Writer and Editor, The Film Stage
|Comrades: Almost a Love Story
|Bukchon Banghyang (The Day He Arrived)
|FIN AOÛT, DÉBUT SEPTEMBRE
|TAIYO O NUSUNDA OTOKO
Comrades: Almost a Love Story
Movies are little without stars, and it seemed improper not making room for the world's greatest (retired or otherwise). A romantic comedy where passions run so strong that characters could only resolve their dilemma after flying to other ends of the earth. May deserve placement solely for rendering an image of Maggie Cheung walking under Brooklyn’s J-M-Z line one of the strangest things I've ever seen.
Bukchon Banghyang (The Day He Arrived)
Far as I can see, the closest a movie has come to telling us the meaning of life.
Tarantino’s first historical-revisionist movie, whether he knows or wishes to acknowledge, and one he's disavowed despite how well it compacts everything at which he’s a genius — fitting contradiction for the most exciting and perpetually underestimated director of my lifetime. Whatever his reservations, a fan club comprising Claire Denis, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Arnaud Desplechin, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Bertrand Bonello, Claude Lanzmann, and myself simply cannot be wrong.
To run risk of disregarding perfect narrative rhythms (especially in the well-trod ghost-story mold) for superficial appreciation: one of the most purely beautiful films I have ever seen, each image thematically responding to its predecessor just as it formally supersedes. As deserving of placement as anything, I suppose, in the history of cinema, though also something of a stand-in for Kaul in toto.
All you need to make a movie is a Steadicam and 18 guns.
Shakespeare originated this story in The Tempest; Monte Hellman improved it.
FIN AOÛT, DÉBUT SEPTEMBRE
I first saw this at 19 when I didn't know anything about life. Watching again at 27 I realized my life became this movie — a personal Rosetta Stone for growing older, adjusting expectations, seeing yourself change both in accordance and unevenly with the friends who've shaped you. For all its pain, an index of everything I desire: living in Paris on comfortable means, wearing late-90s fits, talking with a friend about his fifth novel.
More variance than any other movie might contain: Ophülsian social drama, action epic decades ahead of anything I'd even start comparing it with, comedy of mismarriage. A total masterpiece that spent decades in total obscurity, whose recent resurrection marks some moment in film history; it'll just take a while to be recognized as such.
TAIYO O NUSUNDA OTOKO
Though originated from an idea and co-written by Leonard “Brother of Paul” Schrader, this and Hasegawa’s only other feature (The Youth Killer) suggest unique mastery of narrative unfurlment: rarely can something thread solid blocks of tension across a liquid one-thing-leads-to-another framework. In anything like a just world this is seen concurrent with benchmarks of Japanese cinema.
Point: the seven years since I've seen this are too long to be 100% comfortable calling it one of the best films ever. Counterpoint: across those seven years I have probably tapped out the movie's conga theme every day. Also: équipage!
These are of course defined equally by what’s left behind. If any language might convey the knowledge that in this most esteemed poll I’m lacking all but ten films that have moved me, to say nothing of the people synonymous with my love of cinema — Lynch, Garrel, Godard, Akerman, Resnais, Ozu, Welles, Tsai, Kiarostami, Antonioni, Scorsese, Pialat, Polanski, Eastwood, Jia, Romero, Hawks, Mizoguchi, Chaplin, Cronenberg, Michael Mann, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Hollis Frampton, Raúl Ruiz, Maya Deren, Yvonne Rainer, Edward Yang — I'm also applying too much weight to this (supposed) process and (ostensible) result if I called that wrong. But as assembling ten means considering them in direct proportion with what’s elsewhere, questions and second-guesses make themselves known.
Just as these are a capture of the listmaker’s time and place — immediate (August 2022, New York City), interior (jury’s out) — and (maybe I'm cheating) synecdochical stand-ins for the innumerable others whose associations they raise and values they compound.
My only hope is that a decade's time will permit me to reminisce on this with recognition of the moment's enthusiasms and self-pardoning amusement at how little I knew.