The director of The Princess of France and Viola lists his ten favorite films from the last ten years for the inaugural edition of our 10/10 series.
-in alphabetical order-
1. Extraordinary Stories (Mariano Llinás, 2008, Argentina)
Excessive, emotional and radical, this four and a half hour Argentine film shot over five years, with a minimum budget, dozens of characters, in multiple continents and historical periods stands in opposition to national and international funding that systematizes cinema into a dead art. Llinás’ film opens a possibility to think what has sometimes been forgotten: that cinema is a journey where you burn your life in pain and joy to convey your extraordinary passion for storytelling.
2. Film Socialisme (Jean-Luc Godard, 2010, Switzerland)
Jean-Luc Godard keeps on taking images and sounds to their limits in the composition of this political film of anticipatory consequences. Still opposing concrete images against vague ideas, Godard finds Europe drifting towards its shipwreck while the world suffocates under capitalism. Animals, music, immigrants and dissidents resist towards the inevitable in a film that expands in questions and metaphors in both ambiguous and blatant ways.
3. Happy Hour (Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2015, Japan)
I watched this film a few weeks ago and it’s still resonating within me, as if I have just got out of the cinema. It reminded me of Jean Renoir’s line in The rules of the Game: “You see, in this world, there is one awful thing, and that is that everyone has his reasons.” It is a film that doesn’t rely on having one idea, but many. I could have kept on watching it building further layers for another five and a half hours. The unusual way in which the director allows most of his scenes time to develop, to grow and transform, makes this film about love, friendship and balance, one of a kind.
4. Hill of Freedom (Hong Sangsoo, 2014, Korea)
The true hard call here was which Hong Sangsoo to choose. They are all great, all. I choose from the heart: Hill of Freedom, the shortest and maybe the tightest from his last feature productions. Its precision is so rigorous and funny that it brings new forms and detours to the ideas he has worked through in previous and future films. The shot of a drunken woman with her hand across the table reaching and holding her loved one’s face is mere beauty.
5. Mille Soleils (Mati Diop, 2013, France/Senegal)
Mille Soleils is a film that hurts. It is an intimate story that breaks through film history by reconnecting two lovers once photographed in the film Touki Bouki. After some decades have passed, the film finds them in a place where their past story is impossible to live over again. It is also a personal dialogue between two generations of filmmakers, a letter of admiration from young Mati Diop to her uncle Djibril Diop Mambéty. In less than an hour, Mille Soleils stands as a powerful and meditative epic.
6. Out-Takes From the Life of a Happy Man (Jonas Mekas, 2012, USA)
in the lips
of a stream
– Jonas Mekas, from Images
7. The Romance of Astrea and Celadon (Eric Rohmer, 2007, France)
The last film by Eric Rohmer accentuates more effectively than ever the sensuality of words and the constraints of desire. It’s a pastoral tale with a young beautiful man that dresses as a maiden in order to reach the woman of his heart. The tone of the film is so far away from any contemporary trend that it breathes a charmingly eerie youthfulness. The film has one of my favorite kissing scenes.
8. Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006, Thailand)
Waiting for an eclipse, to start things again.
9. Sweetgrass (Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Ilisa Barbash, 2009, USA)
I may have been watching too many films that day during the course of a film festival in Buenos Aires. The evening found me feeling rather sad and intoxicated. But then, I decided to see yet another film, about which I have heard just a little. And so, I stayed for the screening of Sweetgrass. After that experience I started to believe in cinema again.
10. Till Madness Do Us Part (Wang Bing, 2013, China)
Cinema as a possibility of spending time with someone you were not expecting to meet. It is the portrait of the communion between a group of men in a mental institution under extremely poor conditions and the filmmaker that joins them for the making of a film. The difficulties of communicating and the insistence for human interaction nurture the film with a peculiar warmth and strength. Running around, hugging for a while and telling a few more stories are some of the rituals undertaken to make life worth living.
10/10 is an ongoing series in which we ask cinephiles to name their ten favorite films from the last ten years (currently, between 2006 and 2016).