Saturday, July 21, 2018

Favorite (four), part fifty-four

Just like in my other fifty-three posts in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing.  Most of the films I have been glad to see but only very few have stayed with me.  This series is my filter for those and my hope is one or two will be good to you as well.

George Cukor's Little Women
FilmStruck celebrated Cukor last week as its featured director, making it as good of a time as any to dig deeper into his work.  He never was a flashy stylist and many of his films seem comfortable taking their time even at the risk of running off some of the audience.  What makes Cukor so special is how deep he goes with his characters.  He trusts their freewheeling spirits, loves them, knowing it is possible both for them to entertain us and allow us into their souls.  As a result, we care an unusual amount about the characters in his films.  Cukor also was a master at restraint.  Just look at how long he withholds things from Hepburn, a practice run for his finest hour a few years later in Holiday.  Less entertaining than Hawks, less visual than Ford, less buoyant than Lubitsch and less clever than Wilder but just as great as them all.

Kelly Reichardt's Certain Women
I have never been much of a fan of her work.  Having seen Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy and Meek's CutoffI often felt her work was admirably minimal without the heft or depth of a Bresson or Ozu.  But her latest feels different to me, saying a tremendous amount without saying much at all.  Reichardt uses one of cinema's greatest weapons, silence, to get underneath her themes and wonderfully rich characters and stories.

Morgan Neville's Won't You Be My Neighbor?
Fred Rogers' life makes for a fascinating film and Neville gets into much of what makes the story unique and provocative.  My only complaint is I wish there were more interviews from kids, like myself, who grew up watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and the way they experienced the show as compared to Rogers' ultimate vision and philosophy behind it.

George Cukor's Dinner at Eight
Most extraordinary is not the drama but the acting and the multitude of characters and social situations we can recognize and have probably experienced.  Not completely sure if it should all be viewed as a critique and/or satire but it sure seems like it even though Cukor was such a fixture in the world he is depicting.


Friday, July 20, 2018

Honoring Stan

https://open.spotify.com/user/mynuitchezmaud/playlist/0J9XmwnGWlOR6yh1cmT7Fm?si=8GIcKx-FToa4U_oLKPZ-lQ


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Latest Mixtape

https://open.spotify.com/user/mynuitchezmaud/playlist/03L2jHfQ6aicq4eJzmYGi6?si=TL0aa1CPRv26Zcu-5Jxoeg


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Favorite (four), part fifty-three

Just like in my other fifty-two posts in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing.  Most of the films I have been glad to see but only very few have stayed with me.  This series is my filter for those and my hope is one or two will be good to you as well.

Zachary Treitz's Men Go To Battle
The kind of imaginative lo-fi work that makes me rethink my normal skepticism around low budget digital filmmaking.  It feels like the cinematic equivalent to something Will Oldham might author.  It is quiet and earthy and comfortable just being pure and unadorned.  The acting is tremendous, and its restraint from using much light or music refreshing.  As strong of an American micro-indy as I have seen since Blue Ruin.

Frederick Wiseman's Law and Order
Aside from Wiseman's complete formal discipline, what might be most impressive about his work are the moments he is able to capture.  Whether it is the angry father at the end or the belligerent juvenile early on, the characters he finds in the scenes he shows us feel so raw, so real, and so rich it is like we have never seen humans going through real emotions on film before.  It is such pure cinema, Wiseman's work, and such a successful approach.  For anyone that wants to see moments deflected exactly as the artist found them, without any fluff and without any fear that the sheer moment would have enough heft or interest on its own, these are hours full of reward.  

Kasper Collins' I Called Him Morgan
An unusually absorbing doc that not only gives us Morgan's greatness but also gives us other dimensions like a deeper understanding of jazz as black classical music or of the human capacity to forgive even in the midst of great anger.  Collins' most impressive achievement might be his ability to take a paucity of Morgan footage and supplement it with shots of skylines and nature without making it all feel like hollow re-enactments.

Peter Kunhardt's King in the Wilderness
Kunhardt's style is nothing remarkable and the music can be overdone and cloying at times, but Kunhardt reveals sides of King's life that adds dimensions to my understanding of him.  Most remarkable to me was the idea of non-violence as the more radical response, as compared to retaliation, to hatred and racism.  According to King, "...if you're really going to be free, you have to overcome the love of wealth and the fear of death."



2018

7/4/18 I watched Peter Kunhardt's King in the Wilderness.  Kunhardt's style is nothing remarkable and the music can be overdone and cloying at times, but Kunhardt reveals sides of King's life that adds dimensions to my understanding of him.  Most remarkable to me was the idea of non-violence as the more radical response, as compared to retaliation, to hatred and racism.  According to King, "...if you're really going to be free, you have to overcome the love of wealth and the fear of death."

7/14/18 I watched Morgan Neville's Won't You Be My Neighbor?  Fred Rogers' life makes for a fascinating film and Neville gets into so much of what makes the story unique and provocative.  My only complaint is I wish there were more interviews from kids, like myself, who grew up watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and the way they experienced the show as compared to Rogers' ultimate vision and philosophy behind it.   

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Dragnet Girl (1933)

An interesting next film for Ozu that's as close to a genre film as I have seen from him.  Perhaps, it is his entry into the gangster arena that by 1933 included The Public Enemy, Scarface and Little Caesar

In this ongoing exploration of Ozu, I have focused more on tracking the evolution of his style rather than his thematic interests.  Here though it is interesting to see him taking on themes and ideas as diverse as the criminal with a conscience, the absence of the parent and the struggle for civility in a corrupt, criminal world. 

Formally, a few quick notes I would like to mention.  Signs pointing back to Western culture are once again abundant, whether it's movie posters for The Champ or All Quiet on the Western Front, Victrola record players, fight posters for American boxers such as Jack Dempsey or American quotes hanging on walls in different locations.  It is also interesting to see that, like I have noted in some of the immediately preceding films, there are a number of tracking shots that Ozu seemed to abandon later on his career.  I also noticed at least one crane shot, which is the first I have seen in his work.  By this point in his career, Ozu's shots are also notably seeming to last a little longer and filmed mostly tatami-style.  And, there are a few of what would become signature ellipses for Ozu.


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Latest mix

https://open.spotify.com/user/mynuitchezmaud/playlist/61nofBhglLrG497YEHCKLy?si=2mo4xKa5Th-btB66oUa-IA


Monday, June 4, 2018

Favorite (four), part fifty-two

Just like in my other fifty-one posts in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing.  Most of the films I have been glad to see but only very few have stayed with me.  This series is my filter for those and my hope is one or two will be good to you as well.

Frederick Wiseman's Titicut Follies
Not for the faint of heart, this edgy, unflinching documentary is the debut from master documentarian Wiseman.  It is more raw, still to this day, than most anything coming out of the American independent cinema.  Wiseman may not be unheralded, but with each of his films, for me his import only grows.  His films get inside their subjects, burrowing deep, like a Bresson or a Dreyer.  

Luis Bunuel's The Phantom of Liberty
One of Bunuel's most free-flowing and "liberated" films is pure and unpredictable fun.  There are a number of all-time great moments but for me it was the unconventional dinner party and the final sequence at the zoo.  Bunuel's key themes are still there - anti-establishment, anti-Catholic church, surrealistic flights of fancy - but the contemporary setting gives them a lightness and impact that I have rarely felt while watching his work.  

Hong Sang-soo's On the Beach at Night Alone
Proof yet again that Hong is one of the cinema's great simplifiers.  He is able to take all of life's complications and reduce them down until what is left are only his favorite things - women, smoking, drinking, nature, cafes and conversations.  If there is a filmmaker today churning out more consistently interesting works, I have yet to find him. 

Yasujiro Ozu's Where Now Are the Dreams of Youth?
One of his films I have never heard about and it comes immediately after one of his more famous works, I Was Born, But...  Like its predecessor, what is noticeable is Ozu's development into a very complex emotional filmmaker.  The final fifteen or so minutes, in particular, show Ozu's range as an unflinchingly brutal realist and a deeply searching realist.  In fact, I cannot recall a more emotionally uncompromising scene to date in Ozu's cinema than Tetsuo and Saiki's final encounter.  For films about the difficult transition from adolescence to adulthood or even for films about the meaning of friendship, Where Now Are the Dreams Of Youth?  deserves to be a part of the discussion.



Sunday, June 3, 2018

Woman of Tokyo (1933)

Not a very memorable Ozu effort, this short film, if nothing else, continues his formal progression in a forward manner.  There are almost no movements of the camera and an abundance of tatami shots.  There is none of the playfulness of his previous work and the only real allusion to Western culture is when Ryoichi and Harue go to the movies to see If I Had a Million.
 
In its study of social mores, it feels closer emotionally to a Mizoguchi film.  A curious, almost perplexing work, but regardless, I am excited to see where Ozu goes from here.


Monday, May 28, 2018

Where Now Are the Dreams Of Youth? (1932)

The first time I am back to working my way through Ozu in chronological order since March of 2017.

It is one of his films I have never heard about and it comes immediately after one of his more famous works, I Was Born, But....  Like its predecessor, what is noticeable is Ozu's development into a very complex emotional filmmaker.  The final fifteen or so minutes, in particular, show Ozu's range as an unflinchingly brutal realist and a deeply searching humanist.  In fact, I cannot recall a more emotionally uncompromising scene to date in Ozu's cinema than Tetsuo and Saiki's final encounter. 

Some formal elements that I noticed are Ozu's reliance on tatami shots but not entirely, some tracking shots and a predominance of shorter takes compared to where his cinema would eventually end up in the latter part of his career.  It would take a second viewing for me to confirm, but I think I noticed Ozu shifting to longer takes during a couple of the more emotionally important moments. 

A few other small observations.  Again, there is a scene that features an American film poster which was surprising to me, as I thought by this point in his career that Ozu had let go of any Western influence on his work.  There were also a couple of exterior shots as Tetsuo rode in a car.  I cannot recall a previous shot of this type in Ozu's cinema.  And, like I Was Born, But..., there is an underlying playfulness and almost silliness that exists that seems to disappear from most of Ozu's later work.

Interesting to note that it would not be until 1936 that Ozu would make his first talkie, possibly the latest of all adopters.  Also, of note, it dawned on me that unlike Mizoguchi I am not sure Ozu ever made a film that was period or not set in present day.

For films about the difficult transition from adolescence to adulthood or even for films about the meaning of friendship, Where Now Are the Dreams Of Youth? deserves to be a part of the discussion.






Wednesday, May 23, 2018

My latest mix(tape)

https://open.spotify.com/user/mynuitchezmaud/playlist/6OvZVsJHCw1NNcxDGmBcWK?si=JVZQkeUdTqGDSPXP7WJ2mg


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Favorite (four), part fifty-one

Just like in my other fifty posts in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing.  Most of the films I have been glad to see but only very few have stayed with me.  This series is my filter for those and my hope is one or two will be good to you as well.

Edward Yang's Taipei Story
Stillness and quiet reign in this early Yang film and a memorable, brooding performance by the masterful Hou Hsiao-hsien.  Makes me want to run down all of Yang's work as he seemed to excel in the same vein as Hou when he chose to stay contemporary rather than period.

Hal Hartley's The Unbelievable Truth
I thought I had seen Hartley's debut, but it turns out I never had.  It has to be one of the most stylistically assured debuts in the history of cinema.  Hartley's films are heavily musical, rhythmic in their mood and editing, but not in the way Hollywood uses wall-to-wall music to provide most of the surface emotion.  Hartley's music is his primary tool for carving out his special cinematic world.  While there may be no known adjective, it is as distinctly "Hartleyian" as David's world is Lynchian.  The acting, the locations, the framing, the almost Bressonian dialogue delivery combined with 80's Godard unique feel for the ellipsis immediately announce a very singular auteur.  This is a startling debut.  

Bi Gan's Kaili Blues
Gan's ability to move a camera is startling.  Almost every shot is magical in the way it uses both space and time.  The locations are consistently among the most interesting and cinematic I have seen in a very long time.  Meanwhile, Gan's choreography of the long take immediately announces him as one of the next great filmmakers in the tradition of Hou Hsiao-hsien or the Romanians.  To read that Gan was in his twenties when he made  this film is beyond comprehension. 

Susan Seidelman's Smithereens
A great post-punk portrait of early 80s NYC that features an extraordinary use of The Feelies' Crazy Rhythms.  it feels more like a Rivette or 80s French film in its looseness and in its "road movie" within one city approach.  Paired on Filmstruck with Jarmusch's Permanent Vacation this double feature is a great introduction to the American indy film proliferation that would soon follow.    


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Mixtape 3 of '18

I still like the craft of making mixes about as much as any creative endeavor.  Keeps my curating and editing skills from completely rusting out.

Here is the URL to my most recent mix:

https://open.spotify.com/user/mynuitchezmaud/playlist/2TJNPytM6eC4Rk1nmUuuz2?si=loH5JT-oQzyXUC4HDSibog

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Mixtape 2 of '18

I still like the craft of making mixes about as much as any creative endeavor.  Keeps my curating and editing skills from completely rusting out.

Here is the URL to my most recent mix:

https://open.spotify.com/user/mynuitchezmaud/playlist/0LcyRcOS1EgmvMwOu4BFwV?si=BXEFYw6ATSuUxfdj5Ulukg


Monday, March 26, 2018

Favorite (four), part fifty

Just like in my other forty-nine posts in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing.  Most of the films I have been glad to see but only very few have stayed with me.  This series is my filter for those and my hope is one or two will be good to you as well.

Miguel Gomes' Arabian Nights
At this point no one in world cinema seems to deserve the title as Godard's closest successor more than the Portuguese filmmaker.  He possesses Godard's feel for music, sound, voiceover, politics, nature, playfulness and poetry.  His cinema is constantly unpredictable, formally daring and seemingly capable of wowing us at any given second.  The visual paasage from the first time we hear Rimsy-Korsakov's lyrical score ranks as the most powerful use of music I have heard in cinema in many, many years.  

Eric Rohmer's Nadja in Paris
A little known short by Rohmer is yet another great installment in the tremendous Nouvelle Vague body of work from 1958-1965.  It is ten minutes or so of pure voiceover but Rohmer announces early his extraordinary skill for capturing women and the streets and people of Paris.  

Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Tropical Malady
One of the more challenging works I have seen in a while and I am not positive I fully grasped all that "Joe" is doing.  The second half of the film is very unexpected and is as abstract and elusive as the first half is palpable and clear.  But it is that second half rupture that is still haunting me, pushing me for a quick revisit in the very near future.

Charles Burnett's My Brother's Wedding
In its subject matter, it could be looked at as an African-American Mean Streets, Pierce resembling Keitel's character and Soldier that of De Niro.  As different as Burnett is from Scorsese, both filmmakers have a special talent at bringing an over photographed city to life in ways we have never seen.  In fact, I would go so far as to call the combination of Burnett's first two features the most singular vision of Los Angeles the cinema has yet produced.  With rhythms as  unusual as Hal Hartley and acting as steadfastly noncommercial as Rossellini, Burnett represents a key marker in the neorealist timeline that history should do its best to remember. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Mixtape '18 style

I still like the craft of making mixes about as much as any creative endeavor.  Keeps my curating and editing skills from completely rusting out.

Here is the URL to my most recent mix:

https://open.spotify.com/user/mynuitchezmaud/playlist/6kSYFypJAgfnl80lpkGyx6?si=W8JXHDSvReCm_Jw-qZAjYA


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Interesting article, I thought...

...on the main character from The Last Lullaby:


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Favorite (four), part forty-nine

Just like in my other forty-eight posts in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing.  Most of the films I have been glad to see but only very few have stayed with me.  This series is my filter for those and my hope is one or two will be good to you as well.

Robin Campillo's BPM (Beats per Minute)
I knew going into it that it was Les Inrocks' favorite film of the year and their taste is often closely aligned with my own.  What struck me most, aside from its performances, was its shape.  Campillo is able like Kechiche with Blue Is the Warmest Color or Bonello with Saint Laurent to avoid classical scene shape without seeming unstructured.  His modernism is not abrasive, loud or jarring.  It is immersive, fluid and welcoming.  

Maurice Pialat's La maison des bois
It is very possible that within one of the cinema's greatest bodies of work this little seen seven part series for television is Pialat's greatest achievement.  It is certainly his most humanistic film and the work that most clearly grants him the title as Jean Renoir's closest French cinema successor.  All of it is remarkable, its characters, its Frenchness, its patience, its rigor.  And Pialat, time and time again, gives us moments that are so alive and so rich, and that surprisingly make us feel as if we are seeing them on film for the first time.    

Jon Nguyen, Olivia Neergaard-Holm, and Rick Barnes' David Lynch: The Art Life
A doc that gives a glimpse at the fascinating filmmaker from an entirely different perspective, his early years and the experiences that formed and shaped his artistic sensibility.  Absolutely essential for any aspiring artist or fan of Lynch.

Ernst Lubitsch's Cluny Brown
Watching the film is yet another reminder of the infusion of great skill and sophistication that Hollywood experienced in the forties and fifties.  The craft, perspective and sensibility brought to the States by the dozens of European craftsmen advanced the form in ways the country never again achieved by way of outside influence.  What is most remarkable is Lubitsch's timing and the way he achieves profound emotional moments without leaning on music whatsoever.  The film in fact is almost entirely devoid of score.  Somehow I missed this one in my original exploration of Lubitsch's work but I think it ranks up there with the very best of his extraordinary films.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Favorite (four), part forty-eight

Just like in my other forty-seven posts in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing.  Most of the films I have been glad to see but only very few have stayed with me.  This series is my filter for those and my hope is one or two will be good to you as well.

Cy Endfield's The Sound of Fury
I did not know what to expect, having never seen a film from Endfield.  But I knew the film had a pretty big reputation and was curious to see what it was all about.  It has elements of Lang's Fury that place it in an interesting cinematic context (Endfield certainly has much of Lang's dark, venomous abilities) and offer some historical clue to some of what Endfield may be up to, using noir to lodge an attack on WWII atrocities.  What struck me most is how far Endfield goes into the darkness.  You cringe numerous times as you feel Howard splintering apart, first into violence and then into adultery and alcoholism.  This is uncomfortable noir, spewing out in all directions, unconcerned with softness or any commercial sentimentality.

Otto Preminger's Daisy Kenyon
Armed with a powerhouse trio of actors (Crawford, Fond and Andrews), Preminger creates one of his most effective films.  It is dark, unpredictable and tackles subject matter (extramarital relationships) that had to be far out of step with his time.  The most impressive aspect of the film is the way that Preminger is able to able to place the viewer, at different times, into the unique perspective of each of the three characters.  It is a complex, uncomfortable look at marriage with a resolution that, like Preminger, leaves you a bit perplexed.

Edward F. Cline's Million Dollar Legs
As a precursor to the outlandish sensibility that Preston Strurges would later brand, this WC Fields feature is worth a look.  Being pre-code works in its favor and there are a number of memorable sight gags including the sped-up runner or the scan of different buttons Fields has at his disposal inside his Klopstokia home.

Jordan Peele's Get Out
It It is the type of artistic genre film that I wish was less rare in today's American cinema.  What impressed me most was its insightful casting, particularly Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford and Caleb Landry Jones, and each of their deep commitment to every story beat and feeling.  We are millions of miles away from the cardboard performances found in most exploitation fare.  I found its restraint surprising and refreshing.  It cuts fairly slowly, gives the actors space to move around and is unafraid of stillness and quiet.  It uses its camera and music with intent and to great effect.  And, when it finally delivers on more conventional genre elements, in this case horror violence, it is fresh, inventive and affecting.  Of course, Peele also has come up with an incredibly smart script and lens with which to examine racism. Scenes like the "slave auction" work at a very deep, artistic level and are worthy of the very best in critical attention and admiration.  It also seems that Peele studied the first Scream, beginning his film in similar ways to the great Barrymore opening in Craven's work.  With Get Out, Peele has delivered an explosive debut that I believe years from now will be considered in the same discussions of other brilliant debut genre films such as Reservoir Dogs and Kiss Me Deadly

Monday, January 1, 2018

My Top Fourteen "Films" of 2017

It was the year of streaming for me.  Of discoveries on places I used to avoid, from fear of seeing a compromised version of something hard to find.  Part of it, I think, is that I finally got a smart TV and had the option for the first time of seeing things on YouTube, Mubi, Vudu or anywhere else that some of these rarities reside on a screen larger than my phone or computer.  I am tired of waiting ten years to track down something that does not yet have conventional distribution.  And I have given up on Netflix or DVD distributors ever catering again to cinephiles.  The next few years, I imagine, more and more of my favorite movies will be consumed in this way, outside of the confines of a theater on some site I have never heard of but am so very grateful to for finally giving these oddities a place to be found.  

*Except for the few words added to Twin Peaks: The Return and Get Out, everything below was written on the blog soon after my initial viewings.  

Kleber Mendonca Filho's Aquarius
I know nothing of Filho's work, not even if the filmmaker is male or female (although the unusually sensitive treatment of the central female character leads me to think it is the latter).  Filho is a graceful filmmaker, reminding me of Moretti in the artful, light way he glides through scenes.  Most remarkable aside from the fully felt Clara is the way the filmmaker so effortlessly moves through time and the way quick cuts are used to show sexual actions and waves of Clara's thoughts and memories.  
David Lynch's Twin Peaks: The Return
I wrote this after the first episode of the third season:  "David Lynch is one of my favorite filmmakers still at work.  And though I would not call myself die hard about Twin Peaks, I am a fan of both the first two seasons and the film.  So when Season 3 started, more than 25 years later, I had high hopes for it.  For it and Lynch who had also been away from screens for more than a decade, since Inland Empire.  When Episode 1 began last night, at first I thought 'it looks strange'.  First, it was the images, most likely video rather than the film of the first two seasons.  Then, it was the actors from the first two seasons, all weathered by time (25 years!) looking like the way Hollywood ages actors in a biopic or an epic but psychologically to an even different effect because this is actually how all the actors look now.  I have no idea how this trip will end but when the two hour premiere ended last night, I felt once again Lynch's special talent and that he had succeeded in tackling the nearly impossible.  He had revisited a much beloved property 25 years later and gotten back inside its rhythm.  In a way, I feel like I am about to re-experience the way El Dorado and Rio Lobo played off of Rio Bravo, but this time Lynch-style."  I will now add, now that the season is over, that this past year nothing else I saw felt remotely as creative, as alive, or revealed to me so much of the untapped potential of cinema or of TV.
Abbas Kiarostami's The Traveler
In its one track pursuit and its tunnel focus on the young main character, it feels like a black and white predecessor to Where is the Fried's Home?.  It is quintessential Kiarostami in its lyricism, its softness, its feel for the land and its rhythms.  A couple of scenes, like the photography session in the schoolyard, rank as Kiarostami at his most inventive and most cinematic.  Kiarostami would later become a little more rigorous with his filmmaking, longer takes, less music, but already in this, his first film over an hour, he announces himself as a great, new humanistic force. 
Billy Wilder's Avanti!
It is the work of a great artist, later in career, working at a time when a youth style has taken over that is so different and foreign it threatens to immediately render the director archaic or a fake depending on the approach he chooses.  Aside from his nod to 8 1/2 (and perhaps to all of the new generation's emphasis on style) in the film's prelude, Wilder confidently and intelligently chooses to stay "classic" and the film derives its power from this bold stance.  It is like Dreyer post Nouvelle Vague giving us the UFO that is Gertrud or Bresson adding color but perhaps nothing else that is stylistically new to his oeuvre in 1983.  Of course, also giving Avanti! its charge is the effect of classic elements in the hands of a master - deeply felt acting (I can't remember ever liking Lemmon better), an intricately designed narrative and long scenes, built and captured slowly, eloquently and artfully.
Josef von Sternberg's Anatahan
It has only been 20+ years since I first heard of the film and have been wanting to see it ever since.  It belongs in that special category of master director's final films and it has that same odd tone of finality of Dreyer's Gertrud and perhaps even Bresson's L'argent.  It is a mood film dripping with atmosphere and style and succeeds in throwing the viewer into its exotic land and bringing the strangeness terrifically alive.  Sternberg excelled at this type of cinema that also includes Macao and Morocco.  
Jean Eustache's Mes Petites Amoureuses
I have long been a fan of Eustache's The Mother and the Whore but have had some difficulty tracking down the rest of his work.  And I just took a quick peek at Wikipedia and had no idea this was his only other feature.  I knew he had committed suicide young but never knew he only ever made just two features (and a good number of shorts).  This film is extraordinary, capturing a thing that I have never before seen captured on film.  The best way I can describe it is the very early awakening of the male interest in females.  It gets into the awkwardness but more than that it gets into the deep yearning and romantic creation that goes on in the head of many young boys.  There are a number of flat out brilliant sequences including Daniel's first imaginings while on a train and his encounter with the young girl Francoise in the neighboring town.
Werner Herzog's Stroszek
One of my favorite feelings as a cinephile is finding a film by a director whose work I only partially know and being inspired to track down the rest of their films.  Not only did Stroszek make me want to watch the rest of Herzog that I haven't seen yet but also get on a path to completion for Fassbinder.  Stroszek had so many things that I like but in particular I was moved by the emotiveness of Bruno S., the raw painterly quality of the camerawork, and the fact that it seemed a missing predecessor for a number of 80s movies I like a great deal including Stranger Than Paradise and the first two Leos Carax features.  And the final ten minutes have to go down as one of the greatest in the history of the medium.  They had the silent power of Anotonioni's The Passenger and embodied the absurd freewheeling nature of early Dylan better than any movie I have ever seen.
Jean Rouch's Chronicle of a summer
I have long known that Godard was a big fan of Rouch but this is the first of his films I have seen.  It is extraordinary.  It breaks the fourth wall in more sophisticated and interesting ways than Godard ever did and serves as the template for the docu-style Godard would take into Masculin Feminin and several of his other films from the period.  A number of the scenes are magical including the long take of Marceline walking as the camera moves farther and farther away from her and the moment when the father imparts mountain climbing lessons to his more risk-averse daughter.
Agnes Varda's The Beaches of Agnes
Although I still do not know Varda's cinema well at all (to date, I have only seen this and Cleo), I am very interested in tracking down more of her work.  Her cinema feels like some gourmet confection - inventive, sophisticated, quirky and most impressively, light.  I have seen a few other filmmakers go down this path of personal essay or stream of conscious autobiography (Marker and Godard, particularly).  But neither is able to articulate their personality and give you a feel for who they might be as a person better than Varda does here.
Jim Jarmusch's Paterson
Another strong entry from one of my favorite filmmakers currently at work, after what felt like a slight drop in quality between Ghost Dog and Only Lovers Left Alive.  Like his great previous film, Jarmusch seems to be in an internal dialogue with the past and with art.  Whereas the excellent Lovers was with one of his favorite passions, music.  This time around Jarmusch seems to be most concerned with another of his primary artistic passions, poetry.  In fact, there is so much in common, formally and narratively, between the two films that they seem to form a couple relationship within his body of work.  The greatest strength of Jarmusch has always been his ability to distill and condense.  Like the best poems, his work conveys so much with so little.    
Jacques Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
I was frustrated by the backlash against La La Land.  And I was confused by the critical preference for Moonlight.  Sure, Chazelle's film had the more robust budget.  But I felt like his film also had far more filmmaking rigor than Jenkins' and that Chazelle's formal approach in general was much clearer and achieved at a significantly higher level.  And when I hear someone compare Moonlight's color palate to the incredible work Doyle and Wong Kar-wai achieved together I really don't see it at all.  

With that out of the way, I was looking forward to rewatching Demy's film, cited as a key influence on La La Land.  I remembered Demy's work with color as among the most impressive in film's history and it was as brash and beautiful as I remembered.  The pinks, purples, and splashes of bold colors of Demy's cinema certainly find their way into some of the clothes and onto some of the sets of La La Land (most noticeably in Emma Stone's apartment and her roommates' outfits).  What I did not remember though is just how bittersweet and powerful the final minutes of Cherbourg are.  Rewatching it now, if you felt it like I did, it seems that the secret behind the emotional power of some of La La Land's final exchanges is Chazelle tapping into the same cinema magic Demy was onto for Cherbourg's last moments.  Both films explore unrequited and both get deep rewards for staying on the other side of happily ever after.
Eric Rohmer's The Marquise of O
The first period piece I have seen from Rohmer and it is a stunner. What impresses most is the way that Rohmer uses his incredible talent for distillation to tell a story of transcendence and humanism in the unexpected backdrop of the late 1700s.  Rohmer proves that he learned much from Rossellini and the effects he is able to achieve do not feel terribly far removed from Rossellini's great La prise de pouvoir de Louis XIV.
Michael Ritchie's Downhill Racer
Clearly Ritchie is definitely a filmmaker that I am now far more curious about, having seen Smile (with him in person), The Bad New Bears and now this.  He has an auteur's deep feel for character and the freewheeling sensibility of Altman and Demme.  The soft shape of scenes and the way he slows down time during some of the races are what most affected me with this one.  I look forward to continuing to investigate more of his work, particularly The Candidate and Prime Cut.  
Jordan Peele's Get Out
Simply one of the most promising American directorial debuts, ever.  What impressed me most was Peele's rigor and sense of restraint in what could have easily been a hack Hollywood genre film.  It is top shelf in so many areas, its acting, its writing and the way it is able to deliver the thrills and joys with the best of the genre's practitioners.  My hope is, unlike Gordon Green or some of my other favorite young filmmakers, that Peele can continue to do brave and interesting work as the system tries to seduce him from all directions.