Professor emeritus of Comparative Literature and Film Studies, Yale University
|A City of Sadness
|Sansho the Bailiff
|La Règle du jeu
|Jules et Jim
|Once upon a Time in Anatolia
|Nuri Bilge Ceylan
|Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
Sansho the Bailiff
Ugetsu may be the more attractive and favoured of the two masterpieces Mizoguchi made one after the other, but Sansho is morally deeper, a genuine tragedy echoing across the ages yet tied to its post-war moment.
Each restoration brings out additional details and poetic resonances in a film that even when mutilated carried an irrepressible imaginative élan.
La Règle du jeu
No comment needed for the most complex and scintillating French film of all.
Jules et Jim
Its mores have dated, as has its romanticism, but it remains the most continually inventive work of a filmmaker for whom freshness meant everything.
I prefer The Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Evil andm above all, Chimes at Midnight, yet none is so stupendously organised as is Citizen Kane. It continues to carry the viewer along into its ever-darkening view of personal and national ambition.
Had I seen A Brighter Summer Day on the big screen, it likely would have been my choice, but Yi Yi's even-handedness comes off so satisfyingly across a huge screen because of its exceptional visual and narrative balance. Yang remains underrated.
A maddening exercise this has proved, but one with some value nevertheless. I have aimed to pass down the films that I hope will place high on the cumulative list, plus a few others I want to bring more recognition to. I assume Hitchcock and Bresson will do well without the approbation I would certainly supply. And I'm sorry not to be able to signal my admiration for Lubitsch, Buñuel, Becke, and especially Rossellini. Internalising the politics of the canon, I have played here a self-defeating game that is at once personal and social. But the exercise was, as they say, profitable.