Things are getting tough today, I have to choose 10 from the 70 plus European films I’ve seen this year. Ask me tomorrow, it would be a different list.
10. Naked dir. Mike Leigh
A one-word title will suffice to describe this bleak and brutal London underbelly tale. I instantly fell in love with the David Thewlis character, Johnny, and felt great sympathy for him at the same time, though most of the time I didn’t know what he’s talking about.
9. A Room with a View dir. James Ivory
For any Remain of the Day fans here,this is another James Ivory film you need to check out,also if you have seen other films adapted from an E.M.Foster novel like A Passage to India or Howard Ends,or you like reading his books,you shouldn’t miss this one.Simply put,if you are familiar with the name of James Ivory or E.M.Foster,this is the film you MUST watch.
For anyone who doesn’t know these names at all,I can still convince you to watch this film. How about some legendary British actresses like Judy Dench and Maggie Smith,or how about Daniel Day Lewis‘ role as an English gentleman,or how about the beautifully shot Florence?
8. Last Year at Marienbad dir. Alain Resnais
One of the greatest mystery in cinema history along with 2001 and Muholland Dr.. I was lost in the gorgeous and haunting palace when I watched the film, I constantly asked myself:” When and where did this scene take place?”. It fascinates me because anything may or may not have happened, there could be thousands of interpretations of the film, and I wrote down the three most possible ones from my POV.
7. Battle of Algiers dir. Gillo Pontecorvo
The reason I watched this film was that I had seen it in the Criterion top 10 lists too many times. Everything I read encouraged me to watch it as soon as possible. So I did it, and I finally understood why it has such strong influence on so many contemporary filmmakers: its documentary-style filmmaking and its subject about terrorism still work today.
6. Seduced and Abandoned dir. Pietro Germi
Pietro Germi never failed to surprise me with his Italian style comedies.His Divorce Italian Style remains as one of my favorite comedies of all time,and then this Seduced and Abandoned fascinated me more with its more hilarious characters and wilder cinematic style.
5. Don’t Look Now dir. Nicholas Roeg
Don’t Look Now was once ranked as the No.1 in the BFI top 100 British films, now the ranking dropped but the quality of the film proves that this horror classic can stand the test of time. As a matter of fact, it is one of the best horror films British cinema has ever brought to us along with The Wicker Man and The Innocents. (Read my full reviews)
4. Belle de jour dir. Luis Bunuel
Luis Bunuel’s surrealistic daydream film is about a middle-class housewife’s adventure on lust and sex, a French version of Eyes Wide Shut. Cold and beautiful Catherine Deneuve gave another brilliant performance under her most-known vulnerable persona after Repulsion.
3. The Mirror dir. Andrei Tarkovsky
The mirror is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. Things go slow enough in Tarkovsky’s films so you can fully appreciate each frame(sometimes each sentence of the poem) without playing backward. Nobody can display one’s memory in the dream-like form like him, and I do think his films are the ones closest to the art form of poems. You won’t miss the beauty if you watch them as poems, which means feeling it through without trying to figure out what some of the specific images are about.
2. My Night at Maud’s dir. Eric Rohmer
Eric Rohmer’s cinema is one of my most exciting discoveries of the year. Watching his Six Moral Tales was like reading six philosophy book on a sunny afternoon. My Night at Maud’s stands out for me, because I’m always a Jean-Louis Trintignant fan, and his moral struggle looks fascinating to me.
1. The Phantom Carriage dir. Victor Sjöström
This film inspired Bergman to make movies. The director is no other person than the leading man in his Wild Strawberries, the father of Swedish film – Victor Sjöström. The title sounds very much like a horror film, instead, it’s a extraordinary drama about a man’s sins and redemption, a film that could easily related to Murnau’s Sunrise in its themes and Dreyer’s Vampyr in its visuals. The movie surely stands out as a strong candidate for the best film I’ve seen in the entire year.
It’s Your Turn
What good European films have you watched in year 2012?