- Andrei Rublev
- Midnight Cowboy
- My Night at Maud’s
- The Damned
- The Honeymoon Killers
- Fellini Satyricon
- Butch Cassidy And the Sundance Kid
- The Wild Bunch
- Easy Rider
- They Shoot Horses, Don’t They
There’s plenty of reason in thinking that Helmut Berger didn’t make it on talent. The man was supremely gorgeous, and his relationship status with Luchino Visconti guaranteed him employment in the Italian maestro’s films regardless of his abilities. You gotta hand it to the guy, though, because he really had some acting mojo going on, the best of it on display as the corrupt, Nazi-loving cross-dressing sadistic son of a wealthy industrialist family in Visconti’s fascinating, near-fantasy interpretation of World War II, The Damned.
When Eric Rohmer was working at the top of his game, he could make lengthy, dry conversations feel like the height of cinematic excitement. He often accomplished this not just by writing such strong dialogue but by employing actors who bewitch the camera before they even speak. The best of his films, and among the best of the performances ever given in them, is the lovely Francoise Fabian, whose elusive qualities could hold you captive for days, let alone the two hours that My Night At Maud’s happily occupies your life.
Gig Young deservedly won an Academy Award for his performance as the near-sadistic emcee of a dance marathon in Sydney Pollack’s breakout film They Shoot Horses, Don’t They. Maintaining his style and poise while the other characters descend into physical exhaustion, he is simultaneously smooth as he is terrifying, and lords over the little people at his disposal with the air of a vengeful god. Sadly, the film’s fatalistic attitude would connect with the actor’s life, as he would commit suicide in 1978 at the age of 65.
Films about the free love culture in the sixties are among the most painfully dated to watch these days: seeing Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner trying to bust out of conventional wisdom by attending a “spiritual retreat” in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice is a hilariously twee rounding up of the decade’s pursuits, but what puts it above others of its kind is how it discovers that when you are dead inside and disenchanted with your life, a foursome orgy is not going to do anything to change it. Most satisfying to watch is Dyan Cannon as a frustrated wealthy housewife who rightly questions the wisdom of the shackles being dropped all around her before finally deciding to give in with a hilarious sense of glee.
While it might not seem like the most fun way to spend your time–a four hour black-and-white Russian biopic about a Byzantine iconograper–Andrei Tarkovsky‘s best and most impressive film Andrei Rublev is a thrilling, difficult, fascinating and almost romantically beautiful portrait not only of an artist and his spiritual journey, but a charting of the nature of inspiration itself. Watch it if only to tell people you did.