Life Changing Filmsby radioheadrcm | created - 09 Apr 2011 | updated - 10 months ago | Public
Films that helped shape my personal outlook on life, from youth in the 90's to present day. Please feel free to comment and share your favorites too.
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1. The Mirror (1975)
G | 107 min | Biography, Drama
A dying man in his forties remembers his past. His childhood, his mother, the war, personal moments and things that tell of the recent history of all the Russian nation.
I could put every Tarkovsky movie on this list, but the Mirror is surely his most personal, and for me, his most emotionally concentrated. In The Mirror, Tarkovsky meditates on one of the most important issues of all: the mother-child relationship. By poetically recreating his memories as a child in a conflicted society, he provides us with a beautiful portrait of what it means to be Russian, and for that matter, what it means to be a human being.
2. Werckmeister harmóniák (2000)
145 min | Drama, Mystery
An innocent young man witnesses violence breaks out after an isolated village is inflamed by the arrival of a circus and its peculiar attractions, a giant whale and a mysterious man named "The Prince".
Votes: 10,063 | Gross: $0.03M
While it's difficult to finger exactly what is so great about Werckmeister Harmonies, it's easy to recognize that the director, Bela Tarr, is onto something, with a painstakingly shot story that blurs the line between simplicity and abstraction, while simultaneously expressing the human condition in ways I've never seen. You owe it to yourself to at least watch the first ten minutes (one of my favorite scenes of all time, yet not even the best sequence in the film).
3. Stalker (1979)
Not Rated | 162 min | Drama, Sci-Fi
A guide leads two men through an area known as the Zone to find a room that grants wishes.
Votes: 81,844 | Gross: $0.23M
Somewhere between naturalistic beauty, cultural cynicism, and existentialism, lies Stalker: a film small in budget, but massive in scope. With Stalker, Tarkovsky really shows off how much he can pack into one seemingly simple film. No other film for me has triggered so much deep thinking. One could spend years breaking it down.
4. Satantango (1994)
450 min | Drama
Plotting on a payment they are about to receive, residents of a collapsing collective farm see their plans turn into desolation when they discover that Irimiás, a former co-worker who they thought was dead, is coming back to the village.
Satantango (also from Bela Tarr) answers all the questions you've ever had about small town life in Hungary, and then some. Or maybe it doesn't answer any of your questions at all. I came out of Satantango feeling confused.. but in a peaceful way, knowing I had seen something tremendous. If you ever feel overwhelmed by life and want to get back to life at its purest, treat yourself with a little time off, with Satantango.
5. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
G | 149 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi
Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest.
Votes: 485,504 | Gross: $56.95M
Taking us from the humble beginnings of humanity, to the humble space (literally) where life ends (or does it?), 2001: A Space Odyssey is a massive film in both production and vision. Often criticized for being 'cold,' though I believe this film holds more emotion than it immediately lets on.
6. The New World (2005)
PG-13 | 135 min | Biography, Drama, History
The story of the English exploration of Virginia, and of the changing world and loves of Pocahontas.
Votes: 75,470 | Gross: $12.71M
Of the films I've seen, The New World has the unusual distinction of being the most intuitive of all. Director Terrence Malick and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki head into the forests with a 70mm camera, and film all the beauty they can find (also with the help of always-excellent production designer, Jack Fisk). The result is a three hour montage of nonstop visual poetry, reflecting on the relationship between man-man and man-nature.
7. Taste of Cherry (1997)
Not Rated | 95 min | Drama
An Iranian man drives his truck in search of someone who will quietly bury him under a cherry tree after he commits suicide.
Votes: 17,035 | Gross: $0.31M
If you've ever questioned if life is worth living, Taste of Cherry is the film for you. Mr. Badii spends the film driving through mountains in Turkey (I won't say why), and interacting with only a couple people along the way. It feels like real life, yet every encounter is very carefully planned, and leaves the viewer with a new perspective on life. Taste of Cherry is also probably the only film that shows nothing but a man driving for the entire duration, but that still can completely rivet the viewer.
8. Children of Men (2006)
R | 109 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
In 2027, in a chaotic world in which women have become somehow infertile, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary at sea.
Votes: 397,935 | Gross: $35.55M
Masterfully shot by Alfonso Cuaron and Emmanuel Lubezki, Children of Men provides us with a vision of a future without children. It sounds like a depressing film, but it really is the opposite, because for everything that is ugly in the film, there is a counterpoint of something beautiful. Children of Men illustrates that while a collective may break down quite easily, our spirits as individuals are much more resilient, and have a tremendous capacity for good.
9. Eraserhead (1977)
Not Rated | 89 min | Horror
Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child.
Votes: 81,294 | Gross: $7.00M
A mutated fusion of artistic expression and narrative. Eraserhead gives a unique viewpoint of what it means to be American (or just to live in a major city), and the result is not entirely flattering. For everything that The New World does to push us towards nature, Eraserhead does to push us away from cities. Spend a year living in downtime Los Angeles and you'll see where Eraserhead came from.
10. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
R | 119 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama
With a plan to exact revenge on a mythical shark that killed his partner, oceanographer Steve Zissou rallies a crew that includes his estranged wife, a journalist, and a man who may or may not be his son.
Votes: 154,122 | Gross: $24.01M
Offbeat, dry comedy at its best, The Life Aquatic provides a welcome return to the adventurous lifestyle (which, from how I see it, has been continuously fading since the post-industrial era). This film changed my life perhaps in the most literal way possible, as it directly inspired me to pursue film making as a career.
11. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
PG | 91 min | Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
King Arthur and his knights embark on a low-budget search for the Grail, encountering many, very silly obstacles.
Votes: 422,019 | Gross: $1.23M
Smart, wacky, hysterical, inventive. I was lucky to be exposed to Monty Python very early in life, and as a result, the Holy Grail almost single-handedly shaped my sense of humor as a child. My sense of humor is somewhat drier these days (see Life Aquatic above), but I think everyone should be able to laugh about how silly we truly are the way these guys do.
12. Elephant (2003)
R | 81 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
Several ordinary high school students go through their daily routine as two others prepare for something more malevolent.
Votes: 76,036 | Gross: $1.23M
After Elephant, directors should have stopped making films about high school, because here Gus Van Sant gets everything right. Consisting mostly of long tracking shots of students moving through their lives, Elephant wholly immersed me in its teenage world, only to upset me even more when it was taken away.
13. Donnie Darko (2001)
R | 113 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
A troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a man in a large rabbit suit who manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after he narrowly escapes a bizarre accident.
Votes: 647,904 | Gross: $0.19M
I think Donnie Darko introduced me to the strengths of experimental filmmaking. Richard Kelly's earned a bad reputation since, but my teenage self is forever indebted to him.
14. Synecdoche, New York (2008)
R | 124 min | Comedy, Drama
A theatre director struggles with his work, and the women in his life, as he creates a life-size replica of New York City inside a warehouse as part of his new play.
Votes: 64,991 | Gross: $3.08M
All of a man's existence is contained in a warehouse, filled with actors that play out scenes from his life, and embody his various mind states. As the man gets older, and the production gets out of his conceptual grasp, the symbiotic existence loses control of itself and begins to break down. A must-see for any artistic type.
15. The Holy Mountain (1973)
R | 114 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
In a corrupt, greed-fueled world, a powerful alchemist leads a Christ-like character and seven materialistic figures to the Holy Mountain, where they hope to achieve enlightenment.
Votes: 27,549 | Gross: $0.06M
A film designed to literally enlighten the world, the Holy Mountain deconstructs modern society by hurling a Christ-like figure into it (named "The Thief"). The result is often quite ugly, but always memorable.
16. Apocalypse Now (1979)
R | 147 min | Drama, War
During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade Colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.
Votes: 500,824 | Gross: $83.47M
Apocalypse Now opened my mind to the idea of war movies simultaneously functioning as works of art. I first randomly caught it on television, the same as Blade Runner, and I felt myself immediately drawn in and utterly intrigued by what the film had to say.
17. Brazil (1985)
R | 132 min | Drama, Sci-Fi
A bureaucrat, in a retro-future world, tries to correct an administrative error, and becomes an enemy of the state.
Votes: 165,243 | Gross: $9.93M
My first truly surreal film. It led me to one of my favorite books, writers, and an eventual tattoo.
18. All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001)
146 min | Crime, Drama, Music
The problematic lives of teenager students for whom the singer Lily Chou-Chou's dreamy music is the only way to escape an alienating, violent and insensitive society.
Votes: 6,791 | Gross: $0.02M
A runner-up for best teenage movie I've seen, perfectly capturing the angst and obsession I similarly felt in that age.
20. The Sacrifice (1986)
PG | 149 min | Drama
At the dawn of World War III, a man searches for a way to restore peace to the world and finds he must give something in return.
Votes: 17,125 | Gross: $0.30M
21. The Fountain (2006)
PG-13 | 96 min | Drama, Sci-Fi
As a modern-day scientist, Tommy is struggling with mortality, desperately searching for the medical breakthrough that will save the life of his cancer-stricken wife, Izzi.
Votes: 206,408 | Gross: $10.14M
22. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
PG-13 | 112 min | Biography, Drama
The true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby who suffers a stroke and has to live with an almost totally paralyzed body; only his left eye isn't paralyzed.
Votes: 94,963 | Gross: $5.99M
23. Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997)
Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary, Biography, Drama
German-American Dieter Dengler discusses his service as an American naval pilot in the Vietnam War. Dengler also revisits the sites of his capture and eventual escape from the hands of the Vietcong, recreating many events for the camera.
24. Sånger från andra våningen (2000)
Not Rated | 98 min | Comedy, Drama
Where are we humans going? A film poem inspired by the Peruvian poet César Vallejo. We meet people in the city. People trying to communicate, searching compassion and get the connection of small and large things.
Votes: 14,413 | Gross: $0.00M
25. Russkiy kovcheg (2002)
Not Rated | 99 min | Drama, Fantasy, History
A 19th century French aristocrat, notorious for his scathing memoirs about life in Russia, travels through the Russian State Hermitage Museum and encounters historical figures from the last 200+ years.
Votes: 15,926 | Gross: $0.04M
26. Naked (1993)
Not Rated | 132 min | Comedy, Drama
Parallel tales of two sexually obsessed men, one hurting and annoying women physically and mentally, one wandering around the city talking to strangers and experiencing dimensions of life.
Votes: 27,085 | Gross: $1.77M
28. Irreversible (2002)
Not Rated | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
Events over the course of one traumatic night in Paris unfold in reverse-chronological order as the beautiful Alex is brutally raped and beaten by a stranger in the underpass.
Votes: 96,920 | Gross: $0.75M
29. The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974)
Not Rated | 110 min | Biography, Drama, History
Herzog's film is based upon the true and mysterious story of Kaspar Hauser, a young man who suddenly appeared in Nuremberg in 1828, barely able to talk or walk, and bearing a strange note.
33. Mulholland Dr. (2001)
R | 147 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller
After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesiac, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality.
Votes: 268,934 | Gross: $7.22M
34. Buffalo '66 (1998)
R | 110 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama
After being released from prison, Billy is set to visit his parents with his wife, whom he does not actually have. This provokes Billy to act out, as he kidnaps a girl and forces her to act as his wife for the visit.
Votes: 40,012 | Gross: $2.38M
35. Upstream Color (2013)
Not Rated | 96 min | Drama, Sci-Fi
A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.
Votes: 26,363 | Gross: $0.44M
36. Nema-ye Nazdik (1990)
Not Rated | 98 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
Votes: 10,671 | Gross: $0.00M
38. Blade Runner (1982)
R | 117 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller
A blade runner must pursue and try to terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space and have returned to Earth to find their creator.
Votes: 559,327 | Gross: $27.00M
39. The Tree of Life (2011)
PG-13 | 139 min | Drama, Fantasy
The story of a family in Waco, Texas in 1956. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence and struggles with his parents' conflicting teachings.
Votes: 148,326 | Gross: $13.30M
41. The Battle of Algiers (1966)
Not Rated | 121 min | Drama, War
In the 1950s, fear and violence escalate as the people of Algiers fight for independence from the French government.
Votes: 43,118 | Gross: $0.06M
43. Slacker (1991)
R | 97 min | Comedy, Drama
A day in the life of Austin, Texas as the camera roams from place to place and provides a brief look at the overeducated, the social misfits, the outcasts and the oddballs.
Votes: 16,687 | Gross: $1.23M