I saw Wim Wenders’s Wings of Desire for the first time and thought it was overrated. I watched a lot of movies I love again this year, most notably Sergei Paradjanov’s The Color of Pomegranates. Steven Shainberg’s Secretary is still a fun watch. I also saw Taxi Driver again, finding it much worse than when I first saw it as a college student. I accidentally watched the prequel to Ringu, all the while confused as to why it seemed nothing like the Ringu I’d seen some years before. I saw some terrible in-flight movies. I’d meant to see Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night when it was in theatres in 2014 but eventually saw it on Netflix last year: it was too American for me. Iris Apfel is an extraordinary human being and up there with Tilda Swinton in the fashion constellation–you must see Albert Maysles’s documentary about her, which is still up on Netflix. (Aside: all of last year Netflix kept recommending movies with first names of women as titles: Iris, Ida, Pina, Barbara . . . Barbara was good; I left Ida and Pina for another year, maybe this one.) But this is the stuff I really liked:
Mario Bava. Rabid Dogs/Kidnapped. Italy, 1974/1977.
Peter Bogdanovich. The Last Picture Show. USA, 1971.
Robert Bresson. Les dames du Bois de Boulogne. France, 1945.
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Le fils. Belgium, 2002.
Richard Fleischer. Mandingo. USA, 1975.
Aleksey German. Hard to Be a God. Russia, 2013.
Todd Haynes. Far From Heaven. USA, 2002.
Werner Herzog. Lessons of Darkness. France/UK/Germany, 1992.
Konstantin Lopushansky. The Ugly Swans. Russia, 2006.
Terence Malick. The Thin Red Line. USA, 1998.
Vladimir Motyl. White Sun of the Desert. USSR, 1970.
Ridley Scott. The Duellists. UK, 1977.
Jacques Tati. Playtime. France, 1967.
But overall I watched only half the movies I normally do. I watched too much television, only some of it excellent. I spent too much time studying, working, or worrying about my PhD. This year I will try to watch one good movie a week.
Hard to Be a God was by far the most difficult film to watch. It haunted me for weeks. I don’t know another movie or book that has made me experience so deeply what it means to watch things happen. You know what things. With Ugly Swans, that makes two movies based on Strugatsky brothers’ fiction you must watch.
You’re welcome for that picture of Keith Carradine.