Hello, my name is Jenna Kalishman and, like most of my fellow writers, I am extraordinarily indecisive when it comes to selecting my top 5 films. Aside from my indecisiveness, I am a film enthusiast as well as an actress and filmmaker. Here, I tried to chose 5 films that display what I love about film.
My constant. From the very first note of the opening soundtrack, I was enthralled; by the closing credits, I was addicted. It is dreamy, soft, hypnotic, passionate, breathtaking and time-stopping. Set deep in a New York winter, Carol is impossibly warm, filled with longing gazes and lingering touches between two women who experience an indescribable connection. Carol is completely raw and beautiful and twists my heart so that I can hardly breathe. I will never love a film the way I love Carol.
Diamonds really are a girl’s best friend. Moulin Rouge! is gorgeous, gaudy, rich, and dripping with pleasure. Flashy colors, glittery ensembles, and neon green Kylie Minogue-filled absinthe trips create a pop fantasy version of 1900s Paris. Beyond its vibrancy, Moulin Rouge! is the fiery and heartbreaking love story of a young poet who falls in love with the club’s brightest star, Satine. Nicole Kidman is magical as Satine; her performance brings me to tears. She is beautiful and daring, yet gentle, and I cannot get enough of her. I could watch this film 5 times in a row and still sing its songs at the top of my lungs.
Kill Bill Vol. 1
Lucy Liu’s deadly “I collect your fucking head” is easily one of my top 10 favorite film moments of all time. This bloody, neon, revenge thriller is nothing but incredible and I was hooked from the very first scene. Kill Bill’s non-linear storyline is just as engaging as its cinematography is spectacular. Uma Thurman is absolutely unstoppable, delivering a sharp, dangerous performance as she dances her way through Beatrix’s kill list.
It took me a few watches to genuinely understand and begin to adore Ingmar Bergman’s Persona. There is not enough I could write that would aptly describe what a masterpiece it is, so I’ll keep it short and sweet. Persona is haunting, paralyzing and sensual. Alma finds catharsis in talking to Elisabet, and finds herself desperate for Elisabet to speak; their existence becomes fused together, each dreaming of the other, yet still at odds due to Elisabet’s dismissiveness. Persona is a quest not to define the identity of the individual, but to question it.
“The primal question of a marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? What have we done to each other?” Gone Girl is incredibly intelligent filmmaking. The narrative flows almost perfectly, the editing is sharp, the score is sinister and Rosamund Pike is absolutely brilliant. Amy is cold and cunning; she knows how to manipulate everyone to her liking. I am fascinated by Amy. She is cruel and vicious, but I find myself rooting for her throughout the whole film. Most importantly, I can recite the cool girl monologue from memory whenever prompted.
Jenna Kalishman is a freelance writer and cinephile based in Colorado who often focuses on female and queer perspectives as well as female-led projects. She spends much of her free time listening to Stevie Nicks and re-watching Carol. You can find her on twitter @jenkalish.