The why's are most definitely important. I think, also, that what typically gives my stories the most life are unique characters--characters that feel alive. You can do this by giving them voices that are unique--maybe one has no filter and you just can't believe the things that come out of his/her mouth, etc. Also, quirks. Think how Kurosawa would usually give his protagonist some kind of strange thing to do to differentiate himself from the rest of the cast. If you watch Yojimbo, Toshiro Mifune will stretch his shoulder out regularly. Watch Redbeard, and he'll stroke his beard.
As far as making your film come full circle, there are many ways to do that, but the easiest and, in my opinion, one of the most satisfying ways is with plant/payoff. Plant something innocuous in the story early on and give it meaning later. In Chinatown (SPOILER), the glasses on the bottom of the Mulwray back yard pond are planted in the first act, and you forget about them, but are of supreme importance in breaking the mystery later on. In The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (SPOILER), the game that Blondie and Angel Eyes play the game where Angel Eyes gets caught by the law, Blondie gets the bounty, then shoots him down while he's got the noose around his neck. This leads to a key moment in the last scene that brings the story full circle.
Another way of making your story come full circle is through foreshadow. In Birdman (SPOILER), one of the very first conversations of the movie involves a man who failed to commit suicide despite shooting himself in the face. This is obviously pretty relevant later. There are subtler ways too. In Nashville (SPOILER), there is a character who speaks all the time of how and why JFK was assassinated. Because he was a saintly figure, a catholic, and by bullet, because the people in the South hate Catholics. There's a character who suffers a similar fate in this story and happens also to have all of those qualities.
Hope this helps!
Many of the very best movies excel in all the aspects you mentioned. The best of the best, in terms of cinematography, direction and story, I think, are:
La Dolce Vita (Fellini), The Rules of the Game (Renoir), Dr. Strangelove (Kubrick), The Lady from Shanghai (Welles), Strangers on a Train (Hitchcock) and Apocalypse Now (Coppola).
I think that those are about the most complete films that you will find, and should be viewed by everybody, I think, film student or not. They're just gorgeous.
In terms of cinematography, alone:
1) Days of Heaven (Mallick)
2) 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick)
3) The Third Man (Reed)
4) 8 1/2 (Fellini)
1) Nashville (Altman) (Oh my God, Altman at his best was almost incomparable. So many moving pieces!)
2) The Godfather and Godfather 2 (Coppola)
3) The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Leone)
4) Amarcord (Fellini) (All 3 of the Fellini movies I mentioned are among the best of all time, in my opinion, and some of the most valuable for film students. He's taught me more about filmmaking than anybody else)
5) Touch of Evil (Welles)
1) Chinatown (Polanski)
2) Casablanca (Curtiz)
3) Manhattan (Allen)
4) Lawrence of Arabia (Lean)
Thanks, Caleb. My budget is around $3000, and I will be using the camera purely for shorts at the moment, but hopefully in the future for features. So your thoughts are that much of what is necessary for the BMPCC is also necessary for the BMCC? I was thinking that if I got the pocket, I'd purchase a metabones, a cage, a monitor and an external battery, and then lenses of course, whereas if I got the BMCC, I'd simply buy lenses. Buy you think that the battery/monitor/metabones are not any less necessary for the BMCC? In other words, the BMCC has pretty much the same shortcomings as the BMPCC and it's delusional for me to think that, by the time I'm shooting, I'd have spent a comparable amount of money regardless of which camera I purchase?
I didn't know this website existed. I'll post it there as well, thanks. Still, if anybody has any input here, too, that would be helpful!
1. Chinatown - Complex, brilliant mystery - Robert Towne
2. La Dolce Vita - Gorgeous, magical cinema - Federico Fellini
3. The Rules of the Game - Beautiful subtext storytelling - Jean Renoir
4. Manhattan - Pure Woody - Woody Allen
5. The Shining - Beautiful, palpable tension - Stanley Kubrick