Sunday, January 30, 2011

Let It Snow

To some, a blizzard is a natural disaster. Great cities grind to a halt, power lines go down, airline flights are grounded, roads are impassable, schools close. City mayors advise citizens to stay home rather than brave the treacherous highways. I love it because it is the only force outside war that has the power to put the emergency brakes on our juggernaut civilization.

When I was a boy in Georgia and South Carolina, one particular story that was in one of my reading anthologies impressed on me a dream that was only made tangible on the rare occasions when an ice- or snowstorm reached my latitude. It was Conrad Aiken's "
Silent Snow, Secret Snow." Aiken was a fine minor poet, and the parts of the story that stayed with me long after other details were forgotten were the fantasies of snow that a boy escapes to, eventually alarming his parents enough to call a doctor.

It was written as long ago as 1934, but the world it explores is familiar enough to anyone who grew up in a suburban neighborhood before the blight set in: sidewalks and front yards and picket fences - the world before housing projects and apartment complexes. Aiken captured that world and then subjected it to the deep freeze of a boy's deepening fantasy. By the end of the story, the snow in his fantasy world is filling up his room with snow:

A beautiful varying dance of snow began at the front of the room, came forward and then retreated, flattened out toward the floor, then rose fountain-like to the ceiling, swayed, recruited itself from a new stream of flakes which poured laughing in through the humming window, advanced again, lifted long white arms. It said peace, it said remoteness, it said cold - it said -

At least that's as much of the story as I took away with me and stays with me all these years hence. From where I live today, in a tropical climate, the news reports of snowstorms all across America, as far south as Alabama and Georgia, make me more homesick than ever, simply because nothing can make a cold, dark winter more alluring than a few years of perpetual summer.

Conrad Aiken had lived for awhile in Savannah, Georgia when he was a boy, before a disaster befell both his parents. He returned to Savannah late in his life, and is buried there, his tombstone fashioned into a stone bench upon which visitors are invited to sit and drink a martini. Aiken wrote about snow more eloquently, I think, than any other American poet, even Robert Frost:


Improvisations: Light and Snow

X

It is night time, and cold, and snow is falling,
And no wind grieves the walls.
In the small world of light around the arc-lamp
A swarm of snowflakes falls and falls.
The street grows silent. The last stranger passes.
The sound of his feet, in the snow, is indistinct.

What forgotten sadness is it, on a night like this,
Takes possession of my heart?
Why do I think of a camellia tree in a southern garden,
With pink blossoms among dark leaves,
Standing, surprised, in the snow?
Why do I think of spring?

The snowflakes, helplessly veering,,
Fall silently past my window;
They come from darkness and enter darkness.
What is it in my heart is surprised and bewildered
Like that camellia tree,
Beautiful still in its glittering anguish?
And spring so far away!



When I arrived here in the Philippines, I was informed by an older expat that I wouldn't miss the cold weather of America, or I would only miss it for a short time and then I would be glad I was so far away from it. He was wrong. I miss the cold weather, and most of all the snow, as much as I did when I was a boy in the American South. It's why I wanted to live in New England when I was seventeen, but had to settle for Colorado. It's why I had no qualms about moving to Anchorage, Alaska - which is, after all, only as far north as Stockholm or St. Petersburg. In mid-winter, when the sun rises in the southeast at about 8:30am, reaches a zenith at forty-five degrees in the sky, and sets in the southwest at about 4pm, I felt as if I had arrived in Paul's world, the boy in Aiken's story, who withdrew irresistibly into his private, secret world. "It was as if, in some delightful way, his secret gave him a fortress, a wall behind which he could retreat into heavenly seclusion."

Earlier this month here in the Philippines, the temperature in Baguio, at nearly a mile in altitude, dipped below 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). The natives panicked - doctors prescribed the proper clothes to wear, the proper food and drink, to protect unaccustomed Filipinos from the cold snap. Today, when I look at the endless verdure all around me, I have only to close my eyes and I am greeted by a universe of white.




(Here is a short film of Aiken's story made in 1966.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Where the Wild Things Aren't



Adapting a book to film almost always seems to emphasize the shortcomings of the latter, usually because the adapter wasn't the equal of the writer. When it was announced that Spike Jonez was to direct a film adaptation of Maurice Sendak's book, Where the Wild Things Are, I was saddened. Who could possibly make a film of such a beautiful book, that is deeper than most books a hundred times its length? Despite my initial reaction I looked forward to seeing the film, simply because the book has stayed with me since my boyhood. (It was published in 1963.)

As I feared, Jonez has not done well by Sendak. He never impressed me as a filmmaker. His two well-received films, Being John Malkovitch and Adaptation, with scripts by Charlie Kaufman, were well-received but were, as I have commented elsewhere, clever in ways that demonstrated the difference between cleverness and intelligence.

Aside from the costumes of Max and the appearance of the "wild things," Jonez betrayed the Sendak book fundamentally. He didn't so much translate the book into the different medium as he made the common mistake of trying to open it up into a far too recognizable and uninteresting world - which is not where I found Sendak's book. For instance, instead of Max being punished by being sent to his room (where his fantasy originates), Jonez has him run away from home and climb aboard a boat in a pond. And in the book, Max returns to his room when his fantasy is over to find his supper waiting for him. Jonez had to create an unmoving reunion scene between Max and his mother.

Childhood is the most mysterious and wonderful of places - both immeasurably infinite and yet somehow intimate. The atmosphere of my own childhood imagination, which is the only frame of reference I can draw from, was always occluded and quiet, inviting and evocative. Sendak's wild things are imposing enough to threaten everything with destruction but sweet enough to embrace them all. I found them adorable when I was a boy, and looking at Sendak's illustrations again after the many intervening years makes me love them all over again.

In the film, the wild things look the same as the ones on the page, until they move. Then they look like actors in creature suits - muppets with slightly more animated faces. I doubt that Jonez had the budget (or the skill) to try something more technically complicated, like CGI. His ideas are simple, but too neat, too much of a "solution" to the problem of realizing the reality of the wild things. CGI presents its own problems when it comes to interaction with live actors - too often they don't seem to be living on the same plane. But certainly Jonez could've used it more effectively than his over sized muppets. Some excellent actors lend their voices to the wild things - James Gandolfini, Chris Cooper, and Forest Whitaker. Credit is even given to the "suit performers" inside the muppets. It took two of them to operate the characters K.W. and Bernard the Bull.

That leaves us with the live action scenes, with the live action actors. Catherine Keener plays the mother of Max, and a more thankless job could not have been asked of such a superb actress. I suppose something more had to be made of Max's home scenes to convince adults that this wasn't a movie for kids. It would've been a far better film if Jonez had tried to make a movie for kids. Adults make the mistake of thinking that something designed for children will be boring to them, since they assume it will be silly or naive. This is one of the biggest problems with works produced expressly for children in the first place. While trying valiantly to avoid being condescending, they insult a child's intelligence by being too simple. Nobody seems to remember what they were like as children, which is the only way we can truly understand them.

Only a true artist, like Sendak himself, could capture the perspective of a child. In one of his incomparable letters, Rilke describes a child's perspective on the world:

"And so it is that most people have no idea how beautiful the world is and how much magnificence is revealed in the tiniest things, in some flower, in a stone, in tree bark, or in a birch leaf. The grown-ups, going about their business and worries, and tormenting themselves with all kinds of details, gradually lose the perspective for these riches that children, when they are attentive and good, soon notice and love with their whole heart. And yet the greatest beauty would be achieved if everyone remained in this regard always like attentive and good children, simple and pious in sensitivities, and if people did not lose the capacity for taking pleasure as intensely in a birch leaf or a peacock’s feather or the wing of a hooded crow as in a mighty mountain or a splendid palace. What is small is not small in itself, just as that which is great is not—great. A great and eternal beauty passes through the whole world, and it is distributed fairly over that which is small and that which is large; for in such important and essential matters, no injustice is to be found on earth." (Letter to Helmut Westhof, translated by S.H.)

Instead of trying to drag Sendak's book to Movieland, Jonez should've done something like Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox, which uses old-fashioned stop-motion animation to create an utterly new world, where Roald Dahl's book could live and breathe.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

MLK Day


Every year on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, certain skeptics in America come above ground to remind us of the man's numerous failings and perhaps distract us from the image of him as some kind of American Gandhi - whether or not King himself made any such claims for himself or his practices. (Interestingly, the same skeptics also question the credentials of Nelson Mandela.) Thanks to the elaborate and highly illegal surveillance of King by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, we are informed of King's womanizing and his contacts with various communist organizations - information that Hoover threatened to make public if King did not desist from speaking, marching, and "resisting." Skeptics claim that these shortcomings compromise King's status as a reverend, his movement and his importance as a leader.

But to what extent was King a disciple of Gandhi? Doubtless his insistence on non-violence was derived from Gandhi's concept of Satyagraha, which was, in India, a doubtfully effective means of resistance to British rule. It was a practice, which Gandhi first developed in South Africa, of dispassionate disobedience - through strikes, physical obstruction (lying down in front of trains), passively offering oneself up to beatings by police, etc. At the end of his visit to India in 1959, King spoke in a speech about Gandhi's teachings: "Since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity. In a real sense, Mahatma Gandhi embodied in his life certain universal principles that are inherent in the moral structure of the universe, and these principles are as inescapable as the law of gravitation."

Every one of Gandhi's tactics seems to have been employed by King and his followers except, significantly, hunger strikes. Gandhi also advocated Bramahcharya, which is a deeply religious - in this case Hindu - practice that requires such things as total abstinence from eating meat or animal products, but also an avoidance of sex except for the purpose of begetting children. Gandhi himself certainly adhered to these practices, since he took pains to be, and to represent himself as, a kind of saint.

The striking thing about Gandhi is that he was probably sincere in his adherence to these principles, and didn't engage in them out of any real sense of vanity. He was one of the most extraordinary individuals who ever lived, but turning his principles into a movement was beyond even Gandhi's powers. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s success at adapting some of Gandhi's tactics attracted public attention to his cause. Whether or not it saved lives or reduced the amount of violence remains questionable.

What is not questionable is the courage of king, both during the many marches and protests in which he took part, and in the days leading up to his assassination, when there were so many threats to his life that he was probably aware that it was only a matter of time before he would be killed. Gandhi knew this as well, and showed his own courage by refusing to change his living patterns or employ bodyguards.

But what is most significant to me is where Gandhi and King differ, and why that difference makes King a more important figure in American history. Unlike Gandhi, King showed no evident interest in being a saint. Despite being an ordained Baptist minister, he made his non-violent doctrine a secular one, and only referred to God or the "Promised Land" well within the traditions of American political rhetoric and in his capacity as a black reverend.(1)

Unlike Gandhi, King made no attempt to represent himself as holier-than-thou, as anything other than a man, not some naked guru sitting on a prayer mat making empires tremble. He never attempted to make himself into a symbol of his movement, even if he eventually became one, whose personal survival was essential to its success. In fact, in his 1963 "I have a dream" speech, he alluded to the fact that he possibly would not be alive to witness the success of the movement.

It was because of his personal shortcomings that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a far better political leader than Gandhi. If he was martyred for his movement, at least he died with his boots on. India was already independent, and partitioned, when Gandhi, bootless, was killed.


(1) The trouble with King's pronouncements is that you can't easily separate what he said from the extraordinary way he said it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Susannah


When I first heard about the death of Susannah York last week (she died on 15 January of bone marrow cancer), the first thing to come to my mind was her bold performance in one of her most obscure films, unmentioned in her many obits: Jerzy Skolimowski's The Shout (1978), about a madman (Alan Bates) who claims to possess the power to kill with a shout. It was a difficult role for York in an even more difficult film. I remember seeing a photo of her at the film's premiere sitting beside a very old Robert Graves, who had written the original story.

Skolimowski captured the story's strange mixture of madness and magic brilliantly. I admit that a contributing factor of my admiration for the film, which I first saw when I was 21, was seeing York in one scene in the altogether. (How it must have tickled dotty old Graves's fancy as well, sitting next to her during the scene.)

For a short time York was the darling of British film - much more so than Julie Christie, the star of Darling (1965), who, according to Vernon Young, missed her true calling as an air hostess. York made her debut in Tunes of Glory (1960) as Alec Guinness' daughter. And who can ever forget her in Tom Jones (1963), A Man for All Seasons (1966), They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969), for which she was nominated for an Oscar - she lost to Goldie Hawn? Sadly, most people will only remember her as Superman's mom. Art is wasted on those who can't remember.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Farewell to Arms


I have written before about how often I find myself dreaming about being in the military again. One of the things that was impressed upon me when I was in the Army was the intensity of the pressure that was brought to bear on all levels of leadership to "carry out the mission" - whether the mission was the challenge of the day, the week, or of several months. For the rank and file, of which I was just one small part, there was an awareness that one's position was distinct from one's identity, and that one could easily be replaced by someone else in uniform. I have photographs of myself standing in formation that, were it not for the framing of the shot, make it hard to see exactly which one of the uniforms is inhabited by me.

When I left the Army in October 2000, my unit had just completed a six-month deployment in Bosnia. This particular "mission" had occupied everyone in the unit (the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment) for at least six months prior to the deployment. And when I departed the unit, it was still heavily involved in easing its way back into the routine of garrison life, with more mundane tactical objectives like training evolutions and vehicle maintenance, of updating physical training records and weapons qualifications.

I will not soon forget the last formation in which I stood with the unit, prior to my "final out." I was way in the back and ignored in the pre-dawn light, wearing BDUs while everyone else was in PT uniform. Upon falling out, I walked away in the direction of my car. I stopped and turned around and said "Good luck!" to the soldiers being marched away for yet another six-mile run.


Some things I learned in the Army:

1. That I should never have joined.
2. Not to talk with my hands (a sniper may be watching).
3. That I could drink more alcohol than I did when I was in the Navy.
4. That I had to drink more.
5. That pain is the sensation of weakness leaving your body.
6. Just how old I had become.
7. How to evaluate a casualty.
8. That the worst part of a 25 kilometer march is stopping.
9. That US ARMY stands for Uncle Sam Ain't Released Me Yet.
10. That hell together is better than hell alone.
11. That I could endure anything.

(I may have known some of these things before the Army in the abstract, but their truth was brought home to me by the experience of being a common soldier from April 1997 to October 2000.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Comings and Goings



People who take photos of their travels sometimes astonish me with their choice of subjects. For instance, instead of photographing a sign that explains what you are looking at, like "Bienvenu a Côte d'Ivoire," they will photograph a big fence or a road with no markings whatever and caption it with "Crossing the border into Ivory Coast." But it doesn't stop there.

Most tourist guide books will tell you to be sure to visit certain places where imaginary geographical lines meet, or where continents and bodies of water are joined. Like the point in Cape Town, South Africa frequented by tourists where the Pacific and Atlantic oceans meet. But when you get there, all you actually see is one big ocean, without so much as a shade of difference in the color of the waters.

Our fondness for naming things and places is a sometimes arbitrary and meaningless practice. The absolute best illustration of this seeing with one's own eyes something that isn't there was a photo that some sailor showed me that made me burst out laughing. It was a photo, so he assured me, of the point in the middle of the Pacific Ocean where the International Date Line crosses the Equator. It was a photo of water, with a patch of grey sky above. When I told him that it could just as well be a photo of Lake Erie, he insisted that it was the exact point where zero degrees latitude meets 180 degrees longitude and showed me his Golden Shellback certificate to prove it. He didn't see the point I was making, and I didn't press the issue.

Some places are so inhospitable, like mountain tops or the deepest oceans, that we can only visit them momentarily. Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind man to reach the summit of Mt. Everest was back in the news a few months ago because of a newscaster's blooper that is making the rounds on the internet.* I assume he did it, in 2001, to prove that blind people can do anything that people with sight can do - with considerable guidance, of course. But when I first heard of the stunt I had to wonder that he believed he had climbed Mount Everest only because he had taken everyone else's word for it. I don't really doubt that he accomplished the climb, but would it be too perverse to suggest that it would be relatively easy to fool him?

Believing in the evidence before our own eyes is one way to learn about the world we live in. The rest, which is considerable, we have to take on trust. But how much of what we actually see is actually there? "But he hasn't got anything on," said the child in Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, "The Emperor's New Clothes." If seeing is believing, how many of us too often take someone else's word for it? And how much of what we are told to believe is contrary to what we have seen with our own eyes?


* Here is the news clip.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Unpublished Reviews: L'Homme du Train


[If "spoilers" bother you, read no further.]



Patrice Leconte's Man on the Train (2002) is a marvelous character study of two men who are thrown together in a French provincial city. A retired teacher of French poetry (Jean Rochefort) and a rather grizzled bank robber (Johnny Halliday) find themselves by chance in each other's company for a few days. Each is attracted to the other's life - the teacher to the imagined risk and adventure of bank robbery, the thief to the predictable warmth and comfort of belonging in one place and remaining there. Of course, each of them is equally bored and dissatisfied with his life, which makes their mutual envy ironic. The teacher begins to react against his stultifying world, jostling for freedom or, at the very least, the honesty to say what he thinks about his sister's bad marriage and what he wants from his mistress. (The mistress recognizes the bank robber as someone who exists to "stir the shit.")

Rochefort and Halliday eventually slouch toward their fates - Rochefort to a fatal triple bypass operation, Halliday from an ambush at the bank. In his review, Stanley Kauffmann mentioned "alternate endings," but there is only one, except that Leconte cross-cuts an apotheosis for the two - with Halliday ensconced in the old house, surrounded by its comforts and Rochefort departing on the train that had brought Halliday to the town, with the sound of whinnying horses and a smile on his face - as they both are expiring.

Once again, Jean Rochefort proves that he is one of the greatest film actors in the world. He first worked with Leconte in 1976 and was particularly memorable in Leconte's The Hairdresser's Husband (1990). In Man on the Train, I particularly enjoyed the scene in which Rochefort persuades her sister to admit that her husband is a "stupid prick." And the moment when Halliday shows Rochefort his reflection and tells him how precious we each become when we grow older.

23 July 2004

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

All What Jazz*


Just a few weeks before my mother died in early June 1998, the news of Frank Sinatra's death was announced. Though I didn't have a chance to speak to her about it, I imagine that the news must have made the world seem that much colder, more foreign to her - that much less like the world she once knew. So age prepares us for death, since we experience the passing of so many people who were alive when we were young, who were a part of the fabric of our lives, even if we never knew them.

John Philip William Dankworth, otherwise known as Johnny Dankworth, died almost a year ago. As usual for one, like me, who lives in The Sticks, I didn't learn of his death until I saw a BBC retrospective in the last week of 2010. I only ever heard of him because of some of the memorable film scores he composed in the '60s. Like most European jazz musicians, he was practically unknown in the States, despite once sharing a stage with Duke Ellington. Like baseball, jazz is considered an American idiom, even if there are many great players from many other countries.

Dankworth was the husband of Cleo Laine, celebrated for her jazz singing on both sides of the Atlantic. (I never cared for her singing.) Philip Larkin described him as "dandyish, witty, occasionally tender," words that could easily describe his music. His film and television scores include a few that are unforgettable:
The Avengers, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, The Servant, Darling, Morgan, Accident, and a couple of Stanley Baker films, Perfect Friday and The Last Grenade.

Again, I apologize for the belatedness of this posthumous tribute. How many more will I have to write in the coming years?


* I stole my title from Philip Larkin's splendid book of writings on jazz, All What Jazz: A Record Diary 1961-71.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Come Back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey!


I will never forget the time in my childhood, even if I can't remember the exact date, when a teacher first told me about slavery in America. I was in the first grade in Georgia and I was so shocked that when I got home from school I asked my mother if it was true. She was from Ohio, and she was so sensitive about racism that she always insisted that my siblings and I should never use the word "nigger."(1) She told me that what the teacher said was quite true.

The effect on me of that piece of news, one of the most uncomfortable truths about American history, was to make me feel my whiteness for perhaps the first time in my life. I could never look at myself in the mirror, or at all the black people around me, the same way again. It made me wonder, even at such a young age, how it made black children feel, and it certainly made me understand the anger that was evident all over the Deep South in the mid-1960s.

A little more than a decade later, when I started college, my English 101 professor assigned Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for her students to read. She compared Mark Twain's revolutionary style in that novel to James Fennimore Cooper's in The Last of the Mohicans, arguing that Twain's language was alive while Cooper's was dead. I thought the argument unfair, since Twain deliberately wrote his book in the first person, and had to tailor the language to fit the narration of a semi-literate boy from Missouri. But the book was certainly alive and great fun to read. There was a general acceptance of Twain's vernacular language as representative of the time he was writing about - circa 1840 - and the place - the river that cut through an America that had states in which slavery was practiced and states in which is was abolished. The common use of the word "nigger" in the novel - 218 times I am told - was taken to be an unavoidable consequence of Twain's honest depiction of life on an around the Mississippi River.

Since the mid-'70s, sensitivity about the use of the word "nigger" has increased, as Americans have grappled with a ghost that will not be buried. The concept of "hate speech" has been slowly broadened to include all manner of words and phrases. Twain's novel has been scrutinized many times for its frank use of ordinary American speech. It has been banned from many school libraries because some administrators evidently believe that a library is no place for the truth.

The latest affront to Twain's great book, published by "New South Books" (what a loaded name!), is intended, I assume, to make everyone happy by removing the offensive word "nigger" and replacing it with the generic word "slave."(2) It has been produced for consumption by American public schools, presumably in high school English courses, and has made a book that was formerly shunned suddenly palatable to American public school districts.

My immediate reaction to the news of this "translation" of Twain's novel was why on earth it was being taught in public high schools in the first place. The reason is simple: many people still regard the book as suitable for "juvenile reading," intended for "young readers." Since I dropped out of high school after failing the 10th grade, I was spared having my interest in literature smothered by the compulsory reading of literary classics. I didn't read Adventures of Huckleberry Finn until my first year of college. It made me a far more critical and receptive reader than I would have been in high school.

If you examine the reasoning (such as it is) behind the opposition to Twain's unexpurgated text, you will find that there are just as many people who don't want its frank and unapologetic depiction of a painful time in American history to be disseminated as there are people who object to the word "nigger."

Come to think of it, why aren't there any parent-teacher groups out there attacking the novel for its homoerotic content? Jim almost invariably addresses Huck in the novel as "honey." Or is Leslie Fiedler's analysis, which raised eyebrows and blood pressures as long ago as 1948, too subtle for them, or too scary?


(1) Though my mother was from Ohio, my father was from Lagrange, Georgia. When she went to meet his parents after they were married in 1946, she had a curious encounter with a black man on the streets of Lagrange. Walking alone down the sidewalk one day, a black man was walking toward her. As soon as she was within ten yards or so, the black man stepped off the sidewalk into the gutter and took off his hat as my mother walked past him. When she told my father of the black man's strange behavior, my father explained that, if the black man hadn't done just that, he would've been found hanging from a tree the following morning. My mother told my father to take her back to Ohio as soon as possible.
(2)One of the principal characters, Nigger Jim in Twain's original, becomes "Slave Jim."

Monday, January 3, 2011

Love, Death, and the American Film

Regardless of past avowals on the subject, I have not quite given up on the American film. More than forty years after he made his assessment, I find I still don't differ with Vernon Young: "There is always someone announcing that the American movie has come of age. The announcement is always premature." It has rarely measured up to the best films from France, Italy, Sweden or Japan - the countries that have produced the greatest number of excellent films in the first hundred years of the medium. Those critics who continue to try and hoist the likes of Stagecoach, Vertigo, and The Godfather alongside L'Avventura and The Rules of the Game are merely exposing their true status as fans. American films can be charming, funny, and can contain hugely talented entertainers. What it has had such a hard time doing is being works of art - works that enlarge our understanding of ourselves and of others, that challenge the way we think and live our lives.

But there have been exceptions in the last fifty years - films that are made far enough under the radar or without substantial investment from the money men. There have even been a few big budget films that were too good for their producers to ruin. Allowing for sins of omission, not to mention a faulty memory, here, in alphabetical order, are thirty American films that I regard as substantial achievements. I hope to expound on some of them in the coming months - the ones, that is, I can get my hands on down here in The Sticks.

Badlands (Terrence Malick - 1973)
Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn - 1967)
Born on the Fourth of July (Oliver Stone - 1989)
Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee - 2005)
Chinatown (Roman Polanski - 1974)
Cool Hand Luke (Stuart Rosenberg - 1967)
Cutter's Way (Ivan Passer - 1981)
Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet - 1975)
Donnie Brascoe (Mike Newell - 1997)
Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick - 1964)
Driving Miss Daisy (Bruce Beresford - 1989)
Fight Club (David Fincher - 1999)
Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese - 1990)
Hard Times (Walter Hill - 1975)
Jeremiah Johnson (Sidney Pollock - 1972)
The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese - 1982)
The Man Who Would Be King (John Huston - 1975)
MASH (Robert Altman - 1970)
Melvin and Howard (Jonathan Demme - 1980)
The Pledge (Sean Penn - 2001)
Prince of the City (Sidney Lumet - 1981)
Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg - 1993)
Smoke (Wayne Wang - 1995)
The Straight Story (David Lynch - 1999)
Straight Time (Ulu Grosbard - 1978)
Straw Dogs (Sam Peckinpah - 1971)
Tender Mercies (Bruce Beresford - 1983)
The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick - 1998)
They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (Sidney Pollack - 1969)
The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah - 1969)