The Tides of Taste: 10 Films That I Admire.

January 24, 2017 | We all have a list of top ten films, this isn’t that. This is ten films that inspire my march across the landscape of filmmaking.

Michael Curtiz’s (Age 54) Casablanca (1942)

Michael Curtiz’s (Age 54) Casablanca (1942), in my opinion, is a perfect movie. One that I attach sentimental value to as well as possessing bold direction, excellent storycraft, and unparalleled acting chemistry. By far my favorite aspect, this movie is a period piece filmed contemporaneously while the world was at war.

Akira Kurosawa’s (Age 42) Ikiru (1952)

Sometimes, a film speaks straight to the heart. Akira Kurosawa’s (Age 42) Ikiru (1952) is one of those movies. It tells the story of an elderly civil servant who longed to make a difference only to realize being a civil servant is anything but being a paper-pusher. Upon discovering the fragility of life Kanji sets out to make that difference he promised so many years ago. Kurosawa simply tells us life is fragile, pursue the deepest and best you.

Sergio Leone’s (Age 35) A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

Blood, guts, and rock’n’roll. Sergio Leone’s (Age 35) A Fistful of Dollars (1964) breaks open a whole new genre of film and launches the careers of a future filmmaking elites like Clint Eastwood. Influenced heavily by Kurosawa, Leone took a rift on one the the legend’s samurai tales. Leone transforms the Italian landscape into a ruthless western town not ready for a new gunslinger nor a “man with no name.”

Ridley Scott’s (Age 42) Alien (1979)

Creeping. That’s the feeling I get every time I find myself in outer space trapped in Ridley Scott’s (Age 42) Alien (1979) world. This movie for its shear build of terror and suspense makes this film solid gold. Throw in a powerhouse of a female character, a strong lead anchored by Sigorny Weaver, and Ridley’s uncanny ability to construct a world right before our eyes and you’re left with pure emotional terror.

Ivan Reitman’s (Age 38) Ghostbusters (1984)

“Call it fate, call it luck, call it karma…” but I believe I was desitined to be a fan of this movie. A pure fun loving popcorn movie from my childhood. I know almost the entirety of the script and have driven my wife insane with the number of times this flick is on the DVR. But, there is no way around it, Ivan Reitman’s (Age 38) Ghostbusters (1984) is a classic for my childhood memories and the amazing humor and chemistry unleashed by this amazing comedic cast.

Steven Spielberg’s (Age 43) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

The eighties and nineties were ripe with adventure flicks that turned into sentimental motion pictures for myself. Steven Spielberg’s (Age 43) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) is one such film, character, and franchise. Secretly, I think concentrated on classical archaeology as a college student because of the whims and adventures that Indie went on. Thankfully I realized that dig sites were fun but not my passion and I continued down the path of self discovery.

Tony Scott’s (Age 46) Days of Thunder (1990)

Fun. That’s the feeling I get every time I hop in the stockcar along side Cole Trickle (Cruise) as he pursues the dream of NASCAR glory. Tony Scott’s (Age 46) Days of Thunder (1990) is a swashbuckling adventure chasing NASCAR drivers across the country as they race for eternal glory. Scott masterfully juxtaposes the title dreams against the nightmare realities of fiery crashes and loss of self. Days of Thunder’s title perfectly echos its motorized rallying cry — power, more power.

Stanley Kubrick’s (Age 71) Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999) is a seminal work. Most argue 2001 A Space Odyssey or Clockwork Orange are his masterpieces, however, this movie plays with his own personal paranoia and leaves the viewer with a new awakened perspective on their own accord — in a marriage the viewer is forced to decided what is the difference between doing and dreaming of doing?

Another excellent reason why this movie motivates me is the camerawork, the meticulous detail and the amazing ability to play with lighting at night to strike a desired mood. (Mental Floss’ 20 Facts About EWS)

Paolo Sorrentino’s (Age 38) Il Divo (2008)

A similar footprint to Kubrick’s style, Sorrentino is a filmmaker who knows that silence can create anxieties. He is also a master craftsman at casting. In Paolo Sorrentino’s (Age 38) Il Divo (2008) we feel the story of the late Italian Prime Minister who some call a wolf, others a criminal, even more a political god, but above all calculating. This is one movie worth riding all the way through to experience the corruption of the Italian Parliament.

Robert Zemeckis’ (Age 64) Allied (2016)

The latest addition to my list, Robert Zemeckis’ (Age 64) Allied (2016) is one that I need to see a few more times before it cements itself on the list. However, an excellent story and even better cinematography, this film is a masterclass in Hitchcockian composition. Stylized as Casablanca in reverse, Zemeckis, like Curtiz, paints a world where I am immediately enthralled and removed from my daily worries. Allied is a different kind of popcorn movie — a cinematographer’s one.