Go Ahead, Make My Year
Lucifer Rising (1981), dir. Kenneth Anger; image © Fantoma Films
One thing I'd like to do more of in the new year is fill some gaps with directors whose work I haven't explored much, or only in a skewed way, or not at all. Without leaving myself entirely to my own devices, I'd love to solicit your opinions. I'll (mostly) name the directors, and you tell me what to rent. I'll see where consensus starts to build, and hopefully I'll get around to these titles sometime in the next twelve months. What do you say?
KENNETH ANGER - I saw lots of his stuff, but quite a while ago, and I missed a few of the later, purportedly even crazier films. What should I revisit or look at next?
SHARUNAS BARTAS - Has anyone run into the work of this Lithuanian endurance-tester? Got any tips?
YOUSSEF CHAHINE - The Siskel Film Center is showing a lot of the late Egyptian master's work this month. Besides the Alexandra films, what's essential?
CARL-THEODOR DREYER - If we set aside Vampyr and Joan of Arc, what impresses you most in his filmography?
CLINT EASTWOOD - Are Bird, White Hunter, Black Heart, and A Perfect World as great as they say? Are any of those late '90s and early '00s policiers worth catching up with? How about Pale Rider or Heartbreak Ridge? I've got holes to fill and a mind to make up.
BARBARA HAMMER - A pioneer of feminist and queer filmmaking, but I haven't paid her the full attention she deserves. Guide me!
EMIR KUSTURICA - Haven't even dipped a toe, and he's a major world figure. Who's got a favorite?
ANTHONY MANN - Revered by many, but I haven't seen a frame. Where to start? Is Winchester '73 too obvious?
JEAN-PIERRE MELVILLE - I've been sitting out of the whole recent resurgence in his work, but the shame and the curiosity are building. Tell me what I have to see first, or what I can put off till later. Will it matter if I'm not a huge noir guy?
VINCENTE MINNELLI - Every time I see one of his, it changes my impression of him, and I love the generic diversity. I've seen: Meet Me in St. Louis, Yolanda and the Thief, An American in Paris, The Band Wagon, Tea and Sympathy, Gigi, Some Came Running, and On a Clear Day... I'm most curious about The Bad and the Beautiful and Two Weeks in Another Town, but am happy to take other cues.
KENJI MIZOGUCHI - Where to go next if I was floored by Sanshô?
YASUJIRO OZU - I'm embarrassed to say that I've only seen Tokyo Story, and I have missed two public presentations of The Story of the Late Chrysanthemums. Where should I start bettering myself?
MICHAEL POWELL (and EMERIC PRESSBURGER) - Tilda will never date me if I don't get my act together a little better. Fans seem to have different favorites. What's yours? I've seen The Edge of the World, Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, and Peeping Tom, and I liked them all. I Know Where I'm Going, A Matter of Life and Death, and Colonel Blimp are screaming for attention, but is there a preferred order here?
SATYAJIT RAY - I need to finish the Apu trilogy, but then, where next? I'm tempted by The Music Room.
ROBERTO ROSSELLINI - Some great stuff bowing soon on DVD from Criterion and Eclipse, but what's your favorite Rossellini film?
OUSMANE SEMBENE - I am gaga for Xala and quite wild about Mandabi. Who has a favorite Sembene film?
FRANÇOIS TRUFFAUT - Sometimes I get it (400 Blows, Shoot the Piano Player, Stolen Kisses), sometimes I totally don't (Jules et Jim). Day for Night is pleasant, but I almost prefer the choked and flawed but kind of bravely cold The Green Room. I saw Adèle H. a hundred years ago. Is this helping you pick a next title for me to screen?
FREDERICK WISEMAN - Not fabulously treated by DVD, but I'll grab what I can find. What's most essential here?