{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Best non-2008 Films seen in 2008

This is the list of films seen in 2008 which I found very impressive and satisfying. In my opinion, a film like Beloved is 24 carat gold, a masterpiece of highest degree and cinema as piece of history and heart. Most of the films in this list unpretentiously strike a balance between the aesthetics and the reality in cinematic art and form. A film as film-scholarly as Who's Camus Anyway, tells more about human beings than about cinema and in its most sublime moments suggest them to be one and same manifestation. The documentary - The House is Black, To Be and To Have, Baleros and Near Death - either observes human condition with honesty or take part in it to evoke action. The Camp of Showgirls and Pussycat, and of course of Mike Kuchar's shorts is more telling, honest and probing than the seriousness of everyday Hollywood. In a Lonely Place, a film I saw several times last year, may be most profound film that examines love (or rather its impossibility) in the guise of a noir. As my personal change in trajectory of film-watching last year, I became more and more interested with the concept of films as therapy and for their humanity like in Ray's Devi and Sembene's Moolaade. I care less about lot of things which I used to care before. Awkwardly paced and clumsily acted but deeply moving, The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein would have never gotten a nod from me before. What remains constant are the films that can make reality look like dreams and vice versa, some sort of poetry - films like George Washington and Killer of Sheep, and to some extent Nobody Knows - the films that transform music and image put together to breathtaking beauty. And there are some terrific performances here - the star performance of Holly Woodlawn in Trash, Dirk Bogarde in The Servant, Doomed beauty Gillian Anderson in The House of Mirth, Celia Johnson's housewife-in-love in Brief Encounter and many others. All these films are highly recommended.

1. Beloved (Jonathan Demme)
2. The House is Black (Forugh Farrokhzad)
3. George Washington (David Gordon Green)
4. In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray)
5. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett)
6. The Servant (Joseph Losey)
7. Who's Camus Anyway (Mitsuo Yanagimachi)
8. To Be And To Have (Nicolas Philibert)
9. Balseros (Carlos Bosch & Josep Maria Domènech)
10. Moolaadé (Ousmane Sembene)
11. Trash (Paul Morrissey)
12. Whisky (Juan Pablo Rebella & Pablo Stoll)
13. Freaks (Tod Browning)
14. Showgirls (Paul Verhoeven)
15. Careful (Guy Maddin)
16. Nobody Knows (Hirokazu Koreeda)
17. The Intruder (Claire Denis)
18. Brief Encounter (David Lean)
19. Near Death (Frederick Wiseman)
20. Devi (Satyajit Ray)
21. Harakiri (Masaki Kobayashi)
22. Mike Kuchar's Shorts (Sins of the Fleshapoids, The Secret of Wendel Samson & The Craven Sluck)
23. The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein (John Gianvito)
24. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (Russ Meyer)
25. The House of Mirth (Terence Davies)
Pic: A crucial scene from Masaki Kobayashi's Harakiri.