Yearly First Viewing Top Tens

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Yet another year where I couldn't always find the time to watch as many films as I would like, but I was still able to discover some treasures.

My Top Ten First Viewings of 2021:



1) The Hired Hand (1970)
2) Pale Flower (1964)
3) The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
4) The Crucified Lovers (1954)
5) Mon Oncle (1958)
6) Story of a Prostitute (1965)
7) A Short Film About Love (1988)
8) Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970)
9) Patton (1970)
10) Talk To her (2002)

I left the new releases out so I didn't need to cut out any of the above. These were my three favorite 2021 releases:

1) The Worst Person in the World
2) Dune
3) The French Dispatch

I would also like to mention Peter Jackson's documentary series The Beatles: Get Back, which was probably my favorite thing I watched all year.
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Cobpyth's Movie Log ~ 2019



I hate ranking films so I'll just post the highest-rated first watches in alphabetical order.


Cure (1997)
The Innocents (2021)
J'accuse (1919)
Last Night in Soho (2021)
The Man from Nowhere (2010)
The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)
Sundays and Cybele (1962)


Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)
Black Magic Rites (1973)
Charisma (1999)
Cria cuervos... (1976)
Noroi: The Curse (2006)
Old Henry (2021)
The Other (1972)
Retribution (2006)
Run Hide Fight (2020)
The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
War and Peace (1965)
Why Don't You Play in Hell? (2013)
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My top 10 first viewings of 2021 (thanks to the Hall of Famers for entries 1, 2 and 10):

1. The Long Goodbye
2. La Dolce Vita
3. Mad God
4. The Wicker Man (1973)
5. The Lighthouse
6. The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
7. Saint Maud
8. The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey
9. The Fall
10. The Day of the Jackal



★★½

(14) The Imposter (2012) Layton
(13) Code Unknown (2000) Haneke
(12) Children Underground (2001) — Belzberg
(11) Nomadland (2020) Zhao

(10) If .... (1968) Anderson
(9) Baraka (1992 ) Fricke
(8) Baaria (2009)— Tornatore
Lots of film quotes and cameos here. Also most films about childhood start and end with the main character, but here the film begins with a little of his father’s story before switching to the main character and ends with scenes of his kids leaving the nest.
(7) Quai des Orfèvres (1947) Clouzot
(6) Little Dieter needs to Fly (1997) Herzog


(5)The Man in the Glass Booth (1975) Hiller
(4) Never rarely sometimes always (2020)Hittman
A no-budget drama.
(3)Ariel (1988) Kaurismäki
(2) Under The Flag of the Rising Sun (1972) Fukasaku
A kind of a Rashomon-like investigation of a fragging incident at the end of the war.

★★

(1)Kajillionaire (2020) July



Favorite Cinematic Discoveries of 2021


#10) Eye of the Devil (1966)


Hooded figures, spooky castles, whispered warnings, sacrificial ceremonies. Dread coalescing into full-blown panic. The Wicker Man through the lens of The Innocents. Story-wise, this is familiar stuff, but Eye of the Devil is a prime example of how much craft can elevate a routine motion-picture. Cinematography does most of the heavy lifting, as the fluid camerawork and unusual editing heighten the ominous atmosphere, along with trance-like performances from the supporting cast -- the stunningly gorgeous Sharon Tate, in particular. Underrated/underseen occult gem. (Shout-out to @crumbsroom for pimping this film in his thread, or else it would've expired from the Criterion Channel without me taking notice of it.)

#9) Mind Game (2004)


Bonkers anime that feels like it washed down a few tabs of LSD with a case of Monster energy drinks before cannonballing into a vat of ketamine. Embraces the limitless possibilities of animation like no film I've ever seen. Wildly creative and exhaustively experimental, yet still coherent and insanely entertaining. Who knew a bullet to the butthole could be so excitingly life-affirming?

#8) Awaara (1951)


My first true taste of Bollywood, and what a grand-scale introduction! Intricately plotted melodrama with sizzling cinematography and a strong social conscience. Feels like a dozen different genres crammed into one feature (romance, comedy, coming-of-age, crime, surrealism, courtroom drama, et al.), yet never succumbs to unwieldiness or bloat, expertly manipulating audience's emotions while maintaining constant engagement through all its twists and turns and revelations. No wonder this is one of the most successful films of all-time judging by worldwide ticket sales. Ambitious, seminal, populist, awe-inspiring.

#7) The Fate of Lee Khan (1973)


A rare martial-arts film that's arguably most compelling when the fists and feet aren't flying. Majority of the runtime is spent inside an isolated country inn with character dynamics constantly building, the focus slowly narrowing as stakes steadily rise -- a loose ensemble tightening into a pressure cooker of bubbling tension. This is a King Hu film, so of course the fights deliver, and the colorful costumes and set design are a spectacle of their own. Between this and Come Drink with Me, Hu raised the bar for action heroines and villainesses. Hopefully 2022 is the year I finally get around to Hu's magnum opus, A Touch of Zen.

#6) The Unknown (1927)


I'm a sucker for anything with a circus or carnival theme, and here we have an armless Lon Chaney throwing knives with his feet at an unrecognizably young Joan Crawford, scheming for her affections and being cock-blocked by the circus strongman. A deliriously deranged tale of sexual frustration. Freaks gets all the notoriety, but I think this is the superior Browning feature. Chaney's physical dexterity is marvelous.

#5) Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar (2021)


Gleefully embraces the moronic absurdity of 90's-era SNL spinoffs. Imagine a middle-aged, gender-swapped Night at the Roxbury eloping with Austin Powers at a tropical resort. Funniest comedy to come along in years. "Seagulls in the sand, can you hear my prayer?"

#4) The Harder They Fall (2021)


The most Tarantino movie I've seen that didn't feature Tarantino's name somewhere in the credits. Fetishized violence, slavish devotion to cinema's past, too-cool-for-school posturing, intoxicating verbosity, hyper-stylized movie artificiality, hard-hitting anachronistic soundtrack, enjoyable excess. The absence of a single n-word is the only QT staple missing from this slick blaxploitation western. People complain about the length and lack of substance, but the voice and entertainment factor were so strong for me that I'd happily watch a three-hour director's cut.

#3) Hitch-Hike (1977)


A sweat-drenched, booze-soaked, blood-boiling road thriller that plays like a depraved, cynical, more sadistic version of The Hitcher. Also an ultra sleazy, down-and-dirty, leering exercise in nihilism and misogyny. David Hess essentially reprises his role as Krug from Craven's Last House on the Left, as he terrorizes an already miserable married couple played by the inimitable Franco Nero and Bond Girl Corinne Cléry. Every character is vile and unlikeable just the way I like 'em. No protagonists, no sympathies, no hope. Oh, and some rando named Ennio Morricone does a decent job with the score.

#2) Dark Days (2000)


Intimate documentary about a homeless community who have established their own shantytown in the abandoned underground tunnels of New York City, filmed in grainy 16mm black and white with a crew consisting entirely of the subjects themselves, and scored to perfection by DJ Shadow. Despite the bleak, impoverished conditions, and tragic backstories, the film is surprisingly warm and inviting, thanks to the lively, amusing personalities and their candidness with the camera. The filmmaker had become one of their own, living among them with the roaches and rats, so viewers are rewarded with a rare level of trust and candor. By the end of the film, I felt like I'd made new friends and discovered a new definition of home while visiting a post-apocalyptic alien world. Reality is strange. My new favorite documentary?

#1) Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)


This film is over 50 years old, and we still haven't caught up to it. A cinematic concoction that defies classification. Arthouse, avant-garde, exploitation, soap opera, comic book, slapstick, documentary, horror, meta, tragedy. It mocks itself. Spoils itself. Pulls back the curtain, then another curtain. Exploding and retracting like a new universe of cinema that births itself before ultimately collapsing. Big bang, big crunch. Conception, annihilation. Constant contradiction. Challenging, playful, progressive, destructive. Time means nothing. Form means nothing. Kaleidoscopic anarchy. Every traditional notion of cinema doused in gasoline and set ablaze by a mini-skirt and eye-shadow. Punk. Queer. Trans. New Wave cinema. Oedipal cinema. Essential cinema.


Honorable Mentions:
Bunny Lake is Missing (1965)
Personal Best (1982)
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
Uncut Gems (2019)
Rosewood (1997)
Kiss Me, Stupid (1964)
He Ran All the Way (1951)
Cold Fish (2010)
Dina (2017)
Cocaine Cowboys (2006)
Jojo Rabbit (2019)
Dragged Across Concrete (2018)
Love Exposure (2008)
You Cannot Kill David Arquette (2020)
Buchanan Rides Alone (1958)
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#10) Eye of the Devil (1966)


Hooded figures, spooky castles, whispered warnings, sacrificial ceremonies. Dread coalescing into full-blown panic. The Wicker Man through the lens of The Innocents. Story-wise, this is familiar stuff, but Eye of the Devil is a prime example of how much craft can elevate a routine motion-picture. Cinematography does most of the heavy lifting, as the fluid camerawork and unusual editing heighten the ominous atmosphere, along with trance-like performances from the supporting cast -- the stunningly gorgeous Sharon Tate, in particular. Underrated/underseen occult gem. (Shout-out to @crumbsroom for pimping this film in his thread, or else it would've expired from the Criterion Channel without me taking notice of it.)


Yup. That about covers it.


Also, Funeral Parade of Roses and The Unknown are two favorites of mine.



There's a top TEN somewhere in here:

001 the set-up / 1949, robert wise /
002 woman in the dunes / 1964, hiroshi teshigahara /
003 zs justice league / 2021, zack snyder /
004 perfect blue / 1997, satoshi kon /
005 the bird with the crystal plummage / 1970, dario argento /
006 the thief of bagdad / 1940, michael powell, ludwig berger /
007 day of wrath / 1943, carl theodor dreyer /
008 paisan / 1946, roberto ross rossellini /
009 the dark corner / 1946, henry hathaway /
010 destry rides again / 1939, george marshall /
011 of mice and men / 1939, lewis milestone /
012 the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie / 1972, luis bunuel /
013 island of lost souls / 1932, erle c. kenton /
014 pygmalion / 1938, leslie howard, anthony asquith /
015 the scarlet empress / 1934, josef von sternberg /
016 phantom of the paradise / 1974, brian de palma /
017 my dinner with andre / 1981, louis malle /
018 lifeforce / 1985, tobe hooper /
019 solaris / 2002, steven soderbergh /
020 mother / 2009, bong joon-ho /
021 paprika / 2006, satoshi kon /
022 lost horizon / 1937, frank capra /
023 sonatine / 1993, takeshi kitano /
024 quills / 2000, philip kaufman /
025 millennium actress / 2001, satoshi kon /



It’s A Classic Rope-A-Dope
I am going to spend the rest of the week catching up on 2022, and since I don't include those on this list I decided to get this thread jump started again. I am at 391 watches this year which beats my previous best again. Another great year of film watching. I spent a whole lot of time watching Varda, which I thoroughly enjoyed. My favorites from her were rewatches though, so she won't be showing. My second most watched director was Herzog, again, his best for me were retreads. Here we go:



10. Ms. Purple

If you know me at all, you know my memory sucks. This was has left me a bit but it has been on my list almost the whole year. Really cool character driven film by a director I like more each movie I watch.




9. A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence

My son has been making fun of me for months since happening upon me watching this and asking the name. Luckily the movie is way funnier than the title. I was surprised at how much I laughed at this desert dry movie. Didn't enjoy my other Andersson quite as much, but this was great.




8. The Gunfigther

If I have a theme this year, it's Westerns. Little better for me than a man backed in a corner themed character flick. This is absolutely fantastic.




7. No

Another that has left me a bit, but I loved this political thriller first watch. Great lead performance. Larrain is a director I grew to appreciate quite a bit this year.




6. The Missouri Breaks

Holy crap, how does no one talk about this Western. It's Nicholson and Brando playing cat and mouse for two hours. Love Brando's mannered performance.




5. Asako I & II

After watching both the Hamaguchi movies from 2021, I jumped into his filmography a bit more. I like both his 2021 movies but this and Happy Hour ended up being my favorites of his by quite a bit. Asako has absolutely fantastic characters and is the kind of melodrama/mystery I really dig.




4. Shame

I held off on this one for a long time, but it is one of the best movies about addiction out there. Love Fassbender and Mulligan. Stunning cinematography.





3. Celine And Julie Go Boating

I think I don't like surrealism and then I see a movie that flips that on its head. This movie is really fun and looks awesome.




2. True Grit

Don't consider myself a John Wayne fan, but when he's good for me he's great. This ended up being one of my biggest surprises because I like the Coen film so much. As far as story goes, this is a Western that's hard to beat for me.




1. The World

I love movies that try to be about everything in humanity all at once. That just envelope me in their world to the point where I experience every single emotion I have in me. A movie I immediately want to watch again as soon as I say the title or think about it, because I know I got it all first round but also missed everything. Think this will be a favorite.
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Letterboxd



My favorite first time viewings of 2022:

1. The Killing
2. High and Low
3. Demons (1985)
4. The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter
5. Petite Maman
6. Cure
7. Everything Everywhere All At Once
8. Barbarian
9. Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood
10. Martin

Honorable Mentions: Act of Violence, Fallen Angels, Possum, The Steel Helmet, Vigil



2022 was a case of quality over quantity. Didn't see many films this year, only 136 of which 103 were first timers. About 25% were four stars or better. These were the best of 'em.

4.5/5

The Red Shoes (1948)



The Hidden Fortress (1953)


The Killing (1956)



The Wages of Fear (1958)



Tsosti (2005)



Departures (2008)



4 Stars
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) - Adventure/Drama
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) - Drama
Stormy Weather (1943) - Musical
The Gunfighter (1950) - Western
Rebel Without a Cause (1955) - Drama
Night and Fog (1955) - Documentary
Hud (1963) - Drama
Hard Times (1975) - Crime/Action/Drama
Autumn Sonata (1978) - Drama
Stalker (1979) – Sci-Fi/Drama
Clan of the White Lotus (1980) – Kung-Fu Action
Vigilante (1982) – Revenge/Crime/Thriller
Cliffhanger (1993) – Not a good movie, an awesome f’n movie! Action/Adventure
13 Assassins (2010) - Action/Adventure
Get Out (2017) Drama/ Horror
Saint Maud (2019) – Drama/Horror
Beyond the Infinite 2 Minutes (2020) – Sci-Fi/Time Travel


Weirdest movie: Robo Vampire (1988) – Sci-Fi, Action/Adventure, Kung Fu, Horror, Robocop
Silly, Good Time: Malignant (2021) - Horror
Most Fun Bad Movie: The Phantom Empire (1988) Fantasy/Adventure, Russ Tamblyn/Jeffery Combs/Sybil Danning
Most Disgusting: (tie) Wetlands or A$$holes - Comedy/Dramas, Keywords: Anal Fissures (Wetlands), Herpes (A$$holes). I know, sounds backwards, but that's how it is.
Worst Movie: The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher (1979)- Horror
Goriest - The Sadness (2021) Horror
Most Disappointing – Deadly Weapons (1974) Drama/Crime/Enormous Breasts

Best of 2022 - The Northman
Biggest Disappointment of 2022 - Barbarian



2022 mofo first timers

01 the lives of others /2006, florian henckel von donnersmarck/
01 lake mungo /2008, joel anderson/
02 the collector /1965, william wyler/
03 the devils /1971, ken russell/
04 the island of dr. moreau /1996, john frankenheimer/
05 that thing you do! /1996, tom hanks/
06 the craft /1996, andrew fleming/
07 black dynamite /2009, scott sanders/
08 when harry met sally /1989, rob reiner/
09 kung fu hustle /2004, stephen chow/
10 what's up, doc? /1972, peter bogdanovich/
11 a fish called wanda /1988, charles crichton/
12 fletch /1985, michael ritchie/
13 dear zachary: a letter to a son about his father /2008, kurt kuenne/
14 burden of dreams /1982, les blank/
15 paradise lost: the child murders at robin hood hills /1996, joe berlinger + bruce sinofsky/
16 west of memphis /2012, amy j. berg/
17 pumping iron /1977, george butler + robert fiore/
18 city of the living dead /1980, lucio fulci/
19 a bay of blood /1971, mario bava/
20 halloween ends /2022, david gordon green/
21 butcher, baker, nightmare maker /1982, william asher/
23 pieces /1982, juan piquer simon/
24 messiah of evil /1973, willard huyck + gloria katz/
25 cure /1997, kiyoshi kurosawa/


There's a top 10 in there somewhere



Mr Minio's Favorite Films First Watched in 2022

2022 was hands down the worst year in my life. I had not one but two personal tragedies happen to me in 2022. The latter, the death of my mom, rendered the former almost negligible, though. The war in a neighboring country and the bloody Covid also added up to the misery of that year. To make matters worse, I was taken sick again, possibly Covid again. Or at the very least some other damn flu. So, yes, 2022 was the worst year in my entire life.

But there is one exception. And it's films. Movie-wise, 2022 proved to be better than 2021 and 2020 and offered a large number of outstanding first watches. I also made meaningful rewatches, but I'm skipping this part here so as to not make this bloated post even longer. In 2022, movies performed their escapist, tear-jerking, and relatable functions better and stronger than any year before and were truly a great way of dealing with the vicissitudes of life. Mark F once said that he's a crybaby and many films make him cry. This is something I'm noticing myself. The more films I watch, the more I'm moved by them. I never had a heart of stone, but I think that I used to be less emotional. I think we definitely get more sentimental with age, and there's nothing wrong with that!

This post only includes films I rated 10/10. This is because I rated way too many films 9/10. If I wanted to include them too, I'd have to write a book! The 9/10 films I watched contain A LOT of INCREDIBLE stuff, too. But my 10/10s have a special place in my heart, so I decided that they'd suffice as an official summation of 2022.

So, without further ado, here are my favorite films I've seen for the first time in 2022.

妈妈 [Mama] (1991)



Some movies use tricks such as sentimental music and happy endings to make us feel better or to make us cry. But there's a category of films that crush us with their unrelenting morbid realism. One of the first Chinese independent films, Mama, belongs to the latter bunch. It never resorts to cheap theatrics or heightened melodrama but still feels like a mazzatello straight to the head. This painfully realistic and hopelessly soul-crushing foray into the mindset of a mother of a mentally handicapped boy takes us into its bleak world and lets us experience for 89 minutes what parents of mentally ill children have to experience every day for years. Hollywood films of this kind often give us hope and miracles. But Mama never offers us any fantastical resolution.

Most amazing films cannot be spoiled. Or spoiling them doesn't diminish their power. At the end of Mama, the mother again tends to her son, amongst the desolate cold trainyard, with nothing but the howling wind and quiet "What will happen to him when I die" reverberating in the cold air. I don't think there's another film as brutally honest, hopeless, and unadulteratedly unpretentious that I watched this year.

J'accuse [I Accuse] (1938)



You know, I meant to add a screenshot from the film, but I think the short YouTube clip of a speech made by the film's protagonist delivers more than any screenshot could. Also, in its compact form, the scene brilliantly sums up the entire point of this anti-war masterpiece. The French master director Abel Gance made his magnum opus J'accuse in 1919 and then decided to remake it in 1938. These dates are not random. He made the original version of the film only one year after the Great War. And then, when the shadow of perdition came over Europe again, he decided to once again let out a hopeless cry for pacifism in 1938, only one year before the start of the Second World War.

There's an ironic retort some people often use when criticizing anti-war films. They say anti-war movies are idealistic and that they won't stop wars. They also say that anti-war films don't teach us anything new because you don't have to watch them to know war is evil. But truly, I find these opinions, confounding. I really don't think that any auteur of an anti-war film really hopes that their work will stop all wars. That's not the point. But if it gets to even one person. If it changes even one person's way of thinking. Hell, even if it changes nothing but moves somebody. I still think there's a place for anti-war films. This is because we have to be continuously reminded of the hell of war and the importance of benevolence and humanism.

There's that quote from Jonas Mekas' 2000 masterpiece that I probably cite way too often. It's about that moral dilemma between seeking salvation yourself versus seeking it together with others. J'accuse is a humanist masterpiece that fits that quote really well.

I don't think the 1938 version is on par with the 1919 effort. But I also think that it's not really fair to compare them in such a way. They're different movies. But they have one thing in common. Both of them are deeply moving.

日本の青春 [Hymn to a Tired Man] (1968)



Masaki Kobayashi's The Human Condition trilogy is one of the greatest works of art ever conceived. It's also a powerful anti-war humanistic drama whose nine-hour-long running time makes for an experience that's as draining as it's touching. In 1968, Kobayashi returns to the humanistic anti-war topic of The Human Condition trilogy in Hymn to a Tired Man. It's about a man tortured by his memories from the war. This really suffices as a general premise. The film could easily be summed up as a basic treatise on giri versus ninjo. But this straightforward way of looking at it sells it short and strips it of something. It's the deep humanism and sympathy for its protagonist who lost so much to war that is the main strength of this masterwork.

Джамиля [Jamilya] (1969)



As confusing as I risk being by saying this, I think the best way to describe Jamilya is "In the Mood for Love in the eyes of a child". Now that I made you question your sanity, let me just add that the film looks absolutely incredible. There's a lot of nuance and subtle poetry in each frame. This doesn't happen that often even with the films of the best auteurs. The film is mostly in black and white but when color kicks in, it totally overtakes the mood of the film. Be it in impressionistic images of horses or breath-taking paintings, color is used with utmost care and mastery in this masterwork.

なつかしい風来坊 [The Lovable Tramp] (1966)



I've seen 77 Yoji Yamada films to date and he's become my favorite director of all time. This is, I believe, Yoji Yamada's first masterpiece. In The Lovable Tramp, Yamada already sketches the lovable tramp character that will later turn into his 50-film film series Tora-San. He also aptly uses his trademark sentimentalism and ingenious endings that don't even try but still make you bawl your eyes out. One incredible yet simple trick Yamada uses is treating the viewer as a person who knows the characters in the film personally. Not only does that make his films incredibly memorable, relatable, and moving. But it also makes me literally feel like I'm watching real people on the screen. The trick he uses in some of his best works is leaving certain parts of his characters' lives unseen to the viewer. It's just like with people we know in real life. We first meet them at a moment in their lives. And then we meet them again, they have changed, something beautiful has happened. But the mystery behind that is unknown to us. We only see the results. And these results are speechlessly poignant.

新・喜びも悲しみも幾歳月 [Big Joys, Small Sorrows] (1986)



Cinema is life, life is cinema. There's something infinitely relatable and almost dream-like to Japanese family dramas that I fail to see in dramas from any other country. Japanese dramas are so human (and sometimes even humane!) that they manage to create an invisible link between me, a Pole living in 2022, and themselves, films made many years ago by directors from a different culture. If anything, it shows that even though we can have so many differences with other cultures, at the core, we're all the same: we're all human. The Japanese are masters of showing life and its little ups and downs. Keisuke Kinoshita, a veteran director, made this penultimate film by remaking his earlier 50s work. I've seen 39 Kinoshita films to date and this one might be my favorite of his whole oeuvre. Kinoshita is known for his unabashed sentimentalism and this film is no different. It never shies away from overplaying its melodramatic tones. But it does it in such a sincere, poignant way, that it never feels artificial or false. Big Joys, Small Sorrows is life itself. concentrated on its bare essentials: love, family, life, and death

嬌妻四艷鬼 [Snake Beauty] (1994)



Snake Beauty is proof that trash is never in opposition to art in film. And that those two often are the very same thing. It proves that even when you're tasked with making a cheap erotica picture, you can still end up creating a piece of art. At last, it also proves that it always pays off to dig deep into directors' filmographies as well as deep dive into the deep textures of mass-produced films. Snake Beauty is everything I ever wanted from Chinese Erotic Ghost Story and all of its clones. But it's also so much more. It introduces an element of metaphysics to the equation. Transcendental cinema where you least expect it!

Hands down, the best film I watched in 2022. A piece of art. Ever since I first watched it on 11 Jun 2022 I had been getting back to it, thinking about it, and watching scenes from it from time to time. Sometimes I would get back to it to just watch a single scene and be sucked right in. Before I knew it I would've watched a considerable chunk of the film.

Snake Beauty is so alluring, mystical, enchanting, and hypnotizing, just like the fairies living in the magical world the film portrays. It's cheaply made but they used every drop of their budget to make it look incredible. Every single scene is mesmerizing and a couple of them are simply transcendentally metaphysical!

When you think of fairies seducing greedy, horny men in their heavenly haven hidden somewhere in the mountains of Shangyu, you probably have something like Snake Beauty in mind. Well, I sure do. The miasma of mystical and well-rounded erotic imagery takes me out of this world every time I watch this masterwork. The music adds so much to the atmosphere and otherwordly feel of the entire thing. It's one of the best soundtracks ever and I'm pretty sure it was all stolen from other films or albums of respected American or European musicians. Too bad I have no idea where they got the music from. I'd kill to have the soundtrack. Unfortunately, they constantly talk over the music so I can't rip it straight out of the film.

After Snake Beauty ends, you feel very much like the pervert master-class actor Charlie Cho at the end of the film; as if you've just awoken from a beautiful dream, your body no longer mantled in see-through silk, your pockets lacking the gems you thought you took with you, but your mind full of deeply rooted memories and dreams. You might have not gotten a flower as a sign of your passage. But if anything, it only makes you want to make the journey again.

소나기 [The Shower] (1979)



Some films manage to hit you in a very specific way that fits your sensitivity. I absolutely love tales of innocent love, so I was bound to fall in love with the Korean film The Shower. Just like Kobayashi's Sincere Heart that I rewatched recently, here's yet another tale of an innocent, pure, sincere love. Add to that the astounding visuals and you got yourselves one of the best films I've seen in 2022.

善魔 [The Good Fairy] (1951)



There is that one joke I often make about how every film where somebody peels potatoes is a masterpiece. I have another one, and it's about saintly beautiful girls on their deathbeds. That's yet another trope the Japanese excel at, a thing that rarely fails to deeply move me. The Good Fairy made me cry so hard I started to choke. Kinoshita usually has that effect on me. I even once said that a Kinoshita film that doesn't make me cry is like porn that doesn't make me cum. I mean, I can watch it, but what's the point really? Of course, this is only a joke, as they're some great Kinoshita films that didn't make me cry. But all my favorites of his always made me cry. I loved the themes this tackles, too: a treatise on good vs. evil and the consequences of our choices in life. But it's hard to think about these when you're crying.

なつかしき笛や太鼓 [Eyes, the Sea and a Ball] (1967)



Another Kinoshita, another masterwork. This film is probably not for everyone as it contains a very long scene of a child's volleyball match - something that I should technically dislike. But also something that oddly adds to the film. It's just so relaxing and beautiful! Yes, this is a simple film. But the undergoing themes are, again, deeply moving to me. There's that single sentence, or maybe two sentences, at the end that made me cry instantaneously, such a lovable film this is.

二人で歩いた幾春秋 [Ballad of a Worker] (1962)



Here I'm doing the same thing I did with Snake Beauty, I'm just pasting my Letterboxd write-up. This is because I don't think I can write about this film any better now than I did when I watched it:

An old shirt belonging to our son
who is away
My wife washes it
and hands it to me to
wear

Incredible. One of the greatest films on parental love, Ballad of a Workman, is essentially about parents who devote their lives to making their son an educated man. The topic would be commendable regardless of the director, but only Kinoshita (and maybe Yamada) can make it so heartwarmingly touching. Sharing happiness and sorrow with your child and cheering them on as they go through life feels like what parenting is really about. It's the true essence of parental love. Though tough and challenging, full of austerities and adversities, raising somebody to become a good human being is a laudable year-long task.

Together we've walked
through the years
In times of laughter and of tears
Our hands are roughened,
but you and I
We shall walk,
forging ahead with smiles

But parenting does not end after your child becomes an adult. It's a never-ending process of worry, affection, and selfless love without the right to expect anything in return. Child-rearing is a great responsibility not all of us are capable of.

Kinoshita picks back his idea from She Was Like a Wild Chrysanthemum and adds recitations of short poems, presumably the father's thoughts, that sparsely embellish the picturesque camera takes. And boy, does the film deliver in the audiovisual territory. Kinoshita's brother's soundtrack is powerful enough to squeeze tears out of your eyes but also reserved enough to serve as a background and not the leading force of the film.

Ballad of a Workman is incredibly touching as a whole, but my favorite and most beautiful moment is when the parents discuss whether or not they should attend their son's graduation. They're already on the whereabouts of the school, and they'd love to go, but they're afraid that they're not dressed properly. It's clear they're ashamed of their poverty. But then, their son appears and says that nobody cares about attire, and that they are very welcome to join. What follows is a moment of pure joy. The camera pans as the parents euphorically run to join their son - a ditch and a low school fence between them. The son notices a bridge over the ditch and asks the parents to climb over it. The father lifts Hideko Takamine over the railing. That's it. Such a simple yet infinitely beautiful moment. This is cinema and Kinoshita at their respective finest.

キネマの神様 [It's a Flickering Life] (2021)



Aah, a Yamada film again! His latest! The old master didn't lose his chops and still can make me a puddle of tears! Yamada's Catholic understanding and love for the underdogs never ceases to amaze me. This film received a lot of backlash, probably from people who've never seen a Yamada before, or something. People criticize the protagonist and see him as an a-hole. They don't think he deserves the love he received. They don't think he deserves the care he received, and the attention he received. This is also in line with the contemporary trend of creating films about strong women. Yamada often makes films about weak men, which might be felt as a shock to people conditioned to the contemporary way of showing things! But I find Yamada's portraits of less-than-perfect men to be always deeply moving and full of compassion. And It's a Flickering Life is another masterwork from him. If this turns out to be 91-year-old Yamada's last, then what a swan song this is! Needless to say, Yamada can make a single moment make me cry. Such incredible mastery and control!

ちいさこべ 第一部 [Carpenter and Children] (1962)



It's getting late, I'm sick, etc., etc., so I'm using this as an excuse to again paste my Letterboxd review I wrote right after seeing this humanist masterpiece:

I'm shocked nobody reviewed this film before. It's even more astonishing to see that it's only been rated by three people so far. A Carpenter and Children is a subtle tale with humanity and philosophy at its core, a powerful lesson on selflessness, love, and compassion. A treatise on good and evil and how they intertwine. The relationship between poverty and wrongdoing, wealthiness and self-interest. About understanding that those who are not poor can do wrong, too. A short-tempered man finds a benefactor in a woman who understands more than he. She's his benefactor as she teaches him to love and have compassion for another human being so that he can share it with others. The incorrigible scoundrel gives the final hard lesson. Self-love slowly turns into love for others. Selfishness turns into unselfish mercy and benevolence.

There is no fairy tale good here, no last-minute changes of mind. Lessons are hard to understand and even harder to put into life. They take time. But in the end, a person with a sharp mind had his heart taught to love. If it takes so long to teach humanity to an adult, why should we be surprised that children would fall into the pit of crime so fast? Why would we denigrate them if it was us who didn't extend a helping hand to them?

When A Carpenter and Children finished, I thought it was Kurosawa's Red Beard stripped off all ornaments. Then, I found out that this film is based on a book by Shūgorō Yamamoto. Yamamoto is the author of Tales of Dr. Red Beard, a book adapted by Akira Kurosawa into one of the best films ever! Hell, I FELT the author was the same. There are many tonal and plot similarities with Red Beard, and one thing that both of these works share is the heartbreakingly direct humanity they both emanate.

It is easy to consider A Carpenter and Children unimportant and not understand it. It's easy to brush it off as too idealist. It's easy to pronounce it not good enough. But the film is good enough because of the sole reason of achieving what it set out to do. I think you have to understand it with your heart instead of your mind, and as long as you do that, you're going to be good.

PS: The musical theme sounds like one of the Pāli Devotional Hymns.
PSS: The burned houses look like the ruins of Hiroshima.

はだかっ子 [Run, Genta, Run!] (1961)



In hindsight, this is the most relatable film I saw in 2022. Here's my Letterboxd write-up:

Run, Genta, Run! is a criminally underseen heartfelt tale of filial love and a treatise on the psychology and rights of children. Children's dreams, hardships, courage, and will to support adults in the most touching way possible are all touched on in this masterful film. There's an anti-war film hidden in here, too. But above all, this is a film on the beauty of children's songs, children running freely in the fields, having fun in an amusement park, and airily looking at the moon. The debate scene is as astonishing as it is amusing. I didn't expect such a strong indictment of adults to come from the mouths of innocent children. Adults indeed underestimate what children know, see, and feel. While children can just as well be unbearable, greedy, and selfish, Run, Genta, Run! shows the other side of kids: Their innocent love, willingness to help, and extraordinary fortitude in coping with life tragedies. When it comes to masters of children's films, there's no better than Hiroshi Shimizu, but in Run, Genta, Run!, Tomotaka Tasaka reaches Shimizu's mastery while carving a picture of a boy and those who love him. There are many paeans for mothers, but only a few for sons. This is one of them.

იავნანა [Lullaby] (1994)



A very simple yet incredibly moving Georgian masterwork. Nuff said.

Olga e il tempo. Parte prima: epica minima del mattino (2007)
Olga e il tempo. Parte seconda: equinozio del pomeriggio (2009)
Olga e il tempo. Parte terza: elegia della sera (2013)



Three films, three masterpieces. As usual with this kind of trilogy, I treat them as a single work of art. Either way, this is a metaphysical work of art. I couldn't believe it was possible to make a 21st-century film look that way! I'm not sure how it was shot, maybe a camcorder was used, but at times, this film looks like a lost Murnau picture! It's just a visual masterpiece when it's shot in black and white. But when the colors kick in, oh man.

There's that final scene at the end of the second film where the camera leaves the ground as if it was taken by the angels, though probably a balloon or a drone was used, and zooms out of the protagonist's lone hut in the middle of nowhere. Bach plays. An ethereal moment that hints at what way more films should be doing these days: Taking us off the ground, making us soar into Heaven. Because the best films of all time are segregated into two categories: Down-to-earth human (or humane) films about humans and life. And those films that take us to Heaven.

______________________________________

Sooo... That's it! Congrats if you managed to get to the end! And see you in 2023!



The year has passed and I'm not watching anything tomorrow, so it's time for my top ten first viewings of 2022. Just like the previous few years, I had way too little time to watch the amount of films that I'd like to. But when I do watch something, it's mostly quality stuff. So yet again I managed to discover some great films. As you'll notice, I especially found myself returning to Japanese cinema.

My Top Ten First Viewings of 2022:



1) When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960)
2) Vengeance Is Mine (1979)
3) Early Spring (1956) and Tokyo Twilight (1957) [Watched both at the theater.]
4) Son of the White Mare (1981) [Watched this one at the theater with live music. Amazing experience!]
5) California Split (1974) [After ten years of looking for the right version, I was finally able to find it.]
6) Where Is My Friend’s House? (1987)
7) Red Angel (1966)
8) Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (1972) and Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (1972)
9) Tokyo Fist (1995)
10) The Last of Sheila (1973)

I left out the newest releases so I didn't need to cut out any of the above. But it seems to have been a fantastic year, as I've watched a lot of great new films. These are some of my favorite 2021/2022 releases (in no particular order):

Licorice Pizza
Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood
The Northman
Red Rocket
Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Decision to Leave
After Yang
X
Pearl
Triangle of Sadness
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
The Kid Detective
[this one is technically from 2020, but it deserves a shout-out]



Here are eleven films that have floated-my-boat in 2022. You might have seen me gush about them on certain posts:

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg - This one felt like I was listening to a concept album in movie form. I watched the first part at the end of February and was stunned by it. Then I watched the whole thing(including part 1) in March or April with diminished results(possibly due to it being a tired Sunday), but it was still amazing.
Favorite Part: The ending of the first part where Guy leaves for military service.

Rear Window - The movie was filled with charm and also featured the great James Stewart. This movie's plot was so creative that it was worth investing in. I was very content with this one after watching it. One of the best things I saw this year.
Favorite Part: Jeffrey's interactions with the other characters and successfully getting the villain to serve justice.

Celine and Julie Go Boating - This movie's story was like nothing I ever witnessed before and I am so happy that this movie finally got it's recognition in the BFI Sight & Sound Poll this year. Definitely one of the greatest of the Nouve Vague.
Favorite Part: The two girls changing the story along with the magic show.

The Holy Mountain - This makes some of the already strange movies look normal in comparison. It also had Monty Python vibes in moments(ex. Zoom Back Camera). Favorite Part: All the strange imagery that happens throughout the movie.

The Young Girls of Rochefort - I was considering going to bed because it was rather late when watching this, but then the movie was so exciting that I just had to keep watching. I thought it was better than the movie above.
Favorite Part: We are a pair of twins born in the sign of Gemini!

W.R. Mysteries of the Organism - I initially did not like it, but after realizing its impact on retrospect, I grew to appreciate it as another valuable art-film.
Favorite Part: Any of the scenes with Tuli Kupferberg and his belief that you must "kill kill kill for peace".

Cleo From 5 To 7 - I spent most of the movie admiring the cinematography. Then the movie had some really interesting events along with the movie being so charming. A creative story also was at the heart of this one.
Favorite Part: Cleo's Song.

Ikiru - This was a nice Japanese movie featuring an old man making a splash on the world before he died. This kind of showed me what the working class kind of looks like. A bunch of sheep just following every day rituals and that the special people are the ones who break out of that cycle like the protagonist of this movie did.
Favorite Part: Watanabe hanging out with a younger co worker to find meaning.

La Strada - My actual favorite of the three Fellini films I saw. The highlight here were the characters and their behaviors. The brute Zampano was very amusing in most of his scenes.
Favorite Part: Zampano's act where he breaks the chain.

Duelle - After the success of Celine and Julie in March for me, I wanted to see what else Rivette had in store. I was reading a Mubi list, I looked up the movie and saw a clip of it. I thought it looked like something different. Then I saw it and thought it was from another world, but could not comprehend it due to some characters looking too similar to others(especially Bulle Ogier and Nicole Garcia). After a second viewing a few weeks later, I was certain that this was an underrated gem.
Favorite Part: Anytime you see Viva and somebody playing the piano.

La Dolce Vita - This one consisted of varying scenes that were memorable for me while also maintaining a great Italian atmosphere. Like the other Fellini movies, this one has a great score and a plot that is not too hard to follow.
Favorite Part: Marcello and Anita's night together especially with the famous fountain scene.

Honorable Mentions: House, Rosemary's Baby, Nashville, Paper Moon, Battle of Algiers, The Seventh Seal, Suspiria, Kes.

Least Favorite Self Viewing: Vampyr: I know this is a 30s movie, but I was just bored with it to the point of not even caring.

Favorite Self Viewing: Was a competition between Celine & Julie, Young Girls of Rochefort, & Cleo, but I think the MVF of the Year goes to...




These are my 2022 top 10 (in no particular order):

Everything Everywhere All At Once
The Batman
RRR
Bullet Train
Nope
Prey
The Woman King
Glass Onion
Guillermo Del Torro's Pinochio
Wakanda Forever



Here are my favorite first-time viewings of this year:

10/10:
1. Wings of Desire
2. The Trial
3. Raise the Red Lantern

9/10:
4. From Here to Eternity
5. Dersu Uzala
6. Apocalypse Now (Theatrical Version)
7. Dancer in the Dark
8. Le Million
9. Make Way for Tomorrow
10. Early Summer

Honorable Mentions:

The Heiress
The Fifth Seal
Written on the Wind
The Incredible Shrinking Man

Also, since I watched a bunch of short films this year, I figured I'd list my favorites as well (unranked):

The Act of Seeing With One's One Eyes
Boulder Blues and Pearls and...
Castro Street
Delicacies of Molten Horror Synapse
The Man Who Planted Trees
Mirror of Holland
More
Pas de Deux
Window Water Baby Moving