Welcome to TG10s. This year, echoing another publication, we are posting our top 10s, and taking votes from you. Keep reading The Twin Geeks for lists from our regular writers, as well as some extra special selection of lists from some amazing guests.
Wes resides in Seattle where he writes on a very popular Letterboxd, and can also be found on Twitter.
Man with a Movie Camera
It can be said Dziga Vertov’s experimental Soviet masterpiece Man with a Movie Camera encapsulates everything cinema is and can be. Equal parts awe inspiring, revolutionary, and overwhelming, the techniques and mastery on display in this film have had no equal in the nearly 100 years since the films release.
An absolute behemoth of a film, the power of Béla Tarr’s masterpiece is one that has never faded and in fact, is only growing with time. Considered to be a very intimidating viewing experience, Satantango is a seven-hour hypnotic black and white journey into the heart of darkness of one quaint and suffering Hungarian village. Satantango is mesmerizing on every conceivable level, with each shot (some lasting over 10 minutes) telling its own unique story. Every cinephile owes it to themselves to experience this film at least once.
Everyone seems to know where they were the first time they watched Godard’s groundbreaking hit that helped bring French New Wave to the forefront of the cinematic conversation in the 60’s. The incendiary film critic turned incendiary filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard laughed in the face of what he saw as oversimplified, watered down and unimaginative filmmaking of the critically acclaimed French films of the time, deciding to carve his own path with Breathless, his debut feature film. And what a path it was.
Right Now, Wrong Then
Hong Sang-soo has built a reputation as a workaholic over his 26-year career. A filmmaker who can release multiple movies a year (and all of them quality) and just never seems to tire out. But it’s Right Now, Wrong Thenthat sees Hong at his best. It contains many of his trademarks: soju, conversations, awkward meetings, and an artist who feels that something is missing from his life, but Right Now, Wrong Then distinguishes itself by its unique structure which I will not spoil. It’s Hong’s best film, and his coziest.
2001: A Space Odyssey
The greatest science fiction film of all time. Kubrick’s vision of the future is one of American cinemas most discussed, celebrated, and debated films ever. A large reason for its brilliance is how timeless it is. One hundred, two hundred, a thousand years from now,2001: A Space Odyssey will remain a haunting and deeply affecting experience for anyone who loves cinema. Despite the often terrifying subject matter, it’s also Kubrick’s most optimistic film: despite the grave indifference of the universe, humanity has the potential to become something better.
Goodbye, Dragon Inn
Movie theaters are a communal experience that thrives on the concept of a shared experience between strangers, if only for one night. This idea has never been truer in Goodbye, Dragon Inn, Tsai Ming-liangs’ most celebrated film. A historic theater in Taipei is showing the King Hu film Dragon Inn, which is the jumping off point for nameless characters to float in and out of each other’s lives as if they were apparitions. I remember vividly just how bowled over I was by this film. It’s effect on me hasn’t shaken off since I first saw it – nor do I want it to.
Historie(s) du cinema
Godard’s finest contribution to cinema, seeing him at a completely different stylistic point in his filmmaking career. A documentary on the history of cinema in the way only Godard could tell it, Historie(s) du cinema is film that challenges cinema’s role in larger world history. Compromised almost entirely of clips from other films along with fragmented audio and frames that are superimposed over one another. But it is the greatest documentary about cinema as you are likely to find, its compelling essay-structure aiding significantly in the way Godard relates this history to the audience. Challenging, absolutely, but essential.
Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
We’ve all seen someone walking down the street and wondered what their lives were like. What did they do at home? What rituals did they make for themselves? These questions are answered in unparalleled detail in Chantal Akerman’s film. Forgoing anything resembling traditional narrative structure, we see three days in the life of Belgian housewife Jeanne Dielman. The films discipline in showing Jeanne’s rigid structure – and the cracks that inevitably show – is one of cinemas most rewarding experiences. Jeanne Dielman is a film that requires a patient eye, as well as a compassionate one.
The Gold Rush
When asked, Charlie Chaplin never gave away his filmmaking methods, saying it would be like a magician giving away the trick. Perhaps he was right to do so.The Gold Rush evokes the feeling of pure movie magic, a perfect romantic adventure that has something for everyone. A film that I can confidently say is flawless.
I’m obsessed with cinemas depiction of reality. Cinema is by design a manipulation of reality and the images it projects to us. This line between fiction and reality is finally merged in a way I’ve always wanted in the docufiction film Close-Up by Iranian master filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. A crime case is played out before us in narrative form by the people involved in the actual case, and front and center is Hossain Sabzian, a man who impersonated the famous Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf. To watch Close-Up for the first time is like watching something brand new unfold before you until it finally reaches its peak in the ending, which is one of the most transcendent things I have ever seen.