My favorite kind of interplay between documentary and fiction is when a fictional character witnesses a documentary event. There is a scene in the film where Ingrid Bergman watches fishermen capturing an enormous school of giant tuna, and your astonishment becomes her astonishment (and vice versa), and this shared experience becomes an aspect of her characterization and your immersion in the material. The documentary and the fictional elements of the film heighten each other and overwhelm you. —DC
I love that the desires of Noriko (Setsuko Hara) are hidden from us for the majority of the film, until she makes a sudden decision that serves as a structural shift. We view the family’s daily life first as perpetual, then as fleeting. The film emphasizes the mysterious origins of what motivates us to action. —DC
This was my second Criterion (the first was À nos amours) and I remember being stunned by the appearance and reappearance of the young woman in the film, not knowing if she was a living person, a hallucination, a ghost, or a representation of Gena Rowlands’s youth. And then I realized that a decision didn’t have to be made—the character could be all of those things, both literal and metaphorical, and therefore irreducible. —DC
Djibril Diop Mambéty
This film has the most exciting uses of sound spatially abstracted from the image. There is a sequence where you hear Anta’s very physical choking and crying over waves crashing on the Senegalese shore. Anta is lying across Mory’s motorcycle (in reality or in a dream) on the beach, but her crying expands over and surges with the movement of the water. Mory and Anta’s journey doesn’t only have a dream logic in its progression, it also has the dimensionality of a dream, with reality being revealed and collapsed within it. Mambéty has this untethered and wide-ranging way of utilizing cinema’s particular capabilities in exploring this collapse. —DC
The ultimate conversationalist film. It brilliantly scrutinizes concerns around the archive of the mind, a particular fascination I try to explore in my own work. Taking on issues of authenticity, reproduction, and originality, Kiarostami turns them on their head and calls the whole thing irrelevant. —SB
Pierrot le fou
A nontraditional road movie that oscillates between a gangster paradise and a dangerous love affair unraveling in the French Riviera. This film inspired Chantal Akerman and the foundations upon which she built her cinema, and I can certainly say that I’m aligned with its raison d’être. —SB
How do we organize, catalogue, and access our memories? How do we process time? Is it something we can grasp? This concise blend of home movie, documentary, and essay, infused with science fiction, philosophizes the act of capturing images and our methods of ingestion. —SB
Les rendez-vous d’Anna
This film is very segmented, according to the places the protagonist travels, and also within each of its sections. It contains the most beautiful patterns and interrelationships that send you looping backward and help you feel it as a pulsing whole. In the Brussels hotel, Anna lies naked beside her mother and says that she’s always with her, a moment that makes you recall Anna alone and naked in another hotel room, in Cologne. There is this incredible yearning for and connection between female bodies, the self, the mother, birth! —DC
One of my favorite travelogues, this film explores determined and committed forms of isolation, tracking the long shadows cast by relationships past. Autobiography and fiction collide in this revealing self-portrait of Chantal Akerman’s most intimate and urgent struggles. —SB
I like how in Rohmer films the text is a standalone element, set apart from character and plot, with its own set of playful relationships. Maybe it feels especially pronounced in this film because the voice-over and dialogue are similarly rationalizing and weave you in and out of the film. I also love how Haydée’s unflinching dignity almost pokes fun of and humbles the text. —DC
The third of Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales, this was his first film shot in color, and he marks this breakthrough with flamboyant credits and bright summer bathers. I love any film that depicts hot, indulgent holidays in France, and this film is no exception. It was made, impressively, without a budget, and as a result Rohmer did extensive rehearsals with his actors and a few takes. They shot the film with only five flood light lamps and used natural light wherever possible. An impressively constructed work that ingeniously reflects Rohmer’s resourcefulness. —SB
Alison Maclean’s Top 10
Canadian-born director Alison Maclean’s films include Jesus’ Son (1999) and the newly released The Rehearsal, an official selection of Toronto International Film Festival and New York Film Festival.
Oren Moverman’s Top 10
Like any top ten list in any discipline by anyone privileged enough to be asked to catalog his professional indulgences for public viewing, the following list is deeply meaningful and truly meaningless.
Bruce Beresford’s Top 10
Bruce Beresford is the director of more than twenty-five features, including Breaker Morant (1980), Tender Mercies (1983), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Mister Johnson (1990), and Black Robe (1992).
Michael Imperioli’s Top 10
The Emmy-winning actor, best known for his work on The Sopranos, shares his list of Criterion favorites, lavishing special attention on three masterpieces by John Cassavetes.