Friday, January 21, 2011

Paying Debts

I'm trying to overcome a fear of list-making and, in the process, I also want to give credit where credit is due. So here's a little mental / personal exercise: an incomplete list of films which opened doors or made me turn a corner. That is: an unranked, non-chronological cine-autobiography.

Difficulty level: 20th century post-silents only, no JLG.

The American Soldier (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1970)
Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966)
Antoine & Colette (François Truffaut, 1962)
An Autumn Afternoon (Yasujiro Ozu, 1962)
Away with Words (Christopher Doyle, 1999)
A Ball at the Anjo House (Kozaburo Yoshimura, 1947)
The Bells of St. Mary's (Leo McCarey, 1945)
Berlin Alexanderplatz (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1980)
Bigger Than Life (Nicholas Ray, 1956)
Bitter Moon (Roman Polanski, 1992)
Bitter Victory (Nicholas Ray, 1957)
Bhowani Junction (George Cukor, 1956)
Blaise Pascal (Roberto Rossellini, 1971)
Blow Out (Brian De Palma, 1981)
Bonjour Tristesse (Otto Preminger, 1958)
The Bronte Sisters (Andre Techine, 1979)
Bullet in the Head (John Woo, 1990)
Le Chant du Styrene (Alain Resnais, 1957)
Chimes at Midnight (Orson Welles, 1965)
City of Sadness (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 1989)
A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971)
Cold Water (Olivier Assayas, 1994)
The Cotton Club (Francis Ford Coppola, 1984)
A Countess from Hong Kong (Charles Chaplin, 1967)
The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (Otto Preminger, 1955)
Cracking Up (Jerry Lewis, 1983)
The Crime of Monsieur Lange (Jean Renoir, 1936)
Crash (David Cronenberg, 1996)
The Crazies (George A. Romero, 1973)
Dangerous Game (Abel Ferrara, 1993)
Dead Ringers (David Cronenberg, 1988)
Die Hard with a Vengeance (John McTiernan, 1995)
Distant Voices, Still Lives (Terence Davies, 1988)
Doomed Love (Manoel de Oliveira, 1978)
El (Luis Buñuel, 1953)
Everybody's Woman (Max Ophüls, 1934)
Five Women Around Utamaro (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1946)
Forty Guns (Samuel Fuller, 1957)
Four Adventures of Reinette & Mirabelle (Eric Rohmer, 1987)
Four Nights of a Dreamer (Robert Bresson, 1971)
The Gang of Four (Jacques Rivette, 1989)
Germany Year Zero (Roberto Rossellini, 1948)
The Great Garrick (James Whale, 1937)
Happy Together (Won Kar-wai, 1997)
Hatari! (Howard Hawks, 1962)
The Heartbreak Kid (Elaine May, 1972)
Heaven’s Gate (Michael Cimino, 1980)
Henry Fool (Hal Hartley, 1997)
Hôtel des Amériques (André Téchiné, 1981)
The House is Black (Forugh Farrokhzad, 1962)
House of Bamboo (Samuel Fuller, 1955)
House Party (Reginald Hudlin, 1990)
I Confess (Alfred Hitchcock, 1953)
I Am Twenty (Marlen Khutsiev, 1961)
The Illumination (Krzysztof Zanussi, 1972)
Jacques Rivette: The Night Watchman (Claire Denis, 1990)
Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954)
L'Argent (Robert Bresson, 1983)
The Ladies Man (Jerry Lewis, 1961)
The Lady from Shanghai (Orson Welles, 1948)
Le Plaisir (Max Ophüls, 1952)
The Lieutenant Wore Skirts (Frank Tashlin, 1956)
Life Lessons (Martin Scorsese, 1989)
The Little Theater of Jean Renoir (Jean Renoir, 1970)
Loulou (Maurice Pialat, 1980)
Love Streams (John Cassavetes, 1984)
The Lovers on the Bridge (Leos Carax, 1991)
The Lusty Men (Nicholas Ray, 1952)
Magnet of Doom (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1963)
The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942)
The Man I Killed (Ernst Lubitsch, 1932)
Man of Marble (Andrzej Wajda, 1977)
Manpower (Raoul Walsh, 1941)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)
Model Shop (Jacques Demy, 1969)
Modern Romance (Albert Brooks, 1981)
The Moderns (Alan Rudolph, 1988)
Monika (Ingmar Bergman, 1953)
Monsieur Verdoux (Charles Chaplin, 1947)
Montparnasse 19 (Jacques Becker, 1958)
Mother and Son (Aleksandr Sokurov, 1997)
Mouchette (Robert Bresson, 1967)
Muriel (Alain Resnais, 1963)
Mr. Arkadin (Orson Welles, 1955)
My Friend Ivan Lapshin (Aleksei Gherman, 1984)
No Fear No Die (Claire Denis, 1990)
Once Upon a Time in America (Sergio Leone, 1984)
One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (Agnes Varda, 1976)
1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (Fritz Lang, 1960)
Ordet (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1955)
Othello (Orson Welles, 1952)
Out 1: Noli Mi Tangere (Jacques Rivette, 1971)
Parade (Jacques Tati, 1974)
Park Row (Samuel Fuller, 1952)
Play Time (Jacques Tati, 1967)
The Plough and the Stars (John Ford, 1936)
Pola X (Leos Carax, 1999)
Prefab Story (Vera Chytilova, 1979)
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (Billy Wilder, 1970)
Rancho Notorious (Fritz Lang, 1952)
Red Line 7000 (Howard Hawks, 1965)
Red Viburnum (Vasili Shukshin, 1973)
Rendezvous in July (Jacques Becker, 1949)
Rock-a-Bye Baby (Frank Tashlin, 1958)
Rue Fontaine (Philippe Garrel, 1984)
The Saga of Anatahan (Josef von Sternberg, 1953)
Security Unlimited (Michael Hui, 1981)
The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (Preston Sturges, 1947)
Sisters of the Gion (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1936)
Shoah (Claude Lanzmann, 1985)
Showgirls (Paul Verhoeven, 1995)
The Soft Skin (François Truffaut, 1962)
Some Came Running (Vincente Minnelli, 1958)
The Spirit of St. Louis (Billy Wilder, 1957)
A Star is Born (George Cukor, 1954)
Strangers When We Meet (Richard Quine, 1960)
Street of Shame (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1956)
Street Scene (King Vidor, 1931)
The Struggle (D.W. Griffith, 1931)
Summer Interlude (Ingmar Bergman, 1951)
Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997)
Thief (Michael Mann, 1981)
Thieves' Highway (Jules Dassin, 1949)
Three Days (Sharunas Bartas, 1991)
A Time to Love and a Time to Die (Douglas Sirk, 1958)
Topaz (Alfred Hitchcock, 1969)
Track of the Cat (William Wellman, 1954)
The Trouble with Harry (Alfred Hitchcock, 1955)
Two English Girls (François Truffaut, 1971)
Two People (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1945)
Under the Bridges (Helmut Käutner, 1945)
Van Gogh (Maurice Pialat, 1991)
Von Heute auf Morgen (Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet, 1997)
Voyage in Italy (Roberto Rossellini, 1954)
We Can't Go Home Again (Nicholas Ray, 1976)
Welfare (Frederick Wiseman, 1975)
The Weir-Falcon Saga (Stan Brakhage, 1970)
A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974)
The Wrong Man (Alfred Hitchcock, 1957)
Zero for Conduct (Jean Vigo, 1933)


Kurt Walker said...

Rue Fontaine the only garrel? interesting!

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky said...

These aren't favorites, or even favorite directors, as much as they are films that sent me in particular new directions. As I decided that the list would be limited to 20th century films, that exempts the film that turned be on to Garrel (and quite a few other things): Regular Lovers.

Koroviev said...

That is a curious list, with a lot of great movies and interesting choices. Can you explain what you mean when you say that those films sent you in the new direction?

st.andrew said...

I'm incredulous as to the lack of springboards from your adolescence, even with the 'no JLG' hook.

Also: Helzapoppin'.

Jack Lehtonen said...

Very cool, liking the respect for several choices, such as Hatari!, Heaven's Gate, and Bullet in the Head!

Die Hard With a Vengeance? Interesting choice. McTiernan fan I presume?

Anonymous said...


An excellent list. Sure you can't put one Godard?

I think with you being a die hard Romero fan, that Martin should get some love.

Also, on your show you need to propagate that John McTiernan is one of the great american auteurs of the post war era.

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky said...


They're films that either made me re-appraise some position or influenced future opinions. Bells of St. Mary's, for example, while hardly my favorite Leo McCarey, made me realize how easily cinema could transform conservative ideas into radical notions; McCarey's unwavering devotion to the film's idea of Catholicism actually disrupts it, and gives the film an almost anarchic pace and structure.


You know me too well (though A Clockwork Orange is on here as a childhood favorite).


Yeah, I'm pretty keen on McTiernan, especially that one and Rollerball.


As I wrote at the top ("difficulty level"), this would be a Godard-free list, because otherwise I would have put nearly every one of his features and shorts on it.

As for Romero, this is less a list of favorites and more a list of films that lead to realizations, and I've found The Crazies especially fruitful.

Jaime said...

"this is less a list of favorites and more a list of films that lead to realizations"

That sounds like quite an ambition (and the result is quite a feat) - I can hardly imagine embarking on such an adventure, without first unwiring and rewiring my brain. Well done!

man in the iron mask said...

You know what's cool than a list? A list with descriptions.
Ignatiy, a line or two, here and there, say about the Thief or Forty Guns would about be an awesome jab at an cine-autobiography....

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky said...

That's forthcoming. This is the first step in an ongoing projects. 1) Identify. 2) Describe. 3) Who knows?

Anonymous said...

Would be super curious to hear at some point your thoughts on The Plough and the Stars, or how it "opened a door" etc. A very interesting and neglected (perhaps with good reason to some) entry in the Ford oeuvre that has had, as far as I can tell, virtually next to nothing written about it, other than a few varied and not terribly specific accounts of production woes.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see Pialat make the list though he'd probably hate you for the compliment. Still, a Pedro Costa-less list seems a little murky. Pretty, pretty murky.

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky said...

I don't know if you're two different Anons, or the same person, but for caution's sake I'll address you separately.

Anon #1,

It made me re-formulate what I understood to be Ford's style; I hope to write something on it someday (or, rather, produce a piece of writing -- extensive notes are all I have at this point).

Anon #2,

As "opening a door" is Costa's phrase, of course it's a little unusual to have a Costa-less list -- but I restricted myself to films released pre-2000, and the Costas that have had the biggest impact on me, in ascending order, are: Where Does You Hidden Smile Lie?, The Rabbit Hunters, Colossal Youth and In Vanda's Room -- all 2000 or later.

Search Trucks said...

sory but i am not unserstood your site brifely.pls giv some idea i hv instred in this!

Asher said...

I think Topaz is a masterpiece of sorts. But how does one see The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell? If I'm not mistaken, the one DVD out there is a pan and scan.

Sam Irving said...

Hi Ignatiy

How do you review movies? As in, what things do you tend to find yourself looking for on a reg. basis in movies?

I just ask because I like your taste and I also like J Rosenbaum's. Is it the mise en scene that should be most important?

And do you know why Cahiers du cinema never pays much attention to the films of Michael Haneke and Lars Von Trier?

Victoryperfect said...

Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. thank u

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