Instructional Media Center

  • Film Guide •

Reed Community - favorite films

Marat Grinberg – Professor of Russian and some really cool film courses

The Trial - PT2621.A26 T75 2002 DVD 
Directed by Orson Welles (1962) – possibly the greatest movie ever made. Welles also thought of it as his best film. Produced on a low budget and shot in Paris and Zagreb, it is not only a cinematic gem, but a great commentary to Kafka’s unfinished masterpiece. The film also alludes to the Holocaust in very interesting and subtle ways.

Army of Shadows -  PN1995.9.F7 A759 2007 DVD  
Directed by Jean Pierre Melville (1969) – competing with The Trial for the title of best film ever. A story of French Resistance during World War II, it has elements of both film noir and Greek tragedy. Featuring the incomparable Lino Ventura and Simone Signoret, it is perhaps Melville’s most personal, beautiful, and complex work.

Commissar - PN1997 .K66 2004 DVD
Directed by Aleksandr Askoldov (1967, released 1987) – it is a miracle that this film survived. Produced in the Soviet Union in 1967, it was destroyed by the censors who were terrified by its explicit Jewish characters and critical take on the revolution and Civil War. If you want to know more about this remarkable film, read my book about it published in 2016.

Barry Lyndon - PN1995.9.I74 B377 2001 DVD  
Directed by Stanley Kubrick (1975) – this is the most unusual of Kubrick’s films and yet most quintessentially Kubrickian in its painterly aesthetic. Watch it and tell me if there’s anything more perfect than its ending?

Rififi - PN1995.9.F7 R5454 2001 DVD  
Directed by Jules Dassin (1955) – the greatest of late noir films, it is perfect from the beginning to the end and a combination of Dassin’s New York Jewish sensibility and French existentialist angst. Shot in Paris, where Dassin went into exile to escape McCarthy’s witch-hunt, it is the tragic heist thriller par excellence.


Jim Holmes – Film & media studies librarian, IMC purveyor, and devoted fan of Portland area movie theaters.  Have a suggestion for the collection?  Come and see me in the IMC (Lib32).

Harvey - PN1995.9.C55 H379 2000 DVD
Jimmy Stewart plays an amiable alcoholic whose best friend is an invisible 6' rabbit.  His sister tries to have him committed unleashing a comedy of errors - hilarity ensues. Based on a play by Mary Chase that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1944. Netflix is the latest to attempt a remake of the classic 1950 film.

Drunken Angel - PN1995.9.J36 K80 D78 2009 DVD
One of legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s lesser known films. A ruthless gangster and a cynical doctor strike up an unlikely friendship that’s played out in a film noir version of post-war Tokyo.  While the Allied censorship board prohibited any criticism of the occupation, Kurosawa makes several thinly veiled attacks on Western decadence and corruption.

Drugstore Cowboy -  PN1995.9.C75 D78 1999 DVD
Portland's most famous director, Gus Van Sant, directs Portland's most infamous movie about a group of drug hustlers in the early 70s.  Starring Matt Dillon, Kelley Lynch, and a young Heather Graham, and an old William Burroughs. Check out the pictures of Portland then and now.

Set It Off - PN1995.9.C66 S485 2009 DVD
Four young women find themselves at different dead ends in life, compounded by societal obstacles that perpetuate their misfortune. Frustrated and desperate, the lifelong friends hatch a plan to rob a bank. After successfully smashing the glass ceiling of a high stakes heist, they set their sights on bigger jobs. The story plays out in dramatic shootouts, car chases, and police interrogations - piloted through a turbulent 1990s Los Angeles. Ultimately it's the genuine friendship and unconditional loyalty that drive the heart of the story, setting it apart in the genre.

Boogie Nights -  PN1997 .B659 2000 DVD
Relatively unknown director at the time, Paul Thomas Anderson - age 26, put together one of the greatest ensemble casts for this 1997 movie, celebrating the golden age of adult movies.  The film follows the epic rise and fall from grace of one Dirk Diggler, whose god-given talents put him at the epicenter of cultural excess.  Anderson originally wanted Leonardo Dicaprio for the lead role but the actor turned it down, opting instead for some obscure movie about a sinking ship.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch - PN1995.9.M86 H439 2001 DVD
The best rock and roll musical ever.  Long story short... botched sex change operation makes for great musical inspiration. The film will always be better than the stage version for the simple fact that Bob Mould played guitar on the recording sessions, producing one of the greatest soundtracks of all time.  The Origin of Love may be the greatest ballad of all time.

The Ice Storm -  PN1997 .I34 2000 DVD  
Ang Lee directed this devastating adaptation of Rick Moody's 1994 novel.  As the radical 60s give way to the social ennui of the 70s, baby boomers try to adapt to suburban bliss.  Free love gives way to key parties.  Progressive parenting leads to latchkey kids.  Love and family and adolescence are rudderless and desperate.  An ice storm serves as literal metaphor and catalyst, setting the slippery slopes of morality and fate into motion.  The outstanding cast of adults (Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Allen) are equally matched by their children (Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, Tobey Maguire).

Widows - PN1997.2 W53 2019 DVD
This 2018 critically acclaimed neo-noir thriller flew under the radar despite some heavy hitters in the industry.  Directed by Steve McQueen, fueled by a screenplay from Gillian Flynn, starring Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, Michelle Rodriguez, Colin Ferrell, Robert Duvall, Daniel Kaluuya and moreWidows follows a group of women who find themselves in debt to the mob after their husbands blow a major heist.  Set in contemporary Chicago, crime/politics and betrayal drive the plot full throttle culminating in a shocking conclusion. 

Everything Everywhere All at Once - PN1997.2 E84 2022 DVD
Is an everything bagel the gastronomical equivalent of a black hole?  Is your daughter evil incarnate?  Do googlee eyes make everything just a little bit better?  Directors The Daniels provide the answers to these questions and more, as they send Michelle Yeoh and family through a multitude of martial arts multiverses in a reverent love letter to the movies.  Despite the ridiculous premise, the film delivers a surprisingly emotional impact - offset by complete hilarious absurdity.


Ted Davee – former head of AV, Portland filmmaker, and occasional Reed videographer

Kind Hearts and Coronets - PN1995.9.C55 K563 2006 DVD
Incredibly dry, dark comedy. The best of the Ealing Studios releases. Alec Guiness plays 8 different characters.

Stalker - PG3476.S78835 P552 2000 DVD
A sci-fi movie that's not really sci-fi. My favorite Tarkovsky. Great, mesmerizing, and dream-like use of sounds and visuals.

Grand Illusion - PN1997 .G74 1999 DVD
Erich von Stroheim is brilliant as the over the top officer from a bygone era of gentlemen soldiers and officers. Great prison escape film.

Ikiru - PN1997 I38 2006 DVD
Very touching story about a man that finds out he has stomach cancer and realizes that his life has been a waste and that he has already been dead for years.

It's a Gift - PN1997.A1 W145 2013 DVD
Another comedy highlighting W.C. Fields disdain of family life. I don't care what anyone says. I think it's one of the funniest movies ever.



Brian Kelley – Reed's resident sci-fi expert

The one movie to rule them all;
The Lord of the RingsPN1997.2 .L673 2002 DVD 
How to make the best movie ever;  Step 1) Take eight years.  Step 2) Rent New Zealand.  Step 3) Hire every young, creative, tireless person you can find.  Step 4) Look past the small visions of others as to what a movie can be.

Most epic setting;
Star Wars - PN1995.9.S695 T756 2008 DVD
The galactic republic has over 50,000 inhabited worlds.  Every political system, every economic system, every philosophy, and every religion has room to grow, flourish and ultimately to come into conflict with each other.

Best cinematography;
Avatar - PN1997.2 .A83 2010 DVD
The plot is nothing new.  If you can get past that, this film is simply beautiful.  The luminescent jungle looks amazing at every scale.  The aerial combat is the best I've seen.  Even the head up displays make me want to live in that world.

Best movie to never get a sequel or prequel;
Blade Runner - PN1995.9.S26 B5334 2007 DVD
The Earth has been mostly used up.  All the beautiful people living their big lives have left for the off-world colonies.  What is left behind is a world of flawed people trying to understand what it means to be human.

Best use of Keanu Reeves;
The MatrixPN1997 .M38759 2007 DVD 
It is not clear whether Keanu Reeves is any good at acting or not.  What is clear is that this film makes great use of him.  Neo is a seeker who can’t articulate the secrets of the universe he alone can perceive.



Tom Willingham – Everyone's favorite nighttime library supervisor and expert Rock Band player.

The Corporation - PN1995.9.C6 C676 2005 DVD
In the mid-1800s the corporation emerged as a legal “person.” Imbued with a “personality” of pure self-interest, the next 100 years saw the corporation’s rise to dominance. The corporation created unprecedented wealth but at what cost? The remorseless rationale of “externalities” (as Milton Friedman explains, the unintended consequences of a transaction between two parties on a third) is responsible for countless cases of illness, death, poverty, pollution, exploitation and lies.
“THE CORPORATION is just brilliant-visually, intellectually, and morally. This film has redefined the documentary genre.”  Barbara Ehrenreich, Author of Nickel and Dimed.

I Heart Huckabees - PN1995.9.C55 I5437 2005 DVD
Recommended for any philosophy major :)  I like how the film maker shopped the film in Hollywood. “Here’s how I described it to the people who financed the movie. Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin are existential detectives who you could hire to investigate the meaning of your life. They are formal, they wear suits, they are Paris-trained and their clients include Jude Law, Naomi Watts, Jason Schwartzman and Mark Wahlberg. Their nemesis is Isabelle Huppert. Hilarity ensues.”  You can judge for yourself what philosophical French power couple Hoffman and Tomlin represent, as well as their nemesis Huppert. I have my own ideas.

Brazil - PN1995.9.S85 B73955 2006 DVD
Terry Gilliam’s modern masterpiece. I’m somewhat horrified by this movie, but I can’t look away. This is Gilliam’s concept of a book he never read, Orwell’s 1984. In fact it developed under the title 1984 ½. This movie is also the second part of his “imagination trilogy.” Time bandits representing childhood, Brazil the late 30’s and Baron Munchasen through the eyes of an elderly man.

Pi - PN1995.9.S35 P5 1998 DVD
A paranoid mathematician searches for a key number that will unlock the universal patterns found in nature and the stock market.  Done all in black in white, this thriller connects math and Judaism and the line between academic brilliance and madness. Plus trepanning!

Swimming with Sharks - PN1995.9.C55 S95 1998 DVD
Buddy Ackerman (Kevin Spacey), a big time movie producer on the rise, hires young Guy (Frank Whaley) to be his assistant. Guy thinks he’s finally hit the big time. But Buddy has other ideas. He torments Guy with petty requests and daily reamings for bringing him Equal instead of Sweet-N-Low. Guy decides that he is fed up with Buddy’s torture and goes to Buddy’s house and ties him up and begins on his revenge. Guy’s lover, a script writer who has “screwed” her way to the top, is dragged into this.  Guy tortures Buddy and then his lover arrives and the big ending occurs.  This is THE movie on Hollywood and the glamor culture. The ending will blow your mind!


Angie Beiriger – Director for Research Services for the library

Blue - PN1995.9.F7 B584 1993 DVD
Part of the “Three Colors” trilogy by Krzysztof Kieslowski, Blue features Juliette Binoche in a devastating performance as a woman consumed by grief after a tragic loss. She abandons her former life to begin a new, isolated existence but can’t escape the questions that haunt her. The music in the movie is a character in itself and it will break your heart at the most unexpected times.  

Cabaret - PN1995.9.M86 C323 2003 DVD
My favorite musical of all time. Liza Minnelli gives an amazing performance as singer Sally Bowles, headliner of the Kit Kat Club in pre-war Berlin. While Cabaret has some of the best choreography and music ever featured in a film, it also comments on the looming Nazi threat and the consequences of a carefree lifestyle. You’ll want to paint your fingernails green and sing “Mein Herr” at your next karaoke outing.  

The Saddest Music in the World - PN1997 .S1353 2004 DVD
Guy Maddin’s surreal movie about a legless bar mistress who stages a contest to find the saddest music in the world in Depression-Era Winnipeg. As bands from around the world compete for the prize, Isabella Rossellini struts around on glass legs filled with beer while a father and son vie for her attention. Gorgeous, bizarre, and yes, very sad.   

Starship Troopers - PN1995.9.S26 S796 2002 DVD
Part futuristic fascist blood bath, part campy teen-angst melodrama, Paul Verhoeven’s satire on propaganda, warfare, and vengeance follows idealistic new army recruits battling intergalactic giant bugs. Yes it’s violent but it features the beloved Neil Patrick Harris as a brainiac bug-whisperer and some truly classic social commentary.  

The Warriors - PS3575.U7 W32 2000 DVD
1979 cult classic follows a gang that just wants to get home after being framed for a murder. The Warriors’ epic journey from Manhattan to Brooklyn features run-ins with the police and rival gangs – most notoriously the Furies who rumble in full KISS makeup and baseball uniforms. “Warriors, come out to plaayeeaay.”  


Carly Lamphere - Science Librarian’s Film Favs 
Disclaimer-I am very into atmospheric films that take me away to a completely different world/mood. If you’re a daydreamer with a dark side, you’ll enjoy these. 

Labyrinth - PN1995.9.F36 L297 2006 DVD (Favorite of all time)
My all time favorite film is Jim Henson’s beloved 1986 fantasy classic starring Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie. Teenager Sarah (Connelly) struggles with the idea of growing up and leaving her world of make believe behind after her mother’s passing. One rainy night stuck babysitting, Sarah wishes for Jareth, the Goblin King (a very magical, darkly captivating, and otherworldly singer Bowie) to take her baby brother Toby away forever far into the Goblin City. Immediately realizing her mistake, Sarah then embarks on a journey to the center of the Labyrinth to save her brother from Jareth. 

On the surface, this is a fun children’s fantasy/adventure movie with a killer 80s synthy dance soundtrack (Bowie wrote 5 songs and performs throughout the entire production) coupled with Henson’s signature puppetry and practical effects. However, below the glitter, magical creatures, and sing alongs, sits a coming of age story for dreamy teenage girls who aren’t quite ready to enter adulthood, but bravely face it anyway. This film was explained by Henson to be an homage to all fantasy literature tropes and stories as it is heavily inspired by the works of Maurice Sendak. As someone who cut their teeth on magical adventure stories and lazy afternoons getting lost in the world of make believe as a young girl, this film has always been number one on my list. 

The Virgin Suicides - PN1997 .V5722 2000 DVD (favorite director and best adapation of one of my favorite books)
As a lifelong reader, I live and die by the phrase “the book is better than the movie”. However, Sofia Coppola's feature directorial debut is one of those rare instances where I am proved wrong. The Virgin Suicides remains one of the only film adaptations of a book that is accurate and satisfying. Not only does Coppola cover all of the source information successfully (even while restructuring a few parts of the plot) she captures the restlessness, confusion, and inarticulable experience of being a teenage girl that makes Eugenides novel so captivating. It is the only time where the feeling of reading a novel translated to the film thanks to Coppola’s auteurship. 

This film is hauntingly beautiful and subtle, and each shot could be a stylish piece of art in a gallery. The cast shines, including Kathleen Turner and James Woods as the Lisbon girls strict bordering on obsessive parents, and y2k’s understated heart throb Josh Harnett as Trip Fontaine, Lux’s (Kirsten Dunst in her ingenue era) love interest. As with all her films, it has a killer soundtrack, lots of 70’s throwbacks and score by ethereal french electropop duo Air. Loved this film? The good news is every single one of her films since this one is as dreamy, quiet, and beautiful as the last. 

Adaptation - PN1997 .A437 2003 DVD (My favorite screenplay and arguably the best screenplay ever written) 
If you love meta films that are aware of themselves and films within films and layers on top of layers that fit perfectly in every corner of the film and frame from start to finish then this film is for you. Charlie Kaufman is probably the best screenwriter of all time, and this film was nominated for best screenplay at the 2003 oscars. (Spoiler- didn’t win and I am still giving a huge side eye to Hollywood because Kaufman was robbed)

Nicholas Cage stars as the shy socially awkward screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (yes, the screenwriter wrote himself into the script of this movie about writing a movie as well as a made up twin brother Donald, who Cage also portrays) who has been hired to write a screenplay adaptation for the book “The Orchid Thief” by Susan Orlean. Orlean is an actual writer and this is an actual book you can go to the bookstore right now and purchase to read. Do you see where this is going? Maybe you think you do, but I guarantee you will be surprised with this multi-layered, cerebral meditation on writing, mental health, and orchids. 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - PN1995.9.H6 T49 2006 DVD (Favorite Horror Film)
Horror got really gnarly in the 70's and I am into it! Many horror films moved away from classic monster movies to human beings being the villain as a response to brutal violence the country was viewing on their television sets/witnessing during the Vietnam War. In fact, Director Tobe Hooper cites these political and cultural landscape shifts as inspiration for the film. As a horror fanatic, this remains the only film I’ve ever seen to truly scare me and holds a spot culturally as one of the most horrific horror films of all time due to its violence and themes of cannibalism. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre changed the genre of horror, making space for the teen slashers to emerge a decade later in the 80s and to this day lives up to its notorious reputation. 

While the content is truly terrifying-teens stumble upon a farm owned by a family of deranged cannibals where they are stalked, tortured, and butchered for basically being in the wrong place at the wrong time, it is the style in which this film is shot that gives the viewer the ultimate chill. The film was shot mainly on 16mm film which gave it an extremely realistic look mimicking a snuff film the audience stumbled upon instead of a feature film production. The low budget production in the height of Texas summer gives a frantic sweaty fever dream vibe and much of the effects and costuming were low cost and practical. Some of the blood was real at certain points due to people cutting themselves during scenes by accident! All of these choices combined created a visceral unique nightmare centering around the film’s terrifying antagonist-Leather Face, modeled after real life serial killer Ed Gein.
*Side Note: I faced my fears back in 2015 when I met Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface) at a convention and he was a big ole’ teddy bear. 

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - PN1997.2 .E84 2004 DVD (This is just one of my favs and again written by Charlie Kaufman)
Michel Gondry directed one of the most unique love stories of the new millennium with this film 2004. It stars Kate Winslet (in the most manic pixie dream girl role to ever manic pixie dream girl) and a surprisingly serious Jim Carey. Joel (Carey) finds out his ex-girlfriend Clementine (Winslet) paid to have her memory wiped of memories of him and their relationship. Joel then decides to undergo the same procedure to wipe his memories of Clementine but not before he records tapes of all of his memories of their tumultuous relationship. The audience gets to come along on the ride of watching Joel and Clementine’s relationship and the erasing process. 

This film is a quirky and unique exploration of memory and love and the unexplainable side of what makes someone subject themselves to falling in love over and over again despite the inevitability of heartbreak. Gondry is a director that has his own signature style and this story is a beautiful display of all the experimental shots and techniques he takes to create an otherworldly expedition into the depths of another person’s mind. It is an amazing visualization of an abstract concept that is both sad and beautiful. 

Drive - PN1997.2 .D75 2012 DVD (Favorite Neo Noir) 
Nicolas Winding Refn’s neo noir stars Ryan Gosling as an unnamed Hollywood stunt driver who also moonlights as a getaway driver in Los Angeles. While the plot is a simple unrequited love story coupled with a botched heist, (based on a book written by James Sallis) it is the perfectly executed style that is the star of this production. A neo noir in every sense of the word, this film is a neon cruise through a gritty dark Los Angeles with a banging french house synthwave soundtrack (Kavinsky’s title track is still heavily rotated on my playlist to this day). It’s sexy, mysterious, tension filled, and that elevator scene gets me every time. You owe it to yourself to watch this at least once and witness the extreme chokehold Ryan Gosling fever had on all of us back in 2012.


Ella Mead ('19) – library reference assistant and economics major

The Crow - PN1997 .C883 2012 DVD  
Based on a comic book, this dark cult movie is about a man coming back from the dead on the one year anniversary of his death, to avenge his and his fiancé's murder. It stars Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee), and his stunt actor, as Brandon died partway through filming, after getting hurt in a stunt accident while filming the movie. With only a few scenes left in the movie, they continued filming with a replacement. The movie is dedicated to him and his wife. They explore some dark themes, like death and sexual assault, so trigger warning.

He Never Died - PN1997.2 .H4 2016 DVD
An odd, dark, and occasionally comedic movie about an immortal cannibal. Wiki describes it as a movie about "A social outcast, battling depression and severe anti-social behaviour, embarks on a bloody quest to save his long-lost daughter from a crime syndicate," yet that doesn't seem to completely encapsulate what's going on in this film. 

Hot Fuzz - PN1995.9.C55 H68 2007 DVD  
Edgar Wright's comedy films are always hilarious, and Hot Fuzz is one my favorite. It follows a London Constable (police officer) as he's transferred to a – seemingly – sleepy town in the countryside. However, a series of murders, he and his new partner find that there's more going on in this little town than the townspeople would like you to believe.

Shaun of the Dead - PN1995.9.C55 S43 2004 DVD
My other favorite Edgar Write film. This comedy is about the zombie apocalypse, and two friends trying to survive it. There are a lot of films and TV shows in this zombie-humor style, but Shawn of the Dead is a by far the best one of the genre.

Kill Bill - PN1995.9.A3 K55 2004 DVD  
A characteristic Tarantino film: dark tones, epic fight scenes and mystery. This follows The Bride as she seeks revenge on those that attempted to kill her on her wedding day. I personally feel that this has a very anime style plot: training montage, then and a series of battle's working up the final boss.

Elise Woodard ('15) – spends more time taking notes on films than watching them

Werckmeister Harmonies - PN1995.9.S87 W47356 2006 DVD
In a frostbitten, fogbound provincial town lives a young postman, Janos Valushka. One day a traveling circus comes to town, displaying the stuffed body of the largest whale in the world in a corrugated metal trailer. Their arrival in the midst of a terminal frost prompts bizarre rumors which quickly run rife, alluding to a shadowy figure, dubbed the Prince, who supposedly accompanies the circus. Within a short time, the gathering tensions ignite, and an apocalyptic unrest is unleashed, the madness sweeping across the frigid, foggy community, and forever changing Janos' life. Bela Tarr, a Hungarian director more talked about than viewed, twists reality into impressionism in this adaptation from Hungarian writer László Krasznahorkai's novel, while regarding the characters with great intensity through long, uninterrupted takes.

Bicycle Thieves - PN1997.V58 S513 1968 DVD
Hailed around the world as one of the greatest movies ever made, the Academy Award–winning Bicycle Thieves, directed by Vittorio De Sica, defined an era in cinema. In poverty-stricken postwar Rome, a man is on his first day of a new job that offers hope of salvation for his desperate family when his bicycle, which he needs for his work, is stolen. With his young son in tow, he sets off to track down the thief. Simple in construction and profoundly rich in human insight, Bicycle Thieves embodies the greatest strengths of the Italian neorealist movement: emotional clarity, social rectitude, and brutal honesty.

Human Condition - PN1995.9.J36 H853 2009 DVD
Masaki Kobayashi’s mammoth humanist drama is one of the most staggering achievements of Japanese cinema. Originally filmed and released in three parts, the nine-and-a-half-hour The Human Condition (Ningen no joken), adapted from Junpei Gomikawa’s six-volume novel, tells of the journey of the well-intentioned yet naive Kaji (handsome Japanese superstar Tatsuya Nakadai) from labor camp supervisor to Imperial Army soldier to Soviet POW. Constantly trying to rise above a corrupt system, Kaji time and again finds his morals an impediment rather than an advantage. A raw indictment of its nation’s wartime mentality as well as a personal existential tragedy, Kobayashi’s riveting, gorgeously filmed epic is novelistic cinema at its best.

Salò, the 120 days of Sodom - PQ2063.S3 A2822 2008 DVD
The notorious final film from Pier Paolo Pasolini, Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom has been called nauseating, shocking, depraved, pornographic . . . It’s also a masterpiece. The controversial poet, novelist, and filmmaker’s transposition of the Marquis de Sade’s eighteenth-century opus of torture and degradation to Fascist Italy in 1944 remains one of the most passionately debated films of all time, a thought-provoking inquiry into the political, social, and sexual dynamics that define the world we live in.

That Obscure Object of Desire - PN1995.9.F7 T538 2001 DVD
Luis Buñuel’s final film explodes with eroticism, bringing full circle the director’s lifelong preoccupation with the darker side of desire. Buñuel regular Fernando Rey plays Mathieu, an urbane widower, tortured by his lust for the elusive Conchita. With subversive flare, Buñuel uses two different actresses in the lead—Carole Bouquet, a sophisticated French beauty, and Angela Molina, a Spanish coquette. Drawn from Pierre Louÿs’s 1898 novel, La Femme et le Pantin, That Obscure Object of Desire is a dizzying game of sexual politics punctuated by a terror that harkens back to Buñuel’s brilliant surrealistic beginnings.


Bryson Uhrig-Fox ('10) – "For those who enjoy reading while watching movies."

Belle de jour - PN1995.9.F7 B455 2002 DVD
The story of a high class french housewife who longs for more passion in her life. Instead of turning to her husband, she becomes entangled in the world of high class prostitutes. Presented by Martin Scorsese, this movie is considered the erotic masterpiece of Luis Bunuel, one of the greatest Spanish filmakers of all time.

The Passion of Joan of Arc - PN1995.9.F7 P388 1999 DVD
The back of the movie says it all: "Carl Th. Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc convinced the world that movies could be art." Made in 1928, this movie is one of those gems that make reading while watching a movie worth it. Completely silent, the film is set to a musical piece for chorus and orchestra titled Voices of Light. Absolutely mesmerizing.

Kolya - PN1995.9.C9 K6593 2002 DVD
A heart warming tale of a Czech bachelor who marries a Russian woman to help her emigrate from the USSR. But after she disappears he is forced to take care of her son or else face the legal consequences of a fake marriage. A story about true human connection.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - PN1995.9.F7 D58564 2008 DVD
A story about human achievement and perseverance in the face of crushing disaster. If you don't believe you can do anything after watching this movie, I don't know what will set you free. Incredible cinematography.

Pan's Labyrinth - PN1995.9.F36 P367 2007 DVD 
A heartbreaking story of the innocence of children. Set in Spain during the Spanish civil war, a young girl does all that she can to try and save her mother and unborn brother while trying to appease her stepfather, a member of the Spanish Facist Party.


Jenn Bautista ('11) – Reed's former faithful early morning IMC worker

Cinema Paradiso - PN1995.9.S8 N869 2003 DVD
A beautiful, nostalgic Italian film that follows the life of Salvatore, a mischievous six-year-old who develops a lifelong friendship with the neighborhood projectionist, and, through experiences with his two loves, film and Elena, becomes a big-time film director. 

Fanny and Alexander - PN1995.9.S9 F36 2004 DVD  
A five-hour Swedish film by Ingmar Bergman about two well-to-do children, Fanny and Alexander Ekdahl. After their father?s sudden death, they follow their mother to live with her new husband, a cruel, ascetic bishop and became prisoners in his house until finally escaping.

Annie Hall -  PN1995.9.C55 A553 2000 DVD
Possibly my favorite American romantic comedy and definitely Woody Allen's best film. The movie records the relationship between neurotic New Yorker Alvy Singer and (relatively) carefree Annie Hall.

Lust, Caution - PN1995.9.S87 L878 2008 DVD
Ang Lee's sexy Chinese thriller that takes place in Hong Kong and Shanghai during the war and Japanese occupation. It follows a group of Chinese university students who plan to assassinate a high-ranking government official, which involves using the main character Chia Chi to seduce him into a trap.

Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears - PN1995.9.R8 M677 2004 DVD
Russian film that focuses on a 30-year-span of three provincial women who move to Moscow. They start off as friends working in the factory and living in dormitories, with dreams of finding love in the big city. 


Adam Reese ('11) – Check out his cool DJ sets on KXLU

The Brood - PN1995.9.H6 B266 2003 DVD
David Cronenberg's The Brood explores a different kind of connection between mind and body.  What would happen if the mind had greater power over the body than the other way around?  What if the mind had power over other bodies?

Man Bites Dog
- PN1995.9.F7 M34 2002 DVD
This French mocumentary is a dark comedy that focuses on a serial killer and the documentary crew that follows him.  It presents a jaded perspective on violence and the moral system of a killer.  Despite this, it is pure comedy form start to finish.

Repo Man - PN1997 .R476 2003 DVD
This movie has one of the greatest soundtracks of all times, featuring the Plugz, Black Flag, Iggy Pop, The Circle Jerks and others.  Emilio Estevez must navigate his way through a social landscape marked by unemployment, employment, generic foods, and paranormal activity.  Repo Man is an indisputable classic that sums up an era in an hour and a half.

Space Is the Place - PN1995.9.S26 S634 2003 DVD
This movie is both an incredible document of the music and philosophy of Sun Ra and a great piece of entertainment in its own right.  Ra is something of a cosmic rebel, traveling the universe in a music-powered spaceship trying to bring enlightenment to the planet earth (also though music.)  Will his plans for a mass exodus to another planet succeed?

Zardoz - PN1995.9.W37 Z3746 2000 DVD
This movie features Sean Connery in one of his most bizarre roles.  A member of a caste of killers in a post-apocalyptic world, he sneaks into an Edenic world where people are immortal.  But for all their psychic powers and centuries of life experience, they have never before seen the likes of Connery.


Rebecca Ok ('09) – Her top 5 includes exactly 9 or 10 films.

1.  Cowboy Bebop - PN1995.9.J3 C69 2002 DVD
I don’t like anime, but I like Cowboy Bebop. Soundtrack is good. If I could be an anime character, I’d be Spike, for sure.

2.  The Blue Hour - PN1995.9.G47 B5384 2001 DVD
Only randomly-picked-out German film I’ve ever really liked. The callboy is cute. The chick could do with a makeover or a replacement, but over all, good movie.

3.  Strictly Ballroom - PN1997 .S8753 2002 DVD
Gaudy, Australian romance with ballroom dancing. Simply ridiculous and brilliant.

4.  The Pianist - PN1997.2 .P53 2003 DVD
I’ve only seen this film once. Super good, but super depressing. I felt guilty eating for a week after viewing it. Occasionally I think about watching it again, but talk myself out of it due to aforementioned resulting guilt.

5.  Mostly Martha - PN1995.9.C55 M683 2003 DVD
Drama about a German French chef. Generally good movie. The German sounds beautiful. Every time I watch this I wonder how it is she stays so goddamned skinny being around food all the time. Hollywood made an American version of this with Catherine Zeta-Jones. Don’t watch that shit.

5.1  In the Mood for Love - PN1995.9.C5 H83 2002 DVD
This was recommended by a date. I never finished it, but it led to good things. I’m sure it ends well.

5.2  Best of Youth - PN1995.9.H5 B478 2006 DVD
The longest film I’ve ever sat through. Good though. Diebold (or Wally, I don’t remember which) would recommend it as well.

5.3  Planet Earth - QB631.2 P536 2007 DVD
This is the only documentary on here for a reason, and I don’t watch documentaries. Good for some before-bed not-reading activity. Watch the diaries at the end. They’ll make you feel weak and super-unhardcore.     

5.4  Billy Elliot - PN1995.9.D26 B56 2000 video
It’s about a little boy who just wants to dance. Super cute. It goes into the social implications of dancing as well and why his family tends to be unsupportive. It plays with the issues of gender norms and self-determination in a small mining town. The strike scene is intense. However, we only have it on VHS, which is a bummer.

5.5  Harold and MaudePN1995.9.C55 H3765 2000 DVD
For those with an odd sense of humor.

Brittany Taylor ('09) – “Judge away.  These babies are solid gold”

1.  Weekend - PN1995.9.F7 W445 2005 DVD
The longest traffic jam ever, cannibals, French people, the end of bourgeois society, all on a lovely drive through the countryside!

2.  Planet Earth - B 631.2 .P536 2007 DVD
Best nature footage ever, sadly no Attenborough.

3.  Jamon, Jamon - PN1995.9.S63 J35 2002 DVD
Everyone screws everyone and then there is a fight to the death using ham hocks as weapons.

4.  9 to 5 - PN1995.9.C55 A122 2001 DVD
Workin 9 to 5
What a way to make a livin
Barely gettin by
Its all takin
And no givin
They just use your mind
And they never give you credit
Its enough to drive you
Crazy if you let it

9 to 5, for service and devotion
You would think that i
Would deserve a fair promotion
Want to move ahead
But the boss wont seem to let me in
I swear sometimes that man is out to get me

5.  Lucía y el sexo - Lucy and sex. - PN1995.9.S8 S49 2003 DVD
It’s Spanish.

Violet Ketskarova ('08) – destined to be Bulgaria’s next great filmmaker

1.  Escaflowne - PN1995.9.J38 A54 2000 DVD
Anime series 26 ep. An ordinary high-school girl is suddenly transported to the planet Gaea, where she gets herself involved in a series of adventures, trying to help save a few kingdoms. Second best anime fantasy series after 12th Kingdom I've ever seen. A little bit of everything - battles, blood, princes, fantasy creatures, love, complicated relationships (more than you'd expect from a regular anime). Highly recommend it if you're into fantasy anime.

2.  Dangerous Beauty - PN1995.9.H5 D36 1998 DVD
The true story of the woman, a poet and courtesan, who used looks, wit and seduction to defy the conventions of 16th century Venice. The film is entertaining, acting is good, production design is in the time-period. If you feel like an emotional 'love-vs.-reality' Saturday night, that's a good pick. A bit of a tear-jerker, but it's well done.

3.  Please Save My Earth - PN1995.9.J38 P5 1994 DVD
Anime. 6 ep. story of a bunch of scientists on a Moon base who die and are reborn on Earth, only to remember that they predicted something terrible is about to happen to Earth. This is one of these anime series -- the more you watch it, the more you discover in it. Intellectually challenging, but worth the effort. And it's beautiful.

4.  Mel Brooks' History of the World - PN1995.9.C6 H589 1999 DVD
History of the world by Mel Brooks - it's actual history. with a twist. Better than any Monty Python. Much better than almost any other parody. Purely funny.

5.  Night Watch - PN1995.9.H6 N5448 2006 DVD
Russian modern fantasy. Pretty good. The powers of Light and Dark in opposition, as always, but the film is very artistic and it still makes sense. It's also very modern-Russian. For anyone interested in Sci Fi, or Russian culture.


Aleena Ortíz ('21) – fanatic of narrative development and Religion major

1.  Inception - PN1997.2 .I5348 2010 DVD
Christopher Nolan leaves viewers breathless from start to finish in this intrepid exploration into the depths of the dream world and the human psyche. From a study of the paradoxical nature of the mind, to an argument about the nature of love and time, this action-packed flick succeeds in being both heartfelt and thrilling. A synth/electronic-sounding score is recorded by a live orchestra as one of Hans Zimmer’s finest to set the tone of the film. Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cillian Murphy, and Tom Hardy, as well as award-winning actors Marion Cotillard, Ken Watanabe, Michael Caine, and Pete Postlethwaite defy gravity and each other’s expectations as they come together and fall apart in the many layers of the dream world, which reveals their true fears and desires.

2.  Singin’ in the Rain - PN1995.9.C655 S5645 2002 DVD
Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s musical screenplay takes a more humorous twist on the disaster that befell cinema in the early 20th century: The talking picture revolutionized the way film had to be done. In a world previously filled with exclusively silent film, chaos ensues. Direction and choreography by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen make this picture home to iconic musical numbers such as Donald O’Connor’s bone-shattering “Make ’Em Laugh,” and Gene Kelly’s self-choreographed title performance “Singin’ in the Rain.” Famous actress and dancer Judy Landon appears in this film’s Broadway-esque final act. Wit and humor drive this stellar cast toward a conclusion that shakes not only the world of film, but the real world too.

3.  The Tale of Princess Kaguya - PN1995.9.A59 T32 2015 DVD
Late Studio Ghibli director Isao Takahata takes the Japanese folktale of The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter to the big screen in this retelling of the Buddhist myth. From minimalist brushstrokes that contour every hue and line, to subtle environmental and character-driven storytelling, this humble film bursts with emotion and fervor in every frame. A heart-pounding score by Joe Hisaishi draws in all who bear witness to this heart-wrenching story of attachment and impermanence. As a simultaneous critique of and argument for Buddhist Enlightenment, the relationships between parents and daughter, woman and society, and one to oneself serve the narrative crux of this aesthetic masterpiece.

4.  The Great Gatsby (2013) - PS3511.I8 G75 2013
This modern adaptation to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, Tobey Maguire (Nick Carraway), Joel Edgerton (Tom Buchanan), and Elizabeth Debicki (Jordan Baker). Before the Great Depression, American society was lively and hysterical. In big cities, the money kept piling and people kept partying. However, the apparent glamor of the times hid the real American obsession with beauty, youth, wealth, and fame after the Great War. Insecurity crept into the hearts of men and women who clung to the idyllic past and effervescent present, while fearing the ever-elusive future. Music by George Gershwin, Lana del Rey, and Gotye punctuates this timeless tale of love and longing in a chaotic eruption at the loss of a perfect modern society that never existed to begin with.

5.  Children Who Chase Lost Voices - On Order
Makoto Shinkai takes viewers on a journey about human spirituality and loneliness in his exploration of history, society, and desire. Shades of the past haunt Asuna Watase, a middle schooler who yearns for adventure and human connection after the loss of her father. When an ethereal boy named Shun appears at Asuna’s typical hideout, strange happenings occur. God-like beings called Quetzalcoatl attack Asuna, causing her to go searching for Agartha, a world said to hold the secret to resurrection. Notable voice actors Hisako Kanemoto, Miyu Irino, and Kazuhiko Inoue breathe innocence and complexity into this world of characters in a unique twist on the journey-to-the-center-of-the-earth story. How to cope with loss, stellar art, and story direction underlie this action/adventure film full of hostility, mystery, and wonder.


Isabel Adesko ('21) – library inhabitant and film guru

1.  Akira - PN1995.9.J3 A65 2001 DVD
Katsuhiro Otomo pulled out all the stops in this 1988 anime film. Taking place in the dystopian Neo-Tokyo in 2019, the film follows Kaneda, the leader of a biker gang, as he tries to find his friend Tetsuo who, after being kidnapped, has gained a tremendous power which threatens the city. Though the plot is difficult, if not impossible, to grasp in totality after the first watch, the striking visuals make it impossible to look away. Rich colors make Neo-Tokyo come to life and the incredible energy given to objects moving through space pushes the plot along at a breathtaking pace that will have you completely enthralled. 

2.  A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night - PN1995.9.H6 G57 2015 DVD
This film by Lily Ana Amirpour can be described as an Iranian vampire western. The story follows a skateboarding vampire who stalks and prays on men who have done wrong to women, and a young landscaper as he struggles to support his father battling a heroin addiction. While the plot is vague, the striking black and white cinematography by Lyle Vincent, and surging soundtrack blend together to make the film hypnotic without losing energy. If you can accept that the narrative will take a backseat to the moody atmosphere of the film, then it is easy to get lost in Amirpour’s lonely Iranian town. 

3.  Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes) - PN1995.9.S7 .W553 2015 DVD
In this film, Damián Szifron has crafted six shorts woven together through common threads of revenge. A group of passengers on a plane, a waitress, a driver, a demolitions expert, a father, and a bride all follow their wildest impulses, as even the smallest matter is taken to the extreme. Despite the dark themes explored by each story, one can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the situations, which allows the film to maintain a (mostly) cheery tone. Each short unravels into the most unexpected and gruesome endings imaginable and energy mounts as situations escalate farther than you thought possible.

4.  The Italian Job - PN1995.9.C66 I83 2010 DVD
In this 2003 action/thriller, safe cracker extraordinaire, Stella, and professional fixer Charlie put together an elaborate heist to avenge the death of Stella’s father at the hand of a former associate. What this film lacks in critical prestige, it makes up for in pure entertainment. Never is there a dull moment as the team prepares to rob millions of dollars in gold bars. The Italian Job has all the components that make a good heist film: betrayal, love, explosions, falling safes (and trucks), car chases (and boat chases), and a star studded cast (Charlize Theron, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Statham, Edward Norton, and Mos Def). 

5.  All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre) - PN1995.9.S8 T646 2000 DVD  
After Manuela’s son gets killed in a car accident, she travels from Madrid to Barcelona to notify his long lost father. However, when she crosses paths with a young nun (Penelope Cruz), a transgender sex-worker (Antonia San Juan) and a dramatic actress (Marisa Paredes), the meaning of her journey changes and a new family is formed. Not only is this film rich in plot, but the dazzling and colorful visuals that Pedro Almodovar is known for shine through clearer than ever. This critically acclaimed masterpiece celebrates motherhood in an unlikely but deeply moving way that will almost certainly bring you to tears.

6.  Ida - PN1995.9.P54 I33 2014 DVD  
Before Anna is to take her vows to become a nun, she must go meet her long lost aunt and only living relative. In the few days that this film takes place, the two go on a journey to find out what happened to Anna’s parents and who she really is: Ida. Set in 1960s Poland, this film can be seen as director Pawl Pawlikowski’s return to his home with visions of the Communist era and memories of the former Nazi occupation. The film is shockingly quiet, with no soundtrack except for the languid jazz music that is occasionally played in the background, which allows for every other sound to come through: forks tapping against plates, footsteps on wooden floors, or car doors opening and closing. The long wide shots of the desolate Polish landscape and lack of dialogue add a sense of eeriness that mirrors the melancholy tone of the film.


Shea Seery ('20) – dance enthusiast and Art major

1. Knives Out (2019) - PN1997.2 .K65 2020 DVD
Directed by Rian Johnson and starring Daniel Craig (in a departure from his James Bond role, masked by a rather awful accent), Chris Evans, and Jamie Lee Curtis, this film is a character-based mystery detective thriller—and who doesn’t love a good mystery who dunnit? The plot is intricate, featuring numerous twists and turns, successfully conveying intrigue and suspense all the way to the end. The movie has a classic feeling but is set in a contemporary setting, and it all makes for good humor and thrills. It is a high-production and family-friendly movie that you’ll actually enjoy!

2. Daisies - PN1995.9.C94 D358 2001 DVD
This film is a 1966 Czech New Wave film, directed by Vêra Chytilová. It is the story of two young girls who take on a “f*ck it” attitude, getting into tons of shenanigans, when everything seems to be falling apart around them. Definitely enjoyable for times during which the world seems as if it’s ending (e.g., now, in spring 2020). An indulgent favorite of mine—pure fun!

3. Mulholland Drive - PN1997 .M854 2002 DVD
This film is a 2001 “psychological thriller,” replete with the stirring drama of any David Lynch flick, a classic that regularly makes “greatest movies ever” lists. Before I watched it, it already felt somehow clichéd, probably because so many people kept telling me that I had to watch it. But it held my attention, and in fact I thoroughly enjoyed it. At times it seems cloyingly self-referential, aiming for the adulation of would-be fanatics, with stylized neo-noir shots begging to become aesthetic stills. Fun fact: most people don’t know that it was supposed to be a television series, but tv execs rejected it—so Lynch made it into a feature film, one of three in his SoCal trilogy (Lost Highway and Inland Empire as the other two).

4. Midsommar (2019) - On Order
Cults!!! Do you love cults!? If so, watch this—the story of travel-pal friends who fall unwittingly into the grips of a mushroom-hallucinogenic commune! Directed by Ari Aster, Midsommar is a crazy, weird, beautiful psychological thriller. A joint U.S.-Swedish production, Midsommar features lovely, visually pleasing scenes gesturing at first toward a very wholesome pastoral picnic-aesthetic, but very dark and ominous undertones are soon revealed. Riveting, with lots to unpack after the fact.

5. La Planète Sauvage (Fantastic Planet) - PN1995.9.S26 F36 1990z DVD
Directed by René Laloux, this 1973 adult animated sci-fi film definitely has a very bizarre plot. But it affords an absolutely beautiful and trippy aesthetic experience. In some future world, huge blue humanoid aliens have brought regular human beings to their technologically advanced planet, where they consider regular human beings to be animals and thus regard them as pets (though domestic peace is not in the offing, to say the least). The film could be read, received, and interpreted in many ways.


Diana Wang ('23) – Anthro/Religion major, curious of human entanglements

Green Book - PN1997.2 .G745 2019
A warm, thought-inspiring film about friendship that transcends race, class, and social boundaries, set during the Civil Rights Movement, based on a real story and real person. Dr. Don Shirley is a world-class African American Classical and Jazz pianist from New York, who was about to embark on a concert tour in the Deep South in 1962, and he employed Italian-American bouncer “Tony Lip” as his driver and bodyguard. The movie explores the absurdity in a way that is full of dark humor, and also reveals a warm story of how an world-class Black genius who was orphaned early and been lonely for his entire life found home and friendship, and the closeness to his race, and how a reckless bouncer found the beauty of art and literature, and overcame his prejudices (especially recommended for Hum 110 students to study the Harlem unit).

Persepolis - PN1995.9.B55 P4784 2008
Based on Satrapi's graphic novel about her life in pre and post-revolutionary Iran and then in Europe. The film traces Satrapi's growth from a young girl to rebellious, punk-loving teenager in Iran. In the background are the growing tensions of the political climate in Iran in the 70s and 80s, with members of her liberal-leaning family detained and then executed, and the background of the disastrous Iran-Iraq war.

Devi (The Goddess) - PN1995.9.I54 D49 2010 DVD
A Bengali film that explores gender, patriarchy, worship, and generational change, the subjugation of women in Hinduism. In rural 19th-century India, a pious Brahmin family’s life was brought to life by the young, beautiful, newly married second daughter-in-law Doya, who takes care of her father-in-law Kalikinkar while her husband Umaprasad is away at Law School. One night, Kalikinkar had a vision in his dream that Doya is an avatar of the goddess Kali and must be worshipped. Ever since then, Doya’s life has been forced to change, as in her interpersonal relations. Her husband tries to intervene, but in vain since she already began to accept that she is a goddess who processes healing power, until tragic strikes. This film is a thought-inspiring one good for any religious studies or even just watch for leisure.

Amélie - PN1997 .A44 2014 DVD
A fanciful French Romantic Comedy, about a shy, young waitress, brought up by eccentric parents, who decided to change the lives of those around her for the better while struggling with her own isolation. Amelie discretely orchestrated the lives of the people around her, creating a world exclusively of her own making, and ultimately finding love. Shot in over eighty Parisian locations, the director, in a whimsical depiction, invokes his incomparable visionary style to capture the exquisite charm of contemporary Parisian life through the eyes of a beautiful ingenue. Good for leisure.