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As it is basically required here's my 1000 favorite films - [URL]http://www.imdb.com/list/PkAV7BgvMJg[/URL]
As a bonus here's my top 110 directors - [URL]http://www.imdb.com/list/uTxeTivyxLE/[/URL]
Sorry for the overuse of decimals. These ratings are copied from my personal archives where I like to have an indicator as of how strong my individual ratings are, but I guess that could be of some use to you as well.
Perhaps the most effective horror film I've seen
Anguish truly is a unique experience. At one point I had to pause because my heart was beating too fast. It was the very effective visual of people struggling with the same thing on screen, had never thought a film could affect me like this. Almost wanted to throw up in parts, and just because of the sound and bizarre visuals, rather than gore. It's not just a horror movie, it's an experiment into film-within-film with audience members watching a movie at a theater about an insane killer and his mother collecting eyes - with the way it's made disturbing and upsetting many of them - and then the events in the main movie switches to the theater as well - and the claustrophobia and mental states of "the real audience" starts going wild. I can only imagine how insane it would have been watching this in a movie theater as intended. It lost some of it's power when it got more plot driven towards the very end - but it stayed incredible throughout.
Opfer des Hasses (1923)
This Jewish propaganda film from Austria is quite the historic curiosity. Aside from having relatively good intentions this films comes off as as bit of a joke, particularly because the The Jewish Relief Foundation, who sponsored the film got the main character to say the organization saved his grandson's life in the first seen of the film, they also refer to themselves in third person as "the noble benefactors". How full of yourself can you get? And of course at the end they use little children to beg you for money - which might have been my favorite part because at least the kids were cute. The film is reasonably well made, but the plot is just too contrived. One thing I found amusing was that the Jewish wasn't victims of hate because they were Jews but because they were rich factory owners who lost their funds in the Russian revolution. The backstory has the films most emotional moments, but it's primarily done to such a silly and ludicrous manner that it's hard to get particularly worked up. It just fights so hard to be sappy, sentimental and forceful. From an historical perspective it can be seen as a tragic attempt at scoring points with the right wing by denouncing and demonizing communism as much as possible. In the end all it's flaws just kills it.
Natsu jikan no otonatachi (1997)
Nakashima's debut proves that he's far more than utter absurdity and flashy style
Nakashima's debut feature is a simple, charming and welcoming coming of age story. Aside from the always spot-on photography, a certain artistic flair and a slightly comically off atmosphere nothing here suggested that Nakashima would become a master of style, that it's a thoroughly impressive debut obviously marking the beginning of a great artist is on the other hand quite clear.
I particularly loved the Ozu-esque focus and depiction of children and seemingly unimportant school tasks. The children having to redo a certain gymnastic work-out after school until they got it right, focusing on repetition after repetition added both emotion, soul and humor. And yes, this is a charmingly funny film, done in a semi-minimalistic way about a young boy growing up, experiencing his family and school situation, while being a tad too focused on tits. In fact, the first line is "I love big tits".
And though that might rub you the wrong way, it's actually quite cute in it's way. He narrates through his child eyes, and a lot is actually very heart warming, sometimes even poignant. I felt that the flashbacks to his mother as a child and her dealing with her mother's illness was, however well done, a bit of a digression which too a very small degree fit into the rest of the film, but aside from this is was a great experience. I hope more people take the time to check this little film out. It's just 73 minutes. 8/10.
Beautiful Sunday (1998)
Brilliantly stylized surrealistic minimalism at it's best
It's always fascinating to go back through a director's oeuvre and see how much their style has changed. While Nakashima is known for extremely flashy and fast paces stylistic trips, here in his second feature we are met by a contemplative mood and slow progression showing one heck on an absurd Sunday. He truly is a master of stylization, and this is certainly as present as ever, as is the absurd humor, but instead of throwing bright colors in our face this shows a remarkable amount of restraint.
This is almost the kind of film you could have expected from Weerasethakul or Tsai - and for those of you scared off by that I can calm you don't by saying that quite a lot of "action" do occur, including a car chase. We follow the alienated, cold and isolated lives of people living in an apartment complex in Tokyo. The camera is detached, never moving, just observing them. I'd say it's humorous rather than funny. The mood is equally detached, and this, as well as the characters odd personalities and antics is the base of the humor. It's slow pace and eye for details allow for build-ups and amusing observations.
I'm fully aware that this might be too slow for some, so I cannot recommend it to everyone, but if this sounds like your kind of cinema I pretty much know you are in for a treat! Surrealistic minimalism at it's best. It's about time to brush the dust off this tragically overlooked Nakashima and bring it back out into the light, because for the right type of person this will be one wonderful and utterly captivating experience.
Musuko no seishun (1952)
Cute and innocent family comedy that really managed to charm me
Kobayashi's debut is not only the anti-thesis of the films he's most known for - It's warm, bubbling and charmingly innocent - but also an thoroughly impressive first film. Though constantly threading close to the silly this romanticized drama comedy about an average Japanese family and their son who is becoming a man, was just too irresistible. I can easily see why many wouldn't consider it a great work however, and some contrivances were pushing it. It's saving grace here is the consistent style that allows this. Can't see any veteran doing this better, and my, in hindsight, the contrast to his latter work is as if planned. Having yet to discover most of his early films I can't wait to see the rest of his evolution and how he went from this to Black River, that until now was the earliest film I had seen from him. The change could not be greater, the only thing they have in common is his craftsmanship.
Possibly Denis' best film.
*Only slight spoilers*
A sensual and atmospheric coming of age tale set in a small town close to an American army base in 1960s France. It all takes place within 24 hours. Opening early in the morning as two teenage girl hitch-hike their way to school rather than taking the bus. Our lead, Martine, and her friend are adventurous, taking pleasure in tempting the male driver while remaining silent, and simply heads off to school. Later that night they want to go to a party, but they find it too childish, they then head for a more "adult" party where Martine's brother is supposed to be.
Cinematically strong, with great camera work, particularly some wonderful pans accompanied by great music from the time. The way this was used, often going gradually through a landscape or room before finding it's characters were simply beautifully done. It's a simple story, with a slight feel of danger, and it certainly managed to catch the discomfort of being a teenager, particularly in such situations. Denis' restrained style works wonderfully.
The minimalistic touches are used in order to make you feel closer to the leads, to sense aspects of their emotions rather than spelling it out. It's also down to earth and realistic, while remaining that certain poetic sensibility you can find in essentially every Denis film. The performances are strong, particularly Vincent Gallo who plays an American soldier. Loved the uneasy tension in the scenes he was in despite him acting so nice and showing no intentions of wanting to do anything more than what he's doing. I must applaud Denis for all the emotions she managed to pack into this film. You never know exactly what to feel, you never know exactly what the characters want, but you can feel the complexity and their world like you can in few other films.
Öszi almanach (1984)
Tarr on his most intimate
Essentially a series of close, intimate conversations between people living together in a flat. Wonderfully human. The occupants are an elderly woman, her son, the mother's nurse, her boyfriend and a tenant. We see them argue, fight and love. Many fabulous performances. Can't recall the last time I was this drawn into a film.
Very unlike anything I've seen from Tarr. A reminder that the most cinematic of all landscapes is a face. Never leaving the apartment, it's the faces, the dwelling shots of their emotions and the emotional complexity of their relationships that drives this truly marvelous hidden gem. It has a welcoming tone, at least at first, though the atmosphere is cold, and kept getting colder as the situation got less and less pretty. No extensively long takes either, though it remained hypnotic all the same, hell, in my case even more so. I could not take my eyes away. 9.5/10.
Passe ton bac d'abord... (1978)
Quite the surprise
Being one of the more overlooked and forgotten Pialats this took me quite off guard. This seems to be the point where Pialat really changed his style. This is actually quite warm, even though we're still, at least in parts, the objective observer. We follow the lives of a group of young friends in their final year of high school, who drift about, make out, have sex, get married, get low paying jobs, etc.
The first half really felt like a more low down contemporary French version of American Graffity only without the cars. It has quite a bit of charm, and the characters are quite the personalities. Slightly lost it's drive towards the middle, when they went on vacation, and the tension with parents, etc. was rather left behind, but it went strong till the end - though I must admit I was slightly disappointed by the final reveal. Anyhow, pretty spectacular stuff. And very unexpected coming from Pialat. 8.5/10.
Die Parallelstrasse (1962)
Die Parallelstrasse / The Parallel Street (1962, Ferdinand Khittl)
The number 188 appears, then the screen goes completely black. We hear noises and words spoken in many tongues. Then as suddenly as it all began we find ourselves in a poorly lit room, photographed in black and white, where a clerk stationed at his desk tells five men, seemingly researching documents that this is the end of the first session. Soon, after the credits are done rolling, we're told that this is the end of "Part 2".
The clerk is our only direct link into an logical comprehension of what is appearing before our eyes. In the early minutes of the film he confesses to us his sorrow over how the five men cannot comprehend the documents are mirrors of their own existence. He comments on their futile efforts to make sense of what's before them. How they have made a meaningless chart and made rules that comes to nothing. He notes that they will fail, like all before them, and that at the end of the last 90 minute session their lives will end.
And after this introduction "part 3" may commence as the five men goes through document 189, 190, and so on in the hope of reaching the last document 310 before their time is up. The documents themselves are segments filmed in color covering parts of the world, the human mindset, human constructions, etc. usually with an attached set of information the clerk reads out. We are now to follow the men try to make sense of what's put before them and the discussions they have between them. Their tone is calm, and relatively collected.
Whether or not the exercise is an allegory of life and the human existence can be debated, I felt this was the most comprehensible solution, but this is about so much more than simple answers. I cannot underline many enough times what a unique experience this is. It harbors an obscure sense of poetic beauty, that much like the documents explored are slightly out of our comprehension. Be it an astute beauty of life, a melancholy feeling of being lost or simply the joy of watching and partaking in such an astonishing artistic creation/experience, this movie manages to cover so much emotion, and perhaps even information, without ever really revealing its core or giving us something we can easily grasp and categorize.
The fact that it consciously incorporates into our minds that this is the last part of a larger picture was also something I could not easily shake, and it stayed on my mind throughout. First I thought it was a negative, a form of unnecessary confusion, but now, in retrospect, I view it differently. It not only creates a craving for more, but it creates a sense of claustrophobia, and in a lesser sense bewilderment. With the exception of one re-evaluated document you see none of the 187 first documents, and the exercise itself is a mystery, we know nothing about the surrounding situation and reasoning behind what we see. I found this to create an incredibly strong experience for me. The Parallel Street is a film I will never forget.
The Miscreants of Taliwood (2009)
In a world where art and humanity is under siege, George Gittoes fights back
We are taking into the midst of the Taliban world in Pakistan. A world where artists live under the threat of death. A world where video and cd stores are bombed and their owners killed. A world where taliban propaganda films with real life children beheading claimed spies are being sold from stands by smiling salesmen.
Art, entertainment and humanity is under siege, and it's this world Australian director Director George Gittoes dares to explore. To survive and be accepted he teams of with the Pakistani action star Javed Musazai, and takes roles as the foreign bad guy in low budget films. This is an industry where 4000 dollars gives you a two hour "epic", and Gittoes gladly puts up the funds. And while making these movies he's able to meet the people of this world, see book burnings, bombed mosques, speak with religious leaders and explore the complex nature of Pakistan.
Gittoes brand of Gonzo-journalism can be compared to Michael Moore's, but unlike more he's under constant risk of losing his life. His ability to add humor only increases the clarity of the horror around him, and makes us love and care for the people we meet. The artists themselves, no matter how joyful and careless their cinema might seem live in constant fear and you see some of the people in the movie meeting terrifying and tragic situations.
Nothing could have prepared me for how powerful this would be. The humanity this film manages to capture in such a bleak place is unique. I'm shocked this hasn't gotten more attention. It even made me respect and appreciate the film industry over there, which seems to be on par with the Turks, but I could see the hope and joy they represents. This is a movie, everyone, not only film buffs should see. It's power is universal and it's can hardly be paralleled. A movie every single person in this world should see.