Celebrating 45 years as Long Island's Premiere
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Throughout the years, many of our regulars have come to trust the quality and consistency of CAC programming. We always strive to feature the widest range of unique and interesting films, and with our new social distancing model in place that hasn’t changed. We’ve made it our mission to continue curating and discussing films with our cinema community. As an alternative to coming out to the movies, consider exploring our staff curated watch lists . Check the films out for yourself and then join us on social media to share your analysis and discuss the films with us.

We will periodically release watch lists, expertly curated by members of our staff, which consist of some of our favorite films that are available to view on the many popular streaming services.

Check out our third watch list:
Cinematic Universes from CAC Co-Director Dylan Skolnick
Staff Curated Watch List
Cinematic Universes
From CAC Co-Director Dylan Skolnick
In these highly stressful times, I’m drawn to movies that are rich in both style and substance. With my mind pulled in many directions, I crave the work of brilliant filmmakers who can grab and drag me deep down into their cinematic universes. The films on this list are all longtime favorites that I have returned to many times, always finding new rewards and depths within them. Here’s a baker’s dozen for your viewing pleasure (a little under 28 hours of recommended movies). Which could cover you from a few weeks, to a few days (if you’re in binge mode). 
1. NIGHTS OF CABIRIA (1957) – Available on The Criterion Channel

Few films feel more needed at this dark moment than Federico Fellini’s bittersweet portrait of a Roman prostitute who always fights to stay hopeful no matter what life throws at her. The film is suffused with Fellini’s cinematic energy, and his love for his adopted home city, but the movie is unimaginable without the luminous performance of Giulietta Masina who perfectly captures the toughness and sensitivity of Cabiria, never more so than in the unforgettable final scene, which always makes me smile and cry at the same time.
2. MAD MAX (1979) - Available on Direct TV & CBS All Access

THE ROAD WARRIOR (1981) / MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015) – Available to Rent or Buy

Over the course of these three great movies (skip Thunderdome… even the best filmmakers can make mistakes), we see not only the transformation of Max Rocketansky from a hot shot highway patrolman to legendary warrior of the post-apocalyptic wasteland, but also the evolution of George Miller into the greatest action filmmaker ever. While CGI allows filmmakers to realize any stunt, no matter how it defies the laws of physics, Miller knows there’s no substitute for real cars, real stunt people, and the impossible to simulate weightiness of tons of actual metal spinning through the air. Mel Gibson, then Tom Hardy, embodies “the man called Max” as he faces off against the seemingly endless and insatiable forces of chaos. The Road Warrior is the most perfect of the three movies, but Mad Max: Fury Road is the apotheosis of Miller’s kinetic brilliance.
3.   ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968) - Available on Amazon Prime

Cinema maestro Sergio Leone grew up watching Hollywood westerns. He then transmuted those memories through his own distinctly Italian vision as one of the creators of the genre that came to be known as the “Spaghetti Western.” After the spectacular international success of his Dollars Trilogy ( A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly), Leone was given carte blanche for his next western. The result was a movie of such expressive style and passion that it feels as much like grand opera as a western. Working with a star-studded cast that includes Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, and Henry Fonda as the nastiest character he ever played on screen, Leone created an epic portrait of the moment when corporate power arrived on the American frontier in the form of the wealthy railroad barons.
4.  KISS ME DEADLY (1955) – Available on YouTube (Free)

Director Robert Aldrich and screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides were horrified when they read the Mickey Spillane novel they had been hired to adapt into a movie. They felt that Spillane’s famous protagonist was little more than a “fascist.” Rather than being discouraged, they took it as a challenge, and transformed Spillane’s hard-boiled novel into an apocalyptic film noir masterpiece that revealed the true nature of Mike Hammer, and pushed the genre to new extremes of dark madness. Ralph Meeker, whose hard-edged style was never more appropriate, stars as Hammer, a successful Los Angeles private dick specializing in divorce cases. His comfortable playboy lifestyle is thrown off-course when his car is waved down by a mysterious woman wearing nothing but a raincoat ( Cloris Leachman in her first film role). She just needs a short ride, and tells him to forget her if they make it, but if they don’t, she asks him to “Remember me.” As you have most likely already guessed, they don’t, and her haunting final words, combined with Hammer’s greedy hunch that he’s on to “something big,” propels him down the rabbit hole in search of “the great whatsit” that could lead to the end of the world… or at least a large portion of Southern California.
5.     UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD (1991) – Available on The Criterion Channel

Beloved German filmmaker (and frequent CAC guest) Wim Wenders loves traveling the world’s roads. Most of his films could be described as road movies, which is also the name of his production company. Even when visiting the Cinema Arts Centre while our audience was watching his film, Wenders would get in his rented car to explore the Huntington environs, always returning punctually for the post-film discussion. In 1991, Wenders set out to make the ultimate road movie, a futuristic globetrotting science fiction epic. In world that seems on the brink of war, a woman ( Solveig Dommartin) pursues a fugitive ( William Hurt) who is in possession of a miraculous, and possibly stolen, device that can record dreams and allow the blind to see. As they crisscross the planet (the film was shot in five different countries), this mesmerizing tale evolves into a moving meditation on the many facets of love, and the power of images. When Wenders finished his film, there was just one problem… it was five hours long, and his contract with Warner Bros. required it to be no longer than 2.5 hours. As Jean Renoir once said about one of his own movies when it was shortened by the producers “they cut it in half, and made it twice as long.” The shorter version was poorly received when it was released. Fortunately, Wenders retained his original version, and it is now widely available for the first time. Featuring an amazing soundtrack featuring U2, Talking Heads, Julee Cruise, Lou Reed, T Bone Burnett, Peter Gabriel, R.E.M., Elvis Costello, Robbie Robertson, Depeche Mode, Patti Smith and Fred Smith, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Jane Siberry, and k.d. lang, this quarantine is the perfect time to catch up with Wenders’ deeply rewarding movie.
6.     2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) – Available on Direct TV

People sometimes ask me “what’s my favorite film”. I always tell them it’s an impossible question to answer. There are simply too many great movies. However, I can tell you what movie I’ve seen more than any other… Stanley Kubrick’s visionary exploration of the nature of humanity, and the possibility of contact with life in other galaxies. Stretching from prehistoric times to a space journey beyond the boundaries of the known universe, Kubrick and screenwriter Arthur C. Clarke, fashioned a tale that is thought provoking, deeply experiential, and far more entertaining that its forbidding reputation might suggest. While trapped in my home, the cool precision of Kubrick’s imagery, the psychedelic intensity of the film’s famous finale, and the sheer cosmic scale of the story, all feel deeply reassuring.
7.  THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955) – Available on Amazon Prime

It’s generally useful to put films in context, whether it’s within the cultural history of the moment they were made, or the evolution of the artists collaborating in their creation, just to list two obvious examples. However, there are certain movies that seem to emerge almost from a process of alchemy, standing alone, utterly unique from the works surrounding them. The Night of the Hunter is one of those miracles. It has been justifiably described as drama, comedy, Southern gothic, horror movie, children’s fairy tale, film noir, spiritual tale, indictment of poverty, and one of the first movies about a serial killer. It is all those things, but so much more. It is the result of a one-time gathering of amazing artists, most of whom never worked together again. Maverick producer Paul Gregory hired novelist/film critic James Agee to adapt David Grubb’s powerful novel (a great read if you’re looking for literary recommendations). Gregory coaxed famed actor Charles Laughton to take on what would prove to be his only film as a director, assembled a cast of iconic actors ( Robert Mitchum, Lillian Gish, Shelley Winters), and hired master cinematographer Stanley Cortez ( The Magnificent Ambersons) to photograph them. Each of them contributed a crucial element to the finished film. Laughton in particular, brought his long history in cinema, stretching back decades, to weave together techniques that still seem modern, with others reaching back to the silent era. The film tells the story of two young children whose possession of a bundle of stolen money makes them a target of Reverend Harry Powell (Mitchum), a psychotic preacher and serial killer. More than almost any other movie, The Night of the Hunter evokes the deepest extremes of good and evil, as famously illustrated in the “love” and “hate” tattoos on Mitchum’s hands.
8.   THE TREE OF LIFE (2011) – Available on HBO

Not many movies can be stunningly intimate while also attempting to place our lives within the massively cosmic scale of eternity. Terrence Malick’s stunning autobiographical portrait of a young boy in 1950’s Texas is one of those rare works. Eschewing traditional narrative, Malick highlights intense emotional moments, both big and small, as remembered by the protagonist as an older man. At the same time, Malick strives to place these experiences within a larger spiritual and natural context in sequences that stretch far beyond any one person’s experience, even reaching back to before humans walked the Earth (yes, there are dinosaurs). Vividly powerful performances from Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain as the boy’s parents, Sean Penn as the grown-up protagonist, and the two boys at the story’s core, keep the film rooted in the reality of everyday life.
9.  SAFE (1995) – Available on The Criterion Channel

I’ve deliberately tried to avoid any movies that might remind viewers of the current crisis. Although none of the previous titles would be considered light entertainment, they all are strong enough to take most people’s minds off the ordinary madness of our present moment. However, for those looking for a thought-provoking alternate perspective of the pandemic, I suggest Todd Haynes’ brilliantly unsettling portrait of a Southern California housewife ( Julianne Moore) who gradually comes to believe that she is suffering from “environmental illness,” the invisible toxins emanating from every surface of modern life that are making her sick. While Haynes originally created his film as a response to the AIDS crisis, it now offers a haunting reflection of everyday life in early 2020.
10. MY MAN GODFREY (1936) – Available on Amazon Prime

Okay, I can imagine what many of you are thinking… why no comedies?! Don’t you know we need to laugh? Absolutely! We all need to laugh, and I’m going to end with two delightful and very funny movies. Few comedies are more magical and transporting than My Man Godfrey, the classic screwball comedy about a wealthy family whose lives are transformed by a mysterious butler (you could think of it as Parasite’s angelic twin). William Powell is perfectly debonair as the title character, Carole Lombard is irresistible as the family’s dizziest daughter, and they are surrounded by a stunning array of brilliantly comic character actors.
11. SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS (1941) – Available to Rent or Buy

I’m going to end this list with a wonderful movie that is specifically about the power of movies, comedy in particular, to help us live through hard times. From 1939 to 1944, Preston Sturges was a filmmaking whirlwind. During those five years, Sturges wrote and directed seven of the greatest comedies in movie history ( The Lady Eve, Hail the Conquering Hero, Christmas in July, The Palm Beach Story, The Great McGinty, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, and Sullivan’s Travels). Any of them would lift your spirits in these dark days, but none seem so perfect for the present moment as Sturges’ most personal and autobiographical film. It’s the depths of the great depression, but Hollywood filmmaker John L. Sullivan ( Joel McCrea) is riding high after making a series of popular comedies. The studio wants him to make a sequel to his previous hit, Ants in the Pants, but Sullivan is dissatisfied. He wants to make a heavy drama about poverty entitled O Brother, Where Art Thou? (yes, this is where the Coen Brothers got the title). When questions are raised as to what a wealthy film director living in a Beverly Hills mansion knows about poverty, Sullivan decides to head out across America without any money, and dressed as a hobo. Along with getting to meet the enchanting Veronica Lake, his wild journey ultimately takes him to a place where he can finally have a true understanding of how comedy can keep us sane in a mad world.
We hope you will support the Cinema Arts Centre during this critical time, with a financial contribution, membership purchase, or by buying a Cinema Gift Card to help ensure that we re-open with as little disruption as possible after the COVID-19 emergency has passed. Thank you!