A Man with a Movie Camera (Человек с киноаппаратом) 🔗

1929 • URSS • Dziga Vertov

This film is one of the most captivating I've ever had the pleasure to watch. Yet, its simplicity strikes us, the purity and unprocessed bits of human life. It is filmed as a pseudo-experimental-documentary, but the juxtaposition, the arrangement of the frames, along with the different musical interpretations from later bands syncing with the rhythm, absorbs you on this exploration. Indirectly, we are compelled to build our own narrative that transcends it, to compose a poetic meaning out of what we see. A superb creation, a must-watch.

Häxan 🔗

1922 • Sweden and Denmark • Benjamin Christensen

A fantastic horror-documentary on witches and the kind of thinking that makes men create them. It takes you on a journey through middle-ages folklore, forcing you to approach the topic from their angle, to then throw you back in reality by taking distance and realizing the mass psychosis.

The Phantom Carriage (Körkarlen) 🔗

1921 • Sweden • Victor Sjöström

A Scrooge-, or Christmas-Carol-like story twisted to its horror limits. The Swedish cinema of the time did a good job at touching fear, not through rough gore, but through catharsis and existentialism. There's also a hint of inspiration from German expressionism of the time.

The Phantom of the Opera 🔗

1925 • USA • Rupert Julian

The classic story based on the French novel. The American twist on it gave it a raw aspect, focusing on the link between physical deformity and evilness. When watching it you are both stretched between having to sympathize with the Erik, the phantom, being shocked by how people treat him, and also guided by the mob that wants revenge for the senseless murder of their friends. 'If I am the phantom, it is because man's hatred has made me so.'

The Man Who Laughs 🔗

1928 • USA/Germany • Paul Leni

As with The Phantom of the Opera, this movie is based on the French novel by Victor Hugo. Also, similarly, it focuses on our biases, our inherent animal disgust and judgement of appearances. The movie makes you become Gwynplaine, the disfigured man, and catapults you in this unfair world where your worst attribute is also your bread-winning attribute, lost between faith and love. This is one of my favorite take on the subject, a must-watch!

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror 🔗

1922 • Germany • F. W. Murnau

A classic remake of the 1897 novel Dracula. The film captures the feeling of impending doom, the plague in an anthropomorphic form. It depicts what carelessness brings with it, joyous days soon being replaced by horror, and only a worthy sacrifice can balance the scale. We're reminded of this, especially during the covid-19 pandemic. The setup is classic but the acting in some part could've been better.

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans 🔗

1927 • USA • F. W. Murnau

This story, or song, is a hidden treasure of emotions, a roller-coaster trip over the human experience where even the protagonists don't seem to be in control. The adventure is clearly defined and at each step we're visiting the extreme version of a vice or virtue. At time, we are taken aback by what is happening, were driven into the story to act for the characters, as they appear only as toys played by fate. Everything collapses and rebuilds itself in the end, a 'need for closure' realized to perfection.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 🔗

1920 • Germany • Robert Wiene, Hans Janowitz, Carl Mayer

A story of inception and perception. It confuses the senses through a well-written narrative and decors that are dizzying and sharp. Nothing makes sense until the end, finally guiding the viewers through the last scene and leaving them perplexed by their own subconscious.

Battleship Potemkin 🔗

1925 • URSS • Sergei Eisenstein

This depiction of the Russian mutiny of 1905 carries with it a heavy message, one of hope, of humanness, of fairness, and of a sense of community. It is executed, like a play, in five acts, each building on top of one another and with it the intensity of the action. Every scene galvanizes us, a true masterpiece.

Nanook of the North 🔗

1922 • USA/Canada • Robert J. Flaherty

This documentary on the life of Inuits in the Canadian Arctic offers a lens into their traditional ways of life. Some have argued that during the filming the Inuits were already being influenced by the 'Western' ways, but I'd retort that it still does justice to what ancestral techniques they passed down. From igloo building, to hunting, to raising a family in this harsh environment, we are in awe at humanity and how it adapts to every circumstances.

Greed 🔗

1924 • USA/Austria • Erich von Stroheim

A movie that will disturb you in your inner core. The awkwardness and unease never let go, the sort of clumsiness of Napoleon Dynamite mixed with a Swedish sense of horror. The set-up is a convoluted mesh of non-sense, raw animalistic feelings, disgust, and the environment or survival taking over logic. Definitely, a good watch!

La Fée aux Choux 🔗

1896 • France • Alice Guy-Blaché

One of the first movie to take the viewer on a dream journey, show the possibility of cinema to bring fairy tales to life.

Le Voyage dans la Lune 🔗

1902 • France • Georges Méliès

Similar to the Fée aux Choux, this is a movie that materializes imagination into reality. The author being an illusionist has been able to create the montage and impressive scenes. The comedic aspects make it reflect on colonial times, along with the theatrical dressing and bickering of men that think highly of themselves.

A Page of Madness (狂った一頁) 🔗

1926 • Japan • Teinosuke Kinugasa

It is a treasure to observe movies as an art movement from pre-WWII era Japan. From the Shinkankakuha school, this magnificent artwork achieves its goal to perfection: Bringing the world of dreams, the unsaid, the hidden, in front of us. It joins the absurdity and bitterness of humanity, the madness in us, both metaphorical and concrete, into a dance that captures us from the first image to the last. The Shinkankakuha artists are the Japanese mental brothers of the French, Spanish, and Catalonian surrealists.

Soviet Toys (Советские игрушки) 🔗

1924 • URSS • Dziga Vertov

The first animated movie from the URSS, a chef d'œuvre from the artist Dziga Vertov, which also made A Man With a Movie Camera. The movie holds both a political message and a moral one. It is a caricature that transforms and morphs itself, capturing your empathy. Maybe there's a hint of post-modernism/surrealism/shinkankakuha in there?

Destiny (Der müde Tod) 🔗

1921 • Germany • Fritz Lang

Similar to The Phantom Carriage of the same year, this is a story imbued with oriental and occidental folktales. Fritz Lang make us travel the world and empathize with human nature, but still somehow feel the dreaded fate, or destiny. The characters are puppets, yet the protagonist makes a deliberate choice on it. A hidden Sisyphus meaning within it, an existentialist question. It's funny that critics found that movie 'not German enough'.

Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler 🔗

1922 • Germany • Fritz Lang

An narrative of the anti-hero, someone that is a representation of the corruption and carnality of society. The gamblers is only driven by the joy that manipulating others give, that destroying other's life can procure. This is in stark contrast with Destiny 1921 where nobody has control of the situation, the opposite is depicted as evil. Yet, the viewer connects with the miscreant, we're also blissfully loving the 'competency porn' happening — reality bends to the will of Dr.Mabuse.

Das Testament des Dr Mabuse 🔗

1933 • Germany • Fritz Lang

The follow up on der Spieler. We're brought in a world of conspiracy, where a mischievous evil persona manipulates events to his will, and from a distance. All cunningly to pass the flame of the 'empire of crime'. People are drawn to this malice, not because they want to, but because of their needs.

The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse (Die 1000 Augen des Dr Mabuse) 🔗

1960 • Germany • Fritz Lang

The final movie in the series of the Dr.Mabuse. As captivating as the others but ends dramatically too soon.

Dir Nibelungen 🔗

1924 • Germany • Fritz Lang

A fantasy film in two parts 'Siegfried' and 'Kriemhild's Revenge'. It definitely keeps true to Lang's signature, namely the fight over destiny, death, and reality. In the first part, we're presented with a legendary figure, Siegfried the magnificent. The person incarnates an immovable object, someone that is the antithesis of Dr.Mabuse, a good fellow that achieves his goal through sheer force and ambition, not through mental manipulative techniques. Yet, this figure disrupt the balance, just like Dr.Mabuse, and jealousy ensues. Someone wants to destroy him at all costs, and this is what happens: the invincible Siegfried falls and with him his vision of the world. In the second part, Kriemhild's Revenge, Siegfried's wife goes all the way to avenge her husband, to rectify an affront. The rage consumes her, she is obsessed with it, nothing makes sense but the revenge. However, each person of the stories has ties to one another, oath that cannot be broken, pictured as stronger than family ties. The vengeance goes beyond all that and destroys the lives of many, all until everything is burned down and she is finally satiated. Balance is restored.

Metropolis 🔗

1927 • Germany • Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou

Metropolis is one of those movies that joins so many nuances and subjects that it keeps you thinking about it for days. It presents a futuristic scene, similar to 1984 or A Brave New World, but preceding them by almost 20 years. The Lang's theme of destiny is ever present, mixed with a future where humanity is put in question by machines, both physical and metaphorically embodied through men working in factories, and mixed with a religious tone and class struggles. The subtle cinematic effects in the movie are sublime, it's instantly memorable. I highly recommend it!

M 🔗

1931 • Germany • Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou

M is a masterpiece that grabs you from the first image. The viewer's feelings are stretched and twisted in different situations, from laughter, to drama, to fear, to vengeance, to empathy. As with Metropolis 1924, we are in a dichotomy, a clash, this time one between government institutions and mafioso as the backbone. We're seeing a tense social issue, questioning the role of legislations, whether we're falling into anarchy, the balance between the different faction in society. Who should bring justice, is mob justice good justice? What happens when the rule of law fall short for bureaucracy, theatre and ceremonies. What's the role of government in a falling situation, surveillance, parenting, mental illness. So many intricate subjects interwoven in this hectic and captivating story. I highly recommend it!


1963 • Italy • Federico Fellini

A surrealist film surrounding both a writer's block and his issues with the conception of the muse. The muse can be seen throughout the womanizing relationships that the main character has, and his inability to not fantasize about them, always looking for the ideal muse that will satiate the thirst for perfection.

Un Chien Andalou 🔗

1929 • French/Spain • Luis Buñuel,Salvador Dalí

A surrealist short film directed by two genius of that movement. With surrealism you have to let go, accept being swayed by the movie. If it starts to feel like a dream, then you've learned to watched surrealism, the sort of automatic writing and associations that can only make sense in the eye of the viewer. In Un Chien Andalou, we see raw human love, from the sense to the head, along imageries of pain, pursuits of life.

Destino 🔗

2003 • USA/Spain • Dominique Monféry,Salvador Dalí,John Hench,Roy E. Disney

A surrealist joint cooperation between Disney studio artist Hench and Dalí. The short-movie is visually pleasing and enchanting, your mind goes on a ballet with it. However, it feels toned down, it doesn't have the piquant and emotional or mental outburst that true surrealism can trigger.

Anémic Cinéma 🔗

1926 • France • Marcel Duchamp

A dadaist/surrealist short that is stripped down to the essential. What is left are words, which only have meanings in their interpretation, rotating on itself, ourselves rotating on the wheel, lost.

Ballet Mécanique 🔗

1924 • France • Fernand Léger,Dudley Murphy

A dadaist short that pierces us with its mechanical edges. We are assimilated into the reflections and snapshots of a dance we execute. As with anything dada, we cannot help but feel the absurdity of this, the non-sense in objects and the ballet we've started with them.

L'Étoile de Mer 🔗

1928 • France • Man Ray

A short surrealist masterpiece, perfectly smothering us in the dream-like atmosphere. We do not understand what we feel when watching it, yet we still have a strong emotional response. The music oriental tone only accentuate the mental tension, and we can't let go. The overall feeling of resentment, past memories, and melancholic nostalgia: bitter sweet 'saudade'.

Emak Bakia 🔗

1926 • France • Man Ray

A true cinépoème, a prose via images. We're transported in this constant struggle against form, determination, and time. Incessant, chaotic, piercing.

The Life and Death of 9413 a Hollywood Extra 🔗

1928 • USA • Robert Florey, Slavko Vorkapich

A metaphorical criticism of the USA rising new lifestyle. Torn between the attraction to materials, capitals, and on another side being forced to sell one-self to attain it, living in denial, hidden behind masks that compete against one another. Meanwhile, in this fight, we are but anonymous temporal animals.

Entr'acte 🔗

1924 • France • René Clair

A dadaist piece that rotates around the topic of 'in-between', the seasons and cyclical aspects, discontinuations. We admire the events, in order, in reverse, fast, slow, taking them from all angles. The clashes are omnipresent, sense is at risk. To top it off, we get a sort of breaking the fourth wall in the end, turning it all into a fantastical game played by the camera magician.

Les Mystères du Château du Dé 🔗

1929 • France • Man Ray

I love that dadaist piece. It immerses us in the conquest of time, against nature, the human condition of constant decay, meanwhile we try to make order but randomness and life keeps going. Definitely recommended.

La Coquille et le clergyman 🔗

1928 • France • Germaine Dulac

A surrealist movie that takes us in an illusion, a dream of animalistic instincts that grind against civility and conformity. We're also facing the disappointment of expectation, when we feel like something is supposed to be rightfully ours based on invented notions of work and commitment. Yet the struggle continues, and we lie to ourselves.

L'Age D'Or 🔗

1930 • France • Luis Bruñel

A surrealist movie about man's repressed feelings and actions suddenly brought into the world, along with social concepts and conquests such as colonialism and a sense of superiority from this upper-classiness. Everything seems to stand in the way of that, the thread keeps up until the end. Finally, remorse ensues and the character is devastated by their vision of what society's moral should be, based on religious ideals, all dictated from the 'bearded men' at the top.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse 🔗

1921 • USA • Rex Ingram

In my opinion, this is a botched movie. The story is muddied in unnecessary preamble about tango and family drama but without depth.

Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot 🔗

1953 • France • Jacques Tati

A sweet comedy that takes us on the seaside of France, in vacations. It stands on a line between Chaplin and Mr.Bean, with a main character called Mr.Hulot which clumsiness leads to open up countless adventures. the scenic views and the interactions also gives a glimpse into how the old French ways, and what it meant to be in vacations: to be part of a small group in the middle of nowhere, suddenly making acquaintances and relations, and eating and living everyday close to one another.

Godzilla ゴジラ 🔗

1954 • Japan • Ishirō Honda

The original godzilla movie. It is filled with a sort of religious sense of mankind against or in harmony with nature. The clash between technological advancement and destruction of the environment. It is especially striking and relevant that godzilla emerges from the ocean and has been awoken by nuclear tests.

Casablanca 🔗

1942 • USA/Morocco • Michael Curtiz

Casablanca is a romance movie, at first glance displays a love triangle between two persons who fell for one another while the husband of the woman was presumed dead in a concentration camp. It turns out that when leaving after the invasion of Paris, the woman never joins her lover, and instead discovers her husband was faking his death to avoid the gestapo and plan a revolution. The characters then all find themselves in Casablanca, Morocco, at the time a French colony, and thus considered French soil. Rick, the past lover manages an American café and somehow his past lover and her husband find themselves in Casablanca, the place where everyone goes to wait to jump on a plane to Lisbon which will take them on a path to the USA, the land of 'freedom' and 'dreams', which is ironic in today's perfective but it was what the USA represented. Over the movie the theme of war and hope are omnipresent, along with patriotism, we constantly find hints and images of that, through la Marseillaise that is played as a theme and inside jokes against the Nazis. The café that Rick manages, and all of Casablanca is portrayed as a purgatory, a 'hotel california', it's not Casablanca that is emphasized but the situation, the constant wait to leave the place. Most of the scenes take place in the café, a place where these refugees gather, a representation of the in-between. Everyone seems to only drink champagne, a drink of celebration, seemingly to the fact they're still alive. Rick's character is multi-faceted, his name changes at different time to show his evolution and how different people perceive him. While once a passionate person, in Paris, now he is disassociated, in appearance selfish. His wittiness also transpires everywhere, through a self-centered but also somewhat moral aspect. He always does the thing you'd expect, but not what you'd expect from the main character of a film. Yet this character is able to point the irony in other characters that aren't open to their own selfishness, but instead that try to show their self-centered view as some sort of bigger moral duties, it seems that Rick is able to see through that, but accepts the human situation.

El Topo 🔗

1970 • Mexico • Alejandro Jodorowsky

A surrealist, acid Western, movie packed with oriental and occidental symbolisms. Jodorowsky takes us on a travel to discover ourselves and the truth of our world, removing layers, one by one, and through language and images assault our senses. We're left questioning if truth, or light, or progress, is worth it.

La Montaña Sagrada 🔗

1973 • Mexico • Alejandro Jodorowsky

Similar with El Topo and the vibe that Jodorowsky gives, this is a surrealist story in the form of a quest for enlightenment, also full of symbolisms. The visuals are polished, invading our mind with concepts and conflicting positions. We are presented with multiple sides of human nature, of spirituality, of rough reality and how to connect back to it. The human question.

La danza de la realidad 🔗

2013 • Chile/France • Alejandro Jodorowsky

Confronted with your inane self, with life. You can't escape it, our eyes can't be closed. The cycle of suffering and relief that never ends. Prisoner of flesh, and free. Faces becomes reflections of our feelings, the heart is exposes to the air, reality as an abrasive substance, cruel, but truth as the precious revelation, yet in surrealism and dreams we can find meaning. The philosophers offering an opening to morph what we see into something less raw. A powerful movie.

Twelve Angry Men 🔗

1954 • USA • Reginald Rose

A mind bending movie. Posing a problem in all its perspectives, dicing it to pieces, making you take all positions possibles. It makes you reconsider your assumptions.

Road to The Stars (Der Weg Zu Den Stermen/Doroga k zviozdam) 🔗

1950 • USSR • Pavel Klushantsev/Boris Lyapunov

Scientifically accurate, wondefully captivating way of explaining science. You get caught in the race to the moon, the race to the stars, you start yearning for knowledge, things fit together and make sense.

Don Quixote (Don Kikhot) 🔗

1957 • USSR • Grigori Kozintsev

An exceptionally well-executed performance of the Don Quixote de La Mancha. It truly captures the essence of the book, transporting you in the universe, the madness of imagination of the character, empathizing with his wish for a better world. It reminds us of today's 'competence porn', of young people being prisoners of the virtual space, from video games to social media. Yet, you can't help but feel a pang in your heart when the books of Don Quixote burn in front of him, killing him at the same time, but keeping his soul within the story of his life, a meta story about being consumed by fiction and becoming fiction yourself.

Salt for Svanetia (მარილი სვანეთს) 🔗

1930 • USSR/Georgia • Mikhail Kalatozov

In a similar vibe to Nanook of the North, we dicover people living in remote lands and their ingenious ways to get around. A strickingly insightful and beautiful documentary, filmed in a poignant way.

Earth (Зeмля) 🔗

1930 • USSR/Ukraine • Alexander Dovzhenko

Generational clash, the young and new defying traditions. The march of progress that is unstoppable. The fascination with what human capabilities can achieve.

Long Day's Journey into Night (地球最後的夜晚) 🔗

2018 • China • Bi Gan

An experimental film that is dizzying. I can describe it as a wild feverish dream of surrealism. Meanings are spread through the frames, taking the form of mementos and sentences that reemerges. We're brought through memories as sequences and snapshot of times, remembering and yearning the past, yet trying to move on.

People on Sunday (Menschen am Sonntag) 🔗

1930 • Germany • Moriz Seeler

A new take on the mundane, the philosophy of the everyday life. This pseudo-documentary offers a glimpse in the past.

Shock Troop 1917 (Stosstrupp 1917) 🔗

1934 • Germany • Hans Zöberlein

A movie about the life in the trenches, the classic war. Unfortunately, it makes you think that things would take a widely different turn today.

Solaris (Солярис) 🔗

1972 • USSR • Andrei Tarkovsky

A sci-fi story about the contact with another form of intelligence, which is the mirror of our deepest mind.

Stalker 🔗

1979 • URSS • Andrei Tarkovsky

A movie that reverberate and echoes of the aching of living, the paradoxes that it implies. What are dreams, where do they lead, why pursue them. Is the adventure what matters and not what's at the end of the tunnel?

All 🔗

1902 and beyond • Spain/France • Segundo de Chomón

Imagine a world before what we currently consider 'modernity', before the oil industry, where traveling was an excursion, before computers and social media, before globalization, when Thomas Edison was stil alive and electricity made its debut, before any world wars. In that world, de Chomón was an illusionist, using films as a form of magic show, extending the limit of what is possible. A must watch collection of shorts.

Vertigo 🔗

1958 • USA • Alfred Hitchcock

A twister thriller that takes 3/4 of the movie to build up, and then explodes in a 15min mind-bending ending.

The Birds 🔗

1963 • USA • Alfred Hitchcock

The conceptual framework of this piece is the base of so many of today's movies. An impending doom and gloom that is omnipresent and approaching, along with people's social fabric evaporating and all that it implies.

La Guerre Des Boutons 🔗

1962 • France • Yves Robert

What is it like to be young and careless, hope for freedom and slowly learn what it means to live in society, to be part of something greater than oneself, a nation with laws, respect, and equality. Even if learning this is through 'fake' violent play, often portrayed with bravado music and distanced camera shot showing the powerfulness and craziness of war, that is often attenuated and contrasted with moments of tenderness and oxymoron, with the camera accentuating the playful nature of the interaction. Realizations that you are always part of it, even with the recurrent motif of the movie 'if I had known I wouldn't have come'. The movie beautiful interfaces the world of childhood and adulthood by gradually transitioning in the narrative, until the worse is done by the protagonist, and the adults are portrayed with similar traits. Goes to say, we're all humans after all, with our flaws.
We also see the paternal and maternal figures on both ages, in childhood with the brothers Lebrac and Gibus, with Lebrac's protege's Marie Tintin, and in adulthood with the interactions of the parents.

The Seventh Seal 🔗

1957 • Sweden • Ingmar Bergman

Watching this feels like traveling, or moving along in a museum of medieval art. Everything is carefully placed to have its significance and reflects a middle age theme that went along with the plague. We're especially taken aback by the conundrum of the two faces of reality: life and death, and it's continuity.

Persona 🔗

1966 • Sweden • Ingmar Bergman

Persona is a chef d'œuvre, as they say, the Mount Everest of cinematic analysis. In appearance it is an avant-garde psychological drama with hints of psychological horror. The story of Alma, a nurse, and her patient, a well-known actress called Elisabet that suddenly stopped speaking after a stage appearance, for fear of laughing instead of rehearsing, and other reasons that are unknown.
The enigma then unfolds into 3 places the hospital, the cottage, and the beach. The nurse, unwillingly taking the initiative to cure, at all cost, the ailment of the actress. Furthermore, the two characters slowly merge into one another, the actress a silent mask of the nurse, a sort of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde situation, of secrecy vs reality. In a way, the films comments on itself as it plays, the head of nurses directly speaking what's in the mind of the others.
There's a play around the concept of having an actress be the mask of the other, always studying the movements of the nurse, a mask that only has failure in its sleeps, but that never truly sleeps and drive the other crazy.
All along the movie is the subject of deep horror or realization through images such as the crucifixion, a spider, and the killing of a lamb, be it sacrifice, victimhood or the end of innocence. A hidden depth, such as self-immolation and destruction.
In the movie there is almost no one talking but the nurse, we live the experience through her, yet the other is omnipresent, looking, and always with her laughing smile, studying the mistakes, but invisible and yet powerful. The camera follows along at eye-level, intimate with the character, never above or under, but following closely the theatre unfolding in uncomfortable long shots. Halfway through the movie the real chaos happens, and the roles swap, the nurse feels like her life is merging with the Elisabet. This is received with violent emotions and actions. The anger bursts and she wants to hurt Elisabet just like she would like to hurt herself. It starts with broken glass, the mirror of the self. When Alma tells Elisabet that she is a terrible person, Elisabet runs away, but Alma chases her for forgiveness, and later looks at a picture of the Jews arrested in the Warsaw Ghetto, somehow feeling the emotions in the eyes of the people. Are we diseased individuals to hurt ourselves like this?
The words of the nurse don't make much sense anymore, they get mixed up, as if they were coming from nowhere, her individuality dissolving. A dream-like scene happens where the husband of Elisabet visits and confuses Alma for her, and Elisabet keeps starring at them, as if invisible and non-existent. It's uncomfortable, and expresses the true mask, a sense of being out-of-place, of playing a role and wanting to run away from your skin. Similar scenes are spread across the movie, with a hint of self-hatred, regret, and wanting to change the past. We're immersed in Alma's world through the sound of the waterphone and scratches, horror movie instruments. Long troubling shots that let us reflect on what the characters are feeling. And the scene where Alma dictates and criticizes Elisabet's life and she frown, played twice and swapping faces, slowly zooming in on their emotions.
The sacrifice is then offered to Elisabet, like a vampire, she consumes the blood of Alma, and now she is soothed and disappears as if non-existent. The nurse can then continue her life, her mask being put to the side for a while.
Surprisingly, there are almost no manly figures in the movie, only the husband as a phantom-like figure, and the supposedly son of Elisabet that appears in the intro and outro.
The movie ends on that note, the young boy seeing the blurry image of two women that merge together: 'giving birth to something without wanting to, just for its image', and the child resulting from this action itself looking at their image.

Hedgehog in the Fog 🔗

1975 • URSS • Yuri Norstein

An animated childhood tale that feels more like a horror story. The work on the ambience, sound, and effects is mind blowing.

La Grande Bouffe 🔗

1972 • France/Italy • Marco Ferreri

Can there be too much of something good? Definitely, when you have everything that the animal in you needs, and you still ask for more, you become carnal of instincts. Yet, you are unfulfilled, but this is the only thing you can find to satisfy you, an orgy of sensations leading to death and making you want death, escapism of reality. The mother figure is omnipresent all over the movie, accompanying the childish creatures, each representing certain crass but wealthy of society (legal, entertainment, travel, food) towards their destiny, with all the vices and carnal nihilistic impulses. An absurd ballet of consumer culture, in which only a single imminent jingle plays to make us uncomfortable.

Soylent Green 🔗

1973 • USA • Richard Fleischer

A dystopian tale of human nature that takes us into a future of scarcity, overpopulation, pollution, chaos, and distrust. We're faced with two parts of this society, the secretive and pristine elites, living in high and bright worlds, viewing the world as objects to their desire, as encompassed by beautiful women being viewed as 'furniture', and controlling the masses as if they were beasts. Meanwhile, the lowly mortals, living in the greenish hue of the pollution, overcrowded and dim apartments, and subject to daily curfew. In contrast with the above two, we're faced with the past, that percolates through the older generation, that is dreaming of the past world, but feeling an intense guilt about the actions that led to the current situation. It's this very generation that serves as fuel, literally food, for the masses of the new world, a religious-like experience of transubstantiation. The movie uses the narrative of the police detective, in a thriller-style, to uncover the different facets of this society, a bridge figure that can navigate in between cracks.
All along the movie, frames emphasize and zoom on food: the subjective experience against the sustenance aspect. It also achieves the same regarding the concept of space, living space, crowded space almost animalistic, vs freedom, brightness, legerity, pristine, etc.. The ending words of the protagonist puts all this in perspective, comparing the people as cattle for their meat. One can definitely extract the clear alarm message behind the movie, a wake up call to human stupidity.

La Planete Sauvage 🔗

1973 • France/Czech • René Laloux

An hypnotic animated movie about humanhood and its place. Every frame is hand-drawn in a style similar to Dali's surrealism, we feel uncanny at the strangeness of the world described, humans only an infinitely small part of it. The music is also dizzying, an ambiance of awe sets in. Since humans are in the background, the higher beings are instead the rulers of this world, the ones that actually understand it. Humans are only insects or toys, and we see everything from this perspectives. The film puts the two creatures face to face, the higher being emphasizes living in sync with their organic world, meditating, and even merging with their environment, procreating through a dance of statues. Meanwhile, humans are enticed by learning, all rotting knowledge and tools, and practical structural things.
Even though the story is told from the first person narrative, the main character quickly disappears and everything seems more like a subjective documentary.

Taxi driver 🔗

1976 • USA • Martin Scorsese

This movie directly gives you a malaise, and does everything to keep you in this dream-like state of discomfort, be it through the dizziness of the camera angles, the slobbering and fluffy continuous jazz piece, or the recurrent scenes where everything seems redundants and passing without our awareness. We're bound to the feeling of being lost and hopeless just like the main character that mainly feels it through his insomnia which then translates into pranoia, voyeurism, and others. The world passes him by, and he observes it, deeply wanting to attach himself to it, find meaning, to then realize the corruption and decadence he has been noticing has encroached on him too.
He will want to rescue and fix the dirtiness, both in the decaying city and in him. After an existential crisis scene, which clashes the world of the day where corruption is more hidden and blinding to the sight, and the world of the night where the scums get out. The characters fails the attempt at being an antihero, but then finds justice and meaning by rectifying some things in the world of the night.

The Night Digger 🔗

1971 • UK • Alastair Reid

A horror/thriller fable, going from a light, almost ridicule situation, to a more deeper meaning. This is achieved through a tempo change halfway across the movie. One one side, we see a woman that has lost the light and youth, so-called spinster or old maid, trading it for care but that craves for vivality and freedom. On the other side, we see a man that feels defficient, shunned since childhood about his sexual abilities, and has become a deviant, a murderer of anyone he lusts, instantly represented and captured by his motorcycle.
The movie carries a metaphor for the personal trauma that are often relived within a relationship, from love avoidance to love addicts. The disease of each others intermingle and ruin the relationhips. On one side it literally kills it, a sort of Oedipus tale. Each facial expression, each torturous feeling is captured closely by the camera. Once the two characters find each others and fill their holes, the time slowly compresses, changing from the chaotic and cramped dusty brown and gray colors, to more picturesque scenes, pastel colors and empty fields of the country side. Yet, the patterns always reemerged if not truly healed. One became a motherly figure and the others the representation of vigor and temerity, but what actually happens is a theatre of issues and disfunctional people trying to make a relationhip by destroying one another.

Naked Lunch 🔗

1991 • USA • David Cronenberg

This film deals with addiction, hallucination, the need to belong and be accepted for what we do, and yet not finding it and getting stuck. The non-acceptance of our sexual identity.

Encounters at the End of the World 🔗

2007 • USA/Antarctica • Werner Herzog

A mesmerizing documentary about Antarctica and the spirits it captures. Its story is told through the characters that find themselves on one of the most remote places, away from civilization, yet bound by the same dream and convictions. Each of them with their stories, which Herzog wistfully is able to capture through a series of well picked questions. All of this is accompanied by the grandiosity of the place, yet humbling. Everything is a spectacle of the senses, almost religious.

Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain 🔗

2001 • French/German • Jean-Pierre Jeunet

A film that portrays another view on personal intimacy, a voyeurish one, but one that shows the beauty in the small everyday affairs, the ordinary. It also deals with living through the look of others, and then finally knowing ourselves and blooming. The narrator itself is a curious being, and the mise-en-scene and coloring of frames adds a vertigo effect to the whole mix.

Stranger Than Fiction 🔗

2006 • USA • Marc Forster/Zach Helm

A twist on a Truman Show story with Dark City. But sort of breaking an imaginary fourth wall with the narrative writer. It deals mainly with the concept of fate, yet when this fate is accepted the ending goes toward a Deus Ex Machina.

Under The Silver Lake 🔗

2018 • USA • David Robert Mitchell

Are we only pieces in a chess game? That's the recurrent theme of this piece. Delving into our carnal and animalistic nature with the recurrent leitmotif of dogs. We're overwhelmed with the inescapability of human nature, from raw desires such as sex. Yet, we hope that there's something more, something deeper, and this crescendo of hope clashes with reality: we're all but dumb apes. Should we embrace it?

Eraser Head 🔗

1977 • USA • David Lynch

On the surface this is a horror about an apocalyptic industrial world in which diseased creatures breed humans who confusingly think they are their offspring. Yet, the rhetoric goes deeper, it portrays industrialization, where the individual is only a tiny piece of, uncomfortable in this environment, displayed by the long distance shot of single persons traveling the world, of windows all closed shot to the world, and zooms on industrial equipments, zooms from darkness to light but often only to darkness and dirt, and there is only 'warmth' given through radiators in these hermetic rooms. The whole piece is filmed in black and white, playing with shadows, and mostly a sentiment of being out of place. The piece also touches creation and procreation, in a world devoid of humanity, the character of Henry is sort of doomed to create machines and monsters, nothing in between. This is portrayed through the constant repetition of the spermatozoon that seems to frighten him, even in his dream, women are seen as monsters, yet he can't help but seek them, until in one of his dream his head is cut off, and nothing is found in it but a machine that makes pencils. The same dream portrays a girl dancing on a show, lights on her, and 'attraction' as the slithery reproductive seeds spills on her. His child, is sick, monstrous, and also empty of flesh, as is shown through one of the last scene where he kills it. The films ends with him embracing his horrible dream girl, in the light of the show, embracing the horrible nature of this industrious world where no real human is there.

Blue Velvet 🔗

1986 • USA • David Lynch

Blue Velvet is a pure experience of the anti-hero narrative and characters. The movie's main theme is a masochistic curiosity, a passion for looking under the cover and be tempted by life, sex, family, and society. In that setup, nobody is perfect, all characters have their flaws, are unclean, lying and living through false expectations of each others, in a sort of chaotic dance where everyone constantly hurts. The abuse, temptation of abuse, and repetition of it is omnipresent, the characters almost laugh at themselves by portraying and talking of their own troubles of insanity.
The use of light and darkness adds to this equation, the day is more inquisitive and accompanied by the dream of the birds that the girl mentions, a will to find some good in the complications of the world. Meanwhile, the dark setup is where the rampant corrupted society hides, literally represented by the curtain that flows in a manner that says: 'I fear that someone will find out what I'm doing, I'm ashamed'. The paranoid stairs are the path to dark sins of the underworld and always filmed from above, we're accomplice in the perverted voyeurism. Always the anticipation, amplified by a leitmotif music that is drowsy, almost hurting.
This dark world is also represented by insects all along the movie, from the ear, to the bug-man spraying, to the mask that frank carries, and to the final scene where the birds (light) eat the bug (darkness). Finally, we cannot dismiss the theme of family abuse, that is all over this piece, along with a sort of Oedipus scenario.

House of Games 🔗

1987 • USA • David Mamet

A tale of the society's underside, with it deceptions and bending of the rules. It can be seen as a sort of Dr.Mabuse twist.

The Banshees of Inisherin 🔗

2022 • Ireland • Martin McDonagh

Time passes quickly, and the sudden realization that we're at our end might make us change our habits, and destroy our relationships. What we've found was pertinent might not be the next day. This tale, with its hidden message about the Irish civil war, captures the sentiment of self-destruction and deep pain about life and togetherness. We're assaulted with grandiose and picturesque frames of the almost empty wilderness of the island, which reminds us of the loneliness and smallness of the characters, that probably only have a minor place in this world, with their mundane and 'boring', so ever repeating lives.

The pass (Перевал) 🔗

1988 • URSS • Vladimir Tarasov

On a desolate planet, we are welcomed by survivors that are putting their hopes in the younger generation to find something, what that something is slowly reveals itself. The snow isn't snow but radiation dust from a ship sent from a planet afar with the distant hope that it'll be the seed of another planet. This is indirectly whispered through the shadows, the portrays of light and puppets of human figures as they dangerously and painfully walk this wasted land, only to be suddently caressed by the colors when entering the ship, dancing through the dreams of the past. The gentle breeze of the fluid animations takes our breath away.
The story hides itself within the lines, nothing is said directly but we can infer it. The characters personality is unimportant in their quest, all that is apparent is the old vs the new, the regrets and errors, and wanting to make it better for our descendants, a beacon call in the dark.

The snow queen (Снежная королева) 🔗

1957 • URSS • Lev Atamanov

This fairy tale movie, is presented as a fable from a book narrated by a small creature, a sort of funny gnome. The animation piece is filled with beautiful and bright colors that are almost magical, all features are exagerated. During the first part of the film they are almost ephemeral, with smooth edges, that is until Gerda arrives at the snow queen's palace when this all turns to torny, color colors, and sharp well-defined edges. The dimensions of the universe are emphasized by shots from afar, putting focus on the immensity and distance traveled by Gerda to find her lover Kai, along with all the cultures she meets in between.
As she moves in this world, the only recurring words are 'thank you' and 'oh please', Gerda almost being helpless, passive in her action, and only having her love as her major attribute. Yet, this is fruitful as the rules of nature, and most importantly the feelings of others, are touched by it and they ply to her will out of goodness. The only real effort that Gerda has is in the last walk in the snow, feet burning without shoes, as she gives everything. Meanwhile, the snow queen's heart is made of ice, out of loneliness and spite for the warmth of the living beings, jealousy consuming her. She also tries to shape others, however she is active in it putting sheer force, grandiose mannerism and an otherwordly presence into it. Yet she can't bend the rules and is isolated instead.
On a first watch this seems like a simple story of the duality between good and evil, yet the queen is far from the destructive and disorderly being we make her to be. She appears to act more out of loneliness, a will to possess a relationship, than out of anger. We can't help but make the relation with the cold war and the geopolitical tensions of the time, the winter wishing for a spring. The life's ups and downs, emotions, flowers blooming again.

Wild Strawberries (Smultronstället) 🔗

1957 • Sweden • Ingmar Bergman

What does it mean to live a good life, what are regrets, how do we want to be remembered, what's our legacy, is the facade and the mask we're wearing really what others are seeing?
In Smultronstället, Bergman takes us on a trip, both figuratively and literally, by having the main character, the bitter and grumpy Isak Borg, try to ease his mind with a car trip after a nightmare about his own mortality. The path he takes brings with it pieces: people, places, and memories, all linked together. Indeed, he both travels through space and time, the past and the future, similar to a Scrooge story. The ambience is one of constant movement and uneasiness, going nowhere but somewhere. Yet, he knows that at a specific time he has to be at the ceremony to be awarded the degree of Doctor Jubilaris 50 years after he received his doctorate as a doctor general practitioner, something he's been looking forward to, as the introduction let us know, he's put more into science than anything else in his life.
The movie has three dreams, each enclosing the start, middle, and end of the movie and linked to changes in the state of the character. The first dream is a solemn one, a nightmarish empty city is shown through catastrophic distance shot as Borg walks through it haphazardly. In that city he's faced with a clock that doesn't have hands, signifying the lack of time, and finds no one, no one but himself in a coffin. In the second dream, halfway through the movie, he is faced with the anticipated event of the Doctor Jubilaris, in which he's criticized by the examiner as being a sham, a fraud, and that the real examination is that he is 'guilty of guilt'. He is not able to read the scriptures on the wall that are clear to others, saying that his main duty as a doctor is to ask forgiveness. In that dream he also gets insight into misunderstandings of his past lover, and how his wife really perceived him: as cold and heartless. In the last dream, the closing sequence, he falls asleep at his son's home and after his ordeal is finally at peace, joyous, dreaming of a family picnic by a lake.
The car rides initially unconsciously took him to a place where he grew up as a kid. Somewhat a peaceful place, somewhat as to also make amend with the past. It isn't his home, but a place that feels like home, the place where he lost trust in love when his brother stole his lover. Yet this is never mentioned explicitly in the movie, but only alluded to. When we visit a place where we used to live, it cues us to revert to who we were before, maybe before he got hurt. This is also where the Swedish play on word 'Smultronstället' comes from, it signifies 'a hidden gem of a place, often with personal or sentimental value, and not widely known.'
The people that are found on his path and follow him on his trip all symbolize something. The movie mostly takes and is driven by a thread that links all these characters portrayed. They each symbolize a type of relationship. His daughter in law has issues with her husband related to child rearing; they do not want to pass down the pain of life to their children and are torn about the decision. Borg makes amend to this by helping in resolving this issue between the lovers. His uncle and aunt are joyous and playful, an inspiration. The young couple composed of one woman and two men is a representation of the conundrum of religion and modernity. The men fight for her, on both end of the spectrum about what is important in life. The vitriolic couple they had a car accident with, which reminds Isak Borg of his own unhappy marriage. They're kicked out of the car. The couple at the gas station, which are intimate and happy. They remind him of how others thought of him before and his actions. Finally, his own mother, cold, alone, and distant because of senility is a reflection of himself and what he could be. This is emphasized by the clock without hands from his first dream that is also present here as a memento, a realization that he should take action and accept his mistakes.
He finally makes amend, make peace with the few people he's connected to in his life. When the Doctor Jubilaris event takes place, it doesn't seem as grandiose as he had thought, but is banal. He realized there are things more important in life.

Dogville 🔗

2003 • Denmark/United Kingdom/Sweden/France/Germany • Lars von Trier

A filmed part of von Trier's incomplete USA – Land of Opportunities trilogy. It is shot like a theatre scene, all in a single place, devoid of anything but the characters in it. The houses are transparent, no walls to hide anything, signifying we can see through the people's hearts. The only things we see are the objects people interact with. Even the dog isn't present, but a marking of it, there's a marking for everything, symbols and language is what ties everyone in this town together.
This is all marked by the town's philosopher, Tom, the son of the town's physician, but now act as the spiritual leader of the town. This denotes a transition from healing the bodies to healing the minds, a much harder challenge. Tom invites a young woman in need and wants to use her as an illustration of the sociability and civility of the town's people, their good heart. This starts amicably but then devolves into harassment, blackmailing and abuse as they slowly notice the power they have over her, as soon as they realize that there is no consequences to their actions. The town's people revert to their animalistic nature and act with the refugee as if she was now an object, a prisoner, a tool to all their carnal, sexual, and disgusting desires.
It goes to show that the illustration of the philosopher failed miserably, and this is then resolved through force, through a moral leviathan that puts back everything in order, as the father of the girl comes to town and murders everyone. This is prefaced by a deep discussion about faith in humanity, about moral dilemma, how every actions should have its consequence because otherwise so many would abuse the situation and lose their moral values.
The leitmotif of the dog reappears at the end, but this time it is real, the only living thing left in town. It is then followed by a slideshow from real people during the American great depression, a deep critique of how this society operates.

Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes) 🔗

1972 • Germany/Mexico/Peru • Werner Herzog

This film portrays a quest with boats on the Amazon river, adventurers that throw themselves at unknown lands only based on faith into the myth of the El Dorado. The El Dorado is mentioned in the beginning as something invented by the native people as a defense against invaders.
In this, everyone is possessed by their illusion of grandeur, bestowing themselves titles and lands they do not actually own. Yet, no one is as filled with it as Aguirre, self-entitled conqueror and wrath of god over the world.
A theme that is recurrent is the unforgiving nature, along with the native people living in harmony within it that have been uprooted and humiliated. These people, omnipresent but almost unseen, or seen only as slaves in the movie, are taking revenge through poisonous arrows. The whole piece is filmed like a documentary, deep in this wild forest, with imposing shots of nature.
Aguirre, is a crazy leader that seems to force his way to get what he wants, portrayed as an almost drunk person, drunk on power. He has witty comments that push others to act like he wants, they fear him. The dialog throughout are all short, we're only seeing the journey of the characters as they advance towards hopelessness. The priest is the ironic narrator, sometimes siding with the conquest by saying that god is with the strong and that everything is in our imagination, yet at the end finally knows they're going to die for nothing.
The insane tragedy is that no one is as blind as Aguirre, like a Don Quixote he pushes through. He doesn't even realize that he's sending everyone into chaos, on the contrary he thinks he getting closer to the goal. Indeed, everyone seems to fail him, and he's left alone to rot in the end scene. The image of the monkeys is pertinent, as its first shown to say that everyone else is asleep without realizing it, which is when he suggest to Perucho to fire the cannon to clean the rust from it, which is his way of revolting and taking back leadership of the group. The same motif is used in the final scene where he is left alone with countless monkeys playing around the raft and on the cannon, the monkeys symbolizing that everyone is asleep but him. Yet, we as the viewers know that ironically he's the one still dreaming.

Eyes without a face (les yeux sans visage) 🔗

1960 • France/Italy • Georges Franju

A French horror tale of a mad scientist, Dr.Génessier who abuses his power and contorts his moral views to try to fix the life of his loved ones, to heal their faces and bodies disfigured during a car accident he caused through reckless driving. The story is structured in such a way that it slowly unfolds, like a thriller. We uncover the truth about the plot piece by piece, nothing is taken for granted. Beautiful women have their face harvested by someone who at first seems to be the secretary of the doctor, but then turns out to be his wife who was also present during the accident and had a successful face transplant. The daughter, Christiane, still has her face 'missing', and wears an emotionless mask to hide it. She broke all mirrors and reflecting surfaces in the house, and lives as a recluse on the top floor of the villa. The fiancé of Christiane, Jacques, thinks she's deceased. It all unfolds in a cycle of murderous craze, as the doctor and his wife steal the life of young women who resemble their daughter with the hope of eventually attaching it to her. This all fails as Christiane cannot bear to be far from Jacques and calls him on the phone, this leads into a trap that gets the police looking at their traces. The doctor finally dies atrociously with his face devoured by the legion of stray dogs he used to take care of.
The movie is filmed in black and white, yet the play on contrast is magnificent. We're presented with the typical reverse shots of horror, building anticipation for the next frame, making us uneasy. Yet, it's uncanny as these shots are taken from the perspective of the doctor and his wife, it's almost a glimpse of voyeurism as we take the perspective of the killers ogling their victims. We're afraid for them.
This is all rocked by a superb musical score from Maurice Jarre, going from an almost funfair like melody, transitioning to hopelessness, and a dissonant and maddening tune. What is just a play becomes serious and crazy.
The main three characters are deep in their role, from the mad doctor turned into a serial killer; unfazed, emotionless, determined, but guilty of his past. The wife is a deadly hunter, without a smile, a con artist of the devil. Finally Christiane, the girl that only has eyes left, lost her personality and life, and is soulless. She's lost, filled with self-hate, wears a mask hiding her emotions, and isn't part of the world anymore. Her only connection is through the dogs. She temporarily finds solace after a face swap that seemed to initially work, she reimagines her life as someone else. But this fails miserably, and we're presented with a series of medical-like pictures of the progression of her bodily rejection of the graft. It's as if she's not human anymore, only a specimen in a wicked experiment. She becomes deeply depressed and tries to kill herself afterward only finding warmth in the voice of Jacques.
The symbolism is apparent, the face is our appearance in society, and parents try as much as possible to help their child keep it, even if they have had to swap their own and do devious deeds in the process. Life is ruthless, and a fatal mistake can ruin it, putting us on the side, only eyes in the world, but no personality, no more emotions, we can't express ourselves anymore. Who hasn't dreamed of starting again, of getting a new face, of being someone else. Life's unfair and we don't pick the cards we're dealt, but does it mean we have to forgo our ethics to start again and reattach ourselves to society?