Compiled by Fiona A. Villella
Parts of this article are now hosted on the PANDORA archive of the National Library of Australia and Partners.
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2001: A Reflection
by Kent Jones
I will never forget the time I tried to see Mulholland Drive, one of the very best films in a very good year for movies. A sweltering August day in New York City. I brought my kids to the dentist in Brooklyn – two separate appointments, two separate ordeals, for the kids and for the dentist as well. My younger son, who valiantly kicked and screamed his way through every attempt to put so much as a gloved finger in his mouth, ran screaming from the chair after the cleaning was over, then ran back into the doorway for the last defiant word: “No!” My older son, no fool, refused to so much as unclench his teeth. I sympathized with both points of view.
Traffic was murder, and I knew I had minutes to spare, because David Lynch was not allowing critics to enter screenings of his newest creation if they failed to show up within the first ten minutes. I jumped out of the car, jumped onto the subway, raced on the express to Times Square, took the local one stop, and, glistening with several layers of sweat, arrived just in time to hear the publicist deliver the bad news in that very special way that they probably learn at publicists’ school. “Sor-reee,” she said in her best I’m-your-pal-but-not-too-much voice. “That comes directly from David.” I mentioned my name and affiliation, secure in the knowledge that neither would do me any good at all. “I know who you are, and I’m reeeelly sorry.” “You don’t know what I just went through trying to get here,” I said, and I meant it. Nothing doing. Since I wasn’t in an I-know-you’re-just-doing-your-job frame of mind, I hurled my backpack against the wall. Away from the publicist. Of course there was a screening the next day, and the publicist gave me a thoughtful smile as I walked in. “When you see the movie you’ll understand.” I saw, I understood, I loved it, we loved each other, everything was beautiful.
I remember this little story with fondness, because it happened one month before September 11. Now, every detail seems precious to me, because it took place in a world that no longer exists.
We all know the world has changed. In some small ways, for the better – in alerting people around the world to the terrible plight of Afghanistan, for instance. In many other ways, it’s changed for the worse – Afghanistan has been delivered from the Taliban, but it’s also been placed in a politically precarious position in a destabilized region, its infrastructure even more devastated that it already was before we started bombing, its people probably even more demoralized. And here, we responded to a national tragedy in the worst way imaginable: like children. Solidarity quickly devolved into the rankest form of nationalism, and Colin Powell’s early, ridiculous promise to “rip terrorism out from the roots” is still ringing in my ears. All the national paranoia that seemed to have died with the cold war has returned with a vengeance, and it’s been harnessed by Washington and the mass media. It’s not pretty.
Rather than a ten-best list, here are a few things that seemed to harmonize with the world that began after that strange, clear day in early September.
The Royal Tenenbaums
Right before it screened, I ran into Owen Wilson, the co-writer and one of the stars of Wes Anderson’s beautiful, somber, intricate, ineffably tender new movie. He wondered if the scene where his brother Luke’s character attempts suicide wasn’t a bit too much for the audience so soon after September 11. Which seems touching and a little ridiculous now, but in the immediate aftermath we were tuned into every nuance of discomfort. But in any case, Owen Wilson was wrong. This epic comedy about a family of failed geniuses living in a dream version of New York moves with breathtaking fluidity from one emotional state to the next: if you blink, you may miss a passage from joy to melancholy, or back again. Don’t believe the people who say that this one isn’t as good as Rushmore. It’s every bit as good. It’s just different. And there’s very little in modern cinema that can come within hailing distance of Gwyneth Paltrow walking in slow motion to meet a spellbound Luke Wilson over Nico’s rendition of ‘These Days,” or the way that Ben Stiller looks into his father’s eyes in the film’s final moments.
“Love and Theft”
Bob Dylan’s new album came out on…September 11 (for the record, it’s also my mom’s birthday). And it spoke to the world with a voice of what I’ll call intimate authority. The propulsive opener, the pitiless “Twiddle Dee Dee and Twiddle Dee Dum,” blasted all the cotton candy rhetoric coming over the dreaded airwaves to smithereens. And the closer, “Sugar Baby,” like many of the album’s other songs (written and played in a beautiful variety of American musical idioms – swing, blues, country twang, ballad) is an ode to resignation, somehow managing to acknowledge the vast, vexing scale of life as some unclimbable mountain, and the nobility of simply being alive.
A Matter of Life and Death
I took another look at what had previously been one of my least favorite among Michael Powell’s films. What had I missed? Probably the ferocity of it. The movie is as much a poetic fever dream as Mean Streets, and it swells with the sense of lost humanity. As I watched it the other day, I got a lump in my throat when Powell cut to the audience of the recently dead from all nations, gathered to listen to David Niven defend his right to stay alive. Here’s a film that goes right to the heart of loss on a grand scale, and says a valiant but unsentimental goodbye.
Rick Linklater’s digitally shot, computer-animated movie is a work of homey gentility and apparently easy eloquence. Waking Life nails the human desire to define, the poignance of trying to be certain, the freedom and the terror of just being alive and trying to get a grip on who and what we are. There’s a moment near the end when Wiley Wiggins returns to a house we’ve seen at the beginning of the movie, and the very presence of the porch, the yard, the flowers has that same kind of haunting present-ness as the houses that Linda Manz and her friend run past in the early morning light near the end of Days of Heaven, made by another philosophically inquisitive Texan. A film of wonderful freedom, and, along with Anderson’s film (but in a completely different register), as enriching an experience as I’ve had at the movies in a long while. I could see both a hundred times.
Richard Price in the New York Times Magazine
There were countless pieces about “life after September 11,” most of them forgettable. Price’s typically modest suite of remembered dialogues with his daughters, cab drivers, a prison inmate, is an unforgettable document. Most of all, perhaps, for the moment when he tells his daughter to take it easy, then nonchalantly downloads so many precautions into her head (“Oh yeah, the subway – it doesn’t exist for you”) that she leaves the room in tears, and he wonders if she might find home the scariest place of all. John Sifton also wrote a fairly remarkable Times piece about his time in Afghanistan, ending with an encounter with a member of the Taliban who queries him about New York City, hip-hop, the dangers of black neighborhoods, and who ends by saying, “God Bless America” with a smile.
2001: A Space Odyssey
I got a call from my friend Godfrey Cheshire sometime near the end of December. “Did you know that 2001 was playing in 70mm at the Loews Astor Plaza?” I had no idea, and neither did the many other people who failed to see the dinky add Warner Brothers placed in one local paper. For some reason, they unceremoniously dumped one of the greatest films ever made into a huge New York theater for the end of what had turned out to be the not very good year of 2001. I’ve been three times, and each time I’ve shared the 2500-seat theater with at most 30 or 40 other true believers. Is there a sadder shot in cinema than the close-up of Gary Lockwood watching in silence as his parents deliver their televised birthday greeting? And what other movie speaks more eloquently to the strangely metaphysical melancholy that comes with adapting ourselves to the world around us? Or to the way we allow patterns of adaptation to become systems that go haywire because of human pride? Somehow, the film speaks eloquently to a world that could allow a September 11 to happen. Or an Afghanistan.
Jung (War): In the Land of the Mujaheddin
Makmhalbaf’s Kandahar may have gotten all the attention, but Vendemmiati and Lazzaretti’s unflinching documentary about a hospital for the war-wounded in Northern Alliance territory run by an Italian doctor and a British nurse is the greater film, amassing detail with a quick, deft camera eye. The result is a not unlike a long and gorgeous tapestry of life in this hollowed out, ruined country. The day after September 11, the filmmakers were on their way back to Afghanistan, and the doctor and the nurse (Gino Strada and Kate Rowlands) were on their way to Kabul to ask the Taliban if they could open a second hospital to tend to their wounded.
Other favorite movies:
Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff)
Loin (André Téchiné)
Domestic Violence (Fred Wiseman)
The Man Who Wasn’t There (Joel Coen)
Moulin Rouge (Baz Luhrmann)
Mulholland Drive (David Lynch)
Gosford Park (Robert Altman)
I’m Going Home (Manoel de Oliveira)
Shallow Hal (Bobby and Peter Farrelly)
Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4pm (Claude Lanzmann)
La Route (Darezhan Omirbaev)
Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner (Zacharias Kunuk)
Confessions of a Sociopath (Joe Gibbons)
Micro-Garden (Stan Brakhage)
What Time Is It There? (Tsai Ming-liang)
The Ground (Robert Beavers)
Patina (Peter Herwitz)
Trouble Every Day (Claire Denis)
Wimbledon Stadium (Mathieu Amalric)
In the Bedroom (Todd Field)
Transitional Objects (Jennifer Montgomery)
Investigating Sex (Alan Rudolph)
ABC Africa (Abbas Kiarostami)
Ali (Michael Mann)
Acting: Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko), Billy Bob Thornton (The Man Who Wasn’t There), Gwyneth Paltrow (The Royal Tenenbaums, Shallow Hal), Lubna Azabal (Loin), Claude Berri (Va savoir), Jack Black (Shallow Hal) and Tom Wilkinson (In the Bedroom)
Most eye-poppingly inappropriate visual effect: the tents in the desert modelled on the Cycle of the True Cross frescoes in Arrezzo amidst the godawful mess of Planet of the Apes.
Movies that hit the entertainment bulls-eye with depressing ease: Amélie, Monsters Inc., Shrek (which I loved)
Most beautiful moments: the final stretch of Waking Life; Thora Birch listening to records in Ghost World; the flights into the snow in Millennium Mambo; the scene in the hospital in ABC Africa; the last line of The Man Who Wasn’t There; Moulin Rouge‘s love duets; Piccoli’s final walk through the door before his grandson in I’m Going Home; and Stiller’s final change of heart in The Royal Tenenbaums.
Most repulsive moment of the year: General Sam Shepard getting down on his knees to personally clean up the blood at the end of Black Hawk Down.
Best line: Shallow Hal, from character with Spinabifeda – “If I had an ass, I’d be wipin’ it with 20s.”
Dumbest scene of the year not in Pearl Harbor: the moment in Godard’s gorgeous Éloge de l’amour when someone confidently says, “Americans have no past, so they buy the pasts of others.”
Strangest film of the year: A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
Best Movie of 2002: Gangs of New York
I find Armond White’s writing consistently inspiring. I often disagree with him, but everything he writes is driven by passion – for the cinema as an art form, and for pop, which he sees as a means of unification at its best, a means for division (racial division) at its worst. I don’t think I really believe in this viewpoint, but that’s immaterial. He does, and it’s what leads him to some very fine insights and piercing analyses. The fact that we will never see eye to eye about Spielberg (he loves him, I don’t) or Rick Linklater (I love him, he doesn’t) is unimportant. I’d rather read Armond than almost anyone right now.
Arnaud Desplechin wrote a striking piece about Claude Lanzmann’s Sobibor as a forward to Lanzmann’s published text for the movie. Again, I’m not sure that I agree with Arnaud’s assessment of Lanzmann’s work as a series of cinematic milestones – cultural yes, cinematic maybe – but again, it doesn’t matter.
Whenever I come across something by Raymond Durgnat, I read it with pleasure. Even something tiny like a recent overview of Michael Powell’s career he wrote for some small publication whose name I can’t remember.
There’s also Jonathan Rosenbaum on Band Of Outsiders and Apocalypse Now Redux, Nicole Brenez on Peter Tcherkassky, Howard Hampton on Apocalypse Now Redux, Chuck Stephens on Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Paul Arthur on A.I., and Adrian Martin on John Cassavetes. Also, Ray Carney’s invaluable Cassavetes On Cassavetes.
Kent Jones is a programmer at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center in New York. He is the author of the BFI monograph L’Argent (1999) and a forthcoming book on Hou Hsaio-hsien. He is also the co-writer of Il Dolce Cinema (2001), a documentary on Italian cinema directed by Martin Scorsese.
© Kent Jones January 2002 back to list of contributors
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by Jon Jost
I have always been averse to 10 Best lists, and anything like them, since seldom do they admit a priori that they are the 10 best of what the writer has seen, which even for the most voracious of cinema goers will only amount to a percent or so of the work of the year. And of that seen it will be heavily biased – at least in the journals that I see or ask me to play this game – to Hollywood and its European and now Asian, and occasionally S. American spin-offs, i.e., theatrical narrative films made for consumer consumption, stars, etc. That cinema. Not including its kissing cousins, the commercial cinema of say Bollywood, or the Philippines or unless they wander into some major festivals, where the biases are clear to certain narrative kinds, lengths, etc., the cinemas of Africa or China or…. To say such lists generally serve to reinforce the institutional, cultural, economic and ideological tilt in favor of big business, its attendant glamour, and the whole ideological enterprise which accompanies it.
And besides, in general I don’t go to movies since for the most part I loathe them, particularly the ones likely to land on top of 10 Best lists, even from the more adventurous critics about.
So with that out of the way, I will list a few of the films I saw this past year that I remember, and remember because they truly impressed me with their passion, craft, skill, artistry. Most readers will not have seen them.
In Vanda’s Room by Pedro Costa (Portugal)
Shot on a single-chip DV camera, and blown to 35mm. 3 hours, a “documentary.” Gorgeous to look at despite its grim subject: the daily grinding lives of a handful of heroin users in one of Lisbon’s slum areas. They do what junkies do – not much but worry about the next hit, scraping papers for traces of the last one, lethargically getting through the day, shooting up. Costa neither exploits nor glamorizes nor moralizes. He simply shows in an austere style, the camera never moving in a shot; each shot leading to the next with an inner inexorable logic such that time, once you fall into the spell of the pacing, evaporates – just like it does for a junkie. He spent 3 years religiously going to shoot, carefully seeing, picking his shots, and the effect is itself religious in its respect for what exists. Of course it is shunted to off-beat sidebars of festivals, and in the case of Paris’ Cinema du Reel documentary Festival, it was kicked out of competition for allegedly not being by some juror’s standards a “documentary”, perhaps because it is all too truthful. And artful.
The Back Steps by Leighton Pierce, USA. 6 minutes
Shot in DV also, not transferred to film. This long-time filmmaker has recently turned to DV. As one could anticipate from the transfixing understanding of cinematic means shown in his previous films, he zeroes skillfully and expertly on the qualities of this new medium and comes up with a virtuoso piece. As is customary, the subject is his children, around 8-10 years old. In this work, they sit on the backsteps of the porch of their house, dressed in Halloween costumes, and in the single shot which Pierce gorgeously manipulates with consummate taste they vacillate between a rich, Velasquez colored abstraction, and an image of two children sitting, and finally, in a loop of hesitant moves, stepping out to the party in the backyard. In a diaphanous flurry of light and color, Pierce manages to distill the essence of childhood – the mystery, the anxiety, the joy, the sheer sensual amazement of existence. Truly wonderful.
Wood by Leighton Pierce again. 6 minutes DV, not transferred to film.
Taking again the most simple of elements, sawing a piece of tree limb on a sawhorse in the backyard (no doubt), Pierce makes a minimalist zen symphony of image and sound, taking full advantage of the purity of digital stereo DV, and shooting images of such clarity that anyone who vouches that 16mm (or even 35) is “better than DV” would do well to make no such bets. Completely different from The Back Steps, this film shares its consummate comprehension of the media it is using, and again manages to wrench a miracle from almost nothing.
Of the maybe 10 or 20 other films seen in the past year (shorts and features) none remains in my mind, and none could remotely stand next to these three. I suspect if I’d seen the most recent Nathaniel Dorsky or Peter Hutton films I could place some others on this list but life didn’t let me see them.
Jon Jost is an experienced filmmaker, working in narrative features (All the Vermeers in New York, The Bed You Sleep In, among others), essay, experimental work, and presently fully engaged in digital electronic media. He is currently residing in Rome, Italy.
© Jon Jost December 2001 back to list of contributors
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2001: The Best and the Overrated
by Dmetri Kakmi
1. Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 2000)
Still the best movie of the last three years; Bresson meets Riefenstahl’s Olympiad.
2. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
Romancing the perfect couple and the ultimate derriere.
3. Our Lady of the Assassins (Barbet Schroeder, 2001)
Thomas Mann is alive and well, and chasing boys in Argentina.
1. Lantana (Ray Lawrence, 2001)
More appropriately, Invasion of the tele-tubbies.
2. Apocalypse Now Reflux (Francis Ford Coppola, 2001)
Coppola regurgitates his bombastic film for a new century.
Dmetri Kakmi is an essayist and a critic. He works for Penguin Books Australia as an editor.
© Dmetri Kakmi December 2001 back to list of contributors
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Best of 2001
by Tina Kaufman
I liked Lantana (Ray Lawrence), but for me Mullet (David Caesar) was the best Australian feature – a small film, but beautifully scripted and acted, understated, and with a lovely sense of place. However, with two such strong works as Dennis O’Rourke’s tough and uncompromising Cunnamulla and Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson’s beautifully observed portrait of the people and politics in Sydney University’s music department in Facing the Music, perhaps documentary is where the strength of Australian filmmaking lay in 2001.
In a year when I saw such strong, strangely hypnotic and metaphoric films as Béla Tarr’s fascinating, melancholy and powerful Werckmeister Harmonies (Hungary/Germany 2000), Roy Andersson’s bleakly ironic parable Songs from the Second Floor (Sweden 2000) and Francesco dal Bosco’s haunting and tragic The Travelling Salesman (Italy, 2001), it was in fact the range, diversity, and sheer unexpectedness of Asian films that excited me. I didn’t set out to, but I found that I was chasing Asian cinema, both new and old, throughout the year, starting and finishing with the sublime Mikio Naruse, whose Lightning (1952) I saw in the retrospective at the Japanese Cultural Centre in February, and whose Sound of the Mountain (1954) screened at the National Cinémathèque in December. And in Brisbane I caught up with Stanley Kwan’s luscious but restrained melodrama, Red Rose White Rose (Hong Kong, 1994). Unexpectedly successful on general release were the two beautifully atmospheric and genuinely, if gently, scary ghost stories from Japan, Ring and Ring 2.
About ten years ago it was Hong Kong cinema that amazed and excited with its range, its mix of genres, its life and vitality. HK cinema is in decline now, or living in the USA (although it’s still capable of delivering the occasional gem, like Johnny To’s The Mission , and Running Out of Time  or Tsui Hark’s Time and Tide ). During the year, at the Sydney Film Festival, the Brisbane International Film Festival, the Sydney Asia Pacific Festival, the Hong Kong Film Festival, and at the end of the year the mini Japanese and Korean film events, I saw some great, some good, and a lot of surprising films from all around Asia. From Thailand there was a fast-paced and in-your-face thriller Bangkok Dangerous (Oxide Pang, Danny Pang, 2000) and the amazing epic Bang Rajan (Thanit Jitnukul, 2000), with jungle battle after battle involving elephants and bows and arrows; from Korea the surprising black comedy Barking Dogs Never Bite (Bong Joon-ho, 2000), the tense and complex political thriller Joint Security Area (Chan-Wook Park, 2000), the delicate and low-key Ditto (Kim Jeong-gwon, 2000), which plays with time travel in an unexpected way, and the absorbing and cleverly structured Peppermint Candy (Lee Chang-dong, 1999). There was the cheap and cheerful but very engaging Chicken-Rice War (Cheah Chee Kong, 2000) from Singapore, and Mira Nair’s wonderfully joyful Monsoon Wedding (2000) from India.
But my best Asian films of 2001 are Yi Yi (A One and a Two) and What Time is It There? And others: Charisma, Devils on the Doorstep. The black and white Devils on the Doorstep (Jiang Wen, 2000), is a comedy of errors set during the end of the war with Japan, based on conflicting cultures and the misunderstandings of language; it’s moving, sharply political, and, when it veers suddenly into tragedy, haunting and shocking. Yi Yi is Edward Yang’s gentle examination of family, work, relationships, and parenting; juggling with a dozen characters and storylines, warm and at times very funny, it’s a really lovely film. In What Time is it There? (Taiwan/France 2001), Tsai Ming-liang adds a delicacy of touch, a poignancy (together with a mysterious and enchanting cameo from Jean-Pierre Léaud) to his filmmaking. The film alternates between two characters, who meet only once early in the film: a girl who’s leaving Taipei for Paris and the young street-seller she buys a watch from, who thenceforth becomes obsessed with changing the time on watches and clocks to Paris time. Charisma (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 1999) is about a killer tree (called Charisma), the centre of this totally weird and yet totally compulsive eco-thriller, in which a neurotic and disturbed ex-cop wanders around a forest, encountering and becoming involved with several equally odd characters who want to either kill, kidnap, or protect the tree. At the end of the film you’re still mystified, but it’s been a totally engrossing and original experience!
Tina Kaufman was editor of Filmnews for 17 years and now works as a freelance writer on film.
© Tina Kaufman December 2001 back to list of contributors
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TOPTEN – the year in movies
by Gabe Klinger
0. Grand Theft Auto III (aka: GTA3) Not that I’ve actually scrutinized all the details of this elaborate Playstation 2 game, but the concept – a 3D crime adventurer that finds a prison escapee leisurely exploiting every facet of a fictional US mega-city – reminds me of why Chris Marker has been fascinated by video games since the early ’80s. GTA3 finds a logical appeal to interactive entertainment: in a game with no timeline, no set path and a mind-boggling amount of naturalistic detail, we assume the role of a petty crook, which is more alluring than that of a wrongly accused Robin Hood-type. This character hasn’t much to live for ‘cept his girl and his gun, and in a timely gesture from the game’s creators, gets to blow up any building he chooses. My proposal for part IV: Osama Loose in New York.
1. I’m Going Home (Manoel de Oliveira) Phew! There were actual movies made in 2001, not the least from 93 year old de Oliveira, who managed to complete two separate features (the other is Oporto – City of My Childhood). As inoffensive as Grand Theft Auto is contentious, I’m Going Home features Michel Piccoli in a role that would have served Marcello Mastroianni just as well: both actors suggest a condensed history of cinema; when working with de Oliveira, their presence explodes with the gestures of silent film stars. An absolute pleasure to watch, nothing rang more true than Godard’s proclamation of the death of adulthood.
2. Moi, un noir (Jean Rouch, 1958) And so Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote not too long ago: “…the towering importance of the fascinating ethnographic filmmaker Jean Rouch is usually something U.S. viewers can only read about.” This rarely-shown film came up in the context of a series devoted to the 50th anniversary of Les Cahiers du Cinéma. Moi, un noir can be symbolic of all those post-’68 Cahiers texts we in the English-speaking world have gone to great lengths to read. It’s a wide, wide world of film, and the next century should make more accessible all the theory and all the evidence.
3. Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-hsien) Even more pitch-perfect than Flowers of Shanghai (1998), Hou strays clear of a conventional mode from which to explore Taiwanese youth. The results are not easily affecting, and the characters never reach a point of mutual comprehension; the whole story is a continuous cycle, ending just as it begins. But it’s an interesting slice-of-life, worthy of repeat viewings (I didn’t get much out of it the first time), and not the last in a series of upcoming films from Hou about the entering of 2001.
4. Keep Your Right Up (Jean-Luc Godard, 1987, re-released in the U.S.) Described by some as a series of outtakes, Godard creates an off-screen space that seems to take on a life of its own. Or something like that. All I know is that I was intrigued all the way through, and in what has to be described as Bressonian rock & roll, French pop band Les Rita Mitsouko puts in some playful touches – not to mention JLG himself in the hallmark of self-deprecating roles.
5. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch) I just feel lucky it exists.
6. Officers’ Ward (François Dupeyron) The most unfairly neglected festival film of 2001.
7. Shallow Hal (Peter and Bobby Farrelly) The most misunderstood Hollywood release of the year.
8. The Sopranos (Season 3, Episode 5) A standout episode in another great season. This one has the audience visit the world of Tony Sopranos’ strip-club, “Bada-bing”; hastily discards Meadow Soprano’s relationship with half-black, half-Jewish boy; and approaches Ralph Cifaretto’s psychosis (reminiscent – hell, modeled after Tommy DeVito from Goodfellas) with frightening ease and shocking resolution. The ugliest, most self-reflexive, most sincere chapter in this massive saga; kudos to its creators, who seem to have a larger-than-life notion of genre.
9. The Simpsons (current season) It’s getting weirder and weirder. Lately, there seems to be an underlying theme of incompletion, or anecdotal overkill. Echoing the sentiment of its creators, The Simpsons family seem like characters in crisis, loners in a media-saturated universe.
10. Time Out (Laurent Cantet) It’s not as ingenuous and heartfelt as Cantet makes us believe (and the style is sometimes too forceful), but I admired the performances and the writing more than any other film in 2001.
Honorable Mentions: What Time is it There? (Tsai Ming-liang) and The Son’s Room (Nanni Moretti): two films about loss told in completely opposite styles; Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff) and Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly): both stories of adolescence and high-school graduation with an exaggerated presence of Americana; Driven (Renny Harlin) and All About Lily Chou-chou (Shunji Iwai): films that are organic with their own style, each dealing with a recent popular phenomenon; The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson) and ‘R Xmas (Abel Ferrara): off-beat stories about American families living in a decidedly non-American New York City; O (Tim Blake Nelson) and Ichi the Killer (Takashi Miike): portraits of uncontrollable teenage violence, each told as candidly as possible; The Lady and the Duke (Eric Rohmer) and Éloge de l’amour (Jean-Luc Godard): two New Wavers still at the top of their game and, incidentally, leading the digital revolution.
Best criticism 2001: A belated homage to an underground group of movie-lovers otherwise known as the “Cinemasters,” who, although largely unheard-of, took the WWW by storm in March of 2000, and throughout this past year, carved-out a distinctive email dialect for its hundred or so members to communicate. As a veteran of this group, I learned the importance of a cinema community, whether virtual or physical – a place to make friends. The best criticism comes from dialogue.
Ten film critics for the future (in alphabetical order): Zach Campbell, Andrew Chan, Jaime N. Christley, Patrick Ciccone, Paul and Phil Fileri, Courtney Podraza, Max Scheinin, Philippe St-Germain (come back, man!), and the hundreds that are surely out there, waiting to be discovered.
Bottom ten (in no order): The Pianist (Haneke), Shrek (Adamson and Jenson), Sidewalks of New York (Burns), Moulin Rouge (Luhrmann), Evolution (Reitman), The Pornographer (Bonello), The Safety of Objects (Troche), Bandits (Levinson), CNN Talkback Live (CNN), and the criticism of Mr. Richard Roeper.
Gabe Klinger is a film writer living in Chicago.
© Gabe Klinger December 2001 back to list of contributors
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by Bill Krohn
A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg)
Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly)
Durian Durian (Fruit Chan)
Où gît votre sourire enfoui? (Pedro Costa)
Workers, Peasants (Jean-Marie Straub and Danielle Huillet)
Va Savoir (Jacques Rivette)
R-Xmas (Abel Ferrara)
Beau Travail (Claire Denis)
Five terrific films I saw while on the competition jury at the Torino International Film Festival: Giravolta (Italy), Mein Stern (Austria), Benzina (Italy), The Faith of the Volcano (Argentina), Mirror Image (Taiwan), all first timers, and one old-timer from Denmark, A Real Man. Strong competition!
Guilty pleasures: Moulin Rouge, Tribulation 99 (year unknown), the bin Laden tape (author unknown), The Royal Tenenbaums, The Occupant (a 30-minute TV episode by Joe Dante that he has disavowed because of producer rudeness. That’s the only reason I feel guilty about liking it), Ghosts of Mars.
Favourite Criticism: Tag Gallagher’s piece on Sam Fuller in Cahiers du Cinéma, October 2001.
Bill Krohn is the author of Hitchcock au travail (1999), available in English as Hitchcock at Work (Phaidon Press, 2000). He has also been the Hollywood correspondent for Cahiers du Cinéma since 1978.
© Bill Krohn December 2001 back to list of contributors
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2001 Top Ten
by Maximilian Le Cain
The new (and newish) releases that trickled down the chain of world movie distribution as far as a screen near me over the past twelve months and left a strong impression were (in order of preference):
Cinema just doesn’t get any better than this.
2. Vertical Ray Of The Sun
To make a movie at once life affirming and completely unsentimental is seldom attempted, never mind accomplished. Tran Anh Hung’s film is therefore as rare as it is beautiful.
A triumph of old-fashioned melodrama, with a genuinely frightening emotional edge.
4. Away With Words
Perhaps the most unfairly neglected movie of recent times.
5. Ghost World
The much needed antidote to the swarming hordes of American Pie rip-offs currently darkening our screens. An incisive, uncluttered, deeply sensitive teen movie that still manages to be extremely funny.
6. A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
Spielberg makes up for his twenty-five odd years of bad movies by giving us what is probably the finest science fiction film since Solaris.
7. Mulholland Drive
The only problem with most David Lynch movies is that they have to end.
8. Under The Sand
Ozon consolidates his position as one of the most exciting directors in Europe.
Like Faithless, a melodrama that spares us nothing.
10. The Mission
The gangster movie stripped down and gleaming as it hasn’t been since Melville. An exceptionally elegant object.
Other great movies: Little Otik, The Pledge, George Washington, the first half of Brother.
Worst film of the year: Moulin Rouge, Baz Luhrman’s pernicious cultural bulldozer.
Maximilian Le Cain is a filmmaker and cinephile living in Cork City, Ireland.
© Maximilian Le Cain December 2001 back to list of contributors
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Australian Films 2001
by Kathryn Millard
Australian films that I particularly enjoyed in 2001 were:
Lantana (writer Andrew Bovell; director Ray Lawrence; producer Jan Chapman), for its moving and intelligent exploration of connections and misconnections in the lives of a group of characters. Based on a rich and insightful script, Lantana is beautifully realised with a directorial approach that places the emphasis firmly on performances. But for all its concern with performance, Lantana contains many subtle and well-composed images that strongly contribute to the atmosphere and mood of the film; I particularly liked the way light fell on faces. Moments that have especially stayed in my mind include a pensive Jane (Rachel Blake) gazing out of the window as day turns to night, not so tough cop Leon (Anthony Lapaglia) sitting in his parked car sobbing, framed against a car window and Leon, still in his work clothes curled up on the bed and turning to Sonja (Kerry Armstrong).
I enjoyed Mullet (writer/director David Caesar; producer Vincent Sheehan) for its gentle depiction of the significance of place in its characters’ lives, for those moments when not especially articulate people borrow just a line or two from popular songs and don’t so much transcend their daily lives as briefly step out of them, and for original dialogue in which characters can speak of fish, thrush or love.
And In Search Of Mike (writer Brian Carbee; director Andrew Lancaster; producer Megan Harding), a bold, inventive and very funny short film in which the writer and performer Brian Carbee plays both himself and his mother.
Kathryn Millard is a writer and filmmaker. Her films include the short feature, Parklands (1996), and the documentary, Light Years (1992). She teaches screenwriting in the Department of Media and Communication at Macquarie University.
© Kathryn Millard December 2001 back to list of contributors
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2001 Best and Worst
by Bill Mousoulis
(in preferential order)
1. La Pianiste (Michael Haneke, 2001)
2. Code inconnu (Michael Haneke, 2000)
3. A Skin Too Few: The Days of Nick Drake (Jeroen Berkvens, 2000)
4. 2000 + 1 Shots (Dimitris Athanitis, 2000)
5. La Ville est tranquille (Robert Guédiguian, 2000)
6. The Circle (Jafar Panahi, 2000)
7. Platform (Jia Zhangke, 2000)
8. Peppermint Candy (Lee Chang-dong, 2000)
9. Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr, 2000)
10. Yi Yi (Edward Yang, 2000)
10 Worst Films of 2001
1. Fuckland (José Luis Marquès, 2000)
2. The Château (Jesse Peretz, 2001)
3. The Monkey’s Mask (Samantha Lang, 2000)
4. Series 7: The Contenders (Daniel Minahan, 2001)
5. Female Company (Nikos Perakis, 1999)
6. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Sharon Maguire, 2001)
7. À l’attaque! (Robert Guédiguian, 2000)
8. Meet the Parents (Jay Roach, 2000)
9. Lantana (Ray Lawrence, 2001)
10. Rosetta (Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, 1998)
10 (Re)Discoveries in 2001
1. Francesco, giullare di Dio (Roberto Rossellini, 1950)
2. India, matre bhumi (Roberto Rossellini, 1959)
3. Boudu sauvé des eaux (Jean Renoir, 1932)
4. The River (Frank Borzage, 1929)
5. Gasherbrum: The Dark Glow of the Mountains (Werner Herzog, 1984)
6. Breaking the Waves (Lars Von Trier, 1996)
7. Braindead (Peter Jackson, 1992)
8. Fear Eats the Soul (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1973)
9. The Mortal Storm (Frank Borzage, 1940)
10. A Brighter Summer Day (Edward Yang, 1991)
Australian cinema 2001
I saw a dozen Australian films this year, one of them (Mallboy) a release from 2000. This is how I would categorise the films:
The Goddess of 1967 (Clara Law, 2001)
Mallboy (Vincent Giarusso, 2000)
Mullet (David Caesar, 2001)
Silent Partner (Alkinos Tsilimidos, 2001)
Walk the Talk (Shirley Barrett, 2000)
Lust in Me (Shane Lyons, 2001)
The Bank (Robert Connolly, 2001)
Envy (Julie Money, 1999)
He Died With a Felafel in His Hand (Richard Lowenstein, 2001)
Russian Doll (Stavros Kazantzidis, 2000)
Overblown and Cliché-ridden:
Lantana (Ray Lawrence, 2001)
The Monkey’s Mask (Samantha Lang, 2001)
Bill Mousoulis is an independent filmmaker and founding editor of Senses of Cinema.
© Bill Mousoulis December 2001 back to list of contributors
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World Cinema In 2001
by Alan Pavelin
It is common for critics and reviewers to list their “top ten” films at the end of each year (usually several weeks before the year-end, so that the list actually relates to the period December to November). I don’t believe that any year, at least not since the 1950s, has produced as many as 10 masterpieces, so for me a “top 5” list is more appropriate. Another consideration is that the year of release can differ by country; my list relates to releases (or festival screenings) in the UK during 2001.
1. A One and a Two (Yi Yi) A second viewing of Edward Yang’s epic confirmed this, for me, as the finest new film I have seen in years, bearing comparison with Ozu’s Tokyo Story (with which it shares a location), and encapsulating professional and family life at the turn of the century for the middle classes everywhere. Taiwan, along with Iran, is producing the finest cinema anywhere at present.
2. Il mio Viaggio in Italia This terrific documentary by Martin Scorsese about how Italian films have influenced him is even more absorbing than his previous personal history of American cinema. Covering the wonderful period 1946 to 1963, it includes lengthy clips from most of the great movies of that time, with Scorsese’s fascinating commentary as a voiceover. In my view he is an even better film teacher than filmmaker.
3. The Lady and the Duke Rohmer’s venture into “costume-drama”, his first since Perceval le Gallois, is totally successful, provided you can accept the notion that the French Revolution may not have been unqualified sweetness and light. The painted sets are worthy of those of Alexander Trauner in Les Enfants du Paradis.
4. Damnation I don’t share Béla Tarr’s excruciatingly bleak East European pessimism, but I love his long, slow pans across slag-heaps and muddy fields. Not to everybody’s taste, which probably explains why it waited about 13 years for a release.
5. Blackboards Shot in what is rapidly becoming the world’s most popular location for filmmaking, the remote Kurdish area of Iran. The talent of young Makhmalbaf fille is awe-inspiring.
Alan Pavelin is the author of the book Fifty Religious Films (1990), and has written for several U.K. magazines on this topic, including The Month and Media Development.
© Alan Pavelin December 2001 back to list of contributors
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Thoughts on the Year in Film
by Mark Peranson
2001 was a year of befores and afters, fractured ego trips and pulsating id riffs. Identity confusion in the form of journeys into divided minds is the latest stage in the American cinema’s psychic development; to highlight one of many trends, 2001 is the year that the Dream Factory went off The Deep End. (Or the one where, apropos of the year, hallucinogenic drugs made a really big comeback.) Leave your Leonard Maltins on the shelf, critics, and yank out the DSM! Morphing psychological realism into psychological surrealism may be the last stage in succumbing to a virtual reality-hyperindustrialized “first-world” culture, and this trend towards solipsism threatens to annex the cinematic landscape. Mulholland Drive (two films, one mind … and it’s even got drive in the title, for god’s sake) and A.I. Artificial Intelligence (one film, two minds) would be the familiar twin peaks of internal divisions, one bearing the psychic scars of Hollywood rejection, the other the psychosis of the formative years.
One was not enough. Filmmakers all of a sudden became prodigious, as if trying to replicate the twin “successes” of Steven Soderbergh who followed it up with the worst film of his career, hopefully the last heist film for a while – and I’m even counting the concert film, Yes 9012 Live. Some, like Catherine Breillat, Manoel de Oliveira – not that either probably could pick Soderbergh out of a Vegas blackjack table – were as successful as anyone could imagine, while Richard Linklater and the Farrellys were as successful as they could hope to be. The oddest surprise for me this year has to be that Gwyneth Paltrow’s agent not only gave her two pieces of good advice, but that she delivered memorable performances – including a lead in one of the year’s most underrated and misunderstood films, Shallow Hal – and I will go on record as having disliked every one of her previous twenty. And she even found time to sneak her way into Pootie Tang. Good job, Gwyneth! I should also note, for the record, that Naomi Watts gets two mentions in the Mulholland Drive credits: does this mean she ties herself for best actress? (As long as I’m talking twos, I’ll put in a nod to the Tindersticks: coming on the heels of their Can Our Love… album, the Trouble Every Day soundtrack is the “In A Gadda Da Vida” of glumrock.)
2001 started out simple and easy enough, with a common villain: Blame Canada. Tom Green was anointed the Other, the figure around whom all of the critical industry – save the year’s lone wolf, A.O. Scott – could attempt to paddy spank into conformist submission. Even if the blatantly Freudian Monkeybone fell prey to the same kind of circle-jerk criticism as the performance piece Freddy Got Fingered, anxiety still is much more secure when expressed in terms that are easy to understand, if not diagnosable: paranoid schizophrenia (Donnie Darko, A Beautiful Mind), repetition compulsion and depression (The Royal Tenenbaums), post-traumatic hallucinations (Waking Life), all of the above (Mulholland Drive, last year’s Memento). As rationality went out the window, replaced by impulses, maybe the year’s greatest film heroes were Freud and Lacan. According to these films, a mind is a dangerous thing to taste.
Maybe such films represent a new developmental phase: they don’t trick the audience into living an illusion (like the “All is Dream” films, like this year’s champs, The Others and Vanilla Sky), but invite the viewer to participate, placing them in the position (or is it the Gaze?) of the obsessed, the paranoid, the sick. (The Mulholland Drive symposium on Salon.com takes this participation to new, kind of obsessive heights.) The fear of the possibility of a virtual ghost world has dissipated, and has been replaced by a playful anxiety as reality relates to illusion. This “escapism and its discontents” filmmaking – add Fat Girl and its companion piece, Brève traversée, to the brain salad – has much in its favour, but is also characterized by a deep avoidance of dealing with anything other than the psychological (whether it be historical, political, or just plain “objective.”) Perhaps this kind of filmmaking can be seen as a coping mechanism of societies afraid of a virtual reality where the dangers and anxieties of the real world are obfuscated by wall-to-wall advertising. To paraphrase the lifeless Josie and the Pussycats, Osama bin Laden is the new Saddam Hussein – and that’s far from subliminal.
But even if most people are dreaming through their lives, a movie’s not going to jar them to their senses. September 12 began, for many at the film festival in Toronto, with a screening of Godard’s Éloge de l’amour, and a film with a couple of jokes against Americans all of a sudden became an anti-American tract in deep need of a collective spanking. (Whoever thought film criticism had the potential to be objective should have been in that room.) In part two of 2001, grief became the uniting factor. Many North American critics have turned to In the Bedroom to help get through the last few months, but a better model for me is Manoel de Oliveira’s I’m Going Home, one which leaves the suffering off screen – in the mind – while its lead goes about pursuing the pleasures and anxieties of daily life in an unromanticized Paris. Wes Anderson’s monument-free, artificial rendering of a fictional New York is animated by loss: this is a vision of the city more real to me than any I can remember recently. Forget Sturges, Salinger, Welles et al, for a second. Why has nobody pointed out that Anderson makes male weepies? Each character has his or her own little box, from each child’s precious room all the way up and down to Royal’s elevator. If Douglas Sirk had a better sense of humour, he might have made this movie. Though, truthfully, I look at the film and see no references at all.
On the other hand, we were given films where the strong illusion was that of a precisely depicted reality. I’ll point to Lisandro Alonso’s often misunderstood La libertad, which is not a documentary about a woodcutter. Or Jonas Mekas’s As I Was Moving Ahead, Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses Of Beauty, a highly structured recounting of a specific period of his life, viewed through the rose-coloured lenses of history … not just a home movie. The film that might connect these two approaches to reality may be Laurent Cantet’s L’Emploi du temps, where the whacked-out protagonist’s job exists solely in his own mind, which is good enough for him. That these visions of reality films bring to mind Roberto Rossellini more than, say, The Matrix, is an hypothesis worth exploring in detail elsewhere – and appropriate for a year where the most watched TV movie was New York, Year Zero.
The confusing line spoken by the director in the memorable audition scene of Mulholland Drive, the most incisive and critical view of Hollywood to appear this year, suddenly makes sense: “Don’t play for real…until it gets real.” Something had to come along to jolt (mostly) American filmmakers out of their own, self-constructed, solipsistic worlds. There comes a point where “good enough” is simply not good enough, and most of these films are in the “not good enough” space. If 2002 isn’t a better year, at least it won’t be predictable, especially with regards to American films. Unlike many critics, I don’t feel a real need to comment on recent history, but as the U.S. tries to piece itself back together after its own jolt, who can tell what take on identity will emerge from the psychic ashes? And will it remain as unified as it has been in the last four months? Like it or not, incredibly popular war or not, to cite a recent poll, residents perceive that things in the U.S. are running as they were before September 11. Now may be the time for cinema to return to normal.
Films to Remember from 2001:
As I Was Moving Ahead, Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty – Jonas Mekas (2000)
Ce vieux rêve qui bouge – Alain Guiraudie (2001)
Dog Days – Ulrich Seidl (2001)
L’Emploi du temps – Laurent Cantet (2001)
Fat Girl / Brève traversée – Catherine Breillat (2000 and 2001 respectively)
Ghost World – Terry Zwigoff (2001)
I’m Going Home / Oporto of My Childhood – Manoel de Oliveira (both 2001)
La libertad – Lisandro Alonso (2001)
Mulholland Drive – David Lynch (2001)
The Royal Tenenbaums – Wes Anderson (2001)
Mark Peranson is the editor and publisher of Cinéma Scope.
© Mark Peranson 2001 back to list of contributors
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Best Movies 2001
by Alberto Pezzotta
Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
Yi Yi (Edward Yang, 2000)
Sauvage Innocence (Philippe Garrel, 2001)
Pistol Opera (Suzuki Seijun, 2001)
Trouble Every Day (Claire Denis, 2001)
A.I. (Steven Spielberg, 2001)
Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2001)
Barking Dogs Never Bite (Bong Joon-ho, 2000)
Gostanza da Libbiano (Paolo Benvenuti, 2001)
Je rentre à la maison/Porto da minha infância (Manoel de Oliveira, 2001)
It seems inadequate to speak about movies, in these times… Anyway….
You’ll easily guess that very few of the above titles have been theatrically released in Italy. New movies only on this list (although Yi Yi is from 2000, it has been distributed worldwide only in 2001). I didn’t see: Apocalyse Now Redux (theatres in Milano suck), The Man Who Wasn’t There (Italian dubbing sucks).
The Italian cinema mafia sends abroad, in the so-called “Italian cinema festivals”, many appalling and shameful movies which, at least, nobody goes to see in Italy. Of course the wonderful Gostanza da Libbiano has only been seen at the Locarno International Film Festival, last year, and received very little distribution, in a few Italian cities, only this spring.
Anybody know who Paolo Benvenuti (or Giuseppe Maria Gaudino, or Sergio Citti) is? Sadly, I’m not surprised. But should we talk of directors of the past, like Alberto Lattuada, Antonio Pietrangeli, Luciano Salce?
Alberto Pezzotta writes for Corriere della sera and (too) many Italian film magazines. He has written books on Hong Kong Cinema, Mario Bava, Taxi Driver, and Abel Ferrara. He is based in Milan, Italy.
© Alberto Pezzotta December 2001 back to list of contributors
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Favourite Films 2001
by Jit Phokaew
Unless otherwise stated, films in these lists are films I saw at a cinema for the first time in Bangkok in 2001. The list is divided into two main categories: films made pre 1990 and films made post 1990. All films are listed in preferential order.
Favourite films 2001:
1. Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999)
A film that makes time fly so quickly. According to my feelings, the film seems to last only 5 minutes in viewing, but lingers forever in my memory. Beau Travail touches me as deeply as Marguerite Duras’ films. Superb cinematography, editing, music, performance, and ending. Poetic, enchanting, exquisite, and delicious. I saw it on big screen 5 times, but still can’t get enough of it. Coincidentally, Le Petit Soldat (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960) was also screened in Bangkok this year.
2. Gloria (Manuela Viegas, 1999)
While Beau Travail had been gloriously praised before I saw it, I had never heard of Gloria when I went to see it. A surprisingly overlooked film with an ending that generates multiple interpretations among viewers. I still wonder what really happens in this Portuguese film. Elliptical, bewildering, bewitching, and stunning. Gloria can make you feel lost and dumbfounded, but you may never want to leave its wilderness. Since I can’t understand why Gloria has such a profound effect on my feelings, I guess it speaks directly to my subconscious.
3. Jeepers Creepers (Victor Salva, 2001)
I had never cried out of fear until I saw this film. The story belongs to that universe where anything is possible. A modern fairy tale without fairies. It has a monster which might have sprung out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or a non-existing adult version of Sailor Moon, but there is no Buffy or any of the nine Sailors to help these unfortunate characters. It also arouses my curiosity with the number “23”, particularly after I saw 23 (Hans-Christian Schmid, 1998). Relentlessly frightening with a satisfying ending. I’m eagerly awaiting its sequels. Jeepers Creepers make me want to see Powder (Victor Salva, 1995) again. Maybe I overlooked something when I first saw it a few years ago.
4. Fotograf (Kazim Oz, 2001)
If the poem “The Man He Killed” by Thomas Hardy can make you cry, this film is a must-see. Astonishingly shot from the beginning to the end. Though some parts of the story are predictable and its message is simple, that cannot diminish the power of this movie. Hypnotic, poignant, and unforgettable.
5. Jacky (Brat Ljatifi, Fow Pyng Hu, 2000)
Jacky is full of familiar moments: watching sunset alone on a train, lying alone on the floor, eating alone in your room; enjoying the beach; singing a song; starting the vacuum cleaner; returning from shopping and then opening every package of food to taste what’s inside. These moments happen nearly every day in some people’s lives, but it seems very few filmmakers are interested in these people. Many films tend to emphasize the loneliness, the unhappiness, the misery, and the weirdness of some people who spend their time alone, and that only makes me feel very grateful for Jacky for not showing the misery of their characters too obviously. They may be unsatisfied with their imperfect lives, but they don’t need to resort to outlandish behaviour. My favourite scenes are when the characters try to move one hand fast and the other hand slowly, when Jacky and his wife eat their food with different speed, and when one guest comments on eating too much food. I still hope that one day I will have a chance to see a movie which portrays the kind of people I know very well—those who spend their time alone, and are very happy.
6. The Day I Became a Woman (Marziyeh Meshkini, 2000)
Though there are some funny moments in this film, they only emphasize the sadness. One of the saddest films of all time. The second part is my most favourite.
7. La Classe de neige (Claude Miller, 1998)
Marvellously shot by Guillaume Schiffman, this film really deserves to be seen on a big screen. Haunting, intense, disturbing, and beautiful.
8. Voyages (Emmanuel Finkiel, 1999)
This film can show the horrible consequences of the Holocaust as effectively as Sophie’s Choice (Alan J Pakula, 1982), but instead of using flashback scenes, it uses only small gestures made by characters. The acting is first-rate, especially Shulamit Adar. When the movie ends, I don’t know whether to cry out in joy or sorrow.
9. Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier, 2000)
Though I’m not too impressed with the story or the leading character, I can’t deny that I love the acting of Bjork and the use of musical scenes in this film.
10. Cold Homeland (Kalte Heimat, Volke Koepp, 1995)
My most favourite documentary of the year. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t like the other wonderful documentaries I saw – Daguerreotypes (Agnès Varda, 1974), Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse (Agnès Varda, 2000), The Land of the Wandering Souls (Rithy Pahn, 2000), and Friendly Persuasion (Jamsheed Akrami, 2000). They are all excellent, but Koepp’s films, including Wittstock, Wittstock (1997), are the ones I really feel emotionally about.
11. Moving (Ohikkoshi, Shinji Soomai, 1993)
If La Classe de neige makes you feel too cold, let yourself get burnt by this fiery film which is also about a troubled child.
12. The Circle (Jafar Panahi, 2000)
Like The Day I Became a Woman, this carefully-constructed film is one of the saddest films I saw this year.
13. Elvjs e Merilijn (Armando Manni, 1998)
Things which are too beautiful, delicate, or fragile cannot survive in this harsh, cruel world.
14. Onegin (Martha Fiennes, 1999)
The cinematography by Remi Adefarasin lends an enormous power to this movie.
15. Au Coeur du mensonge (Claude Chabrol, 1998)
One of the most intense films I have ever seen. Chabrol creates many interesting characters in this movie, especially the strangely charming cop (Valerie Bruni-Tedeschi) who has a unique voice and manners. Chabrol doesn’t scare me with the murders in this movie. He scares me just by creating many characters with potential and reasons to kill one another. That’s why I held my breath and grasped my seat firmly when the cop came to interrogate Vivianne (Sandrine Bonnaire) when she was ironing. This film is full of many interesting details, and it may take a lot of pages to discuss all of them. Who can forget the scene when the camera goes down to the coffin and then we see the couple lying together in bed? It was a dream come true when 5 films of Chabrol were screened in Bangkok this year.
16. Clouds of May (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2000)
The landscape and the characters seem to be given equal importance in each scene of this movie, a quality rarely found in other films.
17. Under the Sand (François Ozon, 2000)
Exquisitely crafted. My favourite scenes are when Marie (Charlotte Rampling) says to her new guy that he is so light, when she confronts her mother-in-law, and when she finally is able to cry. Rampling’s performance can’t be excelled. Each friend of mine has different interpretations about the ending of this film.
18. The State I Am In (Christian Petzold, 2000)
19. This Window Is Yours (Tomoyuki Furumaya, 1994)
20. Under the Moonlight (Reza Mir Karimi, 2001)
Honourable mentions: Tired Companions (Zoran Solomun, 1996) Storytelling (Todd Solondz, 2001) Unfinished Song (Maziar Miri, 2001) Smell of Camphor, Fragrance of Jasmine (Bahman Farmanara, 2000) A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg, 2001)
Favourite Classic Films seen in 2001: The Death of Maria Malibran (Werner Schroeter, 1972), Ticket of No Return (Bildnis einer Trinkerin, Ulrike Ottinger, 1979), The Last Hole (Das letzte Loch, Herbert Achternbusch, 1981), Pierrot le Fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965), Ludwig’s Cook (Theodor Hirneis oder wie man ein ehemaliger Hofkock wird, Hans Jurgen Syberberg, 1973), The Power of Emotion (Alexander Kluge, 1983)
Favourite film criticism: Michael Atkinson, Mark Holcomb, Dennis Lim, and Jessica Winter, “A.I.: Alternative Interpretations”, Village Voice, uploaded 24 July 2001
Jit Phokaew is a 27-year-old cinephile living in Bangkok.
© Jit Phokaew December 2001 back to list of contributors
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Favourite films 2001
by Ray Privett
Some films I liked:
A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (Janusz Kaminski, director of photography)
Angelus (Adam Sikora, director of photography)
Flipping The Whale (Sean Guinan, director of photography (I think))
Love And Terror (Carlos Torlaschi, director of photography)
Mulholland Drive (Peter Deming, director of photography)
My Childhood: The Never-Setting Sun On The Plain
My Childhood: Passage Of Time
The Orphan Of Anyang (Zhang Xi, director of photography)
The Score (Rob Hahn, director of photography)
Terrorists In Retirement (Jean Orjollet, Phillippe Rousselot, directors of photography)
Touched By An Angel (Robert Nordström, director of photography)
Ray Privett works with Facets Multimedia in Chicago.
© Ray Privett December 2001 back to list of contributors
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