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The 100 Best Movies Written by Women

Welcome to our guide of the best movies written by women: These are highly Certified Fresh films (nothing on the list falls below 94%) whose screenplay credit goes in part or fully to women.

The journey begins nearly a century ago with 1925’s Battleship Potemkin, written by Nina Agadzhanova, inspired by her own participation in Soviet uprisings. Just two years later, Metropolis, cinema’s first sci-fi feature masterpiece, emerged out of Germany, written by Thea von Harbou. The 1930s were one of those peak decades for movies, in no small part thanks to King Kong (co-written by Ruth Rose), The Wizard of Oz (co-written by Florence Ryerson), and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Walt Disney had hand-picked Dorothy Ann Blank, a movie magazine writer, to identify and adapt tales into animation. Snow White was the first, and in the process Blank founded the studio’s Story Development Department.

Women were a driving force behind Alfred Hitchcock’s best romantic psychological thrillers. Joan Harrison became the first woman to be nominated for Best Screenplay with Foreign Correspondent at the 13th Academy Awards, with the also Harrison-written Rebecca winning Best Picture that night. Sally Benson and Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville co-wrote Shadow of a Doubt. Elizabeth Reinhardt co-wrote Laura, and Strangers on a Train was co-written by Czenzi Ormonde, who also acted as Hitchcock’s chauffeur as he never learned how to drive.

Suso Cecchi d’Amico helped lay the foundations of key Italian neorealist film Bicycle Thieves, along with Luchino Visconti’s opulent epic The Leopard. Betty Comden and Adolph Green were showered with Oscar, Tony, and Grammy nominations and wins throughout their six-decade musical-writing partnership, with Singin’ in the Rain their most enduring work.

Novelist Leigh Brackett adapted Rio Bravo and The Big Sleep, and worked on an early draft of The Empire Strikes Back, though she died before the movie came out. George Lucas’ earlier feature, American Graffiti, was co-written by Gloria Katz, who would go on to doctor the script to A New Hope, infusing Star Wars with its trademark sense of humor and fleshing out Princess Leia’s personality and arc. Another sci-fi classic of the era, E.T., was written by Melissa Mathison.

After Sofia Coppola‘s Lost in Translation Oscar win for Best Original Screenplay and nom for Best Director (only the third woman to be nominated at the time in Academy history), representation in the industry has been a constant topic of conversation and controversy. Ever since, there has been a consistent rise in critically acclaimed films solely written and directed by women. The players include Dee Rees (Pariah, Mudbound), Céline Sciamma (Tomboy, Portrait of a Lady on Fire), Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said), Haifaa al-Mansour (Wadjda), Jennifer Kent (The Babadook), Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night), Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Anna Rose Holmer (The Fits), Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird, Little Women), Chloé Zhao (The Rider), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Eliza Hittman (Never Rarely Sometimes Always), Channing Godfrey Peoples (Miss Juneteenth), and more.

Read on to see the full list of the 100 best movies of all time written by women – arranged in chronological order. Click through on each title for full credits.

#112
#112
Adjusted Score: 109940%
Critics Consensus: A technical masterpiece, Battleship Potemkin is Soviet cinema at its finest, and its montage editing techniques remain influential to this day.
Synopsis: When they are fed rancid meat, the sailors on the Potemkin revolt against their harsh conditions. Led by Vakulinchuk (Aleksandr... [More]
Directed By: S. M. Eisenstein

#111

Metropolis (1927)
97%

#111
Adjusted Score: 110720%
Critics Consensus: A visually awe-inspiring science fiction classic from the silent era.
Synopsis: This influential German science-fiction film presents a highly stylized futuristic city where a beautiful and cultured utopia exists above a... [More]
Directed By: Fritz Lang

#110

King Kong (1933)
98%

#110
Adjusted Score: 108234%
Critics Consensus: King Kong explores the soul of a monster -- making audiences scream and cry throughout the film -- in large part due to Kong's breakthrough special effects.
Synopsis: Actress Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) and director Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) travel to the Indian Ocean to do location shoots... [More]

#109
Adjusted Score: 99231%
Critics Consensus: With its involving story and characters, vibrant art, and memorable songs, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs set the animation standard for decades to come.
Synopsis: The Grimm fairy tale gets a Technicolor treatment in Disney's first animated feature. Jealous of Snow White's beauty, the wicked... [More]
Directed By: David Hand

#108

The Wizard of Oz (1939)
98%

#108
Adjusted Score: 115182%
Critics Consensus: An absolute masterpiece whose groundbreaking visuals and deft storytelling are still every bit as resonant, The Wizard of Oz is a must-see film for young and old.
Synopsis: When a tornado rips through Kansas, Dorothy (Judy Garland) and her dog, Toto, are whisked away in their house to... [More]
Directed By: Victor Fleming

#107

Rebecca (1940)
100%

#107
Adjusted Score: 111173%
Critics Consensus: Hitchcock's first American film (and his only Best Picture winner), Rebecca is a masterpiece of haunting atmosphere, Gothic thrills, and gripping suspense.
Synopsis: Story of a young woman who marries a fascinating widower only to find out that she must live in the... [More]
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

#106

Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
100%

#106
Adjusted Score: 107122%
Critics Consensus: Alfred Hitchcock's earliest classic -- and his own personal favorite -- deals its flesh-crawling thrills as deftly as its finely shaded characters.
Synopsis: Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) visits his relatives in Santa Rosa. He is a very charming man, but his niece slowly... [More]
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

#105

Laura (1944)
100%

#105
Adjusted Score: 109231%
Critics Consensus: A psychologically complex portrait of obsession, Laura is also a deliciously well-crafted murder mystery.
Synopsis: In one of the most celebrated 1940s film noirs, Manhattan detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) investigates the murder of Madison... [More]
Directed By: Otto Preminger

#104

The Big Sleep (1946)
97%

#104
Adjusted Score: 103491%
Critics Consensus: A perfect match of screenplay, director, and leading man, The Big Sleep stands as a towering achievement in film noir whose grim vitality remains undimmed.
Synopsis: Private investigator Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) is hired by General Sternwood to help resolve the gambling debts of his wild... [More]
Directed By: Howard Hawks

#103

Bicycle Thieves (1948)
98%

#103
Adjusted Score: 106511%
Critics Consensus: An Italian neorealism exemplar, Bicycle Thieves thrives on its non-flashy performances and searing emotion.
Synopsis: Unemployed Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani) is elated when he finally finds work hanging posters around war-torn Rome. His wife, Maria... [More]
Directed By: Vittorio De Sica

#102
#102
Adjusted Score: 105269%
Critics Consensus: A provocative premise and inventive set design lights the way for Hitchcock diabolically entertaining masterpiece.
Synopsis: In Alfred Hitchcock's adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's thriller, tennis star Guy Haines (Farley Granger) is enraged by his trampy wife's... [More]
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

#101
#101
Adjusted Score: 109773%
Critics Consensus: Clever, incisive, and funny, Singin' in the Rain is a masterpiece of the classical Hollywood musical.
Synopsis: A spoof of the turmoil that afflicted the movie industry in the late 1920s when movies went from silent to... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly

#100

Rio Bravo (1959)
98%

#100
Adjusted Score: 100835%
Critics Consensus: Rio Bravo finds director Howard Hawks -- and his stellar ensemble cast -- working at peak performance, and the end result is a towering classic of the Western genre.
Synopsis: When gunslinger Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) kills a man in a saloon, Sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne) arrests him... [More]
Directed By: Howard Hawks

#99

The Leopard (1963)
98%

#99
Adjusted Score: 101677%
Critics Consensus: Lavish and wistful, The Leopard features epic battles, sumptuous costumes, and a ballroom waltz that competes for most beautiful sequence committed to film.
Synopsis: As Garibaldi's troops begin the unification of Italy in the 1860s, an aristocratic Sicilian family grudgingly adapts to the sweeping... [More]
Directed By: Luchino Visconti

#98
#98
Adjusted Score: 100887%
Critics Consensus: One of the most influential of all teen films, American Graffiti is a funny, nostalgic, and bittersweet look at a group of recent high school grads' last days of innocence.
Synopsis: On the last day of summer vacation in 1962, friends Curt (Richard Dreyfuss), Steve (Ronny Howard), Terry (Charles Martin Smith)... [More]
Directed By: George Lucas

#97

Halloween (1978)
96%

#97
Adjusted Score: 104031%
Critics Consensus: Scary, suspenseful, and viscerally thrilling, Halloween set the standard for modern horror films.
Synopsis: On a cold Halloween night in 1963, six year old Michael Myers brutally murdered his 17-year-old sister, Judith. He was... [More]
Directed By: John Carpenter

#96
Adjusted Score: 110804%
Critics Consensus: Playing as both an exciting sci-fi adventure and a remarkable portrait of childhood, Steven Spielberg's touching tale of a homesick alien remains a piece of movie magic for young and old.
Synopsis: After a gentle alien becomes stranded on Earth, the being is discovered and befriended by a young boy named Elliott... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#95
#95
Adjusted Score: 98899%
Critics Consensus: Daughters of the Dust addresses its weighty themes with lovely visuals and a light, poetic touch, offering an original, absorbing look at a largely unexplored corner of American culture.
Synopsis: At the dawn of the 20th century, a family in the Gullah community of coastal South Carolina -- former West... [More]
Directed By: Julie Dash

#94
Adjusted Score: 100625%
Critics Consensus: With a fascinating real-life story and powerhouse performances from Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, What's Love Got to Do With It? is a can't miss biopic.
Synopsis: Based on the life of the legendary soul singer, Tina Turner (Angela Bassett) -- born Anna Mae Bullock -- discovers... [More]
Directed By: Brian Gibson

#93

Three Colors: Red (1994)
100%

#93
Adjusted Score: 101121%
Critics Consensus: A complex, stirring, and beautifully realized portrait of interconnected lives, Red is the captivating conclusion to a remarkable trilogy.
Synopsis: Part-time model Valentine (Irène Jacob) meets a retired judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who lives in her neighborhood after she runs over... [More]
Directed By: Krzysztof Kieslowski

#92

Before Sunrise (1995)
100%

#92
Adjusted Score: 102574%
Critics Consensus: Thought-provoking and beautifully filmed, Before Sunrise is an intelligent, unabashedly romantic look at modern love, led by marvelously natural performances from Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.
Synopsis: On his way to Vienna, American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meets Celine (Julie Delpy), a student returning to Paris. After long... [More]
Directed By: Richard Linklater

#91
#91
Adjusted Score: 99973%
Critics Consensus: Sense and Sensibility is an uncommonly deft, very funny Jane Austen adaptation, marked by Emma Thompson's finely tuned performance.
Synopsis: When Elinor Dashwood's (Emma Thompson) father dies, her family's finances are crippled. After the Dashwoods move to a cottage in... [More]
Directed By: Ang Lee

#90
#90
Adjusted Score: 99660%
Critics Consensus: The Taste of Others is a fresh, witty comedy about the attraction of opposites. The characters are well-drawn and engaging and their social interactions believable.
Synopsis: Castella (Jean-Pierre Bacri) is a successful businessman caught behind the fast-changing times. More out of boredom than out of interest,... [More]
Directed By: Agnès Jaoui

#89

The Dish (2000)
96%

#89
Adjusted Score: 98388%
Critics Consensus: A feel good movie without an abundance of mush.
Synopsis: The true story of a group of eccentric scientists who are responsible for manning a satellite dish inauspiciously located on... [More]
Directed By: Rob Sitch

#88

Monsoon Wedding (2001)
95%

#88
Adjusted Score: 98785%
Critics Consensus: An insightful, energetic blend of Hollywood and Bollywood styles, Monsoon Wedding is a colorful, exuberant celebration of modern-day India, family, love, and life.
Synopsis: The exuberant ensemble comedy unites a Punjabi family for the wedding of a family member. Relatives from all over the... [More]
Directed By: Mira Nair

#87
#87
Adjusted Score: 103111%
Critics Consensus: Effectively balancing humor and subtle pathos, Sofia Coppola crafts a moving, melancholy story that serves as a showcase for both Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.
Synopsis: A lonely, aging movie star named Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and a conflicted newlywed, Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), meet in Tokyo.... [More]
Directed By: Sofia Coppola

#86

Since Otar Left (2003)
96%

#86
Adjusted Score: 97238%
Critics Consensus: A drama that's both funny and moving.
Synopsis: Elderly Eka (Esther Gorintin) lives with her daughter, Marina (Nino Khomasuridze), and granddaughter Ada (Dinara Drukarova) in a depressed Georgian... [More]
Directed By: Julie Bertuccelli

#85
Adjusted Score: 98107%
Critics Consensus: An emotionally blunt and gripping drama, Grbavica deftly explores the emotional toll that all wars take upon those who survive them.
Synopsis: A full decade after the ethnic conflict that left the city of Sarajevo in ruins, the widowed Esma (Mirjana Karanovic)... [More]
Directed By: Jasmila Zbanic

#84

Persepolis (2007)
96%

#84
Adjusted Score: 101263%
Critics Consensus: Persepolis is an emotionally powerful, dramatically enthralling autobiographical gem, and the film's simple black-and-white images are effective and bold.
Synopsis: Based on Satrapi's graphic novel about her life in pre and post-revolutionary Iran and then in Europe. The film traces... [More]

#83

35 Shots of Rum (2008)
97%

#83
Adjusted Score: 99048%
Critics Consensus: This slow-moving French family drama is rich, complex, subtle and emotionally eloquent.
Synopsis: Lionel (Alex Descas), a widower, has raised his daughter, Josephine (Mati Diop), on his own since she was young. The... [More]
Directed By: Claire Denis

#82

Chop Shop (2007)
97%

#82
Adjusted Score: 97644%
Critics Consensus: Filled with excellent performances, Ramin Bahrani's deft sophomore effort is a heartfelt, hopeful neorealist look at the people who live in the gritty underbelly of New York City.
Synopsis: A young man works as an auto-body repairman to provide for his younger sister.... [More]
Directed By: Ramin Bahrani

#81

Mother (2009)
96%

#81
Adjusted Score: 99009%
Critics Consensus: As fleshy as it is funny, Bong Joon-Ho's Mother straddles family drama, horror and comedy with a deft grasp of tone and plenty of eerie visuals.
Synopsis: A widow (Kim Hye-ja) resides with her mentally challenged son (Won-bin) in a small South Korean town, where she scrapes... [More]
Directed By: Bong Joon-ho

#80

Pariah (2011)
95%

#80
Adjusted Score: 99740%
Critics Consensus: Pulsing with authenticity and led by a stirring lead performance from Adepero Oduye, Pariah is a powerful coming out/coming-of-age film that signals the arrival of a fresh new talent in writer/director Dee Rees.
Synopsis: Teenage Alike (Adepero Oduye) lives in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood with her parents (Charles Parnell, Kim Wayans) and younger sister... [More]
Directed By: Dee Rees

#79

Tomboy (2011)
96%

#79
Adjusted Score: 97293%
Critics Consensus: In tune with the emotion and tribulations of childhood, Tomboy is a charming movie that treats its main subject with warmth and heart.
Synopsis: A 10-year-old girl (Zoé Héran) moves into a new neighborhood and decides to dress like a boy.... [More]
Directed By: Céline Sciamma

#78
Adjusted Score: 100151%
Critics Consensus: Visually lush, refreshingly free of family-friendly clatter, and anchored with soulful depth, The Secret World of Arrietty lives up to Studio Ghibli's reputation.
Synopsis: Arrietty, a tiny teenager, lives with her parents in the recesses of a suburban home, unbeknown to the homeowner and... [More]

#77

Sister (2012)
96%

#77
Adjusted Score: 97134%
Critics Consensus: Léa Seydoux and Kacey Mottet Klein are exceptional as downtrodden siblings in this sad and wintry character study.
Synopsis: A poor boy (Kacey Mottet Klein) steals from wealthy patrons at a posh ski resort to support himself and his... [More]
Directed By: Ursula Meier

#76

Before Midnight (2013)
98%

#76
Adjusted Score: 105224%
Critics Consensus: Building on the first two installments in Richard Linklater's well-crafted Before trilogy, Before Midnight offers intelligent, powerfully acted perspectives on love, marriage, and long-term commitment.
Synopsis: On the last night of their idyllic Greek vacation, longtime lovers Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) reminisce about... [More]
Directed By: Richard Linklater

#75

Enough Said (2013)
95%

#75
Adjusted Score: 102975%
Critics Consensus: Wryly charming, impeccably acted, and ultimately quite bittersweet, Enough Said is a grown-up movie in the best possible way.
Synopsis: Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a divorced single parent, seems generally happy but dreads her daughter's departure for college. Unexpectedly, Eva begins... [More]
Directed By: Nicole Holofcener

#74
#74
Adjusted Score: 100041%
Critics Consensus: Starkly emotional and beautifully directed, The Selfish Giant uses a lovely script and some powerful performances to present some of the best that modern British cinema has to offer.
Synopsis: A hyperactive boy (Conner Chapman) and his best friend, a slow-witted youth with an affinity for horses, start collecting scrap... [More]
Directed By: Clio Barnard

#73

Wadjda (2012)
99%

#73
Adjusted Score: 103733%
Critics Consensus: Transgressive in the best possible way, Wadjda presents a startlingly assured new voice from a corner of the globe where cinema has been all but silenced.
Synopsis: A rebellious Saudi girl (Waad Mohammed) enters a Koran recitation competition at her school and hopes to win enough money... [More]
Directed By: Haifaa Al-Mansour

#72

The Babadook (2014)
98%

#72
Adjusted Score: 106834%
Critics Consensus: The Babadook relies on real horror rather than cheap jump scares -- and boasts a heartfelt, genuinely moving story to boot.
Synopsis: A troubled widow (Essie Davis) discovers that her son is telling the truth about a monster that entered their home... [More]
Directed By: Jennifer Kent

#71
Adjusted Score: 101044%
Critics Consensus: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night blends conventional elements into something brilliantly original -- and serves as a striking calling card for writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour.
Synopsis: Residents of a worn-down Iranian city encounter a skateboarding vampire (Sheila Vand) who preys on men who disrespect women.... [More]
Directed By: Ana Lily Amirpour

#70

Ida (2013)
96%

#70
Adjusted Score: 101707%
Critics Consensus: Empathetically written, splendidly acted, and beautifully photographed, Ida finds director Pawel Pawlikowski revisiting his roots to powerful effect.
Synopsis: In 1962, Anna is about to take vows as a nun when she learns from her only relative that she... [More]
Directed By: Pawel Pawlikowski

#69
Adjusted Score: 104433%
Critics Consensus: Boldly unconventional and refreshingly honest, Diary of a Teenage Girl is a frank coming-of-age story that addresses its themes -- and its protagonist -- without judgment.
Synopsis: In 1970s San Francisco, a precocious 15-year-old (Bel Powley) embarks on an enthusiastic sexual odyssey, beginning with her mother's current... [More]
Directed By: Marielle Heller

#68

Inside Out (2015)
98%

#68
Adjusted Score: 113968%
Critics Consensus: Inventive, gorgeously animated, and powerfully moving, Inside Out is another outstanding addition to the Pixar library of modern animated classics.
Synopsis: Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is a happy, hockey-loving 11-year-old Midwestern girl, but her world turns upside-down when she and her parents... [More]
Directed By: Pete Docter

#67

Mustang (2015)
97%

#67
Adjusted Score: 106175%
Critics Consensus: Mustang delivers a bracing -- and thoroughly timely -- message whose power is further bolstered by the efforts of a stellar ensemble cast.
Synopsis: In a Turkish village, five orphaned sisters (Günes Sensoy, Tugba Sunguroglu, Elit Iscan) live under strict rule while members of... [More]
Directed By: Deniz Gamze Ergüven

#66
#66
Adjusted Score: 101182%
Critics Consensus: The Second Mother's compelling characters serve an artfully drawn, thought-provoking story that's beautifully brought to life by a talented cast.
Synopsis: Unspoken class barriers that exist within a home come crashing down when the live-in housekeeper's daughter suddenly appears.... [More]
Directed By: Anna Muylaert

#65

Son of Saul (2015)
96%

#65
Adjusted Score: 109487%
Critics Consensus: Grimly intense yet thoroughly rewarding, Son of Saul offers an unforgettable viewing experience -- and establishes director László Nemes as a talent to watch.
Synopsis: During World War II, a Jewish worker (Géza Röhrig) at the Auschwitz concentration camp tries to find a rabbi to... [More]
Directed By: László Nemes

#64

Timbuktu (2014)
98%

#64
Adjusted Score: 102551%
Critics Consensus: Gracefully assembled and ultimately disquieting, Timbuktu is a timely film with a powerful message.
Synopsis: A Malian cattleman (Ibrahim Ahmed) and his family face the wrath of Islamic fundamentalists after a tragic accident.... [More]
Directed By: Abderrahmane Sissako

#63

The Wonders (2014)
96%

#63
Adjusted Score: 98719%
Critics Consensus: The Wonders offers a charming coming-of-age tale that doubles as a quietly effective tribute to a vanishing way of life.
Synopsis: The preteen daughter (Maria Alexandra Lungu) of a Tuscan beekeeper (Sam Louwyck) enters a contest to appear on a television... [More]
Directed By: Alice Rohrwacher

#62

The Fits (2015)
96%

#62
Adjusted Score: 102315%
Critics Consensus: As gripping as it is unique, the thrillingly kinetic The Fits marks debuting writer-director Anna Rose Holmer as a singular talent.
Synopsis: An 11-year-old tomboy (Royalty Hightower) tries to fit in with her peers after joining an all-girl dance team.... [More]
Directed By: Anna Rose Holmer

#61

The Innocents (2016)
95%

#61
Adjusted Score: 100514%
Critics Consensus: The Innocents isn't always easy to watch, but its nuanced exploration of complex themes -- and its refreshing perspective -- are well worth the effort.
Synopsis: In December 1945, a Red Cross doctor (Lou de Laâge) tries to help a group of pregnant Benedictine nuns at... [More]
Directed By: Anne Fontaine

#60

Long Way North (2015)
98%

#60
Adjusted Score: 101244%
Critics Consensus: Smart and refreshingly free of sentimentality, Long Way North takes viewers on a beautifully animated adventure grounded in fully realized characters and genuine emotion.
Synopsis: In the 19th century, a young Russian girl (Christa Théret) embarks on an adventure-filled quest to find her grandfather at... [More]
Directed By: Rémi Chayé

#59

Things to Come (2016)
99%

#59
Adjusted Score: 109629%
Critics Consensus: A union to cherish between a writer-director and star working at peak power, Things to Come offers quietly profound observations on life, love, and the irrevocable passage of time.
Synopsis: A passionate middle-aged philosophy professor (Isabelle Huppert) rethinks her already much-examined life after an unforeseen divorce.... [More]
Directed By: Mia Hansen-Løve

#58

The Big Sick (2017)
98%

#58
Adjusted Score: 121029%
Critics Consensus: Funny, heartfelt, and intelligent, The Big Sick uses its appealing leads and cross-cultural themes to prove the standard romcom formula still has some fresh angles left to explore.
Synopsis: Kumail is a Pakistani comic, who meets an American graduate student named Emily at one of his stand-up shows. As... [More]
Directed By: Michael Showalter

#57

Félicité (2017)
98%

#57
Adjusted Score: 98956%
Critics Consensus: Félicité depicts a culture and a setting unfamiliar to many viewers, but its themes - and Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu's performance - transcend borders.
Synopsis: Félicité is a Congolese singer who desperately needs money after her 14-year-old son Samo suffers a serious accident. She soon... [More]
Directed By: Alain Gomis

#56

Lady Bird (2017)
99%

#56
Adjusted Score: 128278%
Critics Consensus: Lady Bird delivers fresh insights about the turmoil of adolescence -- and reveals writer-director Greta Gerwig as a fully formed filmmaking talent.
Synopsis: A teenager (Saoirse Ronan) navigates a loving but turbulent relationship with her strong-willed mother (Laurie Metcalf) over the course of... [More]
Directed By: Greta Gerwig

#55

Jeune femme (2017)
98%

#55
Adjusted Score: 99222%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Left by Joachim, an artist with whom she shared her life for 10 years, Paula finds herself wandering the streets... [More]
Directed By: Léonor Serraille

#54

Mudbound (2017)
97%

#54
Adjusted Score: 111703%
Critics Consensus: Mudbound offers a well-acted, finely detailed snapshot of American history whose scenes of rural class struggle resonate far beyond their period setting.
Synopsis: Set in the rural American South during World War II, Dee Rees' Mudbound is an epic story of two families... [More]
Directed By: Dee Rees

#53
#53
Adjusted Score: 107767%
Critics Consensus: My Life as a Zucchini's silly title and adorable characters belie a sober story whose colorful visuals delight the senses even as it braves dark emotional depths.
Synopsis: A police officer (Nick Offerman) and some new friends help an orphan adjust to life at a foster home.... [More]
Directed By: Claude Barras

#52
#52
Adjusted Score: 97690%
Critics Consensus: With rich characters and a thoughtful approach to timely themes, The Women's Balcony tackles complicated subjects with intelligence, compassion, and wit.
Synopsis: When a charismatic rabbi enters their lives, some women in Jerusalem attempt to unite their neighborhood and preserve their traditions.... [More]
Directed By: Emil Ben-Shimon

#51

Border (2018)
97%

#51
Adjusted Score: 103535%
Critics Consensus: Thrilling, unpredictable, and brilliantly acted, Border (Gräns) offers a singular treat to genre fans looking for something different.
Synopsis: Customs officer Tina is known for her extraordinary sense of smell. It's almost as if she can sniff out the... [More]
Directed By: Ali Abbasi

#50
#50
Adjusted Score: 117563%
Critics Consensus: Deftly directed and laced with dark wit, Can You Ever Forgive Me? proves a compelling showcase for deeply affecting work from Richard E. Grant and Melissa McCarthy.
Synopsis: Lee Israel is a frustrated, hard-drinking author who can barely afford to pay her rent or bills in 1990s New... [More]
Directed By: Marielle Heller

#49

Good Manners (2017)
96%

#49
Adjusted Score: 97020%
Critics Consensus: Good Manners adroitly juggles disparate tonal shifts while taking a uniquely smart and sensitive look at female relationships.
Synopsis: A mysterious and wealthy woman hires a lonely nurse named Clara to be the nanny of her soon-to-be born child.... [More]
Directed By: Juliana Rojas, Marco Dutra

#48

The Hate U Give (2018)
97%

#48
Adjusted Score: 109455%
Critics Consensus: Led by a breakout turn from Amandla Stenberg, the hard-hitting The Hate U Give emphatically proves the YA genre has room for much more than magic and romance.
Synopsis: Starr Carter is constantly switching between two worlds -- the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives and the wealthy,... [More]
Directed By: George Tillman Jr.

#47

I Am Not a Witch (2017)
96%

#47
Adjusted Score: 100205%
Critics Consensus: I Am Not a Witch approaches real-life injustices with a beguiling blend of sorrow, anger, and humor, marking debuting writer-director Rungano Nyoni as an exciting new talent.
Synopsis: Shula is the first child taken to a traveling witch camp, where she is told that should she cut the... [More]
Directed By: Rungano Nyoni

#46

Bar Bahar (2016)
98%

#46
Adjusted Score: 101176%
Critics Consensus: In Between takes a light yet nuanced approach to dramatizing complex, timely themes, further enriched by outstanding cinematography and powerful performances.
Synopsis: Three Arab-Israeli women share an apartment in Tel Aviv and try to balance their traditions with the modern world.... [More]
Directed By: Maysaloun Hamoud

#45

Night Comes On (2018)
98%

#45
Adjusted Score: 100534%
Critics Consensus: Steadily drawing viewers into its harrowing tale with equal parts grim intensity and startling compassion, Night Comes On heralds the arrivals of debuting director Jordan Spiro and her magnetic young stars.
Synopsis: Released from juvenile detention, a teen and her 10-year-old sister embark on a quest to avenge the death of their... [More]
Directed By: Jordana Spiro

#44

Oh Lucy! (2017)
98%

#44
Adjusted Score: 100598%
Critics Consensus: Oh Lucy! roots its narrative quirks in universal themes and deep empathy for its characters, all brought to life by strong performances from a talented cast led by the thoroughly charming Shinobu Terajima.
Synopsis: A lonely woman in Tokyo discovers her alter ego when she takes an English class.... [More]
Directed By: Atsuko Hirayanagi

#43

The Rider (2017)
97%

#43
Adjusted Score: 108143%
Critics Consensus: The Rider's hard-hitting drama is only made more effective through writer-director Chloé Zhao's use of untrained actors to tell the movie's fact-based tale.
Synopsis: After a riding accident leaves him unable to compete on the rodeo circuit, a young cowboy searches for a new... [More]
Directed By: Chloé Zhao

#42

Summer 1993 (2017)
100%

#42
Adjusted Score: 105232%
Critics Consensus: Summer 1993 (Estiu 1993) finds writer-director Carla Simón drawing on personal memories to create a thoughtful drama elevated by outstanding work from its young leads.
Synopsis: Six-year-old Frida looks on in silence as the last objects from her recently deceased mother's apartment in Barcelona are placed... [More]
Directed By: Carla Simón

#41

The Tale (2018)
99%

#41
Adjusted Score: 102140%
Critics Consensus: The Tale handles its extraordinarily challenging subject matter with sensitivity, grace, and the power of some standout performances led by a remarkable Laura Dern.
Synopsis: Jennifer has it all, with a loving boyfriend and a great career as a journalist and professor. But when her... [More]
Directed By: Jennifer Fox

#40
Adjusted Score: 98497%
Critics Consensus: To All the Boys I've Loved Before plays by the teen rom-com rules, but relatable characters and a thoroughly charming cast more than make up for a lack of surprises.
Synopsis: A teenage girl's love letters are exposed and wreak havoc on her life.... [More]
Directed By: Susan Johnson

#39

Western (2017)
96%

#39
Adjusted Score: 98690%
Critics Consensus: Western earns the viewer's attention with an unpredictable, patiently told tale that evokes the spirit of the titular genre while adding its own unique touches.
Synopsis: When some German construction workers begin a challenging new job in the Bulgarian countryside, their sense of adventure is awakened,... [More]
Directed By: Valeska Grisebach

#38

The Wolf House (2018)
96%

#38
Adjusted Score: 98784%
Critics Consensus: Surreal, unsettling, and finally haunting, The Wolf House is a stunning outpouring of creativity whose striking visuals queasily complement its disturbing story.
Synopsis: A young woman takes refuge in a strange house in the woods after escaping from a German colony in southern... [More]

#37

Zama (2017)
96%

#37
Adjusted Score: 102068%
Critics Consensus: Zama offers a series of scathingly insightful observations about colonialism and class dynamics -- and satisfyingly ends a long wait between projects from writer-director Lucrecia Martel.
Synopsis: Zama, an officer of the Spanish Crown born in South America, waits for a letter from the King granting him... [More]
Directed By: Lucrecia Martel

#36

Atlantics (2019)
96%

#36
Adjusted Score: 104245%
Critics Consensus: An unpredictable supernatural drama rooted in real-world social commentary, Atlantique suggests a thrillingly bright future for debuting filmmaker Mati Diop.
Synopsis: After the bodies of his friends feeling Senegal for Europe wash up on a shore, a young woman assumes that... [More]
Directed By: Mati Diop

#35

Birds of Passage (2018)
96%

#35
Adjusted Score: 106031%
Critics Consensus: Birds of Passage traces the familiar arc of the drug crime thriller from a different direction that's as visually absorbing as it is hard-hitting.
Synopsis: The origins of the Colombian drug trade, as seen through eyes of an indigenous Wayuu family that becomes involved in... [More]

#34

Booksmart (2019)
96%

#34
Adjusted Score: 119755%
Critics Consensus: Fast-paced, funny, and fresh, Booksmart does the seemingly impossible by adding a smart new spin to the coming-of-age comedy.
Synopsis: Academic overachievers Amy and Molly thought keeping their noses to the grindstone gave them a leg up on their high... [More]
Directed By: Olivia Wilde

#33

The Chambermaid (2018)
99%

#33
Adjusted Score: 101597%
Critics Consensus: The Chambermaid uses one woman's experiences to take audiences inside a life -- and a culture -- that's as bracingly unique as it is hauntingly relatable.
Synopsis: A young chambermaid working in one of the most luxurious hotels in Mexico City enrolls in the hotel's adult education... [More]
Directed By: Lila Avilés

#32

The Farewell (2019)
97%

#32
Adjusted Score: 118660%
Critics Consensus: The Farewell deftly captures complicated family dynamics with a poignant, well-acted drama that marries cultural specificity with universally relatable themes.
Synopsis: Billi's family returns to China under the guise of a fake wedding to stealthily say goodbye to their beloved matriarch... [More]
Directed By: Lulu Wang

#31

Little Women (2019)
95%

#31
Adjusted Score: 120870%
Critics Consensus: With a stellar cast and a smart, sensitive retelling of its classic source material, Greta Gerwig's Little Women proves some stories truly are timeless.
Synopsis: In the years after the Civil War, Jo March lives in New York and makes her living as a writer,... [More]
Directed By: Greta Gerwig

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 101955%
Critics Consensus: Brought to life by a breakout performance by Camila Morrone, Mickey and the Bear finds affecting drama at the crossroads of a young woman's coming-of-age journey.
Synopsis: A Montana teenager navigates a loving but volatile relationship with her single, veteran father. In a desperate search for independence... [More]
Directed By: Annabelle Attanasio

#29

The Mustang (2019)
95%

#29
Adjusted Score: 101800%
Critics Consensus: The Mustang finds fresh perspectives in a familiar redemption tale brought brilliantly to life by powerful performances from Bruce Dern and Matthias Schoenaerts.
Synopsis: A violent convict is given the chance to participate in a rehabilitation therapy program centered around the training of wild... [More]

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 103551%
Critics Consensus: Tigers Are Not Afraid draws on childhood trauma for a story that deftly blends magical fantasy and hard-hitting realism - and leaves a lingering impact.
Synopsis: When a girl's mother disappears leaving her on her own, she goings a gang of street children, leading to a... [More]
Directed By: Issa López

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 100611%
Critics Consensus: Too Late to Die Young uses one family's experiences as the foundation for a dreamily absorbing drama with a poignant, lingering warmth.
Synopsis: During the summer of 1990 in Chile, three kids face their first loves and fears.... [More]

#26

Toy Story 4 (2019)
97%

#26
Adjusted Score: 124710%
Critics Consensus: Heartwarming, funny, and beautifully animated, Toy Story 4 manages the unlikely feat of extending -- and perhaps concluding -- a practically perfect animated saga.
Synopsis: Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang embark on a road trip with Bonnie and a new toy... [More]
Directed By: Josh Cooley

#25

Working Woman (2018)
98%

#25
Adjusted Score: 99151%
Critics Consensus: Working Woman delivers its timely message with a polemical force that hits hard without overpowering the engrossing story.
Synopsis: With her husband's restaurant business in jeopardy, a mother of three gets a job as assistant to a powerful realtor... [More]
Directed By: Michal Aviad

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 106124%
Critics Consensus: Clever, funny, and original, Blow the Man Down is a cinematic journey that's not to be missed.
Synopsis: Welcome to Easter Cove, a salty fishing village on the far reaches of Maine's rocky coast. Grieving the loss of... [More]

#23

Driveways (2019)
99%

#23
Adjusted Score: 102787%
Critics Consensus: Understated yet powerful, Driveways is a character study anchored in fundamental decency -- and a poignant farewell to Brian Dennehy.
Synopsis: A lonely boy goes with his mother to help clean out his late aunt's house.... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Ahn

#22

First Cow (2019)
96%

#22
Adjusted Score: 109600%
Critics Consensus: First Cow finds director Kelly Reichardt revisiting territory and themes that will be familiar to fans of her previous work -- with typically rewarding results.
Synopsis: Two travelers, on the run from a band of vengeful hunters in the 1820s Northwest, dream of striking it rich... [More]
Directed By: Kelly Reichardt

#21

The Half of It (2020)
97%

#21
Adjusted Score: 103566%
Critics Consensus: For viewers in search of an uncommonly smart, tender, and funny coming-of-age story, The Half of It has everything.
Synopsis: A shy, introverted student helps the school jock woo a girl whom, secretly, they both want.... [More]
Directed By: Alice Wu

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 99486%
Critics Consensus: A striking debut for writer-director Kim Bora, House of Hummingbird delicately captures a turning point in one young woman's life.
Synopsis: In 1994 Seoul when the Seongsu Bridge collapses, 14-year-old Eunhee wanders the city and searches for love.... [More]
Directed By: Bora Kim

#19

Miss Juneteenth (2020)
99%

#19
Adjusted Score: 108664%
Critics Consensus: Like a pageant winner walking across the stage, Miss Juneteenth follows a familiar path -- but does so with charm and grace.
Synopsis: A former beauty queen and single mom prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the "Miss Juneteenth" pageant.... [More]

#18
Adjusted Score: 114500%
Critics Consensus: Powerfully acted and directed, Never Rarely Sometimes Always reaffirms writer-director Eliza Hittman as a filmmaker of uncommon sensitivity and grace.
Synopsis: Faced with an unintended pregnancy and a lack of local support, Autumn and her cousin, Skylar, travel across state lines... [More]
Directed By: Eliza Hittman

#17
Adjusted Score: 120039%
Critics Consensus: A singularly rich period piece, Portrait of a Lady on Fire finds stirring, thought-provoking drama within a powerfully acted romance.
Synopsis: In 1770 the young daughter of a French countess develops a mutual attraction to the female artist commissioned to paint... [More]
Directed By: Céline Sciamma

#16

Rocks (2019)
97%

#16
Adjusted Score: 98791%
Critics Consensus: A fresh, funny coming-of-age story rooted in realistic characters and anchored with a meaningful message, Rocks is as solid as its title suggests.
Synopsis: A London teen takes care of her younger brother after their mother abruptly leaves.... [More]
Directed By: Sarah Gavron

#15

Saint Frances (2019)
99%

#15
Adjusted Score: 105569%
Critics Consensus: Saint Frances approaches an array of weighty issues with empathy, humor, and grace -- and marks star and writer Kelly O'Sullivan as a tremendous talent to watch.
Synopsis: After an abortion, a deadbeat nanny finds friendship with the 6-year-old she's hired to watch.... [More]
Directed By: Alex Thompson

#14

Vitalina Varela (2019)
98%

#14
Adjusted Score: 101606%
Critics Consensus: Rigorous and beautifully composed, Vitalina Varela is a quietly absorbing drama whose placid surface belies hidden depths.
Synopsis: A woman moves from Cape Verde to her deceased husband's shack on the outskirts of Lisbon.... [More]
Directed By: Pedro Costa

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 108721%
Critics Consensus: Another gorgeously animated, skillfully voiced entry in the Disney canon, Raya and the Last Dragon continues the studio's increased representation while reaffirming that its classic formula is just as reliable as ever.
Synopsis: Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when sinister monsters known... [More]

Safdie Bros.

Benny (left) and Josh Safdie. (Photo by Jason Smith/Everett Collection)

Fans of the Safdie Brothers – New Yorkers Benny and Josh, who’ve been fraying nerves in recent years with Certified Fresh thrillers like Good Time and Heaven Knows What – will likely be unsurprised to see the titles on their respective top fives. There’s physical comedy (Chaplin) and restless cameras (Altman); there’s big NYC energy (Scorsese) and big bravura performances (Pacino). All of those traits are evident in their latest nerve-wracking/funny/thrilling film, Uncut Gems, the Certified Fresh festival hit that had some betting star Adam Sandler would earn his first Oscar nomination, even though that didn’t come to pass. The movie is set in the Diamond District of Manhattan, and follows jeweler Howard Ratner (Sandler) as he chases a massive windfall, manages his relationships with two women, and dodges the approach of various underworld figures. And Kevin Garnett shows up in there, too.

With the movie now in theaters everywhere, Josh and Benny shared their Five Favorite Films – each – with Rotten Tomatoes, with Benny being sure to note that “you could swap out all of them” as the guys have overlapping tastes. Plus, they told us about the gestation of the Uncut Gems story and why Adam Sandler was the only one for the role.


Josh Safdie’s Five Favorite Films


Bicycle Thieves (1948) 98%

You know, it’s tough to really summate your favorite movies, and it changes so often based on your vibe and things like that. When I w­as thinking about it, I was trying to think of what are the movies that continually show up in the top 10. And I landed on The Bicycle Thief – or Bicycle Thieves; sometimes people say “thief,” sometimes say “thieves.” [Director Vittorio] De Sica’s Bicycle Thief is like a north star project for me. First of all, it’s arguably the greatest film in the father-son series. It’s one of the bits of neo-realist masterpiece.

The way that De Sica aligned it with his casting and the themes of his movie is always an inspiration. The fact that he saw Lamberto Maggiorani at the audition, that he showed up with his son – he’s a factory worker who showed up with his son – he immediately said, “Oh, this is the guy who needs to play the character.” And the fact that he cast the kid, Enzo, off of the street while they were filming, who was selling flowers for his father. The fact that De Sica had the vision to try to blur the lines, starting with casting and then, towards the climax of the movie he shot, he modeled his production around the release of a soccer match. So that he knew he was going to have hundreds upon thousands, thousands upon thousands of people leaving the stadium at the same time. And he would shoot around. He’s using reality as the fabric of his fiction film. And that, to me, makes it an ultimate masterpiece of all time.

Goodfellas (1990) 96%

My favorite Scorsese film. I think maybe the greatest film ever made – up there with Bicycle Thieves… or “thief.” Goodfellas has the capability of condensing and expanding time at the same moment. It has the ability to at once sensationalize and also criticize the actions of the characters. You go from fearing to loving them at the same time. It has the courage to put Ray Liotta in the lead role of that film after seeing him as a supporting player in Something Wild, which is transcendent. His performance in Something Wild is amazing. But Scorsese knew to cast the guy who doesn’t look full-on Italian, even, you know what I mean? The fact that Liotta looks like he could never be fully made. The fact that Liotta looks like a cokehead from Long Island.

The casting, again, with that film, is so superior to anything ever made, really. I mean, just filling that film with what feels like real gangsters. What he does with Steadicam! The way he uses camera movement with that film. The way [cinematographer Michael] Ballhaus worked with the founder of the Steadicam, who operated at that Copacabana scene. The timing of the film, the fact that you have a 30-minute sequence that feels like four minutes. The fact that he cast the real DEA agent who arrested Henry Hill to reenact the scene from his life is genius. Scorsese is the master.

Nema-Ye Nazdik (1990) 88%

Close Up by Abbas Kiarostami. The way that that film blends fiction and reality, it is a north star for me. He made a movie about a contemporary Iranian filmmaker named Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and he read an article in the paper about a person who went around pretending to be this filmmaker in order to scam a family out of money and resources. And he went and cast the guy who was going around pretending to be Makhmalbaf, and he cast the real family that he scammed. And he recreated each scenario as if it was a script.

He used real life as a script, and you’re watching the real players re-enact something that happened recently in their life, and the result is magical. The result is something that only film can give you. It makes you question your own self. It makes you question, what is a personality? It makes you question empathy. Because you start to actually see that this guy is actually a great actor, the main guy. And then you have one of the most complicated moments in all movies, when Makhmalbaf himself picks up the guy from the prison and rides on a motorcycle through Tehran. Masterpiece.

Dog Day Afternoon (1975) 96%

[Sidney] Lumet, Dog Day Afternoon. I mean, I don’t know what there is to say about Al Pacino’s performance as John Wojtowicz. But it’s a really complicated, really emotionally messy, but driven performance. Now there’s a documentary about the real guy called “something” Dog; I forgot the name of it [editor’s note: it’s The Dog], but the doc is just as much worth seeking out. It’s almost kind of neat to see it after you watch the movie. But the way that Dog Day Afternoon unfolds almost in real time over the course of one day in Brooklyn.

And the John Cazale character. First of all, it’s just a beautiful portrait of an outlier community. The homosexual community at a specific time in New York, and that niche, there were these tough guys. They were going to do anything for their dream, anything – rob a bank. But nothing they do goes right. But watching him get wrapped up in his own ego and the drama of it and the romance; it’s one of the most romantic movies I’ve ever seen. It’s a really, really beautiful film, but it’s devastating. It’s also a very regional film. I love it.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) 92%

I saw the movie as a teenager and I loved it, but I didn’t know why I loved it. I loved it because it just felt like a gargantuan document about time and the history of time, but I didn’t really understand it. Then I saw it again probably in my mid-20s, and the part that I glommed on most to was – and this was pre-AI, basically pre-Siri; you could imagine me thinking about 2001 in the age of Siri. But then I watched it again probably two years ago, and it absolutely transformed itself, and I started to take different meaning from it. And I realized that, ultimately, what it was saying is that we are the aliens, and that curiosity, mankind’s curiosity, is what actually leads to our own demise in a deep, deep way. That we know something is a problem, yet we want to embrace it. I haven’t ever felt that way while watching a film. It’s such a perfect, beautiful document about the universe.


Benny Safdie’s Five Favorite Films


Nashville (1975) 91%

Just a preface: All of these are movies that I can’t escape. You know, there’s ones that you’re interested in, in the moment, because they’re inspiring you in certain ways. But these are ones that I’ve always kind of revisited and can always get something out of it. So Nashville is one of them. It’s such a world that I didn’t know about, and you have all of these insane concerts in real time with all of these people. All of these emotions and ideas all happening within the performances, and everything is happening almost at the same time.

And I just kept sitting there, like, how did he do this? And it just kept happening, scene after scene. There’s this one scene that’s unbelievable, when Keith Carradine’s singing the “I’m Easy” song, and you literally see the same song affecting three different people in the audience, totally differently, at the same time. It’s literally one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had. And just going in to listen to these performances and then to recall these emotions that I never had before, but I feel like they’re mine, is incredible. And the sound in that movie is an achievement that I don’t even understand how they did it with the actual performances, the audience, whatever. Incredible.

A Man Escaped (1956) 100%

Then the second one – and let’s say, this was in no particular order – but A Man Escaped, the [Robert] Bresson movie. That has to be my favorite movie of all time, just because it always makes me cry at the end, because I feel like I’ve achieved something that the character achieves. And it tells you what happens in the title, and it makes it no less suspenseful the entire way. You’re literally feeling the sound of the gravel as he puts his foot down – those shots of the foot or the spoon going into the slot. All of these things, the editing of it, the character, the way he’s using these actors who you don’t really know, they just – you feel like they’re real people.

It’s just so perfectly put together, and it’s something where I kind of feel like I’m going along with the escape in a way that’s just done by a master. In a weird way, I feel like Bresson is the Fontaine character in that movie. But what’s weird is I’ve watched it again recently, and I had a totally different feeling of it, where it was more about society and how people are talking to each other. And then you realize Bresson is just kind of making the same movie every time, just with different [settings and characters]. One’s World War II, one’s Lancelot.

Milestones (1975)

Anyway, the next one I have to say is Milestones, and that’s just because of the massive impact it had on me in general and by Robert Kramer and John Douglas. Basically, this movie put within me emotions and memories that I never had, and I was feeling them in the theater as if I had them. There’s a scene where John Douglas is playing – I think he’s playing the saxophone, and the other guy is doing  some ceramics, and it’s just such a happy moment, and it’s so small. But in that moment, I’m just with them 100%, and then there’s a birth in the movie, and the birth, you’re feeling elated. Not because it’s a beautiful thing in the world, but because you’re feeling the kind of coming in of a new life as these parents. And there’s just something about the cinematography, the people, and the characters, and the colors of it all.

It’s an amazing movie. And I remember watching it being like, “OK, you can do this to an audience.” That was mind-blowing.

City Lights (1931) 96%

This was a tough one, because it’s like, oh, Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Chaplin, Buster Keaton. There’s something about City Lights that just… It has all of the perfect acting and physical comedy. But then there’s this pathos to that main character that is just so deep, and you feel it, and it has so many jokes. It’s one of his movies that has a lot of good jokes in it, you know, from the boxing to the cigar. Here you have this guy that’s this hobo driving a Rolls Royce, pushing another hobo out of the way to get the cigar. And it’s just, it’s one of those funny things.

That ending when you see his face and she sees him at the same time, and there’s kind of, it’s a smile, but is he sad? Is he happy? You really have no idea of the complications of what’s going on in the moment. He’s just kind of letting it go, and it’s one of the most incredible performances that can kind of put you in there. And it’s a movie that encapsulates all of the things that I love about silent movies, but in a way that has the emotional connection.

The French Connection (1971) 98%

Last one. I’m going to go with The French Connection, because it’s one of the most incredible cop movies and pulp movies there is. The camera work, Gene Hackman, the shots from up on the rooftop looking down. That chase scene alone puts it on this list. You hear how they made that movie, and you really feel the bare hands that went into that thing, and it just reset how you make a movie like that. You know, totally changed the game on that level. Just seeing that car barrel through the streets, you feel the danger and you feel the pressure of all of these things. It’s doing pulp in a whole new way and in a visceral way. Then, on top of that, you have these people with real stakes and real things happening to them, and [director William] Friedkin, he’s a king.


Jacqueline Coley for Rotten Tomatoes: I know you guys said that Uncut Gems had been in your head for 10 years, this idea of telling the story with Howard. So, was this a guy that you recognize from your own personal experience? Why was Howard this character that you were always continually writing over the years? 

Benny Safdie: In a weird way, the writing part of it is strange, because you have a 10-year project, you have this thing; it’s kind of like a receptacle for all of your ideas and your life. It becomes a character that becomes analogous. As a filmmaker who is hustling, trying to get work, trying to get this made, you can’t help but try to do whatever you have to do to get to see your dream come to fruition – so you can relate to Howard in that regards. But Howard, there was something about the relentlessness about Howard’s pursuit of his own dream. That and the fact that he was trying to not only realize his dream against all circumstances, but also that he was able to be a provider, that he was this guy who provided for all these people around him. He was a world-creator, and he was a vanguard world-creator. Just the idea that Howard was somebody who was never going to stop in pursuit of his dream, and knowing that, in the end, it’s going to be good for everybody. You know what I mean? There’s something about that, that was very helpful.

Josh Safdie: And I’ll just add one thing, that he is, almost in a weird way, kind of this archetypal character of a dreamer, but also there’s this kind of Jewishness to him. There’s all of these characters and literature and movies that it was a feeling of, “OK, I want to add to that. I want to build up a guy who was like these people that I’ve kind of admired, looked at.”

Rotten Tomatoes: Talk about casting Adam Sandler as this man you had built up.

Benny: Sandler was paramount, always. He’s the only person who can make Howard lovable and also infuse the character’s insane optimism as a gambler with a humor, with an element of humor, with an air of humor. The humor is so important to the way the film functions. Yes, it’s this very tense film that’s literally, like, your heart feels like it’s going to implode because it’s such a tense thriller. But without that comic relief that Sandler so effortlessly infuses into Howard, the movie just does not function. And Howard is, he’s a patriarch, and so is Sandler.

Josh: Also, whenever Sandler is in a movie, you root for him in the face of the most absurd situations. You really believe the things are happening to him and he’s feeling them. So, in this in particular, you need to be rooting for Howard to succeed, because again, all of the things fall into place after that. You know, you could not like him, but you are loving him. And if you’re yelling at the screen, you are yelling at him to not do things. And you only do that to people who you want to see good things happen to.

Rotten Tomatoes: This movie has gotten everybody all kinds of excited, but people have seen Good Time. They know how tense you guys are. Give me a quick one-liner to prep folks for what they should expect going into the film.

Josh: I think they can expect an immersive, thrilling experience that will keep you laughing on the edge of your seat to the point that you fall down and you sit on someone else’s popcorn.

Benny: Yeah. And you will also hope we have the feeling of actually moving to the edge of your seat.


Uncut Gems is in theaters everywhere.



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Thumbnail image courtesy Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox, and Everett Collection

(Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)

Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors, Bend It Like Beckham, Mission Impossible III, Dracula) stars opposite Antonio Banderas this week in Black Butterfly, a deliciously warped, twisty tale of terror. The star took a few moments out of his hectic schedule to discuss movies with us: his own Five Favorite Films. And then we got to ask him about his favorite twisty film as well. See the full list here:

The Great Beauty (2013) 91%

Let’s start with the most modern one, I suppose. La Grande Bellezza [aka] The Great Beauty. Paolo Sorrentino‘s movie. There’s a million different reasons. I think it’s the elegance of Toni Servillo‘s character. I think he’s almost like Dante going through the three stages of Paradiso, Inferno, Purgatorio. I used to live in Rome, so it’s a beautiful imagination of what Rome is. It’s the furious bacchanal element of the night life. The overzealous, religious conservatism of the daytime. It’s so beautifully done, and it’s elegant and dangerous. It’s intellectual. And buffoonish in all in the same breath. It’s an incredible movie. He’s a wonderful director.

Ivan the Terrible, Part One (1943) 100%

Ivan the Terrible, Part 1. Sergei M. Eisenstein. Mainly because he shot it during the middle of the second world war, and he had thousands of extras to choose from. It was one of those movies made during, of course, the second world war. Stalin had absolute power, which means that they could literally do anything with this production. Their production was epic on a scale that’s never been seen before because they were using — sort of very freely — prisoners of war for these big scenes. But the end result is the film is an extraordinary interpretation of what Ivan the Terrible, Part 1, is. It’s extraordinary for a myriad of different reasons, but one of those reasons is it was made during the second world war, and you can see aspects of it that we don’t really see about the world at that time. Do you know what I mean?

Eisenstein was very cleverly able to mirror Stalin, mirror Hitler, within the confines of that film — disguising it, of course,as Russian folklore to get the movie made. In fact, he probably sold it to Stalin like, “You are as great as Ivan the Terrible was!”Of course he was, but terrible also. It was a great way of being able to reflect the politics, the situation of Europe, the situation of the world at that time within the confines of the film. It’s a great film. Magnificent. His use of individualizing on individual characters is mind blowing. I’m sure every great director has studied it for weeks and weeks, months and months at a time in their lives.

Seven Samurai (1954) 100%

For a myriad of different reasons. It’s the ultimate group of lawless action buddy movies. They have all spawned from this. Every sort of two handed buddy movie as The A-Team and — it all comes from this one film: Seven Samurai. It gave Hollywood a genre. Not only did it influence the western genre very obviously, with Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood, but every genre of outsider, loner, anti-hero. The character played by Toshiro Mifune, that’s the quintessential character in Hollywood. You’ve seen it played by Montgomery Clift. You’ve seen it played by James Dean, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro. They’ve all been influenced in some way by that one character that appears in the Seven Samurai. The wildness. The gregariousness. The mad genius. The outsider. The survivor. Of course, you know the film is an incredibly, beautifully shot film. Akira Kurosawa is one of the greatest writers of all time. It speaks for itself.

I’ve seen it well over a hundred times. But years ago. 20 years ago — possibly the first. Maybe even 25 years ago was the first time I saw it. An extraordinary movie.

Bicycle Thieves (1948) 98%

The Bicycle Thieves is extraordinary for the technique that the director uses to stage a street-life opera; [it’s] quite extraordinary. The stealing of the protagonist’s bicycle – that whole segment lasts 15 minutes, possibly 20 minutes. The guy has created a street opera including cars, roundabouts, work men, traffic — everything moves with such ease, with such flow. It’s like watching a painting being painted in front of you by Picasso. It’s an extraordinary way to open a film that is also an extraordinary vision of a director being able to conduct almost like a conductor with an orchestra. Just a piece of solid, 20 minute music. Almost like Mozart used to do where it’s just pure music for 10 minutes. This is pure cinema for the first 20 minutes. Pure cinema.

Then it gets into the scene where the guy tries to recover his bicycle and is just driving through Milan trying to do this. But that first 20 minutes — that first opening is operatic. It’s incredibly beautiful and that makes it one of my favorite films.

The Lion in Winter (1968) 90%

Personal favorite, this is. It may not be a favorite of a lot of people, and I have loads more favorites, but for more the banter and the performance I would have to say it would be the original version of The Lion in Winter with Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn. Just to see the two of them go picnicking on each other. There are other wonderful performances in it and [it was] shot in Ardmore Studios in Ireland. Of course, to have some of the back splash story as well, because I’ve heard from people there O’Toole wouldn’t turn up for hours, and then he’d turn up with a case of champagne. He was always sort of rooting for Katharine Hepburn, who was of course incredibly stiff and elegant and posed about it all.

Of course, I worked with Anthony Hopkins as well, who told me a bunch of stories about it. If O’Toole didn’t turn up, Hopkins used to play O’Toole’s part off camera lines. But Hopkins was so good at it [laughing]. I wonder if O’Toole caught him!. Terrible — it was like — that was the film where, at the end of the film, Katharine Hepburn turned around to Peter O’Toole and said, “When I first went into this business, my agent told me never to work with children or animals, and you, Peter, are both.”


Kerr Lordygan for Rotten Tomatoes: Black Butterfly is full of twists. Is there another film like it that you can think of? One that really sticks with you?

Jonathan Rhys Meyers: Oh, yeah. Of course. It’s Plein Soleil, the original version of Talented Mr. Ripley. Alain Delon, who was more handsome or beautiful than any actor. It was incredible, that original movie. The original version of [writer] Patricia Highsmith. I respect Anthony Minghella‘s The Talented Mr. Ripley as well, but the original is — there was a tension there that was extraordinary.


Black Butterfly opens Friday, May 26 in limited release and On Demand.

Richard Gere (Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

(Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

Richard Gere admits he wouldn’t have thought to cast himself in Norman aka Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer — which opens Friday in limited release. Yet critics are hailing the role as one of his strongest, most likable performances, right alongside his work in Pretty WomanDays of Heaven, and Primal Fear. It’s really no wonder the versatile actor chose two of his own movies — his first and his latest — as part of his Five Favorite Films; they are landmarks not only in his acting career, but in his personal life. See the full list below:

Days of Heaven (1978) 93%

OK, so, I’m gonna start with my first film, Days of Heaven, because it’s my first film. It’s probably, unfortunately, my best film. It’s very hard to follow up on a film like that.

Why do you say that?

It was the first film that Terry Malick made that kind of became Terry Malick in that movie. It also was the first film of mine at the Cannes Film Festival. So, everything about that film kind of was important to me as an actor and as a person.

Life changing.

Absolutely.

Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (2016) 87%

And the second one is my last film — so 50-something films later — is Norman. Norman is probably the least obvious casting choice of me one could ever make. I think because of that it ended up being such a terrific experience. Sort of completely working in another territory.

It’s one of my favorites of your performances — despite the fact that it reminds me so much of my family. I didn’t even realize how Jewish it would be. It was so authentic. I was like, “Maybe he is Jewish.”

You know, when I first started, some woman came up to me — I remember this very clearly — and saying, “Your name is really Gara, isn’t it?” And I said, “No.” And she winked at me and said, “I know you’re Hungarian.” Then I went through a period where everyone thought I was Italian. So, now, clearly, I’m Jewish.

That’s the sign of a brilliant actor. Plus, this movie just keeps you thinking. I’m still thinking about it.

We had a screening last night. [Writer-director] Joseph Cedar and I’ve been doing Q&As after. They’re always fun. People are just kind of flipped out by it. And it does continue. I have a feeling it’s the kind of movie that the dinner conversations are interesting.

Babette's Feast (1987) 97%

I actually just talked to Joseph about this last night, one of my all-time favorites is Babette’s Feast. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why. It’s very pure. It’s not tricky at all; the filmmaking is almost invisible. I think for the most part, it feels like there are non-actors in the piece — although I’m sure they’re actors — but it’s not an actor-y piece at all. It’s just beautifully conceived with a really generous heart at its center. It just really moves me, I saw it again last week.

And it holds up.

It does; it’s the purity and the simplicity of it. And the sentiment of community and excellence. The idea of excellence and generosity as real things. Something, obviously, that’s in danger these days. The idea of truth and excellence and compassion. And kind of a willingness to accept the other. Forgive. So I think it’s a really deep, timeless film.

Bicycle Thieves (1948) 98%

What else comes to my mind? Bicycle Thieves was always one I loved, too. Again, deeply moving, operatic Italian story. Impossible to see the film and not weep. The simple life of people just trying to get through the day in very hard times. High unemployment after the second world war — a bicycle is the ticket out of unemployment and poverty. That’s a film that also still works. I see it every couple years. I look at that again.

Sunrise (1927) 98%

One more. How about another film that Joseph and I were talking about last night, which is a wonderful film: Sunrise by Murnau. It’s a silent movie — I think it’s from 1927, something like that. And it’s one of the most beautifully shot movies you’ll ever, ever see. Just the pinnacle of silent film art photography. Deep emotions of, again, almost operatic story. There’s a lot of nature in it, there’s a lot of water, fire, sunrises, and sunsets that are connected to the story. Human emotions and consciousness and yearnings and failings and karma. It comes from a short story, and a very beautiful film.

It won the first Cinematography Oscar.

Is that true? Well it’s worth it. If you ever see that film, it’s a “wow” experience.


Kerr Lordygan for Rotten Tomatoes: How did you end up working with Joseph Cedar on Norman

Richard Gere: We met through Oren Movermen. I knew Oren because he co-wrote I’m Not There with Todd Haynes, the Bob Dylan movie. He and I became good friends. We were at an Academy cocktail party for new members. I was asked to come and talk to the new members in New York, and they were both there together. Oren introduced me to Joseph and asked if I knew his work, and I hadn’t known Beaufort. It was a terrific Israeli film that he had made. So it just started the dialogue. I said, “If you ever want to do anything in the Middle East, and I’m right for it, give me a call.” So. That’s how that happened.

RT: Were you worried about it, scared of it?

Gere: No, I wasn’t. I was kind of perplexed and bemused, and my first question to him was, “Why me?” And I said, “Look, as a director and as a producer, I wouldn’t cast myself in that.” He didn’t want the usual with this. He wanted someone who’s gonna bring — I mean, what he has told me, who knows what he really wanted — I think he wanted to avoid the clichés of a Woody Allen approach to it. So we didn’t have a lot of time; we had eight or nine months to work on this before we started shooting.

RT: How did you prep for it?

Gere: Living in New York since I was 20. The best preparation. 47 years of having Normans around me all the time.

RT: It would be so easy for him to turn into an unpleasant character, but you made him so endearing.

Gere: I think there was a quality to him — and I didn’t realize it — we did talk about it a bit when I was trying to get a sense of where Joseph was coming from with this, and I at one point said, “Let’s think about the pulls, of what this could be.” It could be Woody Allen — he doesn’t want Woody Allen. And I said “Well, the other pull was Charlie Chaplin.” And he said, “If it has to go anywhere, it would go in that direction.”

And there is a kind of sad, sad quality about him. We never see his home. The film almost — although there’s an almost nonstop dialogue — the film actually works as a silent film. There are sections of the film that are completely silent. There’s the whole dumbshow when Norman and Eshel meet outside of the shoe store. Where he cuts out the dialogue and we just see it as a physicality.

RT: I loved that.

Gere: Yeah me too, it takes a really brave director to do that. The camera doesn’t move. There’s a soundtrack that kind of identifies the quirky circus quality of the movie, and forms that. But we just kind of see the physicality of the two people getting to know each other.

RT: And was that scripted?

Gere: It was partly scripted as dialogue — and we shot it as dialogue — but with the intention that he may pull it out, he’d have to look at it. Now I think he did a couple of different cuts, with the dialogue and without it. And it was way more interesting without it.

RT: It was fascinating, because we are trying to figure out how you were going to do this — how you were going to get him in your pocket.

Gere: Yeah, and it actually worked with the dialogue too. It was just so much more interesting without. And without the camera moving; no cuts. It’s a long sequence — it’s about a minute and a half, two minutes.


Norman opens on Friday, Apr. 14, 2017, in limited release.

This week on DVD and Blu-ray, we’ve got Quentin Tarantino’s brutal western, a sports drama starring Will Smith, some excellent televsion, and more. Read on for details.


Archer: Season 6 (2015) 91%

After a detour into crime during season five, Archer, Lana, and the gang return to familiar themes, working with the CIA in season six. The box set includes all 13 episodes and a trio of extras.

Get it Here


Humans: Season 1 (2015) 89%

This Certified Fresh US-UK joint sci-fi production is set in an alternate reality where lifelike artificial intelligence has been perfected; the series follows a normal family as they deal with life… and robots. The season box set includes making-of docs, character profiles, interviews, and more.

Get it Here


The Hateful Eight (2015) 74%

Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell headline Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning western (Ennio Morricone’s score took home Best Original Score) about the deadly secrets that emerge when eight apparent strangers get trapped in one cabin during a blizzard. Only two special features are listed: a short making-of doc and an overview of 70mm delivered by Jackson.

Get it Here


Concussion (2015) 58%


Will Smith stars in this biopic as Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who discovered a link between American football and chronic brain damage, only to face immense opposition from the NFL. Bonus features include deleted scenes and a few making-of featurettes.

Get it Here


Forsaken (2015) 42%


Kiefer and Donald Sutherland star in this western about a retired gunfighter who embraces violence again when local thugs begin terrorizing ranchers over land disputes. The only extra is a making-of featurette.

Get it Here


Point Break (2015) 11%


Luke Bracey and Edgar Ramirez star in this remake of Kathryn Bigelow’s classic action film about an undercover cop who gets chummy with the leader of a band of extreme-sports bank robbers. Special features include deleted scenes and short clips focused on the various stunt sequences.

Get it Here


Bicycle Thieves (1948) 98%


We’ll end with two well-regarded films new to the Criterion Collection, beginning with Vittorio De Sica’s influential film about a struggling unemployed man searching for his stolen bicycle with his son in tow. The new Blu-ray release comes with a collection of interviews, a documentary on longtime De Sica collaborator Cesare Zavattini, and more.

Get it Here


A Poem Is a Naked Person (1974) 87%


And lastly, we have Les Blank’s documentary — filmed from 1972-1974 but only released last year — about musician Leon Russell, featuring both concert footage and intimate moments off stage. Extras include a new conversation between Russell and Harrod Blank (Les Blank’s son), excerpts from a 2013 Les Blank Q&A, a documentary about the film, and more.

Get it Here

Getty Images / Astrid Stawiarz / Stringer

Mel Rodriguez is in three of the best-reviewed TV shows of the last couple years: Better Call Saul (Marco), The Last Man on Earth (Todd), and Getting On (Patsy). His characters — when their shows’ titles are murmured around the water cooler — evoke reactions like, “Ohhhhh [insert character name here]! I love him!” But his new film, Fat, features Rodriguez in a very real, naturalistic performance that is sure to earn him new fans. Rodriguez spoke to us about his favorite movies with passion and enthusiasm; it’s no wonder his likability is being noticed around the world. Here are five of his favorite films:


Bicycle Thieves (1948) 98%

I really love Bicycle Thief. That just reminds me of my relationship with my father. My mother — they were divorced and I was raised mostly by my father. We grew up really poor. Something about that film really strikes a chord in me real deep. I remember [when I first saw it],I think I was in college and I had just left home. It was part of film studies class. We were told to watch it and I remember getting really emotional watching it. I guess it just really struck a chord because it made me realize everything my father had gone through to support us and to be there for us. I just remember that relationship, that father/son relationship and him loving his father so much and the end — his father just constantly trying so hard to support the family and make ends meet, and really not being able to pull it off. Poverty sucks, you know what I mean? And then in the end, him having to kind of resort to something that goes completely against his character, really, in order to provide for his family. And those moments of just pure humiliation, as a man, to try to provide for your family.

I remember times like that with my dad and it just really hit close to home. I remember missing my dad because I was in New York. I was away from home for the first time and getting a real clear idea of what my father had gone through to provide for me. I think when you’re in the day-to-day and living it, you don’t have that objectivity, and you’re not able to step back and see the big picture. Then sometimes these really great movies are able to that for you. They’re kind of able to strike these chords in you and illuminate things for you. I think that’s what the Bicycle Thief did for me.

Goodfellas (1990) 96%

I grew up in kind of a rough neighborhood and there was kind of this whole gangster thing, too. I think that’s the opening line: “As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster.” And I think there was a part of me that felt the same way. I just loved Robert De Niro’s work, all those guys really. Man, the acting, and everything about that movie — almost flawless film. And I’ve loved all of Scorsese’s films. Just his working relationship with Robert De Niro, from Mean Streets on; there are so many movies that I love with the two of them. I feel like everything kind of comes together in Goodfellas in some way. Goodfellas has kind of got it all. That was probably one of my favorite films as a kid, so I carried a picture of Goodfellas in my wallet. With De Niro and Pesci and Liotta, it was like, you know, the trinity [laughing]. I mean, really, Goodfellas was kind of like my Star Wars [laughing].

Really just the pacing of that film, everything, just how realistic. And at times it’s just jarring how violent it is. And hilarious too.  It’s f—ing hilarious. I mean, I know it’s not funny that you would wrap a telephone cord around a guy’s neck. That’s not funny at all! The whole situation is terrible! But I think on some level, really, you kind of care for these guys and I think that’s what Scorsese is able to do in his films, is make these guys so human that we are able to somehow relate to them and, on some level, even kind of root for them, even though some of the stuff they do is just really despicable. I mean, the stuff that Joe Pesci does is just awful and I don’t think you really necessarily root for him; he’s kind of a hot head.

The thing is, obviously, I know these things are bad. I do know how life can go one way or another, and that it’s not all just black and white, and there are many different situations and twists and turns in life. I feel these things sometimes and say, “Oh wow, I knew a guy like that. And I knew a guy like that.” And so I am very into gangster movies just because I feel, in some ways, I don’t think I have the heart for it, honestly. I’d have a nervous breakdown as a gangster. I’d be a very nervous gangster. I’d be the gangster that pops a lot of Klonopin.

RT: That’s your next movie, or sitcom.

Yeah totally [laughing]! You know, Miami was just fraught with this kind of stuff in the 1980s. I remember telling a buddy that you’d see a guy adding these really palatial additions to his really modest home in the southwest area of Miami. And you know, these kinds of houses, you’d be like, “Oh, you know, so-and-so got into selling drugs,” and they’d pop up all over the neighborhood. Then all of a sudden, construction would stop on one, it would stop for months. And you’d go, “Oh, well so-and-so went to jail.” That’s kind of how the 1980s were in Miami. But back to Goodfellas. It’s great and the pacing. And it all it seems very real.

The Boat (1981) 98%

I love Das Boot just because it’s a real keen movie. But I’m doing this show, The Last Man on Earth too, and there’s this thing where [my character] Todd is kind of crumbling. He’s got all this stuff on his plate; he’s just kind of starting to fall apart a bit. And there’s this one scene in Das Boot, where one of the guys realizes he is going to die, just losing it. Something about this one actor — he’s able to convey every single bit of claustrophobia and fear, and man, he’s able to convey all that on his face somehow in a moment. Literally, I think the scene is probably about two minutes long, and you just feel everything, man. You know these guys are about a thousand feet underwater, and literally you take that ride with him. I think some of the performances are just so unbelievable.

Raging Bull (1980) 94%

I think [the performances are] what it is for me with films. Like Raging Bull, for instance. It’s just beautiful. I love Robert De Niro and how he was just able to embody Jake LaMotta that way. That was inspiring to me. I remember thinking, “Oh wow, this guy is just like a chameleon.” He’s just able to take on the spirit of someone and become this person. I was really fascinated by that. The fact that he went on to gain all this weight for LaMotta in the later years, and his relationship with his brother; it’s so powerful. I had a younger brother. I just really related to that. And their relationship, how they just love each other so much, but do such awful things to each other sometimes. And the whole story itself, the life of a fighter. What makes a fighter and what makes a fighter kick?

I’m also a huge boxing fan. I box. That was something that I considered doing as a profession at one point, until I got punched really f—ing hard [laughing]. It’s just an awful f—ing feeling, and it sucked. And I was like, “I’m not going to do this for a living; there’s no way [laughing].” And with that, my whole attitude changed about that really quick. But I have so much respect for what those guys do, the fact that these guys — I mean, they literally fight for a living, and they train so hard. I’ve been in the gym and I see what these guys do.

It’s also a poverty thing, too, in a lot of ways. I don’t think a lot of really wealthy people jump in the gym and decide they want to be a boxer. It’s usually these guys; “I’m gonna make something for me. I’m gonna make something for my family. I’m gonna do it by training six, seven, eight hours a day and getting in the ring with one other man. And f—ing laying it all on the f—ing line.” I have a great respect for that.

It’s one of those movies you can feel. It’s visceral that way. And the dialogue just seems to come almost effortlessly. So much like life; it really is like you are watching this piece of life. I really love films like that. 

Scarface (1983) 82%

Pacino in Scarface. That’s another one, just because it was where I was from. I am half Cuban American. That wasn’t the story necessarily of Cuban Americans but I know a lot of the guys that I grew up with and a lot of the people I grew up with felt that way. Being first generation — you know people had a lot to prove. And God, I feel that movie is so sleek, and very much what Miami is. It was really cool. It was a really interesting time when the Mariel boatlift happened and Castro emptying out his prisons and insane asylums. It was a crazy time. I think crime went up by 200 percent in Miami. I mean, literally we had killers on the street and it was a f—ing nutty time. I remember somebody saying that it’s funny that I ended up doing comedy, and I was so into all these other super hardcore dramatic films. But I just remember Al Pacino doing an interview once and him saying that he was — while he was doing that — he kinda really dropped into the role and became this really kind of vicious guy to play Tony Montana. And he said he was coming out of his house one day, and I guess some guy’s doberman had gotten loose and he was kind of “in it” on his way to work — and this doberman came up to him and he realized the doberman was going to attack. And he just kind of planted himself — you know, all Tony Montana — and just f—ing was like “Hey!” And the dog kinda turned around and whimpered and ran away [laughing]. And he was like, “Me, Al Pacino — I would have freaked out but I was just in this thing and I was really in — and this dog comes in… ‘This guy’s f—ing danger, you know? Stay away.'”

RT: Benefits of method acting.

Yeah totally [laughing]. I loved all those guys that did that stuff, man. I really wanted to do that. It’s so funny, I really, I wanted to be that, I wanted to live that, as an actor. If it’s Midnight Cowboy, I’m going to go be homeless for a month and all that stuff. I was so into to that, the science behind the method you know. It just really fascinated me, man. It just seemed like so much fun.

RT: But it can be painful too.

Yeah, and then I realized now it could probably be torturous. I think I was young and a little naive thinking that. I look at a guy like James Gandolfini who had to carry around all that darkness day in day out. Now, I’m on a comedy; we just kind of laugh on set all the time. It’s very light for the most part. Some of it is a little heavy, but for the most part it’s really, really light. I realize, “Oh, I’m gonna go home. I am able to just hold my girl and give my wife a kiss, just hang out and watch TV,” and everything is really kind of light. I can’t imagine going to work where you’re playing this kind of mob boss killer who knows that the FBI is hot on his f—ing tail, and can’t trust anyone. Day in and day out, playing this f—ing thing. I know that, energetically, it’s gotta do something to your f—ing insides. Maybe that’s — God knows — but maybe that’s why we lost him so soon, but it’s heavy s—. It’s really heavy. Now looking back I certainly don’t think I want to do that. It’s too much. And I certainly don’t want to bring that sort of thing home.


Fat is now open in limited release and available on VOD and iTunes.

Actor, writer and comedian David Cross is perhaps best known (in certain circles, anyway) for his role on TV’s Arrested Development, the cult show that will soon be resurrected, thanks to years of dogged fan enthusiasm, for a feature film. But his credits extend well beyond the role of Tobias — Cross has featured in numerous TV and film projects, including Mr. Show, Tim and Eric, Kung Fu Panda and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, to name but a few. He’s also the only actor to play both Allen Ginsberg (in I’m Not There) and the beat poet’s father, Louis (in the upcoming Kill Your Darlings, with Daniel Radcliffe). So now you know that.

This week, Cross stars in the ensemble comedy drama It’s A Disaster, which features four couples holed up in a house as the end of the world approaches. Directed by Todd Berger, making his feature debut, the movie plays at this week’s Los Angeles Film Festival en route to a theatrical release later this year.

We had a chance to speak with Cross recently, and asked him to pick his five favorite films. “These are not my five favorite movies,” he explained. “They are five of my favorite movies (of which I have hundreds).”

Matewan (John Sayles, 1987; 100% Tomatometer)



This movie (like, Badlands a movie that’s not on this particular list) is almost perfect. Not a wasted shot, piece of dialogue, moment, or frame. John Sayles has made some amazing movies but this is my favorite of his. A beautiful, forceful movie that tells a dozen different stories wrapped around one specific, true pivotal moment in American history. And every single actor is perfect and perfectly cast.

Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948; 96% Tomatometer)



Just watched this again the other night. About every five years or so I throw it on and enjoy it. Perhaps as some sort of antidote or palate cleanser for all the bombastic, inane crap that comprises 99% of the movies out there. For every Battleship and What To Expect When You’re Expecting, or by-the-numbers, manufactured twee, Indie quirkfest you end up seeing, you should watch this movie to equalize your sense of what a “good movie” really is. As simple a story as one can conceive (an honest man in post-war Rome who needs his bicycle for work, has it stolen and he sets out to get it back before the end of the day) that’s easily as compelling and truthful as any movie out there.

Salò, of the 120 Days of Sodom (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1975; 68% Tomatometer)



Easily, without hesitation, the most difficult, and disturbing movie I’ve ever seen. I knew after I watched it a second time (mostly to verify the feelings it instilled in me the night before when I initially watched it) that that would be the last time I ever saw it. In a culture crammed with “shocksploitation” movies that are really pornographic in their violence and depravity but empty of any symbolism or real meaning (Human Centipede anyone?), Salo is as bleak and depressing a movie for it’s “Banality of Evil” truth that permeates every moment. There’s no escape. This is the world we’ve created for ourselves.

Quadrophenia (Franc Roddam, 1979; 100% Tomatometer)


Of all the great (but few and far between) movies that truly capture the confusion, misplaced energy and anger of one’s teenage years, this, to me, is the best. At least the closest to nailing what I was feeling at that age. Even though it takes place decades before I was that age and in a country that is 4,000 miles away. There isn’t a false note in the whole movie. And it’s driven by one of my favorite albums of all time, of course The Who’s, Quadrophenia, which explores all those themes and more. And Phil Daniels does a supreme job at conveying all of those missed emotions.

Modern Romance (Albert Brooks, 1981; 85% Tomatometer)



Hey let’s lighten it up a bit shall we? This isn’t even my favorite Albert Brooks movie (that would be the amazing and prescient Real Life) but this is the funniest. Maybe one of the funniest movies ever. I’m not going to try to give written down examples as they will lose a great deal in that process. Just please go get it and watch it. The scene where he takes the Valium and then has to deal with a couple of — f**k it, trust me, every scene is funny and smart.


It’s A Disaster plays at the Los Angeles Film Festival this week.

If British writer-director Bruce Robinson had only made one film — 1987’s inimitable comedy Withnail & I — he would have been assured a place in the annals of cult movie history. And it very nearly became the case, too. Having finished his follow-up, 1989’s overlooked but frequently brilliant satire How to Get Ahead in Advertising (again starring Withnail‘s Richard E. Grant), Robinson took his talent to Hollywood and had such a wretched experience on his first studio picture, Jennifer 8 (1992), that he vowed never to direct a film again.

When the combined forces of Hunter S. Thompson and Johnny Depp came calling, however, Robinson found himself being made an offer he couldn’t refuse. The result is The Rum Diary, a long-gestating passion project for Depp instigated when he and Thompson unearthed an unpublished manuscript from the late gonzo icon’s early years as a writer. Functioning as a companion piece — and a prequel, of sorts — to Terry Gilliam’s (screw the critics) classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Rum Diary explores Thompson (via his proxy, journalist Paul Kemp) in his formative period as a journalist, as he begins to find his authorial voice in a haze of barmy booziness.

We sat down with Robinson to talk about the challenge of bringing Thompson’s novel to the screen, the weirdness of being back in Hollywood, and how Depp — who previously tried to bait Robinson to direct Fear and Loathing — finally lured him into taking on this job. But first, kick back with some lighter fluid and enjoy Robinson’s five favorite films.

The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925; 100% Tomatometer)


The first one is The Gold Rush, by Charlie Chaplin. It’s the apogee of his genius. I saw that film when I was 11 or 12 years old in a cinema in Ramsgate, Kensington, and there were three people in there with me. Nothing has ever made me laugh as much as that. I remember, literally — in those days they used to have a velvet kind of cover over the balcony — and I remember hanging over and laughing at the sheer f–king brilliance of the comedy in that film. The one I saw was just black-and-white, too; this was before Chaplin put a voice-over on it, which I don’t enjoy — I don’t think it serves the film well. There are certain things in there, you know — around cooking and survival and stuff — that kind of are in my soul now, as someone who tries to tell stories too.

Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio de Seca, 1948; 96% Tomatometer)



The second one is Bicycle Thieves, by De Sica. That was the most moving film I’ve ever seen. The scene in there where the dad has lost his bicycle and he takes his kid out for a pizza in 1948 Rome, and the kid is eating it but he’s not ’cause he can’t afford to pay for it, is one of the all-time most moving scenes I’ve ever seen in a cinema. It’s an amazing film.

Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960; 99% Tomatometer)



The third is Psycho. The reason that Psycho is the most extraordinary film to me is the mood in that movie and the fact — and it’s kind of a cliché to say it — that we’re following this woman’s story and suddenly it’s ruptured and she’s dead: What the f–k have we got left? I don’t know a moodier or better kind of horror film. It’s the darkest movie ever made, for me. It’s quite remarkable.

Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet, 1975; 97% Tomatometer)



The fourth one, which is kind of a weird one, is Dog Day Afternoon. Because of Al Pacino’s performance. He has a line in there — maybe it’s his line, maybe it’s the screenwriter’s line — he says “Kiss me, kiss me,” to the cops, “I liked to be kissed when I’m getting f–ked.” It’s one of the all-time great lines in cinema.

All the President’s Men (Alan J. Pakula, 1976; 100% Tomatometer)



All the President’s Men, because of my hero, William Goldman, who wrote that film. Here we’re sitting in the dark watching a movie and we all know what the denouement is — we all know how this film’s going to end up; they’re going to bust Nixon’s ass — and yet we’re on the edge of our seats all the way through that movie. Of course, it’s Pakula’s fantastic direction and these fabulous actors at the height of their career — Hoffman and Redford — but primarily it’s William Goldman, who managed to write a film where we all know what’s gonna happen, and yet we’re compelled to watch this process. Imagine if, in Psycho, the title sequence was Perkins putting on his wig and robe, so we all know it’s him — that’s the problem Goldman had to deal with. We all knew it was Nixon. And yet he managed to pull it off. Blew me away, that film. The performances, and the writing… who was that actor who played the editor? Jason Robards. He tells them to go after it. I wish the press would behave like that today, you know: “Go after these f–kwits, and nail them.”

Next, we have a wide-ranging chat with Robinson about The Rum Diary, adapting Thompson’s book, his return to directing and working with star-producer Depp.

 

Bruce Robinson: Would you like a beer?

RT: I would but this could get swiftly out of hand. But please, by all means enjoy yourself.

Well I will. And I don’t care if they f–king carry me down [to the press conference], frankly. I’m so jet-lagged. It’s such a weird process [doing interviews] but I know you’ve gotta do it. It’s just, you know, if someone asks you to describe your movie you only know so many things, and I’m gonna start speaking Korean very soon to explain this movie. [Laughs.]

Fair enough. [Laughs] You talked about your love for All the President’s Men and those journalists going after the “bastards” — was that a theme that drove you in writing and shooting The Rum Diary?

Well, not entirely. When Hunter wrote The Rum Diary he had no idea he was going to become “Hunter Thompson” and gonzo and all the rest of the stuff, but subsequent to that one’s able to read all of Hunter’s stuff and the way he did go after them. He was a rageful man. He didn’t use bullets, he used words, which is a fantastic thing to be able to do — and he had the talent to do it. So there’s a line at the back of the film where Johnny has essentially found his voice, and he says, “I make a promise to the reader… I’m going after them, and it’ll be a voice made of ink and rage.” And when he loses, which he does at the end of the film — they f–k him up — he says “I smell ink.” That, to me, was something to do with Hunter, in the best way I could do it, anyway, with all faults.

Hunter and Johnny apparently took delight in hauling you out of retirement. So once they’d gotten you to write the script, how did they lure you into the director’s chair? Was Hunter still alive at this point — did you meet him?

I met him once around 20 years ago, and we didn’t have anything to say to each other.

Why was that?

I don’t know. I went into the [Chateau] Marmont hotel and he was there and we sat in a room, like you and me, for two hours and we never said a word to each other. He had a wet towel on his head.

Were you daunted?

Pretty much. I was a fan and he was an icon. He had all of his equipment — the coke, the grass, the Chivas Regal, the smokes and stuff. And anyway, I sat there for two hours, as close as I am to you, and we never said a word to each other. And then I said, “Okay Hunter, I’m off.” “Okay.” And I left. So that was the end of that. But Johnny has told me that Hunter was a big fan of Withnail & I and he liked watching that, which is the reason that he and Johnny chose me as the writer for this film. I don’t write like Hunter but I do write in the same kind of vernacular, you know, no jokes, but hopefully comedic rage — which is one of my motors, ’cause I’m f–king angry about so many things but I like comedy. That was the reason Johnny said, “Will you write it?” I wrote it, and then he said, to my astonishment, “Will you direct it?” My answer was “No.” And then he sort of went after me. [Laughs]

Because at the time you were still very—

Tender.

And Johnny had been after you to do Fear and Loathing before that.

That’s right. I said “No.” It was in the Sunset Marquee Hotel. He said, “You’re gonna direct this.” “No, I’m f–king not!” And I didn’t, and wouldn’t, and couldn’t.

Are you glad you didn’t make it?

It would have been a very different film if I had done it. It would have been a very different film. Terry Gilliam is someone I admire tremendously, but I wouldn’t have done it like that. I’d have made it much dirtier and wouldn’t have tried to make it look like a Ralph Steadman. Terry made a great film, you know, and people love Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. But there wasn’t enough time, when Johnny was talking to me there wasn’t enough time for me to have a look at the script. I can only do what I can do.

How did Johnny sell you on directing The Rum Diary?

He bullied the sh-t out of me. [Laughs] He bullied me, and he also wooed me. He bullied me in the sweetest imaginable way, and he bullied me with really good quality wine. And finally I just thought, well here’s the world’s number one film star, if he wants to take that kind of risk he can have who he wants. If he wants that kind of risk, f–k it — I’m 65-years-old, you know, I don’t give a f–k. So I said, “Okay, I’ll do it.”

Did you enjoy returning to directing?

I loved it.

Because it was the right environment?

Because of him [Depp]. He’s a very powerful figure in this industry, and if Johnny is looking after you — if Johnny is saying, “Hey, stay off — he’s alright” — then you’re in the most protected and prestigious position you can be in as a film director, because you’ve got this major f–king star looking after you. If it hadn’t worked out very well, god knows it might have been a f–king bloodbath. [Laughs]

 

Are you happy with how the film turned out?

Have you seen it?

I have. I’m a fan of the book and I was unsure going in to it — the trailer gives it an uneasy sense of it being a “wacky” sort of bender.

Which it isn’t. It’s a serious film.

It must have been a hard book to adapt, especially streamlining Hunter’s characters as you did.

Yeah, we had to do that. We had to throw Yeamon overboard, because there were two leads in [the novel]. So I made a couple of changes. Johnny’s the reason the film’s being made, and you can’t have two people playing Hunter S. Thompson — and Hunter cut himself into two characters [Kemp and Yeamon, in the novel]. Did we want two Hunters for the film? No. And I shifted the girl [Chenault, played by Amber Heard] from Yeamon, who’s gone, onto Sanderson [Aaron Eckhart], which ups the dramatic ante of the film I think. I’m very pleased with it. I think it’s funny. There are some very funny sequences.

It’s funny, but not in a way that the trailer leads you to expect it to be funny. It’s comedy that evolves not from jokes but from—

From the environment.

Right. I mean, Giovanni Ribisi was just in that world.

He’s fantastic. Giovanni was taking — in a sense we all were — incredible risks, ’cause he was right on the edge.

There seems to be a hint of Withnail in his performance.

Quite strongly, actually. I remember saying to [actor] Ralph Brown when we did Withnail — I knew this hairdresser, who was a hairdresser of a girlfriend that I was living with, and [affects Brown’s dopey geezer drawl] “she used to talk like that” and she’d say to me, “Do you understand? Do yoooooooou? ” She was the thickest f–king idiot I’ve ever met. When Ralph came along to play Danny the Dealer, I only said it to him once, that “Do you understand, maaaaan? Is it cool with you?” and he picked up on that instantly. It was the same with Giovanni. He’s kind of like that, you know — he got it, and made it his own.

Did you and Johnny discuss how Hunter’s “Paul Kemp” voice, or lack thereof, would evolve into hints of his “Raoul Duke” persona over the course of the film?

Well, I mean Johnny kind of did it organically, in that the only time he starts kind of getting into a Hunter voice is… I needed a catharsis in the film, so I cooked up that f–king acid scene, to say this was five, six years of Hunter coming through that religious lobster that was [saying] “god, now I’ve found the voice!” Of course it isn’t the f–king lobster talking, it’s Johnny/Hunter talking — when he talks about god and “Does the world belong to no one but you?” And then Johnny spontaneously, because he’s a f–king amazing actor, puts it into the typewriter: “I make a promise to the reader.” And if you see his fingers — in Fear and Loathing he’s typing like this [gesticulates with exaggerated fingers], which is insane, but nevertheless it’s a caricature — but here he kind of [moves fingers somewhat less wildly]. “I make a promise to the reader, it will be a voice made of ink and rage,” and Hunter’s starting to come out of his mouth. I thought it was f–king magic when he was doing that. That’s nothing to do with me, that’s him.

I don’t think it’s remarked upon enough, but Johnny Depp is one of the great finger actors of all time.

I know. I was constantly trying to shut that down. [Laughs]

You had to curb those fingers?

Only a tiny bit. I wanted him to be still and keep the faith of his power on screen. Why is he a film star? He sticks to the celluloid like f–king glue, Johnny Depp. You could stay there for 10 minutes, you know, just on his face, and people would watch it. We had this running joke and he actually used it in that Pirates film. I work in the middle of nowhere in England, this 16th-century house, and I came out of my writing room one night at about midnight when my family were away; and as I came out of the door I saw this huge black boot come down on the top step, and I went like that [flails hands in front of him], running up and down — I thought it was Jack the Ripper. I’m writing a book on Jack the Ripper, have been for 10 years. And I did that and it really amused Johnny, so he used it in Pirates. But there are a couple in [The Rum Diary]; he does one or two of those.

It does conjure that sense of what his “Hunter” would become.

Yeah. He moves through that film. I wanted him to become more… he becomes an active motor drive of the narrative in the third act, but he’s [initially] an observer in this film; I mean you get that, when you’re watching it. He’s observing this weird f–king life that he?s slowly becoming absorbed into. And that’s quite a tender thing; slowly making him into the power. “I smell ink,” he says. [Pauses] Am I talking bullsh-t?

No, of course not. You feel that he’s taking it all in.

And he becomes the power at the end of the film. When he says it’ll be a voice of ink and rage, he says you’ll smell it: “It’ll be the smell of bastards and the smell of truth.” For me, and for Johnny, there Hunter Thompson was now born.


The Rum Diary is in theaters this week.

Ang Lee

The rule that no two Ang Lee movies are ever the same is confidently kept intact with the release of his latest, Taking Woodstock, a comedy about the true story behind the Woodstock music festival in 1969. It follows romantic wartime drama Lust, Caution and the Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain on the director’s CV and arrives in UK cinemas this week.

As RT sits down with Lee to ask his five favourite films, he’s keen to point out that if we’d asked him another day we’d have received an entirely different list. “It’s a hard one to answer,” he tells us. “I could give 50, or 100. I’ll throw out 5 that come into my head.”


Ang Lee

Tokyo Story

Tokyo Story

“It’s one of the greatest, if not the greatest family drama in my opinion. It’s very Eastern, which really grabbed my heart. Everything is very peaceful, nothing too dramatic, but at the end it really gives you the bite that somehow life is disappointing. I love that theme. It shows a very subtle change in life but by being subtle he shows the essence of live, which is change. Nothing will stand still and the only thing that will never change is the principle that things will change. In a very subdued way, it really transmitted that idea to me. It’s very lifelike.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Tokyo Story
Tokyo Story

The Bicycle Thief
The Bicycle Thief

Persona
Persona

2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey

Lebanon
Lebanon


Ang Lee

The Bicycle Thief

The Bicycle Thief

“I was brought up with melodrama and I got taken [to see it] and really cried my eyes out — I’ve seen it many times since. It’s something I could do really easily, melodrama, but the neo-realism Italian directors can really upscale the genre to a really philosophical social state. That’s really incredible; they can transcend that drama.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Tokyo Story
Tokyo Story

The Bicycle Thief
The Bicycle Thief

Persona
Persona

2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey

Lebanon
Lebanon


Ang Lee

Persona

Persona

“I’m a big Bergman fan. His movie, Virgin Spring, changed my life. It really fit me, it was the first R film I saw when I was 18 growing up in Taiwan and I was electrified. And then I watched more of his movies and Persona is my favourite.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Tokyo Story
Tokyo Story

The Bicycle Thief
The Bicycle Thief

Persona
Persona

2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey

Lebanon
Lebanon


Ang Lee

2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey

“Yesterday I wore a particular shirt, which was Kubrick’s favourite shirt. His last picture was costumed by an English costume designer who I used three times. She passed away a couple of years ago, but she said Kubrick had seven sets of this particular shirt. He’d only wear that shirt every day, so she made one for me and I love it. I just worship Kubrick. 2001, I couldn’t really figure out what it was but I saw it when I was young and it captured me. It’s like an acid trip! [laughs]”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Tokyo Story
Tokyo Story

The Bicycle Thief
The Bicycle Thief

Persona
Persona

2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey

Lebanon
Lebanon


Ang Lee

Lebanon

Lebanon

“It’s not my favourite movie — I could go on for many movies I liked — but this year, it’s this Israeli movie. I was on the jury in Venice and we gave it the Golden Lion. It’s really gripping. The whole movie is shot from the inside of a tank and it’s so effective. It’s really exciting moviemaking and quite special. It won’t make it to my all-time great movie list, but for this year, it was something that really impressed me.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Tokyo Story
Tokyo Story

The Bicycle Thief
The Bicycle Thief

Persona
Persona

2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey

Lebanon
Lebanon


Taking Woodstock is out in UK cinemas on Friday.

Diego Luna

Diego Luna is bristling at RT’s suggestion he pick just five favourite films. “It’s really unfair to have to say only five films,” he complains as he picks his final choice. “This barely covers my life; I’m up to about the age of 16 by the end of the list!”

The 29-year-old has been acting since before 16 in his home country of Mexico, but burst onto the international stage aged 22 as part of the trio of leads in Alfonso Cuaron‘s Y Tu Mama Tambien. That film marked his first collaboration with Gael Garcia Bernal (see his five favourites here), a partnership that continues – this time with Cuaron’s brother Carlos at the helm – with Rudo and Cursi, out now in UK cinemas.

Indeed, the Cuaron connection is another sticking point for Luna. “I’d also want to say that when I saw Children of Men, for me it wasn’t only a fantastic film, but it was an important film for me because not only do I know the guy but I’ve worked with him, collaborated with him. Every time I have something I show it to Alfonso and hear what he has to say. I’d actually say that film is, for me, the most important film today because it’s a relationship I’m still working on and learning from.”

But what of his final list? Read on to find out more.


Diego Luna

Bambi

Bambi

“It’s so corny, but it was the first film I saw and the thing about the mother hit me really badly. I remember it was a good connection with my sister, who was fifteen years older. I was about 5 or 6.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Diego Luna

The Bicycle Thief

The Bicycle Thief

“I’m still kind of psychoanalysing myself but my first shock was with the relationship between the mother and then the father. To find out that your parents are not perfect and in fact they do behave sometimes like thieves to protect you, it was powerful.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Diego Luna

Cinema Paradiso

Cinema Paradiso

“Three Italians! I remember crying really badly with that when all the films in the projection room are on fire. I remember that also it was a film that when I was really young I could see myself reflected in the younger part of the film. And you can grow with the film, you know. When you become more mature you find a lot of sadness in the story of the old guy while he’s watching at the beginning and the end.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Diego Luna

Amarcord

Amarcord

“Still with the Italians, I’m sorry! With many things in life you’re there because there’s a cute girl around that you want to go out with and you end up finding magic. You end up not caring about the girl but wanting to stay there because of what you found. That happened with Amarcord to me. I really thought a lot about creating images and the connection that cinema had with theatre in a way. That film feels a little bit like theatre. I lived all my life watching theatre and it’s when I found the connection with what I was watching and could do in my life.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Diego Luna

The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski

“This was a really important movie for me as a teenager. It was a movie I could have fun with, that I thought was a piece of art and that I thought was doing something modern that had to do with my life. Cinema until then, the ones I really appreciated were done by guys that lived in a different reality from mine and were talking about something in the past that had connections with what I was living but I would have to make an effort to be part of the story and make it work for my reality. With the Coen brothers I thought I was looking at something which was an idea from the day before, you know, and also the commitment they had to their point of view was amazing. I felt excited and it was the perfect film to fall in love with when I was young.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Rudo and Cursi is out now in UK cinemas.

Here’s where I come across a dilemma: I want to share with you the spoilerrific plot points for the eventually upcoming "National Treasure 2" — but I refuse to read the article and spoil the sequel for myself. So I’ll leave it to you to decide if the report is worth reading…

From AICN, of course: "I’ve heard conflicting reports about when NT2 will go into production: everything from early January to mid-February 2007. Either way, it’s scheduled to be released for Christmas 2007 … (Jon) Turteltaub will direct. … Nicolas Cage, Jon Voight, and Diane Kruger return as well."

…and then comes the bullet point spoiler fest. Enjoy.

This week at the movies, we’ve got hoopsters with big dreams ("Crossover," starring Anthony Mackie), scary goings-on on remote islands ("The Wicker Man," starring Nicolas Cage), fast, fast vehicles ("Crank," starring Jason Statham and Amy Smart), and magic ("The Illusionist," starring Edward Norton and Jessica Biel). What do the critics say?

If you want realism, go rent "The Bicycle Thief." Critics say "Crank" is a ludicrously over-the-top action flick with nary a moment of probability. And that’s a good thing. The story involves a hit man (Statham) who must stay awake to complete his mission and get out of the business. The critics say the film makes precious little sense and eschews both the laws of physics and political correctness. They also note that it is a lot of fun, with terrific action sequences and a knowing sense of humor. Why this movie wasn’t shown to critics beforehand is beyond us, since at 75 percent on the Tomatometer it’s the best reviewed unscreened film of the year, beating out "Snakes on a Plane" (69 percent).


It appears Jason Statham’s alarm isn’t working again.

"The Wicker Man" wasn’t screened for critics either, and this time, it looks like there was a good reason for that. Critics say Neil LaBute‘s remake of the 1973 cult classic subtracts most of the subtext of the original and replaces it with tons of unintentional laughs. Cage stars as a cop who gets ensnared in sinister rituals on a remote island while searching for his girlfriend’s missing child. Scribes say the film was misconceived from the get-go and contains a startling amount of sexism. At 11 percent on the Tomatometer, this "Wicker Man" is getting burned. It’s also well below the original (89 percent).


Movie critics tried a bunch of disguises in an attempt to sneak into screanings of "The Wicker Man."

One of the reasons streetball is so much fun to watch is its sheer unpredictability. The critics say the opposite is the case with the hoops drama "Crossover." The film tells the story of Noah (Mackie), a talented kid who hopes to get to med school with an assist from his hoops scholarship, but must deal with the full court press of some of his relationships. The critics are treating "Crossover" the way Dikembe Mutombo would handle a shot in his direction. They say the film is too by-the-numbers to be dramatic. At zero percent on the Tomatometer, "Crossover" is tied with "Zoom" (each of which have 46 rotten reviews) for the title of worst reviewed film of the year.


"Run, Anthony Mackie! Run for your life! Get help!"

"The Illusionist" goes wide this week, and the critics are largely under the spell of this Sundance-approved period mystery. The film tells the tale of Eisenheim (Norton), a magician who runs afoul with the authorities for his feats of illusion and his romance with the prince’s fiancée (Biel). The scribes are praising "The Illusionist" for its remarkable set design, sweeping romance, and its twisty plot. It currently stands at 75 percent on the Tomatometer, good enough for Certified Fresh status.


In "The Illusionist," Ed Norton plays a man outstanding in his field — or is it out walking? (Thank you. I’ll be here all week.)

Also out this week in limited release: hipster fave Andrew Bujalski‘s no-budget comedy "Mutual Appreciation" is at 100 percent on the Tomatometer; Ric Burns‘ "Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film" is also at 100 percent; that lovable collie "Lassie" is at 90 percent; Kirby Dick‘s guerilla investigation of the MPAA, "This Film Is Not Yet Rated," is at 83 percent; Zhang Yimou‘s latest, "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles," is at 69 percent; Edward Burns‘ latest examination of suburban romantic angst, "Looking for Kitty," is at 38 percent; and Mike Judge‘s "Idiocracy," which is in limited release, was not screened for critics.


"Mutual Appreciation": As Sonic Youth might say, confusion is next and next after that is the truth.

Recent Neil LaBute Movies:
————————————
65% — The Shape of Things (2003)
64% — Possession (2002)
83% — Nurse Betty (2000)
76% — Your Friends and Neighbors (1999)
89% — In the Company of Men (1997)

Recent Jason Statham Movies:
—————————————
15% — London (2006)
27% — Revolver (2006)
50% — The Transporter 2 (2005)
73% — The Italian Job (2003)
53% — The Transporter (2002)

Recent Basketball Movies:
——————————–
90% — The Heart of the Game (2006)
58% — Glory Road (2006)
69% — Through the Fire (2005)
14% — Rebound (2005)
64% — Coach Carter (2005)

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