At certain points I’ve flirted with including Don’t Look Now, Raging Bull, Le Samouraï, Rope, and The Thing. I want them to know they are loved too. I will have to find another way to put those out there now.

The older I get, the more I’m aware of how little I’ve really seen. That is the great gift of this passion for movies, your world is ever expanding. When we sit down to watch a film, we’re inevitably a different person by the end of it. Perceptibly or not we have shifted and attained new perspective. So to list these out in any consistent or meaningful manner seems impossible. Here are five then that will stay in my rotation for as long as I watch films.

5. Phantom Thread directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Phantom Thread

I think about Phantom Thread constantly. About how thoroughly textured the aesthetic and soundtrack are. How everything is perfectly set and how deliberately it moves. The way Daniel Day-Lewis delivers his final performance. How it’s a film completely out of time, destined to be watched for the foreseeable future. The way future generations will pick it up and study it. I think of it constantly because it’s had a profound effect on my soul, and I can think of nothing more to ask of a movie.

Whatever you do, do it carefully.

4. Run Lola Run directed by Tom Tykwer

Run Lola Run

Just before my daughter was born, I got Ezra Pound’s “move or be moved” quote tattooed across my arm. It signified something I always looked for in art and life: the ideal fluidity of movement. Run Lola Run suitably captures what I want this to be in a movie. It has the chaos of life in it. Each run Lola makes can unfold an indeterminate number of ways. Of course, we don’t calculate this minutia on a moment-to-moment basis. Movies can help us see what is always there, the infinite possibilities and the weight of the choices we make. Run Lola Run then has always stuck with me and most importantly has moved me with its own movement.

Run Lola Run

3. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly directed by Sergio Leone

I love the journey within this film. It’s a big operatic movement with larger than life characters, small guns that rattle like cannons, and an Ennio Morricone soundtrack that sounds like the West. It’s everything I want all at once.

There are many great American Westerns and yet the best one is Italian-American. This is the way we define America – how does it look from the outside-in.

2. Cinema Paradiso directed by Giuseppe Tornatore

Cinema Paradiso

This is the most logical movie for me to love. It’s about a young boy and his relationship with film. He befriends the local projectionist and lives – as so many of us here have – a life informed by movies. Cinema Paradiso explains better than anything else I’ve seen the way we interact with films. How they define the periods of our lives. Our relationships. Who we are as people. The Ennio soundtrack is a work of staggering genius. I’ll hold onto the power of this picture forever; it assuredly moves me to tears of joy and sadness every viewing.

1. Under the Skin directed by Jonathon Glazer

Under the Skin

Under the Skin is an audiovisual spectacle to behold. It’s a high-grade art film about seduction and exploitation, with Scarlett Johansson turning in an alien performance. It is every bit as visually stunning as it is audibly entrancing. This is a movie that has put me in an absolute trance. It remains on this list no matter how I work it out. A powerful experiment with the arts.


Written by Calvin Kemph

Dad, writer, editor of Press:

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