15. Die Hard 2: Die Harder
While nowhere near as good as the first one, Die Harder (one of the best and worst movie titles of all time) is actually decently solid. It isn’t as memorable as the first, and is far more over-the-top, but it does feature an exciting, funny, and clever story. Bruce Willis is as good as before, having become a legend after his deeds in the original, and he has to now save an airport from terrorists. There are some really silly and crazy moments, but that doesn’t make it any less fun.
16. Day for Night
Francois Truffaut, one of the most renowned directors in the history of film (and one of the pioneers of the French New Wave) has a lot of fun in this Oscar-winning movie within a movie. He directs himself, as a director, directing a movie. It shows the trials and tribulations of making a movie with drama, humor, and a love for the craft itself. Like many of his other works, it requires multiple viewings since there is just so much going on–each film of his is rich with precise direction.
18. The Devil’s Backbone
Pan’s Labyrinth is one of my very favorite movies. The Devil’s Backbone holds a spiritual tie to the later film. One of Guillermo Del Toro’s first movies, it is as scary as it is passionate, as an orphaned boy (Carlos) ends up in an orphanage out in the country during the Spanish Civil War. He soon discovers that it is haunted with many ghosts, an idea that Del Toro would continue to play with in this year’s Crimson Peak. Decadently shot, with astonishingly good performances, it reminds us of Del Toro’s theme that even the scariest of ghosts might not be as scary as a human.
19. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Probably my least favorite of Wes Anderson’s movies, and perhaps his most bizarre (which is saying something) The Life Aquatic has never quite clicked with me. It is wonderfully acted, with Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston, Owen Wilson, and many more, but it just isn’t as deep or emotional as his other films. It has opportunities to be so, but instead relies too much on its own oddness for it to ever be truly accessible.
22. Blind Chance
Krzysztof Kieślowski, one of the absolute greatest and unknown directors of all time (most famous for his Three Colors trilogy which I covered over the summer) directed this early work in 1981 but saw it censored by the Polish government until ’87. Following Witek, we see how his life unfolds in three different circumstances as he runs to catch a train. It has to do with playing on fate–what happens if he catches it? What happens if he doesn’t? How does his life go? It is utterly fascinating, and much like his other films, require precise focus to catch every calculated moment.
A three-hour-long Japanese horror movie. That is a pretty intense statement right there, but that’s exactly what Kwaidan is. Directed by Masaki Kobayashi, this epic, 4-tale story takes you through ghost stories, as they are delicately brought to life with gorgeous sets, creepy music, and eerie makeup. However, horror fans who prefer modern stuff will be facing very deliberate pacing. No jump-scares, chase scenes, or the like are here. Think of it more like a Del Toro horror film than a Carpenter.
Coming soon, the fabled Apu Trilogy, Ikiru, and Mulholland Dr.