Friday, January 13, 2012

Histoire(s) du cinema

At the end of last year, YTSL over at Webs of Significance posted her My alternative 100 'must see' Hong Kong movies list.

And very interesting it was too, generating a fair amount of comment.

Soon after, YTSL followed that up with a data heavy A by-the-numbers look at my 2011 movie viewing year

Which encouraged me to consider which films I saw last year I really liked. So here we are:

24 City (2009) (China) (Jia Zhangke): poignant semi-documentary film charting the course of the old giving way to the new in Chengdu, China
Un homme qui crie (A Screaming Man) (2009) (Chad) (Mahamat-Saleh Haroun): what happens when a middle-aged swimming pool attendant at an upmarket hotel in N'Djamena is made redundant
A Torinoi Loi (The Turin Horse) (2011) (Hungary) (Béla Tarr): in 1889 German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche witnessed the whipping of a horse. Nietzsche ran forward to protect the horse and then collapsed to the ground. Director Bela Tarr asked himself, what happened to the horse? In glorious black and white
Attack the Block (2011) (UK) (Joe Cornish): lots of laughs when a gang of young South London hoodies defend their block against an alien invasion
Attenberg (2010) (Greece) (Athina Rachel Tsangari): very quirky coming-of-age film set in an industrial backwater of Greece and whose main protagonist worships the BBC's David Attenborough
Baby Face (1933) (USA) (Alfred E Green): how Barbara Stanwyck sleeps her way to the top
Bob Le Flambeur (1956) (France): Jean-Pierre Melville directs Roger Duchesne in this tale of an ageing gangster who decides to do one more job
Carlos (2010) (France) (Olivier Assasyas): Too long to watch in one go -- it's 300+ minutes -- this is a gripping account of the life and times of the 1970s and '80s 'terrorist' gun-for-hire Carlos 'the Jackal'.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011) (France/Germany) (Werner Herzog): Given a special dispensation to view for a limited amount of time a series of cave wall paintings, Herzog's jaw is not the only one to drop in wonderment when faced with these paintings. The youngest were done 20,000 years ago and the oldest, experts date the latter as 32,000 years old even though they look fresh and new
El Cielo Gira (The Sky Turns) (2004) (Spain) (Mercedes Álvarez): a beautifully paced, poetic essay documenting one year in the life of a small village in a forgotten part of Spain
Gun Crazy (1950) (USA) (Joseph H Lewis): lives spiral out of control when a husband and wife go on a bank robbery shooting spree, film noir
O Homen do Ano (Man of the Year) (2003) (Brazil ) (José Henrique Fonseca): what happens after a young man accidentally gets his hair dyed blonde
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011) (Turkey) (Nuri Bilge Ceylan): a convoy of three cars slowly progresses through the night to find a dead body in the hills of Anatolia
Poetry (Shi) (2010) (South Korea) (Chang-dong Lee): Alzheimer's, life, death, and the poetry of the moment
Singin' in the Rain (1952) (USA) (Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly): da-dada-daa... da-dada-daaa...
Tears of the Black Tiger (Fah talai jone) (2000) (Thailand) (Wisit Sasanatieng): Surreally over the top camp Thai western
The Entertainer (1960) (UK) (Tony Richardson): Laurence Olivier as a seedy song and dance man whose career is heading nowhere
The Tree of Life (2011) (USA) (Terrence Malick): a flawed masterpiece
The Troll Hunter (Trolljergen) (2011) (Norway) (André Øvredal): very entertaining 'mocumentary' about a group of students who stumble upon a troll hunter who works for a Norwegian secret government agency

And last, but not least: Jean Luc-Godard's monumental Histoire(s) du cinema


YTSL said...

Hi Mr. B. --

Am happy to learn that my blog entries inspired you to write this one. Your film list is interesting and diverse -- have seen seven of the films on your list but wish it were more. In particular, I want to kick myself for missing "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" -- you saw it at last year's Hong Kong International Film Festival, right?

mister bijou said...

HKIFF? Sadly, no, not any more. These days, I'm limited where I can go, what I can do.

That said, I do what I can.

Have you seen any of Werner Herzog's other documentaries? I'm a big fan.

And, again, thanks for the inspiration.

YTSL said...

Hi again Mr. B --

Yup re Werner Herzog's other documentaries. E.g., I saw (and liked) his "Encounters at the End of the World" at a previous HKIFF.

Re previous works by other directors: have you seen Lee Chang-dong's "Peppermint Candy" and Jia Zhangke's "Still Life"? Those are their works that I have been most impressed by.

mister bijou said...

I really enjoyed "Encounters". I've seen a number of Herzog's other, earlier, documentaries and they were all great to watch too.

Thanks for your film recommendations. Not seen either. Will keep an eye out for them. Thanks.