Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Top 10 Films...Plus 10 More! Oh, And More Gushing About Playtime

NEW YORK—So, the pool of voters constituting two of the most prominent end-of-year online-only movie surveys—the Skander Halim Memorial Movie Survey, or "Skandies;" and the Muriel Awards, or "Muriels"—recently decided to team up and co-host their own Sight & Sound-inspired poll asking participating voters to contribute their own individual lists of 20 greatest films of all time, from which a larger list of 20 top vote-getters would be culled and presented at this site as part of "The Skuriels." As someone who has been a Muriels voter in the past, I was naturally asked to participate...and so I did.

Thus, remember that list of 10 I came up with for The House Next Door recently? I came up with 10 more to add to that! Check out my ballot four lists in from the top here.

And no, I am absolutely not kidding about my No. 20. I mean—I know it's become a cliché when picking out memorable moments from ZAZ's underappreciated follow-up to Airplane!, but if nothing else, this particular scene really is all sorts of comically inspired:

In addition, I was asked to write a little bit about my favorite film ever, Jacques Tati's Playtime, which ended up placing fourth in the Skuriels master poll. Little did I know that I would be sharing the same space with the one and only Jim Emerson, the esteemed film critic behind the consistently scintillating Scanners blog. That was cool. You can read both our tributes here.


Anonymous said...

The trouble with any list like this is that how do you define a great film? FIlms which are masterpieces or films which we curl up with? I suspect your list is both which is really cool.

Any list I would make would have to be a duel list those I emotional think are great (favorites) and those that are intellectually great. I don't have that many cross overs

Kenji Fujishima said...

Yeah, I dunno, I suppose it gives you an idea how seriously I take list-making of this kind that I don't really make a big deal out of distinguishing between "great" and "favorite." I mean, I get the distinction, and I tried to split the difference in my list, but really, I'd like to think the films I like to "curl up with" are genuine cinematic masterpieces in some way.

Andrea Ostrov Letania said...

Question. Why JEANNE DIELMANN? Does anyone really enjoy that film or is it a scent-marker of the self-enclosed-cinephile-community? But should it be? It has to be the most boring, pointless, and dull movie ever made.
I thought the first segment of JE TU IL EL was interminable. For 20 min, a woman--Akerman herself--does nothing but stand around and eat sugar from a bag. JEANNE DIELMANN is like 3 1/2 hrs of a woman doing something similar, which is nothing. Wasn't 20 min of it enough already with JETUILEL?
Will Akerman next make a 10 hr movie called JEANNE DIELMANN part 2? Will that be the greatest movie ever made? I mean really.

Andrea Ostrov Letania said...

"The trouble with any list like this is that how do you define a great film?"

Ideally, 'greatest films' feature combinations of originality, individuality/personality, depth/meaning, truth, beauty(not necessarily physical), mastery of form, power, mysteriousness, inspiration. And they provoke as many questions as answer them.

Of course, appreciation of art is as emotional as rational, and different people will respond to art differently.

PS. If Bresson must be on the list, shouldn't it be anything other than Four Nights of a Dreamer, surely one of his feeblest works?

Kenji Fujishima said...


And I'm telling you that I really do think Jeannie Dielman is a masterpiece, one of the most revelatory experiences I've had in a movie theater (and I've seen it twice in theaters). It depends on what you consider "enjoyable," I suppose. I think Akerman's closely, rigorously detailed examination of Jeanne's daily habits is necessary for the sudden breakdowns in those habits—a dropped food ingredient here, a forgotten grocery there, and the like—to carry an earthquake-like force that explodes in that final action she takes in the penultimate scene (I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet). Obviously, it requires a different kind of viewing and a certain amount of patience to enter into Akerman's rhythms, but I think the results are very much worth the effort.

If you wish to interpret all that as the ravings of a scent-smelling cinephile who wants to be part of some self-enclosed community, than that's your prerogative. But I mean, seriously?

Kenji Fujishima said...

And re: Four Nights of a Dreamer: While I acknowledge the greatness of more widely celebrated Bresson films like Au Hasard Balthazar, Pickpocket, A Man Escaped and Diary of a Country Priest, on a personal level I respond more passionately to Four Nights of a Dreamer, "minor" Bresson or not. You read my House Next Door write-up on it, right? If not, well there you go.