BEST FILMS OF THE YEAR 2007


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Sublime

The Electric Princess Picture House / Hou Hsiao Hsien

I watched all three minutes of this short from Chacun son Cinema with my mouth open. The freedom of Hou's camera, his impeccable rhythm, and the weird poetry of the last shot... And his beautiful, perfectly integrated hommage to the bumping cars scene in Bresson's Mouchette. Hou is up there along with the greatest directors of cinema...


The Flight of the Red Balloon / Hou Hsiao Hsien

Slowly building its rhythm, without grasping its audience with drama or emotional conflicts. Simple vision, consistent, ever-changing. The Flight of the Red Balloon is a profound brainstorming about Art, and about itself. How beautiful it feels to see images within images, videos different characters shot... Which fits perfectly with Hou's take on acting. And by the way, after the screening at Cannes, Juliette Binoche said something like "This was the most open-ended and free acting job I ever had. I'm not sure this is a good thing because I don't know how I'll be able to go back to work normally."

Hou's interiors, the unexplainable symbolism of the red balloon and the blatant naivity and innocence of the child proposes a truly unique way of looking at life.

I think I did prefer Three Times but The Flight of the Red Balloon is one of the great, sublime, irreplaceable masterpieces of cinema.


Great

Dans l'Obscurit / Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne

Solid lighting, formal precision, and a sense of redemption are all there concentrated in a three minute film. I prefer not spoiling your experience by revealing how these great artists of cinema-sound make a wonderfully creative sound-hommage to THE greatest soundist of cinema, Robert Bresson.


Worldly Desires / Apichatpong Weerasethakul

I don't know whether I like this film more than Syndromes and a Century because I've seen it later, but after this second film of his I can clearly say that the language he creates is unheard of. Apichatpong makes very Thai films, in some way... I don't think a person coming from the western culture could possibly think (and express themselves) this way. Please don't get me wrong, these are very personal films, expressing a free vision that follows beauty, happiness, joy and truth. Worldly Desires is so original that I don't know how to describe it.


Videos by Kyle Canterbury

 

Jonathan Rosenbaum says: "He does some things with rhythm and texture I haven't seen before in film or video" and I completely agree.

Canterbury's eye-opening videos have a very original sense of imagery/movement that constantly challenge us to be careful about what's on the screen, and, more importantly, to care... In many of his videos the sense of beauty is truly immediate, but they also work on so many levels, including conceptual ones. As others have noted, it is not uncommon in a Canterbury video to see something on the screen that feels representational but it is not clear, which pulls our minds to new lands where the eyes are having sense-adventures and the mind questions imagery and representation.

What also strikes me is the fact that each one of his videos use very different forms, which is partly why it is very enlightening to see them one after another. There is a sense of a limitless mind wandering and wondering through images.

I can't say every video of his is as great as some of them, and I don't know how consistently perfect they are, but this does not change the fact that he is the most inspiring new experimental film or videomaker I've seen for a long time. Canterbury's videos might be better than I think they are... What I know for sure is that I'm already excited to see what he'll be making in 5 or 10 years...


Good

Syndromes and a Century / Apichatpong Weerasethakul

My first Apitchatpong and what a wonderful surprise. Especially the closing shot was one of the highest points of my cinema-life this year. I don't know if I read it somewhere but "Spiritual joyfulness" is the phrase that comes to my mind.


Still Life / Jia Zhang Ke




The Dibbuk of Haifa / Amos Gitai

Gitai is again working on superimpositions and this is wonderful news for us. The idea of a complicated, painful existance in search of an identity is beautifully evoked in this 3-minute short.


Passion of Anna / Eytan Ipeker

 




The Host (Gwoemul) / Joon-ho Bong

The Host's wonders mainly lie in its subtle lighting. Things I love about it: the canals, the river, the fires burning near the end (it's bad special-effects, but beautiful cinema), the light reflected from the skeletons, and of course, the creature. Don't look for profound content in this film, the content is there to discover in its form. I found it a bit inconsistent but The Host might be better than I think it is.


30 Days of Night / David Slade




Paraguayan Hammock / Paz Encina




Zodiac / David Fincher

 

Zodiac is a very impersonal and a very personal film, and this contradiction goes to the very heart of what's good about it. It does seem to just present the facts, but the way this is done, with the amazing color palette and the constant dynamism in editing make it very Fincherian.

The sense of dramatic detachment is there throughout, especially helped by the huge lapses in time but I was more and more fascinated by the infinite, insolvable data. The murder scenes are thrilling, but they are also very aware of the weight of what's happening (human lives being taken, and so on) and this is very rare in today's cinema. (*spoilers*) That the ending is anti-climactic makes perfect sense for a film about discovering "the truth". This is Fincher's wisest film, and possibly his best.


You, the Living (Du Levande) / Roy Andersson

The following from Goethe is quoted in the beginning of the film: "Be pleased then, you, the living, in your delightfully warmed bed, before Lethe's ice-cold wave will lick your escaping foot."


Maldeamores / Carlos Ru�z Ru�z

The most original humour I encountered for a very long time. There is nothing too great about Maldeamores but the wisdom with which it composes its shots and the way the film builds itself are all very respectable. I would love to see it again sometime.


And When Did You Last See Your Father? / Anand Tucker




Worth Seeing

XXY / Luc�a Puenzo

Nice surprise... What makes the film bizarre is not the subject matter but the atmosphere with the wonderful set design and the weird insects that are all around. The notebooks, the toys in the background, the sea are all part of a restless vision, and I really like that.


Go Go Tales / Abel Ferrara

Honestly, I am disappointed. Mary was a great film and I was expecting no less but unfortunately, Go Go Tales is much less intense than the previous one. Don't get me wrong, Ferrara is still confessing through cinema and it is always a pleasure to watch his honest self-explorations. There are some unbelievably funny and unbelievably poetic moments, but they are very rare. I might be wrong...


Yumurta / Semih Kaplanoğlu





 

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