Favorites 2007

Favorite new films (alphabetically):

  • At Sea (Peter Hutton, USA)
  • Black Book (Paul Verhoeven, Holland)
  • Fengming, A Chinese Memoir (Wang Bing, China)
  • Flight of the Red Balloon (Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan/France)
  • I’m Not There (Todd Haynes, USA)
  • Inland Empire (David Lynch, USA/France/Poland)
  • In the City of Sylvia (Jose Luis Guerin, Spain/France)
  • Lady Chatterley (Pascale Ferran, France)
  • The Last Mistress (Catherine Breillat, France)
  • Paranoid Park (Gus van Sant, USA/France)
  • The Romance of Astrea and Celadon (Eric Rohmer, France)
  • Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong, South Korea)
  • Useless (Jia Zhang-ke, China)

* * *

Favorite older films seen for the first time this year (chronologically):

  • Hangover Square (John Brahm, 1945)
  • Story of a Love Affair (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1950)
  • Tokyo Twilight (Yasujiro Ozu, 1957)
  • Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1976)
  • Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1977)
  • Ms. 45 (Abel Ferrara, 1981)
  • À Nos Amours (Maurice Pialat, 1983)
  • El Sur (Victor Erice, 1983)
  • Sombre (Philippe Grandrieux, 1998)
  • Films by Pedro Costa: In Vanda’s Room and Where Does That Hidden Smile Lie? (2000/2001)

* * *

Revisited films that look better every time:

  • L’Age d’Or (Luis Buñuel/Salvador Dali, 1930)
  • They Live By Night (Nicholas Ray, 1949)
  • Stromboli (Roberto Rossellini, 1950)
  • The Cloud-Capped Star (Ritwik Ghatak, 1960)
  • Bobby (Raj Kapoor, 1973)
  • Deewaar (Yash Chopra, 1975)
  • Films by Martin Arnold: Pièce Touchée, Passage à l’acte, Alone: Life Wastes Andy Hardy (1989/1993/1997)
  • Surviving Desire (Hal Hartley, 1991)
  • La Ceremonie (Claude Chabrol, 1995)
  • Domino (Tony Scott, 2005)

* * *

And finally, 10 great writers I had been aware of but only started reading seriously this year:

  • Nicole Brenez: Abel Ferrara; “For it is the Critical Faculty that Invents Fresh Forms,” in The French Cinema Book; essays in Rouge and Screening the Past.
  • Jean-Pierre Coursodon: 2-volume American Directors, with Pierre Sauvage.
  • Jonathan Culler: Literary Theory; Roland Barthes.
  • Fergus Daly: Leos Carax; on Maurice Pialat in Rouge and Hou Hsiao-hsien in Movie Mutations.
  • Paul Hammond: The Shadow and its Shadow; L’Age d’Or (BFI classics).
  • James Naremore: See this post.
  • Bill Nichols: Introduction to Documentary; Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary; Ideology and the Image; Movies and Methods, vols. 1 and 2 (editor).
  • Sam Rohdie: Antonioni; Montage; essays at Screening the Past.
  • Robert Stam: Film Theory: An Introduction; Reflexivity in Film and Culture: From Don Quixote to Jean-Luc Godard.
  • David Toop: Ocean of Sound; Exotica; Haunted Weather.

* * *

A large survey at Screening the Past collects key contributions to the field–books, essays, DVDs, etc.–as nominated by numerous scholars/cinephiles including Dudley Andrew, Nicole Brenez, Thomas Elsaesser, Craig Keller, Bill Krohn, Adrian Martin, James Naremore, Andy Rector, Jonathan Rosenbaum, and Paul Willemen.

* * *

One or more of your favorites of 2007, in either films or books, old or new?

* * *

pic: At Sea (Peter Hutton).

Comments (30):

  1. Darren

    December 25, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Girish, my list is going to be almost identical to yours. Except for Black Book, which I haven’t seen, every film you mentioned could be in my top 10. I have five real favorites this year, but there are 25-30 others that could make the cut. On average, 2007 was a really strong year.

    Thanks for that Screening the Past link. What a resource that is.

  2. girish

    December 25, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    Hey, Darren — I just noticed that in my list of new films above, you and I saw 9 of them together…!

  3. Michael Guillen

    December 25, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    Rent a room, you guys. Heh. Juss jokin. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas, a cinephilic New Year, and a safe visit home, Professor Girish!! I promise not to trash your classroom while you’re gone.

  4. girish

    December 25, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    Michael, I’m leaving tomorrow. My mom and dad are even bigger Interweb surfers than I am, so I’m sure I’ll be able to pop up here occasionally. Meanwhile, pl. make sure you do trash this classroom while I’m gone. I mean, it’s one way to keep the classroom alive, right..? Happy holidays, Michael.

  5. Anonymous

    December 25, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    I liked Black Book quite a bit, and your list in general has films I liked or want to see (namely Paranoid Park).

    But your blog post gives me the excuse to recommend Dave Eggers’ What is the What, his novel about (and to some extent “by”) one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.

  6. Anonymous

    December 25, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    Oh, and Happy Christmas and New Year. Enjoy the time with family.

  7. Michael Guillen

    December 25, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Well, since I’ve been given license, I wield my handy spraycan and write all over the wall: “Black Book = NAZI WHORE!”

  8. phil

    December 25, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    hey girish.
    love the drawing.

    hope you have a good time visiting with your parents. have a safe trip. 🙂

  9. Michael

    December 26, 2007 at 2:39 am

    Girish, I enjoyed reading your year-end lists. Fengming is also one of my favorites of the year (I’m in the midst of putting my list together and will post it as soon as I can). I also saw Tokyo Twilight for the first time this year — a very different film for Ozu, but as powerful as so many of his later works. As far as good reading goes, I’m currently wading through Raul Ruiz’s Poetics of Cinema, and for Christmas I just received Sheila Cornelius’ New Chinese Cinema, which is part of Short Cuts Series from Wallflower Press.

    Have a great trip to India and a great new year. Lookin’ forward to hearing about it all when you return.

  10. girish

    December 26, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks, Chuck, Maya, Phil and Michael.

    Phil, do let me know the next time you come into town.

    Michael, I’ll look forward to reading your lists.

  11. alsolikelife

    December 26, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    Did your screening of At Sea include Robert Beavers’ new film… I think it’s called “A Pitcher of Light”? I guess I lump them together because they were in the same press screening at the NY Film Fest. The Hutton film was more immediately gratifying but the Beavers is the one that’s stayed with me stronger.

    I’ll have to think about my favorite older films (shouldn’t take long as I probably didn’t see more than 50 this year), but Pialat’s Van Gogh definitely makes the list. On my Facebook page Dan Sallitt deemed Joe Swanberg’s “Hannah Takes the Stairs” the closest US cinema has come to “A Nos Amours”.

  12. davis

    December 27, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    That’s a good double-feature, Kevin, the films by Beavers (Pitcher of Colored Light, I believe) and Hutton. For scheduling reasons I only caught the first half of At Sea, leaving just as the rain began to hit the ship, but I hope to catch up with it in full.

    These two films are lumped together in my mind with Nathaniel Dorsky’s shorts. They have a similar form, and he’s been showing his stuff in San Francisco lately, so they’re fresh in mind.

    Girish, as always, you have a great list full of things to dig into. I don’t know where my list is going to land yet. I think we differ on Black Book and I’m Not There, but even those films were intriguing even if they didn’t fully satisfy.

    It’s the theme of the year, for me. Crazy, whack, bold, adventurous experiments, few of them wildly successful, but most of them exhilarating.

  13. Ryland Walker Knight

    December 27, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    First: Domino! (I agree.)

    Second: Happy Holidays.

    Third: I really want to see _There Will Be Blood_ again before I make any grand statements like it being a masterpiece or the best film of the year or something. Still, I like that one a lot. Along with _INLAND EMPIRE_ and _Ratatouille_ and _Syndromes and a Century_ and _The Darjeeling Limited_, it’s on my protean list for 2007. Two films that surprised me: _Margot at the Wedding_ and _I’m Not There_ keep appreciating upon reflection, at least in part because they were movies where women were given some “real” sexuality.

    Fourth: Older films continued to rule the day, as with discovering Satoshi Kon’s _Millennium Actress_ and Burnett’s Milestone package and JC’s _Love Streams_. Plus, the comedies of remarriage, which leads me to

    Fifth: Stanley Cavell. Perhaps everything I was looking for — or a close approximation of — what I want of criticism, and philosophy. Plus, VF Perkins’ _Film as Film_ is pretty dope.

    Sixth: Non film stuff? I finally read _Lolita_. How do I read another novel after that? I finally started tasting excellent tequila and there’s really no going back. Except when you’re feeling poor and keep buying PBR cuz you’re cheap.

  14. Ryland Walker Knight

    December 27, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    Seventh: I wish I had seen more worldly a selection of films. Oh well. I have time, and Netflix, and the PFA.

    Eighth: 2008 already?

  15. girish

    December 27, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    Hey, Kevin, Rob, Ry!

    Kevin & Rob — I saw the Peter Hutton film at TIFF; the Beavers didn’t play there and so I haven’t seen it. A couple of months before the Beavers film showed at NYFF, there was a good essay on it by P. Adams Sitney in Artforum that’s worth seeking out. Haven’t seen Hannah takes the Stairs either but it’s good to hear Dan’s appraisal of it.

    I still haven’t seen a few films on my to-see list: There Will Be Blood, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, Margot at the Wedding, Silent Light

    Rob — I’ll look forward to seeing your list; perhaps you’ll publish it at Errata or Paste

    Ry — I know you did a lot of reading this year. Maybe sometime you’ll do a post at Vinyl is Heavy of your favorite readings (books/essays)? It’ll give us a chance to pick your brain for ideas…

    So it’s 1 a.m. and I’m cooling my heels here in Dubai airprort, waiting for my flight to Chennai. I know I’ll be jet-lagged to oblivion when I get there but the Madrasi home cooking will make it all ok.

  16. Noel Vera

    December 28, 2007 at 4:41 am

    Strictly speaking, Black Book is 2006. But it got distributed here in 2007.

    So We Own the Night didn’t make your top ten, girish?

  17. Michael

    December 28, 2007 at 6:25 am

    Ryland, Nabakov has a way of making other novelists seem like amateurs. 🙂

  18. Anonymous

    December 29, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Hi Girish,
    My favourites this year included Kaurismaki’s “Lights in the Dusk” Fiennes’ “The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema” and Lubitsch’s “Angel”

  19. Anonymous

    December 30, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Another favourite from this year I forgot to mention is Lenny Abrahamson’s “Garage”

  20. celinejulie

    December 31, 2007 at 7:00 am

    Girish, I’m very glad to see SOMBRE and LA CEREMONIE in your list. I also enjoyed DOMINO very much, especially the character played by Mo’Nique.

    This is a summary of my favorite film list of 2007:
    Film – CRY IN SILENCE (2006, J. G. Biggs, France)
    Thai film – THE HOUSE (2007, Monthon Arayangkoon)
    Short film – SUBURBS OF EMPTINESS (2003, Thomas Koener, Germany)
    Thai short film – THE BANGKOK BOURGEOIS PARTY (2007, Prap Boonpan)
    Documentary – VIDEOGRAM OF A REVOLUTION (1992, Harun Farocki, Andrei Ujica)
    Animation – BUTTERFLY (2002, Glenn Morgan)
    DVD – PALMS (1993, Artur Aristakisyan)

  21. Brian Darr

    January 1, 2008 at 12:55 am

    Happy New Year, girish and fellow girish-ites!

    These lists will provide fodder for a lot of viewing and reading…

  22. girish

    January 2, 2008 at 7:36 am

    Happy New Year, Brian and all!

    Brian, I enjoyed your “Intolerable Silence” post.

    Noel, in answer to your question, I clean forgot about We Own the Night and definitely meant to include it on my list. An even more egregious omission due to forgetfulness was the weekend of Kiarostami shorts I saw at MoMA.

    Acquarello posts a list of upcoming DVDs. Lots of good news there including: Resnais’s early/mid 80’s films (I especially love Melo and L’Amour à Mort); Lubitsch musicals (The Love Parade, The Smiling Lieutenant, One Hour with You, Monte Carlo); Paradjanov; Varda, etc.

  23. Noel Vera

    January 2, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Okay, girish–maybe you should revise your list?

    celinejulie, I saw Palms in Hong Kong in 1995, was blown away, saw it sink without a trace for over ten years. I can’t believe you managed to dig it up. It’s a powerful film, I thought.

  24. Unknown

    January 3, 2008 at 3:08 am

    I’m glad you liked the Intolerance post, girish! Thanks so much for linking.

    Those Lubitsch musicals are all wonderful. I think if I had to pick a favorite it would be the Smiling Lieutenant. That Eclipse line has this diehard cinemagoer wishing he made more time for DVD viewing.

  25. celinejulie

    January 3, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Noel, I’m glad you like PALMS. Second Run DVD releases this DVD. I think Second Run DVD is a great company. Their DVD catalogue includes THE PARTY AND THE GUESTS (Jan Nemec), THE THIRD PART OF THE NIGHT (Andrzej Zulawski), MARKETA LAZAROVA (Frantisek Vlacil), PASSENGER (Andrzej Munk), and INTERROGATION (Ryszard Bugajski). (I still haven’t seen the last three mentioned here.)

  26. RC

    January 5, 2008 at 5:57 am

    Wow, some of these international films you list i hadn’t even heard of until now, thanks for posting this list!

  27. Tourist

    January 6, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    I’m a longtime reader of this terrific blog, learned a lot from Girish’s profound knowledge.

    Kudos for bringing up the topic, here’s my top 10 list of 2007.

    10. No Country for Old Men (2007, Coen Brothers)
    9. Control (2007, Anton Corbijn)
    8. Atonement (2007, Joe Wright)
    7. The Kite Runner (2007, Marc Forster)
    6. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007, Cristian Mungiu)
    5. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007, Julian Schnabel)
    4. California Dreamin’ (Nesfarsit) (2007, Cristian Nemescu)
    3. Zodiac (2007, David Fincher)
    2. Sicko (2007, Michael Moore)
    1. Blind Mountain (2007, Li Yang)

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