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If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot: Kenji Fujishima’s Top 10 Films of All Time

I’m totally willing to admit, at the outset, the possibility that any of my favorite 10 below may decline in estimation over time.

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If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot: Kenji Fujishima’s Top 10 Films of All Time

Editor’s Note: In light of Sight & Sound’s film poll, which, every decade, queries critics and directors the world over before arriving at a communal Top 10 list, we polled our own writers, who didn’t partake in the project, but have bold, discerning, and provocative lists to share.

In trying to whip up a Top 10 for this alternative Sight & Sound poll, I decided from the beginning to try to forgo any extra-cinematic considerations and simply go with 10 films that mean a great deal to me personally. There’s an implicit canon-building aspect to this particular exercise, and surely some would feel a need to take into account not only previous Sight & Sound poll-toppers (Citizen Kane, The Rules of the Game, , etc.), but also such things as historical importance in coming up with a list for posterity. But where’s the fun in that? Besides, screw posterity: I’m totally willing to admit, at the outset, the possibility that any of my favorite 10 below may decline in estimation over time, to be replaced by another film entirely that I may begin to appreciate more as I grow older. For now, though, these are 10 films that I could not part with in my life.

The Passion of Joan of Arc

10. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928). I’m not an especially religious person, but I find that I’m often moved by depictions of religious fervor in cinema, appealing to the agnostic in me. Carl Theodor Dreyer silent masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc was the first film I saw that instilled in me an awareness of that kind of spiritual feeling in a film—the first time I experienced cinema as akin to sitting in a church, with each enraptured close-up of Renée Maria Falconetti’s suffering face instilling something close to the awe Joan of Arc surely felt even under the greatest duress.

Four Nights of a Dreamer

9. Four Nights of a Dreamer (Robert Bresson, 1971). If there’s a film that lays bare my soul, for better and for worse, it would be Robert Bresson’s Four Nights of a Dreamer. In this umpteenth adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s short story White Nights, Bresson surrenders to his inner romantic with, for instance, a swoon-worthy depiction of a shimmering Paris at night. But this isn’t completely free of his usual sober contemplation, most pointedly in the film’s depiction of the titular “dreamer” as an aspiring artist who’s perhaps too wrapped up in his art to be able to fully access genuine human experience. Four Nights of a Dreamer may not necessarily be the filmmaker’s greatest film, but it’s the one I love the most.

Tokyo Story

8. Tokyo Story (Yasujirô Ozu, 1953). In writing about Paul Haggis’s Crash, Roger Ebert saw in it a film with the capacity to change people. A film that can more legitimately claim such power is Yasujirô Ozu’s Tokyo Story. As someone who has, time and time again, done/not done/said things to my parents that I’m not necessarily proud of, I see in Tokyo Story a film of great artistry and profound insight that never fails to shake me out of my complacency when it comes to familial relations and intergenerational gaps. Ozu films things so simply, and yet so much wisdom and emotional power emerges from his surface serenity.

The Crowd

7. The Crowd (King Vidor, 1928). Even before Arthur Miller put the American Dream on trial in his stage play Death of a Salesman, King Vidor interrogated it in The Crowd, the chronicle of an ordinary working-class Joe who dreams of greatness, of standing out from “the crowd,” but who finds himself stifled by the harsh realities of daily life. Intimate in scale yet universal in scope, this bleak drama of grand failures and small triumphs retains its subversive charge without sacrificing compassion.

Barry Lyndon

6. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975). 2001: A Space Odyssey may have a greater reach and scope among all of Stanley Kubrick’s films, but this adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel of the same name shows Kubrick at both his most masterful and his most humane. By the end of this stately three-hour costume drama, something resembling true empathy cracks through Kubrick’s detachment in a way that is generally alien to his work.

Last Life in the Universe

5. Last Life in the Universe (Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, 2003). This underappreciated film from Thai director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang is a drifting, serio-comic meditation on that never-ending human conflict between order and chaos. That conflict is encoded into the film’s DNA, with Ratanaruang’s neat images purposefully clashing with a narrative that at times seems perched on the edge of self-destruction. Not that there haven’t been other films about that subject, but with Christopher Doyle’s astonishing cinematography and especially Hualampong Riddim and Small Room’s evocative ambient score, Last Life in the Universe hits my sweet spots in ways many other films of this type do not.

2 or 3 Things I Know About Her

4. 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967). Austrian composer Gustav Mahler once famously said to Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, “A symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.” Jean-Luc Godard’s essay film embodies that all-over-the-place mindset in still-exhilarating fashion. From consumer culture and American imperialism to images versus reality, Godard uses the narrative hook of 24 hours in the life of a housewife/prostitute to ruminate on nothing less than the state of the world in 1967—one that still manages to be as relevant as ever 45 years later.

Fallen Angels

3. Fallen Angels (Wong Kar-wai, 1995). In his own way, Wong Kar-wai has made his own paean to the desire to connect in a coldly urban environment; it’s just that Wong’s intoxicating, neon-lit, hyperbolically moody style stands in stark contrast to Jacques Tati’s gag-laden cosmic detachment. The surface scintillates, sure, but subsequent viewings of this darker and stranger follow-up to Chungking Express reveal further depths of emotion and profundity amid its swooning evocation of hopeless romanticism. Wong may have more perfect (In the Mood for Love) and more ambitious (2046) films to his credit, but this remains the one that moves me the most.

Vertigo

2. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958). Alfred Hitchcock’s devastating fever dream about the power of images continues to exert a fascination as haunting as protagonist Scottie Ferguson’s increasingly disturbing obsession with Madeleine Elster—not the real person underneath (barely glimpsed anyway), but a glamorous and all too unreal projection. A twisted love story, a dark allegory of the lure of movies, a character study of a man consumed by an obsession with something that doesn’t exist—Vertigo is all this, and more, as unsettling now as it ever was.

Playtime

1. Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967). Jacques Tati’s towering masterpiece remains a rich and endlessly rewarding vision of urban alienation, one that eventually casts off easy cynicism for a heartening depiction of the possibility of forging genuine connections even in the most soulless and intimidating of environments. For all of Playtime’s innovations (its plotlessness, its de-emphasis on central characters, its densely packed mise-en-scène), it’s Tati’s sense of humanity that has continued to shine through.

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Watch: The Long-Awaited Deadwood Movie Gets Teaser Trailer and Premiere Date

Welcome to fucking Deadwood!

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Deadwood
Photo: HBO

At long last, we’re finally going to see more of Deadwood. Very soon after the HBO series’s cancellation in 2006, creator David Milch announced that he agreed to produce a pair of two-hour films to tie up the loose ends left after the third season. It’s been a long road since, and after many false starts over the years, production on one standalone film started in fall 2018. And today we have a glorious teaser for the film, which releases on HBO on May 31. Below is the official description of the film:

The Deadwood film follows the indelible characters of the series, who are reunited after ten years to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought.

And below is the teaser trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAcftIUE6MQ

Deadwood: The Movie airs on HBO on May 31.

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Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Gets Teaser Trailer

When it rains, it pours.

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Photo: Columbia Pictures

When it rains, it pours. Four days after Quentin Tarantino once more laid into John Ford in a piece written for his Beverly Cinema website that saw the filmmaker referring to Ford’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon as Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and two days after Columbia Pictures released poster art for QT’s ninth feature that wasn’t exactly of the highest order, the studio has released a teaser for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The film was announced early last year, with Tarantino describing it as “a story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood.”

Set on the eve of the Manson family murders, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tells the story of TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they try to get involved in the film industry. The film also stars Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate), Al Pacino, the late Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell, and Bruce Dern in a part originally intended for the late Burt Reynolds.

See the teaser below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Scf8nIJCvs4

Columbia Pictures will release Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on July 26.

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Watch the Stranger Things 3 Trailer, and to the Tune of Mötley Crüe and the Who

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence.

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Stranger Things 3
Photo: Netflix

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence. On Friday, Jeff Tremaine’s The Dirt, a biopic about Mötley Crüe’s rise to fame, drops on Netflix. Today, the streaming service has released the trailer for the third season of Stranger Things. The clip opens with the strains of Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home,” all the better to underline that the peace and quiet that returned to the fictional rural town of Hawkins, Indiana at the end of the show’s second season is just waiting to be upset again.

Little is known about the plot of the new season, and the trailer keeps things pretty vague, though the Duffer Brothers have suggested that the storyline will take place a year after the events of the last season—duh, we know when “Home Sweet Home” came out—and focus on the main characters’ puberty pangs. That said, according to Reddit sleuths who’ve obsessed over such details as the nuances of the new season’s poster art, it looks like Max and company are going to have to contend with demon rats no doubt released from the Upside Down.

See below for the new season’s trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEG3bmU_WaI

Stranger Things 3 premieres globally on July 4.

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