Nanook of the North (1922) dir. Robert J. Flaherty  The iconic Nanook of the North has been a staple in film schools for decades, and was just voted 7th-best documentary film of all time by the BFI. Even though Nanook's reputation as an artistic masterpiece are secure, its reputation as a piece of ethnography or proto-ethnography has waxed and [...]

Touki Bouki aka The Journey of the Hyena (1973) dir. Djibril Diop Mambéty Christ of the Ozarks There's a romantic attraction to the unfamiliar, and enjoying the exotic can be refreshing and provide new perspective. I imagine the Buddharūpa I encounter in films and museums could be seen as kitsch by people who grow up with them. Locals here in Northwest [...]
Faust (1926) dir. F.W. Murnau

Faust (1926) - dir. F.W. Murnau ""Faust," with its supernatural vistas of heaven and hell, is particularly distinctive in the way it uses the whole canvas. Consider the startling early shot of Mephisto, his dark wings obscuring the sky as he hovers above a little village that huddles in the lower right corner." - Roger [...]

McLuhan stand-in Prof. Brian O'Blivion Videodrome (1983) - dir. David Cronenberg David Cronenberg's Videodrome explores the disorienting ways that new media technology ruthlessly transforms not only our shared cultures, but also our very bodies and minds. Videodrome relies on the theories expounded by 20th Century thinker Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan believed "the medium is the message." [...]

Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler aka Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (1922) dir. Fritz Lang Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse aka The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) dir. Fritz Lang It is impossible to see any movie made during Weimar Republic Germany outside the lens of the rise of Nazism. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, released in [...]

Werckmeister harmóniák aka Werkmeister Harmonies (2000) - dir. Béla Tarr In the opening scene of Werckmeister Harmonies, Janos explains the nature of an eclipse to a group of men in a bar. He begins scientifically, charting out the motions of the heavenly bodies. As the men's movements turn into an ethereal dance, János ventures into [...]

Dancer in the Dark (2000) dir. Lars von Trier Even the film's defenders say the big musical numbers fall flat, and the plot seems more like it belongs to a 1912 melodrama than a 21st Century art film. Its critics are even less kind - The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw called it "perhaps one of the [...]
Laurence Olivier as Henry V

Laurence Olivier's 1944 Technicolor adaptation of Henry V is widely regarded as the play's defining performance for popular audiences. Henry is a chivalrous king who inspires his men to victory. It is a terrific film, with bold technicolor, inventive storytelling and a fascinating design based on images from the Très Riches Heures. But Olivier's wartime [...]

Ordet aka The Word (1955) - dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer Carl Theodor Dreyer's final scene in The Word centers around the resurrection of Inger from her casket. The scene leaves us with a scene of awe, wonder, and hope for life after death. The Word's style ensures that the miracle is both narratively sound and [...]

Zodiac (2007) dir. David Fincher The 1891 Sherlock Holmes story "The Five Orange Pips" is loaded with some of the genre's most delicious tropes. It spans two continents, includes a secret society, two mysterious deaths, a will and a locked room mystery. Holmes, true to form, solves the mystery without even leaving his home. Or [...]