Thursday, March 22, 2007

Butch Dalisay's Favorite Films (and mine)

They're good lists--I like it that Dalisay doesn't just put down titles, but give reasons, and I love it that he put down personal reasons instead of just rattling off the conventional wisdom that follows these titles like so much confetti (so we see yet another list with Gone With the Wind and Citizen Kane--ho-hum).

Especially interesting is his inclusion of Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag (Manila in the Claws of Neon, Lino Brocka, 1975) and salud to him for including a Filipino film (some cinephiles--
NY Times critic Dave Kehr would wag a finger at those who say cineaste, that's French for filmmaker--don't even deign to include a Filipino title in their list). Film critic Agustin Sotto's vote for favorite Brocka film was Ina Ka Ng Anak Mo (You're the Mother of Your Daughter, Lino Brocka, 1979), which Dalisay wrote (I liked it too; among its many virtues it proved that its star, Nora Aunor, wasn't limited to lower-class martyr roles). So one might argue that his contribution to Philippine cinema is hardly forgettable.

Might be interesting to take a look at what cinephiles consider great nowadays. Off the top of my head, perhaps the most highly regarded filmmakers at the moment in egroups like
a_film_by include Robert Aldrich (Twilight's Last Gleaming, Ulzana's Raid, and most of all Kiss Me Deadly), Douglas Sirk (All that Heaven Allows, Magnificent Obsession, Imitation of Life), Vincente Minnelli (for his musicals, sure, but also for his dramas--Some Came Running, The Bad and the Beautiful, The Clock, Cabin in the Sky), Mizoguchi (Ugetsu, Life of Oharu, Sansho the Bailiff, and 47 Ronin of course, but also lesser-known titles like Street of Shame), Roberto Rossellini (not just Rome, Open City and Paisan, but post neorealist works as Stromboli, Europa '51, and Viaggo in Italia; plus really difficult-to-find TV works such as Socrates and The Iron Age) and of course Orson Welles (Citizen Kane is actually the least of his films; better yet are The Magnificent Ambersons, Mr. Arkadin, F is for Fake, and above all, Chimes of Midnight), John Ford (The Searchers) and Alfred Hitchcock (I don't know how Butch might feel about it, but including Vertigo on his list is perfectly in line with the latest auteurist thinking).

Even Richard Fleischer (Tora! Tora! Tora!; 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Amytiville 3-D (?!) but really more for titles like Compulsion and Barabbas) and Blake Edwards (critic Damien Bona considers Breakfast at Tiffany's the greatest film of all time) have their champions, so who's to say? A list is arguably of interest not for the titles or their makers, but for the reasoning behind the titles. That and the titles you've never heard of, or haven't really considered before (Breakfast at Tiffany's…?).

With that, might as well respond with my own lists:

Science Fiction

Hesus Rebolusyunaryo (Hesus the Revolutionary, Lav Diaz)

9. Exorcist 2: The Heretic (John Boorman)

8. God Told Me To (Larry Cohen)

7. Weekend (Jean-Luc Godard)

6. Videodrome (David Cronenberg)

5. Metropolis (Fritz Lang)

4. Solaris (Andrei Tarkovksy)

Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale)

2. La Jetee (Chris Marker)

1. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Hayao Miyazaki)

Filipino films:

Thirteen Important Filipino Films

Which evolved into a later list:

Twelve Greatest Filipino Films

Finally, I suppose, an all-time top ten (actually thirteen, in alphabetical order):

Sciuscia - Vittorio de Sica
La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc - Carl Theodor Dreyer
Kaagaz ke Phool - Guru Dutt
Meghe Dhaka Tara - Ritwik Ghatak
Vertigo - Alfred Hitchcock
Sherlock, Jr. - Buster Keaton
M - Fritz Lang
Kaze no tani no Naushika - Hayao Miyazaki
Faust - FW Murnau
Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos - Mario O'Hara
Banshun - Yasujiro Ozu
La Grand Illusion - Jean Renoir
Chimes at Midnight - Orson Welles



Mr. Butch Dalisay's PINOY PEN postings always make me eager to look forward to the following week's postings.When he touched on MOVIES and his hit parade of the top ones, I really got more interested.

My name is Tony Joaquin and forgive my writing you this note which I got from Mr. Dalisay's posting. When I read your most recent posting I got more interested with your insights on other films I have not even heard of. I really enjoy well made films but at the moment I have little time and especially finances to rent any here in San Francisco where I reside, as a retired resident.
I took the liberty, if you do not mind Mr. Vera, and I added your blog to my link simply because I would like to share with other friends of mine the benefit of your trained eye on choice movie productions.
Yes sir, my friends are avid..cinephiles (not cineastes).

Until your next posting, I am Tony Joaquin, retired old man..still able to watch good movies [my cataract procedure was excellent and I can see clearly without having to wear glasses.]

Noel Vera said...

It'd be an honor! But the blog's name is Critic After Dark, fyi...