Poets' Favorite Movies
I might well come up with a different list on
another day. I notice that most of these films are riven with delicious
1. The Decline and Fall of the American Empire
(1986). French-Canadian director Denys Arcand appears to be making a
comedy about the sexual revolution until a blurted confession changes
the tenor of the film, making it a near-tragic vision of marriage and
2. The Barbarian Invasions (2003) Arcand’s
sequel to the film above picks up some of the same characters with
profoundly moving results. An indictment of modern healthcare mores, but
also a beautiful drama of reconciliation and love.
3. Badlands (1973). I love Terrence Malick’s
films, and this is the best of them, a stark and troubling portrait of a
serial killer and the teenage girl who follows him.
4. DreamChild (1985). With a script by the
late great Dennis Potter, this film about Lewis Carroll raises all sorts
of questions about the nature of love. Most of the critics didn’t get
5. Vertigo (1958). Hitchcock’s great film
about male obsession scares me more than any horror flick.
6. Dead Man Walking (1995). Not in the least
an anti-death-penalty tract, but a grave and moving drama. Tim Robbins
has never made a better film.
7. Sherlock, Jr. (1924). Perhaps Buster
Keaton’s most inspired film. ‘Nuff said.
8. Talk to Her (2002) Pedro Almodóvar at his
best. Like DreamChild and Lolita this film plays with
taboos and questions the nature of love.
9. Local Hero (1983). A wonderful, low-key
comedy from Scotland’s Bill Forsyth.
10. The Fog of War (2003). Errol Morris’s
methodical documentary makes us ask what kind of monster Robert McNamara
David Mason's books include The Buried
Houses, The Country I Remember, Arrivals, and a verse novel called
Ludlow, just out from Red Hen Press. He is the author of a book
of essays, The Poetry of Life and the Life of Poetry, and the
co-editor of several anthologies. More of his work appears in
Harper's, TLS, The New Republic, The Nation, Poetry, and other
magazines. He teaches at The Colorado College and lives in the mountains
outside Colorado Springs.