Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Many More Than Fifteen

Darren (bless him) has played fast and loose with the rules of the game of IMDB's Top 15: 1990-2005 list, thus opening the door for further liberty-taking. The diehard auteurist in me has replaced the IMDB list of films with filmmakers, and added a special category of Singles. So, here are favorite directors and their films of the last 15 years (and in one instance, author, not director), arranged alphabetically by filmmaker:

  • PT Anderson: Boogie Nights, Magnolia

  • Wes Anderson: Bottle Rocket, Rushmore

  • David Cronenberg: Naked Lunch, Crash

  • Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne: Rosetta, The Son

  • Claire Denis: Beau Travail, Nenette Et Boni

  • Todd Haynes: Safe, Far From Heaven

  • Hou Hsiao-Hsien: The Puppetmaster, Flowers Of Shanghai

  • Wong Kar-Wai: Days Of Being Wild, In The Mood For Love

  • Charlie Kaufman: Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

  • Abbas Kiarostami: Close-Up, Taste Of Cherry

  • Krzysztof Kieslowski: Three Colors: Blue, Three Colors: Red

  • Richard Linklater: Dazed And Confused, Before Sunrise/Sunset

  • Tsai Ming-Liang: Vive L'Amour, What Time Is It There?

  • Alexander Sokurov: Whispering Pages, Mother And Son

  • Lars Von Trier: Dancer In The Dark, Dogville

  • SINGLES: Mulholland Drive (Lynch), Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick), Dead Man (Jarmusch), Satantango (Tarr), La Captive (Akerman), Dream Of Light (Erice), Code Unknown (Haneke), Drifting Clouds (Kaurismaki), The Last Days Of Disco (Stillman).


Anonymous rakesh said...

Hey Girish,
Great list!!! "Vive L'amour" and "What time is it there" are my fav TSai Ming Liang films. I met him last year at IFFK (International Film Festival of Kerala). I talked to him and also made him sign an autograph for me. He even gave me his card. Amazing person!!!So Humble!!! (If you want his e-mail id, I could give it to you). I have yet to see his new movie "The Wayward Cloud" (They are planning to show the movie at this year's IFFK).

October 26, 2005 9:55 AM  
Anonymous Darren said...

I love that I haven't seen eight of the films on your list. I just queued up Le Captive, which, fortunately, is one of the few Akerman films available at NetFlix.

October 26, 2005 10:59 AM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

I love your list. As usual, there's a lot on it that I haven't seen, but what of it I have seen is accomplished, interesting, and provocative.

I'm conflicted about Lars von Trier: on the one hand I appreciate what he's trying to bring to light, on the other hand, the contrarian in me says "yes, but I know women have it rough. I have sisters and I listen to them." Also I find something disturbing about the number of movies he makes about martyred women; the cynical part of me keeps wanting to take the motivation as misogyny rather than concern (the paces he puts his actresses through!) I don't quite know what to make of his work, and I try not to infer anything about him based on it (usually unsuccessful--I think I have a fairly good idea what kind of person Bergman is, and the Coens, and Scorsese). Puzzling.

October 26, 2005 11:38 AM  
Anonymous acquarello said...

What are your thoughts on Jia Zhangke, particularly Platform which I think really nails not only the evolution of Chinese history, but particularly, the sentiment of his generation?

For Sokurov, I'm glad to see that Russian Ark isn't one of your selections (not because it's not good, but because it's not one of his best films even in the past ten years). I'm very partial to Oriental Elegy, as well as Mother and Son, but Whispering Pages is also an excellent choice.

And of course, Akerman is my soulmate, so she can do nothing wrong in my eyes...not even A Couch in New York ;) La Captive reminds me so much of Bresson's A Gentle Woman that it was almost eerie to see this film soon after his passing, as if his soul migrated directly from his body onto this film.

October 26, 2005 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

A great list, Girish. I like that you've including both Andersons (as Darren did as well), Linklater, and Sokurov. I haven't had a chance to see Mother and Son, but those closing minutes of Russian Ark have to be some of the most memorable and jaw-dropping moments in film. Kieslowski's Blue is an integral to my life and is in my personal top ten. Red is more affirming, but Blue is such a singular experience for me. It's interesting -- many Kieslowski fans select Blue and Red, and not White, as favorites (and I include myself here), but I was thinking about White the other day; in some ways, it's the most ironic in a trilogy of ironic films, and to me it's the funniest. Still, Blue and Red are ultimately finer achievements.

October 26, 2005 2:15 PM  
Anonymous acquarello said...

"...but I was thinking about White the other day; in some ways, it's the most ironic in a trilogy of ironic films, and to me it's the funniest."

That scene where Karol practices his French conditional past tense of 'to please' ("would that I had pleased") is hilarious! It's exactly the kind of wry humor Kieslowski liked to insert in his films but rarely seems to get mentioned.

October 26, 2005 3:05 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Darren, I so agree with you about A Moment Of Innocence. Along with Close-Up, it's probably my favorite Iranian film. Totally blanked on it last night.

Tuwa, I've been meaning to do a lengthy post on Lars. I see him (just my humble opinion) as being misread sometimes. To me, he's an experimental, anti-realist filmmaker. The subject of his experiments is narrative--its shape and arc, its power of inducing emotional identification, and (consequently) its powers of emotional manipulation. I know that sounds vaguely deep-dish but I'd like to try and find a simpler, clearer way to talk about his films someday, because I truly love his work.

Acquarello, I slapped myself on the forehead after I hit publish this morning because of Platform. I recently came across (rave) emails you and I exchanged years ago after seeing our first Jia film (Unknown Pleasures) within days of each other. The World is a very good film but it didn't grab me as completely as the other two did. I'd like to see it again though. Also, funny you should mention Akerman and Bresson's Une Femme Douce in the same breath. I realized that the week after I saw the Akerman five years ago, I also happened to be struck with the exact same idea. [scroll way down]. And yes: she can do no wrong!

Michael, I saw the Kieslowski trilogy in reverse chronological order. I've always felt I should like White more than I actually do. There's something stubborn and willfully cold (and ice-white) about that movie. I've seen it thrice and it almost doesn't want you to warm to it. But I do like it more each time I see it. I think I probably like Red a bit more than Blue because it has a certain grand (not in terms of length, but ambition) synthesizing and abstract quality that floors me. To me, it's the most conceptual of the three. But Blue is staggering too, of course. And I'm always amazed by how Kieslowski represents music in that film, as if it were a living, breathing presence.

October 26, 2005 3:13 PM  
Blogger girish said...

And Darren, have I mentioned that your IMDB hijacking plot was brilliant?

October 26, 2005 3:19 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Oh, and Sokurov.
My favorite period is late 80s to mid 90s: Days Of The Eclipse (a big Sontag favorite, though she liked all his stuff), Save And Protect (the wildest, wackiest Madame Bovary you will ever see, I guarantee it), Stone, The Second Circle, and the two on my list above.
And alas, I've never seen Oriental Elegy.

October 26, 2005 3:36 PM  
Blogger girish said...

And Acquarello: when I saw La Captive, Kay Armatage, who has been programming her movies in Toronto for a couple of decades, mentioned something about one of her movies (Couch In New York) being "commercial" and thus not being chosen for the festival. Akerman bristled immediately. It was no more or less "commercial" than anything else she'd done, she said, simply because it had William Hurt and Juliette Binoche.

And Michael, have you written about Blue? I'm planning to watch it again soon.

October 26, 2005 5:38 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Acquarello -- yeah, that's a great scene. There are so many; I haven't seen the film in a few years and have forgotten some of them, but that scene in which Karol gets out of his suitcase and finds himself in a dump is great.

Girish -- even though I found White to be more ironic and funnier than the other two, I think your description of it as "stubborn" is accurate. I love the film, but can't quite get myself wrapped around it like I do with Blue and Red. And I think that it's also accurate to see Red as more conceptual than Blue.

And, yeah, Sontag loved Sokurov's work -- as well as that of Kiarostami and Hou and several others. There were a lot of reasons for this, one of which was the fact that these filmmakers were an antidote to a restrictive American movie system and certain prevailing mis-conceptions about content and quality.

(I just re-read my previous post. I need to learn how to type more accurately. "You've including..." and "Blue is an integral to my life". Was I drunk?)

October 26, 2005 5:51 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

More lists. Yum.

October 26, 2005 6:20 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Write that post, Girish. I see the experimentation: blatant rear-screen projections, sets chalked on the floor, a bleak musical (one arguably more accomplished than Scorsese's). But I see also that frequent theme tempting me towards misreading. :-)

October 26, 2005 7:13 PM  
Blogger girish said...

"But I see also that frequent theme tempting me towards misreading. :-)"

No, I didn't mean you were misreading...:-)
Okay, I need to be off--to retract foot from mouth. :-)

October 26, 2005 8:06 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

No need to apologize. It's quite possible I don't have it right; I don't know. At any rate, don't run off on my account; this is *your* space. I must be the one with foot in mouth. Terribly sorry.

October 26, 2005 8:38 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Tuwa, don't be.
See: Lars is a bastard.
This is what he does, the damn provocateur.
Let me rephrase: I like Lars. He hits me deep. He has for a few years. But I need to sit down and try to articulate why. You know how sometimes you can respond to something intuitively with great conviction but when time comes to put it into words, it's a struggle? Well, that's what you're witnessing here, my man. I'm blubbering.
One thought: Lars is a bastard because he tempts the audience knowingly into certain positions. These positions raise questions. Questions generate dialogue, both far and against these positions. Thus, they have value. Lars knows this.

Okay, I promise to think more about this for the Lars will help straighten out my ideas on the subject too.

October 26, 2005 8:58 PM  
Blogger brad said...

dead maaaaaaan...

nice list btw

October 26, 2005 9:16 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Since I'm all over this comment box like white on rice today, check out this post at Outer Life about comments. (A couple of dozen comments follow the post.)

October 26, 2005 9:17 PM  
Anonymous Darren said...

Okay, I just need to share this, and you all seem to be the group who would most appreciate it. Wednesday is my day with no official obligations, the day I try to stay strapped down at the computer, knocking out dissertation pages.

But since I'm a week away from a conference deadline and I haven't even begun writing my paper (on Caveh Zahedi's film In the Bathtub of the World), I watched three films today: Makhmalbaf's A Moment of Innocence (my first viewing), Kiarostami's Close-Up (my first viewing in three years), and Zahedi's latest, I am a Sex Addict (my second viewing in two days).

Damn, this was a good day.

October 26, 2005 9:43 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Whoa, I'd say.
I've seen just, like, three movies since I got back from Toronto a month and a half ago. It's disgraceful.
I need to take a day off [no, I'm not cancelling class even if I do have tenure] to watch a triple bill. I'm thinkin' Friday.
Darren--I don't think the Zavedi films are at Netflix; and I thought they had darn near everything...I haven't seen anything directed by him.

October 26, 2005 9:53 PM  
Anonymous acquarello said...

"I recently came across (rave) emails you and I exchanged years ago after seeing our first Jia film (Unknown Pleasures) within days of each other."

Heheh! Yeah, I remember the flurry of emails back then, some, with one sentence zingers from the film like "Are the Americans attacking?" or "I'll make you softer than instant noodles." :)

October 26, 2005 9:55 PM  
Blogger Musing said...

netflix. queue. lengthening.

October 27, 2005 6:51 AM  
Blogger girish said...

And here's the wake for Harriet Miers' blog.

October 27, 2005 12:34 PM  
Blogger girish said...

My favorite film critic reminisces about being a teenage cineaste.

October 27, 2005 1:49 PM  
Blogger Campaspe said...

I would add "The Dreamlife of Angels" and "Celebration."

October 28, 2005 7:39 PM  
Blogger girish said...

The Siren chooses impeccably.

October 29, 2005 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

A favorite English language film maker I would list is Michael Winterbottom. Especially 24 Hour Party People. I returned to the Beach the day after power was restored. Wilma has still knocked out my internet and cable though. I hope to post on my website soon.

October 29, 2005 3:20 PM  

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