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Old 04-29-2012, 12:29 AM   #31
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If I can pick a top 10 selection of non-English language films I would choose:

1. Seven Samurai

 


2. Grand Illusion

 


3. Metropolis

 


4. Napoleon

 


5. Passion of Joan of Arc

 
Critics' Picks - 'Passion of Joan of Arc' - YouTube
It's especially great with the new score on the Criterion DVD


6. La Dolce Vita

 


7. Hiroshima Mon Amour

 


8. Wages of fear

 


9. Persona

 



10. L'Avventura

 
I think Roger covers this one well:
L'Avventura :: rogerebert.com :: Great Movies
Hilarious trailer when the title is really ironic.
Criterion Trailer 98: L'Avventura - YouTube
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Old 04-29-2012, 01:28 AM   #32
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I can tell you Hiroshima Mon Amour would be on my list... either an all time best worldwide or personal favorites. Though maybe La Notte for Antonioni.
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Old 04-29-2012, 03:13 AM   #33
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Well, I find myself tempted to do this against better judgment. My vague undefined criteria having something to do with wanting to find films that in some way represent as wide an array as I can manage of what I generally believe to be some of cinema's most important, interesting, or impressive trends, movements or national cinemas. A lot left unacknowledged of course, but let's see (trying not to second guess myself too much):

Faust - Murnau
An easy one. Probably the best surviving (as in the films) silent filmmaker, so he gets to speak for the era as a whole. Faust is an odd pick, since it's not his most famous, significant even roundly put-together works, but in my mind it exists as an astoundingly mad work of creative overflow, one of the best explorations of what's inherently seductive about pure visual storytelling. Could easily replace with The Last Laugh, though.

Touch of Evil - Welles
Another no-brainer, at least for Welles. I'm not his biggest admirer, but his breakthrough film redefined how artists and audiences think about cinematic language, and for me Touch of Evil represents something of his peak formal perfection. Not the colossus that Citizen Kane obviously is, but this film fucking rages.

The End of Summer - Ozu
My favorite Ozu film, so I'm indulging a bit. If a single artist has to stand in for the whole rich history of Japanese cinema is has to be him of Mizoguchi, and I don't quite think the latter has made such a profound wide-spread impression on every filmmaker who's since followed as Ozu. As for picking a specific film, I think his color work contains everything amazing his earlier work did, plus some of the most beautiful color theory in all of cinema, and The End of Summer is fucking perfect, a film about everything and a film executed with complete modesty and an unparalleled mastery of film language.

Hiroshima Mon Amour - Resnais
Duh, my only other true favorite to appear here probably. One of the landmark film of the French New Wave, needs little justification. As for the movement I'm tempted to go with Godard's Week End, as his role in this whole scheme speaks for itself and Week End, though a film I like considerably less than most of Resnais' work seems wholly important as a landmark film intent on fighting... itself, its audience, theology, philosophy, art, everything. Which makes it difficult to appreciate in a way let alone enjoy, but it's important and worth noting. But fuck it.

L'Eclisse - Antonioni
Not my favorite of his, as that would be La Notte, but any of his great trilogy here would be applicable. I'd go with this one since, though coming after L'Avventura the real breakthrough, L'Eclisse stands as his most daring and analytical formal triumph. Maybe the one film of his most interested in breaking apart the fundamentals of cinema and pushing it in various different directions at once.

Dog Star Man - Brakhage
True experimental cinema has to be represented one way or another, and while there are hundreds of artists that could easily take this place, few have the name-recognition or distinct clarity of artistic purpose of Stan Brakhage. So insert any one of the hundreds of brilliant films he's made, but I'll go again with one of his most famous (and feature-length).

Mirror - Tarkovsky
Another flag-bearer in a sense for his part of the world, I could have also gone with someone like Eisenstein who arguably left an even greater contribution to the development of film art. But Tarkovsky's Mirror stands out to me in terms of pure structure, visual elegance, and unfathomable personal communication (or is it exorcism?) of a director through his work.

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul - Fassbinder
It's Fassbinder, he's German and he's mindblowing. This is one of his richest films. So, uh... sure.

The Puppetmaster - Hou
Again, not my favorite Hou, but he's my favorite filmmaker and I really love almost all his work equally. This film or City of Sadness seems appropriate though in representing the New Taiwanese Cinema movement on the whole, along with the works of other masters such as Edward Yang, Tsai Ming-Liang or Wu Nien-Jen. The movement itself has a lot of significant formal, historical, cultural and ideological associations to it, which are too deep to get into in a post like this, but Hou's The Puppetmaster combines such innovative technique with the classic early tenants of the New Cinema's cinematic language and a startlingly honest if complicated portrayal of the country's rich history and culture through both incredibly personal storytelling and universal implications.

Close-Up - Kiarostami
Really, this feels to me like a fairly comparable film in terms of its formal accomplishment, relation to its own very important national cinema and culture, and overall significance to The Puppetmaster, only here for Iran. Beyond that, this is one of the absolute landmark works in examining the lines between fiction and documentary and the very nature of the filmic image.
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Old 04-29-2012, 05:15 AM   #34
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Ironically, The End of Summer is the last disc in the Late Ozu set and the one I'm almost positive I haven't seen yet.

Nice list, though you kind of erred the other way. I don't like purpleoscar's claim that U.S. dominates film, but because American cinema is made up of so many immigrants and first generation Americans, it should be represented by more than a couple filmmakers.
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:04 AM   #35
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I find The End of Summer reaches a degree of thematic and stylistic balance that some of Ozu's later films don't quite achieve (namely something like An Autumn Afternoon or Late Autumn, amazing though they are). I think you'll really like it.

And you make a point, but like oscar also said, it's hard to narrow down this kind of thing to 10, even considering my approach. I realized after I posted this that I left out Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman, which almost surely belong on here, and probably resides in my personal favorites as well. But what to drop for it? Maybe Mirror or Ali. eh. But really, if I were to expand just slightly, I'd almost have to include something from Coppola - The Godfather probably, if not Apocalypse Now. Also was leaning towards Mulholland Drive for something to represent post-classical American filmmaking and the 21st century, though I'd prefer something digital for the latter, it's hard to see where that influence is really spreading so soon right now.
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:07 AM   #36
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Jesus, I also realize I in no way represented Latin American or even Spanish cinema at all, which is a grievous oversight. Then again that's probably my single biggest blind spot in the medium in relation to its breadth of output. Unless we're feeling generous enough to count Charlton Heston with a spray-on tan as Mexican.
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:13 AM   #37
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Maybe some Buñuel? Ultimately someone's going to get left out. I mean, there are like at least 5 films from France, Russia, Germany that are better than anything to ever come out of Latin America or Spain. It is what is is.

And you run the risk of making a list that tries to be too representative at the risk of acknowledging cinema's true greatest works. Very difficult, this.

As for Coppola, I think Apocalypse is a greater demonstration of his gifts and the power/potential of cinema more than The Godfather is. The latter has a stronger script and cast, but on the tech side it's not even close. And besides, The Godfather II would be more appropriate as it was less-controlled by the studio and more Coppola's own film

Obviously I'm biased here but if you're going to consider Mulholland Dr I think Rivette (particularly Céline & Julie Go Boating), is more worthy because his deconstruction of narrative is a precursor to what Lynch is doing in his later work. It's not as visually alive but it's pretty landmark. I'm hoping the new print and subsequent domestic DVD release will finally get the film its due. This new write-up makes a damn good case for its importance:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/mo...o-boating.html
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:18 AM   #38
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I'm hardly heartbroken over it. Bunuel seems like an obvious choice though, but I've only seen a handful of his work and none of it's grabbed me enough to really pursue further. If I didn't love the Resnais so much I'd be obliged to go with Celine and Julie Go Boating, now that I think about it. Arguably a more daring and esoteric film than any of the others I mentioned.
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:22 AM   #39
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Are you still near New York? You should really catch that new print that's opening at Film Forum next weekend.
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:23 AM   #40
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I'm in DC for the time being, so close enough yeah. Not really in a position right now to make it up there, but maybe if it's still playing a few weeks from now.
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:29 AM   #41
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Hopefully it will get a little tour. Something the AFI Silver might screen?
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:31 AM   #42
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Yeah I could definitely see AFI picking it up for a few weeks, which would be amazing. Their programming can be a bit unpredictable though. But they're starting, or just started, a fairly extensive Ghibli series that I'm fairly interested in as well.
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:52 AM   #43
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Thanks for your list. Some good choices there.

Faust is a masterpiece and the Last Laugh as well (great ending). As usual if you choose one title you fore-go another.

Touch of evil to me is more an emotional choice than Kane, but I can see people being more interested in it precisely because it's more emotional. It's definitely stylish.

For Ozu I've only seen Tokyo Story and Floating Weeds which were great. I'll have to check out your choice sometime.

Hiroshima mon amour I fell in love with the first time I saw it. It's gripping and realistic.

I love L'Avventura, and La Notte but I haven't seen L'Eclisse yet. That'll probably be my next foreign film I'll see.

I have no clue about Brakhage and the Dog Star Man reviews from average viewers on Rottentomatoes shows it would be a difficult viewing trying to associate the images to the universe.

I want to see The Mirror but I wouldn't have a problem choosing Solaris. That ending and the religious touches made a good argument that man travelling the universe could be a soul crushing experience and that what we need is right here on earth.

Berlin Alexanderplatz scared me away from Fassbinder but maybe Ali is better.

I've never heard of the Puppetmaster but the story and visual style in the reviews looks like a winner.

The only Kiarostami I've seen is Certified Copy which I liked but didn't love. I'll have to check this one out if you think it's his best.
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:04 PM   #44
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I don't think Close-Up is Kiarostami's "best", just, like I said, maybe the most significant in terms of its relationship to Iranian cinema and it's structural innovations. My favorites are likely Taste of Cherry and Certified Copy for what it's worth.

And while I think Berlin Alexanderplatz is one of cinema's most tremendous achievements, I think you'd find a lot of his other features films a bit more accessible and often even more stylistically interesting (though it's hard to beat BA's epilogue for pure creative vision). Ali, Lola, In the Year of 13 Moons would all be good choices.

And happy to give a few more recs there. You may find L'Eclisse as a bit impenetrable or dry in comparison to those other two, but it kind of is. It's absolutely essential though and worth looking at for its adventurous form. And really The Puppetmaster probably isn't the best place to start if you haven't seen any Hou. If only because the only existing home video transfer of it is in wretched condition with the wrong aspect ratio. Dust in the Wind recently got a blu-ray restoration though, so maybe see if you can find that somewhere as an import.
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:15 PM   #45
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I think a great starting point for Fassinder would be the BRD trilogy that Criterion put out. I went in not having seen anything and was blown away by all three films. Very visually inventive, funnier than I expected, and some knockout performances from the leading ladies.
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