Thursday, December 22, 2005

2005: Film

Don't know why I'm doing this when I haven't seen a respectable number of films from this year to select from in the first place. Perhaps it's the urge to pause, reflect, and classify. Perhaps it's because everyone else's doing it.

In my favourite film of the year, Tsai Ming-liang provides a stunning summation of an extraordinary career (so far) while at the same time, reaches for new ways of expressing intimacy and isolation: The Wayward Cloud is the oddest, funniest, and the most emotional film of his career. Gustav Deutsch's Welt Spiegel Kino/World Mirror Cinema uses the silent cinema screen to project hypnotic performances of Deutsch's creation, and links them to three separate found-footage films wherein large groups of people are captured in slow-motion outside cinemas in Vienna, Portugal, and Indonesia, to create metahistory in three chapters, literally finding "the new in the familiar". Ilya Khrjanovsky's 4/Chetyre is possibly the greatest debut feature of the last couple of years - a maddening and nightmarish journey from urban to rural, night to day, the comfortable to the excrutiating. Take it as an allegorical exposition of contemporary Russian politics and culture, or simply as a surreal trip to an alien land, recalling the films of Béla Tarr and David Lynch (the film's brilliant sound design seems to directly recall the industrial landscape of Eraserhead). Outerborough is Bill Morrison's split-screen playground in Cinemascope: 1899 footage captured from the frontal and back POVs of a train crossing the Brooklyn Bridge is manipulated to create what can only be described as Music - in a film with no sound.

top ten films of 2005:
01. The Wayward Cloud (Tsai Ming-liang)
02. Mutual Appreciation (Andrew Bujalski)
03. A Tale of Cinema (Hong Sang-soo)
04. Caché (Michael Haneke)
05. Welt Spiegel Kino (Gustav Deutsch)
06. 4 (Ilya Khrjanovsky)
07. Land of the Dead (George A. Romero)
08. Outerborough (Bill Morrison)
09. L'Enfant (Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne)
10. Last Days (Gus Van Sant)

I need to see these films!: Les Amants réguliers (Philippe Garrel), The New World (Terrence Malick), I Am A Sex Addict (Caveh Zahedi), Mary (Abel Ferrara), The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach), Three Times (Hou Hsiao-hsien), Magic Mirror (Manoel de Oliveira, who turned 97 a few days ago), The Sun (Aleksandr Sokurov), Who's Camus Anyway? (Mitsuo Yanagimachi), etc. etc. etc.

2004 films seen-and-liked this year (in order of preference): L'Intrus (Claire Denis), The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson), I Heart Huckabees (David O. Russell), The World (Jia Zhang-ke), Mysterious Skin (Gregg Araki).

Happy holidays, everybody!


Blogger Martin Degrell said...

Wait a second - you consider L'intrus a 04 film? I was wondering why it didn't make the 05 top ten. (Sorry for not sharing your liking of Wayward Cloud, btw - haven't seen anything else by Tsai Ming-liang, maybe that accounts for something.)

As for listmaking and such, I hear ya - I mean, about now is the time of the year I can put together a top ten - for 2004! I'm always about a year behind, due to release dates and such. Still, I guess I'm gonna make one for 05 anyway.

11:05 PM  
Blogger Mubarak Ali said...

Yeah, I tend to stick to the IMDb year for such lists for the sake of standardised nonsense (though IMDb's far from perfect). Otherwise films like Decasia and Tarnation would be on 2005's list. Ditto the 2004 American films that I mention, which (as you know) took forever to cross the oceans.

As for the Tsai, I think it definitely might've helped if you'd seen other Tsai's before, especially What Time Is It There?, to which Cloud is a sequel-of-sorts. At least tell me you enjoyed some of the musical numbers, esp. that final one!

4:59 AM  
Blogger Martin Degrell said...

I actually had no idea L'intrus premiered in Venice in 04. Oh well. Damn. :)

The Wayward Cloud sure was pretty, and some of the musical numbers, while not exactly catchy to my ears, were fun. The final scene is certainly among the strangest of the year. Need to see more of Tsai's stuff (have some available, incl What Time...), but then again, keep in mind that I fully admit to being ignorant towards many contemporary Asian filmmakers - ignorant in the sense that I rarely feel connected to their themes and/or aesthetics, perhaps because of a lack of insight - or simply because I haven't seen enough. But I'm trying!

11:54 AM  
Blogger Ouyang Feng said...

Yes, The Wayward Cloud was surely one of the most engaged, radical and original movies!

As for The Tale of Cinema, I thought that it wasn't as good as his other movies (but I still liked it better than Turning Gate).

9:56 PM  
Blogger Mubarak Ali said...

Hey Ouyang! :)

Of course, you're another Tsai nut like me. Must have been so surreal for you to have talked to him in person...

My favourite Hong is Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, but I've liked all of his films so far. Turning Gate is the only one I haven't seen yet.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Ouyang Feng said...

Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors is certainly his best one, but I think my favourite will be The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well (it's raw, perhaps more pessimistic in the relationships), but I liked a lot Woman is the Future of Man (for the tone and the simplicity).

Interesting blog btw! :)

2:27 PM  

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