TOP 100 FILMS - 61 - 65

[Sorry for the delay, I was busy doing my undergrad thesis.]

Khavn's Cameroon Love Letter (2010) had its premiere at Rotterdam IFF 2010. I saw this film on a dark night inside Fullybooked-The Fort. The style of the film is almost the invert of what Godard used in his 1960s "intertitles experiments": Une Femme est Une Femme (1961), Pierrot Le Fou (1965) and La Chinoise (1967). If Godard's use of intertitles is to present an as-of-the-moment idea to add 'spontaneity effect' to the character's thoughts and actions, Khavn's use of text-on-image act as its main narrative. Based on the tele-serye Pangako Sa'yo, it tells a story about love and falling out of love, infidelity and passion, and things in between the two characters, Yna and Angelo. The visual footage is unrelated to the narrative, but its has its own story, a travelogue inside Cameroon with Khavn and his team. The textual narrative resuscitates the visual, its organic and idiosyncratic feeling, coupled with Khavn's live piano music, generates one of the most unforgettable movie experience I've ever been into. It's a very personal film, Khavn bares himself out through the texual narrative with the piano. Witness the most creative work of Khavn.

Annie Hall (1977) is a film about love, romantic relationships and human emotions. As in many films about love, Annie Hall mixes comedy, style and narrative convolutions, that it can be compared to (500) Days of Summer (2009). Woody Allen's frontal appearances and efforts to thoroughly break the fourth wall stretched the film's self-reflexivity. The presence of both theatricality and raw acting by Woody Allen and Dianne Keaton and many other characters hints us the uniqueness of the Allen's directorial control. The script, written by Allen himself, co-written with Marshall Brickman, who also wrote Manhattan (1979) with Allen, is highly superior it marks an innovation in scriptwriting. Allen's inventiveness in achieving a full scale non-linear work commands a new direction for his works. As one can observe, the narrator of the story, Allen himself, does not appear offscreen but he confronts the audience with a conversational style narration in second person and first person monologues. A classic tale of a bittersweet love story, it can be considered as one of the great contributions to the New Hollywood Wave in 1970s with Francis Ford Coppola's epic Mafia movies and Martin Scorsese's poignant anti-hero films.

A Man Escape (1956) is straight-forward Bresson film. It narrates a seemingly simple linear story about a prisoner of war, a lieutenant, who wanted to escape prison. He plans for an escape route inside his prison cell. The source of the conflict is the unknowable terrain he will facing per stage of his escape. His elaborate plan is dangerously risky, it involves both the might psychological, mental and physical strength. What strikes me formally with this film is the use of Bresson's minimalist framing aesthetics. He uses a trim down setting with almost a two-dimensional quality of images: flat. This is opposed to the running style of realism of Hollywood during the 1940s - 50s with Orson Welles and Billy Wilder's innovative films such as The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) and Citizen Kane (1941). Bresson's images in A Man Escaped (1956) have achieved less depth compared to these films. This effect produces a minimalist color to the film congruent to its simple story and ascetic acting style and editing Bresson wants to achieve. We see here the evolution of Bresson's technique of parametric aesthetic that he would master in his later films.

The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962), some say, is the hardest Bresson film to watch. Maybe because the film demands not only new set of perceptual skills but the toleration of repetitive framing and cyclical mise-en-scene. Several times during the film, many frames and camera angles were precisely repeated. Auxiliary shots abound and the almost verbally constrained talky script demands attention to the viewers. No action can be hinted from the narrative except for the climax of the story. The movie is a set of recurring actions - cyclical conversations of Joan with the Judge. The film somehow expresses a critique of the cynicism of the church and its subscription to dogmatism. The Trial of Joan of Arc is Bresson's most parametric film since the Pickpocket (1959).

The Wizard of Oz (1939) is one of the earliest examples of a function-wise technicolor film. Its usage of color indicative of time, state of mind and place is one of the most unforgettable cinematic events in film history. Dorothy is a highly esteemed gal who will do anything to save her dog, Toto. She is being terrorized by her neighbor, Miss Gulch and being consoled by her friends in the ranch. She's being transported to Oz via a magical tornado. She encounters similar friends as in the ranch but this time each character is literally interpreted: Straw man who wants a brain, the tin man who wants a heart, and a lion who wants courage. Numerous special effects were used for the first time here: the bubble suit used by Glinda, the Good Witch of the North and the use of flares from her magic wand. Given this technical difficulty, one can say that The Wizard of Oz is one of the most complex film of the 1930s. Its innovations in the film form made it one of the most highly studied film opposite to Citizen Kane (1941) and Seven Samurai (1954). After more than 80 years, it still has the magic, a classic Hollywood film that transcends time.