Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.
2000: Yi Yi (Edward Yang)
The great art of humanism is alive and well. Well, of course it is, as long as Abbas Kiarostami is still making movies. But this year, for once, it’s not an Iranian film that I thought was the most humanist, but rather this entry from late Taiwanese director Edward Yang.
Yi Yi has the depth of character of the great Dreyer and Ozu films but with a little less austerity and a little more warmth. It’s nothing flashy, just committed, engaged cinema that wants us to look at ourselves and come away with a little more understanding.
Yang has a very natural, unobtrusive style that’s rigorous without being cold. He is neither as formal as Takeshi Kitano, Tsai Ming-liang or Wong Kar-wai, nor as demanding as Hou Hsiao-hsien, Jia Zhangke or Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Yi Yi is a wonderfully accessible film with unusual depth, patience and heart.
What moviemakers can learn: I worry that American cinema in the future will have no equivalents to some of the world’s best moviemakers, particularly when it comes to medium-scale character explorations. I challenge everyone out there: Who will be America’s next great humanist and provide us with canvases as probing, rich, introspective and cinematically sound as Yi Yi?
Other contenders for 2000: From this year, I still have some things to see. These include: Agnès Varda’s The Gleaners & I, Arnaud Desplechin’s Esther Kahn and Hong Sang-Soo’s Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors. At some point I need to revisit Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark and Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, as I struggled a little the first time I saw them. But from this year I really like David Gordon Green’s George Washington, Robert Zemeckis’ Cast Away and Gus Van Sant’s Finding Forrester. I love Bahman Ghobadi’s A Time for Drunken Horses and Jim McKay’s Our Song. And my closest runner-up is François Ozon’s Under the Sand.
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.