Thursday, September 27, 2007


From the Vault: Gone With the Wind

NOTE: Ranked No. 91
on my all-time top 100 of 2007

Even after 50 years, Gone With the Wind still manages to delight and entertain, especially when one gets the opportunity to see it projected on the big screen in all its Technicolor glory instead of viewing the faded copy that has played in recent years. Having seen the film many times before, I found myself focusing more on the visuals and trying to ignore the story, a quite difficult task when you have Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh's caustic chemistry to distract you.

This time, the hands of the director (or more accurately, directors) were more evident to me. I'm not sure if all the scenes and shots I liked should be attributed to Victor Fleming, George Cukor or Sam Wood, but the scenes were stunning no matter who directed them.

One sequence, which escaped my notice watching the film on television, depicts a minister speaking in front of large stained-glass window of Jesus Christ as an explosion rips through Christ's midsection. The minister continues to speak and the camera pulls back to reveal that the minister is speaking to a wounded soldier, one of many who have turned the church into a makeshift hospital.

The restoration also highlights other stunning shots and their vivid colors. There are some flaws in the print — certain parts still seem faded and occasionally blotches of red, blue and green bleed through the image.

The film itself may be unsurpassed in terms of storytelling, holding your interest for 222 minutes, something even films less than 90 minutes long have trouble doing today. In fact, one should admire Gone With the Wind for doing what television miniseries such as North and South do today at more than twice the running time.

The pacing flows naturally, with the exception of the final portion of the film beginning with Scarlett's acceptance of Rhett's marriage proposal. From there through the birth, life and death of their child and the resolution of the remainder of the film almost feels rushed.

Then again, who cares? When you build up to the final scene with no less than three memorable lines including the first, and arguably the most famous, piece of profanity ever put on screen. In 1939, Gable's "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" shocked and almost didn't make the cut. Thank goodness it did.

The main problem I've always had with Gone With the Wind still bothered me when I watched it again and that problem is named Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes. Having never read Margaret Mitchell's classic novel, I don't know if the problem lies in Wilkes' character or in Howard's interpretation, but he has always bothered me as being weaker than the rest of the cast.

Howard looks too gaunt, too bland and too boring to be believable as someone Scarlett would carry a torch for for decades. His indecisiveness and weakness seems unbecoming for someone who's supposed to be a leading officer in the Confederate Army.

Howard aside, the rest of the performances are unsurpassed. Olivia de Havilland stood out for this time. Melanie, the most kind person Rhett ever knew and Ashley's wife, could come off as a goody two-shoes, but de Havilland overcomes that. Melanie is nice and loyal, but you can see that she also is very bright. Scarlett may believe Melanie is naive, but the audience knows better.

It doesn't need to be said, but Gable excels as Rhett, who actually is on screen less than you might think, but the times when he is never bores. His sparks with Leigh stand with any of the great antagonistic love interests of all time.

What more can be said about Leigh that hasn't already been said. She is Scarlett O'Hara. You forget she's British, something you always notice as far as Howard is concerned. Her facial expressions, her delivery — nothing she does misses the mark. One forgets that this same actress made just as indelible an impression as a very different Southerner — Blanche DuBois — 12 years later.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Welcome back Ray

By Edward Copeland
Seventeen years after Leland Palmer died on Twin Peaks (except for a brief appearance in the series finale and the movie prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me), Ray Wise has finally landed a role that shows off his talents and it happens to be an entertaining new series on the CW. Wise's character isn't possessed this time, he's the devil himself and Reaper, at least in its first outing is a real hoot. (Owl reference intentional.)

Reaper premiered Tuesday night (with an episode directed by Kevin Smith no less) and I'm glad to say that I found it lived up to the advance buzz. I was destined to try it at least once, just for Wise, but I'm definitely coming back as long as it's this entertaining.

The show's star is Bret Harrison as Sam Oliver, an underachiever, stuck in a dead-end job at a home improvement store, who learns on his 21st birthday that his parents sold his soul to the devil before he was even conceived. Now that he's 21, the bill is due.

However, Satan isn't interested in dragging Sam down to Hell: He wants to use him on Earth, tracking down escapees from the eternal fire and sending them back where they belong. Sam is understandably reluctant at first and offers to let the devil just take him to Hell (he's not doing anything that worthwhile anyway), but Old Scratch will have none of that.

He's of no use in Hell. He hasn't done anything that deserves punishment, but the devil still insists on having his debts paid and makes Sam an offer he can't refuse: Be his bounty hunter on Earth or his mom gets sent to the fiery pit.

Assisting him is his fellow co-worker and uber-slacker Sock (Tyler Labine), who seems like a character out of a Smith movie. Of course, Sam also has a crush on a female co-worker, but let's face it, that's not why I'm there. I tuned in for Wise and boy does he deliver.

There are a few little glimpses of Leland/BOB in his performance (as when he smiles or giggles), but mostly his devil is a portrayal unlike any I've seen. While he's capable of showing a bit of his sinister nature, this devil almost is a motivational speaker, encouraging Sam to give his life purpose and that the people he's sending to Hell, deserve to be there.

He even tries to assuage Sam's fears about helping Satan by informing him he's seen how the world ends and, trust him, God wins. Wise gives his portrayal so many fun spins that I hate to spoil them for people who have yet to see the show (apparently you can watch it anytime on the CW Web site).

I'm just glad that this fine actor has finally landed another series role worthy of his gifts. Welcome back Ray.

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A great director, a great American

By Edward Copeland
Though the documentary is more than 20 years old, I'd never sat down to watch George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey, made by his son George Stevens Jr. I've always admired the elder Stevens' work as a director, but he wasn't someone I thought about much. This film changed that, not only in the way I looked at his films but in what I knew about the man himself.

For one thing, I was unaware of his early start working with Hal Roach on Laurel and Hardy comedies before Katharine Hepburn helped engineer his big break when she agreed to let him direct 1935's great Alice Adams.
In fact, though much of his later career were films of a more serious nature, his early great works displayed an impressive light tough such as in Swing Time, Vivacious Lady, The More the Merrier and the incomparable Woman of the Year, which teamed Hepburn and Spencer Tracy for the first time. He even made the 1939 actioner Gunga Din with Cary Grant a ton of fun.

As Hepburn laments in the documentary, something was lost when Stevens turned away from comedy. One thing in particular that's fascinating is the documentary is the color 16mm footage that Stevens often shot while he was making his films. Particularly interesting is seeing the color scenes of work on Gunga Din compared with the actual black-and-white finished movie.

His skills at this type of "home movies" is what led Eisenhower to tap him and others to help document the Allied invasion of Europe in World War II, and in light of the current Ken Burns' documentary on The War, it is of special interest. World War II though is what changed Stevens.

When he returned to Hollywood, his world view had changed to the point that he no longer felt he should be frivolous with his filmmaking, and that's when his output turned more serious, starting with A Place in the Sun, his adaptation of Theodore Dreiser's popular novel An American Tragedy.

He followed that up with the great Western Shane, which he set out to make as an early attempt to demystify the genre and to show guns for the deadly instruments they are. Warren Beatty repeats his story in the documentary about how he learned from Stevens how to make the gunshots ring in Bonnie and Clyde as they did in Shane and how a clueless British projectionist tried to "fix it" during the London premiere.

He followed that with the epic soaper Giant, which I was fortunate enough to see in a theater during its 1996 re-release, and whose influence on the TV series Dallas is unmistakable (Check out the big JR on the wall when James Dean's character is a tycoon).

Still, though many of Stevens' movies get short shrift or no mention at all in George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey, it's the stories about the man himself that are most enlightening. In addition to World War II's influence on him, it recounts how he stood up to Cecil B. DeMille who was trying to drum Joseph L. Mankiewickz out of the predecessor to the Directors Guild for refusing to sign a loyalty oath during the days of communist witchhunts.

As John Huston says in an interview, Stevens stood up for the Constitution and his fellow directors went along, putting DeMille in his place. Alas, if only more Americans in any field of work would stand up for the Constitution today.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007


A celebration of storytelling

"When I was your age, television was called books."
Peter Falk as The Grandfather in The Princess Bride

By Edward Copeland
When I first saw The Princess Bride when it was released 20 years ago (to the day as a matter of fact), I really liked it. My affection for the film has only grown over the years and it has risen higher and higher in my esteem, a tough task given what a great film year 1987 was. (My 10 best list for that year also included Broadcast News, Full Metal Jacket, House of Games, Matewan, River's Edge, Angel Heart, Barfly, Jean de Florette and The Last Emperor. That didn't even include other worthy offerings such as The Dead, The Untouchables, Hope and Glory, Radio Days, Robocop, Moonstruck, Raising Arizona, Manon of the Spring, Roxanne, Red Sorghum, Au Revoir Les Enfants and A Taxing Woman, to mention several others). Still, today is for The Princess Bride and The Princess Bride alone.

The great DVD edition of The Princess Bride contains not one but two worthwhile commentary tracks, one by director Rob Reiner and another by screenwriter William Goldman, who wrote the book upon which the film was based. If it weren't already obvious, Goldman spells out clearly his intention with both the book and the movie: He wanted to celebrate good old-fashioned storytelling and it's a joyous tale to be told.

Set within the context of a grandfather (Peter Falk) reading a book to his sick grandson (Fred Savage), who'd much rather be playing video games. However, the power of the story soon pulls the kid in, even if he has early concerns that it's a "kissing book," though he picks up interest when he hears developments he approves of. As he says, "Murdered by pirates is good." Of course, there's more elements than that: Revenge, danger, lost love, swashbuckling and lots and lots of laughs. Nowhere is that exemplified better than in the early fencing scene between Westley (Cary Elwes), disquised as the Dread Pirate Roberts, and Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin). The swordplay is great, but what makes it even better is the amount of exposition and comedy that takes place within its context, filling us in on Inigo's devotion to avenging to his father and much more, though he admits there's not a lot of money in revenge. The film's structure almost resembles The Odyssey, not in a literal way, but in moving the plot forward through one setpiece after another.

The swordfight on the "Cliffs of Insanity" follows the abduction of Westley's lost love Buttercup (Robin Wright, in her film debut) after she became engaged to Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), after Buttercup was told that her beloved Westley was dead. Buttercup's kidnappers include Inigo, the giant Fezzick (Andre the Giant) and their leader with the dizzying intellect, Vizzini (a hysterical Wallace Shawn). First, Buttercup faces off against shrieking eels in an escape attempt before the trio realizes they are being followed. One by one, Westley bests them all in the pursuit of his lost love, who doesn't even realize immediately who the man in the mask is and tries to bargain with him to return her to Humperdinck, arguing that she's suffered enough pain in her life. Life is pain, the disguised Westley tells her, "Anyone who says differently is selling something." After besting Inigo, he manages to leave Fezzick unconscious, advising him to "Rest well and dream of large women."

The best one though is the comic mental duel between Westley and Vizzini, frustrated by the failures of his underlings and their reluctance to kill the would-be princess. "I hired you to help me start a war," Vizzini tells them. "It's a prestigious line of work with a long and glorious tradition." I hope the architects of the current quagmire didn't take Vizzini's advice, but even if they did, they missed his even more important lesson: "Never get involved in a land war in Asia." Once Westley has defeated the kidnappers and Buttercup realizes who he is and that he isn't dead, he tells her, "Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it awhile."

The trials continue, through fire swamps filled with "rodents of unusual size" and eventual torture at the hands of Humperdinck, who it turns out had hired his bride-to-be's kidnappers in the first place to start the war with the country of Guilder. Once the prince's right-hand badman Count Rugen (Christopher Guest), asks if the prince would enjoy watching him work his six-fingered sadism on Westley, Humperdinck has to reluctantly decline. "I've got my country's 500th anniversary to plan, a wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it. I'm swamped," the prince tells Rugen.

When Buttercup expresses a preference for death to marrying Humperdinck, he changes his mind and ends up killing Westley, something the grandson violently objects to, insisting to his grandfather that it isn't fair that Westley's dead and that Humperdinck will live at the end. "Who said that life is fair?" his grandfather asks him, before continuing the story and revealing that Westley was only mostly dead and, thanks to the now-unemployed Inigo and Fezzick and a fired miracle worker named Max (Billy Crystal) and his wife Valerie (Carol Kane), Westley is brought back to help storm the castle, rescue Buttercup and allow Inigo to kill the man who killed his father, who happens to be Count Rugen. Elwes displays such comic brilliance throughout the film, but most especially physical comic talents in the scenes where he's coming out of being "mostly dead," it really made me wonder rewatching this what happened to his career. Did making a dreadful Fatal Attraction knockoff with Alicia Silverstone relegate him to films such as Saw and guest shots on Law and Order? Robin Wright has grown into one of our best actresses (with the addition of the name Penn), even if she makes some awful choices such as Sorry, Haters, but Elwes seems to have stalled.

Of course, The Princess Bride is loaded with comic surprises. Sarandon, two years after his great work as the vampire Jerry Dandridge in Fright Night, makes a fun villain. Guest, a comic genius, actually plays it mostly straight as Rugen, telling Inigo that he's got "an overdeveloped sense of vengeance" when they finally face off and Patinkin gets to deliver the now immortal line: "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Rugen even pleads for Inigo to stop saying that, but the entire world seems to have been saying it ever since, including men who worked for the late real-life mobster John Gotti in a funny story on Reiner's commentary track. Of course, the film also has one priceless comic cameo surprise. As Humperdinck prepares to make Buttercup his bride, the Impressive Clergyman turns around and reveals himself to be the late great British comic Peter Cook, who begins to speak with the word "Mawwiage," continuing to have Ws where all of his Rs should be. In addition to the mystery of what happened to Elwes' career, it's also a bit of a mystery as to what happened to Reiner as a director. He began on such a roll: This Is Spinal Tap, The Sure Thing, Stand By Me and then The Princess Bride. He followed that with three films that were good, but not as great as the first four: When Harry Met Sally..., Misery and A Few Good Men. Then came North and since that disaster, every film he's made has been at best passable, at worst deadly. Will Reiner ever be able to mount a cinematic comeback? I hope so. Before I close the book on The Princess Bride though, I would be remiss if I didn't comment on the biggest flaw in the film: One of the worst Oscar-nominated songs in Oscar history, and that's saying something. "Storybook Love" includes laughably bad lyrics such as "Our love is like a storybook story/It's as real as these feelings I feel." Thankfully, it was relegated to the credits and didn't mar an otherwise happy ending.

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Monday, September 24, 2007


For The Siren

By Edward Copeland
Since Campaspe aka the Self-Styled Siren requested that I post how many first-place votes the various titles got in the survey, I thought I'd comply. Interestingly enough, thanks to the point system, the first-place finisher overall did not get the most first-place votes. I also decided because of other requests to just post the ranked list, sans art and quotes, for easy access and copy and pasting, if you so desire.


Seven Samurai (21)
The Rules of the Game (18)
Persona (8)
8½ (7)
Grand Illusion (7)
Bicycle Thieves (5)
The Conformist (5)
The Decalogue (5)
The 400 Blows (5)
In the Mood for Love (5)
Ikiru (4)
Rashomon (4)
Andrei Rublev (3)
Au Hasard Balthazar (3)
Belle de Jour (3)
Children of Paradise (3)
City of God (3)
Fanny and Alexander (3)
L'Atalante (3)
M (3)
Sansho the Bailiff (3)
Ugetsu Monogotari (3)
The Battle of Algiers (2)
Chungking Express (2)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2)
Jules and Jim (2)
La Strada (2)
Late Spring (2)
The Leopard (2)
My Night at Maud's (2)
Playtime (2)
Raise the Red Lantern (2)
Tokyo Story (2)
Wings of Desire (2)
Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1)
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1)
Amarcord (1)
Band of Outsiders (1)
Beauty and the Beast (1)
Cinema Paradiso (1)
Contempt (1)
Cries and Whispers (1)
Day for Night (1)
Day of Wrath (1)
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1)
The Double Life of Veronique (1)
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1)
Forbidden Games (1)
The Great Silence (1)
High and Low (1)
La Dolce Vita (1)
L'Eclisse (1)
Madame de… (1)
The Seventh Seal (1)
Stolen Kisses (1)
Story of the Late Chrysanthemums (1)
To Live (1)
Umberto D (1)
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1)
Viridiana (1)
Yi Yi: A One and a Two (1)
Yojimbo (1)
The Wages of Fear (1)


1. Akira Kurosawa (30)
2. Jean Renoir (25)
3. Ingmar Bergman (13)
4. Federico Fellini (11)
5. François Truffaut (9)
6. Wong Kar-Wai (7)
6. Kenji Mizoguchi (7)
8. Vittorio De Sica (6)
8. Krzysztof Kieslowski (6)
10. Luis Buñuel (5)
11. Yasujirô Ozu (4)
12. Zhang Yimou (3)
13. Jean-Luc Godard (2)
13. Werner Herzog (2)


1. The Rules of the Game
2. Seven Samurai
3. M
4. 8½
5. Bicycle Thieves
6. Persona
7. Grand Illusion
8. Aguirre, the Wrath of God
9. The Battle of Algiers
10. The 400 Blows
11. Fanny and Alexander
12. Tokyo Story
13. Rashomon
14. Ikiru
15. The Seventh Seal
16. Ran
17. Jules and Jim
18. The Conformist
19. La Dolce Vita
20. Contempt
21. Breathless
22. Ugetsu Monogatari
23. Playtime
24. Au Hasard Balthazar
25. Andrei Rublev
26. City of God
27. In the Mood for Love
28. The Leopard
29. L'Avventura
30. Wild Strawberries
31. Le Samourai
32. Belle de Jour
33. Spirited Away
34. Children of Paradise
35. Beauty and the Beast
36. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
37. L'Atalante
38. Nights of Cabiria
39. Red
40. The Wages of Fear
41. Wings of Desire
42. Cries and Whispers
43. The Decalogue
44. Yojimbo
45. Pickpocket
46. Sansho the Bailiff
47. La Strada
48. Late Spring
49. Madame de…
50. Raise the Red Lantern
51. High and Low
52. Umberto D
53. Y Tu Mama Tambien
54. Ordet
55. Cinema Paradiso
56. Yi Yi: A One and a Two
57. L'Eclisse
58. Talk to Her
59. Rififi
60. Band of Outsiders
61. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
62. Blue
63. Chungking Express
64. Throne of Blood
65. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
66. Celine and Julie Go Boating
67. Das Boot
68. Army of Shadows
69. Amarcord
70. Last Year at Marienbad
71. Hiroshima Mon Amour
72. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
73. Day for Night
74. Eyes Without a Face
75. My Night at Maud's
76. All About My Mother
77. Scenes from a Marriage
78. Open City
79. Suspiria
80. Smiles of a Summer Night
81. Come and See
82. Z
83. Woman in the Dunes
84. Masculin-Feminin
85. Viridiana
86. Amores Perros
87. Pierrot le fou
88. Shoot the Piano Player
89. Cleo From 5 to 7
90. The Double Life of Veronique
91. Forbidden Games
92. Amelie
93. The Blue Angel
94. Orpheus
95. Run Lola Run
96. The Exterminating Angel
97. Satantango
98. The Gospel According to St. Matthew
99. Day of Wrath
100. The Cranes Are Flying


Ashes and Diamonds
The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant
Black Orpheus
Dersu Uzala
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
Farewell My Concubine
The Great Silence
I Vitelloni
Lola Montes
The Marriage of Maria Braun
Nosferatu the Vampyre
The Red Desert
Rocco and His Brothers
Seven Beauties
Stolen Kisses
Story of the Late Chrysanthemums
The Tin Drum
To Live
The Vanishing

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Saturday, September 22, 2007


Alice Ghostley (1926-2007)

Alice Ghostley, who passed away Friday reportedly at the age of 81, had an impressive career that spanned stage, screen and television, but for most people, she's still probably best known as the absent-minded witch Esmeralda in the later years of Bewitched, brought in after the previous absent-minded witch Aunt Clara (Marion Lorne) had passed away. Younger viewers may also remember her for her Emmy-nominated work on Designing Women, but her career was truly much larger than those two shows. Her accolades include a Tony Award in 1965 for featured actress in a play for The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window by Lorraine Hansberry. Two years earlier, she received a nomination in the same category for The Beauty Part by S.J. Perelman.

Her work in movies wasn't quite as vast, but she did manage to land in some classic films including To Kill a Mockingbird, Grease and The Graduate, where ironically her only brief scene had her acting next to Marion Lorne.

Her extensive stage work included following Dorothy Loudon in the role of Miss Hannigan in the original Broadway production of Annie. Still, television was where you were most likely to see Ghostley.

In addition to her regular roles on Bewitched and Designing Women, she frequently popped up across a wide spectrum of series including The Odd Couple, Mayberry R.F.D., Love, American Style, Maude, Good Times, Evening Shade, ChiPs, Police Woman and, most recently, the soap opera Passions.

RIP Ms. Ghostley.

To read The New York Times obit, click here.

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Friday, September 21, 2007


Raging borscht

By Edward Copeland
David Cronenberg's latest film Eastern Promises presents a bit of a conundrum for me. I really liked it for the most part and it contains superb performances, especially from Viggo Mortensen and Armin Mueller-Stahl, yet somehow, it keeps you from completely embracing it. It's a film I enjoyed, if that's the right word, yet somehow it left me feeling empty and I'm not sure I'd rush out to see it again anytime soon because it seems to lack layers that deserved to be plumbed further.

The film takes place in a section of London dominated by exiled Russians, many of whom have transferred their criminal enterprises to England after having been chased out of their homeland years ago under Communist rule.

Mortensen stars as Nikolai, a driver for a prominent mob family who run their operations beneath the cover of a high-scale Russian restaurant. Nikolai mainly works for Kirill (Vincent Cassel), the ne'er do well scion of the family's boss Semyon (Mueller-Stahl).

Mueller-Stahl is a great character actor whom I forget about far too often for his consistently fine work until I see a performance like this. He perfectly knits a kindly yet sinister aura around Semyon and employs many nice touches, such as a scene where the mere click-click-click of his tongue proves ominous.

The essential story concerns a young Russian girl who dies while giving birth, prompting a hospital midwife (Naomi Watts) to try to find her family by translating her diary. Watts' character is half-Russian, with a British mom (Sinead Cusack), a late Russian father and a feisty and racist Russian uncle (Jerzy Skolimowski) who believes the dead deserve their secrets.

Watts is fine, but her character is very underdeveloped. There is a thread mentioned of a lost child of her own, but it, much like her entire character, seems more like a plot device than a person. However, the male actors such as Skolimowski and Cassel really get to shine.

Still, the star is Mortensen and this may be his finest performance, even if the film itself doesn't equal his collaboration with Cronenberg on A History of Violence. This is Cronenberg's second film in a row that downplays the gore a bit as well as his obsession with female genitalia, both real and symbolic. Now, Mortensen does get the well-publicized fight scene where he's fully nude, but this definitely is Cronenberg on slow simmer.

In fact, that's part of the problem with Eastern Promises. Nikolai is icy cool and it seems very appropriate, but the entire film seems to be set at the temperature of a Siberian gulag, depriving the audience of some expected payoffs. In fact, at times Eastern Promises veers perilously close to parody, but it never crosses the line. (I do have to admit though that the first shot of Watts riding her motorcycle in black reminded me of the introduction of Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors.)

In the end, I'm not sure where to come down on Eastern Promises. It was worth watching, if only for the performances and some of Cronenberg's touches, but the icy chill it cast on me left me as ambiguous about its worth as its ending.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Intro to the list

"I'm a sucker for lists like these, and this one helped reinvigorate my passion for film, not to mention start me on a big foreign film kick."

By Edward Copeland
After nearly two months of preparation, the time has come to officially unveil the choice for the list which I've elected to give the title of The Satyajit Ray Memorial Anything-But-Definitive List of Non-English Language Films. The name comes, of course, from the great Indian director who failed to land any of his acclaimed works on the final list of 122 nominees. Yes, I said 122. Originally, we thought it was 121, but we discovered an accounting error (thankfully on the first day of voting) where I had accidentally neglected to list Woman in the Dunes, which appeared on the requisite three nominating ballots to merit inclusion. I only had a handful of ballots in then, so I was able to contact all those who had voted already and gave them the opportunity to revise their lists if they so chose. Then, I thought I had accidentally miscounted the very first number and the total was 123. The other extra film wasn't actually an addition at all: Never let a journalist do math (he said ironically before revealing his calculations of points for the final list). If you'd like to skip ahead to the list of the 22 also-rans or the top 100, click on these links. If you'd like to read more of my thoughts on the process, continue reading. I ended up not getting to see 32 of the eligible films.

This enterprise has been quite illuminating. I've tried to see as many of the eligible films that I hadn't seen yet before I cast my own ballot. I've written about many of them, though others I saw I ran out of time, energy or inclination to post about. I liked Carl Theodor Dreyer's Ordet a lot, but I simply ran out of time to write anything on it. I saw two by Robert Bresson. I liked Au Hasard Balthazar a lot, but I didn't have much to say about it (though I did plan to title the post "Jackass the Art Movie"). Pickpocket also was OK, but more than anything else it made me want to watch Sam Fuller's Pickup on South Street again.

I also liked Ozu's Late Spring. I enjoyed Wong Kar-wai's Chungking Express and since I also liked 2046 when I saw it, so I wonder if I should give In the Mood for Love a second chance.

Playtime was interesting, but far too long I thought. I don't know why there ever was any debate about whether it was a sound or silent film. It is full of sound effects and subtitled dialogue, even if most of the dialogue is inconsequential.

I got through Part 1 of Andrei Rublev, but then the DVD proved defective. I'd been bored so far, so I didn't pursue another copy to finish watching it.

Finally, thanks to a friend I got to see Celine and Julie Go Boating and I wish I had a positive reaction to report about it. At more than three hours in length with hardly any point that I could find in its odd whimsy, it was a long, hard slog for me to get through it. It played like an extremely long episode of Laverne & Shirley, only minus the solid narrative or depth.

Though I haven't been able to see it, I suspect that The Great Silence shouldn't have been eligible under the same reasoning that disqualified Sergio Leone's spaghetti Western trilogy, but by the time I was certain, I figured it wouldn't seem right to suddenly throw it out of the running.

If you missed the original post that explained how we whittled down to these 122 films, click here.

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The Ray Memorial 100

By Edward Copeland
If you are starting here, linked from somewhere else, it is in your best interest to read the original post listed below and, even more importantly, the intro to the list so you will understand how this list was formed and came about (and why some of your favorites aren't here). There is also a Ray Memorial List Index in the sidebar that contains links to all related posts. 174 ballots were submitted to determine this list. I tried to use as many different people who sent quotes as possible. For most of the balloting, the top two films seemed to trade the lead with each new ballot, but in the final weekend, the one that finished No. 1 took off. (I swear it's not a fix.) Bill Maisannes wrote, "I believe Kurosawa is that much better than the field. The Babe Ruth of cinema." There's certainly a case for that with the list. Kurosawa had the most possible titles going in, but only one failed to make the top 100, his next-lowest ranking was No. 64 and he had four finish in the top 20. If you missed the original post that explained how we whittled down to these 122 films, click here. Now, here is the list:

(189 points, 18 ballots)

Directed by Mikhail Kalatozov
Written by Viktor Rozov

"One of the great Soviet films as well as one of the great movie love stories ... , With some exquisite photography, a grand old-fashioned orchestral score and several astonishing impressionistic sequences, (Kalatozov) ... amplifies the already-heightened romanticism of the story in a way that, rather than soapy, becomes intensely affecting."

(204 points, 18 ballots)

Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer

"This one rides a razor blade of ambiguity to deliver one of the most tragic wallops in the history of cinema in its final scene. Absolutely devastating."

(208 points, 18 ballots)

Written and directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini

"Stands to reason that a gay communist atheist would make the best religious movie ever. By sticking to the text, mostly — and the land and faces of southern Italy — though he does use the style, the handheld cameras, zooming, telephoto lenses, to great effect as well."
Weeping Sam

(210 points, 17 ballots)

Written and directed by Bela Tarr

"After seeing this for the first time, I turned to the person sitting next to me and said 'If it was playing again right now, I would definitely stay.'"
Dave McDougall

(216 points, 18 ballots)

Written and directed by Luis Buñuel

"Have you ever been stuck at a party where you just can't leave. Well..."
Meier Vermes

(217 points, 32 ballots)

Written and directed by Tom Tykwer

"'The Butterfly Effect' was a movie with an important point about time travel: you should never go back in time to change the past because you, Ashton Kutcher, are an idiot. One of the virtues of this movie is this shows what happens when someone with brains tries to do it."
Meier Vermes

(219 points, 18 ballots)

Written and directed by Jean Cocteau

"Cocteau was one of the greatest multitalented artists of the 20th century, and a much better filmmaker than most people who devoted their lives exclusively to the craft. And his simple practical effects are more intoxicating than the photorealistic CGI clogging multiplexes today."
Paul C.

(219 points, 23 ballots)

Directed by Josef von Sternberg
Written by Carl Zuckmayer, Karl Vollmoller and Robert Liebmann

"The Blue Angel gave us sexuality as a means of control. Movies before, and far too many since, have lost themselves on libido but The Blue Angel understands that for so many people, sexual gratification comes from a sense of surrendering yourself to someone else, or controlling someone you could not control in the polite society of the real world."
Jonathan Lapper

(220 points, 29 ballots)

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Written by Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant

"I know many don't think this even deserves to be in the running - either because it is too recent or because it is too sugary sweet. No matter, I love it. And if I've seen it 6 or 7 times , why would it matter if it's only 6 years old? It's a favorites list ... Not a 'completely objective definitive most influential standing the test of time' list. Anyway, when Amelie melts in a puddle on the floor, it's a perfect way of representing visually how she felt."
Bob Turnbull

(221 points, 16 ballots)

Directed by Rene Clement
Written by Clement, Jean Aurenche, Pierre Bost and Francois Boyer

"I highly encourage watching this film. It is such an amazing film, that deals with the effects of war in such an interesting way through Paulette, a five year old girl ... Paulette's attempts to understand God, death, war, family and friendship are unfolded in such a neat way in this picture. This is a true gem."

(222 points, 15 ballots)

Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski
Written by Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz

"Want to talk rigorous? I think that's what turns a lot of people off: it's hard to imagine a director this in control of sublime details accruing across a film for maximum affective impact around every corner."
Ryland Walker Knight

89. CLEO FROM 5 TO 7
(223 points, 20 ballots)

Written and directed by Agnes Varda

"Heartbreak hotel. Too bad Agnes doesn't get her due when it comes to the image we're given of the French New Wave and its pack of Cahiers boys. (It's clearly reflected in this list, isn't it?)"
Ryland Walker Knight

(236 points, 22 ballots)

Directed by François Truffaut
Written by Truffaut and Marcel Moussy

"With one of the classic one-shot jokes of all time."
Meier Vermes

(241 points, 19 ballots)

Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard

"Even in its failures it demonstrates its ambition."
Joseph Cox

"The kind of movie that, if you see it at the right time in your life, might have the power to change the way you look at movies forever."
Dennis Cozzalio

(241 points, 24 ballots)

Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Written by Guillermo Arriaga

"I love how these scenes fit together, but fit together so loosely to tell such an interesting story about humanity."

(243 points, 26 ballots)

Directed by Luis Buñuel
Written by Buñuel and Julio Alejandro

"Any fool can blaspheme, but it takes a genius like Buñuel to do it with this kind of wit, passion and wholehearted commitment."

(244 points, 17 ballots)

Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard

"It is to be young. Put this together with Godard's earlier Bande a
and Richard Lester's A Hard Day's Night and you have one formula for the elixir of youth — bourgeois Caucasian/European youth (say, 18-22) in the first half of the 1960s. But universally translated into 24 fps and crystalline b&w (and 1.33 - 1.66 — not 1.85 or CinemaScope!)."

Jim Emerson

(244 points, 18 ballots)

Directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara
Written by Kobo Abe

"Here's one that, while certainly a product of its time and place ... feels like it could almost be from anywhere, so unusual is its aesthetic approach and so universal are its themes of individual vs. society, society vs. nature, etc. The collaboration of writer Kobo Abe, composer Toru Takemitsu and director Hiroshi Teshigahara was one of the most fruitful of 1960s cinema and Woman in the Dunes is almost certainly the film in which all three men were operating at the closest to the height of their powers."

82. Z
(250 points, 24 ballots)

Directed by Costa-Gavras
Written by Jorge Semprun

"Kicked off the '70s paranoid political thriller genre, whose movies never came close to their originator."

(257 points, 22 ballots)

Directed by Elem Klimov
Written by Klimov and A. Adamovich

"It's just like Saving Private Ryan — only it's realistic!"
Oliver Quest

(257 points, 23 ballots)

Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman

"Bergman funny? You bet and it'll leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy."
Bob Turnbull

(260 points, 22 ballots)

Directed by Dario Argento
Written by Argento and Daria Nicolodi

"The shot of Jessica Harper walking out of the airport, a gust of wind blowing her hair, is magical."
Peter Nellhaus

(276 points, 30 ballots)

Directed by Roberto Rossellini
Written by Sergio Amidei and Federico Fellini

"Open City is one of the few films in history that is not only a work of art, but a necessary catharsis for a people lost and experiencing unbearable pain. It is also a vital historical artifact, capturing on film forever the look and feel of a war torn city."
Jonathan Lapper

(280 points, 23 ballots)

Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman

"The theatrical version is good, the television version is genius. Only in the longer version do you get the full impact of Bergman’s relationship hell."
Mark White

(280 points, 24 ballots)

Written and directed by Pedro Almodovar

"Almovodar has taken up Altman's title as the most feminist major director."
Joseph Cox

(281 points, 27 ballots)

Written and directed by Eric Rohmer

"My Night at Maud's is my all-time favorite Christmas movie. As much as it is a great film that is essentially about two people staying up all night talking, given the opportunity I probably would have wanted to do more than just converse with Francoise Fabian. That's why I like Eric Rohmer films — the women are both hot and smart."
Peter Nellhaus

(287 votes, 22 ballots)

Directed by Georges Franju
Written by Pierre Boileau, Pierre Gascar, Thomas Narcejac,
Jean Redon and Claude Sautet

"What a beautiful nightmare perfectly rendered."
J. Cochrane

(299 points, 28 ballots)

Directed by François Truffaut
Written by Truffaut, Jean-Louis Richard and Suzanne Schiffman

"Filled with love for films and those who make them. The way it portrays the cast and crew of the movie-within-a-movie is democratic in the best sense of the word."
L. Stevens

(300 points, 31 ballots)

Written and directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder

"Fassbinder uses All That Heaven Allows to craft a heartbreaking tribute to Douglas Sirk."

"The English name of the Fassbinder film should be Ali: Fear Eat Soul. It's incorrect in German as well, to suggest the language barrier between the immigrants and the Germans."

(302 points, 31 ballots)

Directed by Alain Resnais
Written by Marguerite Duras

"It was the sort of film that would have been common if sound had come to film later and yet the narration made me cry."
Joseph Cox

(317 points, 27 ballots)

Directed by Alain Resnais
Written by Alain Robbe-Grillet

"One of the strangest and most chilling films I've ever seen."

(322 points, 23 ballots)

Directed by Federico Fellini
Written by Fellini and Tonino Guerra

"Fellini's nostalgia film may seem slight at first, but it's still wildly entertaining and quite funny. An effective swan song to his great period."
J. Cochrane

(344 points, 30 ballots)

Written and directed by Jean-Pierre Melville

"The scene I find myself remembering, over and over again, is the excruciatingly long take of Jean-Pierre Cassel, watching from a basement window as his comrades start up their truck and leave him and his friend behind forever."

(349 points, 30 ballots)

Written and directed by Wolfgang Peterson

"One of the best war movies ever. Riveting and thankfully apolitical."
J. Cochrane

(351 points, 26 ballots)

Directed by Jacques Rivette
Written by Rivette, Juliet Berto, Eduardo de Gregorio, Dominique Labourier,
Bulle Ogier and Marie-France Pisier

"It's the ultimate chick movie and a classic of French postmodernism!"
Tamsin Leyton

(351 points, 36 ballots)

Written and directed by Jacques Demy

"This film is akin to watching a feather float on warm breeze for 90 minutes. My favorite foreign musical containing three absolute treasures — Michel Legrand's legendary score, the exquisite beauty of Catherine Deneuve, and the sumptuous art/set design by Bernard Evein. A most intoxicating film, it works like a cinematic cure for depression."
Ron Houghton

(353 points, 30 ballots)

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Written by Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Ryuzo Kikushima and Hideo Oguni

"The notion of a kabuki adaptation of MacBeth may strike you as intriguing more than credible. But considering their shared affinity for bloodletting, 'universal' subjects and lofty, sweeping statements on humanity, Akira Kurosawa is maybe the closest the cinema has offered to a Shakespeare successor."

(353 points, 31 ballots)

Written and directed by Wong Kar-Wai

"As if Godard were reborn in Hong Kong. Dazzling and unexpected."
Sterling Taylor

62. BLUE
(353 points, 34 ballots)

Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski
Written by Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz

"The truest picture of grief and recovery ever on screen."
Joseph Cox

(353 points, 37 ballots)

Directed by Ang Lee
Written by Wang Hui-Ling, Tsai Jung Kuo and James Schamus

"Who can honestly forget the fight scenes in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? Has there ever been a fight scene that conveys so much emotion as Jen and Li Mu Bai soaring through the trees?"
Sam Brooks

(355 points, 27 ballots)

Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard

"Who wouldn't want to stop everything for the chance to dance The Madison with Anna Karina?"
Peter Nellhaus

(355 points, 31 ballots)

Directed by Jules Dassin
Written by Dassin, Rene Wheeler and Auguste Le Breton

"Dassin created the heist genre as we know with this film of Parisian crooks. With harsh lighting and rainswept streets this film one of the best French noirs. The complicated heist, sans score, is 30 minutes of cinema bliss."
Ron Houghton

(361 points, 39 ballots)

Written and directed by Pedro Almodovar

"Old, reckless Almodovar meets new, mature Almodovar, and the results are nothing less than shattering. Haunted me for days."

(365 points, 26 ballots)

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
Written by Antonioni, Tonino Guerra, Elio Bartolini and Ottiero Ottieri

"Beautiful cinematography, and nothing happens ... which is precisely Antonioni's point I suppose. His isolationist nature in this film makes Ingmar Bergman look like an optimist. A great film that probably needs multiple viewings to truly appreciate it. Unthinkable in Pan and Scan."
J. Cochrane

(369 points, 27 ballots)

Written and directed by Edward Yang

"Like Jane Austen, it suggests that one family represents an entire universe."
Carrie Rickey

"When Edward Yang tragically died earlier this year, it ensured that Yi Yi: A One and a Two would go down with Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible, Mizoguchi's Street of Shame and Sirk's Imitation of Life as one of the great directorial swan songs. What a loss."

(373 points, 31 ballots)

Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore
Written by Tornatore and Vanna Paoli

"Yes it's sappy and manipulative. I wouldn't have it any other way."
Jesse Cunningham

(377 points, 25 ballots)

Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer

"You expect it to be about death and finality and instead it's about renewal and resurrection."
Carrie Rickey

(387 points, 38 ballots)

Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
Written by Cuaron and Carlos Cuaron

"Though it can be incredibly funny, in the end it is a sad, melancholy journey that we go on with these people. They discover not the artifice of the roadside curio shop but the dirt spitting out from the back tires. To their delight, they discover that heaven’s mouth is real, not a fantasy, but the reality of heaven’s mouth pushes the boys into an adulthood they can’t quite face."
Mark White

(400 points, 37 ballots)

Directed by Vittorio de Sica
Written by Cesare Zavattini

"I'm not a pet person, but this 'dog movie'(Fike! Fike!) is one of the most piercing studies of loneliness and the hell that may be waiting for all of us in old age. Forget playing chess with Death. Just try navigating a world hostile to the sad and infirm. De Sica was the first prophet of the AARP generation."
The Shamus

(401 points, 33 ballots)

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Written by Kurosawa, Eijiro Hisaita, Ryuzo Kikushima and Hideo Oguni

"One of my all time favorite moments in a film — when Mifune throws a bunch of greedy executives out of his house and behind him you can see Tatsuya Nakadai and his partner judging them. The way Nakadai looks at the executives as they leave might be the best putdown ever put on film."
Weeping Sam

(405 points, 37 ballots)

Directed by Zhang Yimou
Written by Zhen Ni

"A fascinating glimpse of Chinese marriage and a wife's place in it. Wonderful art direction and cinematography."
J. Cochrane

49. MADAME DE...
(410 points, 31 ballots)

Directed by Max Ophuls
Written by Ophuls, Marcel Achard and Annette Wademant

"Hey, I just looked up the word 'exquisite' in the Oxford English
Dictionary and there's a still from Madame de...!"

Jim Emerson

(416 points, 25 ballots)

Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
Written by Ozu, Kazuo Hirotsu and Kogo Noda

"The film has everything — far more comedy than it gets credit for; the cultural details and critiques, from all angles — celebrating Japanese culture, making fun of it, working in all those baseball and movie jokes, putting that big Coke sign in the middle of a happy interlude; the brilliant performances, the way Hara and Ryu move, she being brought to bay, he holding everything in, acting the old man; everything. Almost endlessly rewarding, and ultimately heart-breaking."
Weeping Sam

(429 points, 30 ballots)

Directed by Federico Fellini
Written by Fellini, Tullio Pinelli and Ennio Flajano

"Mrs. Fellini's sweet round clown face makes me watch this movie multiple times every year."
Steve on the Mountain

(435 points, 31 ballots)

Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi
Written by Fuji Yahiro and Yoshikata Yoda

"If I had to choose just one movie — one movie — above all others on this list, Mizoguchi's would be it. I've long felt that if there were a god, the closest expression we're likely to find on this earth in in this movie. It's not the only film on my list that gives me goosebumps whenever the title is mentioned, but I don't believe there's ever been a greater motion picture in any language. This one sees life and memory as a creek flowing into a lake out into a river and into the sea."
Jim Emerson

(452 points, 35 ballots)

Written and directed by Robert Bresson

"Bresson made us realize that the narrative happened BETWEEN scenes"
Carrie Rickey

(452 points, 43 ballots)

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Written by Kurosawa and Ryuzo Kikushima

"The way all action films should be: taut, simple and riveting, with as much meaning underneath as there is action on the surface."
Tripp Burton
(464 points, 43 ballots)

Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski
Written by Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz

"In my view, the most rewarding film experience I’ve ever had. Intellectually stimulating, emotionally resonant, and spiritually significant, The Decalogue is a beautiful fusion of form and function."
John Adair

(468 points, 32 ballots)

Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman

"On a purely formalist level, Ingmar Bergman's film is impeccable, but it's more than that. Anchored by several of the rawest, most mesmerizing performances singed onto celluloid, it burrows with hurting, devastating preciseness into the panic of a pain that can infiltrate and suffocate the soul at its core."

(481 points, 39 ballots)

Directed by Wim Wenders
Written by Wenders, Peter Handke and Richard Reitinger

"Elected to (my) top 10 because of the most gorgeous b&w photography I've ever seen. I know it's a cliche, but it must be seen in a theater to really appreciate it."
Sterling Taylor

(484 points, 48 ballots)

Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot
Written by Clouzot and Jerome Geronimi

"This film was so unique from any film I've watched, the characterization, filming, and effects are incredibly realistic, making this a definite new favorite film."

39. RED
(486 points, 45 ballots)

Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski
Written by Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz

"Movies that make you wax metaphysical usually aren’t as much fun as this."

(496 points, 37 ballots)

Directed by Federico Fellini
Written by Fellini, Ennio Flajano, Tullio Pinelli and Pier Paolo Pasolini

"It's got all the typical Fellini pageantry, but Giulietta Masina's performance as Cabiria gives this film its monumental power. ... Movie stars inspire sometimes scary levels of affection, and usually it seems odd to me; but I find it impossible not to go head over heels for that tiny powerhouse playing Cabiria.
Mike Doc

(501 points, 33 ballots)

Directed by Jean Vigo
Written by Vigo, Jean Guinee and Albert Riera

"One of cinema’s greatest love stories, with a glorious wild card in the mix in Michel Simon."
Paul Clark

(505 points, 39 ballots)

Directed by Luis Buñuel
Written by Buñuel and Jean-Claude Carriere

"Buñuel had mellowed in temperament by the time of this companion piece to The Exterminating Angel, but his brutal wit is still much in evidence, and he's still got plenty to say about class entitlement and power and getting a good bite to eat."
Dennis Cozzalio

(517 points, 44 ballots)

Written and directed by Jean Cocteau

"So many unsurpassed moments in this why isn't that I always zero in that thing the beast's ears do when Belle takes the 'let's be friends' tack."
Bob Westal

(518 points, 38 ballots)

Directed by Marcel Carne
Written by Jacques Prevert

"The most sweepingly romantic movie every made, with a script by Jacques Prevert that achieves the status of literature, yet remains cinematic at all times. 'So you want to be loved for yourself, like the poor people? What's left for the poor people, then?'"

(526 points, 49 ballots)

Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki

"The greatest animated film of all time. Period."
Tripp Burton
"I miss animation. Why is CGI considered cartoons?"
Joseph Cox

(529 points, 45 ballots)

Directed by Luis Buñuel
Written by Buñuel and Jean-Claude Carriere

"Buñuel powers the story of a bourgeois housewife who inexplicably takes up prostitution with an erotic dream logic that takes full advantage of Catherine Deneuve's sleepily sensual screen presence."
Dennis Cozzalio

(531 points, 38 ballots)

Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
Written by Melville and Georges Pellegrin

"The muted colors fit the tone of the story and Jef Costello's personality perfectly. And I love the interrogation scene in the police station (as the officer goes between the multiple rooms)."
Bob Turnbull

30. WILD STRAWBERRIES (536 points, 46 ballots)

Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman

"Because Victor Sjostrom was the world's first great film director, and where else will you see Max von Sydow as a gas station attendant?"
Peter Nellhaus

(538 points, 43 ballots)

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
Written by Antonioni, Elio Bartolini and Tonino Guerra

"It's a murder mystery, but there's no blood. And no murder. It's a sex comedy. Without much sex. Or any laughs. It's like Lawrence of Arabia, only there's no action. Or characters who actually try to do things. Or any Academy Awards. But there's KILLER cinematography."
Meier Vermes

(544 points, 40 ballots)

Directed by Luchino Visconti
Written by Visconti, Suso Ceechi d'Amico, Pasquale Festa Campanile, Enrico Medioli and Massimo Franciosa

"A gorgeously mounted adaptation of one of the great novels of the century. ... A lot of the strongest patches in the script are lifted word for word from Lampedusa's book, but the celebrated ball sequence, which comprises the final third of the film, is pure cinema."

(585 points, 50 ballots)

Written and directed by Wong Kar-Wai

"The most erotic paean to sustained, unfulfilled desire I've ever seen."
Dennis Cozzalio

(596 points, 49 ballots)

Directed by Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund
Written by Braulio Montavani

"This is one of the most powerfully moving and complex movies I've ever seen. I love to see how over decades all the character change and develop. At the same time it's a high energy and very engaging picture, touching on powerful themes of violence, poverty, love, and dedication."

(599 points, 42 ballots)

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
Written by Tarkovsky and Andrei Konchalovsky

"It's what Lawrence of Arabia would be like if Peter O'Toole didn't actually do anything. Seriously, it's a lot better than that sounds."
Tamsin Leyton

(618 points, 46 ballots)

Written and directed by Robert Bresson

"The power of this film sneaks up on you. You don’t realize how much you’ve grown to love Balthazar until the end and the impact of his death overwhelms you. Nothing prepares you for the sense of loss."
Mark White

(637 points, 39 ballots)

Directed by Jacques Tati
Written by Tati, Art Buchwald and Jacques Lagrange

"Just pure pleasure watching all the sight gags and invention in this film. I hope to one day see it on a big screen."
Bob Turnbull

(647 points, 48 points)

Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi
Written by Matsutaro Kawaguchi, Kyuchi Tsuji and Yoshikata Yoda

"Once you start talking about most of these films, you realize there's just too much to say. Nothing is enough."
Weeping Sam

(660 points, 54 ballots)

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
Written by Godard and François Truffaut

"Not the film people think it is, but a much better one: a sweet mini-romance."
Dave McDougall

(699 points, 43 ballots)

Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard

"Brigitte Bardot as Anna Karina? Fritz Lang as Fritz Lang? The movie opens with a camera shooting the audience: you cannot fail to be a part of this motherfucker. It's terrifying like a Joan Didion novel."
Ryland Walker Knight

(728 points, 56 ballots)

Directed by Federico Fellini
Written by Fellini, Ennio Flajano and Tullio Pinelli

"One man questions his existence in a nighttime world of excess. Night after hedonistic night Marcello strives for some self worth in a atmosphere devoid of culture. The first time I saw this film I wanted to be Marcello, now I only pity him. I think it's called growing up."
Ron Houghton

(733 points, 53 ballots)

Written and directed by Bernardo Bertolucci

"More than a tad problematic in thematic terms but about as perfectly executed formally as any film ever made. Requires more time, even still. I'd love to root it all out in more than these words someday."
Ryland Walker Knight

(772 points, 54 ballots)

Directed by François Truffaut
Written by Truffaut and Jean Gruault

"The most lyrical film ever made, in any language."
L. Stevens

16. RAN (815 points, 61 ballots)

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Written by Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni and Masato Ide

"Shakespeare as spectacle, and one of the most visceral experiences I’ve had at the movies."

(860 points, 68 ballots)

Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman

"A medieval morality play both set in and a product of a world in dire need of such stories. A tale of sacrifice and the resurgence of life, of mankind's possibility for goodness in a world run amok with evil. Simple and sublime."
Dave McDougall

(884 points, 58 ballots)

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Written by Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto and Hideo Oguni

"There aren't many films made that are better than this beautiful, lyrical piece of work. I love this film intensely."
David Gaffen

(900 points, 69 ballots)

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Written by Kurosawa and Shinobu Hashimoto

"Kurosawa made us realize that point of view is everything."
Carrie Rickey

(916 points, 67 ballots)

Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
Written by Ozu and Kogo Noda

"The perfect example of less being more. Ozu's beautiful simplicity holds it's own with any director out there. A quietly brilliant film that gets better the more you think about it."
J. Cochrane

(932 points, 67 ballots)

Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman

"Bergman's crowning achievement is deceptively complex and vastly rich, and says more about life than any of his early, more direct films."

10. THE 400 BLOWS
(935 points, 68 ballots)

Directed by François Truffaut
Written by Truffaut and Marcel Moussy

"Next to Citizen Kane ,easily the greatest cinematic debut, and also one of the most wonderfully personal films in history. And is there ever a shot better than that final freeze frame?"
Tripp Burton

(1030 points, 75 ballots)

Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo
Written by Pontecorvo and Franco Solinas

"Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers remains one of the most complicated political films ever built. Its ideas on terrorism and torture still fascinate today, especially as we continue to fight a possibly continuous war against terrorism."
Peter Labuza

(1054 points, 79 ballots)

Written and directed by Werner Herzog

"No better hallucinatory, screwed-up vision of obsession exists."
David Gaffen

(1056 points, 68 ballots)

Directed by Jean Renoir
Written by Renoir and Charles Spaak

"Renoir loved playing with the classes. He did so brilliantly in The Rules of the Game but by examining them in a World War I setting free of frivolity he allowed the examination to take on a life-and-death urgency that made the examination more piercing, and in the end, more personal."
Jonathan Lapper

(1105 points, 69 ballots)

Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman

"I don't understand this movie. I don't have to. I know it's brilliant anyway."
J. Cochrane

(1219 points, 76 ballots)

Directed by Vittorio de Sica
Written by de Sica, Cesare Zavattini, Suso Cecchi d'Amico, Oreste Biancoli,
Adolfo Franci and Gerardo Guerrieri

"If you do not tear up while watching De Sica's masterpiece, then you need surgery on your tear ducts."
Jeffrey Hill

4. 8 1/2
(1275 points, 82 ballots)

Directed by Federico Fellini
Written by Fellini, Ennio Flajano, Tullio Pinelli and Brunello Rondi

"The last five minutes destroy my composure. There is too much happening for it to fail to do so. Perfect double bill mate with The Life Aquatic, its American remake."
Ryland Walker Knight

3. M
(1422 points, 82 ballots)

Directed by Fritz Lang
Written by Lang and Thea von Harbou

"How many modern directors could make a film about a child killer, and evoke the same mixture of indignation, contempt and stark, true pity for the man's wretchedness?"

(1687 points, 105 ballots)

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Written by Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto and Hideo Oguni

"Kurosawa’s epic might not have invented badass, but it certainly refined it."
Paul Clark
"Kurosawa's supremely entertaining, durable and expansive action epic has probably gotten better with age, standing proudly near the top of the heap watching filmmaker after filmmaker try, and usually fail, to approach its timeless mixture of personal drama, broad comedy and surging, emotional adventure."
Dennis Cozzalio
"This is the granddaddy of epic foreign films, but like (John) Ford, never at the expense of the characters. With camerawork that still looks innovative today: including rapid cutting, quick zooms, and the fluid pacing Kurasowa set the bar for action storytelling in film for the next five decades."
Ron Houghton
"How to make friends and influence American Westerns. Magnificent in its own right."
"This movie has more humanity packed into it than the earth."
Jeffrey Hill
"What epics should be — thrilling, moving, technically breath-taking, and historically serious. Like - one example — the historical point of the way guns are
transforming the world - all four dead samurai fall to gunfire."

Weeping Sam
"The perfect mix of entertainment and art."
Joseph Cox
"Most engaging 3+ hour movie I've ever seen."
Jesse Cunningham
"About as perfect a film as you will ever see."
Ryland Walker Knight
"Quite simply, the greatest film in ANY language of all time."
"It's a three-hour, 37-minute movie with a bare-bones plot and never becomes tiresome or tedious. How many action movies owe their debt to this movie?"
David Gaffen
"There’s a reason this movie seems to be on everyone’s Greatest Films lists. It is just that great."
Tripp Burton
"The best action movie ever. It's 3-1/2 hours long, but it's paced so beautifully that it doesn't seem long."
Sterling Taylor
"The incredible versatility of Takashi Shimura is demonstrated with his roles in this movie and in Ikiru.
Steve on the Mountain

(1801 points, 105 ballots)

Directed by Jean Renoir
Writen by Renoir and Carl Koch

"Not a perfect film, just the best."
L. Stevens
"The very flawed, human Octave may be the most lovable character in all of film."
"Renoir's prescient pre-war drama of societal collapse sneaks up on you and works on you from the inside out with a kind of unbearable lightness of feeling. Everyone should quit complaining that it routinely shows up in the top two of all these All-Time Best lists, just accept its greatness and bask in it."
Dennis Cozzalio
"The Discreet Lack of Charm of the Bourgeoisie."
"As important and groundbreaking as Welles’ debut two years later, just watching the film is a semester of film school in itself."
Tripp Burton
"For two hours you ask, 'where is this going?' Then you find out the answer. Cruel and devastating. The perfect example of the plotless film."
Mark White
"The mastery of this film is beyond my capacity for speech."
Dave McDougall
"About as perfect a screenplay as you can imagine"
Ryland Walker Knight
"'Everyone has his reasons.' Funny, heartbreaking, foolish, and wise. One movie I can watch again and again."
Sterling Taylor
"I didn't get this movie until about half way through. Then something clicked, and by the end I was convinced its landmark reputation is warranted."
J. Cochrane
"That moment with the woman sitting and wistfully watching the mechanical piano do its thing without needing her to play it kills me every time."
"When I first rented it, as soon as it ended, I rewound and watched it again. You could put it on a loop and never get tired of it, I think. It's hard to say much more and ever stop talking about it."
Weeping Sam
"'I wanted to depict a society dancing on a volcano' said Jean Renoir in regards to this wise, worldly and intricate comedy of pre-war upstairs-downstairs parallels and vicissitudes. He plays it wry and cheeky, but don't underestimate his bite. He paints an outwardly elegant though charred milieu, where characters know all there is to know about their own as well as each other's caprices and shortcomings, and have learned to be quite relaxed about them — those that haven't are bound to suffer. And though Renoir is eager to inject wherever possible his famous generosity of spirit, he's too shrewd to be at all optimistic. You could accuse him of cynicism, but you'd be misguided. He's long past cynicism."

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