Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Films of the Millennium (so far)

The somewhat cheeky (if not inaccurate) title - as well as the concept - for this post come from a similarly named feature at Stylus Magazine from late 2007. Not withstanding my previous reservations about the efficacy of the list in film criticism, I view this as a good opportunity to reflect back on the previous eight-plus years of film and to collect a sampling of online criticism - both popular and semi-academic - covering the ten features that I've selected, even as, per the post's title, we've got another 991 1/2 years left to go.

Below you'll find the ten films ranked in order and followed by a selection of links to the relevant critical pieces.

1. The Werckmeister Harmonies - Béla Tarr - 2000

2. Platform - Jia Zhang-ke - 2001

Acquarello, "Platform"
Ed Gonzalez, "Platform"
J. Hoberman, "All the World's a Stage: Pop Art as History in a Chinese Epic"
Darren Hughes, "Platform"
Chet Mellema, "Platform"

3. Mulholland Drive - David Lynch - 2001

James Crawford (with Nick Pinkerton and Jeanette Catsoulis), "Amazing Grace: Jean-Piere and Luc Dardenne's L'Enfant"
Ed Gonzalez, "L'Enfant"
J. Hoberman, "A Child Escaped"
Ian Johnston, "We're Just Taller Children"
Armond White, "Baby Dance"

7. Grizzly Man - Werner Herzog - 2005

Michael Atkinson, "Claws and Effect"
Dan Jardine and Ben Livant, "Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man"
Chris Justice, "Grizzly Man"
Omar Odeh, "Signs of Life"
Nick Schager, "Grizzly Man"
Andrew Schenker, "Flaherty's Indifferent Universe; Herzog's Malevolent Universe"

8. Millennium Mambo - Hou Hsiao-Hsien - 2001

Charles Taylor, "Millennium Mambo"

9. The Duchess of Langeais - Jacques Rivette - 2007

Nick Pinkerton, "Holding Court: The Duchess of Langeais"

10. INLAND EMPIRE - David Lynch - 2006

Dan Callahan, "A Woman in Trouble is Rescued and Loved"
Fernando F. Croce, "Inland Empire: Dark... and Inescapable"
Ed Gonzalez, "Inland Empire"
J. Hoberman, "Wild at Heart"
Jonathan Rosenbaum, "Hollywood from the Fringes"
Keith Uhlich, "Strange What Love Does: David Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE"


Chet Mellema said...

Interesting list. Certainly applaud the inclusion of L'Enfant, Platform, Mulholland Drive and Millennium Mambo (which I hold in much higher regard than Three Times, but any Hou picture is worthy of serious consideration). I would question Lynch and Hou both finding their way onto your list twice, considering the well of films to choose from in compiling a "so far" list of this kind. My list would certainly include In the Mood for Love, and perhaps I'm more partial to English language fare such as The New World or Before Sunset. But anytime we engage in listmaking -- as much as I love it -- we really approach an almost pure subjectivity in which the listmaker can always defend his choices. So maybe what I can take from your efforts are a few films to add to my Netflix queue -- notably The Wayword Cloud -- with the endoresement of a reliable source. Enjoyed the post...I hope you get some more comments.

andrew schenker said...

Thanks, Chet.

There's no question that any such list is a largely subjective exercise, but I think it can be instructive on several counts. I'm glad the post has encouraged you to check out some of the films, since that's really the best justification for such a project. That and the chance to compile so much great critical work (including your own fine piece on Platform) in one place.

As for including Hou and Lynch twice, well, I guess if any filmmaker deserved the double dip, it would be Hou - and I'm glad that you're a fan of the vastly underrated Millennium Mambo - it was difficult to dig up enough good criticism of the film since much of what was written on that work is casually dismissive and thus virtually useless. INLAND EMPIRE came in at number ten and there were many other contenders for that spot, so I certainly could have gone in several directions there, but I think it's really a remarkable film - a radical work that really pushes a certain aesthetic and narrative approach as far as it can go. It will be fascinating to see where Lynch goes next.

Rahul Gautam said...


great list. i dont think i could ever just post a list of top 10.
so kudos for that! Love the inclusion of the Wayward Cloud. Might be my fav tsai film along with What Time is it There? i would put a wong kar wai film up there. I cherish In the Mood for Love and 2046, equally, if that is possbile. Finally, i wouldnt mind a woman director/auteur up there such as claire denis, who is vastly underrated (trouble everday would make my top 5 i think and l'intrus keeps growing more and more on me) and apichatpong weresathakul's tropical malady, in which i simply lost my mind and was able to let my senses do all the work.

andrew schenker said...

Thanks Rahul,

I'm working on a top 100 list right now for Slant Magazine and it will certainly feature In the Mood for Love, Tropical Malady and several Claire Denis films!