Eclipse 1938: 按摩と女

The first movie on the Shimizu was unrestored and barely watchable. The second looked very nice indeed, and was kinda brilliant. This one looks rather dodgy? Perhaps there’s a correlation between whether somebody’s found it worth their time to restore a film and how memorable it is, because it doesn’t really look promising either way.

It’s a comedy based on two blind guys stumbling around a lot?

That looks like the worst massage ever.

OK, this is pretty amusing. But…

The Masseurs and a Woman. Hiroshi Shimizu. 1938.

This blog post is part of the Eclipse series.

Eclipse 1961: 小早川家の秋

OK, I’m getting confused now. Ozu uses the same actors in film after film (which isn’t unusual), but he also sets the films in very similar sets — often reusing the same offices and homes when shooting, apparently. So I’m finding myself going “oh, she’s the daughter of… oh, was that this film or the previous one”?

I’m sure if I’d seen these when they originally were released, that wouldn’t have been that much of a problem, but seeing all these films in the span of a week makes things more confusing.

Tihi.

I like this, but… Ozu’s previous two movies had a lot more going on. This is funny, too, but I guess it’s all heading towards a horrible tragedy (it’s got that feeling), so it’s more subdued? Less silly?

I think I see what Ozu is going for (Dave Berg’s The Lighter Side of… Dying Undramatically of Old Age), but it doesn’t quite work. Instead it’s just lightly wistful.

It’s a good film, but compared to a couple of other films on this box set, it’s very slight. So:

The End of Summer. Yasujirô Ozu. 1961.

This blog post is part of the Eclipse series.

Eclipse 1972: L’età di Cosimo de Medici

To celebrate Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles winning the 2022 #1 spot for Longest Film Title Ever, I’m finally watching this thing, which is four and a half hours long.

Unless I ditch it, of course.

Ah:

The Age of the Medici, originally released in Italy as L’età di Cosimo de Medici (The Age of Cosimo de Medici), is a 1973 3-part TV series about the Renaissance in Florence, directed by Roberto Rossellini. The series was shot in English in the hope of securing a North American release, which it failed to achieve, and was later dubbed into Italian and shown on state television.

That explains the extremely bad looping. But fortunately the DVDs has the English soundtrack, too, which is less loopey. I mean, the English version is also filmed as a silent film with the dialogue added later (as Italians were wont to do), but the lips track vaguely more to what they’re saying in English.

This is pretty dire.

Half the scenes are like this — they’ve got a camera on a tripod, but they zoom and pan a lot. It looks painfully amateurish.

And the dialogue is just people spouting factoids at each other. Is this a TV series designed to punish unruly school children? And teach them facts about Firenze at the same time?

The costumes are nice.

But OK, I have absolutely no interest in this — it may well turn out to be an awesome masterpiece, but I’ll never find out.

The Age of the Medici. Roberto Rossellini. 1972.

This blog post is part of the Eclipse series.

The 2022 Sight & Sound Directors’ Poll

A couple years ago, I watched all the movies on the Sight & Sound Directors’ Poll. Now there’s a new one out (they do this once a decade), so I thought it might be interesting to see what’s changed.

Most people write about the Critics’ Poll, because critics are the ones writing about films, naturally. But directors are more interesting — I don’t mean that the directors’ list is better than the critics’ list, but I think it’s more interesting to see what directors list as inspirations than what critics think are significant films.

(Sight & Sound expanded the number of people voting in the critics’ poll a lot this year, and I was worried that that was going to result in the list degrading towards something as puke-inducing as the imdb top 250 list — but my worries turned out to be mostly unfounded.)

Of course, Jeanne Dielman 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles won the critics’ poll, which I think is fun. It’s a great movie, but I don’t think anybody expected that to actually win, and I’m looking forward to a decade of Film Bros moaning on Twitter after they’ve attempted to watch it.

The directors’ poll is less changeable in some ways — 2001: A Space Odyssey inched out Tokyo Story for the first place. I’d expected to see Citizen Kane slide way down, but it remains at number two. Jeanne Dielman is the big newcomer on this poll, too, making an entry at number four.

Overall, about a third of the list has changed, which sounds like a lot. But only a single movie over #29 is new, and no movies that were top #29 have been removed. So it’s not like there’s been a radical change — almost all the additions/removals have been from the lower two thirds of the list.

Let’s look at the details. Here’s a list of all the new films on the 2022 poll, and we’ll continue bloviating after the list.

#4

1975

Jeanne Dielman 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

Chantal Akerman
#29

1989

Do the Right Thing

Spike Lee
#41

1985

Vagabond

Agnès Varda
#46

1963

Dr. Strangelove

Stanley Kubrick
#53

1961

La notte

Michelangelo Antonioni
#53

1992

The Piano

Jane Campion
#53

1962

Cléo from 5 to 7

Agnès Varda
#53

1972

Eraserhead

David Lynch
#62

1949

Late Spring

Yasujirō Ozu
#62

1943

Meshes of the Afternoon

Maya Deren, Alexander Hackenschmied
#62

2001

La ciénaga

Lucrecia Martel
#62

1994

Sátántangó

Béla Tarr
#62

2004

Tropical Malady

Apichatpong Weerasethakul
#72

1952

Ikiru

Ikuru Kurosawa
#72

1974

The Conversation

Francis Ford Coppola
#72

2011

A Separation

Asghar Farhadi
#72

1987

Where is the Friend’s House?

Abbas Kiarostami
#72

1973

Touki Bouki

Djibril Diop Mambéty
#72

1991

A Brighter Summer Day

Edward Yang
#72

1976

News from Home

Chantal Akerman
#72

1973

The Spirit of the Beehive

Víctor Erice
#72

1976

The Ascent

Larissa Shepitko
#72

1948

The Red Shoes

Powell & Pressburger
#93

2004

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Michel Gondry
#93

2016

Moonlight

Barry Jenkins
#93

1968

The Colour of Pomegranates

Sergei Paradjanov
#93

2019

Parasite

Bong Joon-Ho
#93

1997

Taste of Cherry

Abbas Kiarostami
#93

1970

Wanda

Barbara Loden
#93

1999

Yi Yi

Edward Yang
#93

1957

Throne of Blood

Akira Kurosawa

Of the 31 new films, I’ve only seen 13, so I have to get watching, I guess.

The most striking thing about the list is, of course, how many women directors are included. In the 2012 list, there was only a single film — Claire Denis’ Beau Travail. This list adds nine more, which gives us a… 10% share instead of a 1% share. *gasp* Nazis are gonna be raging on twitter! Or Gab! But I repeat myself.

There’s a lot of films from Iran, and a couple from Taiwan. And finally a movie from Africa (and it’s great).

All the films I’ve seen that have been added are great — except Parasite, which is merely good. The most surprising addition to me is News From Home by Chantal Akerman. It’s brilliant, but it’s a documentary (sort of), and more experimental than films usually are on lists like this.

The 2012 list had four films by John Cassavetes, which is probably more a reflection of the age class of the directors voting than anything else. Not that there’s anything wrong with Cassavetes, but c’mon. The new Cassavetes is Abbas Kiarostami, who now have three films in the list. And again, I think it reflects a decade passing, and people making films now grew up with 80s/90s films instead of 70s films.

It’s no surprise that a bunch of films from the 80s (and newer have been added): About a third of the new movies fall into that category. What’s more surprising are some of the older films that pop up here. Like The Colour of Pomegranates from 1968? Sure, it’s a great movie, but why now? (Perhaps because it fell off of the critics’ poll.) Dr. Strangelove is more understandable — the only mystery is why it wasn’t on the 2012 list. But why La notte (1961) from Antonioni when two of his other movies leave the list? And why is The Conversation (1974) by Coppola popping up now?

Anyway, I’m looking forward to watching the twenty new movies I haven’t seen yet.

But let’s look at the films that have been removed from the list, too:

#30

1964

Il Vangelo secondo Matteo

Pier Paolo Pasolini

#30

1973

Amarcord

Federico Fellini

#44

1968

Hour of the Wolf

Ingmar Bergman

#44

1960

The Apartment

Billy Wilder

#48

1954

Rear Window

Alfred Hitchcock

#48

1962

L’eclisse

Michelangelo Antonioni

#48

1975

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Milos Forman

#59

1937

La grande illusion

Jean Renoir

#59

1966

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Sergio Leone

#59

1972

Aguirre, Wrath of God

Werner Herzog

#59

1964

Gertrud

Carl Theodor Dreyer

#59

1966

Blow Up

Michelangelo Antonioni

#67

1954

Journey to Italy

Roberto Rosselini

#67

1962

Vivre sa vie

Jean-Luc Godard

#67

1973

Badlands

Terrence Malick

#67

1953

Ugetsu Monogatari

Kenji Mizoguchi

#75

1950

Los Olvidados

Luis Buñuel

#75

1969

The Wild Bunch

Sam Peckinpah

#75

1970

Husbands

John Cassavetes

#75

1980

The Shining

Stanley Kubrick

#75

1971

A Clockwork Orange

Stanley Kubrick

#75

2007

There Will Be Blood

Paul Thomas Anderson

#75

1926

The General

Buster Keaton

#75

1931

M

Fritz Lang

#91

1967

Le Samouraï

Jean-Pierre Melville

#91

1961

L’Année dernière à Marienbad

Alain Resnais

#91

1964

Soy Cuba

Mikhail Kalatozov

#91

1976

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

John Cassavetes

#91

1933

Zéro de Conduite

Jean Vigo

#91

1978

The Deer Hunter

Michael Cimino

#91

1925

The Gold Rush

Charlie Chaplin

#91

1977

Opening Night

John Cassavetes

#91

1929

Un chien andalou

Luis Buñuel

There’s 33 movies gone, but what’s gone? And did good stuff go missing?

To take the last question first — yes, of course. But I’m pleased to see a bunch of stuff that I didn’t much like go: Ugetsu Monogatari, Amarcord, The Apartment, The Wild Bunch, There Will Be Blood, The Deer Hunter… none of those movies had any business being on the list in the first place.

The most striking thing about the list, though, is just the time period. If we by “the 70s” mean “68 to 81” (which one does, of course), 11 of the 33 (which my calculator informs me is “one third”) are from the 70s. I think that’s a natural development, because the 70s were extremely over-represented in the 2012 list — my guess is that the 2012 directors had grown up on those movies, so they included them a bit excessively.

The biggest loser/winner is John Cassavetes, who had four movies in the 2012 list, and one a single one in the 2022 list. However, his A Woman Under The Influence has gone from #59 to #29, so I think that may point to people deciding to focus on a single Cassavetes movie, and that’s a good choice. (It’s fantastic.)

Another understandable correction is that Hour of the Wolf by Ingmar Bergman is gone from the list. It’s not even on my 30 Best Ingmar Bergman Films list, so it was a weird thing to include.

As part of the 70s Massacre, two Kubrick films have gone missing: The Shining and A Clockwork Orange — but I don’t think either is very surprising. I am surprised that Barry Lyndon is still hanging on in there, because it sucks. And I’m pleased to see that Dr. Strangelove has been added instead.

Things I’m surprised to see gone: Rear Window (Hitchcock), L’eclisse (Antonioni) and Last Year in Marienbad (Resnais). And I’m sad to see Gertrud (Dreyer) gone, but I’m not surprised at all.

Overall, I think the new list better than the old one. Several of my favourite films have been added (Jeanne Dielman, Cléo from 5 to 7, Eraserhead, Vagabond, News From Home) and several of my least favourite films have been removed.

I do doubt that Jeanne Dielman will still be #1 in the 2032 Critics’ poll. It’s a great film, but I think the reason it landed at #1 is because Sight & Sound does unranked voting, so I think a whole bunch of people had it on their lists without thinking really wanting it to be #1. (I’d have included it on my list, too, if anybody asked. BUT THEY DIDN”T! *sob*) Having it in the top ten, like the Directors’ Poll does is perfect, though.

I’d like to see the 2032 list include India Song and Liquid Sky (heh heh).

This is pretty interesting: “All the movies from the Critic’s List to miss the Director’s List (Left) and all the movies from the Director’s List to miss the Critic’s List (Right)”:

I think… the critics’ list has more non-essentials than the directors’ list. But it’s pretty even.

That’s a good insult!