Reader in Film Studies
|The 400 Blows
|La dolce vita
|Cléo from 5 to 7
|The Battle of Algiers
|The Age of Innocence
A towering example of the “genius of the system”. If I had to save just one Hollywood comedy, it would be this one.
The 400 Blows
The film that launched one thousand stories in the first person.
La dolce vita
Sprawling, infuriating, profoundly inventive - a film world populated by beautiful and sinister creatures that never ceases to surprise.
Cléo from 5 to 7
A woman’s walk across the city can be a life journey in itself.
The Battle of Algiers
Cinema as weapon for revolution and solidarity.
A cinema where the Actress reigns supreme, as a force for creativity and crisis.
A heartfelt tribute to those who wilfully confuse cinema with life – often with catastrophic results.
The Age of Innocence
A film that rewards a hundred viewings, and which hits you every time with a sense of heartbreaking inevitability.
When cinema does not need words, just bodies and landscapes to exist.
A film that contains past, present and future - and every other great film about children ever made. As close as cinema gets to perfection - in under 80 minutes.
It has become almost de rigueur to preface lists such as this with a caveat about how entitled, despotic and nonsensical the very attempt at list-making is. My response to this invitation comes as an admission of defeat, and from a place of partiality. Cinema is too vast, and the impossibility of lists is a joy in itself: there’s always MORE we need to watch. Ultimately, any list says far more about the list-maker than about the object under scrutiny and classification. My proposed list is made of films that have been with me for a long time, and which have been the object of rich discussions with others. It leans heavily towards the mid-20th century, the moment in which cinema seems to become aware of its own history, whether to embrace it or reject it. It is the moment in which cinema falls a bit in love with itself too – call it narcissism, or cinephilia.
My ideal list (which is not necessarily this one) contains the seeds of hundreds of past and future films, whether through influence, citation, dialogue or contestation. It includes films that invent new vocabularies of feeling; films where form and subject come together in miraculous fusion. It also includes films that show us the word anew, and which build worlds in which the spectator can live. Films to see us through the most testing of times. And a couple of provocations (otherwise, where’s the fun?).