(Andrei Tarkovsky, USSR, 1966): As ravishing as Lawrence of Arabia yet infinitely more inscrutable and ambitious, Andrei Tarkovsky's second film aims to place the making of art both in the context of sweeping historical forces and insurgent spiritual resistance. As notorious for its troubled release history -- Soviet...

(Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1950): A slow-drip venom cocktail of a movie, Joseph L. Mankiewicz's All About Eve is also the east coast callback to Sunset Boulevard, 1950's other sublimely toxic account of growing old female in show business, but the Broadway milieu of Great White Way diva Margo...

(Douglas Sirk, USA, 1955): That the house owned by Cary Scott (Jane Wyman) in Douglas Sirk's All that Heaven Allows was eventually owned by the Cleaver family is a heaven-sent irony all on its own, suggesting that the TV set planted in the living room by the woman's...

(Rouben Mamoulian, US, 1929): Fresh from making a head-turning splash on Broadway with Porgy, 31 year-old Rouben Mamoulian plunged into his first movie assignment, a Paramount-produced backstage musical about an aging, alcoholic burlesque diva named Kitty Darling (Helen Morgan), with the fearless disregard of rules that can only...

(Ted Kotcheff, Canada, 1974): "Older than the banks of the Nile, not so cruel as the circumcision rites for the Zulus, and even more intricate than a snowflake, is the bar mitzvah." And so begins 'Happy Bar Mitvah, Bernie', the five minute film-within-a-film, produced by the aspiring...

(Lars Von Trier, Denmark/Germany/France/Sweden/Italy/Poland, 2009): The serpent may be missing from Lars Von Trier's outrageous contemporary reconfiguration of the Garden of Eden story, but don't be fooled, the devil is in the creator. An essentialist gender combat movie about an unnamed couple (Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem...

(J.C. Chandor, USA, 2013): J.C. Chandor's followup to the sleek ensemble Wall Street noir Margin Call is another movie about the inexorable bearing down of disaster, but in this case the agency of the trouble comes from higher even than a penthouse boardroom: this is heaven itself...

(Jean Vigo, France, 1934): Jean Vigo's only completed feature film (before his death at 29) is a still-ravishing erotic dream poem of a movie, tapping at once into the expressionistic riches of the late silent era, the surging illogic and sexual transgressiveness of surrealism, the scruffy...

(Michael Haneke, France/Germany/Austria, 2012): An apartment-bound horror movie of another kind, Michael Haneke's Amour is a seige movie in which the intruder is death and the only escape is the same. But sensational it most definitely is not. Harrowing, relentless and grueling arguably, but also distinctly and definitely...

(Ben Affleck, U.S.A, 2012): In 1979, as the U.S. buckles up for its tight rightward turn from Carter to Reagan, a crisis in the newly Islamic Republic of Iran hastens the skidding: the U.S. embassy in Tehran is stormed by militants furious over America's role in...