I am so far behind on my movie documenting now, that I am going to go through as many as I can as succinctly as I can, sticking as much as possible to my most pertinent impressions:
Die Nibelungen: Siegfried & Kriemhild's Revenge (1924)
On Youtube, which is never my preference, but I have to take what I can get. Earlier Fritz Lang. Very good, I was into the Teutonic mythology. Supposedly Hitler was an enthusiast of these movies, which do feature a lot of Aryan types engaging in bloodshed. When Kriemhild marries Attila and goes off to live with the Huns we get a more convincing idea of the extreme filth and squalor in which barbarian peoples habitually lived of old. Margarete Schon, the actress who played Kriemhild, was striking to me for personal reasons (i.e., she bore a strong resemblance to someone I know and find attractive).
The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1919)
Dark, menacing German Expressionist classic, in a great print. Admirable for its style, daring, grasp of the civilizational mood in its moment, but with my current diminished concentration due to lack of rest and downtime this is one of those movies that I had a hard time staying awake through and actually following what was going on. Definitely appropriate for genuine smarties though. I will have to take it up again at some less hectic time.
Among the directors who seem to be universally considered as serious contenders for all time top-20 status, Robert Bresson has always been to me the most obscure. None of the video stores I used to frequent during that era ever had any of his movies, the college film society never showed any of them, his movies were never obviously referenced in any writing or other cinema that achieved any kind of mainstream penetration. Yet in time, influenced by the odd drop of the name in various corners accompanied with a forceful conviction of the greatness of the man's oeuvre, the idea formed in me that he was one of the small number--twenty? fifty? certainly one hundred--of the all time greats in the field. L'Argent was his last movie, and still the only one of his that I have seen. I bought a used VHS copy of it some years ago now, and had been unable to keep up with it at that time, but this revisiting was much better in that regard, and I was able to appreciate much more the amount of skill and control that is packed into every shot and scene, and their interconnectedness and flow, the quality of which is Bunuel-like. The movie is only around eighty minutes in length, yet a great many significant actions and psychological transformations happen. All of this is impressive, and therefore pleasing in spite of the rather doleful story and seeming message. Also on a less substantial note, we have some nice scenes from (a deliberately gritty and workaday) early 80s Paris, which resembles pretty well the city as it looked and felt like when I was there in 1990, but which I sense it does not in general tone resemble very much any more.
So I did not get too far tonight, but I will revisit this exercise again until I have caught up somewhat...