Certain Tendencies [REAR WINDOW]

blinded

It is perhaps no accident that the one apartment glimpsed more than once that is not explored by the roving eyes of Jeffries (and, of course, the viewer) is the one of what appears to be a loving and relatively normal family. Implicitly, the audience can grasp that what attracts the voyeur is brokenness in all its forms, whether it be creative rut, the fading luster of a new marriage, a hunger for something more in life, or simply the damn heat of summer in Greenwich Village. And from those elemental building blocks, those concerns which when combined form a microcosm of society at large, Hitchcock weaves something truly indelible, something which might even be perfect.

Rear Window may even surpass its legendary status purely based on how much it contains beyond the justly famous murder mystery plot. This is patently obvious from the objects of focus throughout; the case of Lars Thornwald isn’t even spotlighted until around the end of the first third, and Hitchcock places equal emphasis until then on the action happening inside the apartment as he does on the voyeurism – though, of course, the latter informs the former to no small extent. Lisa and Stella especially are incredibly thought-through characters, neither falling into a set stereotype but instead emerging as credible sources of both repartee and a tenderness that Jeffries struggles to reciprocate, turning instead to the outside world.

And it is indeed a world, populated with people who overcome the lack of audible dialogue to inhabit a general sense of longing and not-so-private conflict. The degree to which Hitchcock establishes each object of attention is such that when the silence is broken, and the camera leaves the confines of the apartment for the first time, it feels like the natural course of action. The viewer’s sympathies lie with the grieving couple not only because of their loss but because they feel like more than just objects.

It goes without saying that the outside goings-on reflect the inner turmoil of Jeffries to no small extent. More than anything, it is in the patterns and routines that he observes and his own pattern that he is forced to adopt due to both external influences (his confining cast) and his own obsession. Miss Torso dances and entertains men, the newlywed husband smokes forlornly out the window, the couple struggle to weather the elements, and all the while Jeffries can do nothing but watch. No wonder he fixates on the murder, a break in the monotony that, by proxy, affects the whole complex.

August 2017 Capsules

88:88
I could describe how I perceived the film, but I’m not even certain that my view was in any way accurate. Importantly, I almost totally missed the poverty aspect that seems to the focal point of many fine, laudatory reviews, and focused instead on the way in which it depicts a very specific type of navel-gazing, academic, young urbanite ennui. But in either case, I can’t truthfully say whether the aggressively abstract, functionally plotless and untethered style works in concert with the subject matter. It is alternately dazzling and distracting, and though that makes the little nuggets of information that aren’t dull mathematics all the more valuable, it still doesn’t provide a justification in a way that feels satisfying. 88:88 keeps moving until it comes to a stop, and while the invigorating feeling cannot be denied, it leaves me wondering what was trying to be said, what feeling was trying to be invoked.

From Nine to Nine
I wouldn’t even know where to begin with regards to the politics of this, though I was fascinated (if not pleased) by the predominant use of robotic filters on the narrators. This choice feels of a piece with the intentions of From Nine to Nine as a whole; unlike, say, 88:88, the film aims for that movie’s sense of alienation sans most of the abstraction. If the film feels a bit didactic and uncomplicated at times, it makes up for it with images that grow even more striking once the film samples are incorporated, adding a new, far more intriguing layer of interior thinking that does complicate the protagonist (who remains unnervingly blank the rest of the time). And of course, there is that sublime club scene, which to my mind could exist entirely separately as a truly beautiful short; the murkiness that elsewhere obscures, here magnifies a certain kind of otherworldly majesty.

The Wedding Banquet
Perhaps I place too much emphasis on traditions, on the respect paid to the past, whether represented in person (via Wai-Tung’s parents) or purely through the familiar customs of the wedding banquet, which have always been well-known to me, but Lee displays an admirable, astonishingly touching sensitivity to both cultures that Wai-Tung inhabits. It is a film equally about queerness as it is about the Chinese culture, and as such contains no small amount of specificity from both sectors: the Poison VHS, the Chinese scrolls (one of which is read in full), the martial arts serial, the pink triangle. All of this lends the plot, which at times lapses into something which lacks the studious and loving attention paid to establishing the web of relationships, a certain charge, a feeling of recognition and reconciliation. The Wedding Banquet is simply but handsomely mounted, but the layers of detail is no veneer; it is the lifeblood that defines what each character lives for.

Pickpocket
Benefits greatly from how stripped down and focused it is on Xiao Wu, whether or not one wishes to view it through a national critique lens. Pickpocket thus functions as equal parts sign of the times (in a very particular society and time period) and watchful character study, which Jia weaves together with a little bit of shakiness (surprisingly little, considering this is his debut) and a great deal of finesse. But the shakiness fascinates me even more than the expertly executed master shots or the kinetic montages, great as they are. Whether it be the handheld, the simultaneously foregrounded and interior performance of Wang Hongwei, or even the preponderance of small supporting characters, the roughness around the edges suggests to me something endearing, straining to coexist alongside the more clearly accomplished elements.

Sweetgrass
It’s odd to describe a film as doggedly realistic and faithful as Sweetgrass as shape-shifting, but that is exactly how it feels, even as it grounds itself in the hills and fields of Montana with unerring steadiness. The move from the electrifying focus on the sheep to the only somewhat less fascinating (and more disquieting) perspective on the ranchers is the most obvious of these shifts, but it is also, crucially, present in the aesthetic decisions. The frame seemingly opens up, stretching across the endless plains and mountains, and the audio becomes more and more intimate as the camera becomes more distant. The continuity of image is broken into gunshot flares and nighttime scenes, and the herds of both sheep and their herders is broken into solitary figures scrounging for artifacts and weeping and cursing the imminent death of the drive (and, in a way, the Western). These pivots are noticeable, but they all arise from the common foundation of the sheep, and this sense of the quotidian that arises in the second half lengthens the viewer’s perception, making something which by all accounts should be of mild interest into something approaching monumental, status. (It doesn’t hurt that it possesses some of the most arresting images I’ve seen recently, on standard-definition digital to boot.)

As Tears Go By
As Tears Go By begins with a shot that particularly encapsulates ’80s culture – a storefront view of a wall of televisions – and only gets more entrenched in the aesthetic as it goes along. But this being Wong Kar-wai’s debut, it still feels wholly his, and he finds fascinating ways of melding the more down-to-earth yet heightened sensuality that became his trademark. This extends to the often duelling narratives that Wah finds himself caught in the middle of, illustrated no better than in the early scene where a night out is interrupted by Fly breaking into the apartment. The film lives and thrives on these whiplash moments; it seems as if Wong hadn’t yet perfected the languor that I love so much about his films, and so there is no small thrill in the chases, or the extended scenes of almost sadomasochistic violence inflicted on and by Wah (often shot in extremely long slow motion shots), or of course the unspoken flirtations.

Leviathan
In a gambit by equal measures audacious and paradoxical, Leviathan continually seems to aim for inhabiting two separate approaches. Whether it be low or fast, meditative or dynamic, spare or visceral, Castaing-Taylor and Paravel somehow manage to achieve all of these contradictory moods by dint of the utterly inconceivable filming techniques on display. If the film were nothing more than a compendium of the possibilities of the digital camera, then it would still be spectacular. But its context is also key, the balance between the hulking, clunking machinery of the boat, the precarious situation of the fish and birds, the wearying monotony of the workers, and the crashing waves. These are of course pat concepts, but they feel alive when shot in such extreme close-ups, in the rush of the camera cutting through the water and air. Indeed, what seems to be the default mode is a curious cross between stasis (the long takes, some lasting for over ten minutes) and motion (with few exceptions, the camera is constantly rushing through its environment). In this setting, where darkness renders the slightest movement or light source into an impressionistic blur, there is the feeling that Leviathan is the realm of both the real and the fantastical, where senses are broken down into their base elements.

A Few Notes on the Oeuvre of Terrence Malick

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Since Terrence Malick is, for good reason, one of the most hotly discussed and alternately valorized and vilified auteurs currently working, laying out his aesthetic obsessions and goals seems more than a little futile. But what fascinates me most is the way in which his predilections change, sometimes radically, from film to film. Aside from someone like, say, Godard, no other prominent filmmaker has had such a radical turning point or concrete stages of their career, but at least from my view it seems just as helpful to group each of his (narrative, feature-length) works into duos, specifically ones where the second of each group of two provides a notable stepping-stone point with which Malick leaps to his next stage of either profundity or pretension, depending upon your stance.

The most obvious of these, naturally, is that of his first two films, Badlands and Days of Heaven. At the risk of being reductive, they are the two films even most Malick detractors enjoy, as they have an altogether grounded and staunchly character-driven narrative, and Badlands in particular has a more conventional look and feel to it than any of his other films. But even in Days of Heaven lie the seeds of the next stage of development: there is a rather notable reliance on the handheld, and overall more and more attention is paid to the natural elements surrounding the love triangle. And of course, Linda Manz’s voiceover is characteristically opaque, though it acts more as a backbone – as in Badlands – than the ruminations that are to follow.

Another fairly standard pair comes in the form of The Thin Red Line, Malick’s return to the stage of American cinema, and The New World. The similarities are patently clear: they are both historical films dealing with pivotal events (if not individual moments) in American history, and they are the longest films of Malick’s career (when looking at the extended cut of the latter, which is is the one I viewed). Additionally, both are immersed in nature, respectively beginning and ending with scenes of the natural world that feel at once serene and disquieting, and seem to be told in both very broad and very intimate strokes. The New World, with its relative freedom from something on the order of the tense action of the Battle of Guadalcanal (though it too boasts a remarkable, visceral battle sequence) reaches ever more towards the meditative scenes of connection in an almost primal state; the scenes of John Smith commingling with the Powhatan are among the most moving in his entire filmography.

Easily the most illogical pairing, on the surface, comes from arguably his most acclaimed and most underrated films, respectively, The Tree of Life and To the Wonder. The first is his grandest, most “cosmic,” while the second is, to my eyes, his simplest and most small-scale (and his first film set fully in the modern world). But both provide some of his richest and most finely attuned work with characters, and both are (creation of the universe digression aside) firmly situated in the South. Days of Heaven also shares this setting, but it feels paramount to these films, a setting both clearly definable and yet universal to Malick’s own sense of Americana. And both have scenes of immense catharsis and power: The Tree of Life with its beach/heavenly reunion and To the Wonder with a climactic, almost halo-infused parting – religion figures prominently in these two films as a central touchstone of the culture, including but not limited to Bardem’s character.

Leaving aside Voyage of Time, with its necessarily protracted production and putatively documentary aspects, the final pair thus far is of two films situated in specific entertainment industries: Knight of Cups with its ennui-ridden Hollywood and Song to Song with its hedonist Austin music scene. Both rely heavily on their respective milieus and have a surfeit of cameos, and both feel relentlessly modern; while To the Wonder has a certain timeless quality only occasionally broken, these two are utterly of a specific moment already gone. What progression Song to Song offers is unknown, especially with the purportedly back-to-basics nature of Radegund, but it is important to say that Malick has and, God willing, never will regress. He does recapitulate and return to certain themes and ideas, but his cinema is one of innovation and breathtaking beauty and empathy.

July 2017 Capsules

The Host
Brazenly careens through a multiplicity of narratives that would be more than enough to make up a single film on their own, but The Host never really loses sight of the family (and not the monster) at its core. Bong knows exactly when to engage fully with the broiling emotions a la something out of Godzilla, and, rightly or wrongly, he isn’t afraid of making his protagonists seem more than a little foolish or silly. Indeed, it is these moments that makes their nigh-suicidal showdowns with the monster that much more compelling and thrilling. Throughout the film runs an undercurrent of grief and shock that, along with Bong’s fluid and sometimes confrontational direction (those intensely discomforting close-ups!) propels The Host through an unwieldy plot to an immensely cathartic, fitting conclusion.

Okja
Recoups rather nicely after a singularly awful opening by moving – and firmly staying in – its most endearing and sincere mode. Okja is an odd movie in that it never loses a certain vitality or tendency towards the heartwarming despite its presentation of a bleak, nigh-fatalistic worldview, where the actions of the few are outweighed the commercial interests of the machine. Part of that is the intensely strong core of Mija and Okja, well-established by the opening 30 minutes, but it also comes through in the form of the ragtag crew of the Animal Liberation Front, Dano especially. Perhaps it’s too broad at times, too endearing, but Bong guides the viewer through with a steady, loving hand, by turns exhilarating and moving.

Wonder Woman
Almost depressing in some ways, given the critical and cultural hoopla that has descended upon Wonder Woman to a far greater extent than might be expected. It is somehow both anodyne and embarrassingly ridiculous, attempting to blend two disparate realms – the realm of myth (as opposed to more standard superhero mythology) and the very “real” concerns of World War I – with immensely clunky, repetitive dialogue. Jenkins has a bit of an eye for iconography but not much else, and the actors struggle to do their best with shaky material – a problem Gadot is particularly saddled with, faced with one tremulous reaction shot after another. Pine, incredibly, is the only one who comes out better off, as he is given an actually credible and fully-fledged character who manages a rather nicely-executed juggling act of love and duty. Otherwise, this lurches from scene to scene with little interest, only buoyed by the occasional swell of feeling that sometimes lands. And perhaps worst of all is how conventional this feels, how utterly predictable its narrative progression and reception is. This is no return to form or revolution; it is the status quo.

Pushing Hands
I’m generally wary of ascribing glaring faults to directors, but it seems fairly apparent that, at this point, Ang Lee was far less skilled at directing scenes in English than in Chinese. Nearly every scene that involves the admittedly thinly drawn character of Martha (that is, more than a third of the movie) feels either flat or shrill, and while the scenes conducted in Mandarin are only somewhat better, there is a sense of community and tenderness that is otherwise absent. It is perhaps inevitable that the most intriguing sequence is the opening, a wordless depiction of the cultural divide that implies what the rest of the movie proceeds to explain in ham-fisted and even didactic terms – the fact that Lee is so clearly on the side of the father makes the bluntness even more regrettable. There is a certain visual interest, but little else distinguishes this misguided, if slightly moving, film.

Vive L’Amour
The languor of Rebels of the Neon God is replaced with something more fearful; though the youth of this film are just as – if not moreso – disaffected as that film, they seem less possessed by their milieu as thrown into sharp relief. The huge pools of water are replaced with water bottles, and the general dank settings are replaced by the near-pristine walls of the duplex apartment. Said apartment, the point of intersection/purgatory for the two (or three) protagonists, feels at turns like a place of refuge, self-discovery, or existential fear, something Tsai achieves with very simple but very lighting changes and camera movements. His capacity to cut the viewer to the quick with a single line (or, in the first significant set of dialogue lines, a prattling set of phone conversations) is immense, as is his eye for duration, not just in his trademark static long shots but in his tracking shots as well; extended shots of people walking or driving in cars feel even more propulsive than the rest of the film. And throughout, the viewer feels almost like a voyeur, as the vulnerabilities and secrets of these isolated people can only stay hidden for so long.

Green Snake
Establishes itself with such vim and vigor that it almost seems to slow down when the snake-turned-human sisters show up, not before. No matter; Green Snake is so ineffably fantastical that its majesty seems to cascade off the screen with every swooning tilt, every blurred close-up, every dissolve that moves inexorably closer to its subject with something bordering on the mythic. This sense of the fantastic is undeniably key to this story of monks wielding the power of gods and monsters assuming flesh, but it is heightened almost past the point of no return. Yet Tsui Hark burrows deep, cutting through any hint of undeserved excess to arrive at the elemental core, of love, barely concealed jealousy, and ultimate destruction. And of course, Maggie Cheung and Joey Wong are almost too intensely alluring, with a kind of vamping that almost burns through the screen, equal parts maturity and melancholy.

Hiroshima mon amour
The opening sequence of Hiroshima mon amour – a dizzying collection of direct allusions to the horrors and trauma of a city – is justly acclaimed, but it is worth considering its place, narratively and structurally, within this film. Though it opens the film and is the series of moments for which the film is most remembered, it bears only some resemblance to the eighty minutes that follows it. Okada and especially Riva, the faces and figures upon which the film rests, are abstracted into clasped bodies – equated, at the very beginning, with the ashen corpses of the bombed – and voices, and they speak in a blunt way completely at odds with their curious, almost emotionally revealing conversations. It is as if they are speaking from a point far later or, even more likely, in a distant memory, far away from the slightly unreal, scarred city that dominates their existence. Their nationalities and differences in culture are all the more pronounced, and all the more deeply felt, with the inexorable passage of time.

Theatre of Blood
Chalk it up to my general horror myopia, my suspicion of melodrama outside of a concrete sense of emotion, my general distaste for wanton killing, my status as a critic, or any number of general predilections, but I found it very difficult to get into Theatre of Blood as a whole. By virtue of its jerry-rigged structure, stringing together an alarming number of purportedly justified murders while it seems no investigation is ventured at all, the film goes through highs and lows, with the undisputed high being a quite well-choreographed fencing duel through a gymnasium and the low being…one of three or four particularly gruesome murders? Leaving aside the illogicality of nearly every character’s actions save Price and Rigg (both of whom are clearly having much fun, for better or worse), the film can’t decide what tone it wishes to assume, and instead shifts awkwardly – sometimes in the same scene – between seriousness (as signaled by the lachrymose score) and hilarity. And all of this comes from an irreconcilable fact: Lionheart (not Price) is a fairly bad actor. Some nice shots from Hickox, though.

The Emperor’s New Groove (rewatch)
Leaving all of the insanely clever and intensely paced gags, I was struck at how totally The Emperor’s New Groove nails every aspect of its construction. From the brilliantly modern corporate speak, used both in and out of the royal court (“Emperor or not, it’s called common courtesy”), the purposefully sparing use of some of the best characters (the waiter, Pacha’s family), and even a heartwarming redemptive arc that, in its breathless movement through multiple betrayals and reconciliations, almost manages to outpace the film at large, it is exceedingly well-crafted, even if its pacing is too manic to let everything fully settle. But of course, one must return to the gags, to the absurdity that makes constant fourth-wall narration both obnoxious and consistently funny, that makes a dramatic zoom-out into something oddly suggestive of a wider world, and that makes pathos acutely earned.

Taste of Cherry (out of order)
Humanism is really a word that should be taken for granted when it comes to a director like Kiarostami, and yet it seems nigh impossible to describe Taste of Cherry as anything but. The scenario has such an overwhelming pathos baked in, but there is something ineffable about its brilliance, something so logical and elemental, that makes it devastating. Much of it is in the little feints: the brief use of the clergyman’s friend, the lack of introduction for Badii’s potential savior. But just as key are the big moments, the way in which Badii must get all the details right for fear of dying “unnaturally” or the laundry list of the things that make life worth living. And somehow each choice just amplifies the ache, the necessity of life; Kiarostami’s camera is never exploitative, never too distant, and especially in the transcendent final scene, never not quietly radical.

The Making of an Instant Classic: Carol

Originally written for the Scarecrow Blog.

What constitutes an instant classic in the realm of art? This varies from medium to medium (it seems that instant classics are made much more readily in music than in film, for example) and undoubtedly person to person: one’s deep, abiding love for, say, Pedro Costa’s Horse Money doesn’t necessarily translate to a wider cultural consensus or recognition of it. And even this cultural consensus has several layers to it, though for the purposes of this piece I will be only talking about the “cinephile culture” at large, and not the audiences who only attend the multiplexes a few times a year.

All of that being said, it is fascinating to see what films become effectively canonized as classics upon their very release, and for what reasons this happens. Perhaps the most salient and clear-cut example comes in the form of the 2015 film Carol, very likely the only non-franchise (see: Mad Max: Fury Road) instant classic to come out of that year. It exists at a unique, fascinating intersection of what might be considered traditional hallmarks of the classic – pop-culture cachet, notable cast and crew, specific subject matter – and yet it exists slightly apart from those, standing as a masterpiece on its own terms.

Anyone reading this is likely familiar with the overall narrative of Carol, but it is worth touching on some of the more important and basic elements. Directed by the widely acclaimed auteur Todd Haynes, beloved for films such as Safe, Velvet Goldmine, and Far From Heaven, the movie is an adaptation of the landmark queer novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith. It stars Rooney Mara as a young storeworker and photographer in New York City during the Fifties who falls in love with a slightly older housewife played by Cate Blanchett, intently tracking the slow-gestating attraction and relationship against a frigid and suspicious cultural backdrop.

Such a spare narrative would usually result in a good but not great film, a romance that would contain some but not a great deal of emotion. But in the hands of Haynes, his magnetic stars, and his immensely talented collaborators – including but not limited to screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, cinematographer Ed Lachman, and composer Carter Burwell – it becomes almost too romantic, too emotionally charged to bear. The resulting critical attention was immense and overwhelmingly adulatory, a response only matched by the widespread dismay at the lack of a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.

But what sets Carol apart is its resulting afterlife after the end-of-year hoopla had died down. Part of it is its already enormous cachet in the repertory theater scene – Metrograph’s 35mm print has already played more than a few times to sell-out crowds, beginning less than four months after it was released in the United States – but it appears to be even more deeply rooted in the personal connections. More than most truly lasting films of recent times – the aforementioned Mad Max, Boyhood, Holy Motors – there is the sense that it is felt more deeply from each lover of the film to another, often drawing on a sense of recognition in the unabashedly queer nature of the film. It is a film that is seen over and over and cherished with unmistakably deep love and pride, which characterizes something all too rare in the realm of art. Most of all, it seems to both move beyond and stay tightly knit to the people to which it matters most.

2016 SFCA Capsules

Manchester by the Sea
Grief – all-consuming, life-altering grief – is a rarity in the American cinema.
More often than not, it is dealt with and then pushed aside, and to be fair Manchester by the Sea does not fixate solely on one man’s overpowering grief. But it is woven into the structure and the backbone of the film, shadowing and enriching every interaction, every pause, every Atlantean movement.

Manchester by the Sea, written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, is an oddity from a cultural point of view. Ostensibly a straightforward drama in the standard independent vein, it expands outwards, not necessarily in scope (as in his landmark 2011 film Margaret) but in depth, unspooling out its insight over 137 minutes in great detail. Its focus is Lee (Casey Affleck), a janitor in Massachusetts who returns to his eponymous hometown to take care of his nephew (Lucas Hedges) after his brother dies. It is clear, even in the wake of this traumatic incident, that Lee has been carrying a deep sadness for some time, a revelation only clarified midway through the film. With this grief comes a sense of purpose and relentless drive; he is almost exclusively seen stone-faced, thinking rationally when others are overwhelmed, though his sarcastic and impulsive nature – something shared with many residents of the town – shine through on multiple occasions.

And it is this sense of the town, of the various people that surround Lee in an orbit, some supportive and others dismissive, that lend Manchester by the Sea its ultimate power. Lonergan renders this drama with an intense vitality that feels almost too close to real life, with equal parts poignancy and levelheadedness.

Mountains May Depart
Mountains May Depart reconciles those two most opposing of artistic tendencies: the intimate drama and the epic. Provocatively, the simple tale of a mother trying to connect with her son is both situated in and symbolically made into the story of an entire nation’s history over the course of three decades. It is entirely to Jia Zhangke’s credit that the film emerges not as a political treatise or heavy-handed metaphor, but as melodrama of the highest order, that moves with inexorable energy through the passing of time, technology, cities, and love.

Much of what makes Mountains May Depart so ineffably radical lies in its simple but oddly confounding structure. Separated into three parts of roughly equal length, each section, set at the turn of the millennium, 2014, and 2025 respectively, has its own plot, tone, and accompanying aspect ratio. Though they all are connected by a well-established narrative core, each part feels as if it could stand alone – though, of course, the emotional heft is only magnified as the film moves along. It feels audacious in some unquantifiable way, succumbing to emotion yet never losing control of the larger narrative of the Westernization of China, and though its sincerity seems to have invited laughter, its power and prowess shines through, as Jia always finds the exact right tenor to devastate and move the viewer. Mountains May Depart demands openness and reconciliation between both the characters and the viewers, a concrete sense of understanding that reaches the sublime.

The Handmaiden
Erotic romance, especially of the queer variety, has become a hot topic among filmmakers in recent times; one need only look to films like Blue is the Warmest Color and Weekend to see explicit sex treated with genuine love and care. But what separates The Handmaiden from those (excellent) films is that said romance is gleefully wrapped within a dense and thrilling web of cons. The ultimate goal that each participant tries to achieve, which is only fully uncovered just before the final act, seems entirely beside the point; what matters much more is the swooning romance and charged close-ups with which each woman views the other, the gonzo sensibility of Park Chan-wook that bursts forth in virtually every scene.

What makes The Handmaiden so delightful is that sense of exhilarating disorientation, of allegiances being formed and broken before the viewer’s very eyes, as Kim Tae-ri’s and Kim Min-hee’s characters engage in lithe pas de deux, all too frequently intruded upon by lecherous and self-serving men. True, their entire romance may be something straight out of the erotic novels that the count of the estate obsesses over, but it is between them (and the viewer). And when the viewer looks back at all of the twists and turns, the miracle is that they all remain true to these characters; love does not conquer all, per se, but it feels like enough. Indeed, it almost feels like a fairy tale or a story, something literalized by that last, glorious dissolve.

Right Now, Wrong Then
Hong Sang-soo’s films have always had an incredible, intuitive understandings of the immensely flawed characters at their center, but Right Now, Wrong Then may represent one of the first times that he has pulled off this trick twice (or, if you like, four times) in his remarkable oeuvre. Roughly speaking,
the film follows a well-known director (Jung Jae-young) visiting a small town for the first time when he meets a shy artist (Kim Min-hee). They talk and drink together, the director leaves, and, quite unexpectedly, the sequence of events repeats with many small but important differences.

Hong’s films have almost always had various structural conceits – something similar appeared in On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate – but there is a special symmetry in this case, a near 1:1 reproduction that nevertheless feels radically different in approach. The complicating factor, of course, is Kim’s character, who is cast as an equal to the almost archetypal director in Hong’s filmography. She has many of the most affecting moments, and her vulnerability gives even more heft to Right Now, Wrong Then‘s emotional pull.

But what makes Right Now, Wrong Then so gratifying is its sense of warmth and control, to an even greater extent than most of Hong’s other films. Perhaps it is because the film is so much of a two-hander, but he plumbs the depths of his characters to a profound degree, teasing out more flaws, inadequacies, and personal failings while never doling out an ounce of judgement.

Kate Plays Christine
I will readily profess to having nothing more than a cursory knowledge of the contemporary documentary landscape, but I cannot recall ever seeing a film like Kate Plays Christine, Robert Greene’s radical study of both ethics and performance. Not coincidentally, those two ideas dovetail nicely with the ostensible subject: Christine Chubbuck, a newswoman known solely for her on-air suicide. Greene’s film, almost akin to docufiction, is less an investigation than an interrogation, using the figure of actress Kate Lyn Sheil as both avatar and experiment subject.

Lest the wrong impression be given, it must be emphasized that Lyn Sheil is effectively the co-auteur of the film, giving perhaps the performance of the year with an endlessly layered, immensely subtle performance that shifts in and out of character. Even the way she acts as an interviewer is utterly fascinating, infusing her questions with both care and a hard-edged professionalism, giving off the sense that she wants to get the role right.

But the whole point of Kate Plays Christine is that one deeply troubled woman’s life cannot be distilled without distorting the facts (as in Antonio Campos’s immensely flawed and questionable Christine), and Greene reaches that conclusion without ever showing his hand, save for the bracingly high-wire finale. The whole journey is expertly, mesmerizingly rendered from beginning to end, and along the way so many different facets of one person few truly knew are brought up, only to be washed away by real footage in living color.

New York Film Festival Main Slates

This series of lists details the featured films of the New York Film Festival “Main Slates,” which excludes sidebars, many shorts, and most other miscellaneous programmed works. In order of first screening, except as noted.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s alphabetized list up to the 53rd iteration.

Key: “*” denotes a gala (Opening Night, Centerpiece, or Closing Night) selection, “^” denotes a retrospective selection, and “%” indicates films that played on the same program.

1st (1963):
*The Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel)
In the Midst of Life (Robert Enrico)
Knife in the Water (Roman Polanski)
Love in the Suburbs (Tamás Fejér)
Harakiri (Masaki Kobayashi)
An Autumn Afternoon (Yasujiro Ozu)
The Terrace (Leopoldo Torre Nilsson)
Elektra at Epidaurus (Takis Mouzenidis)
Hallelujah the Hills (Adolfas Mekas)
All the Way Home (Alex Segal)
Glory Sky (Takis Kanellopoulos)
The Trial of Joan of Arc (Robert Bresson)
The Fiances (Ermanno Olmi)
RoGoPaG (Omnibus)
The Servant (Joseph Losey)
Il Mare (Giuseppe Patroni Griffi)
Magnet of Doom (Jean-Pierre Melville)
Le Joli Mai (Chris Marker)
Muriel (Alain Resnais)
Barravento (Glauber Rocha)
*Sweet and Sour (Jacques Baratier)

2nd (1964):
*Hamlet (Grigori Kostintsev)
The Inheritance (Ricardo Alventosa)
Fail Safe (Sidney Lumet)
Nobody Waved Goodbye (Don Owen)
Women in the Dunes (Hiroshi Teshigahara)
Hands Over the City (Francesco Rosi)
Salvatore Giuliano (Francesco Rosi)
A Woman Is a Woman (Jean-Luc Godard)
Band of Outsiders (Jean-Luc Godard)
Nothing But a Man (Michael Roemer)
Lilith (Robert Rossen)
Shin Heike Monogatari (Kenji Mizoguchi)
The Brig (Jonas Mekas)
The Last Clean Shirt (Alfred Leslie)
Pasazerka (Andrzej Munk)
A Valparaiso (Joris Ivens)
^L’Age d’Or (Luis Buñuel)
Diary of a Chambermaid (Luis Buñuel)
Enjo (Kon Ichikawa)
To Love (Jorn Donned)
Alone on the Pacific (Kon Ichikawa)
King and Country (Joseph Losey)
Inside Out (Alain Jessua)
Before the Revolution (Bernardo Bertolucci)
She and He (Susumu Hani)
Cyrano and D’Artagnan (Abel Gance)
Ca Ira (Tinto Brass) [replaced with Fury Is a Woman (Andrzej Wajda)]
*The Big City (Satyajit Ray)

3rd (1965):
*Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard)
^Knave of Hearts (René Clement)
Mickey One (Arthur Penn)
Raven’s End (Bo Widerberg)
The Shop on High Street (Jan Kodar & Elmar Klos)
Camille Without Camellias (Michelangelo Antonioni)
Charulata (Satyajit Ray)
^The Wedding March (Erich von Stroheim)
Black Peter (Milos Forman)
Thomas the Imposter (Georges Franju)
Identification Marks: None (Jerzy Skolimowski)
Walkover (Jerzy Skolimowski)
Shakespeare Wallah (James Ivory)
^Les Vampires (Louis Feuillade)
^Buster and Beckett [Seven Chances, The Railrodder, Film] (Buster Keaton, Buster Keaton, Alan Schneider)
^Tribute to Bette Davis: Of Human Bondage (John Cromwell)
Caressed (Laurence L. Kent)
Six in Paris (Omnibus)
Le Petit Soldat (Jean-Luc Godard)
Gertrud (Carl Theodor Dreyer)
Between Two Worlds (Marco Bellocchio)
Sandra (Luchino Visconti)
The Koumiko Mystery (Chris Marker)
Twilight of Empire (Kevin Billington)
Not Reconciled (Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet)
*Red Beard (Akira Kurosawa)

4th (1966):
*Loves of a Blonde (Milos Forman)
The War Game (Peter Watkins)
Wholly Communion (Peter Whitehead)
Hunger (Henning Carlsen)
^La Commare Secca (Bernardo Bertolucci)
The Eavesdropper (Leopoldo Torre Nilsson)
Au hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson)
Les Creatures (Agnès Varda)
The Hawks and the Sparrows (Pier Paolo Pasolini)
^Accattone (Pier Paolo Pasolini)
Do You Keep a Lion at Home? (Pavel Hobl)
“The Scene” [Meet Marlon Brando, Notes for a Film on Jazz, Troublemakers] (Albert & David Maysles, Gianni Amico, Norman Fruchter and Robert Machover)
^The Burmese Harp (Kon Ichikawa)
^A Woman of Affairs (Clarence Brown)%
^The Cheat (Cecil B. DeMille)%
The Shameless Old Lady (Rene Allio)
Intimate Lighting (Ivan Passer)
Three (Aleksandar Petrovic)
The Roundup (Miklos Jancso)
Masculin féminin (Jean-Luc Godard)
The Hunt (Carlos Saura)
Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors (Sergei Paradjanov)
Pearls on the Ground (Omnibus)
Simon of the Desert (Luis Buñuel)%
The Man With the Shaven Head (André Delvaux)%
^La Chienne (Jean Renoir) [canceled]
Pierrot le fou (Jean-Luc Godard)
Almost a Man (Vittorio de Seta)
*The War Is Over (Alain Resnais)

5th (1967):
*The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo)
The Feverish Years (Dragoslav Lazic)
Yesterday Girl (Alexander Kluge)
Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (Dusan Makavejev)
Le Départ (Jerzy Skolimowski)
^Napoleon (Abel Gance)
Funnyman (John Korty)
Puss & Kram (Jonas Cornell)
Young Törless (Volker Schlöndorff)
Rebellion (Masaki Kobayashi)
The Lion Hunters (Jean Rouch)%
Memorandum (Donald Brittain)%
The Rise of Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini)
Bariera (Jerzy Skolimowski)
The London Scene (Peter Whitehead)
^Les Carabiniers (Jean-Luc Godard)
Made in U.S.A (Jean-Luc Godard)
Father (Istvan Szabo)
The Other One (René Allio)
Portrait of Jason (Shirley Clarke)
Elvira Madigan (Bo Widerberg)
^Applause (Reuben Mamoulian)
Sons and Mothers (Mark Donskoi)
*Far From Vietnam (Omnibus)

6th (1968):
*Capricious Summer (Jiri Menzel)
^Toni (Jean Renoir)
The Immortal Story (Orson Welles)
The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet)
A Report on the Party and the Guests (Jan Nemec)
The Red and the White (Miklos Jancso)
Mouchette (Robert Bresson)
^L’Argent (Marcel L’Herbier)
The Nun (Jacques Rivette)
^Lola Montès (Max Ophuls)
Faces (John Cassavetes)
Tropics (Gianni Amico)
Partner (Bernardo Bertolucci)
Kaya (Vatroslav Mimica)
24 Hours in a Woman’s Life (Dominique Delouche)
Signs of Life (Werner Herzog)
Two or Three Things I Know About Her (Jean-Luc Godard)
Artists Under the Big Top: Perplexed (Alexander Kluge)
Les Biches (Claude Chabrol)
L’Enfance Nue (Maurice Pialat)
Weekend (Jean-Luc Godard)
One Plus One (Jean-Luc Godard)
Hugo and Josephine (Kjell Grede)
Beyond the Law (Norman Mailer)
Oratorio for Prague (Jan Nemec)%
*The Firemen’s Ball (Milos Forman)%

7th (1969):
*Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (Paul Mazursky)
The Joke (Milan Kundera)
Une femme douce (Robert Bresson)
The Lady From Constantinople (Judit Elek)
The Rite (Ingmar Bergman)
Boy (Nagisa Oshima)
Adalen ’31 (Bo Widerberg)
The Epic That Never Was (BBC)
Lions Love (Agnès Varda)
Pierre and Paul (Rene Allio)
^La Ronde (Max Ophuls)
My Night at Maud’s (Eric Rohmer)
^The Merry Widow (Erich von Stroheim)
Duet for Cannibals (Susan Sontag)
Destroy, She Said (Marguerite Duras)
Goto, Island of Love (Walerian Borowczyk)
^He Who Gets Slapped (Victor Sjöstrom)
Le Gai Savoir (Jean-Luc Godard)
The Deserter and the Nomads (Juro Jakubisko)
Pigpen (Pier Paolo Pasolini)
Mandabi (Ousmane Sembène)
One Fine Day (Ermanno Olmi)
*Oh! What a Lovely War (Richard Attenborough)

8th (1970):
*The Wild Child (François Truffaut)
Wind From the East (Jean-Luc Godard)
Fire Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson)
Zorns Lemma (Hollis Frampton)%
Double Pisces, Scorpio Rising (Dick Fontaine)%
Othon (Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet)
Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol)
Camrades (Marin Karmitz)
Chikamatsu Monogatari (Kenji Mizoguchi)
Mistreatment (Lasse Forsberg)
Kes (Ken Loach)
Street Scenes 1970 (Martin Scorsese)
Je t’aime, je t’aime (Alain Resnais)
The Inheritors (Carlos Diegues)
La Musica (Paul Seban and Marguerite Duras)
Une Simple Histoire (Marcel Hanoun)
Even Dwarfs Started Small (Werner Herzog)
The Spider’s Stratagem (Bernardo Bertolucci)
Harry Munter (Kjell Grede)
The Garden of Delights (Carlos Saura)
The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci)
From Lumiere to Langlois: The French Cinema (Henri Langlois)%
Langlois (Elia Hershon & Roberto Guerra)%
Days and Nights in the Forest (Satyajit Ray)
The Cannibals (Liliana Cavani)
Praise Marx and Pass the Ammunition (Maurice Hatton)
Scavengers (Ermanno Olmi)
*Tristana (Luis Buñuel)

9th (1971):
*Debut (Gleb Panfilov)
Family Life (Krzysztof Zanussi)
The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich)
In the Summertime (Ermanno Olmi)
Decameron (Pier Paolo Pasolini)
Dodes’ka-den (Akira Kurosawa)
Directed by John Ford (Peter Bogdanovich)
Fata Morgana (Werner Herzog)
Four Nights of a Dreamer (Robert Bresson)
Pioneers in Ingolstadt (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Born to Win (Ivan Passer)
The Sorrow and the Pity (Marcel Ophuls)
Punishment Park (Peter Watkins)
In the Name of the Father (Marco Bellocchio)
W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (Dusan Makavejev)
Bonaparte and the Revolution (Abel Gance)
A Safe Place (Henry Jaglom)
*Murmur of the Heart (Louis Malle)

10th (1972):
*Love in the Afternoon (Eric Rohmer)
Love (Karoly Makk)
We Won’t Grow Old Together (Maurice Pialat)
Summer Soldiers (Hiroshi Teshigahara)
Red Psalm (Miklós Jancsó)%
Behind the Wall (Krzysztof Zanussi)%
A Sense of Loss (Marcel Ophuls)
Family Life (Ken Loach)
Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (Jonas Mekas)%
Going Home (Adolfas Mekas)%
Heat (Paul Morrissey)
The Inner Scar (Philippe Garrel)
Nathalie Granger (Marguerite Duras)
The Adversary (Satyajit Ray)
Bad Company (Robert Benton)
The Merchant of Four Seasons (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Images (Robert Altman)
L’amour fou (Jacques Rivette)
Tout va bien (Jean-Luc Godard & Jean-Pierre Gorin)%
Letter to Jane (Jean-Luc Godard & Jean-Pierre Gorin)%
Two English Girls (François Truffaut)
The King of Marvin Gardens (Bob Rafelson)
The Assassination of Trotsky (Joseph Losey)
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Luis Buñuel)
*Last Tango in Paris (Bernardo Bertolucci)

11th (1973):
*Day for Night (François Truffaut)
Ritorno (Gianni Amico)
Illumination (Krzysztof Zanussi)
Kid Blue (James Frawley)
History Lessons (Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet)%
Introduction to Arnold Schoenberg’s “Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene” (Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet)%
Réjeanne Padovani (Denys Arcand)
A Doll’s House (Joseph Losey)
Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese)
La Rupture (Claude Chabrol)
The Mother and the Whore (Jean Eustache)
Israel Why (Claude Lanzmann)
Land of Silence and Darkness (Werner Herzog)
Just Before Nightfall (Claude Chabrol)
Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky)
Distant Thunder (Satyajit Ray)
The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
^Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler (Fritz Lang)
*Badlands (Terrence Malick)

12th (1974):
*Don’t Cry With Your Mouth Full (Pascal Thomas)
^Liebelei (Max Ophuls)
The Night of the Scarecrow (Sergio Ricardo)
Lacombe Lucien (Louis Malle)
Stavisky (Alain Resnais)
Lancelot du lac (Robert Bresson)
Part-Time Work of a Domestic Slave (Alexander Kluge)%
The Bench of Desolation (Claude Chabrol)%
Rome Wants Another Caesar (Miklos Jancso)
“Roots” [Yudie, An Old Fashioned Woman, From These Roots, Italianamerican] (Mirra Bank, Martha Coolidge, William Greaves, Martin Scorsese)
A Bigger Splash (Jack Hazan)
Out 1: Spectre (Jacques Rivette)
The Middle of the World (Alain Tanner)
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
^Les Enfants Terribles (Jean-Pierre Melville)
Céline and Julie Go Boating (Jacques Rivette)
Alice In the Cities (Wim Wenders)
La Paloma (Daniel Schmid)
The Circumstance (Ermanno Olmi)
^Homage to Buñuel [L’Age d’Or, The Exterminating Angel, The Milky Way, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie] (Luis Buñuel)
A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes)
*The Phantom of Liberty (Luis Buñuel)

13th (1975):
*Conversation Piece (Luchino Visconti)
^La Chienne (Jean Renoir)
Fox and His Friends (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Grey Gardens (David Maysles & Albert Maysles & Ellen Hovde & Muffie Meyer)
F for Fake (Orson Welles)
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (Werner Herzog)
Elektreia (Miklos Jacso)
Black Moon (Louis Malle)
Pas si méchant que ça (Claude Goretta)
Xala (Ousmane Sembène)
The Lost Honor of Katharina Blu (Volker Schlöndorff & Margarethe von Trotta)
Hearts of the West (Howard Zieff)
Moses and Aaron (Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet)
Autobiography of a Princess (James Ivory)%
Compañuero (Martin Smith)%
Exhibition (Jean-François Davy)
India Song (Marguerite Duras)
Milestones (Robert Kramer & John Douglas)
Smile (Michael Ritchie)
French Provincial (André Téchiné)
*The Story of Adèle H. (François Truffaut)

14th (1976):
*Small Change (François Truffaut)
^Ossessione (Luchino Visconti)
Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 (Alain Tanner)
In the Realm of the Senses (Nagisa Oshima) [replaced with The Ceremony]
Kings of the Road (Wim Wenders)
Dersu Uzala (Akira Kurosawa)
The Memory of Justice (Marcel Ophuls)
Rites of Passage [Sunday Funnies, In the Region of Ice, Bernice Bobs Her Hair] (Ray Karp, Peter Werner, Joan Micklin Silver)
Illustrious Corpses (Francesco Rosi)
Story of Sin (Walerian Borowczyk)
Serail (Eduardo de Gregorio)
Strongman Ferdinand (Alexander Kluge)
A Touch of Zen (King Hu)
The Middleman (Satyajit Ray)
Duelle (Jacques Rivette)
^Nana (Jean Renoir)
Fear of Fear (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Harlan County, U.S.A. (Barbara Kopple)
*The Marquise of O… (Eric Rohmer)

15th (1977):
*One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (Agnès Varda)
^L’Enfant de Paris (Léonce Perret)
Tent of Miracles (Pereira dos Santos)
Men of Bronze (Bill Miles)%
Children of Labor (Noel Buckner, Mary Dore, Richard Broadman, Al Gedicks)%
The American Friend (Wim Wenders)
Padre Padrone (Paolo & Vittorio Taviani)
Pafnucio Santo (Rafael Corkidi)
Le Camion (Marguerite Duras)
Short Eyes (Robert M. Young)
The Devil, Probably (Robert Bresson)
Handle With Care (Jonathan Demme)
Saló, or the 120 Days of Sodom (Pier Paolo Pasolini)
Heart of Glass (Werner Herzog)%
La Soufriere (Werner Herzog)%
The Man Who Loved Women (François Truffaut)
Omar Gatlato (Merzak Allouache)
Roseland (James Ivory)
Hot Tomorrows (Martin Brest)%
^My Grandmother (Kote Mikaberidze)%
Women (Márta Mészáros)
The Lacemaker (Claude Goretta)
1900 (Bernardo Bertolucci)
*That Obscure Object of Desire (Luis Buñuel)

16th (1978): [Order unavailable, rough list listed alphabetically]
*A Wedding (Robert Altman)
American Boy (Martin Scorsese)%
Movies Are My Life (Peter Hayden)%
The Apple Game (Vera Chytilová)
Bloodbrothers (Robert Mulligan)
Camoflauge (Krzysztof Zanussi)
Despair (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Dossier 51 (Michel Deville)
Elective Affinities (Gianni Amico)
Gates of Heaven (Errol Morris)%
Manimals (Robin Lehman)%
The Dogs (Aviva Slesin)%
Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (Bertrand Blier)
The Green Room (François Truffaut)%
Going Out of Business (Christopher Gamboni)%
The Left-Handed Woman (Peter Handke)
Like a Turtle on Its Back (Luc Béraud)
^The Miracle of the Wolves (Raymond Bernard)
Newsfront (Phillip Noyce)
Perceval le Gallois (Eric Rohmer)
The Shout (Jerzy Skolimowski)
Skip Tracer (Zale R. Dalen)
^Spiones (Fritz Lang)
*Violette Nozière (Claude Chabrol)

17th (1979):
*Luna (Bernardo Bertolucci)
^The Golden Coach (Jean Renoir)
The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie (Chuck Jones)
Black Jack (Ken Loach)
Wise Blood (John Huston)
Short Memory (Eduardo de Gregorio)
Angi Vera (Pal Gabor)
Nosferatu the Vampyre (Werner Herzog)
^Scarface (Howard Hawks)%
^Mad Wednesday (Preston Sturges)%
The Europeans (James Ivory)
Molière (Ariane Mnouchkine)
Best Boy (Ira Wohl)
Other People’s Money (Christian de Chalonge)
Alexandria… Why? (Youssef Chahine)
My Brilliant Career (Gillian Armstrong)
Primal Fear (Anne Claire Poirier)
In a Year of 13 Moons (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Without Anesthesia (Andrzej Wajda)
The Wobblies (Stewart Bird & Deborah Shaffer)
The Young Girls of Wilko (Andrzej Wajda)
The Black Stallion (Carroll Ballard)
^Peeping Tom (Michael Powell)
*The Marriage of Maria Braun (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)

18th (1980):
*Melvin and Howard (Jonathan Demme)
The Handyman (Micheline Lanctôt)
The Confessions of Wanda Sacher Masoch (Franco Brogi Taviani)
The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter (Connie Field)%
Quilts in Women’s Lives (Pat Ferrero)%
Bye-Bye Brazil (Carlos Diegues)
The Orchestra Conductor (Andrzej Wajda)
Special Treatment (Goran Paskaljevic)
Confidence (István Szabó)
One Day Like Another (Mrinal Sen)
Handicapped Love (Marlies Graf)%
Here’s Looking at You, Kid (William E. Cohen)%
Sunday Daughters (Janos Rozsa)
Camera Buff (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
^Europa ’51 (Roberto Rossellini)
^The Martin Scorsese Color Show: Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone)
^The Color of Pomegranates (Sergei Paradjanov)
Kagemusha (Akira Kurosawa)
Every Man for Himself (Jean-Luc Godard)
Loulou (Maurice Pialat)
“Americana” [New York Story, Rush, Nights at O’Rear’s] (Jackie Raynal, Evelyn Purcell, Robert Mandel)
The Constant Factor (Krzysztof Zanussi)
^Tih Minh (Louis Feuillade)
*The Last Metro (François Truffaut)

19th (1981):
*Chariots of Fire (Hugh Hudson)
^Bob le flambeur (Jean-Pierre Melville)
Lightning Over Water (Wim Wenders & Nicholas Ray)
Graduate First (Maurice Pialat)
The Witness (Peter Bacsó)
Soldier Girls (Nick Broomfield & Joan Churchill)%
The Last to Know (Bonnie Friedman)%
The Beads of One Rosary (Kazimierz Kutz)
Mephisto (István Szabó)
Resurgence: The Movement for Equality Versus the Ku Klux Klan (Tom Sigel & Pamela Yates)%
Tighten Your Belts, Bite the Bullet (James Gaffney & Martin Lucas & Jonathan Miller)%
Matti de slegare (Silvano Agosti & Marco Bellochio & Sandro Petraglia & Stefano Rulli)
The Mystery of Oberwald (Michelangelo Antonioni)
Mural Murals (Agnès Varda)%
Documenteur: An Emotion Picture (Agnès Varda)%
Taxi Zum Klo (Frank Ripploh)
^Only a Mother (Alf Sjöberg)%
^Karin Mansdotter (Alf Sjöberg)%
Transes (Ahmed El Manouni)
Contract (Krzysztof Zanussi)
We Were German Jews (Michael Blackwood)%
Hopper’s Silence (Brian O’Doherty)%
Passione D’Amore (Ettore Scola)
Looks and Smiles (Ken Loach)
The Aviator’s Wife (Eric Rohmer)
Le Pont du Nord (Jacques Rivette)
Vernon, Florida (Errol Morris)%
Stations of the Elevated (Manfred Kirchheimer)%
My Dinner With Andre (Louis Malle)
Beau Père (Bertrand Blier)
The Woman Next Door (François Truffaut)
*Man of Iron (Andrzej Wajda)

20th (1982):
*Veronika Voss (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
The Stationmaster’s Wife (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
^The Burning Brazier (Ivan Mozhukhin)
Another Way (Karoly Makk)
Eating Raoul (Paul Bartel)
Moonlighting (Jerzy Skolimowski)
^Madam Satan (Cecil B. DeMille)
^Description of a Struggle (Chris Marker)%
^Letter From Siberia (Chris Marker)%
Tex (Tim Hunter)
The Night of the Shooting Stars (Paolo & Vittorio Taviani)
City Lovers (Barney Simon)%
Coming of Age (Josh Hanig)%
Identification of a Women (Michelangelo Antonioni)
Vortex (Scott B & Beth B)
La Truite (Joseph Losey)
Little Wars (Maroun Baghdadi)
The Draughtsman’s Contract (Peter Greenaway)
The Tyrant’s Heart (Miklós Jancsó)
Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio)
Say Amen, Somebody (George T. Nierenberg)
^The Light Ahead (Edgar G. Ulmer)
Yol (Yelmaz Guney)
Time Stands Still (Péter Gothár)
Dark Circle (Chris Beaver)
One Man’s War (Edgardo Cozarinsky)
Before the Nickelodeon (Charles Musser)%
Arshile Gorky (Charlotte Zwerin)%
Little People (Jan Krawitz & Thomas Ott)
*Fitzcarraldo (Werner Herzog)

21st (1983):
*The Big Chill (Lawrence Kasdan)
L’Argent (Robert Bresson)
The Story of Piera (Marco Ferreri)
The Wind (Souleymane Cissé)%
Reassemblage (Trinh T. Minh-ha)%
^La Signora di Tutti (Max Ophuls)
Forbidden Relations (Zsolt Kézdi-Kovács)
In the White City (Alain Tanner)
Boat People (Ann Hui)
Danton (Andrzej Wajda)
Life Is a Bed of Roses (Alain Resnais)
^Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock)
Erendira (Ruy Guerra)
Lost Illusions (Gyula Gazdag)
Last Night at the Alamo (Eagle Pennell)%
Sifted Evidence (Patricia Gruben)%
Les années 80 (Chantal Akerman)
Seeing Red (Julia Reichert & James Klein)
Red Love (Rosa von Praunheim)
^The New Babylon (Grigori Kozintsev & Leonid Trauberg)
Dhrupad (Mani Kaul)%
So Far From India (Mira Nair)%
Passion (Jean-Luc Godard)%
You the Better (Ericka Beckman)%
Nostalghia (Andrei Tarkovsky)
Heart Like a Wheel (Jonathan Kaplan)
Rumble Fish (Francis Ford Coppola)
Entre Nous (Diane Kurys)
Burroughs (Howard Brookner)%
The Secret Agent (Jacki Ochs)%
*Streamers (Robert Altman)

22nd (1984):
*Country (Richard Pearce)
^Becky Sharp (Rouben Mamoulian)
The Holy Innocents (Mario Camus)
America and Lewis Hine (Nina Rosenblum)%
Los Sures (Diego Echeverria)%
Stranger Than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch)
A Hill on the Dark Side of the Moon (Lennart Hjulström)
Diary for My Children (Márta Meszáros)
A Love in Germany (Andrzej Wajda)
A Sunday in the Country (Bertrand Tavernier)
Shivers (Wojciech Marczewski)
Cammina Cammina (Ermanno Olmi)
Three Crowns of the Sailor (Raúl Ruiz)
A Flash of Green (Victor Nuñez)
Love on the Ground (Jacques Rivette)
Strikebound (Richard Lowenstein)
Class Relations (Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet)
The Times of Harvey Milk (Robert Epstein & Richard Schmiechen)
Tokyo Olympiad (Kon Ichikawa)
Memoirs of Prison (Nelson Pereira dos Santos)
Man of Flowers (Paul Cox)
À nos Amours (Maurice Pialat)
Blood Simple (Joel & Ethan Coen)
Once Upon a Time in America (Sergio Leone)
^Two English Girls (François Truffaut)
*Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders)

23rd (1985):
*Ran (Akira Kurosawa)
Steaming (Joseph Losey)
^Black Narcissus (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger)
Huey Long (Ken Burns)
When Father Was Away on Business (Emeric Kusturica)
Oriane (Fina Torres)
Angry Harvest (Agnieszka Holland)
Sugarbaby (Percy Adlon)
Colonel Redl (Istvan Szabo)
Himatsuri (Mitsuo Yanagimachi)
Bliss (Ray Lawrence)
No Man’s Land (Alain Tanner)
Renoir, the Boss (Jacques Rivette)%
Jean Cocteau – Self-Portrait of a Man Unknown (Edgardo Cozarinsky)%
7 Up (Paul Almond)%
28 Up (Michael Apted)%
City of Pirates (Raúl Ruiz)
^Nothing Sacred (William Wellman)
Chain Letters (Mark Rappaport)
Private Conversations (Christian Blackwood)
Hail Mary (Jean-Luc Godard)
A Year of the Quiet Sun (Krzysztof Zanussi)
Les Temps Détruit (Pierre Beuchot)%
Harvest of Despair (Slavko Nowytski)%
The Satin Slipper (Manoel de Oliveira)
Boy Meets Girl (Leos Carax)
*Kaos (Paolo & Vittorio Taviani)

24th (1986):
*Down by Law (Jim Jarmusch)
Police (Maurice Pialat)
A Zed and Two Noughts (Peter Greenaway)
Directed by William Wyler (Aviva Slesin)%
^Dodsworth (William Wyler)%
Malandro (Ruy Guerra)
The Blind Director (Alexander Kluge)
Marlene (Maximilian Schell)
A Time To Live and A Time To Die (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Cactus (Paul Cox)
L’Effrontée (Claude Miller)
Dancing in the Dark (Leon Marr)
The Sacrifice (Andrei Tarkovsky)
Scene of the Crime (André Téchiné)
The Decline of the American Empire (Denys Arcand)
^The Wedding March (Erich von Stroheim)
To Sleep So As To Dream (Kaizo Hayashi)
Isaac In America (Amram Nowak)%
International Sweethearts of Rhythm (Greta Schiller & Andrea Weiss)%
Round Midnight (Bertrand Tavernier)
No End (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
Tenue de soirée (Bertrand Blier)
Thérèse (Alain Cavalier)
Sid and Nancy (Alex Cox)
True Stories (David Byrne)
*Peggy Sue Got Married (Francis Ford Coppola)

25th (1987):
*Dark Eyes (Nikita Mikhalkov)
A Taxing Woman (Juzo Itami)
Diary for My Loved Ones (Márta Mészáros)
Radium City (Carole Langer)
Police Story (Jackie Chan)
A Month in the Country (Pat O’Connor)
^The Manchurian Candidate (John Frankenheimer)
The Theme (Gleb Panfilov)
Mauvais Sang (Leos Carax)
Barfly (Barbet Schroeder)%
Arena Brains (Robert Longo)%
The Belly of an Architect (Peter Greenaway)
Babette’s Feast (Gabriel Axel)
Anna (Yurek Bogayevicz)
Under the Sun of Satan (Maurice Pialat)
Anita – Dances of Vice (Rosa von Praunheim)
Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll! (Taylor Hackford)
Mélo (Alain Resnais)
^Joan of Arc at the Stake (Roberto Rossellini)%
^The Human Voice (Jean Cocteau)%
Horowitz Plays Mozart (Albert Maysles & Susan Froemke & Charlotte Zwerin)%
Young at Heart (Sue Marx & Pam Conn)%
Yeelen (Souleymane Cissé)
Boyfriends and Girlfriends (Eric Rohmer)
Hope and Glory (John Boorman)
Fire From the Mountain (Deborah Shaffer)%
El Centerfielder (Ramiro Lacayo Deshon)%
*House of Games (David Mamet)

26th (1988):
*Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar)
Felix (Omnibus)
^Asya’s Happiness (Andrei Konchalovsky)
Mapantsula (Oliver Schmitz)
High Hopes (Mike Leigh)
La Maschera (Fiorella Infascelli)%
Sarah (Edgardo Cozarinsky)%
Bird (Clint Eastwood)
The Man With Three Coffins (Lee Chang-ho)
The Last of England (Derek Jarman)
Distant Voices, Still Lives (Terence Davies)
Ashik Kerib (Sergei Paradjanov)
Daughter of the Nile (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Pelle the Conqueror (Bille August)
Avant-Garde Voices [I…Dreaming, Marilyn’s Window, Lived in Quotes, Honor and Obey, Fake Fruit Factory] (Stan Brakhage, Stan Brakhage, Laurie Dunphy, Warren Sonbert, Chick Strand)
Opening Night (John Cassavetes)
A Winter Tan (Jackie Burroughs & Louise Clark & John Frizzell & John Walker & Aerlyn Weissman)
Jacob (Mircea Daneliuc)
36 Fillette (Catherine Breillat)
Golub (Jerry Blumenthal & Gordon Quinn)%
Falkenau (Emil Weiss)%
Hard Times (Joao Botelho)
Hotel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie (Marcel Ophuls)
Salaam Bombay! (Mira Nair)
^The Onset of an Unknown Age (Omnibus)
*Red Sorghum (Zhang Yimou)

27th (1989):
*Too Beautiful for You (Bertrand Blier)
A Short Film About Killing (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
The Plot Against Harry (Michael Roemer)
Strapless (David Hare)
My Left Foot (Jim Sheridan)
Ariel (Aki Kaurismäki)%
London Suite (Vivienne Dick)%
A Tale of the Wind (Joris Ivens & Marceline Loridan)%
Rain (Joris Ivens)%
Black Rain (Shohei Imamura)
Roger and Me (Michael Moore)
The Mahabharata (Peter Brook)
Mystery Train (Jim Jarmusch)
Speaking Parts (Atom Egoyan)%
Under the Sea (Paul Glabicki)%
Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (Charlotte Zwerin)
The Documentator (Istvan Darday & Gyorgyi Szalai)
Avant-Garde Visions [Mercy, Friendly Witness, Water and Power] (Abigail Child, Warren Sonbert, Pat O’Neill)
Looking for Langston (Isaac Julien)%
Book of Days (Meredith Monk)%
^Intolerance (D.W. Griffith)
Life and Nothing But (Bertrand Tavernier)
Confession: A Chronicle of Alienation (Georgi Gavrilov)
Yaaba (Idrissa Ouedraogo)
Monsieur Hire (Patrice Leconte)
A City of Sadness (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Sweetie (Jane Campion)
Near Death (Frederick Wiseman)
Current Events (Ralph Arlyck)%
Dreams from China (Fred Marx)%
Dancing for Mr. B: Six Balanchine Ballerinas (Anna Belle & Deborah Dickson)
*Breaking In (Bill Forsyth)

28th (1990):
*Miller’s Crossing (Joel & Ethan Coen)
Freeze Die Come to Life (Vitaly Kanevski)
^L’Atalante (Jean Vigo)
Ju Dou (Zhang Yimou)
King of New York (Abel Ferrara)
Doctor Petiot (Christian de Chalonge)%
The Space Between the Door and the Floor (Pauline Chan)%
Hang Up (Pauline Chan)%
Tilai (Idrissa Ouedraogo)
A Tale of Springtime (Eric Rohmer)
Privilege (Yvonne Rainer)
No, or the Vain Glory of Command (Manoel de Oliveira)
Open Doors (Gianni Amelio)
Night Sun (Paolo & Vittorio Taviani)
The Sting of Death (Kohei Oguri)
Nouvelle Vague (Jean-Luc Godard)
The Golden Boat (Raúl Ruiz)
Siddheshwari (Mani Kaul)
Avant-Garde Visions [Pièce Touchée, Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol, Sink or Swim] (Martin Arnold, Jonas Mekas, Su Friedrich)
A Woman’s Revenge (Jacques Doillon)
Taxi Blues (Pavel Lounguine)
The Match Factory Girl (Aki Kaurismäki)%
That Burning Question (Alan Taylor)%
Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones (Ellen Weissbrod & Courtney Sale Ross)
An Angel at My Table (Jane Campion)
I Hired a Contract Killer (Aki Kaurismäki)
Golden Braid (Paul Cox)%
Touch My Lips (Jim Garrard)%
To Sleep With Anger (Charles Burnett)
American Dream (Barbara Kopple)
*The Nasty Girl (Michael Verhoeven)

29th (1991):
*The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
Adam’s Rib (Viatcheslav Krichtofovitch)
^Rocco and His Brothers (Luchino Visconti)
Amelia Lopes O’Neill (Valéria Sarmiento)%
Cairo as Told by Youssef Chahine (Youssef Chahine)%
Toto the Hero (Jaco van Dormael)
No Life King (Jun Ichikawa)
The Suspended Step of the Stork (Theo Angelopoulos)
Inventory (Krzysztof Zanussi)
The Other Eye (Johanna Heer & Werner Schmiedel)
Jacquot de Nantes (Agnès Varda)
The Adjuster (Atom Egoyan)
Woman of the Port (Arturo Ripstein)
My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant)
^Une chambre en ville (Jacques Demy)
Prospero’s Books (Peter Greenaway)
Locked-Up Time (Sibylle Schönemann)
Beauty and the Beast (Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise)
Life on a String (Chen Kaige)
The Rapture (Michael Tolkin)
Avant-Garde Visions [Flaming Creatures, The Making of “Monsters”, Opening the Nineteenth Century: 1896] (Jack Smith, John Greyson, Ken Jacobs)
La Belle Noiseuse (Jacques Rivette)
Intimate Stranger (Alan Berliner)%
The Body Beautiful (Ngozi Onwurah)%
Zombie and the Ghost Train (Mika Kaurismäki)%
Tender, Slender and Tall (Lesley Ellen)%
Night on Earth (Jim Jarmusch)
^Earth Entranced (Glauber Rocha)
Pictures from a Revolution (Susan Meiselas & Richard P. Rogers & Alfred Guzzetti)
Delicatessen (Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro)
*Homicide (David Mamet)

30th (1992):
*Olivier, Olivier (Agnieszka Holland)
Life, and Nothing More… (Abbas Kiarostami)
Taking the Pulse [Seen from Elsewhere, A Sense of History, Pets or Meat] (Denys Arcand, Mike Leigh, Michael Moore)
Strictly Ballroom (Baz Luhrmann)
The Crying Game (Neil Jordan)
Autumn Moon (Clara Law)
Benny’s Video (Michael Haneke)
Léolo (Jean-Claude Lauzon)
Allah Tantou (David Achkar)%
Lumumba – Death of a Prophet (Raoul Peck)%
Dream of Light (Victor Erice)
The Oak (Lucian Pintilie)
The Story of Qiu Ju (Zhang Yimou)
A Tale of Winter (Eric Rohmer)
Stone (Aleksandr Sokurov)
Hyenas (Djibril Diop Mambety)
In the Soup (Alexandre Rockwell)
La Sentinelle (Arnaud Desplechin)
Avant-Garde Visions [Side/Walk/Shuttle, John Five, Short Fuse] (Ernie Gehr, James Herbert, Warren Sonbert)
The Lovers on the Bridge (Leos Carax)
Careful (Guy Maddin)
Idiot (Mani Kaul)
Zebrahead (Anthony Drazan)
Man Bites Dog (Rémy Belvaux & André Bonzel & Benoit Poelvoorde)
La Vie de Bohème (Aki Kaurismäki)
Delivered Vacant (Nora Jacobsen)
*Night and the City (Irwin Winkler)

31st (1993):
*Short Cuts (Robert Altman)
^The Story of a Cheat (Sacha Guitry)
The Blue Kite (Tian Zhuangzhuang)
Shades of Doubt (Aline Issermann)
Raining Stones (Ken Loach)
The Night (Mohammad Malas)
Blue (Derek Jarman)
Avant-Garde Visions [Passage l’Acte, Poverties, Dottie Gets Spanked] (Martin Arnold, Laurie Dunphy, Todd Haynes)
Abraham’s Valley (Manoel de Oliveira)
The Puppetmaster (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Ruby in Paradise (Victor Nuñez)
The Snapper (Stephen Frears)
Farewell My Concubine (Chen Kaige)
Wendemi (S. Pierre Yameogo)%
Untrue Stories (John Petrizelli & Cezary Jaworski)%
The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick)
Totally Fucked Up (Gregg Araki)
Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (Nick Broomfield)
The Scent of Green Papaya (Tran Anh Hung)
Three Colors: Blue (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
The War Room (D.A. Pennebaker)
Fiorile (Paolo & Vittorio Taviani)
Birthplace (Pavel Lozinski)
The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (Ray Müller)
It’s All True: Based on an Unfinished Film by Orson Welles (Richard Wilson & Myron Meisel & Bill Krohn)
Naked (Mike Leigh)
Calendar (Atom Egoyan)%
Moving In (Chantal Akerman)%
*The Piano (Jane Campion)

32nd (1994):
*Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino)
^Martha (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Exotica (Atom Egoyan)
Strawberry and Chocolate (Tomás Guitérrez Alea & Juan Carlos Tabío)
Ed Wood (Tim Burton)
Chungking Express (Wong Kar-wai)
Through the Olive Trees (Abbas Kiarostami)
Caro diario (Nanni Moretti)
Crumb (Terry Zwigoff)
Avant-Garde Visions [The Cloud Door, Whispering Pages] (Mani Kaul, Aleksandr Sokurov)
Cold Water (Olivier Assayas)
Amateur (Hal Hartley)
To Live (Zhang Yimou)
The Silences of the Palace (Moufida Tlatli)
A Confucian Confusion (Edward Yang)
*Bullets Over Broadway (Woody Allen)
Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (Steven M. Martin)
See How They Fall (Jacques Audiard)%
^A Pair of Boots (John Cassavetes)%
To the Starry Island (Park Kwang-su)
Three Colors: Red (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
The Red Lotus Society (Stan Lai)
The Troubles We’ve Seen (Marcel Ophuls)
Ladybird, Ladybird (Ken Loach)
Wild Reeds (André Téchiné)
Postcards from America (Steve McLean)%
The Salesman and Other Adventures (Hannah Weyer)%
Sátántango (Béla Tarr)
*Hoop Dreams (Steve James)

33rd (1995):
*Shanghai Triad (Zhang Yimou)
The White Balloon (Jafar Panahi)
^Discovering Max Linder (Max Linder)
Georgia (Ulu Grosbard)
Dead Presidents (Albert & Allen Hughes)
Flamenco (Carlos Saura)
Sixteen Oh Sixty (Vinicius Mainardi)
The Neon Bible (Terence Davies)
Kicking and Screaming (Noah Baumbach)
Lamerica (Gianni Amelio)
Flirt (Hal Hartley)
Land and Freedom (Ken Loach)
Good Men, Good Women (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Guimba the Tyrant (Cheick Oumar Sissoko)
*Strange Days (Kathryn Bigelow)
The Convent (Manoel de Oliveira)
Fortune Smiles [Le Franc, Augustin] (Djibril Diop Mambety, Anne Fontaine)
The Son of Gascogne (Pascal Aubier)
A Cinema of Unease (Sam Neill)%
Citizen Langlois (Edgardo Cozarinsky)%
Avant-Garde Visions [Alpsee, Zone, River Colors] (Matthias Müller, Takashi Ito, Christoph Janetzko)
From the Journals of Jean Seberg (Mark Rappaport)%
Joy Street (Suzan Pitt)%
Cyclo (Tran Anh Hung)
La Haine (Mathieu Kassovitz)
The Celluloid Closet (Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman)
The Flower of My Secret (Pedro Almodóvar)
The Gate of Heavenly Peace (Carma Hinton & Richard Gordon)
^Rome, Open City (Roberto Rossellini)
^Paisan (Roberto Rossellini)
^Germany, Year Zero (Roberto Rossellini)
*Carrington (Christopher Hampton)

34th (1996):
*Secrets and Lies (Mike Leigh)
Hi Cousin! (Merzak Allouache)
Irma Vep (Olivier Assayas)
Beyond the Clouds (Michelangelo Antonioni)
Sling Blade (Billy Bob Thornton)
Le Garçu (Maurice Pialat)
A Self-Made Hero (Jacques Audiard)
Goodbye South, Goodbye (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Fire (Deepa Mehta)
Illtown (Nick Gomez)
My Sex Life… or How I Got Into an Argument (Arnaud Desplechin)
Breaking the Waves (Lars von Trier)
Suzanne Farrell: Elusive Muse (Anne Belle & Deborah Dickson)
Temptress Moon (Chen Kaige)
*Thieves (André Téchiné)
La Promesse (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)
Mahjong (Edward Yang)
Nobody’s Business (Alan Berliner)%
Trofim (Alexei Balabanov)%
Emigration, N.Y. (Egon Humer)
Three Lives and Only One Death (Raúl Ruiz)
Culture Shock [Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask, Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt] (Isaac Julien, Michal Goldman)
Gabbeh (Mohsen Makhmalbaf)
Lilies (John Greyson)
SubUrbia (Richard Linklater)
Mandela (Jo Menell & Agnus Gibson)
Underground (Emir Kusturica)
*The People vs. Larry Flynt (Milos Forman)

35th (1997):
*The Ice Storm (Ang Lee)
^The Saragossa Manuscript (Wojciech Has)
Mother and Son (Aleksandr Sokurov)
Post Coitum, Animal Triste (Brigitte Roüan)
Love and Death on Long Island (Richard Kwietniowski)
Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami)%
^The House is Black (Forough Farrokhzad)%
Hana-bi (Takeshi Kitano)
From Today Until Tomorrow (Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet)
Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (Errol Morris)%
Whiplash (Warren Sonbert)%
Martín (hache) (Adolfo Aristarain)
Kitchen (Yim Ho)
Kiss or Kill (Bill Bennett)
Ma vie en rose (Alain Berliner)
Washington Square (Agnieszka Holland)
Public Housing (Frederick Wiseman)
Destiny (Youssef Chahine)
*The Sweet Hereafter (Atom Egoyan)
Voyage to the Beginning of the World (Manoel de Oliveira)
Deep Crimson (Arturo Ripstein)
Fallen Angels (Wong Kar-wai)
Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson)
La vie de Jésus (Bruno Dumont)
Telling Lies in America (Guy Ferland)
The Apostle (Robert Duvall)
Happy Together (Wong Kar-wai)
*Live Flesh (Pedro Almodóvar)

36th (1998):
*Celebrity (Woody Allen)
^The Joyless Street (G.W. Pabst)
You’re Laughing (Paolo & Vittorio Taviani)
Gods and Monsters (Bill Condon)
Same Old Song (Alain Resnais)
I Stand Alone (Gaspar Noé)
Dr. Akagi (Shohei Imamura)
Khrustalyov, My Car! (Aleksei German)
The Apple (Samira Makhmalbaf)
My Name Is Joe (Ken Loach)
Velvet Goldmine (Todd Haynes)
A Tale of Autumn (Eric Rohmer)
The General (John Boorman)
^Point Blank (John Boorman)
Slam (Marc Levin)
*Black Cat, White Cat (Emir Kusturica)
Flowers of Shanghai (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Late August, Early September (Olivier Assayas)
Festen (Thomas Vinterberg)
The Inheritors (Stefan Ruzowitzky)
Happiness (Todd Solondz)
Rushmore (Wes Anderson)
River of Gold (Paulo Rocha)
The Book of Life (Hal Hartley)%
Life on Earth (Abderrahmane Sissako)%
*The Dreamlife of Angels (Érick Zonca)

37th (1999):
*All About My Mother (Pedro Almodóvar)
^The Edge of the World (Michael Powell)
The Color of Heaven (Majid Majidi)
Rien sur Robert (Pascal Bonitzer)
The Carriers Are Waiting (Benoit Mariage)
License to Live (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
Sicilia! (Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet)
Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki)
The Letter (Manoel de Oliveira)
Beau Travail (Claire Denis)
Julien Donkey-Boy (Harmony Korine)
Time Regained (Raúl Ruiz)
Boys Don’t Cry (Kimberly Pierce)
Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze)
*Topsy-Turvy (Mike Leigh)
Juha (Aki Kaurismäki)
Pripyat (Nikolaus Geyrhalter)
Rosetta (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)
Dogma (Kevin Smith)
Pola X (Leos Carax)
Set Me Free (Léa Pool)
The Other (Youssef Chahine)
The Woman Chaser (Robinson Devor)
Holy Smoke (Jane Campion)
Mobutu, King of Zaire (Thierry Michel)
*Felicia’s Journey (Atom Egoyan)

38th (2000):
*Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier)
Chunhyang (Im Kwon-taek)
Boesman and Lena (John Berry)
The House of Mirth (Terence Davies)
Krapp’s Last Tape (Atom Egoyan)%
Not I (Neil Jordan)%
The Comedy of Innocence (Raúl Ruiz)
The Circle (Jafar Panahi)
Brother (Takeshi Kitano)
Faithless (Liv Ullmann)
George Washington (David Gordon Green)
Gohatto (Nagisa Oshima)
Smell of Camphor, Fragrance of Jasmine (Bahman Farmanara)
^Seven Men From Now (Budd Boetticher)
*Pollock (Ed Harris)
The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda)
In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai)
Yi Yi (Edward Yang)
Kippur (Amos Gitai)
Amores perros (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
Before Night Falls (Julian Schnabel)
The Taste of Others (Agnès Jaoui)
Eureka (Shinji Aoyama)
Chronically Unfeasible (Sergio Bianchi)
Platform (Jia Zhangke)
*Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee)

39th (2001):
*Va savoir (Jacques Rivette)
What Time Is It There? (Tsai Ming-liang)
I’m Going Home (Manoel de Oliveira)
Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (Shohei Imamura)
Storytelling (Todd Solondz)
Men At Work [Freedom, That Old Dream That Moves] (Lisandro Alonso, Alain Guiraudie)
La Ciénaga (Lucrecia Martel)
Italian for Beginners (Lorne Scherfig)
Time Out (Laurent Cantet)
^The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton)
The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson)
The Lady and the Duke (Eric Rohmer)
Silence, We’re Rolling (Youssef Chahine)
Y Tu Mamá También (Alfonso Cuarón)
*Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch)
Fat Girl (Catherine Breillat)
Baran (Majid Majidi)
Deep Breath (Damian Odoul)
Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4 PM (Claude Lanzmann)
Intimacy (Patrice Chéreau)
Waking Life (Richard Linklater)
The Son’s Room (Nanni Moretti)
All About Lily Chou-Chou (Shunji Iwai)
*In Praise of Love (Jean-Luc Godard)

40th (2002):
*About Schmidt (Alexander Payne)
The Son (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)
Russian Ark (Aleksandr Sokurov)
Chihwaseon (Im Kwon-taek)
The Magdalene Sisters (Peter Mullan)
Ten (Abbas Kiarostami)
Unknown Pleasures (Jia Zhangke)
The Uncertainty Principle (Manoel de Oliveira)
Bloody Sunday (Paul Greengrass)
The Man Without a Past (Aki Kaurismäki)
My Mother’s Smile (Marco Bellocchio)
Auto Focus (Paul Schrader)
Springtime in a Small Town (Tian Zhuangzhuang)
*Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson)
On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate (Hong Sang-soo)
Waiting for Happiness (Abderrahmane Sissako)
Divine Intervention (Elia Suleiman)
Safe Conduct (Bertrand Tavernier)
Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary (André Heller & Othmar Schmiderer)
Friday Night (Claire Denis)
Monday Morning (Otar Iosseliani)
Love and Diane (Jennifer Dworkin)
To Be and to Have (Nicolas Philibert)
*Talk to Her (Pedro Almodóvar)

41st (2003):
*Mystic River (Clint Eastwood)
^Piccadilly (E.A. Dupont)
A Thousand Months (Faouzi Bensaïdi)
Dogville (Lars von Trier)
S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (Rithy Panh)
Mansion by the Lake (Lester James Peries)
Pornography (Jan Jakub Kolski)
Young Adam (David Mackenzie)
The Flower of Evil (Claude Chabrol)
Good Morning, Night (Marco Bellocchio)
Elephant (Gus Van Sant)
*The Fog of War (Errol Morris)
Free Radicals (Barbara Albert)
Bright Leaves (Ross McElwee)
Since Otar Left (Julie Bertuccelli)
Crimson Gold (Jafar Panahi)
Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-liang)
Distant (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
PTU (Johnnie To)
Raja (Jacques Doillon)
The Barbarian Invasions (Denys Arcand)
Mayor of the Sunset Strip (George Hickenlooper)
*21 Grams (Alejandro González Iñárritu)

42nd (2004):
*Look at Me (Agnès Jaoui)
^The Big Red One (Samuel Fuller)
Triple Agent (Eric Rohmer)
Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Undertow (David Gordon Green)
Notre musique (Jean-Luc Godard)
In the Battlefields (Danielle Arbid)
Or (My Treasure) (Keren Yedaya)
Tarnation (Jonathan Caouette)
Kings and Queen (Arnaud Desplechin)
Woman is the Future of Man (Hong Sang-soo)
Vera Drake (Mike Leigh)
The 10th District Court: Moments of Trial (Raymond Depardon)
*Bad Education (Pedro Almodóvar)
House of Flying Daggers (Zhang Yimou)
The Holy Girl (Lucrecia Martel)
Rolling Family (Pablo Trapero)
The World (Jia Zhangke)
Moolaade (Ousmane Sembène)
Keane (Lodge Kerrigan)
Saraband (Ingmar Bergman)
Palindromes (Todd Solondz)
The Gate of the Sun (Yousry Nasrallah)
Café Lumière (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
*Sideways (Alexander Payne)

43rd (2005):
*Good Night, and Good Luck. (George Clooney)
Regular Lovers (Philippe Garrel)
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu)
Methadonia (Michel Negroponte)
L’Enfant (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)
Avenge But One of My Two Eyes (Avi Mograbi)
Bubble (Steven Soderbergh)
The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach)
I Am (Dorota Kedzierzawska)
Capote (Bennett Miller)
Something Like Happiness (Bohdan Sláma)
Lady Vengeance (Park Chan-wook)
Manderlay (Lars von Trier)
Tale of Cinema (Hong Sang-soo)
*Breakfast on Pluto (Neil Jordan)
Through the Forest (Jean-Paul Civeyrac)
The President’s Last Bang (Im Sang-soo)
Who’s Camus Anyway? (Mitsuo Yanagimachi)
Three Times (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Paradise Now (Hany Abu-Assad)
Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (Michael Winterbottom)
Gabrielle (Patrice Chéreau)
The Sun (Aleksandr Sokurov)
^The Passenger (Michelangelo Antonioni)
*Caché (Michael Haneke)

44th (2006):
*The Queen (Stephen Frears)
^Mafioso (Alberto Lattuada)
The Go Master (Tian Zhuangzhuang)
Woman on the Beach (Hong Sang-soo)
Little Children (Todd Field)
August Days (Marc Recha)
Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako)
Gardens in Autumn (Otar Iosseliani)
^Reds (Warren Beatty)
49 Up (Michael Apted)
Belle Toujours (Manoel de Oliveira)
Private Fears in Public Places (Alain Resnais)
Offside (Jafar Panahi)
Paprika (Satoshi Kon)
Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
*Volver (Pedro Almodóvar)
The Host (Bong Joon-ho)
The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (Zacharias Kunuk & Norman Cohn)
Inland Empire (David Lynch)
Falling (Barbara Albert)
Triad Election (Johnnie To)
Our Daily Bread (Nikolaus Geyrhalter)
These Girls (Tahani Rached)
Climates (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Poison Friends (Emmanuel Bourdieu)
Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola)
^Insiang (Lino Brocka)
*Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro)

45th (2007):
*The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson)
The Romance of Astrée and Céladon (Eric Rohmer)
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu)
Married Life (Ira Sachs)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schanbel)
The Orphanage (J.A. Bayona)
The Man From London (Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky)
Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong)
Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas)
Alexandra (Aleksandr Sokurov)
I’m Not There (Todd Haynes)
Go Go Tales (Abel Ferrara)
In the City of Sylvia (José Luis Guerin)
The Axe in the Attic (Ed Pincus & Lucia Small)
*No Country for Old Men (Joel & Ethan Coen)
Flight of the Red Balloon (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Margot at the Wedding (Noah Baumbach)
The Last Mistress (Catherine Breillat)
Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant)
I Just Didn’t Do It (Masayuki Suo)
Redacted (Brian De Palma)
Actresses (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi)
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (Sidney Lumet)
A Girl Cut in Two (Claude Chabrol)
Useless (Jia Zhangke)%
Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor (Koji Yamamura)%
Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project (John Landis)
Calle Santa Fe (Carmen Castillo)
*Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud)

46th (2008):
*The Class (Laurent Cantet)
Hunger (Steve McQueen)
24 City (Jia Zhangke)
Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh)
Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt)
I’m Gonna Explode (Gerardo Naranjo)
Tony Manero (Pablo Larraín)
The Northern Land (João Botelho)
Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas)
Waltz With Bashir (Ari Folman)
Gomorrah (Matteo Garrone)
Four Nights With Anna (Jerzy Skolimowski)
^Lola Montès (Max Ophuls)
Night and Day (Hong Sang-soo)
Ashes of Time Redux (Wong Kar-wai)
*Changeling (Clint Eastwood)
The Windmill Movie (Alexander Olch)
Afterschool (Antonio Campos)
The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel)
Che (Steven Soderbergh)
Tokyo Sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
Tulpan (Sergey Dvortsevoy)
A Christmas Tale (Arnaud Desplechin)
Let It Rain (Agnès Jaoui)
Chouga (Darezhan Omirbaev)
Bullet in the Head (Jaime Rosales)
Serbis (Brillante Mendoza)
*The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky)

47th (2009):
*Wild Grass (Alain Resnais)
Sweetgrass (Ilisa Barbash & Lucien Castaing-Taylor)
Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl (Manoel de Oliveira)%
Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! (Albert Maysles & Bradley Kaplan & Ian Marciewicz)%
Vincere (Marco Bellocchio)
Kanikosen (Sabu)
Ghost Town (Zhao Dayong)
Police, Adjective (Corneliu Porumboiu)
The Art of the Steal (Don Argott)
A Room and a Half (Andrey Khrzhanovsky)
To Die Like a Man (João Pedro Rodrigues)
Lebanon (Samuel Maoz)
Trash Humpers (Harmony Korine)
Sweet Rush (Andrzej Wajda)
Antichrist (Lars von Trier)
*Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire (Lee Daniels)
Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno (Serge Bromberg & Ruxandra Medrea)
Independencia (Raya Martin)
Hadewijch (Bruno Dumont)
Everyone Else (Maren Ade)
Min Yè… (Tell Me Who You Are…) (Souleymane Cissé)
The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke)
Around a Small Mountain (Jacques Rivette)
Ne change rien (Pedro Costa)
Mother (Bong Joon-ho)
White Material (Claire Denis)
Life During Wartime (Todd Solondz)
Bluebeard (Catherine Breillat)
*Broken Embraces (Pedro Almodóvar)

48th (2010):
*The Social Network (David Fincher)
Poetry (Lee Chang-dong)
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Of Gods and Men (Xavier Beauvois)
LENNONYC (Michael Epstein)
Film Socialisme (Jean-Luc Godard)
Robinson in Ruins (Patrick Keiller)
Le Quattro Volte (Michelangelo Frammartino)
The Robber (Benjamin Heisenberg)
Tuesday, After Christmas (Radu Muntean)
Silent Souls (Aleksei Fedorchenko)
Oki’s Movie (Hong Sang-soo)
My Joy (Sergei Loznita)
Inside Job (Charles Ferguson)
Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami)
Carlos (Olivier Assayas)
*The Tempest (Julie Taymor)
Aurora (Cristi Puiu)
The Strange Case of Angelica (Manoel de Oliveira)
Post Mortem (Pablo Larraín)
Another Year (Mike Leigh)
Black Venus (Abdellatif Kechiche)
We Are What We Are (Jorge Michel Grau)
Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt)
Old Cats (Sebastián Silva & Pedro Peirano)
Revolución (Omnibus)
Mysteries of Lisbon (Raúl Ruiz)
*Hereafter (Clint Eastwood)

49th (2011):
*Carnage (Roman Polanski)
The Loneliest Planet (Julia Loktev)
A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)
Miss Bala (Gerardo Naranjo)
Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki)
Melancholia (Lars von Trier)
Corpo Celeste (Alice Rohrwacher)
George Harrison: Living in the Material World (Martin Scorsese)
A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg)
The Kid With a Bike (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)
The Student (Santiago Mitre)
Sleeping Sickness (Ulrich Köhler)
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
4:44: Last Day on Earth (Abel Ferrara)
Shame (Steve McQueen)
The Turin Horse (Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky)
*My Week With Marilyn (Simon Curtis)
Footnote (Joseph Cedar)
Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin)
The Skin I Live In (Pedro Almodóvar)
This Is Not a Film (Jafar Panahi & Mojtaba Mirtahmasb)
The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius)
Goodbye First Love (Mia Hansen-Løve)
Play (Ruben Östlund)
Pina (Wim Wenders)
Policeman (Nadav Lapid)
*The Descendants (Alexander Payne)

50th (2012):
*Life of Pi (Ang Lee)
Here and There (Antonio Méndez Esparza)
Camille Rewinds (Noémie Lvovsky)
Caesar Must Die (Paolo & Vittorio Taviani)
Passion (Brian De Palma)
Hyde Park on Hudson (Roger Michell)
Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach)
Barbara (Christian Petzold)
Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu)
You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet (Alain Resnais)
The Paperboy (Lee Daniels)
Araf – Somewhere in Between (Yesim Ustaoglu)
Like Someone in Love (Abbas Kiarostami)
Amour (Michael Haneke)
Something in the Air (Olivier Assayas)
*Not Fade Away (David Chase)
Memories Look at Me (Song Fang)
Bwakaw (Jun Robles Lana)
Night Across the Street (Raúl Ruiz)
Lines of Wellington (Valeria Sarmiento)
Ginger and Rosa (Sally Potter)
The Gatekeepers (Dror Moreh)
Fill the Void (Rama Burshtein)
First Cousin Once Removed (Alan Berliner)
Tabu (Miguel Gomes)
Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
Kinshasa Kids (Marc-Henri Wajnberg)
The Dead Man and Being Happy (Javier Rebollo)
Our Children (Joachim Lafosse)
No (Pablo Larraín)
The Last Time I Saw Macao (João Pedro Rodrigues & João Rui Guerra da Mata)
Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Véréna Paravel)
*Flight (Robert Zemeckis)

51st (2013):
*Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass)
The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki)
Alan Partridge (Declan Lowney)
At Berkeley (Frederick Wiseman)
A Touch of Sin (Jia Zhangke)
Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel & Ethan Coen)
Norte, The End of History (Lav Diaz)
The Last of the Unjust (Claude Lanzmann)
Le Week-End (Roger Michell)
Nobody’s Daughter Haewon (Hong Sang-soo)
Child of God (James Franco)
Like Father, Like Son (Hirokazu Kore-eda)
The Missing Picture (Rithy Panh)
Stranger by the Lake (Alain Guiraudie)
When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism (Corneliu Porumboiu)
About Time (Richard Curtis)
Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian (Arnaud Desplechin)
Jealousy (Philippe Garrel)
The Square (Jehane Noujaim)
Stray Dogs (Tsai Ming-liang)
Burning Bush (Agnieszka Holland)
American Promise (Joe Brewster & Michèle Stephenson)
*The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller)
The Immigrant (James Gray)
Gloria (Sebastián Lelio)
Abuse of Weakness (Catherine Breillat)
Bastards (Claire Denis)
Real (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
My Name Is Hmmm… (Agnès B)
Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
The Invisible Woman (Ralph Fiennes)
Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch)
All Is Lost (J. C. Chandor)
Omar (Hany Abu-Assad)
Blue Is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche)
*Her (Spike Jonze)

52nd (2014):
*Gone Girl (David Fincher)
Misunderstood (Asia Argento)
La Sapienza (Eugène Green)
’71 (Yann Demange)
Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg)
Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard)
Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)
Two Shots Fired (Martin Rejtman)
The Blue Room (Mathieu Amalric)
Hill of Freedom (Hong Sang-soo)
Beloved Sisters (Dominik Graf)
Saint Laurent (Bertrand Bonello)
Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako)
Pasolini (Abel Ferrara)
Heaven Knows What (Josh & Benny Safdie)
The Wonders (Alice Rohrwacher)
Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh)
*Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson)
The Princess of France (Matías Piñeiro)
Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)
Time Out of Mind (Oren Moverman)
Eden (Mia Hansen-Løve)
Tales of the Grim Sleeper (Nick Broomfield)
Horse Money (Pedro Costa)
Jauja (Lisandro Alonso)
Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas)
Listen Up Philip (Alex Ross Perry)
Citizenfour (Laura Poitras)
Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller)
Life of Riley (Alain Resnais)
*Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Alejandro González Iñárritu)

53rd (2015):
*The Walk (Robert Zemeckis)
Mia Madre (Nanni Moretti)
The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)
Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhangke)
The Forbidden Room (Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson)
Journey to the Shore (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
Arabian Nights: Volume 1: The Restless One (Miguel Gomes)
Cemetery of Splendour (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Arabian Nights: Volume 2: The Desolate One (Miguel Gomes)
Les Cowboys (Thomas Bidegain)
Arabian Nights: Volume 3: The Enchanted One (Miguel Gomes)
My Golden Days (Arnaud Desplechin)
Where to Invade Next (Michael Moore)
*Steve Jobs (Danny Boyle)
Microbe & Gasoline (Michel Gondry)
Don’t Blink – Robert Frank (Laura Israel)
Bridge of Spies (Steven Spielberg)
Maggie’s Plan (Rebecca Miller)
In the Shadow of Women (Philippe Garrel)
Experimenter (Michael Almereyda)
No Home Movie (Chantal Akerman)
The Measure of a Man (Stéphane Brizé)
Brooklyn (John Crowley)
The Treasure (Corneliu Porumboiu)
Carol (Todd Haynes)
Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sang-soo)
The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
*Miles Ahead (Don Cheadle)

54th (2016):
*13th (Ava DuVernay)
I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach)
Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)
Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
Neruda (Pablo Larraín)
The Rehearsal (Alison Maclean)
Julieta (Pedro Almodóvar)
Fire at Sea (Gianfranco Rosi)
Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas)
Yourself and Yours (Hong Sang-soo)
*20th Century Women (Mike Mills)
Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu)
The Son of Joseph (Eugéne Green)
Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho)
Hermia and Helena (Matías Piñeiro)
My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea (Dash Shaw)
Graduation (Cristian Mungiu)
Staying Vertical (Alain Guiraudie)
The Unknown Girl (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)
Things to Come (Mia Hansen-Løve)
Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
*The Lost City of Z (James Gray)

55th (2017):
*Last Flag Flying (Richard Linklater)
*Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes)
Before We Vanish (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
BPM (Beats Per Minute) (Robin Campillo)
Bright Sunshine In (Claire Denis)
Call Me by Your Name (Luca Guadagnino)
The Day After (Hong Sang-soo)
Faces Places (Agnès Varda & JR)
Félicité (Alain Gomis)
The Florida Project (Sean Baker)
Ismael’s Ghosts (Arnaud Desplechin)
Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig)
Lover for a Day (Philippe Garrel)
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (Noah Baumbach)
Mrs. Hyde (Serge Bozon)
Mudbound (Dee Rees)
On the Beach at Night Alone (Hong Sang-soo)
The Other Side of Hope (Aki Kaurismäki)
The Rider (Chloé Zhao)
Spoor (Agnieszka Holland and Kasia Adamik)
The Square (Ruben Östlund)
Thelma (Joachim Trier)
Western (Valeska Grisebach)
Zama (Lucrecia Martel)
*Wonder Wheel (Woody Allen)

June 2017 Quick Capsules

The Wolfpack
Curiously distended and aimless, despite the inherently compelling and dramatic subject matter. At times it almost feels as if Moselle is stalling or simply too endeared with an observational mode of filmmaking, content to simply record the scattered observations and retellings of her subjects rather than provide any sort of motivating force – aside from, that is, her actual physical presence with her camera. This dovetails, unfortunately, with one of the other significant aspects that was truly unexpected on my part: the particular brand of cinephilia that the Angulos’ exhibit as depicted in the film is far more elemental and basic than I had anticipated. Moselle shows shockingly little interest in it except when it is deemed essential to the story (the movie theater visit, a reenactment here or there) and otherwise abandons it. The Wolfpack has its own small share of pathos, but otherwise feels rather inert and lifeless.

Troll 2
Indefensible in damn near every conventional way, and yet Troll 2 has a strong tinge of the unassailable to it. There is something to the general competence of the technical aspects – some extraordinarily odd camera choices, editing, and special effects aside – that casts all of the totally incompetent plotting and acting in a different light. Not to say that I view this as some sort of high-trash masterpiece, as it manages to become dull roughly an hour into its ninety-minute runtime, but it remains so consummately dedicated to its weirdness, its transparently demented and malicious environment, and its bozo logic that it occasionally becomes mesmerizing.

Tabu
Appeals so greatly to that sense of the elemental tale as old as time that I seem to gravitate so strongly towards, and yet I think that Tabu is putatively something that does not fall into that. By way of parallel construction, Murnau sets the idyllic island and the hustle and bustle of a more modern way of life in direct opposition and manages to find more than a little bit of resemblance. But what matters most, and what the lovers on the lam seem to miss, is the sense of community and ritual among the beaches and the palm-frond villages, and the evident guilt and fear that they hold becomes so much more than just forbidden love under the watchful eye of Murnau. They attempt to resist nature itself, swimming against the tide of time to no avail. Such a doomed struggle is handled with the most simple of techniques, and yet a whole world is alchemically conjured in the dissolve from a written language to English, in the refusal to use an intertitle. In the land of Murnau, the emotions howl just as strongly as the waves.

To the Wonder
Putatively, this is one of Malick’s most modestly pitched films – a love story centering on a couple, with a priest in the periphery and a former flame even further from the center – very likely the least ponderous film he has made since Badlands. But almost everything else about it feels like a kind of next step for Malick, albeit one that looks back. Every character feels like a variation of one of his previous characters: Kurylenko to Pocahontas, Tatiana to Manz, Affleck to Jack etc. and Malick’s style pushes Lubezki’s rushing camera movements even further. What is different is the lack of any inhibition, as his characters dance around each other, coming together and breaking apart as quickly. Kurylenko’s status as an outsider seems key here – as does Bardem, their voiceovers in their “native” languages are among the loveliest aspects of To the Wonder – something only deepened by the sense of this vaguely defined but distinctly modern and American milieu. Unlike Knight of Cups or Song to Song there is no society to be commented on; this culture simply exists, much in the same way that it has for decades and as it likely will for years to come. So what changes are the relationships, the people as they grow and wane in their passion, in their sense of inner life, something which Malick explores with an aching, unmistakably poignant passion.

Knight of Cups (rewatch)
Several orders of magnitude more fractured and aimless than what I can recall from the rest of Malick’s oeuvre, for a number of fairly apparent reasons. Almost certainly the main problem is built into the intertitle-separated structure. This wasn’t an issue for the only other Malick I can remember having clear delineations such as this, the extended cut of The New World, but where that movie even gained a hint of the novelistic, this film feels like it loses something in the blitz of characters that remain fairly confined to their own segments. It certainly doesn’t help that Bale’s presence is (whether through his performance or Malick’s realization of it) near-absent in ways that do and don’t feel productive. And the spiritual allegories here feel unmoored from the moment in which Rick lives, foisted upon the narrative rather than organically developed.

But it must be said, few directors could handle such an unwieldy, risky text nearly as well as the deft hand of Malick. His conjuring of awe, of the lightness of movement, character, and narrative is almost wholly sui generis; the signposts may be clear (an earthquake as the inciting incident, the virginal woman as redeemer) but they feel both otherworldly and grounded, rendered in pristine shimmering that flows in the light and dark. The result is nothing short of awe, something that Knight of Cups holds more of than it should have any right to possess.

John From
I’m tempted to separate this neatly into halves, the first being an exceedingly well-developed hangout film and the second a considerably dreamier and fantastical endeavor. But to do so would rob John From of its more impressive distinguishing traits, particularly its actual justification for this switch. The pivot isn’t truly a pivot at all, but a rather organic (literally) metamorphosis, as the film evolves before the viewer’s very eyes in ways both expected and unexpected, visible and invisible. Much of the credit must go to the immensely fluid and always engrossing guiding hand of João Nicolau; the closest analogue in my limited knowledge is Linklater (at least for the first half), but his sense is more rigorous but with the same sense of looseness, containing a plentitude of rather dramatic tracking shots. Utterly pleasurable.

The Day He Arrives (rewatch)
Went into this particular rewatch with all of the praise and love that this receives from some of the most fervent Hong admirers in mind (especially Kevin B. Lee’s video essay), but that can only account for some of my drastically altered perception and immensely greater love for this film. The Day He Arrives feels like, among the seven Hongs I’ve seen so far, the clearest summation of what makes his body of work so immensely special and beguiling. Even though it feels in some ways like an oddity – the black-and-white, the pointed use of voiceover – it manages to marry the immensely playful structure with a certain looseness, a use of dialogue that at first glance seems somewhat unrelated to the plight of the central character. Of course, nothing is throwaway and everything is important in Hong’s world; the slightest bit of difference in who enters or doesn’t enter the frame, the change in the type of zoom he uses, the reappearance of figures in entirely different contexts. And it moves along with such grace, such melancholy drive, pinballing off of slightly different characterizations and conversations, that it achieves its own kind of sublime.

Daughter of the Nile
Moves with astonishing fluidity (in the span of a single cut) between a slightly narcotized, dreamy feeling among nocturnal settings and the comparatively harsh, glaring light of day, but what remains predominant is the extent of Hou’s reserved intimacy. Though his camera floats far less than I expected, his locked down frames consistently stun, bringing the viewer closer with a medium shot than most filmmakers could accomplish with a long shot, and the mood remains so warm, even as the characters fall closer and closer into the depths of the modern world. Perhaps the story is too small for its own good, but the scenes in the night school and KFC (admittedly, the ones I was most interested in) act as marvelous embellishments, and the commitment in Daughter of the Nile is apparent from beginning to elegiac end.

Nerve
More than a little worrying and dangerous, simply by virtue of the degree to which it displays and even glorifies the culture that forms its center. Despite the supposed objections that Nerve has towards Nerve, there is a very certain glamor given to the foolish daredevils, a seductiveness in the admittedly gorgeous oversaturated lights and the slow-motion shots of its heroes walking through crowds of admirers. This extends to the fantasia of the Internet, all touchscreens, flashy pans, and flowing data, something which perhaps wisely extends to the “real world,” which itself is a series of disembodied streets and unmoored building. Someone much more dedicated to this could easily make a case for this as high art (certainly there’s something interesting in its brazen commitment to a despicable culture) but I am content to both appreciate and feel wary at this, with whiplash regularity.

Split (rewatch)
It was much more apparent to me on this viewing just how meticulous and unnerving Shyamalan’s direction was, and I do think I originally did it a disservice by questioning how much of the film truly functioned as a thriller. For this does truly feel like a tightly coiled spring that expertly unravels over the course of the film; even Betty Buckley’s scenes carry a charge with how unsettling Kevin’s intentions remain. And of course, McAvoy and Taylor-Joy hold the screen, he with his multivalent, rapidly switching personas and she with a hypnotic intensity, projecting fear and will with the same glance.

Game of Death
It’s difficult to ascertain whether Game of Death benefits or suffers from the inclusion of actual Bruce Lee footage. On the one hand, it substantially raises the level of overall interest in this otherwise half-hearted effort, and even makes the viewer scour the other segments for other moments that actually feature the legendary martial artist. But it also highlights just how shoddy many of the other fight scenes feel, which themselves seem nothing short of brilliant (thanks to Sammo Hung’s choreography) when placed next to stiffly performed, rote conspiracy machinations. The film certainly improves as it becomes more and more about Billy Lo’s revenge, but when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has more screen presence in one scene than the Bruce Lee doppelgangers do in the entire film, it spells trouble.

The Great Wall
Explicitly calls itself a legend at the very start, which Zhang Yimou uses as essentially a carte blanche to create his own alternate version of Imperial China. And like a legend, The Great Wall feels almost too barebones, moving from one great feat or hurried conversation to another, with little time to truly delve into the characters. But the actors all perform their parts ably, and this truly is a kind of showcase for Zhang, a fluidly grandiose and thrillingly fun series of daredevil tricks, using more in one introductory battle than many would in entire films. There is much power to be found in the well-timed close-up or the particular body movement, and like many of the other actually competent and sometimes genius directors Zhang realizes this, and uses it to no small effect in this flawed, endearing work.

The Unbelievable Truth
Nervier and looser than Trust, perhaps for good reason – even more than that film, The Unbelievable Truth is as compassionate and playful with its peripheral characters as it is with the duo at its center, and Hartley uses them to great, hilarious effect. Of course, there is a tension, borne not only out of Audry’s apocalyptic obsessions but from the inescapable feeling of patterns repeating themselves, bits of dialogue and situations playing out over and over, which feels comedic sometimes and tragic at others. And there is catharsis, melancholy, vulgarity, and connections broken and found aplenty, almost too much for one to bear. But it is glorious and true, beautiful in its overt yet unassuming way.

Stranger by the Lake
Was most astonished by how much inherent feeling Guiraudie manages to wrest from the anxiety-ridden climate that eventually develops in Stranger by the Lake. The cruising scene is depicted with an unspoken matter-of-fact attitude, completely unapologetic yet almost labyrinthian in the expanse of the woods (which contrasts with the wide-open, exposed vision of the beach), in a way that feels utterly refreshing. But even more gratifying are the distinct, discrete patterns of behavior, the locked down, tightly wound direction of Guiraudie, and above all the characters, particularly Henri. He radiates a gruff sort of care, a longing that feels cut from the same cloth as that of the various gay men looking for connection, and serves as a kind of conduit, a balancing point between the simple carnal pleasures and the sinister, the suspenseful, the genuinely shocking.

Staying Vertical
Staying Vertical seems to suffer primarily from an abundance of narrative concerns. While Stranger by the Lake was extraordinarily focused on a man and his interactions with primarily two people and confined its setting to a week at a beach, this film feels almost sprawling in comparison, as Leo moves around the city and countryside and forging uneasy relationships with many groups. This isn’t necessarily a weak aspect, as much of the pleasure is derived from the variety of odd happenings that arise out of this hapless screenwriter’s apparent sense of overcommitment. But it feels like a faintly uneven experience, something mostly smoothed over by Guiraudie’s hypnotic, ceaselessly rigorous direction. Pleasantly befuddling, if a bit shapeless.

May 2017 Quick Capsules

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
A fascinating film in many ways, both when taken in extratextual contexts (its odd relation to the other Marvel films) and in the tug and pull of the filmmaking itself. Gunn seems almost too eager to trip over his plotting, jumping with alarming inelegance between planet to planet. Also present is an inconsistent and befuddling attitude towards emotion and melodrama; half the time the characters seem to be taking the piss and the other half they’re almost too sincere. But none of these (or maybe all of these) account for the weirdness of the whole enterprise, of arcade machines that become weapons of death, of tender reconciliations taking place in the stars or in front of a fiery crashed ship, of a joy in violence that only somewhat feels gratuitous. And somehow, this contains some of the most resonant, beautiful, and emotional scenes in the superhero genre.

The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki
Very likely went into this with entirely wrong expectations, but I certainly didn’t expect something this subdued. But it certainly isn’t correct to call this minor-key in any way; this is a fairly lively, if not energetic, film, thanks to a wonderful combination of Kuosmanen’s always moving (in legible fashion) mise-en-scéne and, even more importantly, Lahti’s pensive yet magnetic performance. The way he moves is key, a sort of loping and hunched gait that does little to disguise a measure of playfulness and overall sincerity that makes him a joy to watch. Perhaps the greatest stumbling block for me was the actual narrative, which seems too anticlimactic for its own good (leaving aside all intentions) and predicated on a relationship that doesn’t feel adequately emphasized, but this film is absorbing nonetheless.

Detour
Tawdry and relentless in all of the feverishly anticipated ways, but it really should be emphasized how much this film moves. It bears down on its main character and the audience like a freight train carrying the inexorable will of fate, as the immensely woeful voiceover couples with whiplash editing to produce all the kinetic energy that Al cannot muster. And it feels so noxious it becomes intoxicating, as fatalism crashes headlong into nihilism, pragmatism suffocates flights of fancy. And above all, the artifice makes for simple, intensely evocative images: silhouettes in fog, looming neon signs, rain-spattered windshields, furtive eyes in rear-view mirrors, fantasia in shadows.

Inland Empire (rewatch)
So much of this seems to be about a universal sort of decay, that spreads throughout Hollywood, Poland, and Nowheresville, USA. Ghosts, curses, and other such hauntings are in plentiful supply, but they must jocky for space with the utterly fearful, indomitable visage of Laura Dern in many guises. Perhaps less consistently terrifying than I remembered and contains many, many more musical stings, but it remains a vision in totality, unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and to see reality, the body, and film contorted and distorted in such a way is truly haunting and moving.

Something Wild
Love how this film is essentially constructed from two highjacked narratives, the first by Lulu/Audrey and the second by Ray. It lends a strong irreverence to the whole affair, as Demme and company never stray far from the road and keep a rapid pace. But each character is given such a wonderful sense of presence, in large part to the genius performances and gradual character transformations by all involved – including, of course, the multitude of background characters. It is because of them that this movie thrives, as optimism and pop culture are rendered into something beautiful and lively. Charlie travels into two essentially alternate realities that dissolve into his own, with Audrey as his guide, and finds something more.

Prometheus
Far less stupid (on an actual narrative basis) than I was led to believe; there is a wisely executed rather strong foundation in a sense of exploration and mounting dread that comes to a head in the jaw-dropping succession of infections and contaminations that somehow occur simultaneously. But what feels more important than the inexorable narrative drive are the figures and the space in which they move. This is a plainly gorgeous movie, even as it descends into the dark and dank environs, as Scott revels in both the sterile spaceship and the wet, oozing surfaces of the unknown. Prometheus may be mostly surface, though it deals with the shades of religion and mortality in oblique but fascinating ways, but the surface is more than compelling and fun enough.

Act of Violence
Perhaps it’s the ever present influence of Sarris speaking, but it seems that I have an aversion to Zinnemann’s view of his characters. They seem to be flattened in a way, transformed into simple narrative motivators instead of fleshed out into fully-fledged figures. High Noon was especially afflicted by this, and while Act of Violence‘s noir textures do much to justify his view, it doesn’t compensate for the remorseless nature of Joe or the hopelessly abstruse Frank. Only Janet Leigh really makes something of her character, as she represents the closest thing to reality; all else is murky, which only satisfies for so long.

The Thief of Bagdad
Begins quite literally with a melting pot of influences – the Koran, Arabian Nights – and this is reflected in the otherworldly place where this film takes place. The Thief of Bagdad is from a place out of time, magical without end, and yet the world feels totally lived, as if it exists just beyond the pale. Of course, the main attraction here is the immense physicality and charisma of Fairbanks, and he is something approaching transcendent in this, making his grandstanding raconteur seem like the most natural thing in the world. But it would be much pooer without the towering, gloriously artificial sets, or the gorgeous Rimsky-Korsakov inspired score, or the immensely heightened special effects. It is “A FILM” in totality, a work of magic and immense romance. Perhaps it suffers a little bit in the final third, as the focus is taken off of Ahmed to some extent and the heartbreakingly beautiful romance is put into the background, but it matters little when Walsh makes a man fly and love with all of his soul.

Alien: Covenant
For a while, this plays, probably unintentionally, almost in counterpoint to Prometheus to me. It is a film fundamentally centered around professionals thrust into an eerie-turned-terrifying environment, and as such its tone is pared down into a subdued hum. Yet there is exploration and humanity aplenty, something that Scott wisely parcels out slowly, so that the impact of a death hits unexpectedly hard. And there is naturally much death; Alien: Covenant feels like a haunted film, as much by its predecessors (from which it liberally extracts strands of DNA) as the dead that are strewn in its wake. From those bodies, it delivers terror to the viewer, that ebbs and flows with unnerving, wonderfully intelligent power.

T-Men
Procedural – quite literally for about half of the film – to a fault. T-Men comes close to cold-blooded throughout its entirety (and just plain bloodless during the utterly stone-faced intro) but there is something to be said for how frankly it depicts these men on a mission, especially as it leads them closer and closer towards their prey. And it would be entirely remiss of me to not mention Alton’s rather stunning photography and Mann’s punchy, visceral approach to violence.

The Dreamers
I’m entirely uncertain if Bertolucci is at all self-aware when he manages to cram both the musical score of The 400 Blows and a quotation and film clip from Breathless into the same scene, whether he is being arrogant, brazenly confident, or just plain misguided. That being said, The Dreamers, after the first fourth of wall-to-wall rock music and blatant, sometimes contradictory cinephilia – it makes no sense to me that the three would try to imitate Band of Outsiders, a film that came out just a few years before) – settles down into a more straightforwardly dramatic groove, for better and for worse. But the entire affair feels overbearing, its cinephilia far too sincere and blatantly obvious, using the most obvious signposts (the most egregious being the simultaneous use of archival and contemporary footage of Jean-Pierre Leaud). Perhaps it’s just my particular sensibility, but I would have liked to have seen less Godard, more Mizoguchi. And for the love of God, fewer film clips.

The Marriage Circle
There is of course a good deal of value in the simple telling of a simple story, and Lubitsch executes this bedroom farce with a wonderful amount of precision. But something holds me back; maybe the lack of screwball dialogue, maybe a sense of obviousness about the multiplicity of pairings, or just a lack of truly fleshed out characters. Regardless, consistent pleasures are to be had in the world of the rich and covetous.

Your Name.
More than anything, Your Name. seems to be about timelessness placed in the context of a very specific time. Rooted unambiguously in the present, modern world – iPhones, LINE, digital billboards on skyscrapers, rapid transit, and virtual diaries figure prominently in Taki’s Tokyo – the film nonetheless continuously goes back to the past, typified in Mitsuha’s hometown and in the Shinto religion so heavily featured. But there is a commingling of sorts; to my eyes the entanglement of time is implicitly described in quantum mechanical terms, and jargon is used to describe the fateful meteor comet on the news without any explanation to the characters or the viewer.

All of this is to say that the characters yearn for connection, and not, it should be noted, any stated romantic longings. Taki and Mitsuha try to meet more out of a sense of curiosity, and yet their rendezvous seems to be of paramount importance, not only because of the surrounding context but because of their separation by time and space. That Your Name. manages to work at all, let alone as well as it does, is near-miraculous. An emotional crucible of sorts, that unfolds exactly as it shouldn’t, yet in a way that feels right.

Mulholland Dr.
Still remains my favorite film, even though and perhaps because it doesn’t overwhelmingly fulfill any one “criteria”: it is not the most moving or soul-rendingly sad film I’ve ever seen, it is not the most gorgeously shot or the most technically proficient, it is not a masterfully plotted and supremely well-paced and scripted work, etc. And yet it is all of these things in its own particular manner, in the way the streets of Los Angeles are only glimpsed as lights speeding past a car window, in the way language and reality seem to bleed into one another, in the way that sincerity shines through artifice with the slightest bit of movement on Naomi Watts’ face. To wit, it is a film in totality, one that I love because of its flaws, because it beguiles me to no end.

The Big Heat
So pared down it becomes mesmerizing; at its core The Big Heat is an archetypal story through and through about a detective who goes up against the mob. However, Lang and company imbue it with such personality, so many odds and ends that it works to a T chugging along up through some of the most memorably nasty moments I’ve seen in a noir. Lang’s direction feels more fluid than in something like M in a way that suits this active investigation, relentlessly following both the pursuer (Glenn Ford) and the pursued. But the film never feels labored or unfittingly cold-blooded, instead moving with remarkable precision between a certain brand of sentimentality in Ford’s immensely well-played scenes with Jocelyn Brando, which conjure a kind of domesticity that feels nothing short of blissful, with the kind of hardboiled sordidness that is much more de rigeur. Attention must also be paid to the uniformly fantastic cast; there is nary a part that doesn’t feel out of place, and all of this contributes to a feeling of immense satisfaction. Karmic retribution figures heavily here, but so does a profoundly wonderful tenderness.

Nanook of the North
Seemingly against the modern consensus, this played much better to me as a straightforward documentary than a drama. Flaherty’s eye is for spaces and figures rather than any sense of narrative propulsion, and many of the most pleasurable moments (the trader’s post, the igloo building) act as simple but wonderful scenes of documentation. And there is a very real feeling of collaboration; one could conceivably watch Nanook of the North without ever figuring out that the eponymous figure is consciously acting in staged scenes, but there is never the feeling that Flaherty condescends to his subjects or overtly exoticizes them. He is fascinated, held in thrall, and he manages to convey that feeling to the audience in a profoundly intimate and, occasionally, immensely moving way.

Kiss Me Deadly
Intentionally or not, Kiss Me Deadly seems to embody in its conception all of the anxieties and contradictions that figure prominently in its plot. It is immensely uneven and often incredibly opaque, as its ostensible protagonist strong-arms his way through seemingly all of Los Angeles – and, notably, through a veritable cross-section of racial groups – but ends up only muddying the waters further. What is clear is the aggressive, punchy, disquieting style of Aldrich, who seemingly couldn’t find a scene here that was inadequate for visual subversion; even the opening credits are immensely intrusive. And the ending is as troubling, as unexpectedly horrifying as anything I’ve ever seen, a burst of inspiration that threatens to consume all. No wonder the main references that the characters are epochal and universal.

A Quiet Passion
A complete oddity in its tenuous status as a hybrid, at least to my mind. A Quiet Passion is an English film about one of the most famous American artists (with what felt like immensely English stylings), a rendering of a time long past with modern implements, and most off-puttingly a movie that moves (at least to my eyes through much of the film) occasionally with grace, the kind I expected from the director of Sunset Song, but often with a kind of lurching momentum. It took me quite a while, perhaps into the final twenty minutes, to even remotely grasp what Davies was trying to achieve beneath (and with) the barbs, the static and anachronistic quick framings, and the almost breathless sense of recounting a great artist’s life.

Like many wonderful character studies, A Quiet Passion seeks to depict how a person can subtly change over the course of their lives. This film simply happens to depict a notable person’s notable life – the use of almost exclusively interior scenes in the second half fits like a glove with Nixon’s alternately immensely interior and defiantly exterior performance – and in a way that only reveals itself slowly, parceling out this change with each moment in Dickinson’s life. It is something to ponder, though it must be said that this otherwise entirely natural film contains two genuine acts of magic, truly stunning and near-monumental moments of sublimity. The rest may reveal itself to be the same in time.

The Act of Killing
Astounding for many of the obvious reasons: the extraordinary access to the actual perpetrators, the candor and glee with which they recount their deeds, the emotional trajectory and its visceral effect on both subject and viewer. But The Act of Killing is just as remarkable in its rigor and penetrating depth, managing to fit in between the reenactments a distinct dissection and indictment of the entire government and society, top to bottom, as being complicit in the mass killings; even regular citizens, by dint of acting in the recreations, seem somewhat implicated. At the same time, Oppenheimer takes great care in maintaining the fundamentally odious feeling of watching these aging boogeymen glorify themselves while making it still feel watchable and only intruding at a few crucial moments. And most shockingly of all, the reenactments, only some of which are consciously choreographed, feel genuine and upsetting, and Oppenheimer is able to observe exactly when this boundary between truth and fiction, past and present is broken. Over all, the knowledge of the massacres lingers (as introduced in the shrewd “mission statement”), a specter that, figuratively and literally, no one can escape from.

An Autumn Afternoon
Went into this expecting a “standard,” devastating drama about the impending marriage of a father’s daughter, a frame of reference I had codified despite a lack of almost any experience with Ozu, and found something much more rewarding. An Autumn Afternoon is fundamentally quotidian and free of any significant conflict, almost perversely so, though the final twenty minutes carry the exact amount of emotional devastation that they should. Narrative strands and characters are introduced, dropped, picked up, and dropped again with a glorious lightness; even Ryu’s immense performance is absent from a good chunk of the film. It forms a flowing – I had forgotten how natural Ozu’s style feels, with its distinctly frontal camera placements and quick edits – meditation upon a particular way of life at a very particular time. It is at once modern and not modern, in the city and apart from it – much of the film takes place in houses and apartments that could be anywhere. And there is so much tradition, so much history that feels lived-in, in the continual bowings, in the celebratory reunions, in the intimacy that remains unspoken. Gentleness and kindness overflow, with nary a cross word said, and Ozu carries the viewer into something approaching the sublime with each lingering moment.

After the Storm
Charming, but Koreeda’s approach in this case (melding the quotidian with a very clear-cut central conflict) doesn’t work in any unexpected or even predictably revelatory ways. It moves along, with some rather lovely moments and a mostly enjoyable exterior, but there isn’t much that isn’t on the surface.

Maurice
Suspect that my lack of foreknowledge concerning the events of the book going into this was not ideal, given that the emotional journey of Maurice feels a bit flat after the intensity of thwarted passion between him and Clive. I had anticipated a more conventional pathway, focusing on the two, so the introduction of Alec as an additional key figure –
complete with his own set of complicating factors, especially class – was unexpected. But it is all very expertly well done, remaining immensely close to all of the characters and using them with a neat precision. Maurice never truly escapes its period trappings, but it is more than pleasant all the same.

Branded to Kill
Branded to Kill manages to exist simultaneously as the gonzo, aggressively odd and experimental work it is often touted as and a hypersimplified, stripped-down crime thriller that continually sheds its accoutrements over its 90-minutes. The noir foundational elements are well apparent, as are the innovations spearheaded by Suzuki, no more so than in the gorgeous masks in the form of butterflies, birds, and other such invasive flying objects, but just as key seem to be Hisashi’s intense paranoia, the shift from the cold-blooded day job to the frenzied existence that takes over a man’s psyche, the cold, modern architecture.

It
Sweetly (and never saccharinely) told, and the whole affair has an undeniable cuteness and attractiveness as personified in Clara Bow, but that doesn’t truly salvage the film proper. It, despite its short running time, meanders and feels fairly inert, sputtering to life whenever Bow appears on the screen and dying down just as quickly when she is off. A legendary screen presence and sex appeal, however well conveyed (and it is admittedly conveyed quite well), can only go so far.

Yourself and Yours
It’s immensely odd to say that I “get” or more fully understand a filmmaker seven films into his oeuvre, but then again Hong Sang-soo is no ordinary filmmaker, or even any ordinary great filmmaker. Perhaps it is just that this feels like his most cogent summation of the relationships between men and women (which is a barrier that is, surprisingly, broken down) or that it contains every single tone that I love of his: playful, earnest, caustic, romantic. Or I might just be finally attuned to his rhythms, accepting the internal repetitions as vital strengths rather than just features inherent to his scripts. Regardless, it is gorgeous, wonderful, and funny in typical Hong fashion, to the highest magnitude I’ve yet seen.

Devil in a Blue Dress
Perhaps it’s a little unfair to castigate a film for its loving and quite well-done homage to a particular mood, but Devil in a Blue Dress both overplays and underplays its hand with regards to the platonic ideal of the film noir. All of the tenets are readily apparent, in a manner that recalled Chinatown, especially and egregiously during a crucial scene late into the film, but Franklin seems unwilling to dive into the thornier, more complex ideas inherent in the shadows and the underworld. The movie moves with far too much slickness, though the value of this confidence on all levels cannot be fully denied, especially considering the remarkable, wonderful lightness of Tak Fujimoto’s camera.

The Final Cut
It’s probably not entirely correct to say that this specific premise and narrative could not be made into an altogether satisfying film. But leaving aside The Final Cut‘s bland, almost treacly direction (that reflects the films that Alan himself makes), the whole venture seems intensely misguided, a jumble of narrative concerns which don’t truly cohere and late revelations which reflect absolutely nothing about the world which they are meant to comment on. Almost certainly the only redeemable facet of this is Williams, who for the most part channels his excess into a repressed concentration that is rarely broken; it is no accident that the scenes where this mode is broken are among the worst in the film.

The Big Sick
I kept vacillating between dislike and a grudging respect for The Big Sick; it doesn’t help that it feels so uneven and lengthy yet curiously compressed. Kazan in particular is given rather short shrift in both runtime (perhaps necessarily, but still) and characterization, though she does do her best to pull it off. But what won me over was the ultimate sidelining of the risky and potentially maudlin sickness plot in favor of a more rewarding exploration of Kumail’s relationships, in how it forces all around Emily to come to terms with themselves. It is immensely flawed, sometimes funny, but earnestness oozes out of every pore, and a wholehearted belief in dedication can be rather lovely.

Marius
Perhaps did this a slight injustice by leaning heavily into the Before Trilogy parallels, something that seemed to be enforced by my initial impression that the film would take place over a period of less than 24 hours. But the one month later “epilogue” is approximately close to a third of the film, and as a whole this plays much closer to a version of Before Sunset than Before Sunrise, though the closest comparison my mind could come up with was The Young Girls of Rochefort in the push-and-pull between dreams and love, the hometown and the larger world.

All of that being said, Marius works entirely on its own terms as something well perched between melodrama and comedy; the narrative is fairly archetypal (save for the hilarious inclusion of Panisse) but the play of emotions is handled with precision. The situating of the film almost entirely in the three-walled confines of the bar may betray the theatrical origins, but it works rather well as a gathering place for men and women alike, and Korda does a skillful job of knowing exactly when to depict the outside world. And while all of the characters are delightful, César is something else entirely, a wholly compassionate and conflicted creation with equal parts pragmatism and optimism, keeping a waterfall’s worth of love behind a gruff exterior with exquisite poise.

Another Year
Enrapturing in part because of its unpredictability; aside from the basic structure of 13 long takes documenting 13 dinners, I was mostly unfamiliar with the other basic elements that formed Another Year. Even this central premise was somewhat inaccurate, as crucially the film depicts only some of the dinners (the first scene in particular only contains some of the preparation), and only the last to completion as it were. The change in setting also surprised me; the sense of interiority besieged by the outside world in both sound and talking point is preserved but otherwise a vastly different vision of the space in which this family (plus two guests, intriguingly) moves is conjured in these four scenes. But most importantly, I was unprepared for the focus, for the ultra-slow and observational mode that manages to hold my attention like few other types of filmmaking. It is an acidic, unhappy, and strident family, but Zhu manages to capture it with such unerring heart and distance that it becomes a little microcosm of a particular kind of unit that I only know all too well.

Solaris
Entirely impossible for me to approach this in anything close to a fair review, but Solaris baffled me to no end. It is without question a beautiful film, if shot in an odd mix of the flighty – the long takes shot in constantly roving close-up, flitting between various faces in the same space – and the unmistakably earthbound. But the machinations of plot, narrative, and thematic below the surface seem muddled to me, predicated on the central act of resurrection via romance that doesn’t feel quite successfully executed. And yet there are glimmers and patches of profundity that feel just out of reach, hidden beneath the rundown exterior that I hope to discover sometime sooner rather than later.

Heaven Knows What
There’s certainly a sense of light at the core of Heaven Knows What, an obvious warmth and affection that the Safides have for the characters that they more than succeed in doing justice to. Just as paramount, too, is that benighted and seemingly endless city of New York City, often just beyond the margins of the intensely intimate close-ups. The passersby move pass but everyone involved (including the magnificent camera of Sean Price Williams) remains intently focused, as the electronic music swirls around in the sea of emotions and Holmes, Duress, and Jones manage to make the scene at once external and immensely internal.

By the Time It Gets Dark
Was entirely unaware of the explicitly metafictional aspects of By the Time It Gets Dark going in, and I’m not certain whether they were telegraphed at all in the first third – obviously apart from the throughline of a woman making a historical film/documentary. But there is a certain thrill and joy with which Suwichakornpong pinballs from story to story, as the fantasy of the cinematic overwhelms the brutality of the real world. As even the original storyline is replicated with only some precision and the same characters recur in both “reality” and fantasy, the viewer is invited to either succumb or be repulsed. For my part, I succumbed.

The Heartbreak Kid
Perhaps not as immediate and arresting as A New Leaf, which I’m tempted to attribute to Neil Simon’s hilarious but slightly more diffuse script. But the unmistakeable and uneasy touch of Elaine May is warmly felt here, no more so than in the absolutely despicable, obnoxious and plain awful character of Charles Grodin’s Lenny. It is a credit to everyone involved (including Simon) that he does not overwhelm the film with his rank hypocrisy and fakery, and instead becomes something approaching a sympathetic figure, if only because the movie is implicitly dedicated to degrading and breaking down his character. But of course, Jeannie Berlin and Eddie Albert are just astonishing in their own ways, one playing distress and sorrow to the hilt and one serving as the barely suppressed fury, with both representing the extremes of two very different cultures, something which is put just in the immediate background to great effect. The most surprising aspect to this very surprising and more than a little mean-spirited film is the end, played in terms so straightforward it becomes ambiguous.

The Lost City of Z

jungle

Originally intended for Seattle Screen Scene.

The Lost City of Z has landed in the cinephile community with the kind of impact typically reserved for the most lauded or debated of auteurs. In some sense, this is expected: its director, James Gray, has steadily accrued a small but intensely dedicated following for his character-driven crime dramas and plain dramas like We Own the Night (2007), Two Lovers (2008), and his breakout The Lost City of Z (2013). Each of these films, as described in interviews with the writer-director, is almost self-consciously a throwback to a more classical Hollywood model of filmmaking–complete with a strict adherence to shooting on 35mm–but they are all distinctly American. All of his past films have taken place in immigrant communities in the US, and are inherently tied to some sense of overwhelming longing.

Gray’s latest film continues this sense of “classicism” (a dangerous but somewhat fitting term to use in relation to Gray), though the setting is changed to two locations: London and the uncharted jungles of the Amazon. The film follows the story of adventurer and soldier Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunman), structuring the film around his three expeditions to the Amazon over a period of two decades in the early twentieth century, as he attempted to discover a legendary lost civilization deep within the jungle. Crucially, however, The Lost City of Z is not a film that concerns itself solely with the act of depicting the explorations or distilling it to a descent into madness a la Herzog or Apocalypse Now. Gray’s path, like Fawcett’s, is far more knotted.

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