This is the last post of Follow The Thread.
I say that with a mixture of sadness and relief. Over the course of three years, Elma and I have researched, curated and written 152 posts, covering nearly 900 films, documentaries and TV shows.
We did it because we loved it. Each week we’d unearth a complex web of threads connecting current titles to the massive online library that we are all blessed to have at our fingertips. Some of the connections were obvious, some were obscure. Some resonant, some just fun.
The process was always delightful. And, it was a tremendous amount of work.
But what I’ll especially miss are all the juicy and culty titles we would discover – or, in some cases, re-discover – in the course of our detective work.
So for this last post, I’ve pulled together a fast, long and extremely biased list of some of discoveries Elma and I have made over the last three years, stretching back to August 2014.
Thanks for reading. Arrivaderci! *Each title is followed by the date of the post*
Afternoon Delight (2013)
Jill Soloway’s 2013 first film. Kathryn Hahn is a frustrated LA Mom who opens up her home to a homeless young exotic dancer (Juno Temple).
A Field in England (2013)
Hot UK team Ben Wheatley and wife Amy Jump’s low-budget, anti-romantic account of the 17th Century civil wars, complete with psychedelic mushrooms.
Belle du Jour (1967)
Luis Bunuel’s amoral anti-bourgeois meditation on erotic fulfilment starring 23-year-old Catherine Deneuve.
Welcome to The Rileys (2010)
Kristen Stewart and James Gandolfini in an unexpected fable of a bereaved father.
Orange Sunshine (2016)
Acclaimed doc maker William Kirkley tells the story of Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a mystical/altruistic band of surfer hippies out of Laguna Beach who manufactured and sold 100 million hits of LSD.
The Jackie Show – Televised Tour of the White House (1962)
80 million people watched as the breathy, beautiful and slightly distant young First Lady showed off her White House restoration on live TV.
Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (2009)
Damien Chazelle’s Harvard Thesis film is a jazz musical warm-up for La La Land, scored by his collaborator Justin Hurwitz.
Kenneth Lonergan’s uneasy maybe-masterpiece starring Anna Paquin (pre-True Blood) as a magnetically unlikeable New York teen trying to work out her place in the universe.
Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus (2013)
Sebastian Silva’s story of a feckless American (Michael Cera) who sets off in search of psychedelic cactus. He and Chilean friends are joined by spacey, free-spirited Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffman). The trip becomes the trip.
400 Blows (1959)
Autobiographical childhood film from 27-year-old critic Francois Truffaut that exploded him into the front ranks of the New Wave. We’d never seen it before!
Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2015)
Scary black men with rifles on the steps of the California State House. The amazing story told definitively in this PBS doc from Stanley Nelson.
Open Your Eyes (1997)
Alejandro Amenabar’s mindbending Spanish language parable about a young man whose lust captures him in an endless loop of subjective reality was the basis for Vanilla Sky.
Summer with Monika (1953)
This remarkable early Bergman film about adolescent lovers who escape on a summer idyll has been cited as an influence by both John Waters and Woody Allen.
A Woman Named Golda (1982)
You wouldn’t know that Ingrid Bergman was dying of cancer when she made this surprising portrait of the grandmotherly and iron-willed Israeli Prime Minister. Leonard Nimoy plays her husband, Judy Davis is the young Golda.
A Most Wanted Man (2014)
A stark, chilling spy movie from Dutch directory Anton Corbijn, with Seymour Phillip Hoffman starring in his last leading role.
The Source (1999)
Chuck Workman’s definitive documentary on The Beats. Focuses on Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs, with Dennis Hopper, Johnny Depp and John Turturro reading their works.
The Blue Room (2014)
A distinctively French and exceptionally erotic thriller from director Mathieu Amalric, based on a novel by Georges Simenon.
Black Death (2010)
From horror director Chris Smith, “Dark Ages Pulp” — a horror/fable about the evils of religion and belief, with plenty of gore and a liberal dash of the supernatural. With Sean Bean, aka Edard Stark, and Carice von Houten (GOT’s Melisandre).
I Am Love (2009)
In the third of Tilda Swinton’s ongoing string of collaborations with Italian director Luca Guadigno (Biggest Splash), she plays the Russian-born matriarch of a haute bourgeois Italian family that has fallen on rocky times.
Better Off Ted (2009-2010)
A “brilliant but cancelled” ABC office sitcom that is a more-accurate-than-most mirror of contemporary corporate life.
This was the last of seminal French director Jean Viggo’s four films. He died in his wife’s arms a few days after the film’s disastrous release. Now it’s beloved, the exceptionally simple story of a girl from a river town who impulsively marries a barge captain.
15-year-old Jennifer Connelly is a girl on the brink of womanhood whose fantasies come alive. David Bowie is Jareth, the Ogre King, tempter and torturer in a glam rock wig and notoriously form-fitting tights. Cult fantasy collaboration from George Lucas and Jim (Muppet) Henson.
99 Homes (2015)
Michael Shannon is a real estate shark who teaches Andrew Garfield how to save his family home – by preying on others. The start of our obsession with chameleon Shannon.
The Great Beauty (2013)
Paolo Sorrentino’s Oscar winner about a famous journalist who blithely charms his way through the upper echelons of Roman culture – until, on his 65th birthday, his true love unexpectedly dies.
What If (2014)
A frustratingly cliched romcom worth seeing for the singularly charming performance by post-Potter Daniel Radcliffe. Also with Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver and Mackenzie Davis.
Purple Noon (1960)
René Clément directs Alain Delon in this superior French version of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. Recently remastered by Criterion, spoiled only by a wimped-out ending.
Animal Kingdom (2011)
Ben Mendelsohn plays a borerline psychopath in this Down Under reinvigoration of American gangster conventions. Oscar nom for Jacki Weaver, career rebirth for Mendelsohn.
Werner Von Braun: Missile to the Moon (2012)
Biography of the charismatic and photogenic ex-Nazi who led Germany’s V2 missile program, was forgiven, and became the face of the American lunar project in the 60’s.
The Maid (2009)
In this Chilean Sundance Grand Jury winner, a family retainer turns the tables when it looks like she’s going to be replaced by a younger woman. Delicious evil star turn by famous actress Catalina Saavedra.
From Korean director Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer) – a devoted and deceptively innocuous mother stops at nothing to get her murderous son out of prison.
Freedom on My Mind (1994)
Oscar-nominated doc traces the violent, courageous and ultimately triumphant struggle for voter rights in 60’s Mississippi.
Infinitely Polar Bear (2015)
Mark Ruffalo is in top form as a crazy but caring dad in this honest and winning first film by veteran producer Maya Forbes.
A typically idiosyncratic festival favorite from Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster). A father protects his teenage children from the world by confining them to the family estate.
This atypically moody rock n roll biopic about Ian Curtis, lead singer for Joy Division paints him as a doomed poet. Impeccable performances by Sam Riley and Samantha Morton as his wife. Black and white, directed by Joy Division photographer Anton Corbijn.
Arnold Schwarzenegger gives an surprisingly excellent, dialed-back performance as a father whose daughter is infected with a zombie virus and faces unbearable. Post-apocalyptic, but not an action film.
The Internet’s Own Boy: The Life of Aaron Schwartz (2014)
Digital-focused doc maker Brian Knappenberger hones on in programming prodigy Schwartz, who was instrumental in developing RSS, Creative Commons and Reddit, but was hounded to death after he successfully defeated the corporation-backed Stop Online Piracy Act.
Hustle & Flow (2004)
This Sundance breakout stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson as a pimp and his girlfriend trying to rap their way out of the ghetto, showing a lot of chemistry and foreshadowing Empire.
In the heyday of Blaxploitation, Diahann Carroll got an Oscar nomination for this story of a single welfare mother who falls in love with a garbage man, played by James Earl Jones. Music by Curtis Mayfield.
The Music of Chance (1993)
James Spader donned a black wig and moustache to play a hustling gambler. But it’s not what you think. The director is Peter Haas who went on to do Angels and Insects. Mandy Patinkin, Charles Durning, Joel Grey.
The Babadook (2014)
Mind-twisting Freudian study cloaked in a meticulously crafted horror film about a widowed mother and her troubled/troublesome 7-year-old, from first-time Aussie director Jennifer Kent.
Red Riding (2009)
A pre-breakout Andrew Garfield is outstanding in this unique UK TV project based on David Pearce’s serial killer novels. Three novels, three films, three great directors, three years, three different looks (16mm; 35mm; digital) – all pulled together by screenwriter Tony Grisoni.
From director Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) highest grossing Norwegian film ever. A short and pathologically ambitious headhunter moonlights as an art thief to support his trophy wife. Things go wrong.
Great time to revisit Christopher Nolan’s first film. A black and white low-budget creeper that interweaves three stories from three different time frames.
Brothers of the Head (2006)
Remarkably authentic and intentionally unfunny mockumentary by the makers of LOST IN LA MANCHA follows a pair of conjoined twins who become punk rockers in 1970’s England.
Ace in the Hole (1951)
Neglected and prescient film from Billy Wilder. Kirk Douglas plays a corrupt, disgraced reporter who seizes an opportunity to go big when a smalltown man is trapped in a cave. First time Wilder was writer, producer and director.
Stuck on You (2003)
Farrelly brothers cast Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear as conjoined twins who go to Hollywood. Loaded with cameos – Cher, Nicholson, Leno, Streep.
The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
Early Guillermo de Toro evolving his signature mix of tenderness and phantasm. Gothic horror set in an orphanage during the Spanish Civil War.
Dark City (1998)
A man struggles with memories of his past, including a wife he cannot remember. Brilliant gothic labyrinth from Alex Proyas (The Crow; I, Robot).