Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.
1967–La Collectionneuse (Eric Rohmer)
The funny thing about a list like this is that it somewhat misrepresents my favorite films. Some years contain three of my all-time favorites, which makes it difficult to pick just one to write about. Some films covered in this blog are simply my favorite film from their particular year. For instance, this Rohmer is not even my favorite film of his; that would be his 1986 film Summer. In fact, La Collectionneuse is not even in my top three. My other two favorites are My Night at Maud’s and Full Moon in Paris. I still really love this film, and am happy that it can be at the top of my list, but I just wanted to clarify before going on.
I was so sad to hear of Eric Rohmer’s passing a year or so ago. He represented a certain sophistication, elegance and consistency of output that is becoming more of a rarity with each passing year. Many people focus on Rohmer’s writing and the natural, real quality of how his characters speak. I certainly share in that admiration, but what’s always most impressed me is Rohmer’s unparalleled ability with actors. He’s simply able to make their performances seem real. Sure, much of this stems from the writing, but Rohmer must also create an environment that makes them feel comfortable, then film them in a way that maximizes his goal of dramatizing real life.
I’m now two paragraphs in and have yet to talk about this year’s film. Call it a cop out, but I think that, more than any other director, there’s a great similarity to most of Rohmer’s films, so much so that it can be hard to remember one from the other. The things that stand out to me about La Collectionneuse are the sexiness of Haydée Politoff, the way that Rohmer handles the beautiful countryside location and, most of all, its wonderful, abrupt ending.
In highlighting the French New Wave, I’ve already mentioned the playfulness and beauty that many of the films share. One other aspect that I think is somewhat forgotten is the way French New Wave directors were able to create some of the best endings in the history of film. As opposed to many films nowadays, most of the French New Wave films end five minutes earlier than expected and in a completely abrupt and unresolved fashion. La Collectionneuse is no exception and–
What moviemakers can learn: One thing that is rarely discussed about moviemaking is the importance of on-set atmosphere. An organized, calm and emotionally safe environment is often a major intangible when it comes to a director being able to get wonderful performances from their actors.
Other contenders for 1967: I still need to see several titles. These include: Jim McBride’s David Holzman’s Diary, Marco Bellocchio’s China is Near, Miklós Jancsó’s The Red and the White and Frantisek Vlácil’s Marketa Lazarová. I need to revisit Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï, Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour and Stuart Rosenberg’s Cool Hand Luke, as it’s been too long since I’ve seen any of them to know where they’d place on this list. From this year, I really like Monte Hellman’s The Shooting, John Boorman’s Point Blank and Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde. I love Jean-Luc Godard’s Weekend, D.A. Pennebaker’s Don’t Look Back and Robert Bresson’s Mouchette, but my closest runner-up is Jean-Luc Godard’s La Chinoise.
After living in Los Angeles for seven years, Jeffrey Goodman returned to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana to direct The Last Lullaby. Co-written by the creator of Road to Perdition, and starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander, The Last Lullaby was filmed entirely in and around Shreveport and financed by 48 local investors. Goodman is now at work raising money for his next feature, Peril.