Poets' Favorite Movies
10 of my all-time favorite movies in no particular
order and offered with regrets for the 50 other favorites I had to omit.
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
Directed by Tony Richardson with a screenplay by Alan Sillitoe, adapted
from his own short story. Tom Courtenay is amazing as a boy sent
to a reformatory after he and a friend rob a bakery. He finds a little
bit of freedom in running and also finds a way to turn his running into
an act of defiance.
The Color of Paradise (Iran, 1999)
Directed by Majid Majidi and starring Moshen Ramezani as an
eight-year-old blind boy who returns to his family during the summer
school break. Ramezani plucks your heart out of your chest and wrings it
about twenty times during the course of the film. The ending is hokey,
but everything leading up to it is intensely moving.
Dersu Uzala (Japan/Russia 1975)
Akira Kurosawa joins forces with a Russian cast to direct this story of
an aging Siberian hunter who is hired to guide a surveying crew. He and
the Russian officer heading the survey form a deep friendship, and the
officer eventually tries to bring Dersu into the modern world, but it
“The Barbarian Invasions” (Canada, 2003)
Denys Arcand directs this sequel to his “Decline of the American
Empire.” This film touches upon many themes, not the least of which is
the art of dazzling conversation.
Facing Windows (Italy, 2004)
Directed by Verzan Ozpetek. You just have to watch this one. It’s about
everything from a Holocaust survivor to adultery to perfecting the art
of pastry. Giovanna Mezzogiorno stars.
Shower (China, 1999)
A wealthy businessman son returns to his boyhood home where his father
and mentally disabled brother run a bathhouse. Elegantly and movingly
directed by Zhang Yang.
Zelary (Czech Republic, 2003)
Andrej Trojan directs this WWII drama about a woman in the Nazi
resistance who must go into hiding when the Gestapo uncovers her cadre.
Her life in a remote village is transformative.
The Conversation (USA, 1974)
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Gene Hackman in a totally
absorbing performance as Harry Caul, a surveillance expert obsessed by
the fear that he might be the target of surveillance. Aside from
maintaining a high level of suspense, the film is interesting in its
details about surveillance work.
Christ Stopped at Eboli (Italy, 1979)
Directed by Francesco Rosi and based on the novel/memoir by Carlo Levi,
who because of his anti-Mussolini activities was exiled to a remote
village in a dusty corner of Italy. It turns out that the rustic
villagers have much to teach him.
Fanny and Alexander (Sweden, 1982)
Ingmar Bergman’s autobiographical film about his childhood. A different
Bergman emerges here, as some light filters into the story.
C. G. Hanzlicek is the author of seven
collections of poetry, and has also translated Native American songs,
in A Bird's Companion, and poems from the Czech, in Mirroring:
Selected Poems of Vladimir Holan, which won the Robert Payne Award
from the Columbia University Translation Center in 1985. He recently
retired as professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing
Program at California State university, Fresno.