This Week in Rankings

Since the last update I’ve been covering some film programs outside of the Seattle area, writing short reviews of a handful of films playing at the New York Asian Film Festival and Japan Cuts for InReview Online. I also made an index which includes some old and new longer reviews here for the NYAFF. There was a very cool Johnnie To series in SanFrancisco I made an index of older reviews for, and I proposed some alternate titles for Seattle’s too short but welcome nonetheless Hong Kong miniseries. And I have an index ready for the Old School Kung Fu Film Fest coming to New York in a couple of weeks.

Mid-year also passed since the last update, and as is tradition I listed a bunch of my favorite films of the year so far. Over at Seattle Screen Scene I reviewed Wu Jing’s Wolf Warrior 2, Louis Koo’s giant alien cat movie Meow, Ann Hui’s Our Time Will Come, DA Pennebaker’s Monterey Pop, Stevefat’s Weeds on Fire, and Wong Chun’s Mad World. Also over at Frame.land, I wrote about Samuel Fuller’s Merrill’s Marauders.

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

Touchez pas au grisbi (Jacques Becker) – 17, 1954
Le trou (Jacques Becker) – 7, 1960
Merrill’s Marauders (Samuel Fuller) – 11, 1962
The TAMI Show (Steve Binder) – 12, 1964
Hong Kong Nocturne (Inoue Umetsugu) – 24, 1967

Monterey Pop (DA Pennebaker) – 12, 1968
Let It Be (Michael Lindsay-Hogg) – 4, 1970
The Beguiled (Don Siegel) – 14, 1971
The Black Tavern (Teddy Yip) – 18, 1972
Lady Whirlwind (Huang Feng) – 26, 1972

When Taekwando Strikes (Huang Feng) – 31, 1973
The Skyhawk (Walter Chung Chang-Hwa) – 39, 1974
Jumping Ash (Josephine Siao & Leong Po-Chih) – 18, 1976
A Grin Without a Cat (Chris Marker) – 5, 1977
Dirty Tiger, Crazy Frog (Karl Maka) – 33, 1978

Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (Allan Arkush) – 8, 1979
The Odd Couple (Lau Kar-wing) – 11, 1979
The Muppet Movie (James Frawley) – 14, 1979
The Young Master (Jackie Chan) – 9, 1980
The Victim (Sammo Hung) – 11, 1980

The Prodigal Son (Sammo Hung) – 8, 1981
Carry On Pickpocket (Sammo Hung) – 19, 1982
Jimi Plays Monterey (DA Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus) – 21, 1986
Millionaire’s Express (Sammo Hung) – 30, 1986
Broadcast News (James L. Brooks) – 1, 1987

Eastern Condors (Sammo Hung) – 10, 1987
Pedicab Driver (Sammo Hung) – 6, 1989
Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon (Lau Kar-wing) – 60, 1990
Beauty and the Beast (Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise) – 46, 1991
Pandora’s Box (Adam Curtis) – 11, 1992
Moon Warriors (Sammo Hung) – 30, 1992

Blade of Fury (Sammo Hung) – 61, 1993
Don’t Give a Damn (Sammo Hung) – 57, 1995
The Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye) – 16, 1996
Mr. Nice Guy (Sammo Hung) – 41, 1997
Beast Cops (Gordon Chan & Dante Lam) – 12, 1998

Something’s Gotta Give (Nancy Meyers) – 19, 2003
Infernal Affairs II (Andrew Lau & Alan Mak) – 23, 2003
Cinema Hong Kong (Ian Taylor) – 31, 2003
The Wrecking Crew! (Danny Tedesco) – 65, 2008
Hear My Train A-Comin’ (Bob Smeaton) – 71, 2013

Wolf Warriors (Wu Jing) – 111, 2015
The Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon Craig) – 32, 2016
Wet Woman in the Wind (Akihiko Shiota) – 66, 2016
Over the Fence (Nobuhrio Yamashita) – 90, 2016
Mad World (Wong Chun) – 100, 2016

Blood of Youth (Yang Shu-peng) – 128, 2016
Someone to Talk To (Liu Yulin) – 138, 2016
Our Time Will Come (Ann Hui) – 4, 2017
Love and Goodbye and Hawaii (Shingo Matsumura) – 8, 2017
The Village of No Return (Chen Yu-hsun) – 10, 2017

Long Strange Trip (Amir Bar-Lev) – 21, 2017
Oh Hello: On Broadway (Michael John Warren & Alex Timbers) – 24, 2017
Duckweed (Han Han) – 25, 2017
Ingrid Goes West (Matt Spicer) – 26, 2017
The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue (Yuya Ishii) – 27, 2017

Meow (Benny Chan) – 30, 2017
Hengyoro (Gō Takemine) – 31, 2017
The Incredible Jessica James (James Strouse) – 32, 2017
Wolf Warrior 2 (Wu Jing) – 35, 2017

The Gangster’s Daughter (Chen Mei-juin) – 37, 2017
Extraordinary Mission (Alan Mak & Anthony Pun) – 40, 2017
Descendants 2 (Kenny Ortega) – 43, 2017
Despicable Me 3 (Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda) – 44, 2017

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A Top 50 Films of 2016, More or Less

As I did last year and the year before, I’m making a Best of the Year list following the conventional system for what counts as a 2016 film, mainly the nonsensical and ahistorical system that decrees that critics may only consider movies to have existed once they have played for a week in a commercial venue in New York City, or, in a new twist this year, on a television or streaming service in New York. This is the system that claims my favorite film of 2013 (La última película), which played for a week in Seattle in 2014, can only be considered a 2015 film because that is when it finally got a New York release, although it played Los Angeles for the first time in 2016. Not to mention the absurdity that my favorite film from 1991, Isao Takahata’s Only Yesterday, qualifies for this list, along with a 30 year old Edward Yang movie and an Apichatpong Weerasethakul movie I saw in Vancouver in 2012. But alas, we all must bow to convention, however silly, every once in awhile.

My 2016 list of course will never be finalized, as there’s no such thing as a final list here at The End: there are always more new movies to discover and old movies to reevaluate. But in a couple of weeks I’ll have the nominations up for the 2016 Endy Awards, with the winners to be announced during the Academy Awards ceremony. This list is a snapshot of my favorites of 2016 as they stand now, on the last day of the year.

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1. Only Yesterday (Isao Takahata)

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2. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)

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3. Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman)

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4. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)

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5. Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhangke)

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6. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)

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7. Lemonade (Beyoncé Knowles & Kahlil Joseph)

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8. Things to Come Mia Hansen-Løve)

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9. SPL 2: A Time for Consequences (Soi Cheang)

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10. Cemetery of Splendor (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

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11. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)

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12. Sully (Clint Eastwood)

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13. Sunset Song (Terence Davies)

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14. The Love Witch (Anna Biller)

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15. The Terrorizers (Edward Yang)

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16. Three (Johnnie To)

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17. Kaili Blues (Bi Gan)

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18. Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sangsoo)

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19. Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater)

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20. The Mermaid (Stephen Chow)

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21. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (Karan Johar)

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22. The Age of Shadows (Kim Ji-woon)

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23. Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick)

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24. The Thoughts that Once We Had (Thom Andersen)

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25. Mekong Hotel (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

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26. Hail, Caesar! (The Coen Brothers)

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27. Crosscurrent (Yang Chao)

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28. The Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon Craig)

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29. I Am Not Madame Bovary (Feng Xiaogang)

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30. The Shallows (Jaume Collet-Serra)

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31. Tower (Keith Maitland)

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32. Rogue One (Gareth Edwards)

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33. Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson)

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34. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)

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35. Train to Busan (Yeon Sangho)

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36. OJ: Made in America (Ezra Edelman)

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37. De Palma (Noah Baumbach & Jake Paltrow)

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38. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)

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39. Short Stay (Ted Fendt)

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40. Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho)

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41. The Witch (Robert Eggers)

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42. My Beloved Bodyguard (Sammo Hung)

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43. A Train Arrives at the Station (Thom Andersen)

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44. The Wasted Times (Cheng Er)

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45. One Night Only (Matt Wu)

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46. Indefinite Pitch (James Kienitz Wilkins)

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47. SoulMate (Derek Tsang)

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48. Call of Heroes (Benny Chan)

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49. Garfunkel and Oates: Trying to Be Special (Riki Lindhome & Jeremy Konner)

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50. La La Land (Damien Chazelle)

This Week in Rankings

We’re coming down to the end of 2016 (at last!) and so here’s one last rankings update before all the lists and whatnot at the end of December. Since my last update I’ve written about I am Not Madame Bovary and Old Stone at Seattle Screen Scene and Sky on Fire at MUBI. I also appeared on the Snakes and Funerals podcast talking about Jean Renoir’s American Films.

These are the movies I’ve watched or rewatched over the last few weeks and where they place on my year-by-year rankings.

La chienne (Jean Renoir) – 10, 1931
La bête humaine (Jean Renoir) – 4, 1938
Swamp Water (Jean Renoir) – 12, 1941
The Southerner (Jean Renoir) – 6, 1945
The Woman on the Beach (Jean Renoir) – 9, 1947

The Golden Coach (Jean Renoir) – 9, 1952
Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen (Donald Brittain & Don Owen) – 31, 1965
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (Bill Melendez) – 4, 1966
Death Duel (Chor Yuen) – 17, 1977
City on Fire (Ringo Lam) – 4, 1987

School on Fire (Ringo Lam) – 3, 1988
Songs from the Life of Leonard Cohen (Bob Portway) – 41, 1988
Wild Search (Ringo Lam) – 46, 1989
Prison on Fire II (Ringo Lam) – 24, 1991
Touch and Go (Ringo Lam) – 58, 1991

Burning Paradise in Hell (Ringo Lam) – 24, 1994
The Adventurers (Ringo Lam) – 89, 1995
The Suspect (Ringo Lam) – 59, 1998
The Victim (Ringo Lam) – 53, 1999
Looking for Mr. Perfect (Ringo Lam) – 26, 2003

Leonard Cohen: Under Review: 1934-1977 – 44, 2006
Rat Film (Theo Anthony) – 24, 2016
The Shallows (Jaume Collet-Serra) – 29, 2016
I am Not Madame Bovary (Feng Xiaogang) – 33, 2016
Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt) – 34, 2016

Call of Heroes (Benny Chan) – 46, 2016
La La Land (Damien Chazelle) – 53, 2016
Old Stone (Johnny Ma) – 58, 2016
The Handmaiden (Park Chanwook) – 64, 2016
Arrival (Denis Villeneuve) – 68, 2016

Hamilton’s America (Alex Horwitz) – 73, 2016
Sky on Fire (Ringo Lam) – 83, 2016
Ghostbusters (Paul Feig) – 84, 2016
Doctor Strange (Scott Derrickson) – 89, 2016

This Week in Rankings

Since the last update, I posted my annual randomized Top 100 Films of All-Time list (see also the Seattle Screen Scene Top 100 Films of All-Time Project), wrote about DW Griffith and Intolerance for Movie Mezzanine, wrote about three Sion Sono films for InReview Online (Bicycle Sighs, Suicide Club and Love Exposure) and covered The Age of Shadows and Soulmate at Seattle Screen Scene.

I’m off to Vancouver in a couple of days for the Film Festival (here’s my proposed schedule) and I’ll be writing about what I see there over at Seattle Screen Scene. I’ll have an index over here of my coverage as well of course.

I’ve been watching fewer movies this year, mostly because as my kids get older it’s become easier to read books. I’ve read more this year than the past five years, since kid #1 was born) put together. Here’s a ranked list of what I’ve read (and finished) so far this year:

1. Where I Was From – Joan Didion
2. Slouching Towards Bethlehem – Joan Didion
3. A Death in the Family – James Agee
4. Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
5. Harmonium – Wallace Stevens
6. The Souls of Black Folk – WEB DuBois
7. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
8. Lyrical Ballads (William Wordsworth & Samuel Taylor Coleridge
9. The White Album – Joan Didion
10. Rising from the Plains – John McPhee
11. Lady Susan – Jane Austen
12. A Collection of Essays – George Orwell
13. Violet Energy Ingots – Hoa Nguyen
14. Basin & Range – John McPhee
15. Salvador – Joan Didion
16. In Suspect Terrain – John McPhee
17. Love & Friendship – Whit Stillman
18. The Silk Roads – Peter Frankopan
19. A Galaxy Not So Far Away – Glenn Kenny, et al

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

The Adventures of Dollie (DW Griffith) – 2, 1908
A Corner in Wheat (DW Griffith) – 1, 1909
Those Awful Hats (DW Griffith) – 2, 1909
The Sealed Room (DW Griffith) – 4, 1909
The Unchanging Sea (DW Griffith) – 1, 1910

The Usurer (DW Griffith) – 4, 1910
The Lonedale Operator (DW Griffith) – 1, 1911
Enoch Arden (DW Griffith) – 2, 1911
The Miser’s Heart (DW Griffith) – 3, 1911
His Trust (DW Griffith) – 4, 1911

The Musketeers of Pig-Alley (DW Griffith) – 1, 1912
The Girl and Her Trust (DW Griffith) – 2, 1912
The Massacre (DW Griffith) – 3, 1912
The New York Hat (DW Griffith) – 5, 1912
The Sunbeam (DW Griffith) – 6, 1912

The Painted Lady (DW Griffith) – 7, 1912
Friends (DW Griffith) – 9, 1912
An Unseen Enemy (DW Griffith) – 10, 1912
The Lesser Evil (DW Griffith) – 11, 1912
One is Business, the Other Crime (DW Griffith) – 12, 1912

The Burglar’s Dilemma (DW Griffith) – 13, 1912
Death’s Marathon (DW Griffith) – 3, 1913
The Mothering Heart (DW Griffith) – 4, 1913
The Battle at Elderbush Gulch (DW Griffith) – 6, 1913
The Last Drop of Water (DW Griffith) – 7, 1913

Judith of Bethulia (DW Griffith) – 5, 1914
Intolerance (DW Griffith) – 1, 1916
Hearts of the World (DW Griffith) – 1, 1918
Broken Blossoms (DW Griffith) – 1, 1919
The Fall of Babylon (DW Griffith) – 5, 1919

The Mother and the Law (DW Griffith) – 9, 1919
Isn’t Life Wonderful (DW Griffith) – 5, 1924
America (DW Griffith) – 13, 1924
The Sorrows of Satan (DW Griffith) – 10, 1926

Showgirls (Paul Verhoeven) – 56, 1995
Young and Dangerous 3 (Andrew Lau) – 53, 1996
Time and Tide (Tsui Hark) – 7, 2000
Suicide Club (Sion Sono) – 9, 2001
Shaolin Soccer (Stephen Chow) – 12, 2001

Love Exposure (Sion Sono) – 5, 2008
Viola (Matías Piñeiro) – 11, 2012
Finding Mr. Right (Xue Xiaolu) – 49, 2013
Sully (Clint Eastwood) – 2, 2016
The Age of Shadows (Kim Jee-woon) – 5, 2016

Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson) – 9, 2016
A Train Arrives at the Station (Thom Andersen) – 16, 2016
From Nine to Nine (Neil Bahadur) – 17, 2016
Ocean Falls (Ryan Ermacora&  Jessica Johnson) – 18, 2016

Soulmate (Derek Tsang) – 20, 2016
From Vegas to Macau III (Wong Jing) – 29, 2016
The Secret Life of Pets (Yarrow Cheney& Chris Renaud) – 32, 2016

This Week in Rankings

Over the several week since the last update, I wrote about Johnnie To’s Three for Mubi, Edward Yang’s A Brighter Summer Day for Movie Mezzanine and Sion Sono’s Bicycle Sighs for InReview Online (link coming soon). Here at The End I counted down the Best Movies of 2016 (So Far) and at Seattle Screen Scene I wrote about a trio of under-the-radar new Chinese releases, Cold War 2, One Night Only and For a Few Bullets, and a pair of American movies: DePalma and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. We also released the final episode of The Frances Farmer Show, on Three and Samuel Fuller’s Shock Corridor.

The are the movies I’ve watched and reattached over the last few weeks, and where they place on my year-by-year rankings.

Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly) – 1, 1952
Shock Corridor (Samuel Fuller) – 10, 1963
Dragon Gate Inn (King Hu) – 3, 1967
A Touch of Zen (King Hu) – 1, 1971
Scarface (Brian DePalma) – 9, 1983

My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki) – 2, 1988
Bicycle Sighs (Sion Sono) – 42, 1990
A Brighter Summer Day (Edward Yang) – 2, 1991
Love in the Time of Twilight (Tsui Hark) – 10, 1995
Persuasion (Roger Michell) – 15, 1995

Young and Dangerous (Andrew Lau) – 53, 1996
Young and Dangerous 2 (Andrew Lau) – 59, 1996
Yi yi (Edward Yang) – 5, 2000
State and Main (David Mamet) – 17, 2000
Cold War (Longman Leung & Sunny Luk) – 52, 2012

Kaili Blues (Bi Gan) – 18, 2015
Sixty Six (Lewis Klahr) – 23, 2015
Three (Johnnie To) – 3, 2016
OJ: Made in America (Ezra Edelman) – 9, 2016

One Night Only (Matt Wu) – 10, 2016
Cold War 2 (Longman Leung & Sunny Luk) – 19, 2016
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (Jake Szymanski) – 22, 2016
For a Few Bullets (Pan Anzi) – 23, 2016

The Best Movies of 2016 (So Far)

We are now halfway through the year and as has become an annual tradition here at The End, it’s time to look back at the best movies of the year so far. As I discussed in the 2013 halfway post, the consensus movie-dating system is nonsensical and posits New York as the center of the universe. Far more logical (and much easier to use) is a system reliant on imdb’s dating system, which locates a film in whatever year it first played for an audience. That’s what we use here for all Rankings & Awards as it’s the most fair to all eras and areas. (A dating system reliant on playing in a certain locality I think can be valuable for a publication that is geographically specific, like a local newspaper or website. We’ll be putting together a Seattle-specific lists for Seattle Screen Scene later this week, for example. But here at The End, we have a global reach.)

A by-product of the system is that a number of films that first go into wide-release in any given year actually had their premiere in the year before. A number of the films on many critics’ halfway-thorough lists include these films, films that find their proper home here on my 2015 list. And so here we have two lists: the Best Movies of 2016, following the strict imdb dating system, and the Best 2015 Movies of 2016, which includes those films from last year that you might find on a more chronologically-illogical list (and despite the title, also includes one film from 1991 and one from 2012, both of which only premiered in New York this year). I also have a third list, Best Unreleased Movies of 2015, of last year’s films that have yet to see a New York release and therefore don’t (yet) exist by the standards of most critics. And a fourth list, a halfway version of my annual Best Older Movies list, counting the top movies I saw for the first time this year that are more than a few years old.

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This Week in Rankings

Since the last update the Seattle International Film Festival has come and gone. My coverage included fifteen reviews, three podcasts and a trio of previews, all at Seattle Screen Scene. I posted the English language version of a short survey of Contemporary Chinese Cinema I wrote for the Estonian arts magazine SIRP and I listed 50 of the Best Chinese Language Films of the 21st Century. Jealous of the massive Hong Sangsoo retrospective going on in New York, I indexed all of my writing and podcasting on Hong and resurrected a lost podcast episode I helped record last year on Hong and Oki’s Movie. And, with the festival over, I finally was able to watch and review my much-anticipated English-subtitled DVD of Jiang Wen’s 2014 film Gone with the Bullets.

These are the movies I’ve watched or rewatched over the last few weeks, and where they place in my year-by-year rankings.

The General (Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman) – 1, 1926
The Big Road (Sun Yu) – 6, 1935
Merbabies (Vernon Stallings & Rudolf Ising) – 23, 1938
Heaven Can Wait (Ernst Lubitsch) – 4, 1943
A Scandal in Paris (Douglas Sirk) – 13, 1946

Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly) – 1, 1952
Los tallos amargos (Fernando Ayala) – 22, 1956
Chimes at Midnight (Orson Welles) – 2, 1965
Dragon Gate Inn (King Hu) – 3, 1967
Distant Voices, Still Lives (Terence Davies) – 1, 1988

The Long Day Closes (Terence Davies) – 6, 1992
Cure (Kiyoshi Kurosawa) – 9, 1997
Pulse (Kiyoshi Kurosawa) – 12, 2001
Tokyo Sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosawa) – 6, 2008
575 Castro St. (Jenni Olson) – 18, 2009
Gone with the Bullets (Jiang Wen) – 26, 2014

Sunset Song (Terence Davies) – 11, 2015
Murmur of the Hearts (Sylvia Chang) – 24, 2015
De Palma (Noah Baumbach & Jake Paltrow) – 47, 2015
Concerto: A Beethoven Journey (Phil Grabsky) – 58, 2015
Thithi (Raam Reddy) – 63, 2015

Tag (Sion Sono) – 74, 2015
The Island Funeral (Pimpka Towira) – 83, 2015
Ten Years (Various) – 91, 2015
The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Maddin (Yves Montmayeur) – 99, 2015
The Final Master (Xu Haofeng) – 114, 2015

Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman) – 1, 2016
Three (Johnnie To) – 3, 2016
A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (Shunji Iwai) – 7, 2016
Trivisa (Jevons Au, Frank Hui & Vicky Wong) – 8, 2016
Creepy (Kiyoshi Kurosawa) – 9, 2016

My Beloved Bodyguard (Sammo Hung) – 10, 2016
Lo and Behold: Reveries of a Connected World (Werner Herzog) – 11, 2016
The Mobfathers (Herman Yau) – 14, 2016
The Seasons in Quincy (Tilda Swinton, et al) – 15, 2016
In a Valley of Violence (Ti West) – 20, 2016