Co-owner, Milestone Film & Video
|I Know Where I’m Going!
|Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
|Pass the Gravy
|Portrait of Jason
|Killer of Sheep
|Begone Dull Care
|Harlan County, USA
|The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On
|Sorry to Bother You
I am ashamed that I didn't know about this film in 2012 and very glad to be closely attached to it now. Having seen it over 100 times and many times over, frame by frame, this film still astonishes me with something new and fabulous each time I see it.
I Know Where I’m Going!
No other film surpasses this film's excellence – the ceilidh moves me to tears every time, not only for its unabashed romanticism but also for its absolute brilliance in all aspects of movie making from cinematography, music, dance, and editing. I've always loved Pamela Brown in this movie as Mrs. Potts, but in the new restoration, I realised how even the minor role of Margot Fitzsimons' as Bridie is built so beautifully with such grace and dignity.
Pass the Gravy
Way too many critics and scholars think only of feature films as worthy to be included in best-of lists, but the golden age of silent comedy has short films that rank, laugh for laugh, inventive shot for inventive shot, among the finest films in cinema history. Pass the Gravuy may not even be the most artistic, but it's the one that has me on the floor laughing from beginning to end. Every actor in this film is at full throttle with their talent.
Portrait of Jason
Shirley Clarke spent six months, brilliantly editing every shot down to the final frame, to make it look like the camera rolls were never touched after the film left the camera. Is it documentary, performance art, or a total creation of fiction? Jason Holliday and Shirley Clarke face off and you never can fully figure out who is being used. I've been to over three dozen screenings of this film and every time, there is a vastly different reaction to this film. It is cinema's greatest Rorschach test and cinéma vérité's greatest mindfuck. All of Shirley's features deserve to be on this list.
Killer of Sheep
Even though it's pure urban poetry, very few people realize the storyline of this film. It is simply about a man trying to live his life with dignity, no matter how grinding it becomes. Stan's slight smile at his wife near the end of the film is absolutely equal in power and sublime emotion to Charlie Chaplin's at the end of City Lights. Burnett might have made better films (including To Sleep with Anger and Nightjohn), but nothing as loved as this one.
Begone Dull Care
Again, experimental and animated short films rarely get chosen for this kind of list (and a half dozen by Chuck Jones could easily make it here on to mine) but I'm sticking with this masterpiece by McLaren and Lambert. For cinematic and creative genius, this film may be the purest cinema of all time. Seeing it on a big screen is a magnificent journey.
Harlan County, USA
An amazing example of physical and emotional courage under fire by any director, combined with stunning storytelling. Barbara Kopple's career-long ability to reveal the humanity in people is one of the great gifts of cinema.
Forget about acclaiming Lois Weber as a great woman director. She easily ranks there as one of the finest directors of her time and up there in the ranks of all time. Think about the incredible overhead shot of the burglar in Suspense, the tracking shot of the palace battle in The Dumb Girl of Portici, and her finest of all, the dolly shot following the back of Eva Meyer's shoes in the pouring rain as you can viscerally feel her pain. Lois Weber was so ahead of her time with this film that only now is its brilliance being discovered.
The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On
Is there a documentarian, Kazuo Hara, more obsessed with his subject than Kenzo Okuzaki? Along with Winter Soldier (1972) and the films of Marcel Ophüls, this is the most important film concerning the nature of human beings and their responsibility for their actions.
Sorry to Bother You
For pure audaciousness, its energy, and its message – perhaps the best film of the past decade.
In the 2012 selections, I came to realise that the greatest films of all time are a figment of our collective imagination, imprinted on our brains by our earlier film professors and critics. The 2012 choice of Vertigo, to me, was a clarion call to break these chains that have oppressed us. Even this list of mine disappoints me as I need to further explore outside the confines of my comfort.