These films belong in that special category of movies that will either infuriate you or touch you deeply.
Gerry - Gus Van Sant (USA, 2002)
This film astonished me when I first saw it. It continues to. It put me over the top as a full-blown Van Sant-aholic.
If you have somehow managed to not be impressed by Roger Ebert yet (it seems unlikely, but it's possible), his review of Gerry (a film he under-rates, in my opinion) is a great example of why he's such an important critic. "It rises to a kind of mad purity," he says. I love that. Read his review here.
Gerry is probably the most demandingly slow film I have ever watched, so it gives me perverse pleasure every time I see it in a Blockbuster aisle.
See, American films with A-list stars are interesting too.
The Werckmeister Harmonies - Bela Tarr (Hungary, 2000)
I've mentioned this film a couple times before. It's because the film is just that good. The opening shot is a masterpiece all by itself, and then the movie keeps getting better. 39 shots in 145 minutes. Crazy.
Roger Ebert's determinedly middle-brow review can be found here.
Tarr is a daunting figure. I don't approach his films lightly.
Calendar - Atom Egoyan (Canada, 1993)
For years I thought Canadian cinema was mediocre at best. I've never liked Cronenberg, Arcand, LePage, Petrie, and the rest; and the few Egoyan films I'd seen had been good but not great.
Then I saw Egoyan's Calendar. Woe.
Kiarostami's Close-Up meets Tarkovsky's Mirror, only not quite that good. Same league though.
It's a little tricky to find on DVD, but is worth the effort. Definitely the best Egoyan film I've seen.
Find the filmref review here (you'll have to scroll down a little ways).
I'll post a list of good Canadian feature films someday.