1988: Bird (Clint Eastwood)
Clint Eastwood as a filmmaker appears on this list three times. And even though I can't say any of his work are "desert island films" for me, I do greatly admire both his formal and business approach.
Formally, his work recalls some of my favorite early films from Hollywood, well-told by a director that backgrounds style and makes the material his focus. As for business, he's among the few directors with a system of delivering nearly a film a year.
I can't say too much about this work; I haven't seen it in many years. But I do remember feeling that it gave me a great sense of what it meant to be a jazz musician in the forties and fifties. It features two remarkable performances by Forest Whitaker and Diane Venora and displays an extraordinary patience in the way that it allows its story to unfold.
There's nothing really flashy and nothing really cool here, but that doesn't mean Eastwood isn't conscious of film form. He just uses it sparingly, and as always, with great discipline.
Other contenders for 1988: I still have some titles to see. These include: Mike Leigh's High Hopes, Jean-Luc Godard's King Lear, John Waters' Hairspray, Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ, Krzysztof Kieslowski's Decalogue, Jean-Claude Brisseau's De bruit et de fureur, Jacques Demy's Trois places pour le 26, Terrence Davies' Distant Voices, Still Lives, and Isao Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies. I need to revisit Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso as it's been too long since I've seen it to know where it'd place on this list. But from this year, I really like David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers. And my closest runner-up is Catherine Breillat's 36 fillette.
9/1/11 I watched John Waters' Hairspray. Incredibly inventive, it's truly amazing to see this whole world that Waters creates. He's also able to maintain his trademark, tongue-in-cheek tone, even as he navigates some pretty difficult political and esthetic terrain. I prefer a little more depth and seriousness, but I greatly respect this achievement.
2/4/12 I watched Claire Denis' Chocolat. Already sensuous like the best of Denis even if the subject matter feels slightly too esoteric to connect. A strong debut but not at the same level, I would say, as some of her very best.
7/20/12 I watched Andrew Solt's Imagine: John Lennon. Impressionistic approach gives us a feel for Lennon. This approach also deprives us though of some real opportunity to understand this fascinating man and all his many transformations.
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