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List Sunday - Cultural Vegetables

I read an interesting article in the New York Times called “Eating Your Cultural Vegetables.” Basically the author had a problem with people who would dismiss films because they were not immediately accessible or would take too much effort to appreciate their complexities. While many cinephiles are fine staying in the easily accessible area, I think there comes a time when you will come across films that may be opaque but are still compelling enough to challenge you to wrestle with it and really get to a better understanding. Below are some films that I consider cultural vegetables, which ultimately helped me appreciate film better and inspired me to think critically about cinema.

Certified Copy

Dir. Abbas Kiarostami

I don’t know why this slow drama about a couple and their ambiguous relationship really gripped me, but I just found myself trying so hard to get to the bottom of the mystery of this film.

Hiroshima Mon Amour

Dir. Alain Resnais

A very specific, intimate film that still managed to capture the trauma of the aftermath of WWII and the atomic warfare that ravaged Japan. It made me more open to deeply introspective cinema in general.

Chungking Express

Dir. Wong Kar Wai

This really should have been the film that I started with to discover Wong Kar Wai. I think I had seen In the Mood for Love first and had hated it, not really understanding it. This and In the Mood for Love have become some of my favorite films since then. Chungking was exciting, fresh and paid great homage to the French New Wave, which leads me to….

Pierrot le Fou

Dir. Jean-Luc Godard

I had been dutifully checking off the classics of French New Wave but not really enjoying or absorbing any of them. Then I saw this film and it gobsmacked me with its vivid color scheme, heightened style and performances, and overall storytelling panache.

Mulholland Dr.

Dir. David Lynch

I find this is many people’s cultural vegetable since it often serves as a gateway to challenging yourself to difficult, but adventurous cinema. It also made Lynch click for me, even though I don’t claim to understand everything about this film.

 

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