Sunday, November 18, 2007

Lists Are Hard To Do

I was adding titles to my list of favourite films in the Flixster application on Facebook, and it reminded me again why I dislike lists, especially favourites and best-of's. But then there's also an undeniable fun factor involved, and for me, the fun is derived from being reminded, as I list them out, why I love these movies that I do, and what it is about them that's so memorable.

The first 10 films currently in my list of favourites:

La Jetee - Probably the best science fiction film ever made, and it consists of a series of still photographs and a single two-second moving image that's utterly surprising. I absolutely love it for its mix of sci-fi and romance, every bit as haunting as Chris Marker's obvious Vertigo influence. The remake, Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys, is almost as excellent. But this remains, for me, the greatest film ever made.

Au Hasard Balthazar - I love Bresson's films for their inward spirituality, almost a contrast to Kieslowski's outward explorations of the soul. Every frame is of a gossamer beauty, especially so with Diary Of A Country Priest. Godard famously and quite accurately proclaimed that Au Hasard Balthazar is "the world in an hour and a half."

Ju-Dou - Zhang Yimou's early films, especially the Red series, were like horror films. Certainly Ju-Dou ends on a very horrific note. And it has the most erotic non-nudity, non-explicit love scene ever filmed!

My Neighbour Totoro - This is, to me, Miyazaki's greatest work. Like Balthazar, this is my personal "world in an hour and a half" film. It's probably the greatest film about childhood ever made. Other than La Jetee, no other film has had such an impact on me when I first saw it.

Ringu - Contemporary times' most influential horror film, hands down. Sadako is the original bad-hair-day ghost, and coincidentally (or not) came on the heels of the straight-hair trend in fashion. I first saw this on a no-subtitle copy, yet that infamous final scene still got to me ... for weeks.

Persona - In a way I love The Virgin Spring even more than this, but Persona's here for sentimental reasons. It introduced me to Bergman. Plus, in contrast to Ju-Dou, it has the greatest sex scene never filmed. Yep, it's not there, but people will tell you it's like they saw it on screen. What I love and admire most about Bergman is the extraordinary way he has with actors.

Taste Of Cherry - Despite it being a movie that consists largely of a guy driving around aimlessly, this is a very profound, very life-affirming film. Even when the camera sits in the car next to the driver, it is endlessly fascinating due to the off-screen elements that Kiarostami employs.

Days Of Heaven - My most favourite Malick film. Apart from being a complete visual feast, it has a verite quality about it, and the most believable, ultra-realistic voice-over ever. I used to have this on laserdisc and watched it at least twice a year.

Kikujiro - This just recently replaced my other Kitano favourite, Hana-Bi, as my most favourite Kitano film. It's a love-it-or-hate-it kind of film, but I love the wide-open potential of such a road comedy and how Kitano milks every possibility out of it, and still manages to make a fun, hilarious and poignant film.

Comrades, Almost A Love Story - Definitely one of the best films to come out of Hong Kong. A moving portrait of two lives that unwittingly weave in and out of each other, Peter Chan's masterpiece has a quality far removed from the usual HK tear-jerker, and one of the most jaw-dropping final frame in cinema.

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