The Shelf of Shame – Benjamin Stark

We’re trying something new here on FilmNerds, something that promises to be both humiliating to our writing staff as well as (hopefully) enlightening for our readers. We call it The Shelf of Shame. In each installment, one of our FilmNerds contributors will reveal five indisputable classic titles that for some inexplicable reason they have not yet seen. In an attempt to earn back the respect of their fellow FilmNerds, each contributor will then set out to see all five of these films some time in the next six months (we felt that was a fair interval, even for the busiest of nerds) at which point we’ll check in with them to see how they did.

We’ll start off with our very own in-house filmmaker Benjamin Stark, who is fresh off the premiere of his directorial debut The Nocturnal Third (HIGHLY recommended, by the way). ‘Herr Direktor’ took a nice sampling of films from different eras and even different international cinemas that he feels ashamed for having not seen and we’ll be rooting for him over the coming months to fill in these gaps in his otherwise respectable knowledge of film.


5.) Dazed & Confused – The apparent memoir of an entire generation, and a kind of opening salvo into the film scape of the 1990’s, this is probably Richard Linklater’s most well-regarded film, right? Well, I haven’t seen it, despite having several choice lines burned into my memory by friends and co-workers over the years.

4.) 8 1/2 – The only Fellini movie I’ve had the pleasure of seeing is La Dolce Vita, which is the type of episodic European New Wave film you really must be in the mood for. Italian cinema in general is a weak spot of mine, beyond a few neo-realist pieces and a pepla epic here and there. I am drawn to Fellini’s era of Italian films, as they seem to represent the era in which my dad fell in love with the country. Although the glamor of La Dolce Vita honestly alienates the tar out of me, I’m curious to further discover the humility and squalor at the heart of Fellini’s characters.

3.) Bringing Up Baby – I’ve also never seen It Happened One Night, My Man Godfrey or Some Like it Hot. However, as a purveyor of the finest screwball comedies I can find, I’m most ashamed that I’ve never seen this Grant/Hepburn classic from screwball master Howard Hawks. Like most of those other major entries in the genre, the biggest shame is that this is openly available in numerous places. For whatever reason, I’ve never had the time to check it out.

2.) Gone With the Wind – The modern consensus seems to be that this movie is an insensitive and poorly drawn populist product of its time. Taking that into account, I still think its seminal place as one of the great cinematic cultural experiences makes it required viewing. Birth of a Nation or Intolerance also belongs here, because of their lessons in early film grammar. I should probably just make a day of these three.

1.) The Decalogue – I call myself a director, and yet I’ve never seen one frame of a Krzysztof Kieślowski movie! This is the wrong I’m most eager to rectify, as the man’s reported use of color, framing, and performance in support of theme and story are right up my alley, as far as what I find to be exquisite directing. It would appear that his “Colors” trilogy would be the most accessible entry point, but The Decalogue just seems too grand a challenge not to tackle first. Straddling the line between TV mini-series and cinema, this ten-part collection of mini-features looks at the Ten Commandments through intimate, character-driven vignettes.

Runners Up:

Good Will Hunting, Tokyo Story, Paths of Glory, Lolita, Strangers on a Train, Spirited Away