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If you, like us, have wondered for years if the secret to improving Saturday Night Live would be to add Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts, Richard Gere, Uma Thurman, Gerard Butler, Halle Berry, Terrence Howard, and Snooki to its cast, you're in luck. Movie 43, out this weekend, features these eight superstars of film and Snooki, as well as about two dozen of the funniest male and female actors working today.
The film is an anthology of sorts. Like SNL, it doesn't seek to tell a complete story. Rather, it's a series of unconnected sketches (each helmed by a different director). Fingers crossed these are a little better than what Lorne Michaels' crew has to offer live from New York every weekend, but even if they aren't, we have these ten other films to celebrate the art form that is the anthology film.
New York Stories
Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese. Three of the biggest names in the business came together for this 1989 anthology chronicling life in the city they all love so dearly. Allen wins the best-in-show award here for his segment, "Oedipus Wrecks," which chronicles Allen's neurotic (shocker) lawyer, Sheldon, who's haunted by his overbearing mother. Sounds familiar? You're in for a surprise.
Paris, je t'aime
This 2006 film was headed by 22 different directors, including the Coen Brothers, Alfonso Cuarón, Alexander Payne, and Gus Van Sant. A pleasant ode to the City of Lights, it was followed up by a sequel of sorts — 2009's New York, I Love You — and further sequels set in Rio, Shanghai, and Jerusalem are in various states of production.
Twilight Zone: The Movie
An adaptation of the popular 1960s television series, this 1983 film is better known for an on-set tragedy than its cinematic merits. Actor Vic Morrow and two Vietnamese child actors were killed in a helicopter accident while filming director John Landis' first segment of the film. Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, and George Miller filled out the eclectic crew of directors on this interesting, but financially disappointing effort.
Easily the best "film" on this list, it's also the first of a few cheats. Unlike what's come before, The Decalogue was headed entirely by one director — Polish auteur Krzysztof Kieslowski. It's comprised of 10 short films, each about one of the Ten Commandments. The project was originally conceived for Polish television, but Kieslowski later expanded episodes five and six into feature-length films for American distribution. Their titles: A Short Film About Killing and A Short Film About Love.
Another cheat—this one even bigger than The Decalogue. Bobby, released in 2006, was critically reviled (undeservedly), but director Emilio Estevez's film about the day Robert F. Kennedy was shot and killed at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Kennedy hardly appears in the film. Instead, it focuses on the men and women at the hotel that day—cooks, entertainers, campaign workers, a nostalgic doorman, etc. Their lives are minute, but everything connects back to Bobby in truly tragic moment of bloodshed and lost optimism.
Murder on the Orient Express
Like Bobby, this is a cohesive film, helmed by one director (the late, great Sidney Lumet), but the way Agatha Christie's mystery unfolds is classic anthology filmmaking. Each character gets grilled by Detective Poirot (Albert Finney) over the murder of a passenger on the titular train. Every single one of these individuals (the cast, it should be said, is one of the most accomplished of any film ever) has a clear motive, which makes the film's resolution all the more satisfying.
Last year, this horror anthology tore up the VOD circuit after debuting at the Sundance Film Festival. Its directors include Ti West and Joe Swanberg, and though it wasn't as critically acclaimed as many on this list, it scared the pants of plenty of reviewers, including us (our review).
Three directors (Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, and Andy Wachowski) told a relatively coherent story with this time-jumping epic from last year, but its six storylines are so different, we couldn't help but include it on this list.
Back to your regular old anthology movie for this pick. Four directors (Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Allison Anders, and Alexandre Rockwell) tell four stories about four rooms in a dilapidated hotel on New Year's Eve. It's Tarantino's forgotten piece of direction and worth watching for that alone.
Tarantino and Rodriguez team up for another anthology of sorts. There are only two "films" in this ode to schlock-cinema of old, but the faux trailers that separate the two halves boost the number of directors, as well as the project's appeal, quite a bit. Of the two halves, Tarantino's Death Proof is the better watch.