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Countdown to Snobbery
May 11, 2007 5:54 AM   Subscribe

Top 40: The greatest foreign films of all time as chosen by Guardian readers (complete with snarky comments by the paper's resident film writers).
posted by chuckdarwin (89 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
If you want to be surprised by #1, click, close your eyes and scroll down quickly.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:55 AM on May 11, 2007


Haven't seen everything on that list, though a number of very fine and likeable films are certainly on it.

But where's all the Hollywood blockbusters, huh? Heck, those are foreign if you're British, right?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:03 AM on May 11, 2007


Yes, but Mel Gibson's obsessions notwithstanding, they're generally in English, which was sort of against the requirements of this particular list.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:07 AM on May 11, 2007




About half of their favorites are French films. Better not tell those French haters in the US right about this list.
posted by bhouston at 6:12 AM on May 11, 2007


The list included "Pan's Labyrinth," "The Seven Samurai" and "Spirited Away" (which I don't think is Miyazaki's best movie, but I'll allow it). I find myself not at all angry at this list, which is surprising.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:18 AM on May 11, 2007


They really should have said "foreign language" films, since that's what they were going for.
Also, WTF, no Czech films?
posted by piratebowling at 6:18 AM on May 11, 2007


Ooh, it's like the article has it's own built-in metafilter. We're redundant!
posted by bicyclefish at 6:22 AM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Should it read 'The greatest world cinema films of all time' ? I personally think that sounds kind of stupid.

Agreed. I definitely feel that way, for example, about the term 'world music'. Yuck. But 'foreign film' is also kind of dumb in the global/internet age: when the Guardian puts an article up on a website (as opposed to say, a newspaper which is only distributed in Britain) and uses the term 'foreign film', well, that's a little off. I've thought for a long time that it sounded dopey to have a 'best foreign film' category for the Oscars, given that the event is viewed worldwide. I think, in this case, 'best non-English films' might be the best way to go. Likewise, for the Oscar category, 'best non-American films'. I think the word 'foreign' just sounds a little dumb at this point.

All that said, my 'What, no Hollywood blockbusters?' comment was basically a joke, anyway. This list clearly wouldn't have included such films, and that comment was meant to serve as a friendly dig at the Guardian, much in the same way, I suppose, as chuckdarwin's titling of this FPP "Countdown to Snobbery".

And on preview, what piratebowling said.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:22 AM on May 11, 2007


"Spirited Away" is definitely not Miyazaki's best movie. I preferred "Howl's Moving Castle".
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:22 AM on May 11, 2007


Wow, I'm kind of surprised I've never seen the #1. But yeah, overall I think it's not too bad of a list. Definitely not as aggravating as the saddest songs list.

Hated Pan's Labyrinth.
posted by Demogorgon at 6:33 AM on May 11, 2007


The largest film industry in the world is that of India.... not the US.

(Shame no Indian films made it - would Monsoon Wedding count as a 'foreign film', despite being almost all in English?)
posted by plep at 6:37 AM on May 11, 2007


This is a very good list. There are no movies that clearly don't belong. There are few movies that I can think definately should be on the list that are not. Such lists are hard, this is as good as it gets.

I would have liked to see 8 1/2 and The discrete charm of the bourgeoisie. I think the seventh seal is over-rated. I think Ikiru might be the grossest oversite. Still excellent list.
posted by I Foody at 6:42 AM on May 11, 2007


And the easy way to do this for Britain is Foreign Language Film.
posted by I Foody at 6:43 AM on May 11, 2007


Cinema Paradiso?
Seriously?
posted by signal at 6:47 AM on May 11, 2007


Cinema Paradiso?
Seriously?


Hey, people like really sentimental stuff. No getting around it. It is a reader survey, after all, not a critic's list.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:50 AM on May 11, 2007


Lists like these suck mostly because the people polled generally have a collective memory of a couple years. When they realize they've chosen mostly movies from the last decade or so, then they'll feel compelled to toss in some uber-classic (like "Potemkin") so they don't look like the culturally clueless schmucks their previous choices exposed them as being.
posted by RavinDave at 6:50 AM on May 11, 2007


Such lists are poor replacements for actual editorial work and are nothing but link fodder for argumentative bloggers.

But I'm only being cynical because "Oldboy" is listed higher than "400 Blows" and "Ran". Seriously? It wasn't even the best film in the trilogy.
posted by mkn at 7:03 AM on May 11, 2007


There's a lot to like and dislike about this list, but like most other "best of" film (or music or book) lists I like it because it sparks conversation about good movies. And quite often in these discussions I discover a gem or two I'm not familiar with or am reminded of something I want to go back to. Hell, I'd probably get something out of a 40 best Foereign Films list from the Readers of Dynamite Magazine.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:05 AM on May 11, 2007


I'm confused, RavinDave... there are only 12 films on the list from the last decade.

1. Cinema Paradiso
Giuseppe Tornatore, Italy/France, 1988

2. Amélie
Jean-Pierre Jeunet, France/Germany, 2001

3. Seven Samurai
Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1954

4. City of God
Fernando Meirelles, Brazil/France/USA, 2002

5. The Battle of Algiers
Gillo Pontecorvo, Algeria/ Italy, 1966

6. Breathless
Jean-Luc Godard, France, 1960

7. Jean de Florette/ Manon des Sources
Claude Berri, France/Switzerland/Italy, 1986

8. Bicycle Thieves
Vittorio De Sica, Italy, 1948

9. Pan's Labyrinth
Guillermo del Toro, Mexico/Spain/USA, 2006

10. In the Mood for Love
Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong/France, 2000

11. Tokyo Story
Yasujiro Ozu, Japan, 1953

12. Les Enfants du Paradis
Marcel Carné, France, 1945

13. The Seventh Seal
Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1957

14. Jules and Jim
François Truffaut, France, 1962

15. La Haine
Mathieu Kassovitz, France, 1995

16. Il Postino
Michael Radford, France/Italy/Belgium, 1994

17. Oldboy
Chan-wook Park, South Korea, 2003

18. Delicatessen
Marc Caro & Jean-Pierre Jeunet, France, 1991

19. La Dolce Vita
Federico Fellini, Italy/France, 1960

20. The 400 Blows
François Truffaut, France, 1959

21. Aguirre, Wrath of God
Werner Herzog, West Germany, 1972

22. Wings of Desire
Wim Wenders, West Germany/France, 1987

23. Fanny and Alexander
Ingmar Bergman, Sweden/France/ West Germany, 1982

24. Andrei Rublev
Andrei Tarkovsky, Soviet Union, 1969

25. Battleship Potemkin
Sergei Eisenstein, Soviet Union, 1925

26. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Ang Lee, Taiwan/Hong Kong/USA/China, 2000

27. Pather Panchali
Satyajit Ray, India, 1955

28. Ran
Akira Kurosawa, Japan/France, 1985

29. Three Colours: Blue
Krzysztof Kieslowski, France/Poland/Switzerland/UK, 1993

30. Central Station
Walter Salles, Brazil/France, 1998

31. Come and See
Elem Klimov, Soviet Union, 1985

32. Spirited Away
Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 2001

33. Three Colours: Red
Krzysztof Kieslowski, Poland/France/Switzerland, 1994

34. Wild Strawberries
Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1957

35. All About My Mother
Pedro Almodóvar, Spain/France, 1999

36. Hidden
Michael Haneke, France/Austria/ Germany/Italy, 2005

37. Cyrano De Bergerac
Jean-Paul Rappeneau, France, 1990

38. Downfall
Oliver Hirschbiegel, Germany/Italy/ Austria, 2004

39. La Règle du Jeu
Jean Renoir, France, 1939

40. Life Is Beautiful
Roberto Benigni, Italy, 1997
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:05 AM on May 11, 2007


I have no problem with the list, per se -- I mean, it's an informal poll of readers, not a group of films ranked by a single critical intelligence, and there are good movies there (I like Cinema Paradiso!). But the author of the article seems super-douchey to me. It's all like:

GUARDIAN: Readers! Give us your favorites!

READERS: I...really? I mean...[blushing]...you really want to know? Like...what I think?

GUARDIAN: You bet! [smile, shoulder punch] You're OUR readers, after all, and ha ha, that naturally implies you're just a cut above the rest vis a vis cultural literacy and good taste. Who knows -- maybe we might learn a thing or two from you! So come on...enlighten us!

READERS: Well... [blush, shuffling feet, sheepish grin]...okay! Um...okay. Whew! Here goes! *ahem* I like --

GUARDIAN: WRONG!!! Jesus FUCK, you fucking ASSHOLE! Goddammit, goddammit! Aggggghhhh! FUCK!

...Plus, some of what's being said is just 'tarded. The Seventh Seal, for a film about death and stuff, is surprisingly warm and inviting to the first-time viewer. If Oldboy is really the future of cinema, holy fucking shit do not want DO NOT WANT. Delicatessen is indeed better than Amelie, but neither can touch City of Lost Children. Etc.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:09 AM on May 11, 2007 [6 favorites]


WTF? No Czech films? (piratebowling beat me to that) What about Kolya? Closely Watched Trains? Fireman's Ball? Nothing with Milos Foreman?
posted by czechmate at 7:12 AM on May 11, 2007


The Bergman and Almodovar choices seem a little off - I would have swapped Seventh Seal with Wild Strawberries - but on the whole it is a good list. Apart from the absolutely disgraceful omission of any Bresson film.
posted by fire&wings at 7:16 AM on May 11, 2007


chuckdarwin: I'm confused, RavinDave... there are only 12 films on the list from the last decade.

Okay ... I typed "or so" instead of "or two". Make it an even two decades. That adds 7 to your list and brings it to 19 of 40 and is still within an entirely reasonable definition of "recent".
posted by RavinDave at 7:19 AM on May 11, 2007


Amelie shouldn't be on the list. It's charming, but not great.

Too many films omitted that I wish more people would know about and love in the same way that I do. But that's true for any list like this.

Quite surprised to see 'Hidden' on a readers list as I know it inspired quite a lot of hatred with a lot of viewers...
posted by slimepuppy at 7:26 AM on May 11, 2007


It says rather clearly that they asked people for Non-English language films.

I've seen every film on the list--I predicted #1 and 2 before clicking so no surprise there (I certainly don't agree with them).

I absolutely hate Pan's Labyrinth and don't care for Il Postino and Spirited Away but otherwise the list is not surprising except for maybe the order.

My favorite non-english film is L'Avventura, which didn't even make the list. I'm glad there's a Haneke on the list, though.
posted by dobbs at 7:27 AM on May 11, 2007


It's a pretty good list. Certainly good enough to motivate me to see the ones they listed that I haven't already seen.

I would add "M" "Metropolis" and "Nosferatu" to the list although maybe these were considered too old. Also, "Raise the Red Lantern" is a great, great film.
posted by caddis at 7:28 AM on May 11, 2007


RavinDave - point taken. If we go back two decades, it's half the list.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:37 AM on May 11, 2007


Open question: what's wrong with Pan's Labyrinth?

I haven't seen it; but you guys are making me rethink my Lovefilm queue.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:39 AM on May 11, 2007


I think Raindave has a point in that recent films get much higher rankings than they should onn these lists. If Oldboy were to appear on this list in 20 years, I'd be shocked. Of course, it all depends on your definition of "best." I wonder how many people who voted for Battleship Potemkin saw it more than once, or would ever want to see it more than once.

(Personally, I'll eat a gun before watching Fanny and Alexander again).

(On preview: I loved Pan, chuck. Watch it)
posted by Bookhouse at 7:47 AM on May 11, 2007


If I'm gonna watch a furrin movie, it better have a guy in a rubber dinosaur suit stomping on Tokyo!
posted by marxchivist at 7:50 AM on May 11, 2007


Lists like these suck mostly because the people polled generally have a collective memory of a couple years.
posted by RavinDave

Maybe...Le Voyage dans la lune?

(Shame no Indian films made it - would Monsoon Wedding count as a 'foreign film', despite being almost all in English?)
posted by plep

Salaam Bombay! ?
posted by Demogorgon at 7:52 AM on May 11, 2007


About half of their favorites are French films. Better not tell those French haters in the US right about this list.
posted by bhouston at 9:12 AM on May 11


Not to worry, cinema for that crowd never reaches beyond "Talledega Nights."
posted by caddis at 7:53 AM on May 11, 2007



8. Bicycle Thieves
Vittorio De Sica, Italy, 1948


Strange, I've always seen the title translated as "The Bicycle Thief." Great film under any name though.

And kittens for breakfast, I agree with you on Oldboy. When I saw it, it seemed I was the only person in the world who felt a bit underwhelmed (although the side-panning hammer fight scene was truly outstanding).
posted by Dr-Baa at 7:53 AM on May 11, 2007


Amelie? Really? Let's not throw away our dignity here.

And echoing what caddis said, M is one of the greatest films ever. It is the archetype for every detective film and TV show, not only in structure, but in plot devices that would eventually become hack (consider the scene where they are tracing the telephone call, in pre-war germany).

Hans Beckert's speech at the end about insanity, compulsion, and guilt is better than most closing arguments in courts today. There has never been a more succinct summary of the problems in the justice system when dealing with the mentally ill than has been presented in this film. Which is saying something considering it was made in 1931.

And from a historical perspective, when you watch M, you realize what a total catastrophe the Nazis were for Germany, beyond the obvious reasons. First, the Nazis appear to have come from the criminal caste as depicted in this film (note their leather coats, which none of the policemen wear). With their kangaroo courts and ruthless merciless mob justice. Secondly, the Nazis shattered Germany's brilliant and remarkably sophisticated culture and scattered the pieces across the globe. The US was fortunate enough to get people like Lang (as well as the myriad of other Germans and German Jews who later fled), but Lang's output in the US was never at the caliber it was in Germany.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:54 AM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Shame no Indian films made it

Pather Panchali is #27.
posted by dobbs at 7:57 AM on May 11, 2007


M is one of the greatest films ever.

I can't speak for the UK, but much of the burden for lack of knowledge about M and many other early (foreign) films in North America comes down to availability. Until Criterion released M on DVD a few years ago, the print available to home viewers was utter shit with only about 10 percent of the dialogue subtitled. Anyone who saw the film in that condition probably wouldn't have voted for it.

Though I can understand people being annoyed at the prevelance of non-contemporary titles, as someone who ran a foreign language film store for 5 years, I can tell you that it's not completely the audience's fault. Many of these great movies have never been available in good english versions until extremely recently. The fact that people are voting for foreign language films they saw in the theatre is not surprising--in many cases it's probably the only ones they've seen.
posted by dobbs at 8:03 AM on May 11, 2007


@ chuckdarwin
If you read some of the 'rotten' reviews of the film, they all seem to agree on the same issues. I found this one to be particularly apt.
Bookhouse is right though, you should watch it if you haven't seen it just to judge for yourself.
posted by Demogorgon at 8:13 AM on May 11, 2007


There's a little sadistic part of me that was thrilled to see Aguirre on the list.
posted by malocchio at 8:15 AM on May 11, 2007


I'm wondering why Jean de Florette had to share a slot with Manon des Sources, since they are two separate movies; yet the Trois Couleurs movies had to take up two. To be honest, I thought Trois Couleurs Blanc/Bialy was the better than Manon, and it didn't even make the list. Neither did Les Choristes, which I thought was wonderful (although a little bit of a French Dead Poets Society).

Quite often, French movies (or non-American movies in general) are better and more memorable than American movies, because they don't necessarily have a large budget and therefore have to sell the movie on silly things like a plot. French movies that do have a large budget tend to turn out rather cheesy, like say, Le Pacte des Loups.

I wish there were more good Italian movies making their way to the States. Cinema Paradiso, Il Postino, and La Vita è Bella were great, but all I've found lately were underwhelming.
posted by tempestuoso at 8:15 AM on May 11, 2007


This list is shit. Karate Kid should be on it.
posted by aftermarketradio at 8:15 AM on May 11, 2007


(I...I liked Brotherhood of the Wolf...)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:18 AM on May 11, 2007


Pan's Labyrinth is a gorgeous movie with a solid story and some captivating visual fx, but it didn't blow me away. I don't think people will be jumping up and down about it 10 years hence the way they do now.
posted by Scoo at 8:20 AM on May 11, 2007


That foreign film you like sucks!

That having been said, it sure seems like there are a lot more arbitrary lists of media created these days. It used to just be Rolling Stone, and occasionally, but now it seems like they are a replacement for actual articles. It's rather like "Here's a list with some comments, work it out for yourself." They probably could have copied and pasted the top 40 foreign films on NetFlix or Amazon and saved everyone the postage.
posted by milovoo at 8:21 AM on May 11, 2007


No Eric Rohmer eh? Well, my favorite director sucks I guess. At least Wong Kar-wai made the list. Although Chungking Express is 100 times better than In the Mood for Love, which bored me silly.
posted by Otis at 8:26 AM on May 11, 2007


This is a pretty good list considering they are polling the public, many of whom are not going to be cinephiles. My personal list would be radically different, but there are only a couple films on this list that I think aren't great. I would hate to see what the equivalent poll would look like in America.
posted by Falconetti at 8:31 AM on May 11, 2007


it sure seems like there are a lot more arbitrary lists of media created these days. It used to just be Rolling Stone, and occasionally, but now it seems like they are a replacement for actual articles.

It's all about the clicks, baby.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:32 AM on May 11, 2007


Film titles, like book titles, are italicized or underlined, not placed in quotes.

Cinema Paradiso was garbage.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:43 AM on May 11, 2007


This is a very good list. There are no movies that clearly don't belong.

That's bizarre. It's an OK list, for this sort of list, but as soon as I followed the poster's advice, scrolled down to the bottom, and saw Life Is Beautiful I rolled my eyes, and when I saw that the best movie of all time only made #39 I knew there was no point taking the list seriously. (Fine, you may not think La Règle du jeu is the best movie of all time, but if you don't think it belongs in the top 10, then I guess this list is for you.) And Cinema Paradiso and Amélie as the one-two punch? Give me a break.

Too little Godard, too few Russians, no Czechs, no Iranians ferchrissake... well, why go on? It's always fun to complain about these things, I guess. But this is not "a very good list."
posted by languagehat at 8:43 AM on May 11, 2007


Pan's Labyrinth has been discussed here before, but I was severely disappointed. There was far less fantasy than advertised, no one's actions made any sense, and it left me quite empty.
posted by ORthey at 8:44 AM on May 11, 2007


Shame no Indian films made it

Pather Panchali is #27.


It is interesting that this, the Indian film probably best known to non-Indians, was made outside of the studio system, isn't in Hindi, has no musical numbers, and is relatively short. There doesn't really seem to be a classic Bollywood film beloved the world over.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:47 AM on May 11, 2007


The best Miyazaki film is My Neighbor Totoro. Simple. Classic.

The best Studio Ghibli film is Grave of the Fireflies which is on Ebert's Great Movies: The First 100. I had the opportunity of watching this for the first time at the MOMA at a Studio Ghibli retrospective about seven years ago (where Miyazaki himself introduced the first US showing of My Neighbors the Yamadas).

Grave of the Fireflies is one of the most emotionally powerful films I've ever seen. Please take an evening to watch it.

ps. Original language with subtitles, please!
posted by paulinsanjuan at 8:49 AM on May 11, 2007


Don't listen to the haters. Pan's Labyrinth was brilliant.
posted by MythMaker at 8:51 AM on May 11, 2007


Another great foreign film that comes to mind - Swept Away (no, not the Modona abomination).
posted by caddis at 8:52 AM on May 11, 2007


I'm also very surprised that L'Avventura didn't make the list, if for no other reason than I would expect it to get the same number of "I didn't really like it but it's supposed to be good for you" votes as Breathless, The 400 Blows, Bicycle Thieves, and The Seventh Seal probably did. I guess Antonioni is going out of fashion after all. Pity.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:53 AM on May 11, 2007


No Lilya 4-ever?
posted by Aloysius Bear at 9:00 AM on May 11, 2007


I bought Grave of the Fireflies because it was so well reviewed, but I've only watched it once. I do agree it is a great film, but like many films on this list, I'm glad to have saw it just once, but it's not something I would watch repeatedly.
posted by spec80 at 9:01 AM on May 11, 2007


500 movie star impressions. Mostly from foreign films. Because he's foreign.
posted by puddpunk at 9:15 AM on May 11, 2007


WhaaaAAAT? No Die Bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant? Philistines!
/lost cause Fassbinderfangirlism
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:18 AM on May 11, 2007


Film titles, like book titles, are italicized or underlined, not placed in quotes.

Poems, articles, short stories and songs are, as I learned it (P.A.S.S.)

Pan's Labyrinth wasn't awful, but it didn't stand up to the hype.

No Hard Boiled or The Killer?

(And I guess it wouldn't suprise anyone that I have a framed movie poster of the mentioned Cyrano De Bergerac on my wall. I've got one of Red, too, now that I think about it.)
posted by Cyrano at 9:28 AM on May 11, 2007


No Burnt By The Sun? Mikhalkov? Anyone?
posted by jimmythefish at 9:30 AM on May 11, 2007


I was happily surprised to see In the Mood for Love on the list.
posted by rtha at 9:30 AM on May 11, 2007


I would have put "My Life As A Dog" on there.

And Pan's Labyrinth was terrible. Very predictible, full of cliches ... there are some great visuals, but that's not enough to save a movie filled with nothing but one-dimensional characters. I am aware that I'm part of a minority when I say that, though.
posted by chowflap at 9:43 AM on May 11, 2007


Oh my god, that review of Pan's Labyrinth Demogorgon linked to is stunning... "But for some odd reason, “Labyrinth” director [...] wraps an intimidating militaristic subplot around this potentially empowering fantasy. For some odd reason? Maybe because it was the whole point of the film?

(I thought it was an interesting but flawed movie; if it had been made more than a few years ago, there's no way it would've made this list... but I haven't seen a review miss the point so thoroughly since the guy who complained that Shortbus had too much sex in it.)
posted by ook at 9:55 AM on May 11, 2007


The big oversight in my opinion was there was nothing by Bresson. BUt, as dobbs said above and at least in the US, I don't think his films were easily available with subtitles until recently.
posted by Falconetti at 9:56 AM on May 11, 2007


Grave of the Fireflies made me blubber like a baby with a broken rattle.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:57 AM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


NO DARDENNE BROTHERS :O

I have been simmering about this list all day.
posted by fire&wings at 10:06 AM on May 11, 2007


Care to explain what freakyflicks is, what are the common characteristics of all the movies?
posted by Pastabagel at 11:13 AM on May 11, 2007


Selection varies, but generally, auteur directors, art house films, and foreign or interesting stuff.
posted by acro at 11:44 AM on May 11, 2007


I guess we can all find room to quibble with this awful and absurd list.
posted by ac30 at 12:14 PM on May 11, 2007


I'm curious that they skipped The City of Lost Children, which I thought Jeunet & Caro's best work, narrowly beating Delicatessen, which rocks. Amelie was visually beautiful, and very cute story-wise, but La Cite des Enfants Perdus was a brilliant, brilliant work.
posted by Busithoth at 1:05 PM on May 11, 2007


Amélie is a good movie, but it's about fifteen minutes too long, and Amélie herself is a little passive-aggressive and too self-consciously cute for my taste. I would have taken City Of Lost Children in a heartbeat for the mandatory Jeunet slot.

Pan's Labyrinth is a movie I myself loved, but I'm also perfectly aware that it doesn't truly place above Ran.

I hate Jules and Jim. Sorry.

Then again, the bias towards recent films is, in its own way, cause for good news. It shows that appreciation of foreign language films is still a contemporary, living experience, and not merely the consultation of old classics. I think it's fantastic that films like Amélie, Pan's Labyrinth, and City of God can find success, and can be seen as relatively mainstream choices for a list like this.

Besides, the list wasn't of the most important non-English films of all time. They're simply the favorite films of the readers.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:38 PM on May 11, 2007


No Emir Kusturika?. I recommend Underground
posted by elmono at 1:54 PM on May 11, 2007


La Cite des Enfants Perdus was a brilliant, brilliant work.

Wow. This is one of my most hated movies ever. :)
posted by dobbs at 2:19 PM on May 11, 2007


well dobbs, a great movie will inspire both love in some and hatred in others. (I'm in the latter camp with Lost in Translation, but seem plagued by the former).

Miette is a fantastic heroine, and displays ridiculously more stength than Amelie.
posted by Busithoth at 2:46 PM on May 11, 2007


I'm with you guys on City of Lost Children; it's the dog's bollocks.

I think it belongs in the top five.

p.s. It sure is nice to see ac30 here.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:21 PM on May 11, 2007


I watched two excellent french films (last few months), both with ambiguous titles, and both very enchanting, interesting, excellent acting and storytelling. Un air de famille (1996) and Le goût des autres (2000).

I am not an expert in cinematography, but I have a sense when things go wrong (which seems quite common in a lot of movies these days, awkward moments). The movies are very flowing, characters and conversations very interesting. There are very few movies I am inspired to rewatch again however I have seen both of them several times.

To see sympathetic characters and feel a connection to them is the most important reason I would watch a film, secondly to see things we couldn't see in daily life. I don't think it's snobbery to say most hollywood movies are a lot of style and not much substance. Aside from Blood Diamond which I actually liked quite a lot, how many films from hollywood have inspired me to think or grow? I would have to think quite a while.
posted by ryanfou at 3:22 PM on May 11, 2007


Just thinking alphabetically, there's no Antonioni, no Bertolucci, no Buñuel, ...

Forty does seem a bit limited, doesn't it?
posted by rob511 at 3:31 PM on May 11, 2007


I too am heartbroken that there is no Pavel Juracek, or any Czech cinema. No Marketa Lazarova? Personally, I hate Kolya, but Czech cinema is brilliant, witty and entertaining at the same time.

But it is a favourites list, and I can accept that and be happy that many of the films are quite good interesting choices. (Happy to see the bicycle theif. I haven't seen it since university, but I loved it).

The only thing that absolutely enrages me is Come and See-- a terrible, terrible film about the the massacre at Katyn by the Nazis. It's a bad film, and worse, a complete fabrication and retelling of history.

Curious why Solaris didn't make it.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 4:14 PM on May 11, 2007


I would be happy to watch almost every movie on that list. It may not be perfect, but it is pretty good. I do wish more people liked some of my favorites, most especially "Twilight Samurai".
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:09 PM on May 11, 2007


Meh, not my kind of list. "Crouching Tiger" should have been way higher. I liked "Il Postino" and "La Dolce Vita".
posted by Roger Davis at 5:12 PM on May 11, 2007


I too hate Jules et Jim.

No Amarcord? No La Strada?

No Rashomon? No Kagemusha?
posted by rdone at 5:47 PM on May 11, 2007


gesamtkunstwerk: I'd be interested to read, with an open mind, anything you can provide on the authenticity of events in Come And See, but really, "a terrible, terrible film"?

Honest? You thought there was no skill being employed? You weren't impressed with Alexei Kravchenko's performance? No redeeming features whatsoever?

I thought it was incredible. One of the best war films I've ever seen, certainly.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:05 PM on May 11, 2007


This is actually an awesome list for a readers' survey. It seriously exceeds any of my expectations for such a thing, and kind of renews my faith in humanity. Or at least the Guardian-reading British fraction of it.

I'm gonna quibble until I get tired of typing, now; mostly in response to y'all's comments.

chuckdarwin writes "'Spirited Away' is definitely not Miyazaki's best movie. I preferred 'Howl's Moving Castle'."

Spirited Away is, actually, Miyazaki's best movie.

fire&wings writes "The Bergman and Almodovar choices seem a little off"

Yeah, they could have done a lot better with Bergman. I also would have put Wild Strawberries higher, but I also would have put Persona and Scenes from a Marriage on this list. Scenes from a Marriage is always a problem for things like this, since it's this weird TV-miniseries/theatrical release hybrid, but it's probably my favorite Bergman. Captivating for hours on end. Liv Ullman...man. I guess the difficulty in categorizing Scenes is pretty much a perfect reflection of Bergman's stridently nontraditional career.

slimepuppy writes "Quite surprised to see 'Hidden' on a readers list as I know it inspired quite a lot of hatred with a lot of viewers..."

Can someone please, very slowly, explain Haneke to me? I want to like him, but I just can't. The Piano Teacher is on my Netflix queue....We'll see.

Dr-Baa writes "Strange, I've always seen the title translated as 'The Bicycle Thief.' Great film under any name though."

This changed in the new Criterion release (in the US, at least). The plural is, on the surface at least, more accurate, since the Italian is indisputably in the plural.

dobbs writes "Pather Panchali is #27."

And Charulata should have been top ten.

languagehat writes "Too little Godard, too few Russians, no Czechs, no Iranians ferchrissake... well, why go on? It's always fun to complain about these things, I guess. But this is not 'a very good list.'"

Holy shit, yes, where the fuck are the Iranians? Give the list some leeway for being a poll, though. I'm amazed at how well it turned out.

paulinsanjuan writes "Grave of the Fireflies is one of the most emotionally powerful films I've ever seen. Please take an evening to watch it."

I'm torn about this movie. It's certainly powerful, but I also get the sense that there might be a lot of cheap manipulation going on there. It is beautiful, though.

Well, I'm certainly not going to watch it again. Once is enough. Christ, I hear the music and I get all weepy.

jimmythefish writes "No Burnt By The Sun? Mikhalkov? Anyone?"

Me. That's a great movie.

Sticherbeast writes "I hate Jules and Jim. Sorry."

Yeah, well, at least you apologized. That's probably my number one, if we're going by the bizarre criterion of "they're not talkin' English".

My main complaints: Needs more Fellini (either La Strada or Nights of Cabiria, just so long as Masina is in there I'm not picky) and Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:23 AM on May 12, 2007


chuckdarwin writes: 'Spirited Away' is definitely not Miyazaki's best movie. I preferred 'Howl's Moving Castle'.

mr_roboto replies: Spirited Away is, actually, Miyazaki's best movie.

You're both wrong according to the vast majority of Japanese viewers, who've enshrined Miyazaki's Tonari no Totoro as one of the most beloved films in Japanese history. It's far and away the front runner, here in the birthplace of Miyazaki.

Anyway, emphatic pronouncements of "best" in discussions like this are, well, kinda funny, no? We're just talking about personal tastes here, after all.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:46 AM on May 12, 2007


Random:

- I'm not a huge animation fan, but now that I know Spirited Away was made by the director of My Neighbor Totoro, I HAVE to see it. Actually, I need to get a DVD copy of Totoro, too; it's been many years since I saw it (on VHS), but I loved that movie.

- Grave of the Fireflies is beautiful and haunting and great, but dear sweet baby Jesus lock your razor blades AWAY. I too am comfortable never in life watching this film again.

- Cache/Hidden becomes a less frustrating experience when you know to pay very, VERY close attention to the last shot. I didn't, and got to the end of a movie I had enjoyed to that point and kinda said to myself, "Well, that was a pretty good flick topped off with a cherry of artsy-fartsy ambiguity where an ending shoulda been..." Luckily, I had yet to return it when I was advised to look at the last scene a second time, and then...oh. Oh. I think perhaps the viewer has to do just a bit too much work to get to that "oh" point, but on the other hand, the movie is called Hidden, soooooo...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:18 AM on May 12, 2007


Missing:
Children of the Sun
The Tin Drum
Das Boot
posted by johnny7 at 12:29 PM on May 12, 2007


why is it that every time a list of anything is made people go on at length about WHAT A NON-LIST it is? it is impossible to placate everybody, so why not just use the lists as their meant to be used: as springboards for discussion, instead of wanking your e-dick and saying WHAT A WASTE of html that was.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 11:43 AM on May 13, 2007


There are always haters, but considering the way these things usually go this list got pretty positive reviews in the thread.
posted by caddis at 12:21 PM on May 13, 2007


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