Great Viewing

ELEVEN MOVIES THAT BLEW MY MIND
i.e. surprisingly enlarged my understanding of what of a movie could do

Sergei Eisenstein, Strike (1925)
Dziga Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
Walt Disney studio, Fantasia (1940)
Stanley Kubrick, 2001 (1968)
Akira Kurosawa, Kagemusha (1980)
Ron Fricke, Baraka (1992)
The Brothers Quay, Institute Benjamenta (1995)
Peter Greenaway, The Pillow Book (1996)
Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou, Microcosmos (1996)
Garin Nugroho, Opera Jawa (2006)
Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Verena Paravel, Leviathan (2012)

A SHORT LIST OF THE MOST IMPRESSIVE DIRECTORS AND THEIR MOVIES

Movies are profoundly collaborative works.  Crucial contributions are made by various designers and technicians in addition to the writers, actors, and directors.  That is why Erwin Panofsky suggested that a movie “is the nearest modern equivalent of a medieval cathedral.”  But some critics have claimed that a movie is only likely to achieve major artistic value when it is controlled by a single artistic mind, normally that of the director—or, best of all, the writer-director.  The cinematic auteur (French for “author”), whose vision the movie expresses, is the equivalent of the painter or novelist or music composer.

The auteur theory is controversial.  Some say it overstates the contribution of the director; some point to great movies that were made without a single director at the helm (The Wizard of Oz, a favorite example, shows the power of the Hollywood studio system in its heyday).  I find, though, that the movies I love the most are indeed the works of celebrated directors whose whole body of work interests me, much as I want to see all the pictures by a favorite painter, read all the books by a favorite writer, and so forth.

Here are my very favorite movies/moviemakers, with indications of what else you might want to see by them (most of the main entries are in the Millsaps library):

Charlie Chaplin, City Lights (also: The Gold Rush, Modern Times)
Jean Vigo, L’Atalante (also:  Zero for Conduct)
Alfred Hitchcock, North by Northwest (also: The 39 Steps, Vertigo)
Jean Renoir, The Rules of the Game (also:  Grand Illusion)
Orson Welles, Citizen Kane (also:  The Magnificent Ambersons)
Federico Fellini, 8 1/2 (also:  La Strada, Nights of Cabiria)
Francois Truffaut, The 400 Blows (also:  Jules & Jim, Day for Night)
Ingmar Bergman, The Seventh Seal (also:  Wild Strawberries, Hour of the Wolf)
Akira Kurosawa, Ran (also The Seven Samurai, Dersu Uzala, Kagemusha)
Lina Wertmuller, Seven Beauties (also:  Swept Away)
Terrence Malick, Days of Heaven (also:  Badlands, The Tree of Life)
Stanley Kubrick, Dr. Strangelove (also:  Lolita, A Clockwork Orange, 2001)
James Cameron, Aliens (also:  the Terminator films, The Abyss, and Titanic)
Peter Greenaway, The Pillow Book (also:  The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover; Drowning by Numbers)
Sally Potter, Orlando (also: The Tango Lesson, Yes)
Hayao Miyazaki, Howl’s Moving Castle (also:  Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke)

and the exception that proves the rule,

The Awful Truth, not because of director Leo McCarey, but because of Cary Grant and Irene Dunne (see the other great “remarriage comedies” Philadelphia Story, His Girl Friday, and Adam’s Rib)

www.allmovie.com is a good site for directors’ filmographies, with some evaluation.

SOME OTHER MUST-SEES

Napoleon (Abel Gance, 1927)
Sunrise (F. W. Murnau, 1927)
October (Sergei Eisenstein, 1928)
Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934)
Children of Paradise (Marcel Carné, 1945)
The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks, 1946)
The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)
The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich, 1971)
Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino, 1992)
The Piano (Jane Campion, 1993)
Fargo (Joel & Ethan Coen, 1996)
Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999)
Amores Perros (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2000)
Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008)
The Life of Pi (Ang Lee, 2012)