Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.
2007: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu)
It only seems apt that the two directorial achievements that most impressed me over the last decade are my final two picks of this countdown.
I have long been interested in the idea of an aesthetic that captures the real with methods that are precise and formal. It’s a difficult balance to strike, and many films aiming for something more formal end up distancing themselves from reality. Meanwhile, films that want to feel real often end up sacrificing a formal system for something more intimate and immediate.
When I saw Mungiu’s film, I was shocked at how well he was able to achieve this balance as I describe it above. His film is one of the most technically complex I have ever seen, yet somehow he is able to insert this approach into something that always feels incredibly real and alive.
I guess we can chalk it up to many things: Acting, writing, production design, lighting and cinematography. In other words, moviemaking. Everything must be working in great harmony for Mungiu to achieve this result.
All I can say is, I can’t think of a more harrowing scene than the negotiation with the “doctor.” Nor can I think of a scene more rife with tension than when Otilia and Adi attend the birthday party. This is moviemaking of the highest order. Brave, emotional and one of the most remarkable achievements I can remember seeing in a very long time.
What moviemakers can learn: Who is currently making the most formally artistic and daring movies in the world? I put the Romanian moviemakers—and this movie by Mungiu in particular—on the very top shelf. Have a look.
Other contenders for 2007: From this year, I still have some things to see. These include: Pedro Costa’s Colossal Youth and Abderrahmane Sissako’s Bamako. I really like the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men, Aaron Katz’s Quiet City, Grant Gee’s Joy Division, Abel Ferrara’s Go Go Tales and David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises. I love Tina Mascara and Guido Santi’s Chris & Don. A Love Story. And my closest runner-up is Garth Jennings’ Son of Rambow.
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.