TOP 100 FILMS - 56 - 60

Nostalghia's (1983) dream scape is vast and eternal. Like many of Takovsky works, the film ascribes to numerous religious and philosophical elements. Its core is an extended series of memories of the main character, Andrei Gorchakov, played by Oleg Yankovsky. The film is an oneiric journey into the spiritual world of the past and into the psychology of two alienated characters, Andrei himself and madman named Domenico. Domenico claims that the end of the world is near. To save the world, one must cross a famous mineral pool in the village while holding a candle. Near the end of the film, as Dominic retells the story of final judgment to his fellow city people, Andrei walks inside the mineral pool. Domenico died after putting himself on fire, while Andrei died of heart attack after crossing the pool after many tries. Tarkovsky masters in situating his characters as pillars for humanity's change. In Andrei Rublev (1967), he holds the key to humanity's salvation. In Solaris (1972), the characters both holds spiritual and cosmic functions. In Nostalghia, Dominico and Andrei carries 'eschatological' functions. At such level of generalization, Tarkovsky asks difficult questions at the highest zenith of human understanding: existence, origin of the cosmos, memories, philosophical truth. He tackles each of these concepts in the most extraordinary cinematography, I call it, eternally sweeping and moving-to-infinity cinematography. Such a gem of a film!

Pierrot le Fou (1965) is a Godard film I really like at first viewing. Its poppy, adventurous both in narrative form and style and it has most elements of the mid 1960s popular scene. The color arrangement of Godard is so striking, it is reminiscent of Une Femme est Une Femme (1961). The assimilation of the fourth wall will later be used in great depth in Godard's La Chinoise (1967). Some says Pierrot le Fou is a postmodern film. The case of postmodernism in Godard's cinema is very evident in most of Godard's work, however, one can approach this film more adroitly by analyzing its parametric form. The parametric form of Pierrot le Fou comes from its stylistic use of costume and color, being both integral to its mise-en-scene and cinematography. Godard's images are conceptual attacks to many aspects of 60s cinema and the world. The film can also be seen as a critique to the French bourgeoisie and the political thoughts emerging in 1960s. This somewhat preempts the succeeding political films of Godard and bids farewell to his stylistic experiments from 1960 to 1964. A must-see Godard film!

Le Mepris (1963) is the most minimalist of what I've seen in Godard so far. With deep-space staging and lenghty camera shots, this vibrant and melancholic film about love and infidelity is one of Godard's best. It tells a story about Paul Javal played by Michel Piccoli and the sudden alienation of his wife, Camille Javal, from their relationship after meeting a rich American film producer named Jeremy Prokosch played by Jack Palance. Godard reflects through the film his personal relationship with cinema. With allusions from as far as Homer's Odysseus, each character also alludes to the personal relationship between Anna Karina, Godard wife that time and Godard himself. The film also harbors issues about cinema in general. With quotations from many iconic movie scenes to the cameo role of director Fritz Lang, the film dissects the film making process and also the emotional turmoil the couple, Godard and Karina, was experiencing. The film was based on the novel of the same title by Alberto Moravia. What is so striking formally in the film is the amount of restraint Godard has put for himself. His previous feature, Une Femme est Une Femme (1961), surprises the audience with visual overload. However, Le Mepris (1963) the slow moving, observant camera and low contrast image-color choices blends in melancholic and minimalist overtone. It is Godard's personal film. It is considered as one of 1960s greatest film.

Talk to Her (2002) is a story of two women: Alicia, in a comatose state, and Lydia, a female bull fighter. They never met in the film and the only one that connects them is that both of them we're comatose at the same hospital during the time Lydia was badly hurt in a bull fight. The film is also about two men close to the two women: Benigno Martin, played by the talented Javier Camara, Alicia's caregiver in the hospital, and Marco Zuluaga, Lydia's lover. Like many of Almodovar's films, the film has a melodramatic core. Like his previous films, it talks about human relationships. With an idiosyncratic premise, Almodovar shapes the narrative with the character's emotional complexities through extended phantasmagorical visions of Benigno to the tonal adjustments in both mise-en-scene and cinematographic color based on character's mood. This is what makes Talk to Her Almodovar's richest work: the fine balance of form and emotions, a unique film in every sense of the word.

Jane Campion, in her highly elegant state of art, delivers her most unbreakable and controlled cinematic beauty, Bright Star (2009). I must admit I am very much impressed with its photography as much as I am impressed with its writing. Bright Star is created not upon whim but upon heavy study, with great precision and grace, on the art of mise-en-scene, cinematography and of course, writing. How rich, one could say, a cinema artist could be on staging a piece of tale like a painting in a film or to place the subject of poetry at its heart! Filmmakers today are gifted with so many options for their craft, enlarged by the spectrum of technology they can choose from. Yet we see Jane Campion, faithfully using the same techniques for lighting, but carefully bending it for naturalistic cause to deliver not only atmosphere but beauty to the characters she was always in love with since The Piano (1993). The color gradient she used for Bright Star ranged from the bright ones (in the beginning) to the dark ones (in the end). However, this spectrum of visible light is dynamic throughout the film and it still remained the film's most salient style, much like that of Almodovar's but less vibrant and sharp. The diffuse quality of the lighting infused with the shade reminds me of the other Renoir. It is painting-film.