15 décembre 2005

2005 Top10

Year-end lists (acquarello, Girish, Darren Hughes) are a great opportunity to look back on the 2005 production and compare it to the 2005 distribution which seldom overlap. Also very useful to note down the gems that we might have missed or that we can still look forward to and build a wish list anticipating the future releases of 2006.
I realize I don't even write the reviews of my favorite films... probably because they are loaded with emotion and content hard to define, harder to explain, for me anyway. Expect updates before January.

Top10 of 2005 (ordered arbitrarily by personal taste) :

  1. Me and You and Everyone We Know (Miranda July/USA) Sundance 2005
  2. Three Times (Hou Hsiao-hsien/Taiwan) Cannes 2005
  3. The Wayward Cloud (Tsai Ming-liang/Taiwan) Berlin 2005
  4. Caché / Hidden (Haneke/France) Cannes 2005
  5. Battala en el Cielo / Battle in Heaven (Reygadas/Mexico) Cannes 2005
  6. Solntse / The Sun (Sokurov/Russia) Venice 2005
  7. The Forsaken Land (Jayasundara/SriLanka) Cannes 2005 - Un Certain Regard
  8. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Puiu/Romania) Cannes 2005 - Un Certain Regard
  9. Tale of Cinema (Hong Sang-soo/Korea) Cannes 2005
  10. Manderlay (Lars Von Trier/Denmark) Cannes 2005

Honorable mention : L'Enfant (Dardenne); Be With Me (Khoo); The Hand (Wong) in Eros; Les Amants Réguliers (Garrel); Les Yeux Clairs (Bonnell); Johanna (Mundruczo); Le Promeneur du Champs de Mars (Guédiguian);

Films that made my favorite list in the past: 2046; La Blessure; The World; Café Lumière; Comme une Image; 3-iron; The Holy Girl; Nobody Knows; L'esquive; Tropical Malady...

Documentaries (ordered by preference):

  1. Estamira (Marcos Prado/Brazil) Rio 2004
  2. Profils Paysans: Le Quotidien (Depardon/France)
  3. Un Silenzio Particulare (Stefano Rulli/Italy)
  4. Le Malentendu Colonial / The Colonial Misunderstanding (Téno/Cameroon) NY HRW 2005
  5. Les Artistes du Théatre Brûlé (Rithy Panh/Cambodia) Cannes 2005 - Off
  6. Grizzly Man (Herzog/USA) Sundance 2005
  7. El Cielo Gira (Mercedes Álvarez/Spain) Valladolid 2004
  8. La Peau Trouée (Samani/France) Nyon 2004
  9. Born into brothels (Briski/Kauffman/India/USA) Sundance 2004
  10. Avenge but one of my two eyes (Mograbi/France/Israel) Cannes 2005 - Off

I still need to see:

State of Fear (Yates); The Squid and the Whale (Baumbach); Seoul Train (Butterworth/Lubarsky); Funny Ha Ha (Bujalski); Un Couple parfait (Suwa); Pin Boy (Poliak); Something Like Happiness (Slama); Mary (Ferrara); Where the truth lies (Egoyan); Vers le sud (Cantet); Tony Takitani (J. Ichikawa); The Blue Younder (Herzog); Darwin's Nightmare (Sauper); Los Angeles PLays Itself (Andersen); Code 46 (Winterbottom); Who's Camus anyway (Yanagimachi); Le Filmeur (Cavalier);

What about you? Comments, questions, recommendations welcomed!

32 commentaires:

davis a dit…

Another great list, Harry. A consensus seems to be building. I always look forward to your lists and commentary, especially since you get first crack at a lot of films in Paris that I hope will find their way here. These documanteries in particular I haven't seen, aside from Grizzly Man and the Depardon, both of which I really liked. I didn't even know Rithy Panh had a new film!

A Téno retrospective blew threw town and I regret missing the entire thing. I also missed The Forgotten Land in Toronto because of a scheduling conflict.

I'm glad to see Manderlay pop up on your list. I was thinking about it recently, in fact. It may be one of my favorites from von Trier.

HarryTuttle a dit…

Thanks for the kind words Davis.
You're right, there seems to be a consensus on films mostly coming from festivals. Not necessarily in concordance with the awards they got though, although the ranking is a matter of individual taste once the cream of the crop has been elected.

Don't be afraid to tell me if you disagree with my take on Grizzly Man. ;)

I actually looked up the Téno (the only one I saw of him) after acquarello's recommendation, that's why a worldwide interactive radar is necessary! The other he reviewed sound equally interesting.
The documentary distribution is even worse, but I guess they suffer less from a DVD viewing. And the pause/rewind buttons are useful for once there.

I think the Rithy Panh came out at Cannes.

I actually prefered Dogville to Manderlay, probably because of the more complex content, even though the latter shows a technical improvement of the abstract staging concept. I didn't review that one either yet...
You should write a post to start a discussion ;)
So much things to say on this film, both good and bad things. It's meant to generate a constructive controversy that goes beyond the intrinsic value of the film itself. Lars manipulates ideas (and cinematic ideas) more than making aesthetics statements.

davis a dit…

I liked Grizzly Man. It's easily one of my favorite documentaries of the year. I think Herzog is a fascinating guy, and as I mentioned on Girish's site, his movies are interesting as examinations of himself -- regardless of who they purport to be about -- but that's what I like about them. If he were a boring person, I'd have a different opinion. His obsession with obsession is always intriguing.

HarryTuttle a dit…

I enjoyed your Herzog comments on Girish's blog. Emmanuel Burdeau considered his documentaries to be superior to his fiction work, which he seems to have left behind to the profit of TV work and real-life biopics.
Like you said they are focused on a personality greater-than-life, people who accomplish a prowess of mystical nature to defy the laws and conditions of humanity, echoing his own perception of himself (as potrayed through his interchangeable alter-ego Kinski). Burdeau cited Herzog's book (Of Walking in Ice/Sur le Chemin des Glaces 1991) on the Munich-Paris walk he did once to visit his dying friend Lotte Eisner before she miraculously recovered (which he attributes to his pilgrimage). Ever since, says Burdeau, he thought a painful effort had mystical powers to change the course of the world. And this is the obsession he seeks in all his documentaries, on the fringe of madness. And as he repeatedly assess in the Kinski documentary (a dual agiography Herzog/Kinski), as to convince himself he's rational, Kinski was the insane liar who invented urban legend on his directorial extravanganza. Which Burdeau doubts, as he portrays him as a ill-tempered director, wild and difficult to manage, in interviews or in festivals. So the madness he is fascinated to examine in these documentaries is his own.

This is only what I report from the speech of this Cahiers critic, because i'm new to Herzog and his documentaries are unfortunately undistributed in France.

In any case Mein Liebster Feind - Klaus Kinski made me want to discover more of Kinski performances.

girish a dit…

Great insights on Herzog, guys.
Have you seen Lessons Of Darkness that he shot in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia after Gulf War I?
It's one of my favorite docs.

acquarello a dit…

Weird. My comments seemed to have self-destructed. :) Anyway, it was just a crack remark about having a 60% list affinity, which can't be right. :)

I like the separate listing of the documentaries since it's always difficult to do relative comparisons between them, it usually boils down to style versus substance. In addition to the Téno, I also felt very strongly about Keepers of Memory, which I thought was a much more illuminating exposition on the Rwandan genocide than the comparative fluff that is Hotel Rwanda. You just can't fictionalize or dramatize an atrocity of that scale and do it justice.

Also, Walter Reade Theater is planning a French Documentaries program just before the annual Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in March. I'm hoping that the Depardon's Profils Paysans series will screen. I'll probably ask you for recommendations when they post the schedule.

By the way, I just looked up La Peau Trouée to see if it was about body piercing or self-mutilation or something. Not quite I see! :)

HarryTuttle a dit…

I've only seen the 2 Herzog documentaries I already cited here.
I'd like to see more if I had the opportunity.

Sorry to hear about the comment destruction acquarello... I don't know what happened from my end either. I'll investigate.

It's a pleasure to know I made progress since last year's YMDb 0.08% affinity on 20 titles to 60% on a top10 now. :) I feel better about myself.

Without a separate category for documentaries I wouldn't even rank one in my top10... as auteurism is never as exposed as in fiction, building up from scratch.
Although the trend in the french critic today is to ignore the barrier between fiction and documentary in one informal blob...
I need a distinct referential for short films, and experimental work too, their achievements are best highlighted amidst projects emerged from the same motive.

You often get premieres at your french festival, so I hope I could be of any help.

La Peau trouée (The pierced skin, for lack of an official translation) refers to the skin of a sharks hooked by taciturn fishermen in a shorter than-an-hour documentary without voiceover. A symbolic hole in the skin of these men too who go off-shore for days on their own, away from family. A minimalist experience.

davis a dit…

I caught the Profils Paysans installment on Harry's list at SFIFF, along with a related short called Quoi de neuf au Garet? (What's New at Garet?). I highly recommend both of them.

HarryTuttle a dit…

The short was an illustration of a book he wrote (La ferme du Garet, 1993) on his upbringing in a farmer family, the traditions and the evolution of the farmer condition. And the positive feedback of his readers inspired him to start this Profils Paysans trilogy (2000/2005/2009).
The short was a bit too much of a talking head for my taste, but it served as a complement for the farm sequence in Haneke's Caché.

acquarello a dit…

I caught the first installment of Profils Paysans during the Depardon retrospective earlier last year the National Gallery, but I haven't caught up with the second yet.

The talking head description sounds much like his approach in Les Années déclic where he basically just addressed the camera and he would project photographic slides behind him (above his head) and talk about the rural countryside, his parents, his travels. Was that the approach as well, or is it actually film footage?

HarryTuttle a dit…

As far as I remember, He filmed on DV his cousin (?) standing in the family courtyard, talking about why he had to sell it. With few inserts of static shots of the premises. Very TV report like.

The Installment in Les Années Déclics was a little more interesting because he filmed it all himself in a dark room, like in a confession boot, him operating the slides and commenting live (like a commentary track) as he looked at the pictures at the same time with us.
Not very cinematic, but a decent twist for a documentary.
It was commissionned to be projected at a Photography festival if I recall.
(I only saw half of this one on video)

HarryTuttle a dit…

"it served as a complement for the farm sequence in Haneke's Caché."

I meant I used it in my mind to fill the blanks left by Haneke who barely describes this family farm. So it was somehow an illumination to better place the context of this scene.

The content of the short film by Depardon is moving by itself though of course.

Very nice review of Les Années Déclics btw acquarello. I think I had to stop viewing it (at teh videotheque) when he came back from Venezuela.

girish a dit…

Not sure if you guys have seen Dave Kehr's interesting post on the Haneke film.

And Harry, no pressure, but if you wanted to do a post about the reasons why you loved the July film, it would be cool (and I could link to it from my blog too.) :-)

HarryTuttle a dit…

Yes I saw this last night from the link on your blog... I never read his criticism before but with what he says about Me And You, Manderlay and Caché, I don't think we'll be friends.
He sure likes to seed his text with namedropping and brandnames...

What does "Part Martha Stewart and part Cotton Mather" mean?

I probably will try to develop my original short review of July's film. But for now I'm on The Wayward Cloud. What did you think of Rouge's disection of the last sequence?

BTW: Thanks for the wake-up call last week, Girish ;)

girish a dit…

Harry, you're too valuable a voice to be allowed to be silent. :-)

Kehr is an interesting critic. He does the DVD column for the New York Times. His tone there is quite unperturbing and respectful but his blog is quite different--a bit snarky (snide+remark, sarcastic :-)) but I think he's intelligent and questioning, if occasionally casually cynical (which I don't care for). Harry, what don't you like about him? And btw, I have no idea who Cotton Mather is!

I thought the Rouge dissection was fascinating. What was your take?

girish a dit…

The Rouge article has a hundred convincing ideas.
Not sure what I can add to it.
I'd be curious to see the response you're preparing.

HarryTuttle a dit…

His overblown interpretation is a mere narrow-minded caricature of the content for mocking effect (american-centered clichés of the french maybe).
- a kind, cultivated arab?
- liberal farmer?
- a dispecable, impolite bo-bo?
What's wrong with that?

I don't get his anti-elite cheap shot at Arte and Le Monde Diplomatic either...

He pretends to misunderstand the function of Haneke's "tricks": red herring? self-flagellation? sado-masochism? disdain for the audience? yes Mr. Kehr you successfully identified the filmmaker's trademarks and intentions, why hold it against him? Analyze the eventual failure of their effects instead of questioning the choice of tools themselves... Haneke has established a solid enough position in directing not to be taugth do's and dont's.

If Haneke esculpates Auteuil from his past guilt it is precisely to make the film ambivalent (like Lars von Trier's Manderlay), contrary to the ready-made Hollywood moral where every character's orientation/fate is clearly determined and judged by the script from the get go...

Now I contradict myself (compared to what I wrote on your blog): this type of controversy is not worth it. This is stylish exaggeration for reading entertainment!
Did you think it was a fair representation of the film?

re Rouge: I thought they used a really bad pun for the title, but other than that excellent defense of the film.

HarryTuttle a dit…

I'm not put off by Kehr because he didn't like the movie as much as I did, but because he oversimplifies it. Tell me honestly if I am being subjective again, and if I missed Kehr's argument.

acquarello a dit…

I must admit, I don't get his Martha Stewart and Cottom Mather comparison either: Stewart because she's rumored to be a "control freak" and Mather because he's a strict Puritan moralist? I'm inclined to believe that he is saying that Haneke judges our thoughts and actions equally (Mather believed that sinister thoughts were as damning as being "physically caught" practicing witchcraft during the Salem witch trials), but the Stewart reference really doesn't fit. Because their house is neat?

I don't know, I think I agree with Harry on this one...I prefer Kehr when he's filtered by an editor. :)

girish a dit…

Actually, I didn't say that I agreed with Kehr's take on the film; just that I find it interesting.

I have some ambivalence with Haneke's sado-masochism, self-flagellation, etc. There's a certain self-righteousness about his movies (by the way, don't get me wrong--I still think he's one of the contemporary greats) which inflicts (with a certain relish) a sadism on the audience which I find questionable. I have some issues with this. He probably wants to sadistically "shock us" out of our ossified bourgois viewing place. But somehow I'm a little unconvinced. Also, this is not mere technique, it's an effect.

However, when he uses sado-masochism as a theme in a film, as in La Pianiste, I think it works better for me.

Kehr's flip, sarcastic tone in his blog is quite off-putting, but his brief write-ups have a certain unique "angle of entry" into films that I find interesting even when I don't agree with them. (which is actually quite common--I have issues with most of his posts, actually.)

Yes, I do prefer his non-blog pieces too (the editor may have something to do with it) but more than anything there is a range of responses in the comments of his blog which is both fun and irritating to read.
And he's probably the best-known film critic in the US to have a blog, which automatically makes it of interest.

girish a dit…

All right, I'll come clean. :-)
Here's what bothers me a bit about Haneke films:
the explicit rub-it-in-your-face moments of violence.
They feel sadistic (toward the audience.)
I'm not sure what they accomplish with me personally.
Also his violence against animals: the horses in Time Of The Wolf, the chicken in Hidden. These are really hard for me to watch.
I knew there was a Hindu in me somewhere, and this is one of the times he comes out. :-)

HarryTuttle a dit…

Thanks for the explanation of the Steward/Cotten comparison.
Btw, I'm wondering if your comment was rejected because I might have been republishing the blog as I've been toying with the template at that time... I don't know if it conflicts on bloggers server.

I understand if you don't like violence in films, I respect the Hindu in you, but are you saying Haneke doesn't make films that suit your level of tolerance, or that his use of violence is wrong regardless for your level of tolerance?

The violence in Funny Games (that Kehr cites) is only offscreen, the consequences of violence are rub-in-your-face.
This is the study of pain you admired in Cronenberg's treatment of gunshots in A History of Violence. ;)

If Haneke takes pleasure in sadism or not doesn't affect the role of his films. Psychological violence is his expected field of study.
Maybe you don't need Haneke to patronize you because you're not part of the target of his experiments, but it's a theoric statement against viewing complacency anyway.
He attempts to wake up awareness through discomfort, to restore the negative effect of violence that has been trivialized, stylized excessively into an apathic entertainment.

Is it tactical to kill a chicken for real to serve this experiment? I don't know. This is a tamed allegory for the tragedy and the guilt he refers to.
This is not covered by the "violence to animals" clause because it was raised for the exact same documented death. It was not unethical. Is it distasteful to remind us that the human food chain is violent?
I'm against artificial taboos in cinema. To ignore natural violence in our daily life comes down to another form of Hays code...

HarryTuttle a dit…

So according to Esoteric Rabbit's Missionaries and Sceptics mapping of critics' profiles where would you place Kehr?

girish a dit…

I don't know: I'm not sure (judging from his comments) that he is really interested in dialogue. His sarcasm and rigidity reaffirm it.
What do you think?
Oh and I'm still thinking about your comments.
I'd like to counter some of your points. :-)

HarryTuttle a dit…

A "bulimic skeptic" or an "anorexic skeptic"?
I wouldn't know myself. Apparently this short sample of his writing didn't give me the right impression. I'll try to find more of his reviews.

The "non-simulated violence in fiction film" debate is interesting to evoke, but I don't think Caché is more violent than other films out there, is it?

p.s. I'm sorry to inflict you my bad franco-english after your grading weekend... I hope you corrected yourself without too much headache (apathetic, theoretic...)

girish a dit…

Harry--your English is amazing. Don't even think of apologizing! And I like the terms you use even if they're not the conventional ones. They have a poetic ring about them. :-) You French always knew how to pull that off... :-)

"I don't think Caché is more violent than other films out there, is it?"
You're right, it's not.
It's just that the rationale for the use of its violence is not convincing enough for me. That's just me.

Harry, you've given me ideas for a possible post on the comparison of violence between Haneke and Cronenberg. We can converse more about it then, perhaps? (Can't promise, but I'd really like to post about it.)

btw, I don't mean to defend Kehr. I'm only saying that sometimes I like to read people I don't always agree with --sorta like your "moving out of the comfort zone" that you talked about. Pl. don't think I'm holding him up as some sort of standard or beacon of truth or anything.

girish a dit…

Let me reiterate what I believe in case it got obscured somewhere above.
Haneke is one of the greatest filmmakers alive, and Cache is one of the best films of the year!

davis a dit…

Harry, I came to know of Kehr through the Chicago Reader archive of capsules. He was the lead reviewer before Jonathan Rosenbaum, so searching the site for an older movie often turns up one of Kehr's. I think he's particularly good in the small format, and he often gives me something new to think about. I'm not sure how often I agree with him; I haven't done the math. (I say all of this in the present tense, even though these capsules were written decades ago. I haven't read him regularly in the Times, but I'm enjoying his blog.)

The Reader has a capsule search feature, but Google may be the best way to find Kehr's: tack a few extra words onto this query to look for a specific film.

girish a dit…

Ah yes, the Chicago Reader capsules.
Thanks, Rob.
In the past, I must say, I've found myself agreeing with a good number of Kehr's evaluations and ideas in the Reader.

HarryTuttle a dit…

Thanks for the pointer Rob. Looks like he's a Godard fan (he prefers Prénom Carmen to Alphaville unlike myself) but it's hard to tell from a capsule synopsis. He adds insightful sparks in the middle though.

I know you like Haneke, Girish, but if Caché disturbs you, if you feel like rejecting its dodgey moral, it worked the way it was meant to be.
That would be an interesting parallel with Cronenberg's film, in some respect it is also the process of guilt self-forgiveness through oblivion. Both use the empathetic identification with the victimized protagonist to make the audience feel sorry they were fooled by the actual "villain".

Although the function of violence operates on different levels (historical/intimate for Haneke and stereotypical/fantasized for Cronenberg).

My idea was to develop a review around "A History of Violence, or Dogville for dummies" ;)

girish a dit…

"I know you like Haneke, Girish, but if Caché disturbs you, if you feel like rejecting its dodgey moral, it worked the way it was meant to be." :

Sorry, Harry. It's not as simple as that. :-)
Also, Cache is not a big surprise for me.
I have seen every single feature film he's made.

HarryTuttle a dit…

I guess I'm confusing Kehr's position and yours there. I'll wait for your post to see what doesn't work for you in Caché's violence. I thought it was rather quiet comparatively to his previous work. It's really more a matter of moral questioning and shift of alignment.

I sense your issues with this film belong to a larger debate that is not particular to Haneke, maybe i'm wrong.