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10 Films The HOF-men Recommend: 9th Edition

Syndromes and a Century (2006) | Dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Weerasethakul makes the kind of cinema that heals your soul. Rural hospital, quirky characters, local myths and dreamy atmosphere are recurring tropes of his films. If the same people meet in different time and place how different their relationship would be? Syndrome and a Century is an abstract film, but it is so engrossing, you don’t care about the meaning. The first half tells the story of a country doctor who confesses his love to a fellow doctor. She then talks about her encounter with orchard farmer. A monk who once aspired to be a DJ feels a connection with his dentist. Another monk believes he is possessed by a chicken. The second half tells the same story in contemporary urban setting. However, here, the monk doesn’t even talk with the dentist. Everyone is more mechanical and detached. Using different time and places, Weerasethakul explores the mystery of human connection.

As I was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty (2000) | Dir. Jonas Mekas

Would you watch a five-hour long documentary in which nothing happens? Probably No. But Mekas’ film diary is one of the most honest and uncompromising work of art that finds cause for celebration in mundane things. The images on screen are trippy, incoherent, the world is strange yet familiar, and if you stay in it long enough, you become the part of it. In this film, Mekas narrates his own story sprawling across a decade. Although it’s very personal journey, somewhere you begin to see your own reflection in his past, his memories become yours. In those shared moments, you realize how beautiful the life is. It’s one of those films that change your outlook on existence.

Vampyros Lesbos (1971) | Dir. Jesus Franco

Imagine a lesbian soft-core version of Bran Stoker’s Dracula seen through perverted lenses of Jess Franco. The film opens with hypnotic nightclub sequence where Countess Nadine plays with mannequin-esque naked lady.  Nadine, a vixen vampire, and the successor of Dracula, hypnotizes Linda to quench her blood thirst. Seduced by the Countess, Linda walks straight to the Island of Death. Dr. Steiner, the vampire expert wants to vanquish Nadine and achieve immortality. Jess Franco is the master of sexploitation flicks. In his movies, everyone is driven by desire and evil is presented in the most beautiful form. He takes us into familiar world of sun drenched landscapes, colorful motel rooms, ladies with excessive makeup and musical orgasms. This is one of the most exciting erotic horrors from the massive archive of Franco.

Island City (2016) | Ruchika Oberoi

You are about to enter the realm of Systematic Statistics. It is the world of television, where every pixel is a fragment of man’s life. It lies between obedience of a corporate monkey and detachment of a skeptic mind. On this lonely island, a castaway receives a bottle of empty promise every day. Island City is the anthology of isolation that tells the story of employee whose life swirls around the merry go round of corporate world, whose life is as mechanical as the machines she operates; a stingy family man who can be easily replaced by TV; and a woman who just wants to be loved by a human. Ruchika Oberoi’s directional debut is weird, quirky, and thoughtful. A near masterpiece.

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970) |Dir. Jaromil Jireš

Valerie’s blossom into womanhood transports her into the Gothic world of vampires, shape-shifting beasts, psycho-sexual priests, and magical earrings. This surreal fairy tale boasts of mesmerizing visuals, elegant costumes, and top notch production design. It is one of the most beautiful looking films. This rare coming of age movie unfolds like a surreal journey of sexual awakening. Valerie’s sexual desires are suppressed by religion. As she menstruates, Valerie succumbs to her lustful desires and experiments with sex. The film has a thin narrative which is impenetrable due to dream logic, but the visual enigma of Valerie is wonderful to behold.

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