• Deep Red

    Deep Red

    ★★★★★

    Giallo is a subgenre of Italian crime thrillers that first emerged in the early 1960s but were most popular in the early '70s. The term giallo is Italian for yellow and describes the covers of early pulp novels about crime and murder that were popular in Italy. Giallo films are violent, highly stylized murder mysteries that often contain amateur sleuths, repressed memories, and jarring musical scores. Writer-director Dario Argento burst onto the giallo scene with his excellent debut The Bird…

  • Do the Right Thing

    Do the Right Thing

    ★★★★★

    Last year marked the thirtieth anniversary of Spike Lee's masterpiece Do the Right Thing. I first saw Do the Right Thing when I was 14. It was a pivotal time in my film viewing experience when I was first discovering the criterion collection and foreign films. It was a time in which my cinematic landscape was expanding in unimaginable ways. At the time, Do the Right Thing struck me as something special. I've seen the film several times now and…

  • Pixote

    Pixote

    ★★★★★

    Hector Babenco’s masterpiece Pixote is an unflinching look into the lives of Brazilian street kids. Heavily influenced by Italian neo-realism, Babenco cast boys with no acting experience. Many of these non-actors’ lives mirrored those of the characters in the film. As the ten-year-old Pixote, Fernando Ramos da Silva gained international fame and recognition. However, after a failed attempt at an acting career, Da Silva returned to the streets. In 1987, he was shot and killed by police at only 19…

  • Beau Travail

    Beau Travail

    ★★★★★

    Claire Denis’s masterpiece Beau Travail is one of the most haunting depictions of toxic masculinity and non-belonging that I have ever seen. Loosely based on Herman Melville’s novella Billy Budd, Beau Travail is an incredibly quiet film with minimal dialogue and a virtually nonexistent plot. The film functions more as a visual poem with images that I will never forget.

    Galoup, a former officer in the French Foreign Legion, recalls his former life in Djibouti, where his obsession with a…

  • Barry Lyndon

    Barry Lyndon

    ★★★★★

    There are great filmmakers and then there is Stanley Kubrick. The man was a visionary genius and is rightfully regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers who ever lived. Barry Lyndon, Kubrick's period drama which follows the rise and fall of an Irish nobleman, often gets overlooked. This is a shame because it is one of Kubrick's greatest achievements.

    Kubrick's masterpiece follows the exploits of an Irish opportunist who comes from modest beginnings and climbs the proverbial social ladder only…

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street

    A Nightmare on Elm Street

    ★★★★★

    I first saw A Nightmare on Elm Street when I was 12 and it has remained a favorite ever since. Movie posters adorned the walls of my childhood room including a poster for this classic slasher. The film features Freddy Krueger, one of the most recognizable and iconic figures in horror cinema. With his burned face, red and green sweater, brown fedora, and glove with knives for fingers, Freddy has become ingrained in popular culture.

    The original Nightmare is still…

  • Halloween

    Halloween

    ★★★★★

    John Carpenter's Halloween is an immortal classic. This low-budget, independently produced horror film spawned numerous sequels and a slew of imitators but none have equaled its brilliance.

    The story is incredibly simple. It is the camera angles and movements, expressionistic cinematography, and musical score that combine to make Halloween a masterful horror film. Michael Myers is terrifying because he is a blank face on which we project our deepest, primordial fears. He is evil incarnate and has no apparent motive.…

  • Purple Noon

    Purple Noon

    ★★★★★

    René Clément's Purple Noon, the original adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, is a tightly woven Hitchcockian thriller set against the beautiful sun-basked locales of coastal Italy and featuring stunning cinematography. Blue Noon might be a more apt title for this French-Italian classic, which is full of gorgeous blues - Mediterranean blues, blue skies, and the piercing blue eyes of French heartthrob Alain Delon.

    As Tom Ripley, Delon is perfect in the role that made him a…

  • Moonlight

    Moonlight

    ★★★★★

    Based on Tarell Alvin McCraney's play "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue," Barry Jenkins' sophomore film is pure cinematic magic and my favorite film of the decade. A sprawling coming-of-age saga set in Florida, Moonlight follows a young black man struggling with his sexuality. Three different actors play Chiron at pivotal stages in his life - Alex Hibbert as a child, Ashton Sanders as a teenager, and Trevante Rhodes as an adult. All three actors are phenomenal. Moonlight is heartbreaking…

  • Psycho

    Psycho

    ★★★★★

    Alfred Hitchcock is one of my favorite filmmakers. My obsession with Hitchcock began when I was a small boy watching The Birds for the first time. I've been watching and studying Hitchcock's work ever since and Psycho remains my absolute favorite Hitchcock masterpiece.

    What more can be said of Psycho that hasn't already been stated? It's one of the most celebrated films of all time. The two aspects of the film that I love most are Anthony Perkins' brilliant performance…

  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High

    Fast Times at Ridgemont High

    ★★★★★

    Before John Hughes' teen comedies, there was Amy Heckerling's Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a much grittier and hard edged look at life in high school. I first came across Fast Times at age twelve. I had a crush on Phoebe Cates, who I knew from Gremlins (1984). I learned of her infamous topless pool scene in Fast Times, which I was anxious to see. Even though I enjoyed Fast Times, I did not fully appreciate it at such a…

  • My Own Private Idaho

    My Own Private Idaho

    ★★★★★

    Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho is an indie masterpiece about a pair of young male hustlers (River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves) who embark on a journey of self-discovery together across the Pacific Northwest.

    American independent filmmaking saw a resurgence in the early 1990s after the big studio revival of the '80s. My Own Private Idaho is one of the best films to emerge from this period. It's a road movie that takes its characters from the streets of…