January 18, 2006

Top films from the past 2005 (1)

I didn't see quite as much this year as in the past, but there were as always quite a few discoveries, most of which were connected with Kino's Avant-Garde: Experimental Cinema of the 1920 and '30s set. But before we get into that, the newfound appreciation category, that is, films that I had seen before but that struck me as better on this year's viewing.

CQ (Roman Coppola, 2002) Still a cool recreation of the 1960s, but this time I responded much more to the theme of human and artistic connection.

Emak-Bakia (Man Ray, 1926) One of the few films on the Kino Avant-Garde DVDs that I had seen before. Maybe this time the music was better.

Fighting Elegy (Seijun Suzuki, 1966) One should distrust psychological explanations of historical events, since they tend to be ridiculously reductive. However, Fighting Elegy seems to me to be an exception. Maybe I've been taken in, but as an explanation of early 20th-century Japanese militarism, this feels right.

Powaqqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1988) When I last saw this 15 years ago, this struck me as a lesser work than Koyannisqatsi, since it seemed less integrated than its predecessor. But now, this really seems kind of a film version of the ultimate issue of National Geographic.

And now for the actual "new" past films.

24. Napoleon Dynamite (Jared Hess, 2004) The moment that put it over the top for me was the van running over the Tupperware. A cult film that deserves its cult.

More to come....

January 10, 2006

One more from Barsaat

Blogger would only let me add 5 to a post, so here's the last one.

Why 2006 should be the year of Raj Kapoor, aka something I've had from Greencine for way too long

For Westerners to appreciate Bollywood, there is a gap that must be crossed. "Once you get past the overdose of kitsch (the extreme length of the movies, the pseudo-silent movie acting of Shahrukh Khan, etc.), they're actually pretty entertaining." However, it's interesting that the farther back you go in Bollywood history, the smaller that gap was. The one Guru Dutt film I've seen was as billed neorealism in Bollywood. Raj Kapoor was Welles, Chaplin, and neorealism. Raj Kapoor isn't as foreign as Bollywood now. That is to say, even with Bollywood films now that I like, I understand that I'm not the intended audience. However, Kapoor seems to me to be universal. And to make the case for his greatness, my words will be entirely inadequate so here are some captures from Barsaat (1949).