A film that rhythmically moves like its characters: fractured, expressive, grown-up. Its emotional hues are completely original, yet it feels like a friend. This was Rowlands and Cassavetes at their most developed, and the ending is something like pure expression. I try to understand its structural and performative mysteries every time I sit down to edit something.
News from Home
This is a film of few elements and infinite layers, a structural, poetic, and observant masterpiece. Primarily, this is just a great idea for how to reveal the excitement and loneliness of a place. Its radical style slowly reveals itself to be expressive and deeply meaningful.
Written on the Wind
Maximum emotional output: pushes past irony, through the screen, through your heart and your head to show you the seductive power of images and empathy, while always forcing you to think about what you’re watching and how you’re seeing. Melodrama is a self-revealing organism. Every time I’m taking half measures with my work, I call on Father Sirk. Honorable mention goes to Todd Haynes’s Safe, a glorious Sirkian melodrama.
David Maysles, Albert Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin
Nothing can prepare a young cinephile for the thrill of Direct Cinema. What you’re expecting to see (voice-over, explanation, facts, message) is replaced with plain-note observation of the human creature, which is the most dramatic and psychologically charged thing. Salesman is the uncle who gave me my first baseball mitt.
Taste of Cherry
The ending takes a concern at the heart of cinema—the relationship between the real world and the director impulse—and turns it into a self-aware narrative climax, which opens the iris of the film dramatically. This is moving, strange, captivating stuff. Like an old friend once told me, in order for an organism to grow, it must be aware that it is alive.
A Woman Is a Woman
When Godard stopped the music on the soundtrack as the scene continued, I learned about editing, and when he put colors on-screen, I learned about creating images. If we can ball up the intellectual with the emotional, we can stir people.
The moment Sissy Spacek transforms taught me about the illogical purity of cinema. All is possible, and a filmmaker isn’t worth anything if he or she isn’t willing to dive deep into the emotional possibilities of contradiction.
WR: Mysteries of the Organism
Gonzo formal freedom never dies. This is a beast that keeps turning to reveal new faces. Reality/fiction isn’t an on-off switch. Until you watch Makavejev, you don’t understand evolution.
Formally precise, emotionally full—this is a film about everything, all humans, all physical possibilities and limitations, all of it. If I’m ever unsure about what a movie frame can potentially be, I watch any random part of this. A total experience.
Leanne Shapton’s Top 10
An artist, art director, illustrator, and publisher based in New York City, Leanne Shapton designed the covers of the Criterion releases Kicking and Screaming and Cría cuervos . . . , and is the author of Was She Pretty?
Tracy Letts’s Top 10
Tracy Letts is an American playwright, screenwriter, and actor. He received the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for drama for August: Osage County and a Tony Award for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?