|Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
|Wong Kar Wai
|Diary of a Country Priest
|Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom
|Pier Paolo Pasolini
Tarkovsky - I could have chosen any of his films. Same with Bresson, Pasolini and Mizoguchi. Their films all lattice together in a refined sensibility that never grows worn from repeated viewings. We were so lucky to have him.
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
I was lucky enough to meet her just weeks before she died while she was attending a A Nos Amours London retrospective of her work. This exquisite domestic horror which has influenced so many with quiet desperation - I'm looking at you Tod Haynes - there's nothing like it for subtlety in the Western Canon.
I reviewed this for Sight & Sound. Talents such as Joe emerge only once in a blue moon and always emerge fully formed. Thai cinema just didn't know what to do with him but Europe took him to their arms. I like that when he finally saw a ghost it was in a hotel room in Paris. Heat, queerness, supernature - he's my favourite living director
The Bohemian magus. His masterpiece. For many years, before she predeceased him, his wife co-ordinated much of the design of Sankmajer's films. They are uncanny. They channel deprived childhoods and toys on their last legs; incipient disgust with the mechanical and a love of its insistence. Body-horror but with Taxidermy.
The kind of film a poltergeist would make. Childhood amongst the rubbish of Soviet Europe. Ancient Enochian propulsions.
I can pretty much watch all of Mizoguchi on rotation. Many of his films no longer even exist, destroyed as too nationalistic during the US postwar occupation of Japan. But his sense of the ghostly here, which he gets so well, with a bawdy grasp of human nature, is a very rare double-act.
As the silent Joan of Arc films created her sainthood, Maurnau's illicit vampire movie created the Vampire industry. A film famously so odd and creepy it's easy to believe that it records a real vampire in the person of Max Schreck (an idea famously explored in Shadow of the Vampire with William Defoe) it is one of those rare sorts of film that manages to catch something genuinely dead. Unheimlich.
Lynch has made more sinister films but this seems his masterpiece, a perfect blend of mystery, horror and glamour. No-one understands the occult underbelly of the the Hollywood Dream Factory quite like Lynch - a world of shifting identities, untethered forces, distorting mirrors and above all a riff on the legacy of the 1947 Black Dahlia murder. It looks gorgeous. It is gorgeous.
I keep coming back to this film in the way the Hets keep coming back to In the Mood for Love. This a sulphurous and desperate business. It's photographed like a dream. Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-wai are pitiless. It is an incandescence. It burns.
Diary of a Country Priest
Robert Bresson. Could have chosen any of them. It was this or Mouchette or Au Hasard. But I chose this for the lack of love it gets. A country priest whose gastric disorder informs his increasing astringency. Holiness as a disordered biome. I know how he feels.
Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom
When I did this ten years ago I put Arabian Nights in this position. I've now swapped it for Salo. I think as a film it seems truer than ever. A zombie government rehearsing cruelty for their diehard cadre. Replace the Salo bigwigs here with Pharma Bros and Tech Billionaires and it all seems quite plausible. I wrote the DVD notes for the BFI DVD many years ago, but I wouldn't recommend the latest higher definition release as it rather spoils the effect.