Friday, January 21, 2005

As They Become Available, Please Put These In Your Queue And Smoke Them

Read enough end of the year Best Of lists and the critical consensus that begins to congeal around you makes offering up your own feel like an exercise in banality. But as one friend to another, each of the films listed below comes enthusiastically recommended.

I’ve been more consistently excited about watching older movies (so many to catch up on) this past year then checking out newer releases. I’ve had a Film Center membership since May of this year but feel like I’ve only just now begun to take full advantage of the films coming through there. For example, there’s currently a retrospective running through March devoted to the films of the great Japanese director, Yasujiro Ozu. Not only is it a thrill to see these films on the big screen (and, so far, with an appreciative audience, which is really nice) but it’s also a chance to see 25 of the 34 existing Ozu films (not that I’m complaining, but where are those missing 9?), only a smattering of which are currently available on DVD here in the United States.

Which isn’t to say there weren’t some great films released in 2004.

There are a number of films showing up on a lot of Best Of lists that I’ve regrettably yet to see. I hope to see Million Dollar Baby before it leaves the theater but it looks like I’ll have to wait and catch Bad Education and Vera Drake on DVD. Others, like Godard’s Notre musique, Wong Kar-wai’s 4 years in the making 2046, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Café Lumiere and Eric Rohmer’s Triple Agent, have yet to even open in Chicago though I hope that’ll change soon.

In no order of preference,

Springtime In A Small Town: Zhuangzhuang Tian

Before Sunset: Richard Linklater

Moolaade: Ousmane Sembene

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Michel Gondry

Sideways: Alexander Payne

Time of the Wolf: Michael Haneke

Goodbye Dragon Inn: Tsai Ming-liang

Tropical Malady: Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Crimson Gold: Jafar Panahi

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Alfonso Cuarón

Bright Leaves: Ross McElwee

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