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No American film tells us more about the situation in which Bush could, and did, come to power. Every ethical boundary is transgressed, every lowest common denominator is played to, every Rightist expression is used. Sirk had it easy.

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More avant-garde video experimentation from Iain Sinclair and Chris Petit. Alien , as directed by Foucault. A near-impossible proposition of a film. Like Fassbinder, it flits through genres, moods, politics.

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Achieved with panache and verve to gobsmacking effect. A nightmare in a damaged brain. The late arrival of Ruiz onto the world cinema scene; the pieces of a brilliant shattering of the Proust-mirror, sharply avant-garde at the edges. He is currently preparing a book on Michael Reeves.

As usual, you had to keep on your toes in Vienna to catch the most interesting films around. Thankfully it has played on TV since although dubbed, partially destroying perhaps the most beautiful soundtrack ever crafted and taped, it proves an invaluable source and challenge to be returned to periodically.

A highly imaginative and, despite or rather: because of its pessimism, deeply passionate work, it is dialectical in the best Godard tradition: a revision of film history from a personal vantage point, constantly shifting perspective, and another proof that its director is in many ways a popular filmmaker marginalized by his reputation — the Histoire s may be his most accessible work for quite some time.

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Beyond its amiable surface, it is a self-reflexion and expansion in the style of old-school auteurs like Hawks or Ford. Two magnificent attempts at reworking literary forms in film. Often shrugged off as simple noir variation this brave step outside the respected French tradition of social commentary is a labyrinth of possibilities: a story trapped in the mystery of one or more unreliable narrators worthy of Nabokov. Love evaporates and materialism kicks in: the conventions really go topsy-turvy here.

Hollow Man , aptly named, substitutes an absence for the most rotten desires of the audience and crafts a parable that points back at the viewer in infinity. Its final scene is perfect. Less the political movie about a teenager in suffocating social conditions, more an arrangement of movements in space: not one of them is wasted. That may also be the reason why it still awaits commercial distribution.

But with Animal Factory he managed to recapture some qualities of the New-Hollywood-era that seem mainly lost in current productions. There were more films this year I would have liked to include in this list. More important than any of these or even any of my top ten entries were the retrospectives that gave me a chance to catch up on past masters. Richard Lester may have made only one masterpiece — Petulia — but an incomplete, if well-chosen sample of his work showed him as a director that maintained a personal vision throughout his career.

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The addition of two programs devoted to Cuban propaganda master Santiago Alvarez and the Iranian director Parviz Kimiavi respectively also cast a new light on the current production — which is the most important aspect of keeping the tradition of cinema alive by making its history accessible. Not to stare in awe at certified masterpieces but to recombine a history of cinema constantly in flux, constantly demanding rewriting.

His biggest fear since is that his writings on film mainly for Videofreak and cycamp are nothing but self-therapy. Whatta movie!! Lubitsch had a fairly autocratic way with actors, modeling gestures for them, to get the precise timing and physical articulation of emotions. Most great filmmakers articulate emotions differently: through rhythm, as in Ozu or Bresson, or through the unfolding of time, as in Tarkovsky or Mizoguchi, or through the dynamic possibilities of cutting from one image to another, as in Hitchcock, Powell, Scorsese.

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In rare cases, the filmmaker relishes the spontaneity of the actor and through sheer force of will harnesses it to a grand conception. Cassavetes is the obvious example. I would also add Arnaud Desplechin to this lofty category. Lubitsch concentrated on physical articulation, but he was never as attentive to vocal articulation as Davies — precisely calibrated line readings, timbres and inflections, that give his Wharton adaptation a bracingly rarefied air, like the strains of a long-forgotten instrument played in perfect tune.

Davies also has something else that Lubitsch never had, which is painterly precision. This is not just a matter of knowing Singer-Sargent, whose work is evoked consistently throughout the movie in fact, Gillian Anderson was cast in the lead because of her Singer-Sargent-like face: unbelievably, Davies had never seen The X-Files.

When Davies frames Mrs. And when he gets into intimate situations, the movement is mesmerizing. If my memory is correct, most of it is done in one shot, the actors kept perfectly framed as their faces unite, their bodies craning to maintain a measure of propriety. Throughout the film, the overall union of voice, bodily movement and visual design is devastating: every note of humiliation, degradation and self-deception is struck perfectly but without romantic emphasis, in a horrifying sonata of redemption denied.

I grew up in Wharton country, and drove every day down the very hill where the real Ethan Frome tried to sled into oblivion with his beloved.

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And whereas Davies builds the horror right up to the final scene, Scorsese employs it sparingly, ending The Age of Innocence in a state of bitter resignation. And Davies hits every note with terrible clarity: the flow of polite smiles, cunning sentences and gorgeous gestures, and the coded recognitions of nervous breaks in the rhythm the pouring of tea is fraught with significance and danger ; the humiliation that slowly spreads over and throughout Lily, like darkness falling over a city registered in sharp, vivid, precise inflections — Davies and Anderson make quite an actor-director team ; the strong sense of Lily as the magnetic center by which everyone is attracted and repelled, heaping her with scorn and indifference as they go.

Pulham, Esq. Esther Kahn — What first struck me as a magnificent failure seemed like a genuinely great, tough film on second viewing. Many people I know have big problems with Summer Phoenix in the title role, a Jewish girl in turn-of-the-century London who makes it big as an actress. By far the gutsiest movie of the year. In the Mood for Love — It gets high on its own perfume well before the end, but this is one of the greatest films of a great director, with a wonderful performance by Maggie Cheung.

Less a gay film than an exploration of the terror of beauty, male and otherwise, and the impatient urge to destroy. As sharp as a razor, and perfectly acted by the entire cast. And it sure is great to see that slowly arcing camera again. There are passages here that are among the finest Assayas has ever filmed. George Washington — The most hopeful American movie of the year, flaws and all: that a year old from North Carolina would even think of making this , as opposed to yet another Tarantino caper or another Myth of Fingerprints -type confessional, is mighty heartening.

Almost Famous — Another pretty hopeful American movie — as mainstream as it gets, but bursting with vitality and the poignant distance of memory. My older friends sneered. I loved every minute of it. Ratcatcher — An actress I know told me that the minute the lights came up, she ran home and wrote the director Lynne Ramsay a fan letter.

Ramsay fulfills the promise of her earlier shorts, with a movie that manages a good, tough poetic vision of childhood. All I can say is that both directors would have given their eye teeth to work with actors this good. A lovely, exhilarating film. This one looked like it was going to be on a par with the orangutuang movies. So, big surprise: from a basically ordinary script, Eastwood made a beautiful, unpretentious film about old age, with one of his finest last shots ever.

Never count this guy out. In a brief conversation, Manny said more illuminating things about Kiarostami than most people have managed in words. Durgnat uses ideas the way Manny used adjectives. He opens up every horizon around and beyond this film, and by the time I got to the end of the book, I felt like I was experiencing one of those rare days after a storm, when the wind has swept the sky clean and the clouds are racing.

My favorite film of the year is Dancer in the Dark , though the choice surprised me. I suppose Dancer in the Dark is my favorite because I have a number of affective connections with the material: I love all kinds of musicals; and I have acquired a strong Danish sensibility over the years, for biographical reasons, which draws me to this film.

As did the visual textures of the film, especially its use of color and digital video, and the quotations, which I think are creative, verging on brilliant. I found the ending of the film quite nearly optimistic, even if shocking and sad. And that very combination drew me back into thinking about it again and again.

Dancer in the Dark is not an attractive or appealing film. But it is smart and surprising in every aspect of filmmaking, and for me that makes it the standout film of For some reason, nobody thought of hiring the guy who made The Cider House Rules …. How could I have left out The Virgin Suicides? My list includes releases as well as discoveries and re-viewings on video. Her short films have screened internationally. Cinema is alive and well. In the Mood for Love Wong Kar-wai 3. Wonderland Michael Winterbottom 4. Magnolia Paul Thomas Anderson 5. Throne of Death Murali Nair 6. Xiao Wu Jia Zhangke 7.

On the other, it uses a logic and terminology that is reminiscent of how contemporary new media theory especially following the work of Lev Manovich conceptualizes issues related to how digital composition and data retrieval two of the major roles of the archive works in a contemporary, interface-driven media landscape.

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