Blood Simple (1984)

Armed with a penchant for riveting visual storytelling, the Coen Brothers deliver a neo-noir vision of Texas in Blood Simple made up of grimy, low-lit bars and fatefully botched murders, navigating this moral wasteland with profuse dramatic irony and an omniscient perspective that seeks to understand its place in a godless universe.

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Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Cinema Paradiso bleeds the sort of pure, unassuming love of film that greater movies may have tackled with more ambitious visual artistry, and yet Giuseppe Tornatore’s majestic coming-of-age fable nevertheless inspires a rousing sentimentalism which erodes all traces of cynicism in even the harshest critics.

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Something Wild (1986)

A sudden immersion into the screwball comedy genre might be the perfect challenge to the stagnant lifestyle of middle-class yuppie Charlie, as through his impromptu road trip with the freewheeling Lulu, Jonathan Demme sends Something Wild spinning off in hilarious and terrifying directions, drawing us into the orbit of characters trying to reconcile their own contradictory, innate desires.

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The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989)

While The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover’s indictments of Thatcherism’s anti-intellectualism operate as a sharp political allegory in the vein of George Orwell, Peter Greenaway’s opulent Baroque aesthetic lifts it to another transcendent level altogether, transforming a restaurant into a gallery of vivid tableaux illustrating the horrific abuses of one gangster’s despicably gluttonous conquest.

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Fitzcarraldo (1982)

In Fitzcarraldo’s absurd dream of building an opera house in the Amazon jungle and his even stranger endeavour of hauling a giant steamship up a mountain, Werner Herzog centres him as a tragic figure in an epic fable of extraordinary ambition, fully consuming his mind with a megalomania that threatens the foundations of his own conceited, fragile mortality.

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Blue Velvet (1986)

Blue Velvet could be read as a twisted coming-of-age film in its discovery of worlds and minds that are not what they seem, though the depths that David Lynch plunges into humanity’s psychosexual awakening, disconcerting iconography, and bold colour palettes places it in a surreal class of its own, digging through the veneer of suburban America to expose the grotesque bugs that crawl beneath.

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