As you might be aware, ScreenAnarchy is a site that specializes in the weird and obscure, with a firm focus on modern films. We use ScreenAnarchy to write about what we love, but not all we love is deemed ScreenAnarchy-worthy (if such a thing actually exists). At least for some of us you'll only get to see a small part of our passion for film, the part we think is interesting to the ones who love ScreenAnarchy for what it is. But behind the selected reviews on this site most of us have another film identity, one we don't share too often around these part.
By now you are probably thinking I'm going to hijack this week's ToM to share an undiscovered part of my passion for film, but that's not the case, at least not entirely. See, no matter how hard I try or how many films I see, I can't seem to grow a liking to classic films. Genres I don't really care about, countries neither, but time often presents itself as a hurdle when I'm watching a film.
That doesn't really stop me from watching the classics though. Using sites like iCheckMovies.com (tons of lists from critics and important/massive film sites like IMDb) I keep to a healthy diet of 1 classic a week. Usually I don't really like what I see, but there are a few notable exceptions. I vowed to keep myself to positive reviews when I joined the ScreenAnarchy team and so I won't be presenting a list of overrated classics or similar, but a list of classics I do believe are worth checking out. It might prove to be an interesting list coming from a guy who doesn't really care about the greats of yonder.
As a simple rule, I see classics as everything older that 1970 (so no THX 1138, Suspiria or Stalker). Also 1 film/director (so no Alphaville, Running In Madness - Dying In Love or Ecstasy Of The Angels). Here goes:
05. Kaidan Yuki Jorou
A rather typical classical Japanese tale of horror, but executed with lots of style and a great sense of atmopshere. If you've seen films like Onibaba or Kaidan you probably know what to expect. Sure there is a supernatural theme to this film, it even becomes a little eerie at times, but at its core lies a layer of drama that runs through its every pore. These films are not about gore, blood or scares, they are about the drama behind the supernatural. The drama feels a little light, but the ghost scenes are particularly atmospheric and well executed. Thanks to the rather lovely photography, the superb setting and the short running time this film is definitely worth checking out.
04. Mépris, Le
Back in the 60s, they didn't have guys like Miike to challenge the boundaries of conventional cinema, but they did have Jean-Luc Godard. He broke through the barriers of cinema and challenged just about anything he could. Watching a Godard film, even today, is still somewhat of an adventure. From spoken intro credits to theatrical scene setups and humoristic and retro-futuristic computer AIs, nothing was too weird for this man. Le Mépris is one his most famous and lauded films, deservedly so. A good entry point for anyone interested in this director, but scared of his political outbursts.
03. Sleeping Beauty
I'm not a big fan of mainstream American animation, but this old Disney classic really surprised me. It deviates from typical Disney-fare quite heavily and even though it's still just a tale of princesses and magic, there's an interesting dark edge to its presentation. More detailed and stylized backgrounds and toned down animation (maybe not as fluid, but definitely more striking) make this film an interesting departure from the typical Disney style. Add to that an impressive ending (loved the dragon there) and what you have is one of the biggest cinematic surprises I've ever encountered.
02. The Cranes Are Flying
Mikhail Kalatozov is best known for Soy Cuba (still need to see that one), but from what I've seen so far The Cranes Are Flying is probably a bit more targeted at my own taste. Kalatozov obliterated my prejudice towards the beauty of old black and white films. There are a few scenes here that would still feel relevant in an advanced Tsukamoto film today, using rapid editing, abstract imagery and beautiful contrasts. The film dips a couple of times and the best scenes are definitely found near the beginning of the film, but Kalatozov goes far beyond what could be expected from a director in the 50s. Excellent stuff.
01. Go, Go Second Time Virgin
Koji Wakamatsu is awesome, no doubt about it. He makes film far outside the realm of other filmmakers, mixing political messages with semi-documentary elements and then some. His style is so unique that even his older films don't feel outdated, simply because there is so little to compare them to. Go, Go Second Time Virgin is a bleak, stylized Japanese drama that packs quite a punch, leaving you quite perplexed when the end credits start rolling. It's short but powerful, beautiful yet disgusting. If I could ever recommend one classic you should see, this is definitely my number one pick.
That's the list. Should you have any other tips based on the films listed above, they're always welcome of course.
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