Everyone loves lists, making lists being one of the chief delights of mastering the arts of literacy. The best lists are capricious, free-form, and strongly believed in, like this one:
Heart of Glass: Haunting and weird and pretentious as fuck but beautiful, beautiful. I had an art teacher in middle school who liked to say: “There are no boring subjects, only bored people.” Don’t be a bored person!
8 1/2: If the first ten minutes don’t have you jaw-dropped and goggle-eyed, then there’s something wrong with your soul. Perhaps it could be missing…? And that’s just ten minutes, there’s so much more!
Eclipse: I hadn’t seen this for years when I happened across it on television. I came in on it towards the end, Monica Vitti is having a little spat with someone (Alain Delon!), then she goes shopping, buys something, and walks out of the frame. The movie keep going for another ten minutes, and we never see any of the characters again, just traffic, rainwater, trees swaying in the wind—but it is mesmerizing! Pure visual poetry.
Barry Lyndon: Pure visual poetry again, but of a more epic kind, and funny too. Also desperately pathetic and heart-wrenching. It’s just as important not to take the cynical and worldly narrator too seriously as it is not to accept Barry Lyndon’s version of himself at face value.
Edward II. There’s something about all of Jarman’s films that enthralls and intrigues. It’s not the homoeroticism—although that is of course always delightful—nor even Tilda Swinton—still the most beautiful woman in the world, as everyone knows—but something deeper, closer to the bone. The enthusiasm with which he embraces anachronism and narrative discontinuity, knowing that they’re both unavoidable, really, so why not put them to artistic use? His honesty in admitting he doesn’t know the answers to the problems he confronts, and not knowing is no barrier to finding out but rather the first step. And his anger, his refreshing anger, at all the cant and deceit and hatred and futile destruction in the world-as-it-is.
Prospero’s Books. You know how sometimes a movie will have an extraordinary title sequence, wow bam boom zoowie, and then the movie proper starts and it’s shit? Prospero’s Books has an opening like that, and then it just keeps on going, and you think: He can’t keep this up, he just can’t, it’s impossible. But he does. He does.