2000s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol. 3)

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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Lemmy Caution
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:26 am
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Goats

#176 Post by Lemmy Caution » Thu Dec 24, 2015 7:07 am

The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009).
I found this interesting, funny, well-paced.
But it seemed to largely elicit a shrug and was quickly forgotten.

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flyonthewall2983
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#177 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Mon Dec 28, 2015 3:54 am

That's certainly an interesting case of "what happened?". It is all of those things, on top of having a high caliber of acting talent and star power, but it came in and did it's business, but hasn't really been considered since.

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swo17
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#178 Post by swo17 » Fri Jan 01, 2016 5:07 pm

As a reminder, lists are due at the end of this month. You can PM them to me at any time. As you're compiling your lists, I'd highly recommend that you go back through the first post of this thread, particularly the eligibility and spotlight sections.

Also, this upcoming round of film club is dedicated just to us. Let's see if we can't start the new year off with some lively discussion!

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swo17
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#179 Post by swo17 » Wed Jan 06, 2016 3:58 pm

The Decay of Fiction (Pat O’Neill) - A beautiful, haunting vision of Hollywood past that will definitely be making my list. David Lynch's subconscious probably looks a lot like this. O'Neill has made a lot of his films available on DVD, but not this one (yet). I believe there was a pricy, long-OOP DVD-ROM that included the film.
There's a DVD-ROM, but it doesn't technically include the film. Details here. I'm curious if anyone has happened to experience both, and could comment on how similar they are. Mainly, if I fiddle around with this DVD-ROM for a couple of hours, would that be close enough to seeing the film for me to include it on my list if I were so inclined?

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zedz
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#180 Post by zedz » Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:56 pm

swo17 wrote:
The Decay of Fiction (Pat O’Neill) - A beautiful, haunting vision of Hollywood past that will definitely be making my list. David Lynch's subconscious probably looks a lot like this. O'Neill has made a lot of his films available on DVD, but not this one (yet). I believe there was a pricy, long-OOP DVD-ROM that included the film.
There's a DVD-ROM, but it doesn't technically include the film. Details here. I'm curious if anyone has happened to experience both, and could comment on how similar they are. Mainly, if I fiddle around with this DVD-ROM for a couple of hours, would that be close enough to seeing the film for me to include it on my list if I were so inclined?
I've never experienced the DVD-ROM, but it sounds like it's quite different from the film (for instance, the film isn't exactly about "storytelling").

The film is basically you drifting around an abandoned, dilapidated hotel for over an hour, eavesdropping on ghosts (I could imagine a DVD-ROM replicating this experience, but it doesn't sound like that's what O'Neill did). The soundtrack resembles a whole lot of forgotten films noirs being tuned in and out or drifted past, a drift that is untethered from the visual one. The ghosts range from the banal to the hair-raisingly bizarre (there are some very intense moments).

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swo17
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#181 Post by swo17 » Thu Jan 07, 2016 12:21 pm

I spent a while with the DVD-ROM last night. Purely guessing here, but it seems to amount to a choose-your-own-adventure version of the early parts of the film. (I don't think I saw anything terribly bizarre or intense, though my wife did seem freaked out when she walked by at one point.) Pretty cool, but I basically feel like I've only seen a trailer for the film at this point.

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domino harvey
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#182 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jan 07, 2016 12:25 pm

I feel like we're currently living in the year 2000 with all this talk of using a DVD-ROM

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jindianajonz
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#183 Post by jindianajonz » Thu Jan 07, 2016 12:56 pm

I just wish the studios would release this on floppy as the director intended.

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zedz
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#184 Post by zedz » Thu Jan 07, 2016 2:36 pm

swo17 wrote:I spent a while with the DVD-ROM last night. Purely guessing here, but it seems to amount to a choose-your-own-adventure version of the early parts of the film. (I don't think I saw anything terribly bizarre or intense, though my wife did seem freaked out when she walked by at one point.) Pretty cool, but I basically feel like I've only seen a trailer for the film at this point.
There's a moment late in the film, after lots of time spent observing what look like ghostly fragments of scenes from 40s Hollywood films, or old documentaries, or stag films, when
SpoilerShow
we stumble across what seems to be a satanic ritual, or really outlandish sex act, in which masked actors shudder from normal movement to blurry, pixellated acceleration and back again. It's the kind of thing you'd expect to see in a very stylish horror movie, but it's even more unnerving out of context. There are also flashes of demonic creatures in the background from time to time.

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swo17
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#185 Post by swo17 » Thu Jan 07, 2016 2:40 pm

I definitely didn't see anything like that. Presumably by the time I get a chance to see this film that spoiler will have faded from memory.

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swo17
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#186 Post by swo17 » Mon Jan 11, 2016 7:18 pm

A couple more recommended shorts, each about different ways of viewing the commonplace:

The Studio Lights Dream of Their Real Life at Night (Alexander Kluge)
Though only a couple minutes long, this is still about as awesome as its title would suggest. There's not much to say about it that isn't already explained in the title, though less straightforward is where to find it: at the end of the "Gentle Cosmetics of Light" section of the Edition Filmmuseum DVD "Die Poetische Kraft der Theorie."

True to Life (Gunvor Nelson)
And this is on the recent "Call to Mind" Blu-ray featuring three of the director's films. Reminiscent of John Smith's The Kiss, Nelson gets all up in a flower garden's business, variably caressing and ravaging an assortment of plant parts with the glass and microphone of her HD camera. The harshness of the soundtrack is a bit alienating at first, but eventually starts to feel immensely satisfying in a popping bubble wrap kind of way, and it's nicely complimented at times with a sporadic ethereal score. It's nature as you've never seen it (and perhaps were never meant to). If this is beginning to sound like hardcore pornography, that's because it is. 40 minutes long but I could watch it all day.

I also just revisited a couple of Balabanovs, Cargo 200 and Morphia. As shocking as these films are, what really gets you is his depiction of humanity's indifference to the blatant horrors depicted. What's more horrific than
SpoilerShow
the vengeful widow ostensibly rescuing the kidnap victim from her captor only to leave her chained to the bed full of fly-ridden corpses, or the shrug elicited by the ailing doctor's suicide?

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swo17
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#187 Post by swo17 » Sun Jan 17, 2016 3:18 am

Friendly reminder that lists are due in two more weeks. There aren't really enough submissions yet for me to give any meaningful hints.

Speaking just for myself now, I've also made spotlights out of two short films that I discussed previously (see the first post). In total they will take you all of 10 minutes to watch. (I mean, unless you find yourself compelled to watch them on a loop for hours on end.)

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jindianajonz
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#188 Post by jindianajonz » Sun Jan 17, 2016 11:49 am

If its not too late, I'd like to make Fatih Akin's Head-On my spotlight title. The film follows two Turkish immigrants working in Germany, and explores how they are caught between two cultures that both seem to reject them. Although I originally watched this silm for a Germna pop culture class as a lesson on Germany's loose asylum but strict citizenship laws, and its been a few years since my second viewing, I'd imagine that the recent refugee crisis make this film even more relevant than when it was released.

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thirtyframesasecond
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#189 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Sun Jan 17, 2016 3:11 pm

jindianajonz wrote:If its not too late, I'd like to make Fatih Akin's Head-On my spotlight title. The film follows two Turkish immigrants working in Germany, and explores how they are caught between two cultures that both seem to reject them. Although I originally watched this silm for a Germna pop culture class as a lesson on Germany's loose asylum but strict citizenship laws, and its been a few years since my second viewing, I'd imagine that the recent refugee crisis make this film even more relevant than when it was released.
Really big fan of this; it's definitely going to feature highly in my list. Great soundtrack too.

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TMDaines
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2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#190 Post by TMDaines » Mon Jan 18, 2016 6:47 am

Will likely be in my top 10 too. Such a shame that Akin has been drifting since Auf der anderen Seite (2007). He was one of my first favourites when I started becoming interested in German film. I've not seen The Cut (2014) but it has been reviewed poorly.

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swo17
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#191 Post by swo17 » Mon Jan 18, 2016 10:52 am

Five lists in, I guess I'll do some clues:

1. One director currently has two films in the top 5, one of which didn't make the prior list.
2. Another film currently in the top 5 didn't make the prior list either.

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thirtyframesasecond
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#192 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Mon Jan 18, 2016 12:26 pm

swo17 wrote:Five lists in, I guess I'll do some clues:

1. One director currently has two films in the top 5, one of which didn't make the prior list.
2. Another film currently in the top 5 didn't make the prior list either.
I haven't forensically checked the thread to see if any films keep getting discussed but I'll be damned if I can't think the answer to the first question. I checked the last list to see which directors were near the top. Anyway, I'm rubbish at these kind of things.

I'll send my list in closer to the time. Oh and if anyone's not seen Sembene's Moolaade, do so :)

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Tommaso
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#193 Post by Tommaso » Thu Jan 21, 2016 8:13 pm

jindianajonz wrote:If its not too late, I'd like to make Fatih Akin's Head-On my spotlight title. The film follows two Turkish immigrants working in Germany, and explores how they are caught between two cultures that both seem to reject them. Although I originally watched this silm for a Germna pop culture class as a lesson on Germany's loose asylum but strict citizenship laws, and its been a few years since my second viewing, I'd imagine that the recent refugee crisis make this film even more relevant than when it was released.
It's really weird: the film of course was a major hit in Germany when it was first released, but for some reasons I didn't have any interest in seeing it at the time, not least because some people (and also the press) told me that it was a very devastating film, and I guess I just wasn't in the mood to check it out then. It actually took the forceful recommendations here - and perhaps also the current political climate in Germany - to make me borrow it from the local library, and I'm very grateful that I did. While the picture has its grim moments, it's first and foremost a very touching love story, told with a lot of laconic humour, and the acting is simply fabulous. Akin's film is not so much about a clash between German and Turkish lifestyles - after all, the story is more or less entirely set within the Turkish community, although Sibil wants to break out from it - but rather highlights the tensions between a traditional and a more Western orientation within the community itself (see the sequences set in Istanbul). This leads to hilarious and, in other places, depressing moments, and that there's no happy ending doesn't come as much of a surprise. But still, one leaves the film with a feeling that both of the main characters have undergone a change for the good, even though it doesn't directly manifest in their lives. What I also liked is that the film has a sort of 80s new wave roughness, and not just because the main musical references are Siouxsie (as seen on the big poster hanging on the main protagonist's door), Sisters of Mercy, and Depeche Mode. Of course it should have been set in Berlin rather than in the much-overrated Hamburg, but okay... ;) Talking about the music, I also liked how Akin used the music of the traditional Turkish music ensemble in front of a postcard-like Istanbul background. It at the same time structures and distances the film, and gives it a more 'general' significance which goes beyond the simple story of these two people.

And talking about films about immigrants, I'd also like to recommend Kechiche's La graine et le mulet, somewhat nonsensically translated by Criterion (or the international releasers) as "The Secret of the Grain". Hey, the fish is as important here as the couscous! I was slightly annoyed in the first 45 minutes about what seemed like endless talking about nothing, but then it quickly developed into a truly fine film with very likeable characters, highlighting the life and aspirations of people from the North African community in France. An extremely sensual film, celebrating life, food, dance, and everyday life in a very touching and in the end life-affirming manner. But like in Akin's film, there are a lot of dark moments, too.

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Tommaso
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#194 Post by Tommaso » Thu Jan 21, 2016 8:29 pm

swo17 wrote:Five lists in, I guess I'll do some clues:

1. One director currently has two films in the top 5, one of which didn't make the prior list.
2. Another film currently in the top 5 didn't make the prior list either.
Am I crazy, or did Dancer in the Dark really didn't make it on the previous list? It scored highly on the first 2000s list in 2006, and I hope it will get back the position it deserves. And even though I have it only as #11 at the moment, I wouldn't mind Antichrist being the other von Trier film in the Top 5 ;)

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zedz
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#195 Post by zedz » Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:35 pm

Okay, this is going to be a weird post, but somebody might find it useful and there's nowhere else it really belongs.

I've been going back through my old film festival journals, where I recorded my reaction to the films I saw each year (because I'd forget or confuse most of them if I didn't). This helped jog my memory about films I'd never been able to see again, but it also turned up a bunch of films I really liked at the time and then subsequently completely forgot about. Some of them I still can't remember, even with the journals' prompting! So anyway: here are a bunch of films I saw between 2000 and 2005 that at one time I thought were really great, and you might too!

LOST FILMS OF THE NOUGHTIES - PART ONE

Zyklon Portrait (Elida Schogt) - Superb, Su Friedrich-esque essay film that slips between faux-educational film and personal memoir. It's available on YouTube, but ineligible for this project, as it's from 1999. Still, nice to rediscover it.

The Tree of Cherries (Marc Recha) - And this one was from 1998. I barely remember it at all, but boy, did I like it at the time. A low-key small-town drama from Spain that apparently had a very sophisticated use of off-screen sound.

A Small Life (Michael Heath) - This did actually make my shortlist on the first iteration of the 2000s list, but dropped down so far since then that I forgot about it. It's so obscure it doesn't even make it to IMDB, but it's easily one of the best New Zealand films of the decade. It's almost dialogue-free in favour of a thoroughly composed soundtrack (music, songs, sound effects) by David Downes. A woman (the late singer-songwriter Mahinarangi Tocker, who's terrific) grieves for her lost child. The more conventionally dramatic scenes can get clunky, but when it's just pure sound and image, this film is really impressive. You can watch it here.

La vie ne me fait pas peur (Noemie Lvovsky) - Most of these films came back as at least glimmers when I reread my notes, but for this one, I've got nothing, even after looking at a couple of clips on YouTube, but it sounds like it was inventive (solidly observed realistic coming-of-age story spiked with stylistic flights of fancy). Lvovsky's later films were much more ordinary, as I recall.

Bad Company (Furumaya Tomoyuki) – Admirably complex Japanese school drama. I actually remember this quite well, and remember really liking it at the time, though it was already fading in my estimation by the end of the festival, bumped by the likes of Werckmeister Harmonies, Yi Yi, The Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, In the Mood for Love, Va Savoir! and The House of Mirth. So it's not as good as those, I guess!

The Orphan of Anyang (Wang Chao) - I remember this as a hugely impressive debut, with strong composition and a touch of Bressonian austerity. Wang has gone on to make a bunch of features, none of which I've heard of.

The Python (Laila Pakalnina) - Deadpan Latvian farce with deft comic timing and a nice rambling quality. Reminiscent of Hukkle, though a bit less high-concept.

Faithless Games (Michaela Pavlatova) – Hungarian chamber music chamber drama of which I can remember certain settings but nothing much of great use. Troubled couple moves into a small town for a fresh start and continues to be troubled, basically.

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jindianajonz
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#196 Post by jindianajonz » Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:47 am

Tommaso wrote:Akin's film is not so much about a clash between German and Turkish lifestyles - after all, the story is more or less entirely set within the Turkish community, although Sibil wants to break out from it - but rather highlights the tensions between a traditional and a more Western orientation within the community itself (see the sequences set in Istanbul).
I agree that this isn't a clash of cultures, which I why I categorized it as people caught between two cultures. It is clear that Cahit and Sibel are both trying to escape their Turkish upbringing, but I think it is equally important (at least in terms of my German pop culture class!) to note the support they find in Germany: none.
SpoilerShow
Cahit has a job collecting cans, while Sibel has very little recourse when her own family tries to hunt her down other than to leave Germany.
Again, it's been a few years since I watched this, but the fact that the first two acts take place in Germany and serve as a kind of nebulous limbo for our protagonists feels very deliberate on the part of Akin.

And thank you for that list, Zedz. I have never heard of any of those films, so I appreciate you putting them on my radar, even if it's unlikely that I'll get to view them before the end of this project.

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Shrew
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#197 Post by Shrew » Sat Jan 23, 2016 5:26 pm

LAST MINUTE SUGGESTION TIME

Disorder (Xianshi shi guoqu de weiliai, Huang Weikai) 2009
I meant to recommend this during the documentary project, but it was all but unavailable. I just found that Icarus Films released it on DVD in the US (or you can buy/rent it via Amazon streaming), so here's a belated recommendation for the 2000s.

Huang Weikai edited hours of "chaotic" raw footage sent in from all over China into 60 surreal minutes. Scenes include people trying to herd runaway pigs on a highway, a man threatening to jump off a bridge unless some traffic dispute is settled, a raid on a exotic animal black market, an argument between a man ostensibly hit by a car and the driver who thinks he's faking. Being composed largely of amateur footage, it's similar to the recent The Square or the Ukraine doc, but Huang doesn't attempt any overarching narrative, though the footage starts taking darker turns near the end. Instead, we get a surreal slice of life in a rapidly industrializing country where binaries like rich and poor, rural and urban, new and old are constantly crashing into each other. The literal translation of the Chinese title is "The Present is the Future of the Past." That's a bit pretentious, but it captures another theme of the film--the banality with which the people caught on camera (often low-ranking police officers) approach these absurd situations.

A lot of 21st century documentary and digital film in China has been driven by an "amateur" aesthetic, espoused in part by Jia Zhangke. Of course, a lot of these amateur films can turn into slogs as the creators don't when to stop filming, and most don't have Jia's or Wang Bing's skill at finding compelling subjects and backdrops. Disorder offers another alternative, wherein the immediacy and authenticity of the amateur filmmakers are maintained, but giving a proper shape and tempo by an accomplished filmmaker like Huang.

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the preacher
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#198 Post by the preacher » Sun Jan 24, 2016 11:03 am

Ballot sent. Barely 4 films in the previous top 100 and just 1 spotlight. Not really that obscure, but old-fashioned. :P

Country breakdown:
Albania-1
Argentina-2
Australia-1
Belgium-1
Brazil-2
Canada-1
Chad-1
China-1
Denmark-1
France-8
Germany-3
Hungary-1
India-2
Indonesia-1
Iran-1
Israel-1
Italy-2
Japan-1
Mexico-1
New Zealand-1
Palestine-1
Portugal-1
Romania-1
South Korea-2
Spain-2
UK-3
US-7

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zedz
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#199 Post by zedz » Sun Jan 24, 2016 4:08 pm

LOST FILMS OF THE NOUGHTIES - PART TWO

There weren't so many completely forgotten alleged masterpieces from the tail end of the decade (probably because my mind has had less time to rot since then), but here are some films that might be worth tracking down:

Police Beat (Robinson Devor) - A really unusual US indie that's ostensibly a police procedural, except that the investigating officer is more than preoccupied by his domestic problems, so the whole film is kind of dreamily filtered through that preoccupation. The dislocation is doubled by the fact that the policeman is a recent immigrant and his interior monologue is in Wolof. I figured Devor was a director to watch on the strength of this, but I didn't watch his extremely divisive follow-up Zoo - something I must remedy.

The Forsaken Land (Vimukthi Jayasundara) - Not exactly forgotten, but overshadowed, as Jayasundara's next film, Between Two Worlds, is so great and so singular that I'd overlooked this one, which had knocked my socks off a couple of years earlier. I don't think I have room for both in my top 50, but check them out.

Build a Ship, Sail to Sadness (Laurin Federlein) - I make no claims for this being a great movie, but it is fitfully hilarious, and who doesn't want to see a no-budget remake of Fitzcarraldo. . . in which the twist is that the earnest German protagonist doesn't want to bring opera to the heart of the Amazon, but a mobile disco to the Scottish highlands, because they need cheering up? It's mostly just surreal encounters with nonplussed locals, who don't see why a mobile disco is a matter of existential urgency and don't quite know how to respond to questions like "why is the forest so dark and evil?" As you'd expect with a seat-of-the-pants production like this, the tone can be erratic, and some overplayed gags threaten to sink the film completely. You can see a bit of it here.

I'd also forgotten that I'd seen Corneliu Poromboiu's early half feature Liviu's Dream, which is pretty good, but much flashier and more high-concept (and ultimately less impressive) than his following features. The interesting thing about it, which had completely slipped my mind, was that it was programmed at the insistence of Lucian Pintilie, who would not allow his brilliant Tertium non datur (which I heartily recommend for this project) to be screened unless it was accompanied by the work of this young, up-and-coming Romanian filmmaker. Which I think is a nice reflection on Pintilie.

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zedz
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Re: 2000s List Discussion and Suggestions

#200 Post by zedz » Sun Jan 24, 2016 5:08 pm

I just submitted my list as well, though it's subject to change as I try to rewatch a few more films (sorry, swo!). There ended up being more changes this time around than I expected, and I tried to weed out any film that wasn't extraordinary.

I've got a twenty-five country spread:

France (7 films)
USA (6)
Russia (5)
Taiwan (4)
China (3)
Japan (3)
Belgium (2)
Korea (2)
Portugal (2)
Argentina
Canada
Germany
Hungary
Iran
Mexico
Netherlands
Palestine
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sweden
Thailand
Ukraine
United Kingdom

Six directors have two films on my list: Assayas, Balabanov, Denis, German, Jia, Tsai.

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