February 27, 2006

Top films from the past 2005 (4)

9. All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

The freeze-frame blew my mind, and then it really took off.

8. Under the Sun of Satan (Maurice Pialat, 1987)

What can one say after seeing the lumpishly earthen Gerard Depardieu hold a dead girl over his head and challenge God to show him who rules the world?

February 26, 2006

Top films from the past 2005 (3)

14. Anemic Cinema (Marcel Duchamp, 1926)

I always like 3-D cinema that doesn't need the glasses.

13. H2O (Ralph Steiner, 1929)

The early avant-gardists were fascinated by water and reflections in it. (About one-third of the films in the Avant-Garde set contain such images. Maybe a subject for a later post.) This is the most "avant-garde" of all of them. It begins in representation and ends in abstraction.

12. The House is Black (Fourogh Farrokhzad, 1963)

More like a psalm than a documentary.

11. LÂ’Etoile de mer (Man Ray, 1928)

A dream, under glass.

10. La Tempestaire (Jean Epstein, 1947)

Another great leading role for water, this time as an immense ocean storm.

February 24, 2006

Inside my head

The Film Snob's Dictionary by David Kamp with Lawrence Levi

I'll get back to posting about the old movies I saw in 2005 (there is also a top 10 list of books and new movies also in production); the holdup was technical in nature (the old version of VLC is crap, and the Mac DVD Player app is defeated by the 1920s avant-gardists). But now, The Film Snob's Dictionary. This is funny reading, but also a little uncomfortable, since I share quite a few of the likes of the Film Snob Kamp and Levi are dissecting. There are entries on Doc Films, Greencine, and Shaw Brothers. Raj Kapoor is name-checked in the Bollywood entry. There were moments in reading this, I felt like I was reading my biography as chronicled accurately by someone I never met. What really put this feeling over was finding an entry on Seijun Suzuki. Had there been an entry on Sergei Paradjanov, I would have closed this blog down and just said read this for my thoughts. The strangest part of all is at one point, Kamp and Levi list Ten Worthwhile Snob Causes Celebres and Ten Fraudulent Snob Cause Celebres. I agree with them on the worthwhileness of 9 of their worthys and two of the film snobbisms I find most fraudulent, L'Atalante and Peter Greenaway, are on their list. That I'm to the side of the Film Snob and in line with an outside assessment is just too weird.

February 01, 2006

Top films from the past 2005 (2)

23. The Chess Player (Raymond Bernard, 1927) I love big-budget silent historical melodramas. This one involves Polish independence, Catherine the Great, and the famous chess-playing automaton, The Turk.

22. Police (Maurice Pialat, 1985) A terrible confession: Nearly all French crime films, no matter how good they are, do not convince me. At bottom, there is always something in quotation marks about them, as if the French movie is "doing" an American crime movie in the same way someone would "do" an impression. However, this one is the exception. A French crime movie that is actually about cops and criminals.

21. I Was Born, But... (Yasujiro Ozu, 1932) I love how fogeyish the kids are.

20. Les Mysteres du chateau du De (Man Ray, 1929) Probably the best "I shot this last weekend at my friend's house" film.

19. Don Juan (Alan Crosland, 1926) More silent big-budgetism, this time with John Barrymore as Don Juan. Every set looks like a 20s movie palace.

18. Female Convict 701 -- Scorpion (Shunya Ito, 1971) No one does Hell on Earth movies like the Japanese. (I think this comes from being the only country to be atom bombed.) Also, no one did New Wave as well as the Japanese.

17. Legong: Dance of the Virgins (Henri de la Falaise, 1935) Like Tabu, a docu-tale of doomed love in the tropics, but this time in beautiful two-strip Technicolor. Comes on DVD with both original and new gamelan score (both excellent).

16. Alias Jimmy Valentine (Maurice Tourneur, 1915) A bank robbery sequence that can stand alongside Heat.

15. Foxy Brown (Jack Hill, 1974) She got her black belt in bar stools.