To say I watch a lot of movies is a bit of an understatement. I watch A LOT of movies. 292 so far this year, to be exact. Movies are more than just entertainment to me, they’re works of art (well, some, I suppose… some movies are ONLY entertainment, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I like a handful of those as well). I find the more movies, books, and music I can stuff into my head, the more inspired I become. These things are endless sources of fuel for the unbridled regions of my mind, so long as I always make a point to shovel them in.
So anyway, I thought I’d share a short list of films that have truly gotten those fires raging within me this year (and by this year I mean movies I’ve watched for the first time this year, not necessarily movies that were released this year). Feel free to share your list with me as well!
Harold and Maude – I’d always heard this one was a must watch film, and I even owned it for many years before I ever got around to actually watching it, but holy shit… this immediately shot into my top 5 favorite movies of all time. I love everything about this film. Everything. Go see it now, and love life.
Rosalie – This one is a short film by Walerian Borowczyk. It’s worth 15 minutes of your time. You can find it on YouTube.
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind – I’ve been an admirer of the brilliant Hayao Miyazaki for about a decade now, but somehow only got around to watching this one this year. Miyazaki’s imagination is unparalleled. This is my favorite of his, and considering he was the master behind films like Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and countless other classics, it really says a lot.
A Night on Bald Mountain – Another short film that can be found on YouTube. Trippy, made in 1933, with goblins.
Neighbors – This is another short film, about 8 minutes in length. It was directed by Norman McLaren and HAD TO be a huge inspiration to french filmmaker Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). This one is also on YouTube.
Rivers and Tides: Working With Time – This is a documentary on Andy Goldsworthy, an artist who crafts intricate sculptures using only objects found in nature. The works featured in this film are extraordinary and truly awe-inspiring, though they hardly ever stick around for longer than a few hours (sometimes only minutes!) before they are destroyed by the very thing that gave them life to begin with – nature itself. If you can’t get your hands on this documentary, be sure to look up his work online. You won’t regret it.
Belladonna of Sadness – Trippy, sexy, scary, and beautifully animated. Avoid if you’re not into demon sex stuff.
Mirror – Tarkovsky is king. This film is a love letter to his mother. What an incredible artist he was. One of the best the world has ever seen, surely.
Memories – 99% of the time Katsuhiro Otomo is brought up in conversation, it is due to his work on either the Akira manga or anime film. Akira is great, I’m not going to challenge that fact, but I’m here to tell you that Memories is just as good, if not better than Akira. Why I don’t hear this one brought up more in anime conversations, I will never understand. You all need to see this.
Onibaba – I’m not a huge fan of war films, generally speaking, however a handful have really made their mark on me: Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, 1917, just to name a few. I can now add Onibaba to that list. Onibaba doesn’t feel like a war film though because its focus is not on the soldiers, or samurai in this case, but instead on outsiders, those not fighting in the war, only benefiting from it. Without giving anything away, this is a simple, but highly effective sort of fairy tale. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Blow Out – I was listening to a podcast where Quentin Tarantino was answering the question, “Why did you go with John Travolta for Pulp Fiction? You could have had anybody!” He answered with simply, “Have you ever seen Brian De Palma’s Blow Out?” All I’ve got to say is… man, Blow Out is fantastic. A pitch-perfect thriller. You should check it out if you get the chance.
The Pillar of Fire – I spent a good day or two watching remasters of old Georges Méliès films. Some of them, like this one, were made in the late 1800s and they look astounding! This one is only a minute long and can be found on YouTube.
The Immigrant – Classic Chaplin.
The Adventurer – Another Chaplin classic, but this one felt much different than most of the films he made. Probably because a lot of it takes place on the side of a mountain. Despite being over 100 years old, this film will never not be funny. Timeless comedy.
Dementia – Not to be confused with Daughter of Horror, which is the same film but with added narration (by Ed McMahon…wha-? ). Dementia is a silent film made about 30 years after the silent film era. Be sure to watch the version without the narration. It’s completely unnecessary. Just sit back and let this film happen to you.