RJ Cusyk's List of Must See Movies
For those of you who still remember the website demiseoffilm.com, may remember that towards the end of the run, I did a countdown of 100 films to see before you die. Looking back, that list was terrible.
The problem I ran into was that it's really hard to narrow down 100 movies that we think you, the reader, should see. This time around, instead of 100 films, I'm just going to list a bunch of movies I REALLY enjoy and that I think you guys should see, if you haven't already.
Summer of '84 (2018)
Directed by: RKSS
Written by: Matt Leslie and Stephen J. Smith
Starring: Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis
Run time: 1hr 45min
For those of you who know me, you know that I really despise modern cinema. I don't care about characters, the plot, the movies all have the same look. I often find myself wanting older films over newer films. That is until I found Summer of '84.
It's a lot like if a bunch of the Goonies were in Rear Window with a terrific 80's soundtrack backing them up. A lot of people keep comparing this to Stranger Things but this is so much better at capturing the 80's feel than Stranger Things and doesn't have as much nostalgia pandering.
The Ranger (2018)
Directed by: Jenn Wexler
Written by: Jenn Wexler and Giaco Furino
Starring: Chloë Levine, Jeremy Holm
Run time: 1hr 17min
After I saw Summer of '84, I kinda figured I wasn't gonna see another really good movie for another ten years. Then The Ranger hit Shudder and I got really excited again. The first five minutes of this movie are fantastic. It really sucks you in and leaves you wondering what the crap is going on.
I love the effects, the acting, I love that they present two gay characters without making it over the top like a lot of Hollywood films do. I love how it's set in the 80's but never once goes LOOK I'M SET IN THE 80's! Just a fun gore extravaganza.
Directed by: Dario Argento
Written by: Dario Argento and Daria Nicolodi
Starring: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini
Run time: 1hr 32min
Yeah, that's right, I'm going here. If for some reason you haven't seen Dario Argento's classic film Suspiria, you need to seriously change that. Not the remake. Not Inferno. DEFINITELY not Mother of Tears.
The best part of this movie is simply how it's basically portrayed like a dream. The entire film has a very surreal feel to it and the coloring is something that every giallo director should aspire to capture.
This is a prime example what happens when a good director finally has a bigger budget.
Love Exposure (2008)
Written and Directed by: Sion Sono
Starring: Takahiro Nishijima, Hikari Mitsushima
Run time: 3hr 57min
I'm sure all of the hardcore fans knew that I was gonna start talking about weird movies. It sure didn't take long, did it? Love Exposure is about a guy who can only get a boner for his step-sister. Boom! Done, gonna go take up golf and play it poorly.
All seriousness though, Love Exposure is a weird movie that is very hard to explain and has some genuinely funny moments. The worst thing about the movie is the run time because...well, look at it. That's not a typo, this movie is seriously almost four hours long. However, it doesn't feel like it and moves rather quickly.
If you like weird movies, I highly suggest Love Exposure.
A Serbian Film (2010)
Directed by: Srdjan Spasojevic
Written by: Srdjan Spasojevic and Aleksandar Radivojevic
Starring: Srdjan Todorovic, Sergej Trifunovic
Run time: 1hr 44min
This film is not on here because I'm an edgy boy, this film is not on here because I'm an edgy boy.
A lot of my friends told me about A Serbian Film when it first came out. I was terrified of watching this movie and only read the wikipedia page because I was scared of what I would see. One day I decided to watch it and actually really loved this movie. The cinematography is absolutely fantastic, it's well acted, the gore effects are top notch. If this is what independent cinema is able to accomplish, I only want more.
All of this said, this film is not for everyone because...well, in lack of a better term, it's pretty fucked up. A woman being decapitated with a machete during intercourse is seriously the least of your problems. However, if you think you can stomach it, I highly suggest it.
His Girl Friday (1940)
Directed by: Howard Hawks
Written by: Charles Lederer
Starring: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell
Run time: 1hr 32min
So, you wanna be a filmmaker, huh? Do you watch old movies? No? Well then stop taking about making movies. You only come across as arrogant if you don't at least brush up on your cinema history. And trust me, the old films I'm gonna suggest will change how you look at old films.
His Girl Friday is so much fun to watch because of the dialogue. It's very fast paced and very cheeky. I don't want to say too much because this is a very funny film and I highly suggest it if you would like a good comedy.
SLC Punk (1998)
Written and Directed by: James Merendino
Starring Matthew Lillard, Michael A. Goorjian
Run time: 1hr 37min
SLC Punk is about a bunch of punks living in Salt Lake City. I don't know if this movie appeals to me because it's just low budget or if it's because I was a punk for a while. This movie has a lot of heart and is just a fun movie to watch. As you can guess, I don't know why I love this movie, but it definitely has a place in my heart and deserves to be on this list.
Not the sequel though!
You Can't Take it With You (1938)
Directed by: Frank Capra
Written by: Robert Riskin
Starring: Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore
Run time: 2hr 6min
I told you that I was gonna include a bunch of old movies on this list. You can't take it with you is well acted, filled with likable characters and is basically just a feel good film. A lot of people throw around that term these days but Frank Capra was really a master of making films just to make you feel happy and hopeful. Sounds weird coming from me, right?
Written and Directed by: Don Coscarelli
Starring: A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury
Run time: 1hr 28min
Phantasm is another one of those dreamlike films like Suspiria, except it was made on a super low budget and that fact alone is why I really like this movie. How much this movie accomplishes on such a low budget, I only wish Decades Apart was as ambitious as Don Coscarelli.
Deep Red (1975)
Directed by: Dario Argento
Written by: Dario Argento and Bernardino Zapponi
Starring: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi
Run time: 2hrs 7min
Another film by Dario Argento makes the list. While Suspiria makes the list for a lot of its art direction, Deep Red makes the list based on just being awesome. Seriously, there is so much that Deep Red does absolutely right. There's a part of this movie that is absolutely awesome but...well, I can't tell you what it is. However, Deep Red is easily one of my favorite films of all time and definitely deserves to be on this list.
Directed by: Brian Yuzna
Written by: Rick Fry and Woody Keith
Starring: Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez
Run time: 1hr 39min
Another gross out horror film? Sure. However, Society is so much more than that. It's got great creature effects, social commentary, and B-movie acting. What isn't there to love about Society?
North by Northwest (1959)
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Written by: Ernest Lehman
Starring: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint
Run time: 2hr 16min
Honestly, there are a lot of Hitchcock films that I wanted to go with but I'm also trying to limit this list to include only one or two films by certain directors. I could fill up this list with Kurosawa alone. North by Northwest is well shot, well acted, comedic, dramatic, and is just a great film. This was my favorite film of all time until something else came along...
Seven Samurai (1954)
Directed by: Akira Kurosawa
Written by: Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, and Hideo Oguni
Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura
Run time: 3hr 27min
Of course Seven Samurai is gonna be on this list! It's my favorite film of all time and is so beautifully shot, well acted, characters are all well developed, the music is great. There is not one thing about Seven Samurai that I don't love. The story has gone on to be used in Magnificent Seven and A Bug's Life. That's right Pixar fanboys, even your gods bow before Kurosawa. Suck it.
Directed by: Chan-wook Park
Written by: Chan-wook Park, Chun-hyeong Lim, and Jo-yun Hwang
Starring: Min-sik Choi, Ji-tae Yu
Run time: 2hr
I would say to watch the fight scene in the hall and move on with your day but Oldboy is so much more than a simple fight scene. Oldboy is a revenge tale where both the protagonist and antagonist want revenge against one another. The music is beautiful, there are some shots that are absolutely incredible. The opening shot of the guy on the roof is so great. However, Oldboy gets a bit screwed up in the end...so keep that in mind.
Once upon a Time in the West (1968)
Directed by: Sergio Leone
Written by: Sergio Leone and Sergio Donati
Starring: Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson
Run time: 2hr 45min
If you've seen Keeping Justice, you recognize this poster. I adore this movie. Every time I watch it I question why it's not my favorite movie of all time but then remember my top 3 favorite films and go. You know what Once Upon a Time in the West, I love you but I don't love you more than Seven Samurai, North by Northwest or Oldboy...you can sit here at number four.
Once Upon a Time in the West is amazing to look at, listen to, watch, just AHHHH! There are no words to express why I love this film but I'm totally serious about this. I have a DVD copy of the film, yet I paid to go see it on the big screen. Why? Because I wanted to see it in a theater with other people. I was the youngest person there but I didn't care!
Have you seen what I'm kinda going for with this list? I'm trying to have you guys expand your minds. See movies from other countries, see older films, see movies from indie people. Hopefully I opened your eyes to a lot of films that are out there.
If you guys enjoyed this, feel free to comment and let me know. Perhaps I could do another one of these in the future. I always like exposing people to a world of movies that they might have not known existed.
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