Thursday, September 18, 2014

This Week in Rankings

Since my last rankings update, I went on a fake-movie-award-giving binge, handing out new Endy Awards and revising old ones for the last 14 years. Johnnie To, naturally enough, is the big winner of the century thus far. I'm going to attempt to update these every time I do one of these rankings posts as well, but we'll see how that goes. I also wrote about a pair of Frederick Wiseman films (Ballet and Crazy Horse) and revisited Tsui Hark's Shanghai Blues. And, as Labor Day passed, I put together a new Top 100 Films of All-Time list (and a special George Sanders Show Top Ten Episode as well). As always, I continue to make lists and write short reviews and comments over at letterboxd.

Looking ahead, next weekend I make my way north once again to the Vancouver International Film Festival. I've got a potential schedule posted already, and am looking to get some preview reviews up sometime soon.

These are the movies I've watched and rewatched over the last several weeks, and where they place on my year-by-year rankings.

Strike (Sergei Eisenstein) - 6, 1925
Dishonored (Josef von Sternberg) - 5, 1931
Viva Las Vegas - (George Sidney) - 21, 1964
Come Drink with Me (King Hu) - 9, 1966
Wavelength (Michael Snow) - 9, 1967

High School (Frederick Wiseman) - 9, 1968
No Way to Treat a Lady (Jack Smight) - 26, 1968
La région centrale (Michael Snow) - 11, 1971
The Valiant Ones (King Hu) - 12, 1975
Piranha (Joe Dante) - 20, 1978

Raining in the Mountain (King Hu) - 10, 1979
Rock 'N' Roll High School (Allan Arkush) - 13, 1979
Mad Max (George Miller) - 22, 1979
Shanghai Blues (Tsui Hark) - 3, 1984
Stop Making Sense (Jonathan Demme) - 6, 1984

Matewan (John Sayles) - 24, 1987
Orlando (Sally Potter) - 9, 1992
Ballet (Frederick Wiseman) - 5, 1995
Casa de Lava (Pedro Costa) - 10, 1995
La Comédie-Française (Frederick Wiseman) - 19, 1996

Tempting Heart (Sylvia Chang) - 25, 1999
Belfast, Maine (Frederick Wiseman) - 29, 1999
Mission to Mars (Brian DePalma) - 21, 2000
Ghosts of Mars (John Carpenter) - 16, 2001
Jade Goddess of Mercy (Ann Hui) - 22, 2003

Kung Fu Hustle (Stephen Chow) - 5, 2004
Le Pont des Arts (Eugène Green) - 10, 2004
20 30 40 (Sylvia Chang) - 15, 2004
The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (Ann Hui) - 22, 2006
Liverpool (Lisandro Alonso) - 31, 2008

Accident (Soi Cheang) - 7, 2009
Love Aaj Kal (Imtiaz Ali) - 16, 2009
Crazy Horse (Frederick Wiseman) - 21, 2011
Pitch Perfect (Jason Moore) - 15, 2012
Rock of Ages (Adam Shankman) - 83, 2012

Thursday, September 11, 2014

VIFF 2014: Introduction and Proposed Schedule

In just over two weeks, I'll be heading to the Vancouver International Film Festival for the sixth time in the past seven years (a streak only interrupted by the birth of child #1 in 2011). As always, I plan to review as many of the films I see there as possible. In 2012 I managed to cover 30 out of 31 (I still plan to get to that last one someday), and last year I had eleven long reviews, a whole lot of letterboxd capsules and one two-part podcast. As with last year, I'm planning on some preview coverage this year, as I'd like to watch some films from directors who will feature at this year's festival, mostly people from whom I've never seen anything before.

The festival looks to be much the same as in previous years, with a wide selection of world cinema, with a special focus on East Asian film in the Dragons & Tigers series programmed by Tony Rayns and Shelly Kraicer. Unfortunately, this year there will be no Dragons & Tigers competition, the award for young filmmakers that I had a lot of fun following along with the last couple of years. It leant a predictable structure to the festival, two films showing per night at one venue, followed by repeat performances during the day at another venue on the opposite end of downtown, with the whole competition viewable in only four days, followed by the gala awards ceremony. Instead there's now a more general award for new directors, and the competition includes a slate of eleven films. Their showings are spread apparently at random throughout the first week, as if the award were a late addition and the competitors cobbled together from elements of the already-programmed festival as a whole. I might be able to make it to five of the competition films (marked with an * in the schedule below). Making it to all of them will probably be impossible as there are just too many other things to see during the eight days I'll be in town.

This is a rough draft of the schedule I'm looking to follow at the 2014 Festival. Shows that conflict with each other are listed without a space in-between, with the filming I'm currently leaning towards attending listed first.

Saturday, Sept. 27:

The Princess of France (Matías Piñeiro)

La Sapienza (Eugène Green)

The Golden Era (Ann Hui)

Sunday, Sept. 28:

National Gallery (Frederick Wiseman)

Exit (Chenn Hsiang)*

Listen Up Philip (Alex Ross Perry)

Flowing Stories (Tsang Tsui Shan)

The Owners (Adilkhan Yerzhanov)

Monday, Sept. 29:

Ballet 422 (Jody Lee Lipes)

God Help the Girl (Stuart Murdoch)

Horse Money (Pedro Costa)

Uncertain Relationships Society (Heiward Mak)
Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg)
The Vancouver Asahi (Yuya Ishii)

The Furthest End Awaits (Chiang Hsiu-Chiung)
Mommy (Xavier Dolan)

Tuesday, Sept. 30:

Miss and the Doctors (Axelle Ropert)*
Revivre (Im Kwontaek)

Free Fall (György Pálfi)

Heaven Knows What (Benny & Joshua Safdie)

Rekorder (Mikhail Red)*

Güeros (Alonso Ruíz Palacios)

Wednesday, Oct. 1:

Uncle Victory (Zheng Meng)

Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)

Hill of Freedom (Hong Sangsoo)

Winter Sleep (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)

Thursday, Oct. 2:

Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh)

Violent (Andrew Huculiak)
Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller)
An Eye for Beauty (Denys Arcand)

The Boy and the World (Alê Abreu)
Welcome to Me (Shira Piven)

The Iron Ministry (JP Sniadecki)
The Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas)

Friday, Oct. 3:

Ow (Yohei Suzuki)*

Adieu au langage (Jean-Luc Godard)

August Winds (Gabriel Mascaro)*

Welcome to New York (Abel Ferrara)

Phoenix (Christian Petzold)

Saturday, Oct 4:

Blind Massage (Lou Ye)

Jauja (Lisandro Alonso)
Life of Riley (Alain Resnais)

Highway (Imtiaz Ali)

The Midnight After (Fruit Chan)
The Two Faces of January (Hossein Amini)

Sunday, Oct. 5:

Queen and Country (John Boorman)

Above Us All (Eugenie Jansen)

My biggest regrets are going to be missing The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Isao Takahata) which plays only once, just as I arrive in town and The Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas) which overlaps with a pair of films I'm unlikely to be able to see anywhere else. The Takahata is opening in Seattle in October, so that won't be too bad, but it looks like the Assayas won't have a US release until 2015. The biggest regret of all, of course, is that Johnnie To's Don't Go Breaking My Heart 2 isn't playing the festival at all, though it is playing at Toronto. I don't know how I'm going to be able to catch that one.

Here is a list of my planned preview coverage.

Casa de Lava (Pedro Costa)
The Color Wheel (Alex Ross Perry)
Ex (Heiward Mak)
Hahaha (Hong Sangsoo)
Jab We Met (Imtiaz Ali)
Liverpool (Lisandro Alonso)
Love Aaj Kal (Imtiaz Ali)
Les Pont des Arts (Eugène Green)
Viola (Matías Piñeiro)

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

A Top 100 Films of All-Time

It is time once again for a Top 100 Films of All-Time list. As I've done for the last couple of years, the first ten spots are a hypothetical Sight & Sound-style ballot, which we discuss on this week's episode of The George Sanders Show. They're ordered here reverse-chronologically. The remaining 90 films were randomly selected from a consideration set of 858 films, which excluded films that made my Top Tens in 2012 and 2013.

1. Oki's Movie (Hong Sangsoo, 2010)

2. Oxhide II (Liu Jiayin, 2009)

3. Beau travail (Claire Denis, 1999)

4. Only Yesterday (Isao Takahata, 1991)

5. The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (Lau Kar-leung, 1978)

6. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)

7. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)

8. Duck Amuck (Chuck Jones, 1953)

9. The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953)

10. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940)

11. Like Someone in Love (Abbas Kiarostami, 2012)

12. True Romance (Tony Scott, 1993)

13. The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940)

14. Blind Detective (Johnnie To, 2013)

15. Legend of the Mountain (King Hu, 1979)

16. Japanese Girls at the Harbor (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1933)

17. Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (Albert Lewin, 1951)

18. WALL-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)

19. The Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979)

20. Ratatouille (Brad Bird, 2007)

21. 7 Women (John Ford, 1966)

22. Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927)

23. Fantômas (Louis Feuillade, 1913)

24. Body Double (Brian DePalma, 1984)

25. Damsels in Distress (Whit Stillman, 2011)

26. Mahanagar (Satyajit Ray, 1963)

27. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)

28. The Play House (Buster Keaton & Edward Cline, 1921)

29. Claire's Knee (Eric Rohmer, 1970)

30. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)

31. Applause (Rouben Mamoulian, 1929)

32. Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa, 1957)

33. Obsession (Brian DePalma, 1976)

34. LA Story (Mick Jackson, 1991)

35. The Saga of Anatahan (Josef von Sternberg, 1953)

36. The Blue Angel (Josef von Sternberg, 1930)

37. Petulia (Richard Lester, 1968)

38. The Grapes of Wrath (John Ford, 1940)

39. Exiled (Johnnie To, 2006)

40. The Romance of Astrea and Celadon (Eric Rohmer, 2007)

41. The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 1988)

42. The Heart of the World (Guy Maddin, 2000)

43. Blissfully Yours (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2002)

44. A Canterbury Tale (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1944)

45. The Strawberry Blonde (Raoul Walsh, 1941)

46. The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (Don Weis, 1953)

47. Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004)

48. Climates (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2006)

49. The Lineup (Don Siegel, 1958)

50. Assault on Precinct 13 (John Carpenter, 1976)

51. Un chien andalou (Luis Buñuel, 1929)

52. Cops (Buster Keaton & Edward Cline, 1922)

53. The French Connection (William Friedkin, 1971)

54. Running Out of Time 2 (Johnnie To & Law Wing-cheong, 2001)

55. Rouge (Stanley Kwan, 1987)

56. The Grand Illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937)

57. Cleo from 5 to 7 (Agnès Varda, 1962)

58. They Live (John Carpenter, 1988)

59. As Tears Go By (Wong Kar-wai, 1988)

60. Top Hat (Mark Sandrich, 1935)

61. Eastern Condors (Sammo Hung, 1987)

62. Dragon Gate Inn (King Hu, 1967)

63. Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

64. American Graffiti (George Lucas, 1973)

65. Shadow of a Doubt (Alfred Hitchcock, 1943)

66. The Three Musketeers (Richard Lester, 1973)

67. Force of Evil (Abraham Polonsky, 1948)

68. Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940)

69. The Matrix (The Wachowskis, 1999)

70. Leaves from Satan's Book (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1920)

71. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, 2012)

72. The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)

73. L'Avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960)

74. The Victim (Sammo Hung, 1980)

75. In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)

76. I Know Where I'm Going! (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1945)

77. Ninotchka (Ernst Lubitsch, 1939)

78. Mon Oncle (Jacques Tati, 1958)

79. Barton Fink (The Coen Brothers, 1991)

80. The Black Cat (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1934)

81. Orphans of the Storm (DW Griffith, 1921)

82. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

83. My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

84. Kid Auto Races at Venice (Henry Lehrman, 1914)

85. Wild Boys of the Road (William Wellman, 1933)

86. The Heroic Ones (Chang Cheh, 1970)

87. Stromboli (Roberto Rossellini, 1950)

88. The Grandmaster (Wong Kar-wai, 2013)

89. Love and Death (Woody Allen, 1975)

90. My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988)

91. The Love Eterne (Li Han-hsiang, 1963)

92. Limelight (Charles Chaplin, 1952)

93. El Dorado (Howard Hawks, 1966)

94. Days of Being Wild (Wong Kar-wai, 1990)

95. Humanity and Paper Balloons (Sadao Yamanaka, 1937)

96. Bye Bye Birdie (George Sidney, 1963)

97. Wee Willie Winkie (John Ford, 1937)

98. The Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)

99. Alice in Wonderland (Walt Disney, 1951)

100. Lincoln (Steven Spielberg, 2012)