Perspectives: Newsletter of the College of Arts & Sciences

The Flick List: Recommended Viewing

Looking for a movie to rent this weekend? Perspectives asked A&S alumni, faculty, and students featured in this special film issue—all of whom are passionate about film—to share their favorite flicks. Here are their gloriously subjective suggestions. Happy viewing!

Lynn Shelton's picks (filmmaker, Humpday and Your Sister's Sister)
Peter Chiarelli's picks (screenwriter, The Proposal)
Teresa Cheng's picks (producer, DreamWorks Animation)
Sean Porter's picks (cinematographer, Eden and Grassroots)

Marcella Ernest's picks (experimental documentary filmmaker)

Matthew Salton's picks (video editor and filmmaker)

Andrew Tsao's picks (UW drama professor; director of CineMedia pilot program)

Jennifer Bean's picks (UW comparative literature professor, director of Cinema Studies Program)
Eric Ames's picks (UW Germanics professor; author of Ferocious Reality, about Werner Herzog's documentaries)
Evelyn Osborn's picks (UW CineMedia major)
Jordon Augustine's picks (UW Film Club co-director)

Lynn Shelton's Picks

The director of acclaimed independent films including Humpday and Your Sister's Sister, Shelton is featured in the Perspectives article, "Lynn Shelton: Passionate About Filmmaking—and the Northwest." Her favorite films:

Code 46 (2003) for the way the director creates a profoundly believable vision of the future with few sets and even fewer special effects, instead relying elegantly on locations and language. (Also: the exquisite Samantha Morton.)

Personal Velocity (2002), a groundbreaking and personally inspiring piece representing, to my mind, the first successful use of cheap digital technology to make an emotional, beautiful, feature film.

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) because the way that most scenes play out in wider shots with the actors moving fluidly in and out of the frame, as if the audience is a fly on the wall, is nothing short of masterly.

Harold and Maude (1971) for its genre-bending and completely believable portrait of an impossible romance that will have you laughing harder and crying more tears than it would seem possible during only one film's viewing.

Hunger (2008) for its pure cinematic poetry. (Also: Michael Fassbender.)

Dog Day Afternoon (1975) for its unassailable performances and equal parts humor/pathos/drama rooted deeply in realism.

Peter Chiarelli's Picks

Screenwriter of the popular romantic comedy The Proposal, Peter Chiarelli is featured in the Perspectives article "A Bold Proposal: Peter Chiarelli's Switch from Producer to Screenwriter." His favorite films:

The Graduate (1967)- Fantastic love story and funny as hell.  Scene for scene, some of the best writing in any film.
The Apartment (1960) - What every romantic comedy should aspire to be.
Godfather 1 (1972) & 2 (1974) - Let’s just forget about part  3, shall we?
Star Wars 4 (1977), 5 (1980), 6 (1983) - A clinic in epic storytelling.
Goodfellas (1990) - A nearly perfect character study.
Caddyshack (1980) - I was in a fraternity.
Die Hard (1988) - Perfect blend of action and character.
Silence of the Lambs (1991) - See Die Hard description.
Dr. Strangelove (1964) - Pound for pound, the funniest movie ever made.
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) - Makes you want to be a better human being.
Pulp Fiction (1994) - The structure is amazing.
The Sound of Music (1965) - Makes me happy.
Terms of Endearment (1983), Broadcast News (1987) - James L. Brooks is a genius.  Watch both of these once a year.

Teresa Cheng's Picks

A producer at DreamWorks Animation whose credits include films in the Shrek and Madagascar series, Teresa Cheng is featured in the Perspectives article "Q&A with DreamWorks' Teresa Cheng." Her favorite films:

The Usual Suspects (1995) and The Sixth Sense (1999) for their surprise ending.
Moulin Rouge (2001) for how Baz Luhrmann updated musicals. I loved the cinematography.
The King and I (1956), adapted from stage to screen. I like cross-over adaptations as much as I like musicians who cover previously recorded songs, because it's a fresh take on something we think we know.
Rear Window (1954), which is particularly clever in how multiple stories are staged and watched from our hero's limited vantage point.
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) —Audrey Hepburn!
Two for the Road (1967), another Audrey Hepburn film, told in a non-linear way that was very innovative for its time.
The Help (2011) and Empire of the Sun (1987) because I love movies that make me feel and learn from a bygone era and yet certain things still hold true for today.
Rain Man (1988) because I love seeing characters learn something by the end of the movie.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) for its ensemble cast and multiple storylines.
The Joy Luck Club (1993) and The Wedding Banquet (1993) because as an immigrant myself, I really enjoy movies that speak of cultural experiences/clashes.
Wes Anderson's films, including Moonrise Kingdom (2012), Darjeeling Limited (2007), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), Royal Tennenbaums (2001). I love his quirky storytelling style and how all his characters are flawed and yet you can't help but like and relate to them.

Sean Porter's Picks

A cinematographer whose projects include Eden and Grassroots, Sean Porter is featured in the Perspectives article "Q&A with Cinematographer Sean Porter." His favorite films:

The work of Lynne Ramsay (Ratcatcher (1999), Morvern Callar (2002) for her intimacy.
The Coen Brothers (No Country for Old Men (2007)) for their total control of the medium and their great characters.
PT Anderson's work (Magnolia (1999), Boogie Nights (1997)) for his use of camera and editing.

Marcella Ernest's Picks

A documentary filmmaker with an experimental style, Marcella Ernest is featured in the Perspectives article "Q&A with Filmmaker Marcella Ernest." Her favorites:

Rapture (1999) and Soliloquy (2000) by Shirin Neshat, because her work engages gender issues in a smart and well executed way. She demonstrates instead of exploits culture in subtle yet complicated ways.
Dark Days (2000) by Marc Singer because his style and sound is really fresh and the aesthetic is very artistic.
E.T. (1982) would probably be my favorite movie of all time because it's a good story.  

Matthew Salton's Picks

A video editor and filmmaker hoping to complete his first feature-length film in 2013, Matthew Salton is featured in the Perspectives article "Q&A with Filmmaker Matthew Salton." His favorites:

A lot of the movies from Werner Herzog, David Lynch, Roman Polanski, Robert Altman and Todd Haynes inspire me. Lessons of Darkness (1992) is a movie that I remember seeing early on that deeply affected me. It's a documentary film by Werner Herzog that takes place in the Kuwaiti oil fields in the aftermath of the Gulf War. It takes the point of view of an alien observer and disregards the political turmoil that ravaged the land. It is comprised primarily of beautiful shots of the relentless burning oil fields with Herzog's voice over periodically adding "What are they doing?"  "Can they no longer go without fire?" and things like this. It's puzzling and beautiful. I had never seen anything like it before and found it really exciting. I should watch it again.  

Andrew Tsao's Picks

An experienced director in theatre, film, and television, Andrew Tsao is a UW associate professor of drama and head of the CineMedia Program, a pilot program now in its second year. (See Perspectives article "Filmmaking Pilot Program Embraces the Liberal Arts.") His favorites:

The Sacrifice (1986) - Andrei Tarkovsky
The Searchers (1956) - John Ford
Citizen Kane (1941) - Orson Welles
Vertigo (1958) - Alfred Hitchcock
Tokyo Story (1953) - Yasajiro Ozu
8 1/2 (1963) - Federico Fellini
Barry Lyndon (1975) - Stanley Kubrick
City Lights (1931) - Charlie Chaplin
East of Eden (1955) - Elia Kazan
The Godfather (1972) - Francis Ford Coppola
Wild Strawberries (1957) - Ingmar Bergman
On the Waterfront (1954) - Elia Kazan
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) - William Wyler

Jennifer Beans's Picks

Jennifer Bean is director of the Cinema Studies Program and an associate professor in the Department of Comparative Literature. (See Perspectives article "Filmmaking Pilot Program Embraces the Liberal Arts.") Her favorites:

Top Hat (Mark Sandrich, 1935) because Astaire and Rogers make me feel like "I'm in Heaven," even (or perhaps especially) when it rains. 
Sunrise (F.W. Murnau, 1927) because everyone should hear the rapture of such silence.
The Circle (Dayereh, Jafar Panahi, 2000) because we all spin about in one circle or another, but we rarely see our spinning reflected in such astounding visual choreographies or in the haunting faces of women in modern day Tehran. 
Sunless (Sans Soleil, Chris Marker, 1983) because you'll never think of travel to Japan or the on-location shots of Hitchcock's Vertigo or the inconsistencies of memory and your obsession with cinema in the same way again.
The Pawnshop (Charlie Chaplin, 1916) because it is so durn rare to glimpse pure genius and laugh out loud at the same time—hail to the birth of the Tramp!

Eric Ames's Picks

A UW associate professor of Germanics and a member of the cinema studies faculty, Erics Ames recently published Ferocious Reality, a book about Werner Herzog's documentary films (see Perspectives article "A Love/Hate Relationship with Documentary Films." After careful viewing of all of Herzog's documentaries, Ames recommends five favorites:

Grizzly Man (2005) for its creative and evocative use of found footage.
Land of Silence and Darkness (1971) because it explores the tactile properties of the film medium.
The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner (1973) because it turns the extreme sport of ski-flying into a ritual drama of martyrdom.
Lessons of Darkness (1992) for its searing landscapes, and how they render a vision of hell.
Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997) because the main character, a former POW, is both exemplary and unlike anyone you'll ever meet.

Evelyn Osborn's Picks

Evelyn Osborn is a UW senior in the first cohort of students in the UW's CineMedia Program (see Perspectives article "Filmmaking Pilot Program Embraces the Liberal Arts." Her favorites:

Summer Interlude (1951) - Ingmar Bergman. I could get lost in Ingmar Bergman's films forever. I love the dreamlike feel and slow pacing in all his work. My other favorite of his is Through A Glass Darkly (1961).
Big Fish (2003) - Tim Burton, for its whimsical surreal quality—and really just about everything Tim Burton does, especially Edward Scissorhands (1990).
Werckmeister Harmonies (2000) - Bela Tarr. Probably the most beautiful film I've see.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999) - Stanley Kubrick, and all the rest of his work. Does anything by Stanley Kubrick even need justification for being on this list?? I love his films for the contrast of dark content/subject matter with gorgeous cinematography.
Moulin Rouge (2001), for its story and its style. Plus, I'm obsessed with Nicole Kidman.
Labyrinth (1986), for its strange sort of magical realism.

Jordan Augustine's Picks

Jordan Augustine is co-director of the UW Film Club (see Perspectives article "Film Buffs, Join the Club." His favorites:

Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void (2009) because it's crazy and beautiful and electrifies the senses in its lyrical exploration of death and life and reincarnation in what is best described as cinematic psychedelic phantasmagoria, with an incredible amount of sex. It's a film that can't really be described because it has to be experienced. Not for the prudish or the weak of heart.

John Hillcoat's Lawless (2012), which I think was underwatched. It had a totally amazing cast and was brutal and tender at the same time. It's one of those rare revenge movies where you need to see vengeance done but don't feel good about it when it happens.

I'd also recommend Jim Jarmusch's Down by Law (1986) because I've been thinking about it lately and want to rewatch it. Also because of Tom Waits. And John Lurie.

Return to Table of Contents, January 2013 issue