"The Wizard of Oz" and "Alice in Wonderland 1951" are in a class by themselves. And their odd universes are forever dazzling. The "Wicked Witch of the West" is one of the most recognized icons in American culture...see, for example, her reappearance in the animation fantasy "The Nightmare Before Christmas."
"A shattering drama of a middle class man squeezed between the dark twins of aging and failure. Give me theater! "Electra, Agnes of God, Night of the Iguana, Stalag 17, Paul Robeson - James Earl Jones, The Iceman Cometh, The Miracle Worker, Wit, Tea and Sympathy, Belle of Amherst, Medea (1959), The Lion in Winter, Studio One Anthology, Best Tony Awards , (and of course) A Streetcar Named Desire."
"In this fable, moral choices are all-important. Along with "Snow White", "Lady and the Tramp", "Bambi", and "FANTASIA" it is the best art of Walt's team... until Pixar which made "The Incredibles", "Wall-E", & "Ratatouille". Disney returned to two dimensions in "Fantasia 2000", "Hunchback of Notre Dame", "Little Match Girl/Little Mermaid", & "Princess and the Frog" - all astonishing in Blu-Ray."
"Profoundly inspirational. In the battleground of "the Middle East", a musician creates a young people's orchestra of Israelis and Arabs to allow them to work harmoniously towards a common goal. Daniel Barenboim is one of those rare persons who breaks down walls between adversaries. Why does the conflict last? Consider "Arna's Children, Lemon Tree, (or) Double Edge (1992)."
"It is praised for its hot, intense portrait of a man damaged by war - a soul in distress - through the brilliant performance of Humphrey Bogart as the unstable captain. Other films about obsessed, if not mad, sea captains, include "Mutiny on the Bounty" (with Charles Laughton), "Lord Jim" (with Peter O'Toole) and "Moby Dick" (the Huston version)"
"An essential story of a future dystopia that, for the most part, has accurately predicted a future where people do not read. Even owning and sharing books are illegal...but a few dissidents try to resist. Sci/Fi for thinking adults? Try "Gattaca, Man from Earth, Fantastic Voyage, Iceman, The Quiet Earth, Westworld, & Village of the Damned."
"As scientists study a colony of ants that is exhibiting intelligent behavior, the question becomes which living being is testing the other. What amazing insect photography! For those who enjoy the metaphysical subtext of science fiction, "Blade Runner, Powder, The Blob, Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind, Forbin Project, 2001: A Space Odyssey, (and) the movie that started it all - Metropolis."
"Not possible to take your eyes off James Dean - agonizing to find a place in his family. Actor and director continued to explore the angst of adolescent emotion in "Rebel Without a Cause" (Dean) and "Splendor in the Grass" (Kazan). In "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner", the teenager is even more estranged from society."
"War helicopters against an orange sky - the smell of napalm - chaos midst ancient temples. As a reinterpretation of Joseph Conrad's 1902 novel (Heart of Darkness), it is the quintessential film of America in Vietnam. (Yes, even better than "The Deer Hunter"). See them in context - "The Fog of War" and "Vietnam: The Ten Thousand Day War." The documentary "Ken Burns Vietnam" will air in 2016."
"Courtrooms? "King and Country, Murder in the First, The Winslow Boy, Judgment in Berlin, To Kill a Mockingbird, & Breaker Morant." Inspiring stories of the law? The cases fighting racial, social, or religious prejudice: "Thurgood", "Sacco & Vanzetti", "Three Sovereigns for Sarah", plus these documentaries - "Scottsboro: An American Tragedy", "A Class Apart", & "PBS The Supreme Court."
"The battle to survive extremes of nature? The hot trek "Masai The Rain Warriors", desperate escape "The Way Back", the Arctic "Call of the Wild - Dog of the Yukon", the cliffhanging "North Face", hidden caves "No Place on Earth", war struggle "Hell in the Pacific", the cartoon "Old Man and the Sea", and the mad excursions through steaming jungles in "The Mosquito Coast" or "Fitzcarraldo."
"Story of the young boy emperor who was displaced by Sun Yat-Sen and later Mao Tse Tung is a capsule of 20th century Chinese history. See it in context with "China a Century of Revolution" and "Chinese Century of Humiliation" ... then watch these thought-provoking dramas: "Farewell My Concubine", "To Live", "The Blue Kite", "The Go Masters" (China and Japan), & "The Soong Sisters."
"The filmmaker of "Breaking the Maya Code" spent 20 years photographing the exquisite drawings of protozoa by a German zoologist to create a kaleidoscope of the infinite riches of nature. Films on science: From the 17th century - "Galileo" - to the 18th - "Longitude" - to the 19th - "Secrets of the Dinosaur Hunters [VHS]" - to the 20th - "Oppenheimer" - to the 21st - "Inside the Milky Way."
"Boy Who Wanted to Be a Bear (Denmark), Secret of Kells [and] Song of the Sea (Ireland), Mary & Max (Australia), Dancing Frog (Britain), Magic Flute Marionettes (Austria), Patriot (Israel), Book of the Dead (Japan), Chico & Rita (Cuba), Man Who Planted Trees (Canada), 55 Socks (Holland), Book of Life (Mexico), Sita Sings the Blues (India), Hunting the Snark [and] Unicorn in the Garden (USA)"
"We were lonely and unloved...then time made a mistake." A struggling artist finds a bewitching girl in NYC Central Park, opens his heart, then meets her again and again, each time remarkably older and more lovely. This other-worldly romance unfolds in dream-like images. With "Casablanca", "Algiers", "Limelight", and "A Star is Born", it's one of the greatest love stories of American film."
"Arguably, the best Western made- a tale of a legendary man of the old West, a man who rode with the Rough Riders, helped capture Geronimo, created a reign of terror for cattle thieves in Wyoming and was discarded when the new world he created had no further use of him. Underappreciated Westerns - Ramrod, Jauja, When the Legends Die, Yellow Sky, Track of the Cat, Bad Day at Black Rock"
"American film returns to the epic - a cautionary tale of rapacious greed that leads a man all the way to insanity. Based loosely on an Upton Sinclair novel, the movie feels biblical in tone - the child that the 1900 oil huckster raises is discovered in a basket. Daniel Day Lewis won the Oscar for his superb acting."
"The story of Tevye the Dairyman is magically translated to musical. In the 1880's, the original author of this story jump started Yiddish literature. Learn about it: "World of Sholem Aleichem", the original 1939 Yiddish film "Tevye", then "Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholem Aleichem", and last but not least the superb documentary "Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness."
"A jewel heist from the great treasure museum of Istanbul. I was terribly impressed with this film when I was young...trying to imagine how someone might steal the gem collection of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. How wonderful it is the director cast his delicious Greek wife....she had appeared first in his comedy "Never on Sunday. More on Greece? "Boy on a Dolphin."
"World War II is over. Still, the British block a ship of desperate Jewish war refugees from sailing into Palestine. Related films are "We Were Exodus" about the ship's sorry journey and "Ahead of Time" about the American journalist who photographed the story. Essentials on the creation of modern Israel - "Above and Beyond","Inventing Our Life", and (of course) "A Woman Called Golda."
"Violence is not gratuitous in this BALLAD to gangsters of the Depression. Tighten those nerves! "The Odessa File, Black Sunday, Deliverance, Die Hard, Fight Club, Boys from Brazil, Dirty Harry, Bourne Identity, Brass Target, Four Days in September, Duel, Wait until Dark, Klute, Taxi Driver, The China Syndrome, Dirty Pretty Things, Iron Monkey, The Godfather, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three."
"Every student of film history is familiar with this German movie - the first full length animated feature, completed in 1926. I would not call it a cartoon because it is far more than that. The artist designed the animation from her painstakingly detailed paper cuttings...then used them as silhouettes on dramatic color backgrounds. Why Blu Ray over the DVD? It also includes "Dr. Dolittle."
"Sparta, Mississippi, 1966. A smart, black homicide detective from Philadelphia is dragged into helping a white racist sheriff investigate a murder of a prominent citizen in a small Deep South town. Edgy and chilling. Three other Sidney Poitier films intelligently explore the motivations behind violence - "Pressure Point", (next) "No Way Out", and (the best) "The Defiant Ones."
""Ben-Hur" along with "Spartacus" are thought provoking, color-glorious, action intensive sword and sandal epics. They avoid the foolish histrionics of tales like "Sign of the Cross", "Samson & Delilah", "Barabbas", and "The Last Days of Pompeii". Since the ancient world is portrayed in miniseries, intelligent selections are "I Claudius", "Masada", and the early part of "PBS - The Jews."
"The extended dance sequence in "An American in Paris" and the central ballet of "The Red Shoes" visually surpass anything else in color film. (Don't miss the extras). The theme - "living for art's sake" also underscores the dance film "Ballets Russe", a biography of the (two) ballet troupes that carried the flame of Russian ballet after Diaghilev's death."