Pedro Costa’s Top10
Portuguese director Pedro Costa is the internationally acclaimed, award-winning artist behind the films Ossos, In Vanda’s Room, and Colossal Youth, available from Criterion in the special edition four-DVD box set Letters from Fontainhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa.
No bullshit sentimentality here. One of the most courageous films ever made. Mr John: We should celebrate that a child died a child. That one escaped. We lock them in our schools, we teach them our stupid taboos, we catch them in our wars, we massacre the innocents. The world is for children. The real world. They climb trees and roll on the grass, close to the ants . . .
In his top ten, Jean-Pierre Gorin tells you about John Ford’s praise of Jean Renoir. I’ll try to top his story: One day, Mizoguchi was asked who his favorite filmmaker was. “Ozu,” he answered without hesitation. And the journalist asked him why. “Because what he does is much more difficult than what I do.” (Needless to say that those six Mizoguchis in the Criterion Collection are priceless and were among Ozu’s favorite films.)
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
My friend Shigehiko Hasumi told me that Naruse was a very silent man because he had the feeling the world had betrayed him. Naruse was one of the greatest craftsmen of all time, a man who always spoke softly about our weaknesses. This is one of those rare films that will offer you new mysteries each time you see it.
The Exterminating Angel
“I’m lucky to have spent my childhood in the Middle Ages, or, as Huysmans described it, that ‘painful and exquisite’ epoch—painful in terms of its material aspects, perhaps, but exquisite in its spiritual life. What a contrast to the world of today!” Luis Buñuel always reminds us of what we’re constantly losing in this rotten society.
Heaven Can Wait
Another film about death, yet a film that just feels like a long, permanent convalescence. When everything seems hopeless and lost, Dr. Lubitsch is the one to call.
Our Man of Desire torturing us again with the cruelest of films.
Young Mr. Lincoln
What can I say? Mon frère français va parler pour moi. (Check J. P. Gorin’s top ten again.)
Carl Th. Dreyer
There are no children here, and no dogs.
Diary of a Country Priest
I first saw it on TV, one Easter Sunday. I was nine or ten, sick in bed. It made my convalescence so much sweeter (just like the old Lubitsch touch). I also remember Chronique d’Anna Magdalena Bach by Huillet and Straub being aired on a Christmas Day! If you’re this lucky, you’re hooked for life (imagine watching these films on TV nowadays).