6. 24 Frames (2017) – Abbas Kiarostami
Kiarostami, quite possibly the most well-known name of Iranian cinema ever, passed away on the 4th of July, 2016. Noted for his poetic works, with simple plots, set in the remote areas of the Persian northwest, he was held in high regard by legends of East and West, from Kurosawa to Scorsese.
He completed his final film, 24 Frames, while he was bed-ridden in a French hospital, not long before his death. He never got to see it. The movie premiered in Cannes 10 months after his passing.
Consisting, as the title implies, of 24 shots that last roughly two hours, it is obviously not the most fitting watch for the impatient. A slow and calm experience, without an obvious plot or dialogue, made of materials he collected over the course of more than 40 years, the film seems to be the most fitting way Kiarostami could have chosen to say goodbye.
7. Robinson Crusoe (1954) – Luis Bunuel
For someone who made his name on slitting eyes and walking mouths, Luis Bunuel’s vision of the iconic Daniel Defoe novel is surprisingly tame. That doesn’t mean it’s not as worthy of a watch as some of his more bizarre ventures, though.
Starring the great Dan O’Herlihy as the titular character, the story slowly but surely engulfs in the lonely experience of life on a desolated island. It remains mostly faithful to the source material, with some minor, logical, changes and is considered one of the most accurate adaptations of the iconic Defoe adventure.
Conventional? Perhaps. Superbly filmed, tightly written and masterful at setting the atmosphere? Absolutely. No doubt it would rank higher among cine snobs had it been made by a different filmmaker. It is, to be honest, quite un-Bunuelian, but a splendid watch nonetheless.
8. In the Presence of a Clown (1997) – Ingmar Bergman
Throughout his long and, with some minor exceptions, successful career, this Swedish auteur had a thing for the inner-workings of the human soul. This one was no exception, but it was made during the sunset of Bergman’s career in not so stellar condition, so it’s no wonder it still remains largely hidden.
Dealing with lives of two asylum inmates who want to start a movie career, it is a tad more surreal than most of his opus, but not any more than Persona or Hour of the Wolf, so the time and place of its making does seem to be a contributing factor of its relative obscurity to this day.
It was made on a meager budget and wasn’t given a theatrical release, but only broadcasted on television, without a whole lot of marketing, leaving it without a classic status, though it doesn’t lack in quality when compared to some of the most well-known titles of Bergman’s.
9. Following (1998) – Christopher Nolan
Undoubtedly one of the biggest household names of Hollywood today, Christopher Nolan is celebrated by critics and audiences alike for his action-packed big budget blockbusters and nail-biting thrillers (occasionally smeared with shaky attempts at metapsychics), making us easily forget that he started out on the streets of London, with a less than enviable amount of money.
Dabbling with the complicated while remaining relatively simple and easy to follow most of the time, it is an intriguing story about an inspiring writer who wanders the streets of London looking for inspiration. On his way, he encounters a cunning burglar that teaches him the ways of pick-locking, a strange woman with an even stranger boyfriend and many other bizarre characters.
It opened in theatres in the autumn of 1999 and was met with widespread critical acclaim and a somewhat satisfying commercial success (especially when considering the almost non-existent budget), skyrocketing Nolan to a career of fame and fortune.
10. A Married Woman (1964) – Jean Luc Godard
Breathless hit the world of cinema like a shockwave back in the spring of 1960. Such a bold mix of traditional European and mainstream American narrative hasn’t been seen before, and it was widely copied in the years to come.
Godard proved to be a consistently working fellow in the years to come, pumping out some solid and some less solid efforts throughout the decade. Many of them got forgotten in the meantime, despite their quality, but none was as fine and as forgotten as this tale of passion and infidelity: in many aspects a bona fide New Wave film, while also bringing a layer of freshness to the table, bad luck seems to be a driving cause for its status today.
It would be a lie to claim that no one has ever heard of it, but its fame doesn’t come close to that of other works of Godard of the same period, such as Breathless, La Petit Soldat, Alphaville, Pierrot le Fou, Unne femme est unne femme,etc…