Tuesday, September 24, 2013

besties ('88-'12)

         This is a series of best lists, from 1988 (the year of my birth) to 2012. There would be a tentative 2013 list as well, had I not chosen to group the movies by their year of completion rather than their US release date. The main effect compiling these lists has had on me is to make me newly aware of how many supposedly good movies of the '90s I haven't seen, and what a weird and motley bunch of those I have seen I've found room in my heart for. With the exception of years that are especially replete, my lists' last couple slots often contain movies I have either substantial problems with but can't shake for whatever reason, or a potent but nonspecific memory of, like the way the movie uses light, or its tone. I make no distinction between shorts and features (the movies vary between 2 minutes and 7 hours), and tried to include some TV episodes as well, ones that put the lie to the notion still holding strong in highbrow circles that TV by some handicap intrinsic to the medium cannot function as cinema. I will update these lists sporadically. Follow-ups covering earlier periods are likely. 
         Susan Sontag declared cinephilia dead in the '90s, but I see most of the decade as a long string of firecracker epiphanies. Even if every person who saw and loved Goodfellas or Rushmore or Tarantino's early movies when they came out didn't immediately become feverish, socially defective movie obsessives, the transaction that takes place between receptive audiences and those movies is nothing if not cinephilic. They make cinephiles out of you, even if it's only for their duration. As for the aughts, to me it felt like a richer time for movies than it did for many other people, likely because it was when I became a cinephile. In retrospect, I do see now that what we're basically looking at is several extremely good years ('07 being the pinnacle) with some valleys between them. Where the '90's saw an influx of exciting new independent and studio filmmakers, the aughts mainly featured those same filmmakers doing their thing, often at a high level of achievement, with few new voices joining their ranks. Independent cinema became increasingly bifurcated. Mainstream perception of independent film  was largely defined by medium-to-relatively-high budget comedies of quirk and atmospheric actor-driven dramas (often Sundance-approved and corporately subsidized), while spartan low budget productions, where most of the originality in American film was (and is) to be found, received a great deal of critical discussion but weren't given much of a chance, commercially. And for the most part their originality was of a tentative and self-effacing kind. Grand gestures were rare, and no headline-grabbing firebrands like Spike Lee or Tarantino emerged. One great filmmaker (Andrew Bujalski) and several good ones came out of this cycle, but otherwise alleged examinations of generational inarticulacy were oftentimes hard to distinguish from symptoms of same. International cinema was quite a treasure trove, though only a handful of new capital-G Great filmmakers emerged, foremost among them Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

1. Dead Ringers (David Cronenberg)
2. Talking to Strangers (Rob Tregenza)
3. Grave of the Fireflies (Isao Takahata)
4. Damnation (Bela Tarr)
5. The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese)
6. They Live (John Carpenter)
7. Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo)
8. Bird (Clint Eastwood)
9. Die Hard (John McTiernan)
10. Chocolat (Claire Denis)

1. Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee)
2. The Killer (John Woo)
3. The Gang of Four (Jacques Rivette)
4. Life Lessons (Martin Scorsese)
5. Black Rain (Shohei Imamura)
6. Tetsuo: The Iron Man (Shinya Tsukamoto)
7. Mystery Train (Jim Jarmusch)
8. The Unbelievable Truth (Hal Hartley)
9. Santa Sangre (Alejandro Jodorowsky)
10. Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? (Yong-Kyun Bae)

1. Close-Up (Abbas Kiarostami)
2. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese)
3. Days of Being Wild (Wong Kar-Wai)
4. Metropolitan (Whit Stillman)
5. Twin Peaks: "Pilot" (David Lynch)
6. Trust (Hal Hartley)
7. No Fear, No Die (Claire Denis)
8. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (John McNaughton)
9. Jacques Rivette: The Night Watchman (Claire Denis)
10. Jacob’s Ladder (Adrian Lyne)
11. Wild at Heart (David Lynch)

1. La Belle Noiseuse (Jacques Rivette)
2. Naked Lunch (David Cronenberg)
3. The Lovers on the Bridge (Leos Carax)
4. Surviving Desire (Hal Hartley)
5. The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
6. Barton Fink (Joel Coen)
7. My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant)
8. Twin Peaks: "Episode 29 (Beyond Life and Death)" (David Lynch)
9. The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme)
10. Theory of Achievement (Hal Hartley)

1. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (David Lynch)
2. Bad Lieutenant (Abel Ferrara)
3. Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood)
4. Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino)
5. Hard Boiled (John Woo)
6. The Player (Robert Altman
7. Orlando (Sally Potter)
8. Simple Men (Hal Hartley)
9. Rebels of the Neon God (Tsai Ming-liang)
10. Glengarry Glen Ross (James Foley)

1. Je Vous Salue, Sarajevo (Jean-Luc Godard)
2. Naked (Mike Leigh)
3. The Puppetmaster (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
4. Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater)
5. Carlito’s Way (Brian De Palma)
6. Helas Pour Moi (Jean-Luc Godard)
7. Three Colors: Blue (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
8. Sonatine (Takeshi Kitano)
9. Dead Alive (Peter Jackson)
10. Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg)

1. Satantango (Bela Tarr)
2. Crumb (Terry Zwigoff)
3. U.S. Go Home (Claire Denis)
4. Chungking Express (Wong Kar-Wai)
6. Cold Water (Olivier Assayas)
7. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino)
8. Vive L’Amour (Tsai Ming-liang)
9. Three Colors: Red (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
10. I Can’t Sleep (Claire Denis)

1. Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch)
2. Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii)
3. Heat (Michael Mann)
4. Fallen Angels (Wong Kar-Wai)
5. Se7en (David Fincher)
6. The Addiction (Abel Ferrara)
7. Casino (Martin Scorsese)
8. Twelve Monkeys (Terry Gilliam)
9. Showgirls (Paul Verhoeven)
10. Maborosi (Hirokazu Koreeda)

1. Irma Vep (Olivier Assayas)
2. Breaking the Waves (Lars Von Trier)
3. My Sex Life (How I Got Into an Argument) (Arnaud Desplechin)
4. Nenette et Boni (Claire Denis)
5. The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well (Hong Sang-soo)
6. Trainspotting (Danny Boyle)
7. Crash (David Cronenberg)
8. Fargo (Joel Coen)
9. Bottle Rocket (Wes Anderson)
10. Szamanka (Andrzej Zulawski)

1. Henry Fool (Hal Hartley)
2. Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami)
3. Jackie Brown (Quentin Tarantino)
4. End of Evangelion (Hideaki Anno)
5. Gummo (Harmony Korine)
6. Starship Troopers (Paul Verhoeven)
7. Cure (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
8. The River (Tsai Ming-liang)
9. Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson)
10. Fireworks (Takeshi Kitano)
11. Lost Highway (David Lynch)
12. Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki)
13. Happy Together (Wong Kar-Wai)

1. Rushmore (Wes Anderson)
2. Histoire(S) Du Cinema (Jean-Luc Godard)
3. The Big Lebowski (Joel Coen)
4. The Hole (Tsai Ming-liang)
5. Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train (Patrice Chereau)
6. Buffalo ’66 (Vincent Gallo)
7. The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick)
8. The Last Days of Disco (Whit Stillman)
9. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Terry Gilliam)
10. Sombre (Philippe Grandrieux)
11. There’s Something About Mary (Bobby and Peter Farrelly)
12. The Celebration (Thomas Vinterberg)
13. Honeymoon (Dan Sallitt)

1. Beau Travail (Claire Denis)
2. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick)
3. Audition (Takashi Miike)
4. Time Regained (Raul Ruiz)
5. Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson)
6. Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze)
7. The Sixth Sense (M. Night Shyamalan)
8. The Straight Story (David Lynch)
9. Fight Club (David Fincher)
10. Dead or Alive (Takashi Miike)

1. Yi Yi: A One and a Two (Edward Yang)
2. Werckmeister Harmonies (Bela Tarr)
3. Esther Kahn (Arnaud Desplechin)
4. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-Wai)
5. The House of Mirth (Terence Davies)
6. Platform (Jia Zhang-ke)
7. Code Unknown (Michael Haneke)
8. You Can Count on Me (Kenneth Lonergan)
9. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “Restless” (Joss Whedon)
10. Dead or Alive 2: Birds (Takashi Miike)
11. Mysterious Object at Noon (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
12. Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky)

1. Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch)
2. What Time Is It There? (Tsai Ming-liang)
3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “The Body” (Joss Whedon)
4. Pulse (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
5. In Praise of Love (Jean-Luc Godard)
6. Millennium Actress (Satoshi Kon)
7. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson)
8. Fat Girl (Catherine Breillat)
9. Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly)
10. The Sopranos: "Pine Barrens" (Steve Buscemi)
11. Trouble Every Day (Claire Denis)
12. Waking Life (Richard Linklater)
13. Pistol Opera (Seijun Suzuki)
14. A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg)
15. Ichi the Killer (Takashi Miike)

1. Punch-drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson)
2. 25th Hour (Spike Lee)
3. The Son (Jean and Luc Dardenne)
4. Friday Night (Claire Denis)
5. Gerry (Gus Van Sant)
6. The Skywalk is Gone (Tsai Ming-liang)
7. Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov)
8. Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes)
9. Femme Fatale (Brian De Palma)
10. Irreversible (Gaspar Noe)
11. Demonlover (Olivier Assayas)

1. Gozu (Takashi Miike)
2. Los Angeles Plays Itself (Thom Andersen)
3. Memories of Murder (Bong Joon-ho)
4. Dogville (Lars von Trier)
5. Kill Bill Vol.1 (Quentin Tarantino)
6. Last Life in the Universe (Pen-ek Ratanaruang)
7. The Brown Bunny (Vincent Gallo)
8. Elephant (Gus Van Sant)
9. Goodbye Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-liang)
10. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)
11. The Triplets of Belleville (Sylvain Chomet)

1. Kings and Queen (Arnaud Desplechin)
2. Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright)
3. Tropical Malady (Apitchatpong Weerasethakul)
4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry)
5. 2046 (Wong Kar-Wai)
6. Notre Musique (Jean-Luc Godard)
7. L’Intrus (Claire Denis)
8. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson)
9. Birth (Jonathan Glazer)
10. Kill Bill Vol. 2 (Quentin Tarantino)

1. The New World (Terrence Malick)
2. Regular Lovers (Philippe Garrel)
3. Three Times (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
4. A Tale of Cinema  (Hong Sang-soo)
5. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg)
6. The Wayward Cloud (Tsai Ming-liang)
7. The Devil’s Rejects (Rob Zombie)
8. Deadwood: "A Lie Agreed Upon, Parts 1 and 2" (Ed Bianchi)
9. Mutual Appreciation (Andrew Bujalski)
10. Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog)
11. The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach)
12. War of the Worlds (Steven Spielberg)
13. Serenity (Joss Whedon)
14. Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch)

1. INLAND EMPIRE (David Lynch)
2. Miami Vice (Michael Mann)
3. Woman on the Beach (Hong Sang-soo)
4. Colossal Youth (Pedro Costa)
5. Syndromes and a Century (Apitchatpong Weerasethakul)
6. Paprika (Satoshi Kon)
7. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron)
8. A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater)
9. The Host (Bong Joon-ho)
10. Brand Upon The Brain! (Guy Maddin)
11. The Devil and Daniel Johnston (Jeff Feuerzeig)
12. Black Book (Paul Verhoeven)

1. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)
2. Zodiac (David Fincher)
3. Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino)
4. I’m Not There (Todd Haynes)
5. No Country For Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen)
6. The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson)
7. Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright)
8. Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg)
9. Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters (Matt Maiellaro, Dave Willis)
10. The Man From London (Bela Tarr)

1. Love Exposure (Sion Sono)
2. A Christmas Tale (Arnaud Desplechin)
3. Night and Day (Hong Sang-soo)
4. 35 Shots of Rum (Claire Denis)
5. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman)
6. Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas)
7. Flight of the Red Balloon (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
8. Burn After Reading (Joel and Ethan Coen)
9. Merde (Leos Carax)
10. Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson)
11. The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky)
12. Hunger (Steve McQueen)
13. Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme)
14. Waltz With Bashir (Ari Folman)

1. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
2. It Felt Like A Kiss (Adam Curtis)
3. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson)
4. Wild Grass (Alain Resnais)
5. A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen)
6. Two Lovers (James Gray)
7. The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch)
8. Lost in the Mountains (Hong Sang-soo)
9. Dogtooth (Yorgos Lanthimos)
10. Symbol (Hitoshi Matsumoto)
11. The Girlfriend Experience (Steven Soderbergh)
12. Enter the Void (Gaspar Noe)
13. Impolex (Alex Ross Perry)

1. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
2. The Social Network (David Fincher)
3. Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami)
4. Mysteries of Lisbon (Raul Ruiz)
5. ATTENBERG (Athina Rachel Tsangari)
6. The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski)
7. Film Socialisme (Jean-Luc Godard)
8. Carlos (Olivier Assayas)
9. Greenberg (Noah Baumbach)
10. Breaking Bad: "Fly" (Rian Johnson)
10. Oki’s Movie (Hong Sang-soo)
11. 13 Assassins (Takashi Miike)
12. Foreign Parts (Verena Paravel and J.P. Sniadecki)
13. Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese)
14. Four Lions (Chris Morris)

1. Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan)
2. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)
3. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)
4. House of Tolerance (Bertrand Bonello)
5. The Day He Arrives (Hong Sang-soo)
6. The Color Wheel (Alex Ross Perry)
7. Kill List (Ben Wheatley)
8. Breaking Bad: "Crawl Space" (Scott Winant)
9. Meanwhile (Hal Hartley)
10. Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichert)
11. The Loneliest Planet (Julia Loktev)
12. A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg)

1. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
2. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
3. The Unspeakable Act (Dan Sallitt)
4. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
5. This Is Not A Film (Jafar Panahi)
6. Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel)
7. Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg)
8. Mad Men: "Far Away Places" (Scott Hornbacher)
9. Sweet Exorcist (Pedro Costa)
10. Something in the Air (Apres Mai) (Olivier Assayas)
11. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine)
12. In Another Country (Hong Sang-soo)
13. Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach)
14. You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet (Alain Resnais)
15. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer)
16. Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland)
17. All the Light in the Sky (Joe Swanberg)

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