Thursday, December 28, 2006

2006: Ten Favorite New Films

If you'd like, please feel free to share, link to or comment on any of your favorite new films this year....

* * *

Let me also collect some year-end lists here: Acquarello; Mubarak Ali; Jim Emerson; Steve Erickson; Chris Fujiwara; Ed Gonzalez; Andrew Grant; Aaron Hillis; J. Hoberman; Dave Kehr; Dennis Lim; Mark Peranson; Andrea Picard; James Quandt; Berenice Reynaud; Jonathan Rosenbaum; Matt Zoller Seitz; Michael Sicinski; Amy Taubin; and Chuck Tryon.

* * *

And now, I'd like to ask you for some advice. Cinematheque Ontario is doing a typically thorough Jacques Rivette retrospective in a few weeks. I know I'll be able to make no more than two (or max, three) trips up to Canada, since both school and snowy winter will be in full swing. Perhaps you might suggest a couple of unmissable Rivettes I should catch....? Excepting his first film, Paris Nous Appartient, I've seen only late Rivette (post-La Belle Noiseuse). I have Celine And Julie Go Boating on DVD, soon to be watched. And alas, I can't make it up for the Out One marathon, because I have a conflict that weekend.

Also, they're simultaneously doing Shohei Imamura, whose films I love (at least the ones I've seen). Like with Rivette, I've seen almost all of late Imamura (post-Vengeance Is Mine) and one fantastic earlier film, Intentions Of Murder (1964). So, if you have any strong Imamura recommendations, I'd love to hear them too.

Thank you, and wish you all a great 2007.


Blogger phyrephox said...

Great list of films girish, a few of which I haven't seen and hope will get U.S. distribution (especially the Jia films and Costa's). I wasn't super happy with this year, although American films made a strong showing towards the end, and most of my favorites ( were seeing on film classics I hadn't seen before.

From the chunk of Rivette I saw in NYC--and if you can't make it to either Out 1 or Spectre, the shorter version--I would strongly recommend the precurser to that film, L'Amour Fou. I also was very intrigued by the meta-noirish Duelle, but the print I saw over the summer was very red and you may want to opt for something that looks better (the new print of Celine looks lovely). An unexpected find for me during the series was Le Pont du Nord, a sort of more downtempo re-vision of Celine with Bulle and Pascal Ogier that is as much an ode to a New Paris as Godard's recently re-released Two or Three Things I Know About Her.

As for Imamura, the only earlier one I can recommend is Pigs & Battleships, a wry and blackly comedic look at the American Occupation.

December 28, 2006 1:15 PM  
Anonymous Filipe said...

Great list.

I second the recomendation to Pigs and Batllefields, my favorite early Imamura. If they are playing don't miss The Pornographers and The Profound Desire od Gods.

My Best of the year:
Belle Toujours (Oliveira); Il Caimano (Moretti); Still Life (Jia); Syndromes and a Century (Weerasethakul); Pan's Labirynth (Del Toro0; Serras da Desordem (Tonnacci); Miami Vice (Mann); Suely in the sky (Ainouz); The Comedy of Power (Chabrol); Colossal Youth (Costa).

December 28, 2006 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Matthew M. said...

I wish I could say I’ve seen Coeurs, Still Life, Dong, and Syndromes and a Century, but alas, the chances of them playing in Missouri is nil. I do have, however, a copy of perhaps my favorite living film director’s most recent, Woman on the Beach, that I’ve been saving for some time now. Perhaps I’ll uncork it, so to speak, before the year is over.

I think Imamura’s Profound Desire of the Gods is the one not to miss if possible. Personally my favorite Imamura had been Ballad of Narayama for many years — until I finally caught more of his pre-Vengeance pictures. Also, his History of Postwar Japan as Told by a Bar Hostess and especially A Man Vanishes ties in wonderfully with your recent documentary post.

December 28, 2006 4:06 PM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

Great list. In fact, your list might constitute a list of films I wish I'd seen. Like you, I'm also curious to see the new Lynch film.

December 28, 2006 5:33 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

I'll second The Profound Desire of the Gods. It's by turns profoundly erotic, funny, bittersweet.

December 29, 2006 1:49 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Only three of the nine titles you picked came to Frisco in 2006, and I missed two of them (though there will be a second chance for the Host if not for a Scanner Darkly in 2007). The third is on my own all-but finalized top ten.

Conversely, I've been able to see all but two of the films named in your tenth slot. Two screenings of Song and Solitude sold out before I knew what hit me, to my very painful regret. Inland Empire is definitely coming. My favorites from among the other five is, to my surprise, the Science of Sleep.

December 29, 2006 2:26 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Many thanks, everyone! I appreciate your taking the time...

Phyrephox -- Thanks for posting the link to your list. Wow, you saw an amazing number of good films this year! You've given me a case of NYC-cinephile envy...

And your Rivette recommendations are most helpful. I intend to catch at least one (if not more) of those three you mentioned.

Filipe & Noel -- A friend sent me a tape of Profound Desire made off TV in Europe. I've put Pigs & Battleships on my list. And thanks for your list, Filipe--I'd never heard of Tonnacci.

Matthew -- My great regret is that, unlike my friend Doug, I saw Woman On The Beach just once. It's a movie packed with so much detail (a lot of it deceptively simple and throwaway, on the surface 'merely' eccentric) that it demands to be seen at least a couple of times. It's good that you have your own copy.

Chuck -- I hadn't even heard of Black Sun until you named it your best-film pick of the year....I'll be on the lookout for it.

Brian -- The Science of Sleep and Half Nelson both played in Buffalo for weeks, and I had absolutely no excuse for missing them. Sometimes, I find (to my embarrassmentt) that I'm more likely to miss films playing under my own nose than those playing in Rochester or Toronto for which I make special travel plans. There's no excuse for that...!

December 29, 2006 9:02 AM  
Blogger girish said...

--Andy has a nice big juicy post that discusses lists and much else.
--Chris Fujiwara on Kenji Mizoguchi.
--Jenna Ng has a terrific post about Tokyo Story.
--Jonathan Rosenbaum's Global Discoveries on DVD column in Cinema Scope magazine.
--J. Robert Parks has been posting his film reviews of the year.
--Songs of the Year (with mp3's) at Mubarak's place.
--Aaron Graham on Remember The Night.
--Reminder: Harry Tuttle's Contemplative Cinema Blog-A-Thon is coming up on Monday, January 8.
--Matt Riviera's Best of 2006.
--Stinkylulu announces a Supporting Actress blog-a-thon on January 7.

December 29, 2006 9:55 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Via David Hudson: The Chicago Reader has a movie blog.

December 29, 2006 11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an age we live in, when we can be in near-direct communication with the media.

December 29, 2006 4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Imamura - choosing among his 60s films is like choosing among Godard's - you can't really go wrong, there are a couple that Everyone Really Must See, and recommending one or two to start with depends very much on external factors, like genre, historical importance, etc... I'd vote for The Pornographers as the best, Pigs and Battleships as the most accessible (and a very nice example of a Network Narrative, or maybe a Place Narrative, if that were a genre), and maybe Insect Woman as his most "typical" - and a superb entry in the rich history of Japanese films about women. Then again - there's A Man Vanishes, a strange kind of documentary (or not) about a search for one of Japan's 5,000 runaways....

Though if you get the chance - you could try Endless Desire - an earlier film, probably the first that looks and feels like an Imamura film - a really great black comedy about a bunch of scoundrels digging for war contraband; written by Natto Wada, Kon Ichikawa's wife and usual collaborator...

December 29, 2006 6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heads-up: Observations of film art and Film Art (David Bordwell's blog) is now comments-enabled! Happy holidays everybody!

December 29, 2006 10:53 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

One can argue that seeing Profound on video isn't really seeing it...but I get your situation. Good luck, man.

December 29, 2006 11:39 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, everyone.
And thank you, Weeping Sam, for the Imamura advice. It's most appreciated....

Muchas gracias, Michael/Maya, for your most kind post. So generous and sweet of you.
I sent the link to my parents in India.

December 30, 2006 9:39 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Year-end posts:
--David Hudson at Greencine Daily.
--Rob Davis at Errata.
--Doug Cummings at Film Journey.
--Filmbrain at Like Anna Karina's Sweater.
--MS Smith at Culturespace.
--Brendon at The Five Year Plan.

December 30, 2006 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, maybe it's not comments-enabled. I could swear, though...

December 30, 2006 12:41 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Andy, I had the same thought as you recently. Then I discovered that one of David's post categories was named "Film Comments"....Ah well.

December 30, 2006 12:57 PM  
Blogger Maya said...

De nada, Girish. My pleasure.

December 30, 2006 1:41 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

I just posted my year end list. I saw two films listed by Girish. 2007 may be even more skewed based on what is and isn't available here in Chiang Mai. Syndromes and a Century was named by a couple of Thai film critics as one of the best Thai films of the year even though it has yet to be formally released here. I'm keeping my eyes open for The Host DVD to be available from one of my neighborhood vendors in January.

December 31, 2006 12:50 AM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

Can't even think of a year end list. The Queen, Prairie Home Companion, The Illusionist are there, Army of Shadows and Big Red One if they qualify. Nothing a small Pennsylvanian town can't easily provide (but nothing compared to what a major US city might offer).

Perhaps the most interesting new films I can think of would be Mark Meilly's La Visa Loca, about a Filipino's endless quest for a US Visa; Raya Martin's Indio Nacional, a poetic silent-film mediation on Philippine history (sort of like Guy Maddin at a fraction of even his miniscule budget), and Lav Diaz's monumental Heremias, about a modern-day prophet wandering about, unheard. At nine hours, Diaz's Heremias is an hour shorter than his last epic-length feature, Ebolusyon, but then it's only part one--I haven't the slightest idea how long part two will be.

December 31, 2006 1:11 AM  
Blogger David said...

And I'll second L'Amour Fou, definitely the best (with Celine) of the 7 or 8 features I saw in New York. In an unparalleled commitment to showing "lived experience," about half of the film consists of scenes interspersed throughout of the characters rehearsing a play, but almost all of the rehearsals are little more than downtime filmed in wide shots, with lots going on, but little of any interest. That, however, only makes the other half better: scenes of characters flirting and fighting, as perfectly observed as Rohmer, and occasionally as melodramatic as Nicholas Ray (not to give anything away, but according to a Jonathan Rosenbaum introduction, the scene in which the couple axes their house to pieces is supposedly based on a similar real-life scene between Godard and Anna Karina). Basically, it captures modern-day youth better than any modern-day film I've seen.

December 31, 2006 3:39 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, Maya, Peter, Noel & David.

David, it looks like the Rivette that'll fit into my schedule best will be L'Amour Fou. I'll be trying to squeeze in another one or two rare ones if I can.

--Zach's year-end list.
--Thom has a nice post on the year 1921 and Lubitsch's films.
--Peter's year-end list.
--If you're in the mood for some meaty brainfood, check out this great essay-post at Infinite Thought on "productive misreading".
--A terrific, thoughtfully annotated singles of the year list by Joshua Clover aka Jane Dark.

Finally, I just ordered my copy of Nicole Brenez's new book on Abel Ferrara, translated by Adrian Martin.

December 31, 2006 1:43 PM  
Blogger girish said...

At Variety: a conversation between Jonathan Rosenbaum, Molly Haskell and Brazilian critic Jose Carlos Avellar.

December 31, 2006 3:20 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

Apropos of almost everything said here, there's a regular commenter on my blog named Gloria that turns out to be something of an expert on all things Laughton. Don't know if any of you are familiar with her blog, or find any of it useful, but I sure did. The list of proposed Laughton projects makes me want to sigh...

January 01, 2007 3:04 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, Noel.

Year-end posts:
Darren Hughes.
Doug Cummings (older film discoveries).
Brad at East Bay View.
Eric Henderson "on hating movies, specifically ones I should love.".

January 01, 2007 8:02 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Tout le monde: Happy New Year!

January 01, 2007 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy new year, g!

January 01, 2007 9:01 AM  
Blogger girish said...

The same to you, Ray!

January 01, 2007 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Filmbrain said...

Happy New Year Girish! Hope you had a chance to rest up over the holidays.

I had a look at the Imamura retrospective -- it's hard to recommend just a few, for they are all great. However, two I'd strongly suggest not missing (if you haven't seen them) are Endless Desire, a gorgeous but brutal noir that is plays out like a variation of The Treasure of Sierra Madre.

The other is The Profound Desire of the Gods which in my opinion is his masterpiece. If you haven't seen it, try not to miss it.

January 01, 2007 10:30 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, Filmbrain, for the suggestions.

I know you've been crazy-busy recently, and I hope you had a chance to relax a bit with la famille over the holidays.

January 01, 2007 2:55 PM  
Blogger Sachin G. said...

Happy New Year Girish.

Some of my personal favs for 2006 included the following movies which I got a chance to watch at CIFF and VIFF:

Dosar (India, Rituparno Ghosh),
El Violín (Mexico, Francisco Vargas Quevedo), The Bet Collector (Philippines, Jeffrey Jeturian),
The Lives of Others (Germany, Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck)

January 02, 2007 11:24 AM  
Blogger Richard Gibson said...

'A Scanner Darkly' was absent from the British centric lists. Very interesting Girish.

NFT (National Film Theatre) in London had a complete Rivette retrospective, sadly 'Paris Nous Apparient' was the only new one I'd caught.


January 02, 2007 4:07 PM  
Blogger aaron w graham said...

Happy New Year, Girish. Hope to join the discussion a bit more now that I don't have such erratic 'net time.

And you've got my mind working in overdrive regarding the Rivette retrospective -- i'm going to have to make a couple (if not all, if possible) of those myself!

January 02, 2007 5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello girish, great blog! There are some lists over at I am a film-maker as well. We have open forums and podcasts. Check us out sometime. Great insight on film here. I recently saw Rivette's Joan of Arc films and they are really quite beautiful. Cheers, Chris

January 02, 2007 5:58 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

Hi, Sachin, glad you mentioned The Bet Collector. Haven't seen it yet, but the director, Jeffrey Jeturian, is almost always dependably skillful.

January 02, 2007 9:08 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Hey there Sachin, Richard, Aaron, Chris and Noel -- Happy New Year to y'all.

And Aaron -- Great to see you're back blogging. Love your end-of-the-year list.

January 03, 2007 8:15 AM  
Anonymous peter said...

Hi Girish,
My favourite two films of 2006 were Three Times and The Death of Mr Lazarescu.
On a lighter note, I also very much enjoyed Walk The Line

January 20, 2007 5:54 AM  

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