Blade Runner
Director: Ridley Scott
1982

When people ask me, "What's your favorite movie of all-time?" this is mine. Blade Runner represents so many things for me. On one level, it's essentially a gritty Neo-Noir Science Fiction film about a retired detective brought back on duty to kill Androids. Incidentally, he falls in love with one of them. However, the genius of Scott's masterpiece is that the replicants are more human than the actual humans that populate the dingy city of Los Angeles. On another level, the replicants are seen as fallen angels cast out of heaven and thrown into an urban hell that are desperately trying to find some sense of redemption. What I love best about Blade Runner is that it is so many different styles of film roled into one. It blends the film-noir of the 1940s and 1950s with a futuristic nightmare, courtesy of Philip K. Dick and Jean-Luc Godard's "Alphaville".

Vertigo
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
1958
 

I had the extreme pleasure of experiencing this film for the very 1st time in 1996 when it was re-released in glorious 70mm. While Jimmy Stewart is a brilliant Actor, he has never given a performance like he does in Vertigo. Hitchcock's mystery about a retired detective who becomes dangerously obsessed with a dead woman was unversally panned by critics when it was first released in the late 50s. Ironically, it has replaced Citizen Kane as the #1 film on the British Film Institute list. What I love about this film is the haunting score by Bernard Herrmann. Stewart's role and Kim Novak's haunting beauty as the mystery woman. San Francisco looks gorgeous as a city filled with danger and romance.

Apocalypse Now
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
1979

Coppola's adaptation of Joseph Conrad's 'Hearts of Darkness' changes the location of the novel from Africa to the backdrop of the Vietnam War. Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Marlon Brando, and Dennis Hopper give the audience some of the most memorable characters of their lives. Screenwriter John Milius and Francis Ford Coppola assault the viewer with a nightmarish journey upriver that takes the viewer back in time to further elements of savagry, and deeper into madness. "The Horror The Horror..."

A Clockwork Orange
Director: Stanley Kubrick
1971

To really understand this film, along with all of Kubrick's work, it requires multiple screenings.  However, these viewings should be at different stages in your life. I first saw A Clockwork Orange when I was in High School. The destructive youth element of the film is what I first gravitated to. All of its graphic ultraviolence and its various scenes of the old in-out in-out. But these are the things that 18 year olds are into. However, when I viewed it when I was a student in college, I felt I got a lot more out of the film. It also helped that I had read Anthony Burgess' novel that the film was based on. I discovered that there is a very grave message in this cautionary tale about what happens when a society takes away an individual's ability to choose between right & wrong.
 

Bride of Frankenstein
Director: James Whale
1935
 

While this is not the first Frankenstein film, this is the best. Some might argue that the Bride of Frankenstein is the greatest achievement of the Universal Horror series. It has all of the requisite needs for a classic black & white horror film. You have the mad scientist, the beautiful damsel, Karloff, as the monster, his bride, a gloomy castle and an angry mob of villagers armed with pitchforks!  James Whale was so assure of his film technique that he has the daring to place an openly gay character in the forefront of the film. "To a new age of Gods and Monsters."

Halloween
Director: John Carpenter
1978

The very first horror filim that actually scared me. This is what happens when you see a movie at a very young and impressionable age. To a nine year old, the boogey man was real. Growing up in a small midwestern town, very similar to Haddonfield, the horrors that Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends experienced were enough to frighten a little boy. Carpenters' slasher masterpiece set the standard for all inferior kill the babysitter movies of the 1980s. The only flaw one can see... if you look closely, you can see the palm trees in a few scenes.

Blazing Saddles
Director: Mel Brooks
1974

In my opinion, the funniest movie of all time.  Mel Brooks' genius western comedy offends everyone, and that is its greatest achievement. No one is safe from Nazis to Jews to a parody of the iconic western of the 1950s. An amazing all-star cast propels Brooks' greatest film.  With the recent paranoia of Hollywood constantly remaking classic films, there's not a chance in hell that they will even try to remake Blazing Saddles. Now, "Excuse me, while I whip this out?"

Alien
Director: Ridley Scott
1979

Take an ensemble of classically trained Shakespearean actors, place them in the vast lost regions of interstellar space and you have one of the greatest suspense horror films of all time.  The mood, the pacing, the griminess, and the tension all give way to H.R. Giger's monstrous creation. The Alien still, to this day, is the coolest terrifying modern day monster to grace a movie screen. Any creature from another world is judged by the Xenomorph. Nothing has come close. Scott's film has been described best as a haunted house in space. Truer words were never spoken.

Star Wars
Director: George Lucas
1977

There will never be another Star Wars. There will never be another film that has been so revolutionary in the world of movie making. George Lucas' tale a long time ago in a galazy far, far away has inspired and enraged a generation of film makers and movie goers. It is impossible to capture lightening in a bottle twice. Mr.Lucas experienced this failure when he released a series of inferior prequal films. Star Wars influences our childhood, our cynical adulthood knowing that just like Rod Serling stated in his Twilight Zone episode, "Walking Distance", you can never go back to your childhood as it once was. The theater that I saw Star Wars in has been demolished and has been replaced by a damn shoe store.

Casablanca
Director: Michael Curtiz
1942

I will always be grateful that my Father introduced me to the old Bogie films from the 1940s when I was still a young man. It was from my Dad that I learned how cool Bogart was. Some critics argue that Casablanca is one of the greatest films ever.  It is only topped by Vertigo and Citizen Kane. When Casablanca was released in 1942, it was treated as a B-Movie. The genius of Casablanca is the performances of its cast, especially Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renault who practically steals the show with every scene he appears in. Other great performances are given by Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet, who also appeared with Bogart in The Maltese Falcon. Casablanca tells a wonderful tale of love, loss, hope, and friendship all set in the backdrop in a dangerous port city during WWII.

© 2014 by Jennifer Kachikian @ designerinchicago.com