10 Films The HOF-men Recommend: 9th Edition
Here is the 9th Edition of the HOF-Men Recommend Series. Like every time, we came up with a list of 10 movies you must see:
It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012) | Dir. Don Hertrzfeldt
Imagine yourself as a human being. You’re playing soccer with a seal when a train runs over you and opens your skull. This is the climax of a miserable movie called life. You’re lying in the bed surrounded by vague figures. The fragments of lost memories dance in front of you. Your head detaches from the body and floats in the space like a balloon. In this final moment of death, you feel elated. You stare death in the face. It looks like a Don Hertzfeldt movie. You wish you had watched It’s Such a Beautiful Day when you were alive. You want to go back in time and impart this wisdom to your younger self. You want to recommend It’s Such a Beautiful Day to everyone present in the room. But it’s too late. The World of Tomorrow awaits you.
The Man Who Left His Will on Film (1970) | Dir. Nagisa Oshima
Films of Oshima often portray the internal struggle of protagonist that leads to self-discovery. The Man Who Left His Will on Film is the masterpiece of meta-filmmaking where a university student commits the suicide and leaves his testament on the film. His camera is confiscated, his film is seized. The metaphysical mystery here is why the man who was supposed to capture the struggle of riots wasted the film stock by taking random shots of streets and rooftops. His friend attempts to find meaning by recreating it, while his girlfriend bathes naked in the images of the film. Every film is the testament of its filmmaker. Is this work of art filthy just because it cannot be perceived? Can one find the meaning or beauty in mundane landscape shots or is it just the waste of film?
The Mill and the Cross (2011) | Dir. Lech Majewski
The phrase ‘every frame a painting’ resonates strongly in the cinema of Polish artist Lech Majewski. His films are marked by stillness where characters are almost motionless. In this film, he brings Bruegel’s famous painting- The Way to Calvary- to the life. Majewski scratches the layers of history and culture to reveal the haunting details of painting filled with blood and brutality. We see Bruegel in the middle of composing his painting, like a spider weaving a web. Through this painting, he tells the story of Spanish Catholics oppressing peasants of Flanders, stories of the fallen god, mighty mill, the tree of death and the mother of condemned. Bruegel is the passive observer of humiliation and torture. Despite all the cruelty inflicted by humans, the real enemy in the Mill and the Cross is time. He paints so that he can stop the time and wrestle the senselessness of moment. Majewski composes every shot with perfection, using hundreds of filters to give it the look of a painting. He is to cinema was Bruegel was to painting.
Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003) | Dir. Tsai Ming-liang
An old theater in Taipei is closing. The film revolves around few people attending the last screening of Kung Hu’s classic martial art movie Dragon Inn. We see viewers watching the movie. An old man cries watching himself in a movie for the last time. ‘No one comes to movies anymore,’ he says to a friend who also co-starred in the original movie. More than the death of cinema, the film is about the death of cinema-going culture. Will our future generation consume cinema the same way we do? Will they know what is it like to immerse oneself in the projection screen surrounded by strangers in a dark room? In terms of action, nothing much happens in this movie, even camera doesn’t move, and yet it moves our heart with its profound images.
Blue (1993) | Dir. Derek Jarman
The inclusion of Derek Jaramn’s Blue may seem incongruous, for it defies our preconceived notion of what cinema is. Instead of moving images, viewers are confronted with the static blue screen. This is the cinema of sound. Everyone sees a different film based on images emanated from the sound. It relies on the imagination of viewers and can be a test of patience at times. Jarman made this film when he was going blind as a result of AIDS. He painted his illness in blue and narrated it. He accepted his sightlessness and started thinking blind, becoming blind. There is an endless sea of possibilities when you get rid of images. It pushes you to pay attention to words and create your own image. The lack of images in movie raises an interesting question: what do you see when you cannot see?