Movies Of The Year: 1966

The further we move back in time, the more stratified the movies I’ve seen become. Generally there will be a bunch of great, classic films at the top of the lists, and a few mediocre at best movies at the bottom that I watched as a kid (thanks Disney Channel, ugh.) That isn’t the case this year, when pretty much all of the movies are pretty good.

14. Winne The Pooh And The Honey Tree – The first Disney Pooh film, it’s much the same as the others, only a little worse. I believe this film was instrumental in the development of my intense fear of bees. Did I mention The Tao Of Pooh is a great book?

13. A Man For All Seasons – Paul Scofield is one of my favorite actors, I especially like his performance in Quiz Show (#3, 1994). He won the Best Actor Oscar playing Thomas More in this film, and while he’s very good, it wasn’t enough for me to really like the film. There’s a real overblown 1960s Hollywood vibe to the film that I found very off-putting, and when I saw it, on VHS, it looked to be a pretty ugly, all the bad things about Technicolor, kind of film. I probably need to watch it again, there are too many people I like involved in it for me not to like it. Orson Welles, John Hurt and Robert Shaw star and Fred Zinneman directs Robert Bolt’s screenplay.

12. Hunger – My favorite discovery in my Scandinavian Film class (yeah, it was as dull as it sounds) was this film and novel. Both the film and the book are about a struggling writer who wanders the streets of Christiania being, well, hungry, largely by choice. It’s a very weird movie of a very weird book. The film was directed by Henning Carlsen, who doesn’t appear to have done anything else I’ve ever heard of. Knut Hamsun wrote the novel, he was recently the subject of a long New Yorker profile.

11. Fahrenheit 451 – Another film I watched in class, this time in a crappy Communications 101 course. François Truffaut’s adaptation of the Ray Bradbury novel stars Oscar Werner and Julie Christie. The plot should be familiar: at some point in the future, books are banned and firefighters run around rounding them up and burning them. Werner plays a fireman who has some doubts about whether or not this is a good idea. Another movie I should see again, but I’m wrong about this not being a great film.

10. Persona – The movie that turned me off Bergman, whether that his fault or mine I will leave as an open question. Bibi Andersson plays a nurse taking care of a mute actress (Liv Ullman) in some remote place in the country. Gradually, the two women begin to merge into the same person. This is the movie people who hate of foreign art movies are thinking of when they make fun of them. Since it was over a decade ago that I watched this, I intend to give it, and especially Bergman another try. This seems to be a theme with the bottom half of this list. With so many movies to see once, how will I ever find time for all the ones to see twice?

9. How The Grinch Stole Christmas – Hayao Miyazaki may be the trendy pick, but I’ve no doubt that Chuck Jones is the greatest animation director of all-time. This is his most famous non-Looney Tunes film, an adaptation of a Dr. Seuss book. If you haven’t seen it, I congratulate you on waking from your 40 year coma. Welcome to the world of the mobile! I am honored you choose this blog as your initial foray into the modern world. Now, go watch this movie.

8. It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown – It’s a tough call on which is the best Peanuts film, but it’s either this one or the Christmas one. I’d say Christmas is the better film, while this one is my personal favorite. Let’s just say I can relate a lot more to the idea of faith expressed by Linus in the pumpkin patch than I can by his speech for the Christmas play. Plus it’s got one of the greatest and most resonant lines in all of film history: “I got a rock.”

7. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? – This film of Edward Albee’s play is perhaps the meanest movie I’ve ever seen. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor are at their best as a vicious old married couple who torture each other and their young dinner guests over the course of one awful evening. George Segal and Sandy Dennis play the clueless young couple, Mike Nichols directs (it was his first film) and Ernest Lehman wrote the screenplay. Lehman has a bizarre list of credits: North By Northwest, West Side Story, The Sound Of Music, Sabrina, The King And I, Black Sunday, Sabrina, Family Plot, Hello Dolly! and The Sweet Smell Of Success.

6. Masculin Féminin – Young, pretty, disillusioned French kids awash in consumerism, Americanism and the stirrings of the 60s cultural revolutions in pre-1968 Paris. It’s Jean-Luc Godard midway between his more politically explicit films of the 70s and his early chaotic, fun and romantic films. Jean-Pierre Leaud (from the 400 Blows and other Truffaut films) and Chantal Goya (who was a pop star in France at the time) are the lead actors, but as always in his films, Godard is the star.

5. What’s Up, Tiger Lilly? – Back in the dark ages before Woody Allen invented the modern romantic comedy, before he began dissecting and satirizing the New York upper class much to their delight, before he became the most improbable sex symbol in film history, he took a cheap Japanese James Bond rip-off called “International Secret Police: Key of Keys” and redubbed all the dialogue to create a comic masterpiece, a defining post-modernist film and what is perhaps the funniest movie in his long career. The star, Tatsuya Mihashi was also in The Bad Sleep Well and Inagaki’s version of the 47 Ronin, Chushnigura.

4. The Battle Of Algiers – Strikingly realistic seeming film about the war between, for want of a better word, terrorists and the military in French-occupied Algiers in the 1950s. Storywise, it’s essentially an epic police procedural, and like all great procedurals, it’s fascinating in it’s depth and detail, both in describing the tactics of the army and the terrorists. The films sympathy pretty squarely lies with the anti-colonial side, though it stops short of actually condoning their tactics. It’s a more nuanced and interesting examination of the political relationship between the West and Islam than would seemingly ever be made nowadays, unfortunately.

3. The Sword Of Doom – An amazing movie, one of the darkest action movies I’ve ever seen, and the best non-Kurosawa samurai film. Tatsuya Nakadai plays a truly evil swordsman, walking the earth in search of more evil to do. The first thing he does in the film is cut an old man in half for no particular reason, and he only gets worse from there. Toshiro Mifune has a small role as a fencing instructor and he also gets one great action sequence. This is one of the all-time great film endings, wholly by accident, I guess, as this was supposed to be only the first part of a trilogy. A beautiful black and white film, directed by Kihachi Okamoto, who also directed Nakadai in the Sanjuro remake Kill! (#6, 1968).

2. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly – The third part of Sergio Leone’s Man With No Name Trilogy is perhaps the greatest action movie ever made. It’s certainly one of the prettiest. It doesn’t have the same resonance as his Once Upon A Time films (In The West, #3, 1968; In America, #7, 1984), but it’s still an ambitious, epic film. The story couldn’t be simpler: three outlaws each know one third of the secret of where some buried treasure is located. All three hate and mistrust each other, but no one can get the treasure without the other three (sounds like some game theory scenario). But, this being a Sergio Leone film, the joy is not in the plot, but in the slow, grand, sweeping unraveling of that story, building tension past all reasonable expectations until the final paroxysm of violence. The three leads have become iconic: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach.

1. Au Hasard Balthazar – The simple story of a girl and her donkey, Robert Bresson’s masterpiece may be a trendy film geek favorite, but I love it nonetheless. It’s basically a biopic about a donkey, we follow Balthazar from his birth and idyllic childhood on a farm, his separation from the girl he loves, the varying degrees of mistreatment he receives as he passes from one owner to another (somehow always finding his way back to the girl). Paralleling Balthazar’s story is that of the girl, a fairly stupid, self-destructive kid who constantly makes the wrong choices. Also along for the ride are the girl’s father, an absurdly stubborn man who loses everything in a near-unbelievable attack of stubborn pride, and a young hoodlum who owns Balthazar for awhile and dates the stupid girl. Most people will claim the film is an allegory for something or other, usually whatever religion or philosophy they already happen to have. That’s what makes the film so unique: it can mean literally anything and everything. The simplicity of the story, the blankness of the acting (a Bresson trademark), the near invisibility of the visual style and score (though both are beautiful) create a blank slate of a film which the viewer must then give some kind of larger meaning (much like life? nah).

Some interesting Unseen films from this year: classics from Swinging London, pseudo-New Wave French films, Howard Hawks’s remake of his own Rio Bravo, and Tokyo Drifter, by Seijun Suzuki, none of whose films I’ve seen, but I plan to in the near future.

Manos: The Hands Of Fate
Blowup
Torn Curtain
El Dorado
Fantastic Voyage
Alfie
How To Steal A Million
Seconds
Our Man Flint
Closely Watched Trains
One Million Years B.C.
Django
Born Free
Tokyo Drifter
Is Paris Burning?
La Guerre Est Finie
Fighting Elegy
The Fortune Cookie
Un Homme Est Une Femme

Advertisements

Movie Roundup

Well, between the start of baseball season and a lot of movie buying and watching and a lot of working, it’s been awhile since I’ve done any blogging. So, here’s some reviews of the movies I’ve seen lately, and I’ll get around to putting up the 1966 list hopefully in the next couple of days.

A Woman Is A Woman – Jean-Luc Godard’s idea of a musical instantly becomes one of my favorite Godard films (and, thanks to the sale at DeepDiscountDVD.com, the only Godard I own on DVD). Anna Karina is at her best as a part-time stripper who, on a whim, decides she wants to have a baby. Her boyfriend, jean-Claude Brialy doesn’t want to, and mockingly suggests she enlist the help of their friend, Jean-Paul Belmondo, who happens to be in love with Karina. The story is overthetop melodramatic, but the great thing about the movie is Michel Legrand’s score: the music constantly wants to turn the film into a musical, but never quite gets going. It’s the broken, demented, yet still romantic cousin of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Like Brialy says, “I don’t know if it’s a comedy or a tragedy, but it’s a masterpiece.”

V For Vendetta – A very good action film with a surprisingly good script. Hugo Weaving’s great as V, he’s got one of the best voices in film today. Natalie Portman’s accent comes and goes. I like the joke of having John Hurt play the Big Brother dictator (he was the lead in the movie of 1984). I have a few minor quibbles with parts of the film (the backstory, the last action sequence, an unexplored and unresolved theme which might involve predestination vs. freedom) and the more I think about the movie, the more of them I come up with. But it was still very entertaining. The number 15 film of 2005.

Night Watch – This movie gets an incomplete, first because its only the first part part of a trilogy but more importantly because of the loud Russian teenagers in the theatre who totally ruined the mood by whispering, laughing randomly and playing with their cell phones. At least they stopped having actual conversations (in Russian, naturally) after I yelled at them. Anyway, it was a cool looking movie and may end up being a pretty good trilogy. I’m rating it # 20 for 2004.

The Squid & The Whale – A nice little film, though I didn’t like it as much as Kicking And Screaming (#4, 1995). A different look to the film than Baumbach’s first two, what with the hand-held camera and a hint of arty, almost jump-cutty editing. I don’t know why Laura Linney got any Oscar buzz for this, not that she was bad or anything, she was just unremarkable. Thankfully, she did not get a nomination. Jeff Daniels was very good though. Very evocative of its time and place and culture and I liked that it stayed within the kids’ point of view instead of explaining the parents’ side as well. I’ve ranked it the #9 film of 2005.

DOA – Mediocre psuedo-noir. Edmund O’Brien gives a fun, semi-hysterical lead performance, and the story’s interesting enough. But there isn’t really much all that new here aside from the clever set-up:

“I’m here to report a murder.”

“Who’s the victim?”

“I am.”

There’s some good misdirection in the plot, a compelling score by Dmitri Tiomkin (including a great hallucinatory scene in a night club), but it lacks the visual style of the really great films noir though the movie has an exciting pace and energy. The supporting actors, though, are really pretty bad.

My Life To Live – It’s a great movie and all, but I like Godard better when he’s having fun. Still, Anna Karina is amazing, this is the best performance I’ve seen from her yet., though it’s my least favorite of her movies. Some of the “tableaux” are great, I particularly enjoyed the old professor, the scene in the record store, the dance sequence, the documentary-style montage as Nana’s being taught how to be a professional, and especially, the whole last chapter. My Godard list, keeping in mind that they are all great:

1. Pierrot Le Fou
2. A Woman Is A Woman
3. Weekend
4. Band Of Outsiders
5. Alphaville
6. Breathless
7. Contempt
8. Masculin-Femenin
9. My Life To Live

Inside Man– An above average thriller/heist movie from Spike Lee, though I have this weird feeling that there’s something more profound going on in the film that I can’t quite put my finger on. . . . Something about racism and terrorism and the banality of evil and the emptiness of threats and public fears. . . I don’t know. All the actors are very good, and Lee’s direction was stylish and effective. The last act does kind of drag, but I think that’s intentional. Weird performance by Jodie Foster, but I liked it.

Sword Of Doom – Wow. Reading about this film, I see it was supposed to be but Part One of a trilogy, and it’s a damn shame it never got finished. I like the ending a lot as is, but some of the duller stretches of subplot would be more excusable if they’d ever gotten resolved. Still, a beautiful film, a fine performance from Toshiro Mifune and a brilliant intense, physical one from Tatsuya Nakadai. This film was clearly a big influence on George Lucas (Nakadai would have made an amazing Vader, instead we got a whiny Hayden Christiansen; Yoda’s death scene in Return of the Jedi is almost wholly ripped off from a scene here) and Tarantino for Kill Bill Vol. 1 (that should be real obvious). My favorite non-Kurosawa Samurai film.

They Live By Night – Noirish young-lovers-on-the-run movie that’s nearly totally ruined by Farley Granger. He was merely a bad actor playing a preppie in a pair of Hitchcock films (Rope and Strangers On A Train), but playing a young ex-con/former circus performer? Ugh. Nicholas Ray’s direction is slick and stylish, and Cathy O’Donnell is quite cute (and acts circles around Granger), but that just isn’t enough to make me like this movie.

F For Fake – Everything you could possibly want from an Orson Welles movie: a brilliant visual style (though created by editing here instead his usual techniques), a multilayered, profound yet entertaining story, a great lead performance from Welles himself, and one good-looking Hungarian woman. I’ve rated it the #2 film of 1974). This was my first DVD blind buy, but it was a pretty safe bet that I’d love it, as I have loved every one of Welles’s films that I’ve seen:

1. Touch Of Evil
2. Citizen Kane
3. Chimes At Midnight
4. Lady from Shanghai
5. F For Fake
6. Mr. Arkadin
7. Macbeth
8. Othello
9. Magnificent Ambersons
10. The Trial
11. The Stranger

Orson Welles: One Man Band – Bonus film on the Criterion F For Fake DVD. As a documentary, it’s not much. It’s not, as it apparently wants to be, an essay film along the lines of F For Fake. And it doesn’t really work as a traditional documentary either: too unfocused; doesn’t follow any apparent order, chronological or otherwise; isn’t particularly informative about much of the footage it does show; and it only covers the work that Welles left unfinished during the last 20 years of his life, while glossing over the unfinished work from the first 25 years of his career (like Don Quixote). Anyway, it’s worth seeing just for all the footage of Welles, fragmented and disorganized though it might be.

King Of Kings – The Nicholas Ray version from 1961, it was pretty interesting. Maybe it’s just because I watched the end of Do The Right Thing earlier that day, but I thought the film seemed to be paralleling the MLK/Malcolm X argument from the civil rights movement in the early 60s: violence or non-violence. Jeffery Hunter’s Jesus is a uncomplicated symbol of peaceful non-violence, and he’s contrasted with Barrabas and Judas (played by an unrecognizable Rip Torn), who are violent revolutionaries. Of course, this means some parts of the Jesus story have to be left out: no talk of swords for him, and certainly no attacking of moneychangers. The production is what you’d expect from a Hollywood bible epic from the time, and the direction and the performances are quite good. Some of the voices are a little weird, and the dubbing has some flaws, but it isn’t terrible. Orson Welles’s narration is, of course, excellent.

49th Parallel – British-Canadian propaganda film from the early days of World War 2 by Powell and Pressburger. The basic idea is to get Canadians involved in the war effort by showing them how wonderful they are and that the Nazis can get them too. A U-Boat crew gets stranded in Canada and makes its way across the country, encountering various Canadian stereotypes along the way. Laurence Olivier is hilarious as a French-Canadian trapper with an outrageous accent. Anton Walbrook is great as the leader of an Amish-type sect of German émigrés, he and the leader of the Nazis (Eric Portman) have a great scene of dueling speeches. Leslie Howard plays an effete intellectual who learns to bravely confront the Nazis and Raymond Massey plays a seemingly honorary American: loud and lazy but who becomes mobilized to join the fight in the end. Very entertaining and effective propaganda.

Winchester ’73 – The first Jimmy Stewart-Anthony Mann Western, it wasn’t as dark or noirish as I expected it to be. The story’s quite good, with Stewart’s revenge quest (and his concurrent gun search) providing an effective frame for what is essentially a tour of the West, descending into lower and lower levels of civilization (it starts with Dodge City, peaceful and ably run by famous lawmen, then is a battle between Indians and Cavalry, finally the chaotic violence of psychotic bandits). There’s even a nice twist at the end, not in the same class with a movie like, say, Oldboy (#8, 2003), but it did elicit a minor exclamtion of “that’s fucked up!” from me.

Friends With Money – Interesting attempt at discovering what happens if you make an ensemble character study without any interesting characters. Also, it teaches the profound truth that money cannot, in fact, buy happiness. Many great actresses are wasted in this mediocrity.

Movies Of The Year: 1967

I’ve been a bit busy lately, with a trip to Spokane, a birthday and lots of work. But I’ve finally gotten around to finishing this that I started almost two weeks ago.

Well, I certainly didn’t expect this. You have to go all the year forward until 1981 to find a year from which I’ve seen so many movies. And there’s quality too: the top 8 or 9 are all great, and every movie on the list is pretty good.

19. The Jungle Book
18. Barefoot In The Park
17. In The Heat Of The Night
16. Who’s That Knocking At My Door?

15. You Only Live Twice – One of my earliest film memories is going to see a James Bond quadruple feature at the local drive-in. Goldfinger was the first movie, and I stayed awake through that. I think I fell asleep during this one, which was the second film. I did manage to stay awake long enough to think that the evil redheaded girl was hot. Anyway, this is one of the very best Bond films, as he teams up with ninjas to save outer space, or something. The screenplay was by Roald Dahl, of all people.

14. Casino Royale – Speaking of Bond movies, this all-star parody film is bizarrely prescient as the plot hinges on their being a number of different actors playing James Bonds (including Woody Allen). A mess of a film, behind the camera as much as one it. IMDB lists the following with uncredited writing on the film: Woody Allen, Ben Hecht, Joseph Heller, Terry Southern, Billy Wilder and Peter Sellers. The cats includes: Allen, Sellers, Orson Welles, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Deborah Kerr, Jaqueline Bisset, Ursula Andress, David Niven, John Huston, Charles Boyer, George Raft, William Holden, David Prowse, Peter O’Toole and Anjelica huston’s hands. The newest Bond movie is also Casino Royale, but they’re playing it seriously this time.

13. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner – Social problem film in which Upper middle class white people are shocked when their daughter brings home a black fiance. Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy play the old couple, Hepburn’s neeice Katharine Houghton and Sidney Poitier play the young couple. It’s the kind of film that doesn’t age very well, but the brilliance of the performers still stands up.

12. Cool Hand Luke – Nobody can eat 50 eggs. Paul Newman created his definitive antihero character, the type he’d been playing for almost a decade in this movie about a non-conformist on a chain gang. It’s a lot like One Flew Over The Cukoo’s Nest, come to think of it, but with a more quotable screenplay. Frank pierson cowrote the screenplay. he also wrote Cat Ballou, Dog Day Afternoon and Presumed Innocent.

11. The Fearless Vampire Killers – Very strange little horror-comedy by Roman Polanski. He also co-stars as the assistant to a vampire-hunting professor. A weird and funny movie made poignant by the fact that Polanski’s love interest in the film is played by his wife, Sharon Tate, just a couple years before she was murdered by the Manson Family.

10. Samurai Rebellion – Toshiro Mifune stars as a aging samurai who’s first commanded to have his son marry his lord’s mistress, and then give her back after the two have fallen in love. He, predictably (thanks title!) refuses to do so, with lots of bloody samurai fun to result. Tatsuya Nakadai also stars. Directed by Masaki Kobayashi, who also did Harakiri, Kwaidan and The Human Condition Trilogy, none of which have I seen.

9. The Dirty Dozen – All-star World War II action movie about a group of criminally insane misfits who get assigned a suicide mission to kill a bunch of Nazis. We follow them from their selection, through their training at the hands of the great Lee Marvin and finally their attack on a house full of German generals. The cast is ridiculously good: Marvin, John Cassavettes, Robert Ryan, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, Charles Bronson, Ernest Borgnine, Jim Brown, George Kennedy and Ralph meeker. Director Robert Aldrich also did The Longest Yard, What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?, The Big Knife, Vera Cruz and one of my all-time favorite films noir, Kiss Me Deadly.

8. Belle De Jour – Luis Buñuel’s satire of bourgeois repression is also a loving tribute to perversion. Catherine Deneuve plays a bored housewife who decides to become a prostitute in her spare time. One of her clients, of course, falls in love with her, but that’s not the point. The film is full of little jokes. It’s not as weird as some of Buñuel’s other work, but there are a few surrealist touches here and there.

7. Le Samouraï – Jean-Pierre Melville made a whole series of films noir in the 60s, and this is the only one I’ve seen. Alain Delon plays a very cool hitman in this very cool movie about very cool people double crossing each other and such. Did I mention this movie was cool? Parts of this film were a big influence on John Woo, especially for The Killer (#6, 1989), just as American noir was an influence on Melville. Delon’s hitman is named Jeff, just like Chow Yun-fat’s in The Killer and Robert Mitchum’s in Out Of The Past.

6. Point Blank – John Boorman directed this stylish neo-noir revenge tale in which Lee Marvin comes back from being betrayed and left for dead by his friend and his cuckholding wife. Also stars Angie Dickenson, Keenan Wynn and Carroll O’Connor. It’s a dark, violent film told in a flashy New Wave style, with lots of weird cuts and flashes forward and backward in time. Marvin, as always, is terrific in the lead role. It was remade by Mel Gibson as Payback, a dreadful film, I rated it dead last, the #54 film of 1999.

5. The Graduate – Mike Nichols’s classic film about a disaffected young man and his affairs with a rich housewife and her daughter. If you haven’t seen it, you’ve probably been in some kind of tragic coma for the past 40 years, but I’m glad to see you’ve come out of it and have your priorities straight by reading this before doing anything else. It hasn’t really dated at all, despite what I’ve heard multiple times in the last month or so, instead it really only works if you’re close to the same age as Dustin Hoffman’s character. You have to be young for the aimlessness and angst to really make sense.

4. Don’t Look Back – One of the best and most influential documentaries ever is this DA Pennebaker film about Bob Dylan. It chronicles Dylan’s 1965 tour of England, the one right before he went electric and freaked out the lunatic folkies. It’s one of the pioneering cinema verité documentaries, where the filmmaker appears to leave his opinion out of the film, giving the impression that the audience is just a fly on the wall. Dylan’s hilarious, young, cocky, mean, sarcastic and brilliant. The are several extended sequences of him just toying with other people: reporters, annoying fans, Donovan. It also starts with a proto-musical video, for Subterranean Homesick Blues. A must see whether you’re a Dylan fan or not (and of course, you should be.)

3. Bonnie And Clyde – One of the more influential films in history, this film marks the end of the studio system and the rise of the independent-minded, personal studio films of the early 70s. Both Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut were both slated to direct it at one time, but eventually producer/star Warren Beatty settled on Arthur Penn to direct. Penn also directed Little Big Man (#7, 1970), The Chase, Alice’s Restaurant and the great Paul Newman/Billy The Kid movie The Left-Handed Gun. The cast was largely unknown at the time, including Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Gene Wilder and Michael J. Pollard, with Morgan Fairchild, of all people, as Dunaway’s double. The screenplay was by David Newman and Robert Benton who both also wrote Oh Calcutta, What’s Up, Doc? and Superman: The Movie. Newman went on to write Superman II and III, along with Santa Claus: The Movie, while Benton became a successful writer/director with Kramer vs. Kramer and Nobody’s Fool.

2. Week End – Jean-Luc Godard’s fractured road movie about a bourgeois couple lost in an apocalyptic rural highway system. Along the way to try to kill one of their parents to inherit some money, they meet singers, cannibals, revolutionaries, poets, actors and more lunatic rich people. The long tracking shot of the traffic jam is one of the greatest scenes in all of film. It’s not a perfect film, but even the episodes that seem dull (a long justification for terrorism against capitalism) or silly (the revolutionary cannibals at the end) can’t overcome the sheer audacity and brilliance of the film. The movie ends with Godard’s famous proclamation of The End of Cinema, which I can’t wait to open someday.

1. Playtime – Jacques Tati hated his famous character M. Hulot, but audiences just wouldn’t accept him as anything else. So, with this film, instead of Tati alone as Hulot, everyone becomes Hulot: a regular guy, maybe a bit clumsy, a bit oblivious, trapped in a modern world that, chaotic as it is, as much as it appears that he doesn’t fit in, in fact is perfectly interconnected, seamless and maybe even purposeful. The effect of the film is difficult to describe. . . . if it was possible to combine the best parts of the silent comedies of Chaplin and Keaton with the grace and musicality of an Astaire and Rogers film. Tati creates a symphony of movement without any actual music, just the sounds of an office, a roundabout, or a crowded restaurant. If you’ve ever wondered what that cliché about the ‘poetry of motion’ is all about, this film is the purest expression of it I’ve ever seen. The movie’s currently unavailable on DVD, and I’ve only seen it one time on video, but Criterion’s rereleasing it later this year, and I’ll be buying it as soon as possible. One of my all-time favorite movies.

Some good stuff I haven’t seen this year, including a Jacques Demy musical, a couple Godard films, a Bresson , a Hepburn and George Lucas’s first movie.

Wait Until Dark
In Cold Blood
To Sir With Love
Bedazzled
Camelot
Hombre
Doctor Doolittle
In Like Flint
Magical Mystery Tour
Branded To Kill
The Young Girls Of Rochefort
Mouchette
THX 1138
Two Or Three Things I Know About Her
I Am Curious (Yellow)
Hour Of The Gun
La Chinoise
The Collector
The Shooting