Ioannis Mookas

Bill Mousoulis

James Naremore

James L. Neibaur

Darragh O’Donoghue

John Orr

Jit Phokaew

Bérénice Reynaud

Marcos Ribas de Faria

Peter Rist

James Rose

Dan Sallitt

José Sarmiento-Hinojosa

Howard Schumann

Mark Spratt

Brad Stevens

Richard Suchenski

Josh Timmermann

Rüdiger Tomczak

Peter Tonguette

Boris Trbic

Nicholas de Villiers

David Walsh

Virginia Wright Wexman

Samuel Wigley

Deane Williams

Ioannis Mookas

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days

Writes regularly on film for Gay City News.

4 luni, 3 săptămâni şi 2 zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
Day Night Day Night (Julia Loktev, 2006)
Forever (Heddy Honigmann, 2006)
Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1977)
Lady Chatterley (Pascale Ferran, 2006)
Manufactured Landscapes (Jennifer Baichwal, 2006)
No End In Sight (Charles Ferguson, 2007)
Sanxia haoren (Still Life, Jia Zhang-ke, 2006)
Tehran anar nadarad (Tehran Has No More Pomegranates, Massoud Bakhshi, 2007)
There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)

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Bill Mousoulis

Melbourne-based film director and founding editor of Senses of Cinema.

Best Films of the Year

1. Sang sattawat (Syndromes and a Century, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)
2. Gary’s Touch (Ken Takahashi, short, Canada, 2006)
3. Control (Anton Corbijn, 2007)
4. Left Ear (Andrew Wholley, 2007)
5. B-17: A Mini-Epic (Arturo Cubacub, short, US, 2006)
6. Une Vieille maîtresse (An Old Mistress, Catherine Breillat, 2007)
7. Punch (Sotiris Dounoukos, short, Australia, 2007)
8. Passio (Paolo Cherchi Usai, 2007)
9. Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino, 2007)
10. Belle toujours (Manoel de Oliveira, 2006)

Worst Films of the Year

1. Shi gan (Time, Kim Ki-duk, 2006)
2. Kindle (Erin White, 2007, Australian short)
3. Night (Lawrence Johnston, 2007)
4. The Roaring Whispers (Dave W. Phillips, 2007)

(Re) Discoveries of the Year

1. Asia Argento
2. Douglas Sirk
3. Billy Childish
4. Peter Tammer
5. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (Lou Adler, 1981)
6. La Vie de Jésus (The Life of Jesus, Bruno Dumont, 1997)
7. Maximilian Le Cain
8. Paris nous appartient (Paris Belongs to Us, Jacques Rivette, 1960)
9. Marilyn Monroe
10. Romance (Catherine Breillat, 1999)

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James Naremore

Author of several books on film, including More Than Night: Film Noir in its Contexts (1998) and On Kubrick (2007).

Here’s my somewhat tentative list of the Ten Best films I saw in 2007. The list is composed of feature films that had their first US theatrical showings, plus one US television series that began in 2007.

1. Juventude em Marcha (Colossal Youth, Pedro Costa, 2006)
2. Cuadecuc-Vampir (Pere Portabella, 1970)
3. Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2006)
4. Ratatouille (Brad Bird and Jan Pinkava, 2007)
5. Away From Her (Sarah Polley, 2007)
6. Once (John Carney, 2006)
7. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, 2007)
8. Zwartboek (Black Book, Paul Verhoeven, 2006)
9. No End in Sight (Charles Ferguson, 2007)
10. Mad Men (Matthew Weiner, et. al., American Movie Classics Television)

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James L. Neibaur

A film historian and educator whose latest book, Chaplin at Essanay, is set to be released in the Summer. His other books include Arbuckle and Keaton, The RKO Features, and The Jerry Lewis Films.

The year 2007 was such a pathetic one for movies I almost found myself including competent-yet-unremarkable fare like Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007) or No Country For Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007). I laughed at Knocked Up (Judd Apatow, 2007) and Superbad (Greg Mottola, 2007), but if those are among the best films of 2007 based on that criteria then The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters (Edward Bernds) is one of the best films of 1954. The following list is alphabetical without annotation and it represents movies that I found at least partly interesting.

Grindhouse (Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, 2007)
The Interview (Steve Buscemi, 2007)
Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1977)
Kurt Cobain: About a Son (A. J. Schnack, 2007)
The Lookout (Scott Frank, 2007)
Pete Seeger: The Power of Song (Jim Brown, 2007)
Shoot em Up (Michael Davis, 2007)
Waitress (Adrienne Shelly, 2007)

The DVDs that came out this year are far better, including deluxe packages celebrating some of the most significant cinema ever created. The following list is alphabetical and annotated:

Charles Burnett Collection (Milestone Film and Video)
Outstanding collection of Burnett’s work, including his long-elusive masterpiece Killer of Sheep (1977), his director’s cut of the otherwise hastily assembled My Brother’s Wedding (1983), several of his short films, and a host of special features

First Kings of Comedy (Genius Entertainment)
A nicely restored double feature of the two Robert Youngson compilations that were instrumental in renewed interest in silent screen comedy. The Golden Age of Comedy (1958) and When Comedy Was King (1960) feature wonderful footage from Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, Harry Langdon and several unfairly forgotten masters of slapstick.

Ford at Fox (Fox Home Video)
John Ford’s quintessential Fox films are collected in this enormous, magnificent package containing such deep and fulfilling works as My Darling Clementine (1946), How Green Was My Valley (1941), Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), Grapes of Wrath (1940)and Drums Along the Mohawk (1939), as well as a wealth of lesser-known but often equally brilliant efforts featuring such stars as Will Rogers, Tom Mix, Shirley Temple and Victor McLaglen, as well as an early appearance by Spencer Tracy and Humphrey Bogart in the 1930 prison drama, Up The River. Many wonderful special features.

Help! (Richard Lester, 1965) Deluxe Edition (Capitol)
The Beatles’ second movie did not have quite the urgency of their first, A Hard Day’s Night (1964), but the decision to place the Fab Four in the middle of a quirky plot about a religious sect trying to obtain one of Ringo’s rings (it appears this piece of jewellery has special powers) is inspired, with Richard Lester once again at the helm. Another package that is heavy with special features, including a making-of documentary, missing footage, an in-depth look at the restoration of the film, cast and crew memories, theatrical trailers and much advertising memorabilia. Oh yeah, the music is good, too!

Langdon Lost and Found (Allday Entertainment)
Tremendous package of virtually every extant silent short featuring Harry Langdon, his first feature and a handful of his elusive talkies. The films in this set make a good case for Langdon to be placed alongside such masters as Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd and Fatty Arbuckle. Many wonderful, informative extras.

Valentino (Flicker Alley)
Rather than rest on the noted films of Rudolph Valentino, Flicker Alley offers us a collection of cinematic bypaths, including Moran of the Lady Letty (George Melford, 1922), Stolen Moments (James Vincent, 1920), The Young Rajah (Phil Rosen, 1922) and A Society Sensation (Paul Powell, 1918), some only existing in fragmentary form. Along with the many fascinating special features, this DVD gives solid criteria for Valentino’s status as a silent screen icon some 80 years after his passing.

Weiss-O-Rama (VCI Entertainment)
The Weiss Brothers’ Artclass studio was the lowest rung on the comedy production ladder during the 1920s, but this two-disc set collects several clever, funny short comedies beautifully restored from the original 35mm negatives. Ben Turpin, Snub Pollard, Jimmy Aubrey, and Poodles Hanneford are among the forgotten clowns whose work is thankfully made accessible in the 21st century.

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Darragh O’Donoghue

An archivist in Dublin.

A cinéphile is lucky if s/he is introduced to one major director in a year. My ‘discovery’ of 2007 was Hindi icon Manoj Kumar. His masterpieces – Upkar (1967), Purab aur Pachhim (1970) and Roti kapada aur makaan (1974) – are jingoistic, dogmatic and self-righteous, aggressively assertive of traditional Indian values against encroaching, decadent Western modernity. The simplicity of their messages is belied by filmmaking that stumbles over itself in a nervous struggle to articulate, as if the artist in Kumar intuits things the demagogue can’t see. Abrasive camera movements, angles and cutting; tints and filters; props and decor; narration and music: all are pushed to reckless excess, and are just about held together by the handsome and charismatic actor-director’s star persona. My suspicion that Kumar has no sense of humour whatsoever was confirmed in November when he threatened to sue the makers of Om Shanti Om (Farah Khan, 2007), the year’s most purely enjoyable movie, for poking affectionate fun at him.

Favourite films of 2007

Eastern Promises

1. Ingmar Bergman: 3 dokumentärer om film, teater, Fårö och livet av Marie Nyreröd (Ingmar Bergman and Film; Ingmar Bergman and Theatre; Ingmar Bergman and Fårö Island, Marie Nyreröd, 2004)
2. Mother India: Transactions in the Construction of Pain (Nalini Malani, 2005)
3. Children of the Chinese Circus: You Must be Number One (Guo Jing and Ke Dingding, 2006)
4. Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006)
5. Office Tigers (Liz Mermin, 2006)
6. Once (John Carney, 2006)

7. Zwartboek (Black Book, Paul Verhoeven, 2006)
A more plausible and unsentimental (and infinitely more enjoyable) account of life under German totalitarianism than the over-rated Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)

8. Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007)
9. Edwardians in Colour: The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn (Rosie Schellenberg et al, 2007)
10. Life in a … Metro (Anurag Basu, 2007).

Worthy of mention

The British Film Institute’s restoration of Prapancha Pash (A Throw of Dice, Franz Osten, 1929): in itself a rather lifeless spectacle, but a fascinating example of popular Indian cinema before it became truly ‘Bollywood’.

Both Jhoom barabar jhoom (Shaad Ali, 2007) and Laaga chunari mein daag (Pradeep Sarkar, 2007) were trashed critically and commercially. I thought they were respectively uproarious and involving; easy to please, I guess.

The first, ‘country-house’ third of Atonement (Joe Wright, 2007) was literally breathtaking, but I can live without the David Lean/Steven Spielberg/Anthony Minghella history epic stuff, bravura sequence shot notwithstanding.

I still can’t tell whether Ne Touchez pas la hache (Don’t Touch the Axe, Jacques Rivette, 2007) is a masterpiece or a mausoleum, but the fact I’m still thinking about it months later suggests the former.

Rare Christmas goodies: Extras Christmas Special (Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, 2007) and Vienna: City of Dreams.

Failures, misfires and disappointments

Water (Deepa Mehta, 2005) and Guru (Mani Ratnam, 2007) were both good films prevented from being great by the overblown scores of A. R. Rahman.

Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007) wasn’t as funny as the average episode of Midsomer Murders (Jeremy Silberston, et al, 1997); Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Shekhar Kapur, 2007), Cré na cille (Robert Quinn, 2007), hypocritical Manufacturing Dissent (Rick Caine and Debbie Melnyk, 2007), the revolting snuff-documentary The Bridge (Eric Steel, 2006) and Saawariya (Sanjay Leela Bhansali, 2007) were all to varying degrees rubbish.

My Enemy’s Enemy (Kevin MacDonald, 2007); where once we got the sober historiography of Le Chagrin et la Pitié (The Sorrow and the Pity, Marcel Ophüls, 1969), we must now make do with this glib Wikipedia article of a documentary about Klaus Barbie. The perfect date movie for Alvy Singer and Annie Hall.

Ang Lee’s films are perfect, yet there is some fatal limitation that prevents them achieving true greatness; Se, jie (Lust, Caution, 2004) is no exception.

Old films new to me in 2007

1. Draftee Daffy (Robert Clampett, 1945)
2. Mahal (Kamal Amrohi, 1949)
3. Puce Moment (Kenneth Anger, 1949)
4. Toute la mémoire du monde (Alain Resnais, 1956)
5. Der Tiger von Eschnapur and Das Indische Grabmal (The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb, Fritz Lang, 1959)
6. Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam (Abrar Alvi, 1962)
7. India Song (Marguerite Duras, 1975)
8. Thomas Kinsella: One Fond Embrace, the Irish Writer and a Dual Tradition (Seán Ó Mórdha, 1986)
9. Hoshi no koe (Voices of a Distant Star, Makoto Shinkai, 2003)
10. Zui hao de shi guang (Three Times, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005).

I also enjoyed for the first time: Ditya bolshogo goroda (Child of the Big City, Yevgeni Bauer, 1914), The Godless Girl (Cecil B. DeMille, 1929), Mr. Bug Goes to Town (aka Hoppity Goes to Town, Dave Fleischer, 1941), Swamp Water (Jean Renoir, 1941), House by the River (Fritz Lang, 1950), Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (Gordon Douglas, 1950), Pushover (Richard Quine, 1954), Rally ’Round the Flag, Boys! (Leo McCarey, 1958), The Crimson Kimono (Samuel Fuller, 1960), The Savage Innocents (Nicholas Ray, 1960), Abhijaan (Satyajit Ray, 1962), Bandini (Bimal Roy, 1963), The Secret Invasion (Roger Corman, 1964), Guide (Vijay Anand, 1965), Waqt (Yash Chopra, 1965), Vsichni dobrí rodáci (All my Good Countrymen, Vojtech Jasny, 1968), Civilisation (Michael Gill and Peter Montagnon, 1969), McCloud (Russ Mayberry, Bruce Kessler, Douglas Heyes, et al, 1970), Mera gaon mera desh (Raj Khosla, 1971), Bobby (Raj Kapoor, 1973), Juvenile Liaison (Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill, 1975), Baby it’s You (John Sayles, 1983), Dilwale dulhania le jayenge (Aditya Chopra, 1995), Kal ho naa ho (Nikhil Advani, 2003), Hard Candy (David Slade, 2005), Page 3 (Madhur Bhandarkar, 2005), Contempo goes West (Bob Quinn, 2006), The Queen (Stephen Frears, 2006).

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John Orr

Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh and the author of Contemporary Cinema (1998) and Hitchcock and 20th Century Cinema (2005).

Top Ten Films 2007

1. 4 luni, 3 săptămâni şi 2 zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
2. Control (Anton Corbijn, 2007)
3. Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck 2007)
4. Stellet Licht (Silent Light, Carlos Reygadas, 2007)
5. Yella (Cristian Petzold, 2007)
6. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, 2007)
7. Auf der anderen Seite (The Edge of Heaven, Fatih Akin, 2007)
8. Se, jie (Lust, Caution, Ang Lee, 2007)
9. Mang Shan (Blind Mountain, Li Yang 2007)
10. La Soledas (Solitary Fragments, Jaime Rosales, 2007)

Comments: The first 3 films on the list were all marvellous, totally unexpected and stood out on their own. The rest, in a very good year, were truly great experiences. No space sadly for an outrageous comedy – Roy Andersson’s Du levande (You the Living, 2007) – or a great thriller – Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo’s La Noche de los girasols (The Night of the Sunflowers, 2006). Most overrated film of the year – Atonement (Joe Wright, 2007) – technically good but phoney, pretentious nonsense, just like the novel in fact.

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Jit Phokaew

A Bangkok-based cinéphile.

Favourite films

1. Pleure en silence (Cry in Silence, J.G. Biggs, 2006)
2. Kalyi – Zeit der Finsternis (Kalyi – Age of Darkness, Fred Kelemen, 1993)
3. Phantom Love (Nina Menkes, 2007)
4. Berlin (10. 11. 1974 – 28. 1. 1975) – Übungen in neun Stücken: Unter dem Wasser schlafen und Dinge sehen, die sich in weiter Ferne abspielen (Berlin (10 Nov. 1974 – 28 Jan. 1975) – Exercises in nine parts: Dreaming under water of things afar, Rebecca Horn, 1974-1975)
5. Video 50 (Robert Wilson, 1978)
6. Look of Love (Yoshiharu Ueoka, 2006)
7. Heremias (Lav Diaz, 2006)
8. Ladoni (Palms, Artour Aristakisian, 1993)
9. Autohystoria (Raya Martin, 2007)
10. Frost (Fred Kelemen, 1997)
11. Mon fils à moi (My Son, Martial Fougeron, 2006)
12. Gespenster (Ghosts, Christian Petzold, 2005)
13. Verhängnis (Fate, Fred Kelemen, 1994)
14. Yumurta (Egg, Semih Kaplanoglu, 2007)
15. Amour d’enfance (Yves Caumon, 2001)
16. Chichi to kuraseba (The Face of Jizo, Kazuo Kuroki, 2004)
17. Una Novia errante (A Wandering Bride, Ana Katz, 2007)
18. Cross-reference, 35:27:02N/139:39:36E (Craig Walsh, 2005-2007, video installation)
19. Changement d’adresse (Change of Address, Emmanuel Mouret, 2006)
20. Hungerjahre – in einem reichen Land (The Hunger Years: In a Land of Plenty, Jutta Brückner, 1980)

Favourite short films

1. Banlieue du vide (Suburbs of Emptiness, Thomas Koener, 2003)
2. Persuaders (Peter Simon, 2002)
3. Feuerlöscher E. A. Winterstein (Firefighter, E.A. Winterstein, Alexander Kluge, 1968)
4. Family Picnic (Hong Seung-wan, 2006)
5. French Kiss (Antonin Peretjatko, 2004)
6. To Whom It May Concern (Wakai Makiko, 2007)
7. A-DA-DA (Sung Hwan Kim, 2002)
8. Dos Veces (Twice, Joseba Fuentes, 2006)
9. Indian Lady (Pushpamala N., 1997, video loop)

10. Kittypie (Jennifer MacMillan, 2007)
You can watch this film online at http://invisiblecinema.typepad.com/invisible_cinema/2007/08/kittypie-by-jen.html

Favourite Thai films

1. Baan phii sing (The House, Monthon Arayangkoon, 2007)
2. Sorry (Noraset Vaisayakul, 2007, video installation)
3. Memory of the Last December (Artit Choatsajanant, 2007)
4. Everything Will Flow (Punlop Horharin, 2000)
5. Never Congregate, Never Disregard (Arin Rungjang, 2007, video installation)
6. Penguin (Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, 2007)
7. A Woman Under Consciousness (Samart Imkham, 2000)
8. Asujaak (The Sperm, Taweewat Wantha, 2007)
9. Ploy (Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, 2007)
10. Ploy talay (The Gem from the Deep, Cherd Songsri, 1987)

Favourite Thai short films

1. Kwam luklun kong ngan ruenreung (The Bangkok Bourgeois Party, Prap Boonpan, 2007)
2. Fireflies (Chawit Waewsawangwong, 2005)
3. Top Boot on my Head (Vasan Sitthiket, year unknown)
4. Ging on tee baan gao (Little Plant at the Old House, Sasikan Suvanasuthi, 2007)
5. Puen tee nai samnuek (Fourth World, Chayanis Wongthongdee, Techanan Jirachotrawee, 2007)
6. Kon la loke (The Other World, Chutchon Ajanakitti, 2007)
7. Nang fung (When the Movie Listens, Tulapop Saenjaroen, 2007)
8. Landscape 101 01 1101 01 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              101 01 1101 01      end_of_the_skype_highlighting… (Sompot Chidgasornpongse, 2007)
9. Nimit (Meteorites, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2007)
10. By the River (Sathit Sattarasart, 2006)

Favourite documentaries

1. Videogramme einer Revolution (Videogram of a Revolution, Harun Farocki, Andrei Ujica, 1992)
2. D’Est (From the East, Chantal Akerman, 1993)
3. Muang samut (Seaport, Attapon Pamakho, Benya Poowarachnan, 2006)
4. Délits flagrants (Caught in the Acts, Raymond Depardon, 1994)
5. Unser täglich Brot (Our Daily Bread, Nikolaus Geyrhalter, 2005)
6. Ruang jing (One True Thing, Vichart Somkaew, 2007)
7. Kang bung fai (The Rocket, Uruphong Raksasad, 2006)
8. Dontree sanam (The Spectrum, Yanin Pongsuwan, 2006)
9. Final Score (Soraya Nakasuwan, 2007)
10. Moken, pah? (Moken, Right?, Phisan Sangjan, Taryart Datsathean, Nattawit Kaosri, 2007)

Favourite animations

1. Butterfly (Glenn Marshall, 2002)
2. My Small Doll House (Jung Yu-mi, 2006)
3. The Projectionist (Michael Bates, 2002)
4. Le Couloir (The Corridor, Jean-Loup Felicioli, Alain Gagnol, 2005)
5. Un botpleng ter gin chan (All the Chapter of the Song You Ate Me, Arnont Nongyao, 2006)
6. Careful (Damian Gascoigne, 2005)
7. Comment Wang-Fo fut sauvé (How Wang-Fo Was Saved, René Laloux, 1987)
8. Purple Grey (Sebastien Buerkner, 2006)
9. Surf’s Up (Ash Brannon, Chris Buck, 2007)
10. The Song (Suporn Decharin, 2006)

I’m sorry I haven’t seen Sang sattawat (Syndromes and a Century, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006), because of the censorship problem in Thailand.

Four interesting cinematic trends in 2007

1. The use of films or videos in connection to other art forms

Some very interesting short films or video art are shown as a part of stage shows, including ballet, dance shows and mini-concerts. The stage shows which present impressive films or videos in 2007 include NAHANAHA (Masako Yasumoto, 2007); No Translation (Terry Hatfield, 2007); In Transit (Klaus Fruchtnis, Philippe Saint-Paul, Olivier Winkler, 2007); PARA_dise…a woman? (Gerard Mosterd, Boi G Sakti, 2007), which uses a video by Wilhelmusvlug; Remember…What You Have Done in 24 Hours? (Jitti Chompee, Sarawanee Tanatanit, 2007), which presents a short film called Pollution and Human Protection (Marco Steiner, Tanon Sattarujawong, 2007); and Music Is My Weapon (Hamer Salwala, 2007), a mini-concert which shows some of Salwala’s short films, including Kangkao duen pruedsapakom (Bats in May, Hamer Salwala, 1993).

Another interesting use of a film can be found in Metissages, an exhibition of textile art in Bangkok. This exhibition includes many pieces of textile and a short film called The House of Wool (Frédéric Ollereau, 1998), which is about a man who uses a tapestry to cover an ossuary. Since that tapestry doesn’t exist anymore, The House of Wool is included the exhibition as a substitute for the tapestry.

Other notable uses of films include Hilltribe-Khaowsarn Rd. (Sompop Banlangjakkawan, 2007), which is a portrait painting of a man, but Sompop embedded a small TV-screen showing a short film in the forehead of this man, so that the audience can both watch the painting and a film embedded in it at the same time.

Drift (Sathit Sattarasart, 2007) is an art installation in a hotel room, in which the visitors can choose to watch some DVDs about hotel, such as Rong ram narok (Country Hotel, Ratana Pestonji, 1957), while observing other installations in the room.

Travelogue (Marina Paris, 2006) is not a movie, but something very close to being a movie. This artwork consists of a giant drawing and different colors of light projected onto the drawing, which functions like a movie screen. Since the colors of the light keep changing all the time, what the audience sees can be called ‘changing images’, which are very close to ‘moving images’.

2. Impressive political films

The state of the world and the recent political upheaval in Thailand seem to inspire some filmmakers to create political films. Impressive political films from Thailand include Letter from the Silence (Prap Boonpan, 2006), Ngan faorawang kwamfun khong bukkol tee nachua wa fakfai karntumlai siladham undee khong prachachon (Dream Watch for Anyone Who Is Believed to Violate Good Morality, Manussak Dokmai, 2007), Ye…dhamma… (Dhamma, Watthana Rujirojsakul, 2007), A Stranger from the South (Phuttiphong Aroonpheng, 2007), Phiimakam praifar prachathipatai nai kuen tee lom pud huan (Re-presentation, Chai Chaiyachit, Chisanucha Kongwailap, 2007), The Truth Be Told (Pimpaka Towira, 2007), and The Songs of Eh Doh Shi (Supamok Silarak, 2007). Impressive political films from elsewhere include Europa 2005 – 27 octobre (Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet, 2006), Ahlaam (Dreams, Mohamed Al Daradji, 2005), Bled Number One (Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche, 2006), Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2006), The Mark of Cain (Marc Munden, 2007), Bug (William Friedkin, 2006), and Lions for Lambs (Robert Redford, 2007).

3. The excellence of Malaysian films

Great Malaysian films I saw in 2007 include Mo shi mo wang (Love Conquers All, Tan Chui Mui, 2006), Tai yang yue (Rain Dogs, Ho Yuhang, 2006), Apa khabar orang kampung (Village People Radio Show, Amir Muhammad, 2007), Nian ni ru xi (Before We Fall in Love Again, James Lee, 2006), Dang wo men tong zai yi qi (Things We Do When We Fall in Love, James Lee, 2007), The Bird House (Khoo Eng Yow, 2006), Chalanggai (Dancing Bells, Deepak Kumaran Menon, 2007), and Flower in the Pocket (Liew Seng Tat, 2007).

4. Impressive films from Hong Kong/Taiwan/China

Chinese-language films I enjoyed very much in 2007 include Mum Is Born, (John Chan, 2006), Se, jie (Lust, Caution, Ang Lee, 2007), Nan er ben se (Invisible Target, Benny Chan,2007), Muk gong (Battle of Wits, Cheng Chi-leung, 2006), Moon to (Protégé, Yee Tung-shing, 2007), Tian tang kou (Blood Brothers, Alexi Tan, 2007), Ci qing (Spider Lilies, Zero Chou, 2007), Gun chung (Eye in the Sky, Yau Nai-hoi, 2007), Sheng xia guang nian (Eternal Summer, Leste Chen, 2006), and Jiang cheng xia ri (Luxury Car, Wang Chao, 2006).

Guilty Pleasures

To Mom (Lee Young-seung, 2007), 1Beonga-ui gijeok (Miracle on 1st Street, Yun Je-gyun, 2007), Dans le rang (In the Rank, Cyprien Vial, 2006), Ruk rai rak (Undiscovered Heart, Tanwaran Sukkhapisit, 2007), Mutchim Loke (Middle-Earth, Thunska Pansittivorakul, 2007).

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Bérénice Reynaud

Author of New Chinas/New Cinemas (1999) and Hou Hsiao-hsien’s A City of Sadness (2002). She teaches at the California Institute of the Arts.

(All lists are by alphabetic order, unranked)

Three Revivals

1. Crin Blanc (White Mane, 1953) + Le Ballon Rouge (The Red Balloon, 1956) (both Albert Lamorisse).
2. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1977)
3. Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970)

Four Experimental Films (some may involve narrative or documentary)

1. Casting a Glance (James Benning, 2007)
2. Light Work Mood Disorder + He Walked Away (Jennifer Reeves and Anthony Burr, 2006-7)
3. Phantom Love (Nina Menkes, 2007)
4. Solos (Kan Lume and Loo Zihan, 2007)

Five Documentaries (some may mix documentary and fiction)

1. L’Avocat de la terreur (Terror’s Advocate, Barbet Schroeder, 2007)
2. Cao Ta Ma Dianying (Fuck Cinema, Wu Wenguang, 2005-2007)
3. Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman (Jennifer Fox, 2007)
4. Prater (Ulrike Ottinger, 2007)
5. VHS – Kahloucha (Nejib Belkadhi, 2006)

Twenty-Eight “Narrative Films” (some may mix fiction and documentary)

1. 4 luni, 3 săptămâni şi 2 zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
2. In Dah be alaveh Chahar, 2007 (10 + 4, Mania Akbara, 2007)
3. A Londoni Férfi (The Man From London, Béla Tarr, 2007)
4. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (Sidney Lumet, 2007)
5. Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007)
6. Flandres (Flanders, Bruno Dumont, 2006)
7. Fong juk (Exiled, Johnny To, 2006)
8. Hyazgar (Desert Dream, Zhang Lu, 2007)
9. Hei yan quan (I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, Tsai Ming-liang, 2006)
10. Hong yan (Dam Street, Li Yu, 2005)
11. I’m Not There. (Todd Haynes, 2007)
12. Jin bi hui huang (Fujian Blue, Robin Wen, 2007, 87 min)
13. Lady Chatterley (Pascale Ferran, 2007)
14. Ling yiban (The Other Half, Ling Yang and Peng Shang, 2006)
15. Milyang (Secret Sunshine, Lee Chang-dong, 2007)
16. Mo shi mo wang (Love Conquers All, Tan Chui Mui, 2006)
17. La Naissance des pieuvres (Céline Sciamma, 2007)
18. No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
19. Padre Nuestro (Christopher Zalla, 2006)
20. Shisanke paotong (Thirteen Princess Trees, Lu Yue, 2006)
21. Snow Angels (David Gordon Green, 2006)
22. Stellet Licht (Silent Light, Carlos Reygadas, 2007)
23. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Tim Burton, 2007)
24. Tuli (Auraeus Solito, 2006)
25. Une Vieille maîtresse (An Old Mistress, Catherine Breillat, 2007)
26. Le Voyage du ballon rouge (The Flight of the Red Balloon, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2007)
27. Xue chan (Little Moth, Peng Tao, 2007)
28. Ye che (Night Train, Diao Yinan, 2007)

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Marcos Ribas de Faria

Brazilian critic who writes for the website web4fun and was the film critic for the magazines Opinião, Jornal do Brasil, O Jornal and Última Hora.

1. Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola, 2006)
2. Lady Chatterley (Pascale Ferran, 2006)
3. Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006)
4. Coeurs (Private Fears in Public Places, Alain Resnais, 2006)
5. Hei yan quan (I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, Tsai Ming-liang, 2006)
6. Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007)
7. We Own the Night (James Gray, 2007)
8. Triple Agent (Eric Rohmer, 2004)
9. Trust the Man (Bart Freundlich, 2005)
10. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)

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Peter Rist

Currently the Chair of the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia University in Montréal. He contributes regularly to the online journal, Offscreen, and is also writing a book on South American cinema.

2007 has been a really good year for film in Montréal, Canada, mainly because many films from 2006 have been released here, including Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006), El Laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro, 2006), Johnnie To’s Hak se wui (Election, 2005) and Hak se wui yi wo wai kwai (Election 2, 2006), Abderrahmane Sissako’s Bamako (2006), Bong Joon-ho’s Gwoemul (The Host, 2006), Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno’s Zidane, un portrait du 21e siècle (Zidane XIst Century Portrait, 2006), Offside (Jafar Panahi, 2006), Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006), Paul Verhoeven’s Zwartboek (Black Book, 2006), Suzanne Bier’s Efter brylluppet (After the Wedding, 2006), Lady Chatterly (Pascale Ferran, 2006) and Sanxia haoren (Still Life, Jia Zhang-ke, 2006).

It has also been very good year for local, marginal, experimental film practice, with the Double Negative collective mounting a number of remarkable screenings and performances, including Karl Lemieux’s extraordinary, multiple-loop projections to accompany the musical ensemble Jerusalem in My Heart as part of the Suoni per il Popolo Summer Festival at La Salla Rosa. On the other hand, it is frustrating for me to have to travel elsewhere to see many important new works, especially those from South and East Asia. (Films on my list, below, which have yet to be screened at all in Montréal are marked with an asterisk.) Generally, 2007 would have to be regarded as the best year for U.S. films in quite some time, with the country’s best directors, Gus van Sant and Todd Haynes, making terrific new films, Wes Anderson proving that he is a genuine auteur with The Darjeeling Limited (2007), David Fincher surprising us with the ambiguous, off-genre piece, Zodiac (2007) and relative newcomers doing fine work, like Sean Penn (Into the Wild, 2007), Tamara Jenkins (The Savages, 2007) and Andrew Dominik with his beautiful film, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007). On the negative side, a candidate for the “worst film of the year” has to be Mike Nichols’ completely misguided Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), and, even though I admire their craft, I remain unimpressed by the misanthropy on display in Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men (2007) and Sidney Lumet’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007). The highly touted There Will Be Blood (2007), directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, has yet to find its way here …

Flight of the Red Balloon

As strong as the U.S. has been in 2007, I am still most impressed with the work being produced in Chinese and by Chinese directors. In the latter category, I would place Le Voyage du ballon rouge (Flight of the Red Balloon, 2007), filmed in Paris by Hou Hsiao-hsien. After seeing this film in Vancouver, I was amazed that none of the film festivals in Francophone Montréal, including Cinemania (which only shows French-language films with English sub-titles) had the smarts to show it, especially because it provides a completely fresh cinematic approach to “French Impressionism”. While Hou retains his long-take, long-shot, perpendicular-framing style, he incorporates high and low camera angles, numerous reflecting surfaces, a chaotic mise en scène, and a wandering camera (following the balloon over Parisian rooftops) to provide a loving homage to French Impressionism, Albert Lamorisse’s Le Ballon Rouge (1956), and Paris (if not Juliette Binoche). The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) has surely emerged as being the best in Canada (if not North America) with its audience-friendly, laid-back approach, and with the introduction of Shelly Kraicer to augment Tony Rayns’ consistently superior “Dragons and Tigers” East Asian programming, VIFF presented an extremely eclectic Chinese-language component of films in 2007. This represented an enormous range of work, from the riveting austerity of Wang Bing’s documentary, He Fengming (Chronicle of a Chinese Woman, 2007) to the occasionally surrealist, network narrative of Singing Chen’s Liu lang shen gao ren (God, Man, Dog, Taiwan, 2007) via the beautifully framed despair of urban, industrial X’ian in Diao Yinan’s Ye che (Night Train, 2007), the wacky poetry of Zhang Yuedong’s Xiawu gou jiao (Mid-Afternoon Barks, 2007), the bitter-sweetness of new Malaysian films, including Liew Seng Tat’s Flower in the Pocket (2007), and the tough documentary portrait of a Three Gorges refugee, Bing Ai (Feng Yan, 2007). Although the Hong Kong film scene is not what it used to be, the Milky Way Image group deserves special mention this year for making consistently challenging and interesting action genre films. On different screens in Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver during 2007, I was able to view Johnnie To Kei-Fung’s Hak se wui (Election, 2005), Hak se wui yi wo wai kwai (Election 2, aka Triad Election, 2006) and the wonderfully entertaining Fong juk (Exiled, 2006) as well as Sun taam (Mad Detective, co-directed by To and Wai Ka-wai, 2007), which brilliantly switches between “reality” and the deranged point-of-view of Lau Ching-Wan’s titular character, and Gun chung (Eye in the Sky, 2007), a perpetual-motion, tour-de-force of a police procedural by veteran screenwriter, but first-time director, Yau Nai-Hoi.

A ten-Best list (of 20 films from 14 countries)

#1 *Sang sattawat (Syndromes and a Century, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand, 2006)
Nothing – not even a heavy cold with fever – was going to stop me from seeing this one at the Cinémathèque Ontario, and I wasn’t disappointed. Surely, Weerasethakul is the most original narrative film director around, and this is his best film.

#2 *He Fengming (Chronicle of a Chinese Woman, aka He Fengming: A Chinese Memoir, Wang Bing, 2007) and Sanxia haoren (Still Life, Jia Zhang-ke, 2007), both China

The rest are in no particular order

#3 Two from France: Taiwanese Hou’s *The Flight of the Red Balloon and Lady Chatterley, Pascale Ferran, 2006

#4 Three from the US: Gus Van Sant’s *Paranoid Park, Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There. and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

#5 Two from the UK: one directed by a Canadian, David Cronenberg, Eastern Promises (2007), and one by a Mexican, Children of Men

#6 Two Korean films: a great entertainment, The Host and a very French-seeming “art film” Hong Sang-soo’s Haebyonui yoin (Woman on the Beach, 2006), which showed in Montréal as part of a Hong retrospective at the Cinémathèque Québécoise

#7 Four Milky Ways: Exiled, 2006, *Mad Detective, Eye in the Sky and Election

#8 Two African films seen at FESPACO: Sissako’s great Bamako (Mali) and Newton I. Aduaka’s *Ezra (Nigeria-France, 2006), which provides a much-needed corrective to the anti-African Blood Diamond (Edward Zwick, 2006)

#9 A revelation from The Philippines, Brilliante Mendoza’s Foster Child (2007)

#10 Sakuran (Japan, 2006), a film written (Yuki Tanada) and (first-time) directed (Mika Ninagawa) by women, and based on a manga, produced by a woman (Moyoko Anno).

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James Rose

A freelance writer based in the UK, who specialises in horror, fantasy and science-fiction cinema. Previously published works can be read at www.theblacklodge.co.uk/jamesrose.

Phantastical Cinema 2007

When looking at the range of Phantastical films released throughout 2007 it becomes evident that the cinema of Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction is becoming more and more reliant upon the adaptation, remake or sequel (and in some cases prequels) than contemporary original works. Potentially indicating a worrying trend for the future of these genres, some solace can be taken from that fact that the industry is at least showing some signs of creative interpretation amongst the more predictable and weaker releases: The Hills Have Eyes 2 (Martin Weisz, 2007) completely disregarded the original sequel and instead presented itself as a post-11 September film through its conflict between trainee National Guards and a band of cannibals. Further post-11 September cinema came in the form of Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s 28 Weeks Later (2007), in which the US Army attempts to repopulate London but whose plans go catastrophically wrong when a Rage Virus carrier is found and bought into the secure compound. Whilst Fresnadillo deftly sustained the dreadful paranoia of Alex Garland and Danny Boyle’s original 28 Days Later … (2002), Garland and Boyle collaborated for a second time with the seemingly imaginative Sunshine (Danny Boyle, 2007). As with 28 Days, Sunshine can be interpreted as an amalgam of all of Garland’s favourite Science Fiction moments as the narrative drifts through the spaces of Apocalyptic Fiction, Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972) and Silent Running (Douglas Trumbull, 1972), to name just a few of the knowing glances he offers his audience. Yet in the mire of the year’s releases – Resident Evil: Extinction (Russell Mulcahy, 2007), Hostel: Part 2 (Eli Roth, 2007), The Hitcher (Dave Myers, 2007), Hannibal Rising (Peter Webber, 2007) and Halloween (Rob Zombie, 2007) – this film at least presented an engaging set of contexts and meanings coupled with an array of brutally beautiful imagery. From this, it is possible to suggest that the potential of these three films indicate a new mode for this genre of cinema, one in which spectacle is present but functions beyond the most basic of æsthetic pleasures and where previous narratives can be retold through modern sensibilities with the concerns of contemporary culture coherently grafted onto it. Perhaps Beowulf (Robert Zemeckis, 2007), for all its ill advised moments, is a precursor to such a reconfiguration of genre – as an adaptation of an ancient text it provides an easily read symbolic spectacle (most blatantly in the form of Angelina Jolie’s appearance as Grendal’s Mother as much as the immense realism of the CGI), whilst explicitly documenting the sustained ruin of man through greed, lust and corruption. Further progress can be seen in Chris Weitz’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights: filmed as The Golden Compass (2007), Weitz’s film attempts to put into simple terms the metaphoric values of Pullman’s original novel whilst simultaneously trying to present a narrative of high adventure. Although the film entertains, it also fails as it feels as though it is trying to do something so much more, as if its imagery is some how frustratingly repressed. Yet, for all this, The Golden Compass suggests much more than it shows and for that alone it is worthy of entry into the selected best of 2007…

28 Weeks Later (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, 2007)
30 Days of Night (David Slade, 2007)
The Golden Compass (Chris Weitz, 2007)
I am Legend (Francis Lawrence, 2007)
Sunshine (Danny Boyle, 2007)

A selected best of previously released films viewed during 2007…

Gwoemul (The Host, Joon-ho Bong, 2006)
Calvaire (The Ordeal, Fabrice Du Welz, 2004)
The Reflecting Skin (Philip Ridley, 1990)
V for Vendetta (James McTeigue, 2005)

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Dan Sallitt

A filmmaker and film writer living in New York. His blog, Thanks for the Use of the Hall, is at http://www.panix.com/~sallitt/blog.

1. Une Vieille maîtresse (An Old Mistress, Catherine Breillat, 2007)
2. The Tracey Fragments (Bruce McDonald, 2007)
3. Crashing (Gary Walkow, 2007)
4. Haeng-bok (Happiness, Hur Jin-ho, 2007)
5. Avant que j’oublie (Before I Forget, Jacques Nolot, 2007)
6. Izgnanie (The Banishment, Andrei Zyvagintsev, 2007)
7. The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, 2007)
8. La Soledad (Solitary Fragments, Jaime Rosales, 2007)
9. Mutum (Sandra Kogut, 2007)
10. Madonnen (Madonnas, Maria Speth, 2007)
11. Stellet licht (Silent Light, Carlos Reygadas, 2007)
12. Hannah Takes the Stairs (Joe Swanberg, 2007)
13. Wolfsbergen (Nanouk Leopold, 2007)
14. Corroboree (Ben Hackworth, 2007)
15. Charlie Wilson’s War (Mike Nichols, 2007)
16. Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino, 2007)
17. En la ciudad de Sylvia (In the City of Sylvia, José Luis Guerín, 2007)
18. Four Sheets to the Wind (Sterlin Harjo, 2007)
19. We Own the Night (James Gray, 2007)

All films above had their world premiere in 2007. This was a strong year for me, with a particularly good Cannes crop.

Due to normal delays in film distribution, this list will likely expand dramatically over the next nine months or so. The sad thing about making film lists is that they don’t come to maturity until it’s too late for anyone else to care about them. For instance, my list of 2006 world premières, which looks very little like what I published in Senses of Cinema last year, is just about ready to harvest:

1. Bled Number One (Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche, 2006)
2. Sanxia haoren (Still Life, Jia Zhang-ke, 2006)
3. Tai yang yue (Rain Dogs, Ho Yuhang, 2006)
4. Lady Chatterley (Pascale Ferran, 2006)
5. Haebyonui yoin (Woman on the Beach, Hong Sang-soo, 2006)
6. Vanaja (Rajnesh Domalpalli, 2006)
7. Slumming (Michael Glawogger, 2006)
8. Flandres (Flanders, Bruno Dumont, 2006)
9. El Custodio (The Bodyguard, Rodrigo Moreno, 2006)
10. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)

This year’s most exciting New York theatrical release was the belated appearance of Tian bian yi duo yun (The Wayward Cloud, Tsai Ming-liang, 2005) for a week’s run at Anthology Film Archives.

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José Sarmiento-Hinojosa

An advertising copywriter, creative consultant, musician and passive (in contrast to “active”) filmmaker in Lima, Peru, and co-editor of the movie blog (in Spanish) También Los Cinerastas Empezaron Pequeños.

As always, few valuable movies arrive (late) at our country. We are far from seeing cinema as an art, as a cultural expression, and understanding its importance. My small list includes:

Best Movies

Exceptional
Caché (Hidden, Michael Haneke, 2005)

Very Good

Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
El Laberinto del Fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro, 2006)
El Custodio (Rodrigo Moreno, 2006)
Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood, 2006)
Superbad (Greg Mottola, 2007)

Have a redeeming feature

Flags of Our Fathers (Clint Eastwood, 2006)
Zwartboek (Black Book, Paul Verhoeven, 2006)
Little Children (Todd Field, 2006)
Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola, 2006)
The Queen (Stephen Frears, 2006)
La Science des rêves (The Science of Sleep, Michel Gondry, 2006)
Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)

Festival Screenings, DVD Titles, Other Sources*

Exceptional

Death Proof

Honor de Cavallería (Albert Serra, 2006)
Bu San (Goodbye Dragon Inn, Tsai Ming-liang, 2003)
Belle toujours (Manoel de Oliveira, 2005)
Zui hao de shi guang (Three Times, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005)
Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006)
Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007)
Les Amants réguliers (Regular Lovers, Philippe Garrel, 2005)
L’intrus (The Intruder, Claire Denis, 2004)
Mary (Abel Ferrara, 2005)

Very Good

Iklimler (Climates, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2006)
Flandres (Flanders, Bruno Dumont, 2006)
Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino, 2007)
L’enfer (Hell, Danis Tanovic, 2005)
Gwoemul (The Host, Bong Joon-Ho, 2006)
Moartea domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu, 2005)
Fantasma (Lisandro Alonso, 2006)
Shijie (The World, Jia Zhang Ke, 2004)

Seriously Overrated

Stellet licht (Silent Light, Carlos Reygadas, 2007)
One of the greatest bluffs of cinema history, a movie so aware of its role as an arthouse film (with a director so aware of his role as an auteur), that it ruins what in other circumstances could have been an intense and sincere film.

Favourite Performances

Laura Dern in Inland Empire
Forest Whitaker in Mary
Michel Piccoli in Belle toujours
Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises

Arrival Gate (yet to be found, and seen)

Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant, 2007)
Go Go Tales (Abel Ferrara, 2007)
Aleksandra (Alexandra, Aleksandr Sokurov, 2007)
En la ciudad de Silvia (In the City of Sylvia, José Guerín, 2007)
I’m Not There. (Todd Haynes, 2007)
Le Voyage du ballon rouge (Flight of the Red Balloon, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2007)
No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
A Londoni férfi (The Man from London, Béla Tarr, 2007)
We Own the Night (James Gray, 2007)
There Will be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)

… and dozens more.

* In order to make the list smaller (and readable), I have omitted all movies previous to 2003, which could have make another list easily.

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Howard Schumann

Freelance writer living in Vancouver, BC.

My Favourites of 2007

1. Rocket Science (Jeffrey Blitz, 2007)
2. Into the Wild (Sean Penn, 2007)
3. Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)
4. No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
5. Across the Universe (Julie Taymor, 2007)
6. Control (Anton Corbijn, 2007)
7. Sicko (Michael Moore, 2007)
8. This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2006)
9. 4 luni, 3 săptămâni şi 2 zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
10. Linda Linda Linda (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2005)
11. The First Saturday in May (John and Brad Hennegan, 2007)
12. In Search of Mozart (Phil Grabsky, 2006)
13. Molière (Laurent Tirard, 2007)
14. Redacted (Brian De Palma, 2007)
15. God Grew Tired of Us (Christopher Dillon Quinn, 2006)
16. Red Road (Andrea Arnold, 2006)
17. Du levande (You, the Living, Roy Andersson, 2007)
18. Voyage du ballon rouge (Flight of the Red Balloon, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2007)
19. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
20. Amazing Grace (Michael Apted, 2006)

Most Disappointing films of 2007

Bridge to Terabithia (Gabor Csupo, 2007)
Once (John Carney, 2006)
La Stella che non c’è (The Missing Star, Gianni Amelio, 2006)
Centochiodi (One Hundred Nails, Ermanno Olmi, 2007)
Matsugane ransha jiken (The Matsugane Potshot Affair, Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2006)
Tai anyg zhao chang sheng qi (The Sun Also Rises, Jiang Weng, 2007)
The Stone Angel (Kari Skogland, 2007)

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Mark Spratt

Potential Films and Chapel Distribution, Australia. Australian distributor of An Old Mistress and You, The Living.

Top Ten in no particular order

I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone

Du levande (You, the Living, Roy Andersson, 2007)
A filmmaker with a rare vision and control who turns the deadpan and banal into something profound.

4 luni, 3 săptămâni şi 2 zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
A near perfect recreation of life in a totalitarian régime. Succeeds better for me than the more crowd-pleasing Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)

Hei yan quan (I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, Tsai Ming-liang, 2006) and Sang Sattawat (Syndromes and a Century, Apitchatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)
These two films consolidate the reputation of two modern auteurs.

Une Vieille maîtresse (An Old Mistress, Catherine Breillat, 2007)
A great example of a director finding a subject in a period novel that matches her contemporary concerns. As I found with Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975), this film serves up its depths and riches in more than one viewing in a story of an outsider causing tremors of upheaval in a society forced to contemplate change.

Control (Anton Corbijn, 2007) and Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
Two films that also explored their periods without any obvious straining for effect.

Les Amours d’Astrée et de Céladon (Romance of Astrée and Celadon, Eric Rohmer, 2007)
Essence of Rohmer in a mytho-period setting.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (Sidney Lumet, 2007)
Another octogenarian director proving it takes an old pro to tackle a caper yarn with fractured chronology and make it lucid and surprising.

Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007)
Again, potentially pulp material given thrilling edge by meticulous direction and performances.

Some very honourable mentions

Forbidden Lie$ (Anna Broinowski, 2007)
Milyang (Secret Sunshine, Lee Chang-dong, 2007)
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, 2007)
Prater (Ulrike Ottinger, 2007)
Yella (Christian Petzold, 2007)
Stellet Licht (Silent Light, Carlos Reygadas, 2007)

Worse trend of the year?
The depressing tide of French ‘commercial’ comedies and romances that flooded Australian arthouses in 2007, each one seeming worse than its predecessor and proving the French can turn out dross as well as anyone else.

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Brad Stevens

Author of Monte Hellman: His Life and Films (McFarland, 2003) and Abel Ferrara: The Moral Vision (FAB Press, 2004).

2007 Top Ten

1. Go Go Tales (Abel Ferrara, 2007) and “Stanley’s Girlfriend” (episode of Trapped Ashes, Monte Hellman, 2006)
As the author of books on Abel Ferrara and Monte Hellman, I was delighted to see new works by these directors (in Hellman’s case, his first since 1989), and to find them both working at the top of their respective forms. I seem to end up talking about Jean Renoir whenever I try explaining what it is I admire about Ferrara, and in Go Go Tales he has created his most Renoirian film to date. Stanley’s Girlfriend, Hellman’s contribution to the portmanteau feature Trapped Ashes, is truly the work of a master; difficult to imagine a more perfect 27 minutes. These films, whose enormous ambitions are cunningly concealed, tower above pretty much everything else in modern American cinema. Needless to say, at the time of writing, neither has a US distributor.

2. A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman, 2006)
Altman may have been uneven, but he went out on an undeniable high. A sublime meditation on mortality and cinema; two sides of the same coin?

3. Yeojaneau namjaui miraeda (Woman is the Future of Man, Hong Sang-soo, 2004)
2007 was the year I caught up with Hong Sang-soo. Choosing one masterpiece from an œuvre that contains nothing but masterpieces is hardly an easy task, but, of the seven films I saw, this was probably my favourite.

4. Die Unerzogenen (The Unpolished, Pia Marais, 2006)
A stunningly assured début; Marais is clearly a filmmaker to watch.

5. Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006)
Lynch’s abandonment of postmodern irony has resulted in what may be his finest achievement to date. This variation on themes one tends to associate with Jacques Rivette (“Celine Goes Boating by Herself”, perhaps) provides a remarkable interrogation of the ways in which images of women are mediated by narrative codes, and the liberating potential of rejecting those codes. An artistic dead-end, possibly, but then again that’s Lynch’s point.

6. H. Story (Nobuhiro Suwa, 2001)
7. Shijie (The World, Jia Zhang-ke, 2004)

8. The Electric Princess Picture House (episode of Chacun son cinéma ou Ce petit coup au Coeur quand la lumière s’éteint et que la film commence, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2007)
Hou’s three-minute contribution is simply sublime.

9. Tian bian yi duo yun (The Wayward Cloud, Tsai Ming-liang, 2005)

10. Don’t Come Knocking (Wim Wenders, 2005)
Wenders’ recent output, with its pronounced conservatism, has made for depressing viewing (all the more so in that it retrospectively enables us to perceive the conservatism in his early work). But Don’t Come Knocking is a pleasant surprise: not so much a return to form as an attempt to stake out new and more adventurous territory (the film’s Western imagery is very double-edged), tentatively suggesting that families (always Wenders’ main concern) can only function harmoniously once the patriarch has been expelled.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Sucker Free City (Spike Lee, 2004)
Havoc (Barbara Kopple, 2005)
The Wicker Man (Neil LaBute, 2006)
The Screwfly Solution (Joe Dante, 2006)
Scoop (Woody Allen, 2006)
Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World (Albert Brooks, 2005)
The Manson Family (Jim Van Bebber, 1988-2003)
Mortuary (Tobe Hooper, 2005)
Family Portraits: A Trilogy of America (Douglas Buck, 1996/1998/2003)
Fast Food Nation (Richard Linklater, 2006)
Il Regista di Matrimoni (Marco Bellocchio, 2005)
La Tigre e la Neve (Roberto Benigni, 2005)
Ti Piace Hitchcock? (Do You Like Hitchcock?, Dario Argento, 2005)
Izo (Miike Takashi, 2004)
Sud pralad (Tropical Malady, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004)
Offside (Jafar Panahi, 2006)
Shah-re ziba (Beautiful City, Asghar Farhadi, 2004)
Un Homme Perdu (Danielle Arbid, 2007)
Un Monde Presque Paisible (Michel Deville, 2002)
Errance (Damien Odoul, 2003)
Miss Lucifer! (Christina Kinne, 2007)
Für den Unbekannten Hund (For the Unknown Dog, Ben and Dominik Reding, 2007)
Autistic Disco (Hans Steinbichler, 2007)
Heile Welt (All the Invisible Things, Jakob M. Erwa, 2007)

RETROSPECTIVE DISCOVERIES

Meshi (Repast, Naruse Mikio, 1951)
Hot Blood (Nicholas Ray, 1956)
Sam’s Song (Jordan Leondopoulos, 1969)
Perdues dans New York (Lost in New York, Jean Rollin, 1989)
Blanche Fury (Marc Allegret, 1947)
From Hell to Texas (Henry Hathaway, 1958)

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Richard Suchenski

A joint Ph.D. student in Film Studies and History of Art at Yale University.

Conditions: I restricted myself exclusively to films – narrative, avant-garde or documentary, distributed or otherwise – that were first premiered theatrically somewhere in the world in 2007. For that reason, I excluded exceptional films like Juventude Em Marcha (Colossal Youth, Pedro Costa), Hei yan quan (I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, Tsai Ming-liang) and Honor de cavallería (Albert Serra) that had their first American screenings in 2007 but played elsewhere in 2006.

Ten Best Films Premiered in 2007

1. Le Voyage du ballon rouge (The Flight of the Red Balloon, Hou Hsiao-hsien, France, 2007)
2. Pitcher of Colored Light (Robert Beavers, USA, 2007)
3. Ne Touchez pas la hache (Don’t Touch the Axe, Jacques Rivette, France, 2007)
4. Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant, USA, 2007)
5. Aleksandra (Alexandra, Aleksandr Sokurov, Russia, 2007)
6. A Londoni férfi (The Man from London, Béla Tarr, Hungary-France-Germany, 2007)
7. At Sea (Peter Hutton, USA, 2007)
8. Zodiac (David Fincher, USA, 2007)
9. L’Avocat de la terreur (Terror’s Advocate, Barbet Schroeder, France, 2007)
10. En la ciudad de Sylvia (In the City of Sylvia, José Luis Guerin, Spain, 2007)

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Josh Timmermann

Writes about movies and music at PopMatters.com, and at the blog JLT/JLT, which he shares with his wife, Teresa. They currently reside in Victoria, British Columbia.

1. Redacted (Brian De Palma, 2007)
In a year where the lion’s share of critically fawned-over films feature (supposedly) bold ideas wrapped in neatly mannered packages, De Palma’s mixed-media Iraq War project is blessedly impolite. It’s searingly passionate, appropriately sceptical and (almost) uncompromising. From my vantage point, it’s the American movie of the millennium, but that doesn’t mean I’m in any sort of hurry to sit through it again.

2. Sanxia haoren (Still Life, Jia Zhang-ke, 2006)
It’s Sunday as I type this, which means that Still Life is my favourite Jia film. Ask me tomorrow and it might be Zhanti (Platform, 2000) or Ren xiao yao (Unknown Pleasures, 2002). And, you know, I have a nagging suspicion that a second viewing of Wuyong (Useless, 2007) will further complicate that call.

3. A Londoni férfi (The Man from London, Béla Tarr, 2007)
My wife and I sprinted halfway across downtown Vancouver with luggage in toe to make it on time for a festival screening of Tarr’s latest. Of course, it was worth it.

4. Bug (William Friedkin, 2007)
I’ll never be able to watch a standard-issue Ashley Judd flick the same way again. Ever.

5. Zwartboek (Black Book, Paul Verhoeven, 2006)
Every bit as grim and terrifying as Redacted, this is Verhoeven firing on all cylinders; makes war look as nasty as Showgirls (1995) did entertainment.

6. Ne Touchez pas la hache (Don’t Touch the Axe, Jacques Rivette, 2007)
The most expertly realized (and legitimately tragic) literary costume drama since Terence Davies took on Edith Wharton. Gérard Depardieu’s look-alike son and the ever amazing Jeanne Balibar made for the year’s most hypnotic on-screen pair.

Useless

7. No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
On the one hand, I tried to take the post-Cannes critical hype with a grain of salt. On the other, I actually liked Intolerable Cruelty (2003) and The Ladykillers (2004) – or at least, in the latter case, Tom Hanks’ idiosyncratic lead turn. Either way, this is pretty fantastic.

8. Wuyong (Useless, Jia Zhang-ke, 2007)
As noted above, I need to track this one down for a follow-up visit. It seems as if Jia went as far as he was either ready or willing to go in terms of eye-popping DV stylisation with Still Life, and here he’s retreating toward a purposeful minimalism, albeit with maximum ideas and potential for thematic expansion crammed into Useless’ 80-minute runtime.

9. Knocked Up (Judd Apatow, 2007)
I prefer to think I’m an optimist at heart, despite most of the rest of my list arguing to the contrary. Knocked Up (and also Greg Mottola’s wonderful Superbad, 2007) gets by on inexhaustible sweetness, and does so cannily enough that soft-hearted critics and would-be optimists (like yours truly) are sufficiently tempted to overlook the film’s too-neat sexual politics and liberal divergence from present-tense realism. Oh, and the fact that I’ve got my first child on the way this coming summer leaves this one hitting even closer to home.

10. Offside (Jafar Panahi, 2006)
Offside isn’t a very good sports movie – we barely see the central soccer match being played. If it is a sports movie at all (and I’d still contend that, to some degree, it is), it’s one in which the sport in question is a deeply clever McGuffin. The country boy soldier’s unvivid play-by-play makes Tim McCarver’s baseball commentary sound down-right insightful by comparison.

A dozen runners-up

Mo shi mo wang (Love Conquers All, Tan Chui Mui, 2006)
My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, 2007)
10 + 4 (Mania Akbari, 2007)
The Namesake (Mira Nair, 2007)
Paprika (Satoshi Kon, 2007)
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (Sidney Lumet, 2007)
Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007)
The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach, 2006)
The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn, 2006)
The Elephant and the Sea (Ming Jin Woo, 2007)
Spider-Man 3 (Sam Raimi, 2007)
Gwoemul (The Host, Bong Joon-ho, 2006)

Ten Terrific Performances from Films Not Cited Above

1. Samuel L. Jackson – Black Snake Moan (Craig Brewer, 2006)
2. Kene Holliday – Great World of Sound (Craig Zobel, 2007)
3. Hal Holbrook – Into the Wild (Sean Penn, 2007)
4. Wei Teng – Se, jie (Lust, Caution, Ang Lee, 2007)
5. Zoe Bell – Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino, 2007)
6. Francois Berleand – La Fille coupée en deux (The Girl Cut in Two, Claude Chabrol, 2007)
7. Drew Barrymore – Music and Lyrics (Marc Lawrence, 2007)
8. Talat Bulut – Mutluluk (Bliss, Abdullah Oguz, 2007)
9. Ryuhei Matsuda – Nightmare Detective (Shinya Tsukamoto, 2006)
10. Ximena Ayala – Malos habitos (Bad Habits, Simon Bross, 2007)

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Rüdiger Tomczak

Has published the film magazine shomingeki in Berlin for the past twelve years.

Top Ten

1. Nirontor (Forever Flows, Abu Sayeed, Bangladesh, 2006)
2. L’espirit des Lieux (The Spirit of Places, Catherine Martin, Canada, 2006)
3. Toi (You, François Delisle, Canada, 2007)
4. Bushi no ichibun (Love and Honour, Yôji Yamada, Japan, 2006)
5. Vanaja (Rajnesh Domalpalli, India-USA, 2006)
6. Banshi (The Flute, Abu Sayeed, Bangladesh, 2007)
7. Tuli (The Circumciser, Auraeus Solito, The Philippines, 2005)
8. Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood, USA, 2006)
9. The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky, USA, 2006)
10. Eisenfresser (Iron Eaters, Shaheen Dill-Riaz, Germany-Bangladesh, 2007)

The most important cinema event was for me the retrospective of films by Mikio Naruse, one of the four or five masters of the shomingeki-film.

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Peter Tonguette

Author of Orson Welles Remembered: Interviews with His Actors, Editors, Cinematographers and Magicians, published by McFarland & Company.

Top Seventeen Films of 2007

1. Coeurs (Private Fears in Public Places, Alain Resnais, 2006)
2. Death Proof (European cut, Quentin Tarantino, 2007)
3. The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, 2007)
4. Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood, 2006)
5. Bug (William Friedkin, 2006)
6. Zwartboek (Black Book, Paul Verhoeven, 2006)
7. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (Sidney Lumet, 2007)
8. Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006)
9. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
10. Charlie Wilson’s War (Mike Nichols, 2007)
11. Lucky You (Curtis Hanson, 2007)
12. Hotel Chevalier (Wes Anderson, 2007)
13. A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, 2006)
14. Ocean’s Thirteen (Steven Soderbergh, 2007)
15. Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007)
16. Feast of Love (Robert Benton, 2007)
17. Atonement (Joe Wright, 2007)

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Boris Trbic

A scriptwriter, reviewer and media teacher.

The Best Films of 2007 (in no particular order)

Zwartboek (Black Book, Paul Verhoeven, 2006)
Entertaining and subversive, Verhoeven’s film challenges the structure and character stereotypes of World War II films established over the past sixty years.

Coeurs (Alain Resnais, 2006)
Poetic, unpretentious use of camera and sublime dialogues – this is a gem in a year when a number of veterans (Manoel de Oliveira, Jiri Menzel, Otar Iosseliani, Jean Becker) returned in full force.

A London férfi (The Man from London, Béla Tarr, 2007)
A well-acted, poetic exploration of greed, guilt and loyalty. Tarr’s composition, lighting and pace dictate the narrative development conveying, as always in his films, a sense of anticipation and inevitability.

4 luni, 3 săptămâni şi 2 zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
A study of life in the final and perhaps most oppressive decade of communist ‘paradise’. In Mungiu’s film, there is not an inkling of PC didacticism or obsession with ideology. The best acting in European cinema in years.

Aleksandra (Alexandra, Aleksandr Sokurov, 2007)
In its contained yet revealing observations on political reality, Sokurov’s film is perhaps very close to John Maxwell Coetzee’s prose. In its cadence and use of pauses, the filmmaker is perhaps even closer to Anton Chekhov’s dramatic symbolism. Yet, his protracted shots and his precise use of camera, as always, indicate the continuation of Andrei Tarkovsky’s legacy in Russian cinema.

Les Temoins (The Witnesses, André Téchiné, 2007)
A fascinating, personalised study of the early days of AIDS in France.

Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007)
Cronenberg remains in Brian De Palma’s territory dissecting the themes of male friendship and betrayal. Subversive, uncompromising and fortunately – bereft of current political subtext.

Sanxia haoren (Still Life, Jia Zhang-ke, 2006)
Bleak study showing the journeys of characters stuck between the Scylla of technological progress and the Charybdes of squalid reality laced with personal disappointments. Reminded me of the best years of Eastern European cinema and directors like Miklós Jancsó, Istvan Szabo and Aleksandr Pavlovic.

The most overrated film

This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2006)
Predictable critique of easy targets. In their political forays, English filmmakers could perhaps paraphrase the old saying about Stalin, ultimately discovering that the worst Thatcherites come to power – after Thatcher?

The most underrated film

Pierrepoint (aka The Last Hangman, Adrian Shergold, 2005)
A well-construed portrait of the last English executioner.

Personal revelation

Ningen Johatsu (A Man Vanishes, Shohei Imamura, 1967)
Screened at MIFF 2007. Examines the boundaries between reality and fiction in a more articulate way than most contemporary films inspired by postmodern critical mumbling or junk television.

The most anticipated adaptation

No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
In spite of the insight and the strength of Cormac McCarthy’s prose that occasionally resurface, the Coen brothers’ film – perhaps their best in years – still poses a question whether it is possible to do justice to his novels on screen.

Suggestion for a screen adaptation:
The Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel.

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Nicholas de Villiers

Teaches film and cultural studies at the University of Minnesota.

Best Films Released in the US in 2007

Yume no naka e (Into a Dream, Sion Sono, Japan, 2005)*
Better than La Science des rêves (The Science of Sleep, Michel Gondry, 2006), a more bleak reflection on the indeterminacy of dreams/reality.

Ekusute (Exte: Hair Extensions, Sion Sono, Japan, 2007)*
A send-up of the J-horror genre, in the horror-comedy vein of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (Tobe Hooper, 1986).

46-okunen no koi (Big Bang Love, Juvenile A, Miike Takashi, Japan, 2006)*
Though unfortunately more theatrical than cinematic, it has the most stylish homoerotic prison scenes since Todd Haynes’ Poison (1991).

* All of which I viewed at the excellent “Japan Cuts – Festival of New Japanese Films”, co-presented by The Japan Society and the New York Asian Film Festival, New York City, 5–15 July 2007.

The Host

Cha no aji (The Taste of Tea, Katsuhito Ishii, 2004, Japan)
The little girl followed by her giant double is brilliant, as is the Mountain Song family music video.

Gwoemul (The Host, Bong Joon-ho, 2006, South Korea)
Oddly slapstick moments of family tragedy mixed with Gojira-esque political allegory.

Chacun son cinéma ou Ce petit coup au Coeur quand la lumière s’éteint et que la film commence, various, France, 2007)
Specifically Tsai Ming-liang’s “It’s a dream” and Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s “Dans l’obscurité” (“Darkness”).

Sunshine (Danny Boyle, UK, 2007)
It is rare that a director who aspires to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972) can pull it off, but Danny Boyle might have done it.

This Is England (Shane Meadows, UK, 2007)
Few “Bildungs-films” understand subculture and ideology this well.

Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, UK, 2007)
I applaud the honesty in making a comic buddy film without a female conduit for their affection.

King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (Seth Gordon, USA, 2007)
A humorous documentary dedicated to monomania.

Most Overrated Films of the Year

The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, USA, 2007).
An insult rather than homage to Satyajit Ray.

Hairspray (Adam Shankman, USA, 2007).
“Straight camp.” Cultural amnesia, or worse: “racism nostalgia”.

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David Walsh

World Socialist Web Site.

American films, which largely continue to dominate the globe, remain quite poor in general. The trivial and the anti-social predominate. The reality of an immensely complex society receives very little serious attention. Honourably (or, in a few cases, less so), a number of filmmakers have attempted to confront the endless brutal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, even here, there is very, very far to go.

Even in regard to the better films, one has to ‘mark on the curve’, so to speak. One excuses certain blemishes and lapses, a cliché here, a simplification there. A sharp attitude toward current work has nothing to do with ‘pessimism’ about cinema in general. The cinema based on an acceptance of the present culture and political status quo has reached its limits; in fact, it reached them some time ago. A revitalized filmmaking will have to find resources and strength in something else, above all, opposition to a polarized and crisis-ridden social order. Only such opposition will liberate the artist to bring to bear his or her real talents.

Best films released in the US in 2007 (in no particular order)

Offside (Jafar Panahi, 2006)
Vanaja (Rajnesh Domalpalli, 2006)
The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair (Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker, 2006)
L’Ivresse du pouvoir (The Comedy of Power, Claude Chabrol, 2006)
O Céu de Suely (Love for Sale, Karim Ainouz, 2006)
The Last Hangman (Adrian Shergold, 2005)
Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy, 2007)
Rendition (Gavin Hood, 2007)
Strange Culture (Lynn Hershman-Leeson, 2007)
The Situation (Philip Haas, 2006)

Best films that have not yet been released in the US (in no particular order)

Dans la vie (Two Ladies, Philippe Faucon, 2007)
Battle for Haditha (Nick Broomfield, 2007)
Bing Ai (Feng Yan, 2007)
Chop Shop (Ramin Bahrani, 2007, 2007)
It’s a Free World … (Ken Loach, 2007)
Xue Chan (Little Moth, Peng Tao, 2007)
Roma wa la n’touma (Rome Rather Than You, Tariq Teguia, 2006)
Orae-doen jeongwon (The Old Garden, Im Sang-Soo, 2006)
Ling Yi Ban (The Other Half, Ying Liang, 2006)
Sonhos de Peixe (Fish Dreams, Kirill Mikhanovsky, 2006)

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Virginia Wright Wexman

Professor Emerita of English and Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her books include Creating the Couple (Princeton, 1993), A History of Film (6th Edition: Allyn & Bacon, 2006), and the anthology Film and Authorship (Rutgers, 2002). As President of Silver Screen Tours, she leads groups to international film festivals on a regular basis.

Best of the Fests, 2007

In 2007, I attended 10 film festivals, some the same as those I visited in 2006, others new. They were: Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, Sedona, Hong Kong, CinVegas, Il Cinema Ritrovato (Bologna), CineCon (Los Angeles), Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (Pordenone), AFIFest (Los Angeles), and The Bahamas. Following are some of the best films and features of these festivals.

MOVIES

Best New International Films

1. Flandres (Flanders, Bruno Dumont, 2006) [Hong Kong]
Using a stylistic and thematic palette that updates French master Robert Bresson, Bruno Dumont fashions a searing tale of betrayal and redemption set against the contrasting landscapes of the mucky Belgian countryside and the arid North African desert.

2. 4 luni, 3 săptămâni şi 2 zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Cristian Mungiu, 2007) [AFI]
Based on an actual incident that took place in Romania during the 1980s, filmmaker Cristian Mungiu chronicles the horrors faced by two young women who attempt to arrange an illegal abortion.

3. Moartea domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu, 2006) [Hong Kong]
Another amazing Romanian film, Cristi Puiu’s black comedy about an old man’s agonizingly slow demise takes the hero on an odyssey from one hospital to another as he is passed along through an uncaring medical system.

4. Laitakaupungin valot (Lights in the Dusk, Aki Kaurismäki, 2007) [Hong Kong]
The concluding part of Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismäki’s “loser” trilogy, this noirish fable about a hapless night watchman balances laconic humour and a bleak commentary about human isolation.

5. La Stella che non c’è (The Missing Star, Gianni Amelio, 2007) [Palm Springs]
This funny, penetrating examination of cultural divides and unexpected moments of connection from Gianni Amelio (Lamerica, 1994) focuses on a quixotic quest undertaken by an Italian engineer that takes him deep into untouristed areas of China.

6. Jindabyne (Ray Lawrence, 2006) [Hong Kong]
Ray Lawrence’s follow up to his arthouse hit Lantana (2001) uses the evocative landscapes of his native Australia as background for a tale about a troubled couple (Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne) who come apart over their responses to the murder of a young Aboriginal woman.

7. Milyang (Secret Sunshine, Lee Chang-dong, 2007) [AFI]
A masterly balance of gentle comedy and wrenching drama marks this story of a young widow’s descent into despair and her struggle to return to normality by Korean writer-director Lee Chang-dong.

8. Stellet licht (Silent Light, Carlos Reygadas, 2007) [AFI]
Not your father’s Mexican movie, Carlos Regadas’ slow, spare study of life in a Mexican Mennonite community recalls Carl Th. Dreyer’s Ordet (1955) in its emphasis on guilt and spiritual transcendence.

9. Red Road (Andrea Arnold, 2007) [Santa Barbara]
Andrea Arnold’s harsh look at one woman’s struggle with revenge and loss is couched in a compelling thriller format.

10. Razzle Dazzle: A Journey into Dance (Darren Ashton, 2007) [Bahamas]
Inspired comic turns by Ben Miller and Kerry Armstrong anchor Australian director Darren Ashton‘s hilarious mocumentary about children’s dance competitions.

Runners Up

Efter brylluppet (After the Wedding, Susanne Bier, 2006) [Santa Barbara]
Une Vieille maîtresse (An Old Mistress, Catherine Breillat, 2007) [AFI]
Bikur Ha-Tizmoret (The Band’s Visit, Eran Kolirin, 2007) [AFI]
49 Up (Michael Apted, 2005) [Santa Barbara]

Best Revivals and Restorations

1. Les Deux timides (René Clair, 1928) [Pordenone]
The opening scene of this little-known René Clair farce must be among the most masterful demonstration of comic genius in the history of cinema.

2. Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora’s Box, Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1929) [Pordenone]
To see Pabst’s German Expressionist classic in a pristine print on the big screen accompanied by a live symphony orchestra is an incomparable experience.

3. L’Etrange Madame X (Jean Grémillion, 1951) [Bologna]
Grémillion is mostly forgotten today; this delicate melodrama makes a strong case for a re-evaluation of his work.

4. L’Armée des ombres (Army of Shadows, 1969) [Bologna]
Jean-Pierre Melville’s existentialist chronicle of the work of the French resistance during World War II is fully deserving of the accolades heaped on it ever since its rediscovery in 2006.

5. Fräulein Else (Paul Czinner, 1929) [Pordenone]
Elisabeth Bergner’s incandescent performance as a young girl forced into an unbearable situation highlights Paul Czinner’s skilful adaptation of this novella by Heinrich Schnitzler.

FEST AWARDS

Best Female Performances: Do-yeon Jeon, Secret Sunshine [AFI] and Elisabeth Bergner, Fräulein Else [Pordenone]

Best Male Performance: Kene Holliday, The Great World of Sound (Craig Zobel, 2007) [CineVegas]

Most Unjustly Maligned Film: Hounddog (Deborah Kampmeier, 2007) [Santa Barbara]

Best Retrospectives: René Clair [Pordenone], Asta Nielsen [Bologna]

Best Panel Discussion: Women in the Biz [Santa Barbara]

Best Filmmaker Attendance: AFI

Best Program Notes: Pordenone

Best Fest Venue: Arclight [AFI]

Most Audience Challenged: Bahamas

Most Elegantly Restored Theatre: the Egyptian [CineCon]

Most Overhyped: CineVegas

Best Festival Logo: Pordenone (by Hagefilm)

Most Sexist Fest Promo: Santa Barbara

Most Underscreened: Sedona

Most Beautiful Surroundings: Sedona, Hong Kong, Bologna, Santa Barbara, Bahamas

Most Unexpected Celebrity Sighting: Sean Connery in an audience of a dozen people supporting a festival held in his neighbourhood [Bahamas]

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Samuel Wigley

Works at the British Film Institute and writes on film for Sight & Sound, Total Film and The Guardian.

Sunshine

I saw some of these in 2006, and have passed over many great films that have yet to be properly released here (many of which will be highlights of 2008), but here are the ten films that I enjoyed most that were released for the first time in the UK during 2007:

Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, 2005)
Iklimler (Climates, Nuri Bilge Jeylan, 2006)
Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006)
The Painted Veil (John Curran, 2006)
Sunshine (Danny Boyle, 2007)
Jindabyne (Ray Lawrence, 2006)
La Noche de los girasoles (The Night of the Sunflowers, Jorge Sánchez-Babezudo, 2006)
Sang Sattawat (Syndromes and a Century, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)
I’m Not There. (Todd Haynes, 2007)
Stellet licht (Silent Light, Carlos Reygadas, 2007)

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Deane Williams

Head of Film and Television Studies, Monash University, Melbourne.

Top Ten

Moartea domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu, 2006)
A fost sau n-a fost? (12:08 East of Bucharest, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2006)
4 luni, 3 săptămâni şi 2 zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
Sanxia haoren (Still Life, Jia Zhang-ke, 2006)
Hei yan quan (I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, Tsai Ming-liang, 2006)
Into the Wild (Sean Penn, 2007)
A Mighty Heart (Michael Winterbottom, 2007)
Offside (Jafar Panahi, 2006)
Nacido y criado (Born and Bred, Pablo Trapero, Argentina, 2006)
Koriam’s Law (Gary Kildea, 2007)

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