but they share a wonderful sense of irreverence. These are unique, dark and funny little universes we strongly urge you to explore for yourself!

Mary and Max – 2009

On first inspection, not an obvious Valentine’s Day movie recommendation, but as a love story between two human souls, this is essential viewing. It’ll bring every imaginable kind of tear to your eyes, make you laugh and leave you strangely uplifted. If you’re tired of cynical Hollywood romance, you should give this a try. Its rewards are boundless. And, as icing on the cake, the animation is pure genius!

The Grand Budapest Hotel – 2014

We didn’t think we’d officially pick sides, but really, who doesn’t? Oscar 2015 has some strong contenders, but none more-so than what is so far the apotheosis of Wes Anderson’s unique career. One of cinema’s coolest talents has just given us his most finely crafted, most visually accomplished and, indeed, funniest film. Delicious!

Marketa Lazarová – 1967

This is not your typical, squeaky-clean 60s technicolor Medieval epic. It’s as far from that as you can get, actually, and as un-Hollywood. Shot in gritty black and white, this is an uncompromising and filthy look at life in the Middle Ages, of Christianity clashing with the last remains of Paganism. It’s beautiful and terrible at the same time, and you can almost feel and smell the textures on screen, the film being a degenerate fusion of Terrence Malick and Sam Peckinpah.

Die Nibelungen – 1924

All fantasy epics every made have strands of Fritz Lang’s staggering masterpiece in their DNA, but few have the same impact. Long before Lord of the Rings, the German pioneer infused his fairytale with both magic and doom, innocence and cruelty, and an eye for composition second to none. It’s a leap of faith to invest 5 hours into a silent film, but you will not be indifferent to its power, even close to a century after its original release.

Tetsuo – 1989

Tetsuo is a testament to the power of the imagination, and what nightmarish visions you can bring to life with a bit of loose change, some B&W film stock and a seriously messed-up sense of humor. It’s in that same feverishly inventive category as the original Evil Dead and Night of the Living Dead, but has its own unique surreal style that is still shocking to this day!

Minuscule – 2013

Since Pixar nearly own the expression « computer-animated masterpiece » at this point, it’s incredibly refreshing to experience a film that takes the resulting conventions and turns them on their heads. Refusing to anthropomorphize its wonderfully designed insect characters, Minuscule forgoes almost any dialogue and uses a blend of real locations (some of them recreated in a studio, others found in natural parks) and CGI characters. The result is unusual, fresh, exciting and bursting with charm. One you can enjoy with the entire family but more than stands up to adult film-fan scrutiny.

Lawrence of Arabia – 1962

the holiday season is back with huge classics booked on your favorite channel (if you’re still into regular cable, good luck avoiding Ben Hur!), and if you’re in the Northern hemisphere, how about a 200 minute escapade to burning hot Jordan for David Lean’s monumental epic. 4 decades on and this is still perfect, a feast for the eyes and ears with a virtuoso sense of pacing. Do yourself a favor and catch a 70mmm projection of this: it’ll put any modern epic to shame.