Following in the footsteps of Richard Linklater, Kevin Smith burst onto the scene with his low-budget comedy masterpiece Clerks. What Slacker started, Clerks perfected.
The charm and ingenuity of this film is unparalleled, and it made the idea of a simple day in the life of two convenience store clerks both incredibly entertaining and hilarious. In all of its profane glory, Clerks is an excellent piece of filmmaking, and its simple narrative made it all the better and more original.
Rope may not scale the brilliant psychological heights of Alfred Hitchcock’s best, but for what it is, it’s amazingly effective and interesting. The “movie in one take” (which actually isn’t in one take) is a fascinating cinematic experiment, and it is indeed very suspenseful and unforgettable.
The film takes place over a dinner party, the hosts of which are hiding a dead body in a wooden chest. One guest slowly starts to catch on to them, and the intensity and unsettling suspense really sets in. Hitchcock’s mastery is on full display here, and the whole film is permeated with an air of dread, as well as deeper themes subtly handled by the director.
6. Bicycle Thieves
Considered one of the greatest films ever made, Bicycle Thieves follows a poverty-stricken man and his son searching for a lost bike that is essential to the man’s job. This simple premise results in a heartbreaking and emotionally intense experience, and the powerful statements of the movie are only made deeper by its simple structure.
Bicycle Thieves is a masterpiece, and made all the more memorable because of its brutal honestly, emotional storytelling and commitment to an uncomplicated narrative.
This winner of seven Oscars was a true cinematic marvel. A compelling tale of an astronaut stranded in space trying to get home took a very simple idea and turned into an awe-inspiring, compelling and beautiful movie experience, as well a groundbreaking technique achievement and an artful thriller.
The visual effects are truly amazing, and the story is all the more effective and pulse-pounding because of its simplicity and refusal to become overly-complicated or convoluted. Gravity gave us one of the best cinema experiences in years, and ranks among the greatest thrillers.
4. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring
This beautiful South Korean film is immensely moving and gorgeously realized, and one of the most impressive things about it is how unembellished and sublimely natural it is.
Nothing here is manipulative or amped up for maximum dramatic effect, it’s just the story of a secluded Buddhist monastery surrounded by nature, and a young monk and his mentor over the course of the titular months and over different periods of their lives. A visual masterpiece and an richly emotional fable.
3. All is Lost
This poetic, near-silent story of survival at sea is one of the most minimalistic films ever made, and it is in part so compelling due to an amazing, possible career-best performance from Robert Redford. Redford holds the viewer’s attention for one hour and forty-six minutes and not only is he the single character of this story, but there’s only around three lines of dialog in the whole movie.
All is Lost is a profound filmmaking achievement, and it is also supported by gorgeous cinematography and an amazing score. A story could not be more simple than this one, and it is so deeply moving and compelling.
In space, no one can hear you scream. Alien is a sci-fi-horror masterpiece, and it is truly terrifying due to the simple idea at its core, and the way it slowly sinks its hooks into the viewer. Something of a slasher-flick structure, but set on a space-ship, this is a suspenseful and slow-building masterwork of filmmaking doesn’t go in for cheap thrills, and instead genuinely evokes the terror of the crew members aboard the Nostromo.
The plot of the film is not exactly a mindbender – an savage alien sneaks aboard the shuttle, and slowly kills of the crew. It is the artful executionof this ides and the effective scares that made Alien a timeless classic and a go-to horror film.
The father of the slasher horror genre, Halloween remains one of the finest and most influential films of all time. Michael Myers, who murdered his sister at age six, escapes from the mental institution and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield on Halloween night. The character of Michael Myers is one of the most iconic and popular of horror lore, and John Carpenter’s original masterpiece is one of the best horror films ever made.
The simple idea of an escaped murderer stalking and killing the teenage main-characters of this film is made endlessly effective by the cinematography, classic score and Carpenter’s handling of suspense in a tasteful and genuinely scary way. A low-budget sensation and real horror masterpiece, Halloween works marvels and is filled with true scares, thanks to its simple premise.
Author Bio: Gavin Miller is a cinephile who keeps up his blog cinefreakdude.tumblr.com as well as a YouTube channel – both dedicated to film criticism and discussion. He is an ardent Blu-ray collector as well as the director of two short films – “A Chupacabra Afternoon” and “Coffea arabica” – the latter of which is in competition at the Johnson County Community College Film Fest. this year. Gavin models his lifestyle after The Dude from The Big Lebowski.