Friday, November 19, 2010

Jahnke's Record Collection: Van Dyke Parks - Discover America

And we’re back!

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted one of these blog entries. I apologize to those of you who were just starting to get into them. Part of the delay had to do with this year’s Hell Plaza Oktoberfest for The Digital Bits, which effectively wipes out all other projects for the entire month of October. But besides that, Jahnke’s Record Collection had fallen victim to something that happens quite a bit with me. I was overthinking it. I had an idea for an entry back in September which would have been a year-by-year look at albums that had shaped my life since my birth. I still think it’s a neat idea. It’s also ridiculously ambitious and pretty far afield from my original concept for the Record Collection blogs.

So I’m gonna try this again, hopefully on a more consistent basis this time. For those of you who may have forgotten the original idea (like I obviously did), it’s quite simple. Every week, I select an album completely at random from my collection, give it a few listens, then write up my impressions of it, history with it, and in a few cases, attempt to justify why I bought it in the first place and hung on to it all these years. As you may have guessed from the image up above, this week’s entry is Discover America by Van Dyke Parks. And as is the case with several of my albums, my history with this one begins with a list.

I’m a sucker for lists. I love making them and I love reading them. When Rolling Stone or Entertainment Weekly does a list issue, I’m the first to pore over it with a fine toothcomb. I’m also often the first to throw the magazine across the room in disgust. Lists like these are put together by committee. They rarely surprise you or lead you to discover anything you wouldn’t eventually have found on your own. Personal lists, on the other hand, can be a different story. Film Comment, I believe, runs or used to run an annual best-of issue. I always found the most interesting part to be the section devoted to the personal favorites of various critics and filmmakers. This is where you can learn something about the person compiling the list and hear about titles that would otherwise have flown beneath your radar.

Several years ago, Elvis Costello did a list of his 500 essential albums for Vanity Fair. I don’t remember the exact wording. It may have been “essential” or “favorite” or something else entirely. At any rate, it was one of the most interesting and eclectic album lists I’d ever seen before or since. He covered a wide range of genres, including classical, jazz, country, hip-hop and, of course, rock & roll. The list included such out of left field choices as An Evening With Groucho Marx and Noel Coward’s HMV Recordings. Needless to say, the idiosyncratic nature of the list appealed to me and I went on a mission to find as many of these albums as I could.

One of the albums was Van Dyke Parks’ Discover America. I knew Parks’ name from his work with The Beach Boys and Harry Nilsson but had no idea he was a recording artist in his own right. This also happened to be during the heyday of Napster, so it was no problem to jump online and download a song or two to get a taste. Unlike apparently most of the world, I would actually use Napster to help me decide whether or not I wanted to buy an album. I’d get a couple songs and, if I liked them, I’d go buy the album. So if your name is Van Dyke Parks, don’t sue me for downloading one of your tunes. It actually led to a sale you wouldn’t have got otherwise.

Anyway, the song I selected was a little ditty called “Jack Palance”, which I obviously chose because of the name. It was absolutely not what I was expecting. It’s a short and sweet calypso number and despite being barely a minute long, it made me grin uncontrollably. It was just fun. I enjoyed it a lot but half assumed it was a goof. It would sort of be like if you heard The Beatles’ “Maggie May” and assumed it was representative of Let It Be. So I was very surprised when I bought Discover America and learned that yes, in fact the entire album is like that one song. It’s a warm, jaunty calypso record and most of the songs are only about two or three minutes in length.

In addition to Jack Palance, Parks’ subjects include Bing Crosby, J. Edgar Hoover, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and The Mills Brothers. But the high point begins with a cover of Allen Toussaint’s “Occapella” and continues with “Sailin’ Shoes” and “Riverboat”. It’s a string of great, infectious songs and if they don’t make you happy, you may want to see a shrink. Get on some antidepressants or something, man, because this is fun, fun stuff.

I was pleasantly surprised that in 1972, the year of Watergate and so much other turmoil, a nostalgically happy album called Discover America was released. It does not surprise me that it seems to remain something of a cult record cherished only by a handful of people. I don’t know anyone who actively dislikes calypso music, although I suppose it’s possible. But I also don’t know many people who like it enough to groove to an entire album of it. A lot of people seem to look at it as background music, enjoyable enough if it’s there but not something they seek out. Their loss. Discover America is a burst of tropical sunshine on a cloudy day and it makes me smile every time I put it on.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Jahnke's Record Collection: Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska

Cast your mind back to 1982. MTV had just celebrated its first birthday and was already beginning to change the way we heard music. Artists as diverse as Pat Benatar, Peter Gabriel, The Pretenders and Billy Idol had already started experimenting with this new music video thing. In May, Duran Duran released Rio, becoming arguably the first major group to owe most of its success to MTV. Even The J. Geils Band had popped up their signature blues bar-band sound, hitting the top of the charts with “Centerfold”. By the end of the year, Michael Jackson would release Thriller and the music industry would never really be the same again.

In the middle of all this, on September 30, Bruce Springsteen defiantly released Nebraska, a stark, stripped-down, unpolished collection of songs about murder, unemployment, loneliness and desperation. Recorded by Springsteen alone in his bedroom on a cheap four-track cassette recorder, Nebraska wasn’t even supposed to be an album. They were demo tapes meant to be played for the E Street Band, fleshed out, re-recorded and then released as a record. But everyone agreed that the full-band versions weren’t nearly as effective as the originals. Supposedly Springsteen carted the tape around in the back of his car for a few weeks while trying to decide what to do with the songs. That may be an apocryphal story but it’s a good one. Regardless, the demos were eventually released as the final album, technical limitations, tape hiss and all.

Considering that Springsteen had just enjoyed the biggest pop success of his career with “Hungry Heart” two years earlier, it’s a bit shocking that Columbia Records let him release Nebraska at all. There were no singles off the album in the US. Springsteen did concede to releasing a video for “Atlantic City”, although it’s really more of an anti-video, consisting entirely of grainy, black-and-white images of the city at its bleakest. The whole thing looks like it was shot from a car in about half an hour and the vibe is downright post-apocalyptic. Needless to say, it made strange bedfellows alongside the likes of “Hungry Like The Wolf” and “We Got The Beat”.

The no-frills approach resulted in one of Springsteen’s most enduring and cohesive albums. The individual songs are brilliant and often beautiful but the total is much greater than the sum of its parts. Nebraska is an intimate, poignant record that demands to be heard from start to finish. The album has inspired countless writers, filmmakers and other musicians. “Highway Patrolman” alone was covered by no less than Johnny Cash and provided the basis for Sean Penn’s film The Indian Runner, while “State Trooper” served as the end credits music for the finale of the first season of The Sopranos. Coincidentally, that was the first episode of the series I watched and I became addicted to it the second I heard that familiar, ominous guitar riff start to play.

If Nebraska isn’t my favorite in the Springsteen catalog, it’s definitely in the top three. Depending on my mood on a particular day, there’s a good chance I will cite Nebraska as my favorite Springsteen album. Back in my college days, I took a cross-country road-trip from West Virginia to Montana with my friend Andrew Hansen. (These days, Andy’s a big-time composer and sound designer in the Chicago area. That doesn’t really have any bearing on this story but it is pretty damn cool.) Our route took us through the great state of Nebraska and there was really only one choice of music to play across those rolling plains. Springsteen’s songs transformed what could have been a deadly dull stretch of empty road into a starkly beautiful American landscape. Suddenly every farm house and small town we passed had a dozen stories to tell. I’d wager we both could have criss-crossed the state a dozen times listening to that album. That’s a pretty good legacy for a record that could have been lost under the passenger seat of Bruce Springsteen’s car.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Jahnke's Record Collection: John Zorn - Filmworks III 1990-1995

Of all the artists in my music library, none is more challenging than John Zorn, both musically and simply in terms of output. I dare you to keep up with Zorn’s staggeringly prolific discography. John Zorn is an intimidating artist for the uninitiated. According to Wikipedia, the man appears on over 400 albums as a composer and/or performer, including work with the bands Masada, Painkiller, Naked City, and more. His work has roots in jazz, neo-classical, klezmer and much more. Where does one even begin to delve into a musician like this?

I was introduced to Zorn through two albums in the late 80s: The Big Gundown, a tribute to legendary film composer Ennio Morricone, and Naked City, a mixture of originals and covers including John Barry’s James Bond Theme and Henry Mancini’s A Shot In The Dark. I enjoyed both quite a bit, although the avant-garde shrieks ‘n’ bleats tracks on Naked City didn’t exactly get played over and over again. I looked for more of Zorn’s work, still a manageable task back then. That began to change in 1995 when Zorn formed his own record label, Tzadik. Finally allowed to release whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, Zorn threw open the floodgates, releasing so much music that I found it impossible to keep up.

I knew I’d have to focus my interest down to just a few key areas unless I wanted to move into a larger house and officially dub one of the closets The John Zorn Room. Since I had first discovered his music through his reinterpretations of Morricone, a safe bet seemed to be collecting his Filmworks series. I’d bought the first volume when it was released on the Nonesuch label in ’92 and enjoyed it. Surely this small corner of Zorn’s music could be easily digested.

Yeah, right. As of this writing, the Filmworks series is up to its 23rd volume. That’s about two albums per year of music for movies, mostly underground and documentaries you’ve never heard of and will probably never get a chance to see. The most well-known film Zorn has worked on is probably Trembling Before G-d, the acclaimed 2001 documentary about gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews.

As much as I liked Zorn’s work, even the most difficult-to-listen-to avant-garde stuff struck me as interesting, he wasn’t someone who received much in the way of media coverage and I wasn’t passionate enough about him to follow his work obsessively. He was one of those guys that, if I was in a record store, once or twice a year I’d go over to the John Zorn section to see if he had a new album out. Usually, he would have about five or six new albums out. Over time, I became overwhelmed by all this and I stopped buying his work. I always tell myself that I’ll return someday but it’s daunting trying to decide which of the 200 or so albums he’s released in the meantime I should start with.

Filmworks III was the last Zorn album I bought, over ten years ago now. It’s divided into four sections, representing Zorn at his best and his most challenging. The music for Thieves Quartet and Hollywood Hotel are both top-notch. It’s jazzy, moody music that evokes a distinct noir mood. It’s virtually impossible for me to listen to the main titles of Hollywood Hotel with its delicate guitar work by Marc Ribot and dreamy alto sax by Zorn without feeling a cigarette between my fingers, the pleasurable burn of whisky at the back of my throat, and the red glare of a flashing neon sign outside the window, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. Zorn’s Music for Tsunta is more schizophrenic, nine cues sequenced back-to-back as one track featuring odd sound effects, turntable scratches and an occasional hesitant banjo from Bill Frisell. It’s good stuff but I can understand why most people would wonder what the hell was going on.

And then there’s the music for Weiden and Kennedy. W+K is a Portland-based advertising agency responsible for iconic campaigns like Nike’s Mars Blackmon spots with Spike Lee. It’s difficult to imagine Zorn’s music accompanying commercials but then again, it’s difficult to imagine some of the filmmakers Zorn works with on these spots, including David Cronenberg, Jean-Luc Godard and Sven Nykvist, making commercials in the first place. These are short little musical sucker punches, ranging from 14 seconds to just over a minute. Again, not the most relaxing music to have playing in the background on a Sunday morning. But Zorn gets his ideas across quickly, immediately conjuring up solid images and moods even if you haven’t seen the commercials. It’s a fascinating study in the specific needs of film composition. If I taught a class in film music, I’d have a day where we listened to these tracks and tried to dissect what they were used for.

Obviously John Zorn isn’t for everybody. I admit that I’ll rarely pull out one of his albums and listen to it from start to finish, although several of his more accessible tracks get played repeatedly on my iPod. But every so often, I enjoy giving my ears a bit of a workout and Zorn fits the bill perfectly, bleating saxes, crashing drums, guttural screams and all.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jahnke's Record Collection: The Return!

I have not been very diligent about keeping this blog updated, though in my meager defense, it hasn’t been from lack of trying. This is the third time I’ve started writing this entry over the past few weeks. Each time, I’d get a few paragraphs into it and realize that the place I’d started from didn’t really have much to do with where I wanted to go. Some interesting ideas came out of those false starts and I’ll probably end up recycling them at some point. But their time has not yet come.

All I really wanted to do was talk about a band I’d been enjoying lately. Not really a big deal, right? But in my previous efforts, I was overthinking how to lead into that and ended up going down paths that had nothing whatsoever to do with that band. But now, since it’s been awhile since I’ve updated this blog, I thought I’d just catch you up on a number of different bands and albums I’ve been listening to since last time. Some of them are new, some are new to me, and some I’ve had for awhile. And we’ll kick things off with the band I’ve spent the past three weeks trying to write about…

Heartless Bastards – The Mountain

If you’re as lucky as I am, you have several friends whose taste in movies, books or music you trust implicitly. If they recommend something to you, you get it, no questions asked, confident that you will enjoy it as much as they think you will. Not that their tastes mirror yours exactly.But they are extremely knowledgeable and can recommend things based on your specific likes and dislikes. I have two go-to guys for music, one of whom is MusicTAP’s Matt Rowe.Matt’s really good at this kind of thing and so far, he hasn’t steered me wrong once. So when Matt started raving…literally raving, like a man possessed by demons…about Heartless Bastards, I knew I’d have to check them out.

Glad I am that I did, too. The Mountain, the trio’s third album, is a country-blues tour de force. Erika Wennerstrom leads the band with a grungy guitar and deep, authoritative, bourbon-flavored voice. Listening to songs like “Out At Sea” and the title track, you’d think the band had been playing together for decades. In fact, the band’s lineup has changed a bit since their 2005 debut. You’d never guess it from listening to their three albums back-to-back. Both Stairs And Elevators and All This Time have much to offer, including great tunes like “Done Got Old” and “Came A Long Way”. But from album to album, you can hear Wennerstrom honing their signature sound, expanding from simple guitar, bass and drums to incorporate mandolin and violin. In a short time, Heartless Bastards have become a band to reckon with and The Mountain is a massively entertaining slab of roots rock. It’s their finest album to date and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next. Until then, crank this one up loud while you stir your brandy with a nail.

Gogol Bordello – Trans-Continental Hustle

Pandora is just about the best idea for a website in the history of the internets. If you haven’t stumbled across it yet, the idea is that you enter the name of a band or song you like. Then, through some astonishing computer alchemy, Pandora creates a streaming radio station based on the specific qualities of that band or song. As you give the songs that come up a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”, Pandora refines its parameters and gets better at finding music you like.The really amazing thing is the damn thing actually works. Plenty of websites make computer-generated recommendations but none of them ever come close to getting it right. For instance,Netflix right now seems to think that because I loved the sardonic British comedy In The Loop, I’ll go equally wild for Rob Reiner’s schmaltz-a-thon The Bucket List (the common thread apparently that both are “Comedies on Blu-ray”). By contrast, Pandora runs second only to actual human beings in introducing me to new music.

A few years ago, I created a Pogues station on Pandora and discovered the raucous gypsy punk of Gogol Bordello. It was love at first listen, despite the fact that half the time I have no idea what the hell lead singer Eugene Hutz is babbling about. Their latest album offers up more of the same, despite the presence of uber-producer Rick Rubin and a switch to a major label for the first time. Unlike Heartless Bastards, I can’t say that Gogol Bordello has expanded their scope much over the years. But their unique sound is so much fun, it doesn’t really matter. Trans-Continental Hustle is a loud, loopy good time. It’s a party in your ears and everybody’s invited.

Can You Dig It? The Music And Politics Of Black Action Films 1968-75

This double-disc import from Soul Jazz Records compiles 34 killer tracks from movies like Coffy, The Mack and Petey Wheatstraw from the likes of Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, Quincy Jones, Willie Hutch and many, many more. And if that was all it had going for it, this would still be one of the coolest CDs you could hope to own. But wait, there’s more! The set includes a lavishly-illustrated 100-page book with informative, well-written essays and bios by Stuart Baker. More than just an album, this is a multimedia history of blaxpoitation cinema.

Duran Duran – Rio

Back when this album was huge, I listened to Duran Duran in a detached, semi-ironic, I’m-too-cool-to-admit-I-actually-enjoy-this way. In fact, I would refer to the band as “Double Duran”, affecting a hiccupy, Martha Quinn-voice, mainly to annoy my friends who legitimately enjoyed them. I heard the record, of course, but was mainly familiar with the singles. It was virtually impossible to avoid “Rio” and “Hungry Like The Wolf” back then. Now that I’ve bothered to really listen to the album, I’ve got to admit…this is good stuff. I won’t go so far as to say there’s more here than meets the eye but songs like “Lonely In Your Nightmare” and “The Chauffeur” are moodier and more interesting than the band is usually given credit for. Could a reappraisal of Seven And The Ragged Tiger be far behind?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Jahnke's Record Collection: In Search Of The Perfect Album

Over at his MusicTAP website, my friend Matt Rowe regularly posits intriguing discussion topics and music-related surveys. I don’t participate in each and every one, although I do end up spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about all of them. For example, he recently concluded a poll of underrated guitarists. Sure, there are plenty of guitarists whose work I love. John Fahey is way up there, as is David Gilmour. But I don’t really know enough about the subject to know if these guys are generally considered underrated or overrated. Still, I had a good time thinking about guitar players for a day or two.

Every so often, Rowe, magnificent bastard that he is, will casually toss out a question that gnaws at me for days on end. In his innocence, I’m sure he simply thinks it’s an interesting little poser that will illicit several immediate gut reactions. For the likes of me, it becomes an unsolvable mystery not unlike the Riddle of the Sphinx. It starts an internal debate that rages on long after Matt has moved on to other worthy subjects. About a week or so ago, he asked one such deceptively simple question.

What do you consider to be a perfect album?

Now if he’d asked what are your “favorite” albums, there would be no problem. I can rattle a list of those off without blinking. But it’s that word “perfect” that makes things so difficult. “Perfect” means that there isn’t a false note or a mediocre song to be found. I quickly realized that very few of my favorite albums are in fact perfect. Maybe part of the reason that I love them so much is that they are imperfect.

Born To Run is a phenomenal album, one that I return to again and again. It’s the source of many of my favorite Springsteen songs, including “Meeting Across The River”, “She’s The One” and the more famous tracks like “Thunder Road” and the title tune. I wonder if I would love those songs quite as much if the album didn’t have “Night” stuck right in the middle of it. I’ve always thought “Night” was a terribly boring, generic song and whenever it comes on, I either can’t wait for it to be over or I skip it entirely, depending on how charitable I feel. But maybe all those other great songs seem even better in contrast to it. I hate that song but I can’t imagine the record without it.

I suppose I would consider Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to be perfect, although it’s not my favorite Beatles album. It was, however, the first Beatles album I ever heard and I listened to my mom’s original vinyl LP obsessively when I was a kid. The record even had the Sgt. Pepper cut-out figures still intact. I suspect Mom watched me playing with those with a mixture of panic and delight, though to her credit, she never yelled that those toys weren’t for playing with. It was probably the first album I knew by heart. Even the much-maligned “Within You, Without You” expanded my horizons and struck me as a mystical, transcendent musical journey, which is probably what George Harrison intended in the first place. He just didn’t realize that his ideal audience would be eight-year-old boys growing up in small-town Minnesota in the mid-70s.

Most of my favorite artists, folks like Tom Waits, Warren Zevon, The Pogues, and Nick Cave, don’t have any albums I’d consider to be absolutely perfect. Cave comes closest with Murder Ballads, which is pretty close to an absolutely pure distillation of everything that makes him and the Bad Seeds so compelling. From Mr. Waits, I love Rain Dogs, Bone Machine, Mule Variations and Swordfishtrombones but I’ve never felt the urge to listen to any of them exclusively for any length of time. Zevon’s last album, The Wind, is made perfect by its imperfections. They are constant reminders of the ticking clock Warren was working against to complete the record before his death. As for The Pogues, part of what I love about the band is how one second they can be completely in control of their sound and the next, they sound exactly like the bunch of unruly drunken Irishmen they appear to be.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I don’t care much for perfection in music. Music is both universal and deeply personal. If you can record one song that means something to people, you’ve done something to be proud of. If you can put five or six of them together, it’s downright remarkable. But an entire album where every song hits you in just the right way?That may be nothing short of miraculous. And that’s when I realized that there was one album like that for me. One album that still grabs me from start to finish, sounds constantly fresh but can also transport me back to when I first heard it. The first time I heard it, it was like nothing else I’d been exposed to before, and its arrival in my life did strike me as something of a miracle.

I came late to London Calling. When the album was first released, I was all of ten years old, so the British punk scene wasn’t exactly high on my radar. If I had to guess, I’d wager my first exposure to the band came somewhere around 1983, most likely by seeing a video for “Rock The Casbah” or “This Is Radio Clash” on Night Flight. Even then, it would be another couple years before someone specifically steered me toward London Calling. The first song hooked me, filling my head with apocalyptic visions. But it was the way the album built on that foundation that really grabbed me. I’d never before heard an album that felt so electric and spontaneous, but also so perfectly controlled. Every song leads into the next with laser-sharp precision. Even today, if I hear one song off this album, I immediately want to listen to the whole thing so I can place it in its proper context. Hearing “The Card Cheat” by itself without “Koka Kola” leading in to it seems somehow wrong.

London Calling was a revelation for me and a gateway album to countless other bands. I’d never heard a voice like Joe Strummer’s before. I’d never heard a band use instruments this way before. After this, everything I’d been listening to sounded too slick, too professional, too controlled. It led me to explore punk music more in-depth and while I liked much of what I heard, it often sounded too chaotic, like a lot of these bands honestly had no idea what they were doing and if they recorded something great, it was kind of by accident. There was nothing accidental about London Calling. It’s a passionate, sprawling record full of songs I’m always tempted to listen to again as soon as they end, but before I have the chance, the band has already grabbed my attention with something even better. It’s an album I can’t listen to just once and I can’t listen to in pieces. It’s all or nothing. Death or glory. And that, to my ears anyway, is perfection.

Monday, February 1, 2010

It Was Twenty-ish Years Ago Today...The 100 Best Movies of the 90s!

In my recently completed 100 Best Movies of the 00s feature over at Jahnke’s Electric Theatre, I made a couple references to a similar project I’d undertaken ten years earlier. Much to my surprise, several people asked to see my 100 Best Movies of the 90s. Unfortunately, the complete essay has been lost to the vapor of defunct computer storage. I probably still have it somewhere…most likely on an unlabeled floppy disk. One day I’ll go through all that stuff and if the essay turns up, I’ll post it in all its glory (with the caveat that it was written with an intended audience of about five).

But even without my scintillating prose to jazz it up, I thought it might be interesting to post the list of titles. Looking at my picks today, I still think it’s a pretty strong lineup. Primarily though, it helps put the whole idea of these lists in context. There are some major omissions here, including Audition and Being John Malkovich, neither of which I’d seen when I originally came up with this list. If I were to redo the list now, some titles would move up (notably Magnolia and The Big Lebowski), others down (I still think The Rapture is a great movie but is it really top ten material?). There’s nothing on here that embarrasses me, as in, “Gawd, did I actually try to argue that The Phantom Menace was a great movie?” (For the record, no…I never did.) I could still make a case for every movie on this list, even those that would have to fall away to make room for new favorites.

What interests me the most about this list is how it transports me back into my early 2000 mindset. Back then, I didn’t have a cyber-soapbox for my half-baked ideas. I was just a movie fan working a job that left him with waaaaaaaay too much time on his hands. Looking at these titles in this context, I can instantly remember the way I felt about them at the time. Those feelings have changed over time but it’s valuable for me to remember what my feelings were then. Obviously you won’t get that but I hope seeing this list will be of some interest nevertheless.

Since I already revealed the number one pick, I’m dispensing with the whole countdown schtick and presenting the list in order. For the record, my pick for the top spot has not changed in all this time. And I apologize in advance to Elijah Olson and anyone else who feels I should not have grouped all three Lord Of The Rings movies into one. This list is really gonna drive you up the wall.

1. The Three Colors Trilogy (Blue, White, Red - 1993-94, Krzysztof Kieslowski)

2. Barton Fink (1991, Joel & Ethan Coen)

3. Edward Scissorhands (1990, Tim Burton)

4. Ed Wood (1994, Tim Burton)

5. Babe (1995, Chris Noonan)

6. Breaking The Waves (1996, Lars von Trier)

7. The Rapture (1991, Michael Tolkin)

8. Fight Club (1999, David Fincher)

9. Heavenly Creatures (1994, Peter Jackson)

10. Joe Versus The Volcano (1990, John Patrick Shanley)

11. The Double Life Of Veronique (1991, Krzysztof Kieslowski)

12. Unforgiven (1992, Clint Eastwood)

13. The Reflecting Skin (1990, Philip Ridley)

14. Magnolia (1999, Paul Thomas Anderson)

15. The Big Lebowski (1998, Joel & Ethan Coen)

16. JFK (1991, Oliver Stone)

17. Husbands And Wives (1992, Woody Allen)

18. Out Of Sight (1998, Steven Soderbergh)

19. The Straight Story (1999, David Lynch)

20. The New Age (1994, Michael Tolkin)

21. Bullet In The Head (1990, John Woo)

22. American Beauty (1999, Sam Mendes)

23. A Simple Plan (1998, Sam Raimi)

24. Chasing Amy (1997, Kevin Smith)

25. Fargo (1996, Joel & Ethan Coen)

26. Babe: Pig In The City (1998, George Miller)

27. Pecker (1998, John Waters)

28. La Belle Noiseuse (1991, Jacques Rivette)

29. Lone Star (1996, John Sayles)

30. Run Lola Run (1999, Tom Tykwer)

31. The Fisher King (1991, Terry Gilliam)

32. GoodFellas (1990, Martin Scorsese)

33. Reservoir Dogs (1992, Quentin Tarantino)

34. Queen Margot (1994, Patrice Chereau)

35. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills (1996, Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky)

36. Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993, Francois Girard)

37. Fast, Cheap & Out Of Control (1997, Errol Morris)

38. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993, Henry Selick)

39. Delicatessen (1991, Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro)

40. King Of The Hill (1993, Steven Soderbergh)

41. Mars Attacks! (1996, Tim Burton)

42. Lost Highway (1997, David Lynch)

43. Flesh And Bone (1993, Steven Kloves)

44. Twelve Monkeys (1995, Terry Gilliam)

45. Brother's Keeper (1992, Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky)

46. There's Something About Mary (1998, Bobby & Peter Farrelly)

47. Last Night (1999, Don McKellar)

48. Crumb (1994, Terry Zwigoff)

49. La Femme Nikita (1990, Luc Besson)

50. L.A. Confidential (1997, Curtis Hanson)

51. Schizopolis (1996, Steven Soderbergh)

52. Grosse Pointe Blank (1997, George Armitage)

53. Darkman (1990, Sam Raimi)

54. Army Of Darkness (1993, Sam Raimi)

55. The Quick And The Dead (1995, Sam Raimi)

56. The City Of Lost Children (1995, Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro)

57. Bitter Moon (1992, Roman Polanski)

58. Waiting For Guffman (1996, Christopher Guest)

59. The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996, Milos Forman)

60. Hard-Boiled (1992, John Woo)

61. Olivier Olivier (1992, Agnieszka Holland)

62. The Iron Giant (1999, Brad Bird)

63. Proof (1991, Jocelyn Moorhouse)

64. The Grifters (1990, Stephen Frears)

65. Men With Guns (1997, John Sayles)

66. American Movie (1999, Chris Smith)

67. Smoke / Blue In The Face (1995, Wayne Wang & Paul Auster)

68. Crash (1996, David Cronenberg)

69. Secrets & Lies (1996, Mike Leigh)

70. Big Night (1996, Stanley Tucci & Campbell Scott)

71. Boogie Nights (1997, Paul Thomas Anderson)

72. L.627 (1992, Bertrand Tavernier)

73. Dead Man (1995, Jim Jarmusch)

74. Wag The Dog (1997, Barry Levinson)

75. Wild At Heart (1990, David Lynch)

76. Strangers In Good Company (1991, Cynthia Scott)

77. Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990, Joe Dante)

78. Ruby In Paradise (1993, Victor Nunez)

79. Naked Lunch (1991, David Cronenberg)

80. Cemetery Man (1994, Michele Soavi)

81. The Silence Of The Lambs (1991, Jonathan Demme)

82. The Player (1992, Robert Altman)

83. Pulp Fiction (1994, Quentin Tarantino)

84. The Usual Suspects (1995, Bryan Singer)

85. eXistenZ (1999, David Cronenberg)

86. Dead Man Walking (1995, Tim Robbins)

87. Leon - The Professional (1994, Luc Besson)

88. Shakes The Clown (1991, Bob Goldthwait)

89. Defending Your Life (1991, Albert Brooks)

90. Simple Men (1992, Hal Hartley)

91. Exotica (1994, Atom Egoyan)

92. Election (1999, Alexander Payne)

93. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992, David Lynch)

94. Matinee (1993, Joe Dante)

95. Summer Of Sam (1999, Spike Lee)

96. The Matrix (1999, Andy & Larry Wachowski)

97. Frankenhooker (1990, Frank Henenlotter)

98. Freaked (1993, Alex Winter & Tom Stern)

99. The Kingdom / The Kingdom II (1994-97, Lars von Trier)

100. The Wrong Trousers / A Close Shave (1993-95, Nick Park)