12 Favorite Foreign Language Films

I didn’t want to just list the 12 films I sent in for inclusion that didn’t make the final list of nominees for the Foreign Language Films List without writing a bit about them and why I love them so much. My entire list is filled to the brim with Japanese, Italian and French films and that’s not just because they’re easily available. It means that I really love Japanese, Italian and French cinema. In all honesty, I didn’t expect a lot of the following films to make the final list because they’re personal favorites and some are not easily available on DVD, but that wasn’t one of the requirements. We were asked to list favorites and that’s what I did. If someone wanted me to teach a class on world cinema using my list I would have probably selected some different films.

I think the best part about creating these lists is discovering stuff out about yourself. While creating my list it I learned the following:

The sixties is far and away my favorite film decade.
I love Japanese crime films and the more surreal the better. At least five films in a similar vein made my list.
I love horror/science fiction films with a Frankenstein theme. At least three films with variations of this theme made my list.
I love films with great opening sequences. If a movie can make my jaw hit the floor within the first 10-15 minutes, it gains my instant affection. Many of the films on my list contain amazing opening sequences that grab you by the throat and never let go.
Alain Delon is still my favorite actor. I could watch him stare out a window for 4 hours and never get bored.

So without further delay – Here is a list of 12 of my Favorite Foreign Language Films that didn’t make the final list of nominees. They’re listed in alphabetical order:

The 10th Victim a.k.a. La Decima Vittima (1965, Elio Petri)
Italian director Elio Petri won the Golden Palm at Cannes in 1971 for his film The Working Class Goes to Heaven and a Jury Prize in 1970 for his film Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, which was also nominated for an Oscar. Sadly, none of Petri’s films made the nominee list but I hoped that his stylish sixties science fiction film the The 10th Victim would. Part social satire, part dark sex comedy and all style, The 10th Victim is truly one of the sixties greatest looking films. It stars the lovely Ursula Andress and handsome Marcello Mastroianni in two of their most unforgettable roles as hunter and victim playing a televised survival game. It undoubtedly inspired many other lesser films such as The Running Man (1987) and Fukasaku’s Battle Royal (2000), but The 10th Victim is far and away one of the smartest and most adult science fiction films ever made. The fantastic cinematography by Gianni Di Venanzo and fabulous score by Piero Piccioni are tops.

Clip from The 10th Victim

Black Lizard a.k.a. Kurotokage (1968, Kinji Fukasaku)
Kinji Fukasaku made a lot of great movies in Japan before his untimely death in 2003, but this truly surreal 1968 crime thriller is a personal favorite. It combines the best elements found in sixties era James Bond films and Film Noir with an erotic mystery that is guaranteed to leave first time viewers stunned. The film’s avant-garde “pop art” sensibility and dark humor really appeal to me. The lovely female lead is played by the reigning queen of Japanese drag performers, Akihiro Miwa, and his real-life lover (famed Japanese author Yukio Mishima who helped write the screenplay) even makes an appearance in the film. I hope to write a more in-depth review of Black Lizard very soon, but I will add that I’ve rarely had a better time at the movies than when I first saw this film back in the early 1990s.

Blood & Black Lace a.k.a. Sei Donne per l’assassino (1964, Mario Bava)
Selecting one Mario Bava film for my list was nearly impossible since he’s one of my favorite filmmakers, but I finally decided to include his original giallo film that managed to forge an entire genre, Blood and Black Lace. This amazing looking film really showcases everything that I love about Bava’s filmmaking and giallo films in general. It features some of Bava’s best and most brilliant color photography and impressive special effects that still make my eyes pop. Blood and Black Lace has inspired countless imitators, but this truly original piece of work remains bold and exciting some 40 years after it was first made.

German language trailer for Blood and Black Lace

The Diabolical Doctor Z a.k.a. Miss Muerte (1966, Jess Franco)
I love a lot of Jess Franco films, but I also have my favorites and The Diabolical Doctor Z was the first film that made me a Franco fan for life. This incredible looking Spanish/French production features a terrific international cast and boasts some of Franco’s most impressive directing. It was the film that really cemented Franco’s name in the world of international cinema and it contains many of the director’s favorite themes that are perfectly executed here (it’s also co-written by Bunuel collaborator Jean-Claude Carriere). The film finds inspiration in Georges Franju’s classic Eyes Without a Face as well as old Universal monster films, but somehow Franco still manages to give the film a very original and modern feel that is all his own.

Bad American trailer for The Diabolical Doctor Z

The Face of Another a.k.a. Tanin no Kao (1966, Hiroshi Teshigahara)
I’ve already written about Teshigahara’s film in great detail so I won’t bother saying much more, but you can find my previous thoughts about this amazing film here.

Japanese trailer for The Face of Another

Female Prisoner #701 Scorpion: Beast Stable (1973, Shunya Ito)
I’ve loved the Japanese Female Prisoner Scorpion films since I first discovered them being released on DVD in the states in 2002. They’re on unusual blend of two genres (Pinky Violence and Women in Prison films) that somehow manage to take what could be considered very trashy and exploitive themes and turn them into truly great avant-garde filmmaking. Beast Stable is the third and last film in the series directed by Shunya Ito and he brings everything I love about his earlier films into this last movie in the series and turns it up to volume 10. He also manages to define his previous ideas and develop his directing style in ways that really impress me and that’s why this film is my favorite in the series. I wrote another tiny blurb about Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable earlier this year, which you can find here.

Japanese trailer for Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable

Gonin a.k.a. Five (1995, Takashi Ishi)
The 1990s was an amazing decade for Japanese cinema and I wanted to include films made by many great directors from this period on my list such as Takeshi Kitano, Takeshi Miike, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Hirokazu Koreeda, but after I started slowly chipping away at my long list of Favorite Foreign Language films to select a mere 25 for inclusion on my list, Gonin was the one film from the decade that remained (I also assumed those other directors would make the list without my vote). Takashi Ishi has only made a few worthwhile films and Gonin is far and away his greatest achievement, but its influence on modern Japanese cinema shouldn’t be underestimated. This incredible crime film involves a gang of misfits who come together and try to rob the local yakuza, but things don’t exactly go as planned and as the film unfolds in a thunderous wave of unparalleled violence and mind-blowing action, it also takes on a dark, surreal and horrific tone that raises it far above most typical Asian crime films. Underneath Gonin’s slick and stylish exterior you’ll find the first film – in my moving going experience – that dared to openly exploit the gay subtext found in thousands of buddy action movies made in previous decades. It also contains some terrific performances by great Japanese actors such as the amazing Takeshi Kitano who is guaranteed to impress and give you nightmares as a bloodthirsty one-eyed hitman. I first saw Gonin when it debuted in the US in San Francisco and half the audience left before the film finished. The rest of us that remained sat in stunned silence until the very end. We all watched the credits roll until the darkened theater turned on the house lights and then we all looked at each other – half of us with tears in our eyes and the other half with our jaws still on the ground – fully aware that we had just experienced a stunning and groundbreaking film. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

The original Gonin trailer

Jean De Florette / Manon of the Spring (1986, Claude Berri)
It’s hard to explain why we enjoy some films more than others, but ever since I first sat through the entire 4-hour sweeping epic that is Claude Berri’s Jean De Florette and Manon of the Spring back in the late 1980s when I was in college studying film, I’ve been in love with these two movies. Together they make up a powerful drama of great beauty that manages to invoke the magic of cinema classics while telling a timeless story that can still deeply affect modern audiences. Has the French countryside ever looked so beautiful? These are films that I’ve come back to again and again when the world doesn’t seem right and I need a “pick me up” as well as a confirmation of humanity in all it’s loveliness and ugliness. The great French actor Yves Montand also delivers an incredibly moving performance in these films that always leaves me impressed.

American trailer for Manon of the Spring

Pale Flower a.k.a. Kawaita Hana (1964, Masahiro Shinoda)
If you haven’t noticed by now, I really love Japanese crime films and many of my favorites ended up making my list because I couldn’t bare to leave them off. Shinoda’s brilliant Pale Flower manages to be both an erotic and highly subversive bit of filmmaking that perfectly represents the Japanese New Wave while keeping one foot firmly planted in the violent underworld of Japanese crime cinema. Shinoda takes what could be a simple yakuza tale and love story and turns it into cinematic art. This gorgeous film showcases why he’s one of Japan’s greatest modern filmmakers. I naively assumed Shinoda’s amazing film Double Suicide would make the final list of nominees so I voted for Pale Flower instead, but I love both films a lot. In the end though, Pale Flower is the Shinoda film that I like to return to again and again. It’s complex themes and incredible aesthetic appeal to me in many ways.

Santa Sangre (1989, Alejandro Jodorowsky)
With the recent release of the Jodorowsky DVD Box set in America this year I assumed that at least one of his films would make it onto the list of nominees. Obviously I assumed wrong. I expect that Jodorowsky’s brand of surrealism is still just a bit too extreme for most film audiences. That’s really a shame, because he’s made some fascinating films and my favorite Jodorowsky film is Santa Sangre. Santa Sangre is probably Jodorwsky’s darkest effort and it’s also his most fully realized film in my opinion. It’s brimming with unforgettable imagery and startling storytelling techniques that recall an earlier time in European horror cinema. Like many of the films on my list, Santa Sangre is not easy viewing. It demands a lot from potential viewers, but it’s a film that constantly comes to mind when I think about foreign language films that have deeply affected me. It changed the way that I view cinema and shaped my appreciation of the art form.

Clip from Santa Sangre

Teorema (1968, Pier Paolo Pasolini)
I’m not really sure that Pasolini’s Teorema counts 100% as a foreign language film, but I included it in my list anyway. Teorema is a film that seems to divide audiences and many critics find it incomprehensible or just plain trashy. I think it’s a bit of both and that’s why I love it so much. It also features some of Pasolini’s most impressive imagery and manages to mix eroticism with political and social issues in an extremely creative way. Terence Stamp is unforgettable here as the mysterious sexy stranger who enters into the life of a bourgeois family and changes their lives forever. It’s the film that introduced to me to Passolini’s work and it remains a favorite since I first saw it some 18 years ago.

Clip from Teorema

Youth of the Beast – Criterion Collection a.k.a. Yaju no Seishun (1963, Seijun Suzuki)
Sejiun Suzuki’s Youth of the Beast is the final film on my list of favorites and it’s undoubtedly one of the best looking films of the bunch. I was astonished that none of Suzuki’s films made the list of final nominees because his work has been available on DVD for many years and is supported by Criterion but the Criterion crowd often dismisses Suzuki. His films are still widely unseen and under-appreciated which is a terrible shame. He’s one of Japan’s greatest living directors, hell, he’s one of the world’s greatest living directors, and he makes some of the most entertaining, provocative and beautiful films that I’ve ever seen. I had an extremely hard time trying to decide which Suzuki film I would select for inclusion on my list. He is the only director that I almost broke my own rule for because I couldn’t pick between the dark WWII drama Gate of Flesh (which I raved about here) and this mind-blowing crime film. Youth of the Beast was the first film that gained Suzuki a reputation in Japan for making unbelievably stylish and over-the-top crime films that left audiences reeling and confused his critics. It was also the first film that brought Suzuki and his longtime star Jo Shishido together, and the two men truly make movie magic on screen that has to be seen to be believed. Youth of the Beast was made only a year after the first James Bond film and yet in many ways it’s light years ahead of any adult action films shot during that decade and it was made on a minuscule budget. Besides mind-blowing action sequences, jaw-dropping photography and an amazingly effective score, the film is also infused with Suzuki’s own brand of erotic violence and showcases his incredibly modern storytelling abilities that have inspired countless imitators. If you rent Suzuki’s Youth of the Beast you are guaranteed a knockout night at the movies that you’ll never forget so if you’re unfamiliar with the director’s work, do yourself a favor and discover it NOW.

Clips from Youth of the Beast

While I was compiling this list of 25 favorites I came up with over 100 films that I wanted to add to make mention of so maybe someday I’ll share my entire list since I regret not including many films – in particular horror films. Lists are tricky things and limited by what we have seen. I don’t like sharing them since my list of favorites could change at any given day depending on my mood and whatever new films I’m exposed to, but I can honestly say that all 25 films on this list will always be personal favorites.


31 thoughts on “12 Favorite Foreign Language Films

  1. Well, I’ve seen Santa Sangre, a few times at least! I agree, it’s his best work, although I really do love El Topo and Holy Mountain. Were I to pick my favorite foreign language films, I would definitely include his work.

    The rest, as usual, just remind me that there are always a billion more films to be seen. 😉

  2. Hey Kimberly. This is a fantastic list. I’ve probably seen a 1/3 of these. This gave me some other interesting films to add to my must see list. My favorite on your list is Jean De Florette / Manon of the Spring. I loved those so much. I first saw them as a teen. I fell in love with French cinema due to those movies. I also fell for Emmanuelle Beart.

  3. Suzuki!

    “Youth Of The Beast” is great fun and I included it on my 100 gems list (just a random set of picks of films that don’t quite make my Top 100 – but that I just can’t ignore) as well as “Tokyo Drifter”. But “Branded To Kill” is still my fave (and would make my Top 100 if I ever get around to listing them out). I just started “Princess Raccoon” – to say I can’t tell where the hell things are going is an understatement. But I love that…

    Interesting pick of “Pale Flower”. I also quite enjoyed it, but I like Shinoda’s “Samurai Spy” and “Double Suicide” even more. The cinematography is just stunning. I’d love to see one of those new Eclipse boxes focusing on some unreleased Shinoda films.

    I’ve only seen the first Female Prisoner film, but liked it so much I bought the box of three. I think I’ll try to get to the others in the next week or so.

    I find Fukasaku’s films to be fascinating…”Battle Royale” of course, but his yakuza films are brimming with style that must’ve been completely original back in the 60s and 70s (it still looks pretty incredible today). “Sympathy For The Underdog” is the best one I’ve seen so far, but he has so much. “Black Lizard” looks way cool.

    And I just caught “10th Victim” the other day. I loved that opening club scene with Ursula.

  4. Very interesting list. I can’t believe I totally forgot Suzuki in the list I sent in to Copeland. GATE OF FLESH is my personal favorite, though there are plenty that I haven’t seen. I’m considering contacting Criterion and suggesting that the include a Suzuki set among their new Eclipse line of box set collections. Wouldn’t you want to see a selection of his earlier films which are perhaps unlikely to ever get individual releases?
    I know I would!

  5. Well, Kimberly, this is quite a list. Very “originale” and full of discoveries (for me). i’m just very surprised of the two french films, so different in the tone, in the style, with all the others. Claude Berri is not such a great director, compared to Suzuki or Pasolini. I wonder if you have seen the original one, directed by Marcel Pagnol in 1953 wich is, in my opinion, much better.

  6. AR – I’m surprised that none of Jodorowsky’s films made the list and it seems that I may have been the only person to vote for him, which I think is a shame. I really love his work. I hope you’ll check out some of the other films I mentioned that are easily available on DVD.

    Keith – I’m happy to come across another Jean De Florette / Manon of the Spring fan! These films hold a special place in my heart and I’m probably way too nostalgic for my own good, but I love them. I think Yves Montand is amazing in those films.

    Bob – Great lists you have there! I also love Tokyo Drifter and Branded To Kill a hell of a lot. They would easily make my Top 100 list. I went for Youth of the Beast because it was really one of the first films he made with his signature “style” and I do love it (I was also sure that Tokyo Drifter and Branded to Kill would make the list which was silly of me). Shinoda is an amazing director and I assumed that Double Suicide would also make the list since it’s such an amazing piece of filmmaking. It’s a shame that none of his films were included. Fukasaku’s movies fascinate me too. Besides Black Lizard, I also really love his films Blackmail is My Life and If You Were Young: Rage! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the 10th Victim!

    Jared – I would happily purchase a set of Suzuki’s early films if they ever got released! I love his work and Gate of Flesh is one of my favorite films. It’s really amazing and I still regret not including it on my list, even though I may have been the only person voting for it.

    Vincent – I’m a rather odd bird with odd tastes I suppose, but Jean De Florette / Manon of the Spring does sort of stick out like a sore thumb on my list. I think my feelings for it are a bit sentimental due to when I saw it for the first time, but sometimes I can enjoy watching epic sweeping films that make beautiful use of natural landscapes. I think it’s the Greek drama that grabs me and I love Yves Montand’s performance. I’m afraid I have not seen the original 1953 film, but I’ve been very curious about it for years. I’ve never come across a copy in the US. I would love to compare it to the 1986 version. I do agree that Berri can not compare to Suzuki or Pasolini. None of his other films have impressed me as much as Jean De Florette / Manon of the Spring. My list has some other directors who only have one or two great films under their belts such as Takashi Ishi, so I suppose in some odd way Berri fits right in

  7. Kimberly,

    I find your knowledge of Japanese cinema to be daunting and I feel neglectful that I have seen so few of those you speak of so highly. I will correct this, I promise.

    You mention that the sixties is your favorite film decade which is, I assume, because of your love of foreign film. It was the greatest decade for the output of non-english language films and by far the worst for the output of english-language or Hollywood films. Which is a part of the reason that the foreign language market became so big in that decade as Hollywood released one giant, white elephant after another. In doing my Oscars posts where I give my picks for the best picture of each year, sticking with english-language since there is a separate category for foreign language, I have found doing the sixties to be insufferable and I’m glad I’m almost done. When I do posts on Best Foreign Film, the sixties will be the best decade to cover and I’ll make sure I see many of your recommendations before I get there. The seventies marked a point where many young American filmmakers finally caught up with their European and Asian counterparts of the sixties.

    Also, looking at your list I realized how many people I unfortunately “forgot” about, like Pasolini and Jodorowsky. I don’t know about you but sometimes one movie will connect itself with another movie in my mind even if they have nothing in common aside from one brief moment. For me, anytime I think of Apocalypse Now I think of Sante Sangre because of the slaughtered beast at the end of Apocalypse Now and the elephant funeral in Sante Sangre. Both scenes stay with you but Jodorowsky’s is infinitely more powerful and thought-provoking.

    And to reiterate the beginning of my comment, and to further a reply I gave on another comment you made the other day, you should 1) register with IMDB and edit the Suzuki catalogue which is woefully inadequate (almost no information on any of the films) and 2) start compiling a book on Japanese Cinema. You have the expertise and talent to do it. I’d buy it.


  8. Yves Montand is amazing in those films. This was the first time I ever saw him in a film. After that I made sure I saw more of his work. These films started my love affair with French cinema.

  9. I think Jodorowsky’s reputation might be overshadowed by the surreal films of Fellini and the work of Bunuel (the former of which I inevitably see him compared to). It might also be his connection to underground films of the 70’s, which connects to our previous discussion of critical elitism. Additionally, a lot of criticism I’ve been reading since the dvd release has emphasized the 60’s/70’s psychedelic aspect, often to the extent of criticizing that whole world view.

    Maybe another issue is that Santa Sangre isn’t yet domestically available on dvd, and a lot of cinephiles have converted. I think the vhs might be OOP, though I’ve seen major video chains that have copies. I too wish it had been in the set, but I assume there were valid reasons for why it wasn’t. My hope is that it is remastered and released domestically at some point.

  10. Thanks for posting this! I’ve only seen three of these, and I don’t think I’ve even heard of Gonin or the Diabolical Doctor Z before. I hope to track them all down sometime.

    I’m slowly working my way through Suzuki’s filmography, roughly in chronological order of what’s available in Region 1. I liked Youth of the Beast, and so far my favorite has been Tatooed Life, but I haven’t yet seen one that really knocked my socks off. I wonder if the plethora of Criterion releases for him in a way has hindered the canonization of one particular film?

    I love Face of Another, in some ways even more than Woman in the Dunes (though I’ve seen it far fewer times: just twice), and I briefly entertained picking the former over the latter for my Teshigahara slot (I stuck to one pick per director, for better or worse). But I backed away because I thought there would likely be less support for Face of Another from others. I may have been wrong though; Woman in the Dunes barely squeaked in.

    I also contemplated voting for Teorema but felt unsure if it really counted as foreign-language. I don’t remember the proportion of English to Italian in the film. I’m glad Pasolini made it to the next round without my help.

  11. Jonathan – I think my knowledge of Japanese cinema just comes from the fact that I’ve been interested in it for so long due to traveling to that country when I was a kid in the 70s and becoming interested in all-things Japanese. Thanks for the vote of confidence though! I really should write more about Japanese cinema and I plan on doing that. I would love to tackle a book project but I have almost no Japanese language skills so I don’t feel totally qualified to. Co-writing and researching a book project would be fun though! I can’t think of one good book on Japanese cinema written by a woman so obviously there is a black hole there waiting to be filled.

    I actually have tried to update director’s info and add movies to some Japanese directors filmographies that are not even listed and IMDb won’t do it! I find it really frustrating to spend a few hours trying to improve that site only to have my efforts ignored. When I write up reviews for films they end up getting posted there though. I just don’t get how that site works.

    As for the sixties, I love the British New Wave just as much as the French New Wave (I honestly like the Japanese New Wave probably a bit more than both) so I think English language cinema (at least British anyway) is also amazing during this period.

    On the other hand, American cinema probably did suffer a bit during the sixties but I also think a lot of the films and directors at that time were finding new voices and experimenting with new ideas so it was an exciting time, but not always a productive time. I’m sure this is why a lot of great American actors left the country and started making movies overseas. Japan, Europe and the U.K. seemed much more eager to embrace the changes that were happening and run with them. American filmmakers had a lot of problems on the other hand due to the way the Hollywood studio systems were set up, etc. Hollywood also really needed some new blood and that didn’t happen until the late sixties-early seventies.

    I can totally understand how it’s easy to connect important scenes from films. It’s funny that you should mention Apocalypse Now, because I can’t watch that film now without thinking about the amazing scene in Suzuki’s 1964 film Gate of Flesh when Jo Shishido slaughters a cow.

    Thanks again for the great feedback!

  12. AR – I agree that Jodorowsky is probably very much overshadowed by directors like Fellini and Bunuel in some circles. It’s clear from looking at the directors who made the list that they are really popular since so many of their films were nominated. Jodorowsky is very much associated with the psychedelic aspects of the 60s/70s so I’m sure that probably affects interest in his work as well, but as you know, he’s much more than just that. I was pretty sure El Topo would make the list but his films are still considered rather extreme or just plain incomprehensible by a lot of people.

    Brian – I’m surprised that I could introduce you to some new films since we seem to watch a lot of varied stuff. Gonin is a really fascinating film and a guilty pleasure in some ways, but if you don’t care for crime and horror films with extreme violence it might be a bit hard to enjoy. I’ve got a stomach of iron, but Gonin has scenes in it that even made me look away for a moment. I’m fascinated with the film because it brilliantly uses violence as a metaphor in ways that really amazed me when I first saw it and the way it openly explores the gay subtext found in buddy movies is pretty astonishing.

    I think the real problem with Suzuki is that a lot of western critics have trouble dealing with his films as anything other than stylish exercises. There seems to be a lack of historical perspective and very little in-depth study of his work. As time goes by and more film fans and critics who appreciate directors like Peckinpah, Ford, Melville, Leone, etc. discover his work I think Suzuki will earn a lot more respect. We really haven’t had easy access to much of his films until the DVD age. I really feel (apologies for repeating myself!) that due to the very limited scope of what Japanese films were seriously studied early on by respected critics like Donald Richie, that Japanese film criticism in the west has been sort of stunted and is still really in its infancy.

    I’m very happy that a Teshigahara film made the list and I do think Woman in the Dunes is a great movie (it will get a vote from me). I just like The Face of Another a bit more. I also saw Pitfall recently and was totally stunned by that film as well.

  13. ‘beats, I gotta tell ya (and don’t take this the wrong way), you’re the first serious film person (i.e., not a committed cultist of one kind or another) I’ve encountered who openly admits to loving Jess Franco (which, as I understand these things, is a lot like admitting to loving Ed Wood but without the prestige.) I’ve only seen Castle of Fu Manchu, a movie so dull and awful it stymied the MST3K gang. But I’m glad you mentioned him, at least now I have a title to start with–I’ve always meant to give him a try but didn’t want to start with Sadomania or Oasis of the Zombies or Lesbian Vampires or several dozen other movies with unpromising titles.

  14. Great post. I’ll need to do my own, especially since several of my choices that did not make the list may do better with some explanation.

    Like the Female Prisoner Scorpion, we may have done better conspiring on a Bava choice.

    I’m quite ashamed to have not included a Jodorowsky. I’m not sure how that happened… aside from 25 simply not being enough choices, but that is the only thing I’d make sure to do differently if I were making my list now.

  15. Justin – I’m sorry you had to start watching Franco with one of the Fu Manchu films. I enjoy them a little, but they’re really far from Franco’s best movies. I really hope you’ll give The Diabolical Doctor Z a try. It’s co-written by Jean-Claude Carriere who also co-write many of Luis Bunuel’s films so that may give The Diabolical Doctor Z some street cred with the arthouse/Criterion crowd. 😉

    Neil – We should have totally cheated to get Bava on the list! Oh well… I do like the final results and there are plenty of films on the list that I cut from mine at the last minute. I hope you will share your own list on your blog as well. I love the fact that you had Godzilla on yours!

  16. Rocking list! I will be seeking out these films, since you and I seem to have similar tastes. I love Tokyo Drifter and Branded to Kill but haven’t seen Youth of the Beast — it’s in my netflix queue! I was kinda surprised no Suzuki made the list, I should have voted for both Tokyo Drifter and Branded to Kill, but I just went with Tokyo Drifter cause I was trying to have variety (though I did repeat a couple of my all-time favorite directors). I wonder how many votes each film got? Was Suzuki close to making it??? I wonder…

    You know, I learned that I love the 60s for cinema too (foreign, at least) by doing this list, something I’d never considered before. I guess when it comes to American movies I’m not much into the 60s stuff, but if it’s French, Czech, or Japanese (or Luis Bunuel), I’m totally in love!

  17. Impeccable choices, Kimberly. I haven’t seen Pale Flower, so it’s next on my must-see list. Thanks for that. Also happy to see Black Lizard get some appreciation, but no Bunuel?


  18. Oh, and while I’m at it, I’ll just say that the list of eligible films is definitely missing the following very worthy flicks:

    spirit of the beehive- Erice
    la jetee- marker
    les biches- chabrol
    seul contre tous- noe
    fists in the pocket- bellochio
    stroszek- herzog
    animal love- seidl
    cruel story of youth-oshima
    harakiri- kobayashi
    onibaba- shindo
    the pornographers- imamura
    sword of doom- okamoto
    blind beast- masamura
    cyclo- tran ahn hung
    And let’s all show more love for Tsai Ming Liang’s Vive l’amour and What Time is it There?

  19. Derelict – I’m kicking myself for not casting votes for Tokyo Drifter and Branded to Kill because I’m pretty sure one of them would have made the list with one or two more votes. I really want to see more Czech films from the 60s. I’m curious about the Czech New Wave but Daises and Valerie and Her Week of Wonders are the only Czech films from that period that I’ve managed to see so far. Your list has helped encourage me to make the time to see more Czech films soon.

    Martin – Thanks the vote of confidence! Pale Flower is amazing and I hope you enjoy it. In my experience Masahiro Shinoda’s films are all worth a look.

    Bunuel came really close to making my list. I had Belle de Jour on my list until the very last minute. Picking only 25 films to list was really hard to do. I also sort of assumed Bunuel would make the list without my vote because I’ve noticed a lot of interest in his work in recent years. Thankfully I was right. He’s got 3 or 4 films on the list.

    Other films you mentioned that came close to making my list included Spirit of the Beehive, Seul contre tous, Fists in the Pocket, Cruel Story of Youth, and Blind Beast. I was surprised that no Imamura films got enough votes. Black Rain and Vengeance Is Mine were the two Imamura films I considered voting for myself.

    I’ve never seen Les biches, Animal Love, Harakiri, Cyclo or any of Tsai Ming Liang’s films so thanks for the recommendations!

  20. Hey Kimberly,
    Your list is as diverse and awesome as I knew it would be. I have seen most of these with the exception of a few of the Japanese films.
    Bravo for including Franco, he is on mine and I am thinking of posting my list on my blog since I didn’t get it submitted in time. I haven’t thought of “Doctor Z” in a while so this really makes me want to watch it again.
    I am also thrilled to see one of The Female Scorpian films on here as they are so incredibly innovative and so audacious.
    You named two of my favorite Bava and Pasolini films and it is so nice to see the astonishing “10th Victim” given some love.
    I have been on a Jodorowsky Kick in the last few months since Anchor Bay’s incredible set came out. I wish your choice was on disc as I have only seen the old VHS version of it. I think “Holy Mountain” is my favorite but all of his films show him as an artist of incredible and uncompromising vision. On a personal note, hearing him mention Elvis as an influence on “El Topo” on that commentary track endured him to me even more. It made a recent theatrical showing of “Charro” all the more eye opening.
    I have told you of my love of the Berri films before and they are wonderful selections. Montand is amazing in them and it was I think the first film I saw with Beart who quickly became one of my favorite actresses.
    Great fascinating list…Thanks for posting.

  21. Kimberly, I’m flattered that you’re surprised at exposing me to new unknown titles, but while it’s true that I try to be about as omnivorous as humanly possible when it comes to sending my feelers into as many corners of cinema as I can, I don’t have a stomach of iron. So I do tend to be lesser-versed in films and genres featuring extreme violence and gore. There are some pretty violent films and filmmakers I love; usually the ones that bring a certain stylishness to their films and can actually scare me, not just gross me out: I’m a fan of Bava, Cronenberg, and some Miike, for example (loved Audition but Ichi the Killer was much too much for me). I love getting recommendations of particular horror films (especially with credentials like “screenplay by Carrere”) from people who appreciate a stylish film, though.

    I have nothing against crime films as a rule, but I think I gravitate toward a greater appreciation of the American ones, possibly because I feel better equipped to comprehend their subversions of the society which produced them. This may have something to do with my Melville “hangup” (though I want to stress that I like his films, just haven’t found a way to love them yet.) Perusing my submissions, the closest thing to a crime film on my list was probably La Promesse, which depends on a precise, nearly-documentary approach in looking at one criminal in particular, rather than dealing with archetypical underworld characters. I thought about choosing Imamura’s Pigs and Battleships, which employs a much more expressionistic view of a criminal class, but cut it toward the end of my winnowing process.

    I love Pitfall too. After having seen the shorts in the new Criterion box set (I highly recommend Ako, which stars the actress playing the scarred girl in the Face of Another‘s widescreen sequences), there aren’t too many Teshigahara films left that I haven’t seen. His Jose Torres documentaries, his last film the Princess Goh, and perhaps a few more assorted shorts. He’s such a fascinating filmmaker…

  22. Just to follow-up, there are a few that I have to put on my list to check out… I must say, if there were only one thing I’d say about this project over the Online Community Top 100 – and obviously, I could say more than that, if I were desirous of a good dead horse beating – it’s all the movies I’ve been able to add to my (sadly overfull) queue.

    A couple of these will definitely need to go on the list of movies to pick up at Scarecrow.

    I love The 10th Victim and was thrilled to see it here. I just caught up with Teorema recently and honestly wasn’t sure what I thought, aside from finding it utterly compelling. It’s lived with me amazingly well… which is honestly Pasolini’s greatest strength, how they haunt and live with you afterward. I noticed I mention that a lot in my post. I guess when a person watches a certain number of movies that seems remarkable.

    It’s been forever since I’ve seen Santa Sangre. I keep imagining they’ll put out a DVD. I still can’t believe I neglected to put a Jodorowsky movie on my list.

  23. oh god, black lizard! i’ve only seen it once but i loved it. do you know if that ever found its way to dvd or something? would love to see it again.

  24. Jeremy – I’m glad you can appreciate so many of my choices. I hope you’ll write about the Jodorowsky films you’ve been watching recently. He’s a fascinating director and I would enjoy reading your thoughts about his films. I also hope you’ll check out the Japanese films I wrote about because I think you would enjoy them. In particular Pale Flower.

    Brian – I really hope you’ll give The Diabolical Doctor Z a look! It’s a beautiful and fun film and the Carriere/Franco script is really good.

    I don’t believe I’ve seen La Promesse and I’m dying to see Pigs and Battleship. That’s one Imamura film I haven’t had the chance to see yet. I hope that gets an official DVD release sometime soon. It seems to be playing everywhere but I’ve never had the chance to see it.

    It’s really hard to understand why some films appeal to various people and others don’t. I think all kinds of factors play a part such as our backgrounds, interests, the way we see the world, who and what we can empathize with, etc. It’s very complicated, but variety is the spice of life and if we all liked the same films, the world would be a truly dull place. I like reading different views on films even if I don’t agree with them. I just hate bad criticism.

    I still need to get that Hiroshi Teshigahara Criterion set. I really want to see those short films you mentioned. Hopefully I’ll be able to afford picking it up soon. No one locally seems to be renting them which is a shame. I may have to break down and finally get a Greencine membership since they seem to have them for rent.

    Neil – I’m glad I could help add to your Netflix cue! There are least 10 films I’d like to see before the Sept. deadline, but I’m already having a hard time narrowing my choices down so I can vote since there are lots of truly great films on the final list.

    I really hope Santa Sangre gets a DVD release soon in the US. It’s a shame that it has so hard to see since it’s an amazing movie.

    Robert – You can still get the VHS of Black Lizard which I linked to above, but it hasn’t gotten an official DVD release yet. I actually wrote to Criterion years ago and asked them to release it or let HVE release it but I never got a response. I think I read somewhere that Kino owned the rights so I have no idea why they’re sitting on it.

  25. Pigs and Battleships is the only one of the handful of Imamura films I’ve checked out that dwells in a milieu similar to what I expect in Suzuki’s films, though it has far more overt political commentary. I suspect you’d adore it. I bet it will be out sometime relatively soon through Criterion or maybe Eclipse.

    I’m lucky I guess, that my usual video rental store, Gramophone Video on Polk and California, is renting out the new Teshigahara discs. There’s still a part of me clamoring to own the set, but I already have Pitfall in its British edition, and am trying to be good about not buying DVDs right now.

    I’m also lucky that I was able to catch the last screening of Le Doulos at the Castro last night! This is my first time seeing a Melville on that screen, and it made a much stronger impression on me than the other three of his films I’ve sampled. Probably also because I was thinking about what you said about his understanding of the criminal underbelly. I found myself watching the film as almost more of a documentary (perhaps even a “how-to”?) than as a piece of fiction. I found myself more interested in these gangsters and their codes of honor than I have been in the past. And I was stunned by an interrogation scene shot in a single, very long, elaborate take.

    The only problem was that I was a few minutes late to the screening. I’m dying to catch what I missed (though I think I got the plot) but there’s no R1 DVD yet! I may track down the VHS tape if I can, or else try to catch the one of film’s screenings at the PFA next Saturday and Sunday.

  26. I saw Sante Sangre a couple of years ago. I wonder what your reading of Claudio Argento’s influence on the film might have been.

    I went of a Seijun Suzuki binge a couple of years before my blog started. I think the first nightclub scene in Youth of the Beast is hilarious.

    Also, have you seen Black Rose Mansion?

  27. Brian – I hope you’re right about Pigs and Battleships! I’d love to see that film get a Criterion DVD release.

    I’m so envious that you saw Le Doulos! That’s one Melville I’ve been itchin to see. I may try and catch it in the east bay if I can since I would love to see it on the big screen. Melville’s films are really amazing to experience in a theater.

    Peter – I think Claudio Argento probably had some influence on the film and added to the European horror feel that it had, but I thought it was rather consistent with Jodorowsky’s other work and if anything it was probably more inspired by Mexican horror films and the work of his collaborator Juan López Moctezuma who produced Fando and Lis and El Topo. I posted something about Juan López Moctezuma’s film Alucarda last year that you might find interesting.

    Hilarious isn’t the first word that comes to mind when I think about Youth of the Beast so I’d be curious to read what you thought was so funny about it? The first nightclub scene is so brilliantly shot that I’m constantly amazed by the way it’s photographed, which I’m sure blinds me to some degree. I love the mod noir feel of the film and that nightclub scene always knocks me off my feet. Suzuki’s films have a hyper-reality feel which borders on fantasy and I guess they could be viewed as humorous in some ways, much like Bava’s Danger Diabolik I suppose which got the MT3K treatment (I’m not a big MT3K fan myself).

    I have seen Black Rose Mansion and I really like it as well. I bought the DVD when it came out about 5 years ago. I plan on writing about the film more when I review Black Lizard since the two films sort of go hand in hand.

  28. Hey Kim, What I thought was funny about Youth of the Beast in the nightclub scene was how Suzuki played with how the office was soundproof, so you could see what what going on, but heard the nightclub music. I hope I remember that right as it’s been a few years since I saw the film (on VHS).

  29. I love that scene. I didn’t find any humor in it myself but I really love the way he played with sound there. No American studio film from the same period would have ever let a director get away with that long period of silence.

  30. Wow! I’ve never seen GONIN on a “best of” list except my own! And you’ve put it in good company. Personally, I place GONIN at #3 in my all-time favorite films (after THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR and SUSPIRIA) I’m gonna make every effort to see the few titles on your list that I’ve yet to discover because you’ve great taste in movies!

  31. Thanks for stopping by Ronnie and sharing your thoughts! Gonin is an amazing film (I also love Suspiria and The Bride with White Hair too!) and I hope you’ll enjoy the other films I mentioned if you get the chance to watch them.

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