A few of my favorite films

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people see so many movies that when they finally see one not so bad as the others, they think it’s great. an Academy Award means that you don’t stink quite as much as your cousin. — Charles Bukowski, The Last Night of the Earth Poems

My film students frequently ask about my “favorite” film (yes, usually singular), and, honestly, I don’t have one. Indeed, one of the things I try to convey to my students is that there may be a gap between the films one enjoys, ones that a person recognizes as being excellent in one way or another, and ones that a person recognizes as being culturally important. So, I reply by asking which of these sorts of categories are they interested in and why. Sometimes I mention a film or two in each category, but I try to make the questions the topic rather than my particular tastes.

So, this list is an “arbitrary 15” (i.e., rather than a “top 10”) list of films from some combination of the aforementioned criteria.1

  1. Point Blank (Boorman, 1967)
  2. The Human Tornado (Roquemore, 1976)
  3. Blue Velvet (Lynch, 1986)
  4. Pink Flamingos (Waters, 1972)
  5. La Jetee (Marker, 1962)
  6. Death Race 2000 (Bartel, 1975)
  7. Tales from the Hood (Cundieff, 1995)
  8. Key Largo (Huston, 1948)
  9. When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (Lee, 2006)
  10. Shaolin Soccer (Chow, 2001)
  11. The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah, 1969)
  12. Touch of Evil (Welles, 1958)
  13. Master of the Flying Guillotine (Wang, 1976)
  14. Vanishing Point (Sarafian, 1971)
  15. Schizopolis (Soderbergh, 1996)

  1. The films aren’t completely arbitrarily chosen from within the broad criteria listed above. I have left off films from my “Philosophy and Film” course, and I have generally included films that have stuck with me, inspired multiple viewings, and the like. I’ve also left off fairly popular films like Fight Club or Fletch
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