101 Films You Could See Before You Die By Billups Allen, 278 pgs.

Mar 10, 2023

It’s quite interesting that the title of Billups Allen’s new book is not 101 Films You SHOULD See Before You Die but is instead 101 Films You COULD See Before You Die, a definite departure from other books on “Very. Important. Movies.” that you must see before you die, or else you’ll go to your grave an uncultured cretin. In the introduction to his book, Allen actually says, “I’m sincerely not claiming this to be an important list of movies. It’s just some stuff that interests me. And you don’t have to see all of these movies before you die. Or any of them for that matter. You will most certainly die anyway.”

So, the pressure is off you, the reader, to see any of the movies that Billups suggests in this book, including Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994), Spike Lee’s Bamboozled (2000), David Lynch’s The Straight Story (1999), Adrienne Shelly’s Sudden Manhattan (1996), and many more that are organized in the book by director (Shelly, Michael Mann), genre (sci-fi, horror, documentaries), or whatever fun category that Billups came up with: Monster Mash; Nostalgia-rama; Speak of the Devil; Hi, Karate?

However, it just so happens that I’ve seen several of them, including High Heels (1991), After Hours (1985), Wild Style (1983), Wattstax (1973), and Zodiac (2007). I appreciate that the selection of films Billups merely suggests you see is eclectic. They range from what many would consider high-brow cinema (Round Midnight, 1986) to low-brow fare (The Blob, 1988). Avid consumers of movies have seen, and thus would appreciate, the gamut. Billups’ 101 Films You Could See Before You Die is indeed a gift from one cinephile to another. –Gina Murrell (Goner, 2152 Young Ave., Memphis, TN 38104, [email protected])