Wednesday, January 19, 2005

still from Star Spangled to Death, Ken Jacobs

My year-end film list does not include “favorites”; it is not a top-ten (though I have limited it, by convention, to ten films in each category) and it is not a “best-of” list. I’m increasingly dissatisfied with simply liking certain films. Did I like that edited version of Elf I saw on the plane between New York and Los Angeles? Sure, Will Ferrell can be effortlessly hilarious. I chuckled now and then at the film’s low humor. But I make no claims on its status as a work of art (it sounds ridiculous to even talk about Elf in this way – I’m pretty sure the filmmakers make no claims on its status as a work of art either; they only wish to entertain). A film doesn’t need to entertain. It doesn’t necessarily need to be art (or an “art film”) either, but it should be interesting, which is to say, it should fascinate. The following films all fascinated me to some extent. They each prompted me to read more about their subjects, to re-examine their claims, and to second-guess my initial, visceral reactions. I didn’t like all of these films, but that’s not the point. These films incited reflection, and in a thoughtless, reactionary age, that’s definitely the good stuff. Hopefully in the next few weeks I’ll spend some time commenting on why these films were important to me in 2004.

Newly Released Films

Twenty-Nine Palms (Bruno Dumont)

Woman is the Future of Man (Hong Sang-soo)

The 5 Obstructions (Lars von Trier & Jorgen Leth )

Notre musique (Jean-Luc Godard)

Dogville (Lars von Trier)

Bad Education (Pedro Almodóvar)

Blissfully Yours (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

Star Spangled to Death (Ken Jacobs)

Los Angeles Plays Itself (Thom Andersen)

Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

Re-releases and Revivals

Playtime (Jacques Tati)

The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo)

Tres tristes tigres (Raoul Ruiz)

Au hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson)

I Vitelloni (Federico Fellini)

The Exiles (Kent MacKenzie)

Film About a Woman Who…(Yvonne Rainer)

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman)

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (Park Chan-wook)

Bless Their Little Hearts (Billy Woodberry)


Distant (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry)

Last Life in the Universe (Pen-Ek Ratanaruang)

The Return (Andrei Zvyagintsev)

Crimson Gold (Jafar Panahi)

Vera Drake (Mike Leigh)

Ten (Abbas Kiarostami)

Remembrance of Things to Come (Chris Marker & Yannick Bellon)

Moolaadé (Ousmane Sembene)

Henri Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinematheque (Jacques Richard)

Movies I Want to See ASAP

2046 (Wong Kar Wai)

Café Lumiere (Hou Hsiao-hsien)

Cinévardaphoto (Agnès Varda)

The Holy Girl (Lucrecia Martel)

L’Intrus (Claire Denis)

Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow (Theo Angelopoulos)

The World (Jia Zhang Ke)

Old Boy (Park Chan-wook)

Kings and Queen (Arnaud Desplechin)

Clean (Olivier Assayas)

A Hole in My Heart (Lukas Moodysson)

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