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The Leopard (#110 of 4)

If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot Tony Dayoub’s Top 10 Films of All Time

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

When The House Next Door invited its writers to submit their Top 10 films of all time, I was faced with the usual conundrum: What does “Top 10” signify – best or favorite? After much consideration, I’m happy to say that the list I came up with could easily represent either. These are definitely personal favorites, but, in my not-so-humble opinion, they are also unassailable in their perfection, and could easily fall at the top of any all-time best list arrived at by consensus.

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

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

Bearing in mind the fundamentally mercurial nature of any such list (at least as far as I’m concerned), apt to alter its constituent membership with the swiftness of a weathervane buffeted by hurricane-force winds, I hereby present the 10 films that rank as my current favorites.

São Paulo International Film Festival 2011: Tales of the Night, Histórias Que Só Existem Quando Lembradas, & The Leopard

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São Paulo International Film Festival 2011: Tales of the Night, Histórias Que Só Existem Quando Lembradas, & The Leopard
São Paulo International Film Festival 2011: Tales of the Night, Histórias Que Só Existem Quando Lembradas, & The Leopard

São Paulo is enormous. Its 11 million-plus citizens make it the world’s seventh-most populated city, and the people have spread out across around 2,000 square kilometers (more than 750 square miles). Innumerable roads connect the city’s different parts to each other, and make it extremely hard to get around without using a bus or a car. This in turn leads to terrible traffic.

The traffic means that a Mostra filmgoer must be clever and careful, scheduling his or her film screenings so as to be able to make them all. Fortunately, the Mostra has placed 10 of its 22 screens this year within a half-hour walk of each other, all located around Avenida Paulista, a long, major street also full of businesses, banks, museums, and malls. If one simply stays in this area, one can fill one’s schedule nicely, as nearly every film on the program plays at least once within it. But any filmgoer would tell you that convenience only makes up part of the decision as to where to see a movie. The space’s comfort and the screen’s appropriateness to the film are also very key.

São Paulo International Film Festival 2011: The Seventh Satellite, The Mystery of the Lagoons, Andino Fragments, The Day He Arrives, & More

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São Paulo International Film Festival 2011: <em>The Seventh Satellite</em>, <em>The Mystery of the Lagoons, Andino Fragments</em>, <em>The Day He Arrives</em>, & More
São Paulo International Film Festival 2011: <em>The Seventh Satellite</em>, <em>The Mystery of the Lagoons, Andino Fragments</em>, <em>The Day He Arrives</em>, & More

A prominent Brazilian film critic said that he was most excited for the nine Elia Kazan films screening at this year’s Mostra. I said that the prints should be good, thinking about the complete Elia Kazan retrospective at New York’s Film Forum in 2009, which included beautiful new prints of On the Waterfront and Wild River, and about the fact that Kazan’s widow Frances was attending this year’s festival in person. “Yes,” he said, “I’m sure they’re all on film.”

The remark was surprising, until I considered it. I lived in New York for three years before moving to São Paulo last December, during which time I discovered a number of amazing films I would never have had exposure to otherwise, oftentimes on beautiful 35mm prints. Yet the city also instilled a kind of provincial thinking, leading me to assume that every other large city had the same resources. São Paulo is a wonderful place for filmgoing, with large series or retrospectives happening less than every two months, yet when you go to see an American or European film in repertory it’s often an imported print with French or English subtitles, with additional Portuguese subtitles projected electronically beneath. This was certainly the case with complete retrospectives this year devoted to major filmmakers as various as Claire Denis, Alfred Hitchcock, Luc Moullet, and Béla Tarr; one of the programmers of last year’s massive John Ford series told me he couldn’t find a single Ford print in Brazil.