The Bicycle Thief (1948), English
I happened to see this movie after watching a interview of Anurag Kashyap, where he says he started making movies because he was moved by the power of cinema after watching this classic. The movie has remained in the top ten best movies of all time, for more than a quarter of a century. I would suggest all bollywood directors watch the movie, because this is how emotions are supposed to be depicted in a movie. A critic once said “The Bicycle Thief is a perfect example of what can be done in front of a motion picture camera, but so rarely done. This movie for the first time showed that a soul of a man can be filmed.” Its like the actors in the movie, don’t know there is a camera filming them, the acting is so natural. And this for a 1948 film. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you sit at the edge of your seat, after the last scene, you might want to run towards the screen and hug the characters.
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
The Godfather (1972), English
This is one of those films that made me wonder why I hadn’t seen it earlier. The Godfather has the word classic written all over. Colors are used perfectly to give a true feel. Al Pacino shines in this movie, One of the all time best Performance by my favorite actor. A timeless masterpiece, which features some of the best lines ever written for any movie in the world like “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business” and “I don’t like violence, Tom. I’m a businessman; blood is a big expense” The greatest gangster film ever made. A new genre was created the day this movie was released.
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Dev D (2008), Hindi
The novel Devdas was always a big hit among Indian directors. However when Anurag Kashap made a film on the book, spectators and critics were awestruck. The movie is dark, darker than bollywood has ever dared feed its audiences. Anurag shows us feminism, like we have never seen before. Dev D is one such cinema which emphasized on sexual desires that exist in a relationship between man and woman. These desires takes a center stage of the plot and somewhere it’s always present in movie though it’s not visible. The audience can feel its presence in every aspect of the movie, be it its settings, colors and lights used or the sequence which follows in the movie. Sex remains the driving force of life. Every action seems to be an outcome of the release of sexual desire. Anurag, has treated its character as human being rather than classifying their feelings according to their gender, like bollywood has done for ages. The female character of his movie is sexually liberated. None of them pursue their feeling guided by their families or by their husbands. They knew about their desires and about their action which she is taking in fulfilling those desires. She is bold, educated and capable of letting the man know her desire and also to prevent any unwanted advances. The movie has 18 songs, yes its a musical but unlike any other bollywood musical you have seen. The songs relate to the movie like they are a part of it, interwoven into the scenes, each song depicting a emotion of one of the characters. Sometimes I wonder, how did a movie with 18 songs get away with showing a women masturbating or a girl giving a blowjob. Thank God it did, if the movie was banned, Bollywood would have missed a masterpiece. Maybe Chattopadhyay’s novel was always meant to show this OR maybe it made Sarat Chattopadhyay turn in his grave.
Rotten Tomatoes: 84% (audience. no critics review)
City Of God (2002), Portuguese
The Movie Tells the story of the growth of organized crime in the Cidade de Deus. The Tagline itself will explain everything about the movie, “Fight and you’ll never survive… Run and you’ll never escape”. A staggering masterpiece. The direction, cinematography, and editing are all Splendid and at the best. The cinematography is some of the best I have ever seen. The City of God is a world you will never want to visit, but watch the movie to visit the city for 2 Hours and you might be tempted to join a anti-gun movement (which is a good thing!)
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
SuperBad (2007), English
Superbad’s not much more than a teen comedy, it’s the best teen comedy to come out in at least a decade (I am not a American Pie fan) and there’s no shame in that. Critics generally dislike Teen comedy. For me its one of the best modern comedies ever. Superbad’s so bad ass that it’s good. Superbad takes talking dirty on screen to a new level that will serve as shock treatment for some, and leave the rest in stitches. The comic timing of both Seth Rogen and Michael Cera is brillaint.
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Office Space (1999), English
Another comedy, Movies like Office space remind us why working in a cubicle is not the life, God intended for us. Its witty, wacky and especially the scene where the characters trash a office printer is brilliant. Man it reminds me of my college printer, if only I had the courage to take it to the street. A friend send me the DVD for this movie from US. Thanks Jer!
Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Psycho (1960), English
Would I dare not include a Hitchcock classic in my list. Psycho is my favorite Hitchcock movie bare none. A masterpiece by any standard. The Film will always be remembered as one of the Path Breaking of the horror genre. Even after 40 years the scenes are still copied in Hollywood and Bollywood horror movies.
Rotten Tomatoes: 99%
Schindler’s List (1993), English
Spielberg’s masterpiece. A Must See. No film has ever had the impact on me like this. It’s brilliant, beautifully shot in black and white. I saw this movie by accident. A friend of mine brought the dvd and he gave it to me saying it was a good movie. The movie was long but it was a emotional journey. The end scene where Schindler leaves his men and cries that he could have saved one more man is probably the most emotional scene I have seen.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), Italian
The story is of three gunslingers competing to find a fortune in buried Confederate gold. Leone created some of the most memorable shots in film history. A True masterpiece. The way the music drives this movie is absolutely amazing. The visuals are eye-popping, the score (by Ennio Morricone) magnificent, the Civil War set-pieces both stunning and haunting. If you’re going to end a trilogy, this is the way to do it. The good, the bad and the ugly is to hollywood what Sholay is to bollywood. Movie makers look upon these movies and awe at the technical brilliance.
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
The Matrix (1999), English
This movie makes you wonder if the story was written by a higher being of greater intelligence. What makes The Matrix above the rest of the films in its genre is that there are simply no loopholes. The special effects are absolutely amazing, Intriguingly Philosophical. The more you watch it, the better it gets. And yet another great Philosophical Lines “The answer is out there, Neo, and it’s looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to”, “I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it”. Understanding the movie can be a life changing experience. The rest of the movies in the trilogy did not meet the expectations, but the Matrix still remains a hit with both Critics and Viewers alike.
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Stanley Kubrick is always known to be a perfectionist. Below are three of the favorite movies directed by the great Stanley Kubrick.
2001 A Space odyssey (1968) , English
The ’2001 A Space odyssey’ shows how perfectly Stanley predicted the future. Its like the future simply copied the movie. The ending of the the movie is so complex, that critics still fight over the correct interpretation. The music of a man floating in space has now been copied in almost every floating scene including Tom and Jerry. Imagine a movie that takes viewers right from the evolution of man from monkeys, to the then present age (1968) , and then to a distant future(2001) in one movie. Movie shows how man has used tools to make his life better, from a animal bone to scare enemies to a complicated computer that makes decisions for you!
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), English
Dr Strangelove is a brilliant comedy, It makes fun of war and the sceanes shot inside the aircraft was so detailed and entertaining, you want to watch them again and again. Peter Sellers was cast in 3 different roles. All 3 roles had distinctively different appearances and accents. For weeks after the films release, nobody even guessed the characters were the same person. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:3SellersRoles.jpg.
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Barry Lyndon (1975), English
For Barry Lyndon, the director, Stanley Kubrick went around the world searching for a camera and lens. Stanley knew he wanted to shoot some low light scenes for the movie. The camera technology in those days was not advanced enough to shoot in low light situations. After two and half years of keeping the movie on hold, Stanley got a camera from NASA and a lens was specially developed for him. The film actually features the largest lens aperture in film history. No one had ever imagined a f/0.7 lens at that time, today photographers can’t live without it. No wonder, the candle lit scenes in the movie are stunning, its like a moving oil painting, just like Stanley Kubrick wanted it.
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
There are many more movies I would love to include, some I would like to watch. Still looking for a hindi copy of Mani Ratnams Nayakam. Other brilliant movies I like to mention include Citizen kane, 12 Angry Men, the 1925 classic Battleship Potemkin , The Shawshank Redemption and so many more. I should have included more from Hichcock, atleast one comedy from Frank Capra, Gosh I feel so bad leaving these movies out!