In 1970, Twentieth Century-Fox, impressed by the visual zing “King of the Nudies” Russ Meyer had been bringing to bargain-basement exploitation fare, handed the director a studio budget and the title to one of its biggest hits, VALLEY OF THE DOLLS. With a satirical screenplay by Roger Ebert, BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS follows three young female rockers going Hollywood, in hell-bent sixties style, under the spell of a flamboyant producer—whose decadent bashes showcase Meyer’s trademark libidinal exuberance. Transgressive and outrageous, this big-studio version of a debaucherous midnight movie is an addictively entertaining romp from one of cinema’s great outsider artists.
With SCANNERS, David Cronenberg plunges us into one of his most terrifying and thrilling sci-fi worlds. After a man with extraordinary—and frighteningly destructive—telepathic abilities is nabbed by agents from a mysterious rogue corporation, he discovers he is far from the only possessor of such strange powers, and that some of the other “scanners” have their minds set on world domination, while others are trying to stop them. A trademark Cronenberg combination of the visceral and the cerebral, this phenomenally gruesome and provocative film about the expanses and limits of the human mind was the Canadian director’s breakout hit in the United States.
The jaw-dropping set pieces fly fast and furious in Jackie Chan’s breathtakingly inventive martial-arts comedy, a smash hit that made him a worldwide icon of daredevil action spectacle. The director/star/one-man stunt machine plays Ka-Kui, a Hong Kong police inspector who goes rogue to bring down a drug kingpin and protect the case’s star witness (Chinese cinema legend Brigitte Lin) from retribution. Packed wall-to-wall with charmingly goofball slapstick and astoundingly acrobatic fight choreography—including an epic shopping-mall melee of flying fists and shattered glass—Police Story set a new standard for rock-’em-sock-’em mayhem that would influence a generation of filmmakers from Hong Kong to Hollywood.
John Cassavetes puts his distinctive spin on the screwball comedy in this endearingly offbeat odd-couple romance. Just when Minnie (Gena Rowlands) thinks she’ll never fall in love again, she meets Seymour Moskowitz (Seymour Cassel), a misfit parking-lot attendant who ardently pursues her. Throwing caution to the wind, Minnie embarks on a wildly romantic, tumultuous, and painful courtship that—as always in the cinema of Cassavetes—exposes the gloriously messy extremes of human relationships.
The Hustler is a 1961 American CinemaScope drama film directed by Robert Rossen from Walter Tevis’s 1959 novel of the same name, adapted for the screen by Rossen and Sidney Carroll. It tells the story of small-time pool hustler “Fast” Eddie Felson and his desire to break into the “major league” of professional hustling and high-stakes wagering by high-rollers that follows it. He throws his raw talent and ambition up against the best player in the country, seeking to best the legendary pool player “Minnesota Fats”. After initially losing to Fats and getting involved with unscrupulous manager Bert Gordon, Eddie returns to try again, but only after paying a terrible personal price.
Five cities. Five taxicabs. A multitude of strangers in the night. Jim Jarmusch assembled an extraordinary international cast of actors (including Gena Rowlands, Winona Ryder, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Béatrice Dalle, and Roberto Benigni) for this quintet of transitory tales of urban displacement and existential angst, all staged as encounters between cabbies and their fares. Spanning time zones, continents, and languages, NIGHT ON EARTH winds its course through scenes of uproarious comedy, nocturnal poetry, and somber fatalism, set to a moody soundtrack by Tom Waits. Jarmusch’s lovingly askew view of humanity from the passenger seat makes for one of his most charming and beloved films, a freewheeling showcase for the cosmopolitan range of his imagination.
everything is bleak, relationships are transactional, there is no color or flavor to this world. there isn’t a single line of dialogue spoken until the 10 min mark
Hong Kong, 1962: Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) and Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung Man-yuk) move into neighboring apartments on the same day. Their encounters are formal and polite—until a discovery about their spouses creates an intimate bond between them. At once delicately mannered and visually extravagant, Wong Kar-wai’s IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE is a masterful evocation of romantic longing and fleeting moments. With its aching musical soundtrack and exquisitely abstract cinematography by Christopher Doyle and Mark Lee Ping-bin, this film has been a major stylistic influence on the past decade of cinema, and is a milestone in Wong’s redoubtable career.
A disillusioned killer embarks on his last hit but first he has to overcome his affections for his cool, detached partner. Thinking it’s dangerous and improper to become involved with a colleague he sets out to find a surrogate for his affections. Against the sordid and surreal urban nightscape (set in contemporary Hong Kong), he crosses path with a strange drifter looking for her mysterious ex-boyfriend and an amusing mute trying to get the world’s attention in his own unconventional ways.
Jim Jarmusch combined his love for the ice-cool crime dramas of Jean-Pierre Melville and Seijun Suzuki with the philosophical dimensions of samurai mythology for an eccentrically postmodern take on the hit-man thriller. In one of his defining roles, Forest Whitaker brings a commanding serenity to his portrayal of a Zen contract killer working for a bumbling mob outfit, a modern man who adheres steadfastly to the ideals of the Japanese warrior code even as chaos and violence spiral around him. Featuring moody cinematography by the great Robby Müller, a sublime score by the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, and a host of colorful character actors (including a memorably stone-faced Henry Silva), GHOST DOG: THE WAY OF THE SAMURAI plays like a pop-culture-sampling cinematic mixtape built around a one-of-a-kind tragic hero.