5 Films That Make You Feel Smart

Blow Up (1966, Michelangelo Antonioni)

Filled with silences, long-takes, and metaphysical gestures, Antonioni’s only box-office hit is a must see that demands erudition and serious contemplation. David Hemmings plays a vapid, nihilistic, and disaffected fashion photographer who discovers a startling secret when he blows up a series of his photographs. In describing the movie, you can use words like “alienation.” It is based on a short story of the same name by Julio Cortázar, an author who smart people read. The final scene, a mimed tennis match, goes down as one of the best in cinema history.


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  • http://twitter.com/pillowfort Jonah Matthews

    thank for webpage

  • http://twitter.com/mbhulo Adam Mayes

    No love for Solaris? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt00

    • http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoffmann Dan Hoffman

      Yeah of course that is another one. “Sans Soleil” constantly makes references to Tarkovsky; his narrator frequently refers to “the zone,” which is a clear allusion to “Stalker.” Marker was an admirer of Tarkovsky, and even made a documentary about him that is rare and hard to find.

      • extremeith

        rare AND hard to find?

      • Hugh Lilly

        It's really not hard to find at all: http://thepiratebay.org/torren

      • http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoffmann Dan Hoffman

        Thanks. When something's not on DVD I consider it hard to find.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh


  • extremeith

    antonioni was the greatest fraud since yimasabi

    • uhnonnymus

      Really? Even L'avventura? La notte? L'eclisse? Il Deserto Rosso?

    • http://twitter.com/JosephErnest Joseph Ernest Harper

      That final shot in The Passenger.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505759069 Julian Tully Alexander

    These are all great films, and a great list. I expected less for some reason.

  • Declan Tan

    for some reason I am glad you left out Bergman. but for many reasons I am glad I didn't see David O. Russell.


    Watching these movies will mitigate the 17 you got on the ACT or whatever the comparable score to that is on the SAT.

  • http://twitter.com/MissKimball misskimball

    despite it's aesthetic advances, in it's policing of the sexuality of public space antonioni's film perpetuates misogyny and homophobia.

    agree re tarkovsky but I can't watch solaris without thinking of george fucking clooney the whole time

  • erin

    am i still smart for being familiar with these directors, but only seeing one of the films on the list?

    • http://twitter.com/JosephErnest Joseph Ernest Harper


  • http://twitter.com/JosephErnest Joseph Ernest Harper

    Great list Dan. La Jetee was a sort of 'big moment' for me.

  • Nick

    Are you sure Willem Dafoe narrated 'Tokyo-Ga'? It doesn't sound like him, and yours seems to be the only article on Google that links to the claim.

    • http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoffmann Dan Hoffman

      Actually, I'm not sure, and I haven't been able to verify my claim. To me it sounds a lot like him, and I know that Wenders and Dafoe worked together on another film (Faraway, So Close). Since no narrator is credited at all, there's no way to really tell. It might be Wenders himself narrating, but if you've ever scene Lightning Over Water, (which is officially credited with having Wenders as the narrator) you'll hear Wender's voice/accent and see that it doesn't sound like whoever is narrating Tokyo-Ga.

      • http://gearshack.blogspot.com Naked&Famous

        The wikipedia page claims Wenders as the narrator
        Check the right side bar under 'starring'

      • http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoffmann Dan Hoffman

        I have changed the post to reflect this, but I still have an inkling that it might be Willem Dafoe because Wender's german accent is really quite strong.

      • http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoffmann Dan Hoffman

        I have changed the post to reflect this, but I still have an inkling that it might be Willem Dafoe because Wender's german accent is really quite strong.

  • http://ivybrand.tumblr.com ivy

    These made me like watching movies again, I had almost abandoned the things.

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