sol has cleverly put it all on me - and then on himself. Well done! Since my three favorite remaining films - including my two favorites from the whole list - were cut this round, I think I have to save one of them. Which one? Forgive me the personal reflections - and maybe sol will do the same? This is what I like about this game; indulge me please...
All three have a bit in common with each other for me if not in general. For one thing, I own books related to each of them (Noriko Smiling
about Late Spring
, and the novels Пикник на обочине / Roadside Picnic
and D'entre les morts / The Living and the Dead
on which Stalker
were based. All are the peaks of favorite directors; two of them contain an all-time favorite acting performance (Novak in Vertigo
and Hara in Late Spring
); two have all-time favorite musical scores (Stalker
), and all have been part of me for a long time.
was probably the last of the three that I saw for the first time, sometime in the mid-late 90s; I liked it a lot, I think, but I watched it in a retrospective with a bunch of other Ozu films and it didn't resonate as a particular favorite until re-seeing it about 5 years ago; I think I watched it within a few days of star Setsuko Hara's death in September 2015. And it was this viewing that catapulted it to where it is today. The theme of parental-child bonds stretching into middle age and after works on me more and more all the time, and Hara's presence overpowers me more with every viewing of this or anything else she's in; that second viewing solidified her place as my favorite actor of any gender and I parcel out her few available unseen films like precious gems, hoping to never hit the last one.
was my second Tarkovsky, and the experience of seeing it was a wonderful mirror to the film - I got off a train and had to walk for at least a mile in frigid weather, past a landscape of piles of tires, brackish water, melting dirty snow, unpleasant dark factories and broken-windowed abandoned buildings, to see this miraculous film in which almost nothing happens but which creates multitudes in the imagination. I saw all of Tarkovsky's films within the next few years (this was early in the 90s) but this has always been my favorite and even finally submitting to see it on video as I did after the Criterion BD came out did nothing to diminish it. Many of my favorite films have dreamlike qualities; some equal this in their own different ways but certainly none surpass it.
is the film I've known longest; I don't think I saw it when it got it's 1983 re-release alongside the other four Hitchcocks (Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Trouble With Harry, Rope
) that had all been long out of distribution, but I'm pretty sure the Music Box (Chicago) showed that same group around 1988-9 and I saw them all then, all for the first time I think. It knocked me over right away and was an instant top 10-20 film for me - I wish I still had my old lists, would be curious to see where I place it, I was already making top lists at the time - working in an artsy video store and being around other cinephiles and worshipping already at the altar of J. Rosenbaum, it was mandatory. In any case it's been a fixture in my cinematic world for 30+ years now and I've seen it at least 10 times, probably 3 or 4 of them in the cinema. It might be the only film I've seen on film/VHS/DVD/BD. And like the others, I re-watched it relatively recently, I'm thinking 2017 or so, and with my mother - who didn't like it much, I think too depressing for her, too unnerving. I was at that point just about the age James Stewart was when he made the film, and not for the first time I remarked to myself that those who complain about the age difference between him and Novak really just don't get what the film is about - or they just don't want to see a film about that subject at all. It's certainly about the male gaze but no more critical and harsh indictment of that male gaze and the fantastic longing that so many people (but especially men it seems) have for the unattainable has ever been made. It becomes more sad and bitter for me with every year and every viewing.
I will veto Vertigo