Archive for April, 2010

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The 100 Best Films I’ve Not Seen Update #1

April 11, 2010

Well, ten films down in just eleven days (not including other films not on the list). My favourite so far is definitely The Little Theatre of Jean Renoir, a supremely delightful Ophüls-like presentation of vignettes both satirical and humanist. The Asthenic Syndrome was an excellent surprise; an irrational, almost free-association narrative in which altruism (largely lack thereof) seems to be the prevalent theme. Damnation is the first Tarr I’ve actually appreciated strongly and has me wanting to revisit Werckmeister Harmonies in particular. Some of the most stunning black and white photography I’ve ever seen. Tabu is simply beautiful. What a love story! The Gang of Four is pure Rivette, though it lacks the spirited adventurousness of his masterwork Celine and Julie Go Boating and signals the more sombre tone of his nineties work. A very subtle film, its feminism and use of the theatre to highlight the facades upheld in real life are very present but only there if you want to read into them. Two John Fords down already, Fort Apache and They Were Expendable -equally strong. Both involve men sacrificing themselves for oftentimes ludicrous orders during war. As usual, Ford balances the heavy with scenes of delicate humanism and joy. Both films also handsomely shot. Stromboli was passionately told but not melodramatic. I read a review from the time of its release which said Bergman was miscast. Apart from the real-life controversy strangely placing Bergman in a public “shame” not unlike that of the character she plays, this role has Bergman all over it: haughty and seething with occasional lapses into utter helplessness. It was in movies like Casablanca which she was miscast, considering her unused talent. Her performance in the other Bergman’s Autumn Sonata remains her finest, however. Hou’s Dust in the Wind was very good in the same way all of his films are, but I liked A Summer at Grandpa’s (which I also saw this week along with Daughter of the Nile) more. Finally, Pakeezah. My first Bollywood film. One can tell the film’s production was heaped with troubles all too clearly. The result is a very inconsistent, even confusing, romantic tragedy. The sets are undoubtedly impressive and pretty, however.