Monday, August 16, 2021

Frivolous Lists: Mexico

As my movie Fourteen is in its sixth week at the Cineteca Nacional in Mexico City, I thought I'd make a list of my favorite Mexican films, in very approximate order of preference. The first list permits multiple films by the same director:
  1. The Passion According to Berenice (Jaime Hermosillo)
  2. Nazarin (Luis Buñuel) 
  3. Matinée (Jaime Hermosillo)
  4. Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas)
  5. Sangre (Amat Escalante)
  6. Highway Patrolman (Alex Cox)
  7. The Young One (Luis Buñuel)
  8. Japón (Carlos Reygadas)
  9. The Summer of Miss Forbes (Jaime Hermosillo)
  10. Simon of the Desert (Luis Buñuel)
And the second list permits only one film per director. The order of preference here is even more approximate:
  1. The Passion According to Berenice (Jaime Hermosillo)
  2. Nazarin (Luis Buñuel) 
  3. Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas)
  4. Sangre (Amat Escalante)
  5. Highway Patrolman (Alex Cox)
  6. Machete Language (Kyzza Terrazas)
  7. Canoa (Felipe Cazals)
  8. 40 Days (Juan Carlos Martín)
  9. The Chambermaid (Lila Avilés)
  10. Y Tu Mamá También (Alfonso Cuarón)
  11. The Shadow of the Tyrant (Julio Bracho)
  12. Cochochi (Israel Cárdenas and Laura Amelia Guzmán)
  13. Drama/Mex (Gerardo Naranjo)
  14. Artificial Paradises (Yulene Olaizola)

Monday, June 14, 2021

What I Did on My Pandemic

Yesterday, June 13, 2021, I finally returned to a movie theater, the Paris in Manhattan, to revisit Chaitanya Tamhane's excellent Court (2014). The last movie I'd seen in a movie theater was in Cartagena, Colombia, on March 12, 2020 at FICCI: another fine film, Nicolás Rincón Gille's Valley of Souls (2019). Unlike many film buffs, I didn't go into theater withdrawal during those intervening 15 months, and actually quite enjoyed the liberty of dipping into reserves that get short shrift in peacetime because I run around to arthouses so much. I don't yet know how I'll adapt to the new world - assuming that the Delta variant doesn't shut us down again - but, for purposes of commemoration, here are the home screenings of new-to-me films that excited me most during the pandemic. I left out very new films that I would likely have seen anyway, and restricted myself to historical titles that did not wield the urgency of festival or theatrical or streaming release. In reverse order of release date:

  • Alice T. - Muntean - 2018
  • Aferim! - Jude - 2015
  • Beautiful Valley - Friedlich - 2011
  • The Beginner - Coccio - 2010
  • Tourists - Scherson - 2009
  • Kippur - Gitai - 2000
  • Aux Petits Bonheurs - Deville - 1994
  • Changeling - Saless - 1987
  • Les capricieux - Deville - 1984
  • The Willow Tree - Saless - 1984
  • Offre d’emploi - Eustache - 1982
  • Reifezeit - Saless - 1976
  • Street of Joy - Kumashiro - 1974
  • Memories of Helena - Neves - 1969
  • But What If This Is Love? - Raizman - 1962
  • Mashenka - Raizman - 1942
  • Le grand jeu - Feyder - 1934
  • The Murderer Dimitri Karamasoff - Otsep - 1931
Special thanks to pandemic all-stars Sohrab Shahid Saless, Yuli Raizman, and Michel Deville - the last still with us at age 90, doing well, I hope.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

2020 "Theatrical" Premieres

On top of the usual arbitrariness of the ten-best list of local theatrical runs, we now have no theaters. Eligibility for this list is by New York streaming, though something probably fell through the cracks. Anything that hasn't been distributed in New York before, and that feels new according to my subjective concept of modernity, is eligible. (As always, my list of favorite films by international release date is better tended.) In approximate order of preference:

1. Young Ahmed (Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Belgium)
2. Yourself and Yours (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea)
3. Heimat Is a Space in Time (Thomas Heise, Germany)
4. Hill of Freedom (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea)
5. Jeanne (Bruno Dumont, France)
6. I Was at Home, But... (Angela Schanelec, Germany)
7. José (Li Cheng, Guatemala/USA)
8. Dear Comrades (Andrei Konchalovsky, Russia)
9. The Misogynists (Onur Tukel, USA)
10. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Eliza Hittman, USA)

So y'all didn't get excited about Young Ahmed, I see from the year-end lists. I think you're missing out. Never Rarely could go higher or lower on next viewing: it's one of those films that I didn't get a fix on until after it was over.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Frivolous Lists: Israel

 Just for fun, my favorite Israeli films as of today.

1. Late Marriage (Dover Kosashvili, 2001)
2. Ben Zaken (Efrat Corem, 2014)
3. Beautiful Valley (Hadar Friedlich, 2011)
4. Kedma (Amos Gitai, 2003)
5. Or (Mon Tresor) (Keren Yedaya, 2004)
6. A Thousand Little Kisses (Mira Recanati, 1981)
7. The Wedding Plan (Rama Burshtein, 2016)
8. Slaves of the Lord (Hadar Friedlich, 2002)
9. Red Cow (Tsivia Barkai Yacov, 2018)
10. The Day After I'm Gone (Nimrod Eldar, 2019)