|Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman
|La Règle du jeu
|A Place in the Sun
|Some Came Running
|The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
|ULTIMO TANGO A PARIGI
This choice reflects a preference for the utilitarian and meliorist conception of art, as defended by John Dewey, for example - a conception that is commonplace except among cinephile intellectuals. The presence of these ten films does not, therefore, reflect a desire to see them feature prominently in a History of Cinema with a capital H, nor to promote "art for art's sake". They are here for three reasons. If the first is personal (the stories they tell have touched me and I understand them as fables even if I know that my gender and my skin colour have a lot to do with it), the other two allow us to go a little beyond the egocentric aspect that, whatever they say, always characterises lists of this kind.
These films, above all, were made by people who had something to say about how one should live one's life. By people who can be taken as imaginary friends with a practical philosophy (watching Some Came Running is like reading Kierkegaard), or elders who, having already gone through certain stages of of reflection or having had certain experiences, simply wanted to leave a trace of it. After having seen their films, you are supposed to know what to expect on a certain number of points. So you often come out of it with the desire or the fear to follow the example of their characters - many of these these films work ex negativo, i.e. they show what not to do and end badly, mostly because their protagonists, often ordinary people, misread the signs sent by their environment.
Social class differences (A Place in the Sun, Il Gattopardo, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg), the weight of the "iron cage" in the sense of Max Weber (Le Bonheur, The Rules of the Game), the thirst for success (Sunset Boulevard), denial (The Swimmer, Ultimo tango a Parigi, Some Came Running), are some of the issues they address.
Secondly, these films were conceived, not on the model of a piece of art by a singular genius, but on the model of a collectively constructed work. This means that most of the formal choices which characterise their staging, their script, their music, their music, costumes, etc., have been made with the aim of making us feel more deeply what is happening to the characters. When there is a break in technical or narrative tradition, here it is always to care about them, not to criticise the conventions of mainstream cinema. The strange cross-fades of A Place in the Sun or the jump-cuts of Le Bonheur, for example, are there to make us live what we will never have the chance to live, not to innovate.
They may not be "great" films; they are simply well-made and useful films.