Hi, I’m Geoff. I like movies and have liked movies for a while now. I don’t know how to start this piece so I’m just gonna jump right in. It’s kinda hard to limit myself to just talking about five films on here, but whatever. Favorite movies of all time, go.
#5: Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (Paul Schrader, 1985)
I like films that prod and tear at the fabric of reality, and Paul Schrader’s 1985 masterpiece does that… and more. Mishima is told in, of course, four chapters, with each split up by three timelines: flashbacks to formative years in Mishima’s life and career as one of the great Japanese authors, incredibly stylized scenes from three of his novels, and a reenactment of the infamous day when he—blinded by his nationalism and his own stories—attempted to take control of the Japanese military, failed, and committed seppuku.
I highly doubt there will ever be a better biopic than this. Biopics are typically meant to celebrate the life of a public figure, often leading to sappy writing and overly-sentimental filmmaking. On the other hand, Mishima is a film made out of genuine interest, neither outright glorifying nor condemning the man. It takes a step back to consider why he did the things he did.
Oh, and I have to mention Philip Glass. Without his incredible score, I have no idea what the film would be like. Easily one of the best scores he’s ever done.
#4: Pulse (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001)
Despite loving the genre to pieces, I’m very rarely scared by horror movies. Pulse kills me. The world of the film, the frame itself, seems to actively plot the demise of its characters. There seems to be a creature lurking in every shadow and outside the boundaries of the screen, watching and waiting.
This is one of those films that just pushes my buttons in the right way. I can’t quite explain why I love it so much without going into a long diatribe about how much I loved ghosts when I was, like, 13. I’m not gonna bother.
Surprisingly, this is the only horror film that managed to make this top 5. Close contenders include: The Wicker Man (1973), The Boxer’s Omen (1983), Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989), Possession (1981), The Thing (1982), and The Blair Witch Project (1999), among many, many others.
#3: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring (Kim Ki-duk, 2003)
This is a relatively recent addition to my upper echelon of films. There’s just something so special and beautiful about this film that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen in another. Basically, it’s about these two Buddhist monks who hang out on a floating platform in the middle of a lake in the mountains. As the name suggests, it’s told in five chapters, each corresponding to a specific season. From chapter to chapter we see one of the monks, a young boy, grow up, change, and make some (very bad) mistakes. It’s all about the cycles of life and our destiny to someday become more than what we are.
I can’t name a film with a better setting than this one. Every single exterior shot is so gorgeous, it makes you want to visit.
#2: Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
David Lynch is my favorite filmmaker. He probably always will be. Other filmmakers may try to copy him, but there never has been and never will be another filmmaker like Lynch. There’s possibly no better evidence for this than Mulholland Drive, a film considered by many to be one of the best of the 21st century so far.
Two of the biggest strengths of Lynch’s work are his unconventional approach to storytelling and the engrossing worlds he creates. Both of these strengths can be seen in spades in Mulholland Drive. There’s not really much I can say that hasn’t been said already, so I’m not gonna bother. Watch this film, then immediately watch it again.
#1: Seconds (John Frankenheimer, 1966)
Seconds is my favorite film, obviously. I adore this film so so so so much. It still completely baffles me that this came out in 1966, and not even because of its still stunningly modern cinematography. It’s that it has such a dark, threatening, and paranoid mood throughout pretty much its entire runtime.
I’m not really the biggest fan of pre-70s Hollywood, but Seconds is a film so bizarrely contemporary you might assume it’s a period piece by some up-and-coming indie director (that is, if you don’t know who any of the actors are). But no, John Frankenheimer made this in an uncharacteristic stroke of brilliance he’d never get anywhere close to for the rest of his career.
So that’s my list, I guess. Thanks for reading.