Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.
2008: Tulpan (Sergei Dvortsevoy)
This will be the final year I’ll tackle.
Tulpan, in terms of its bravura filmmaking, could be seen as the rural counterpart to my 2007 entry, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. If I had to guess, the film probably has fewer than 100 cuts. However, it covers a lot of ground. It’s one of these rare films that pushes my understanding of what’s possible in the medium and forces me to reconsider the directions in which I’d like to go. In fact, if I had an endless amount of time and money to do my next project, I would love to take the Mungiu or Dvortsevoy approach. To me, in terms of sheer technique, this is the most exciting filmmaking I have seen in many, many years.
What’s most inspiring to me about Dvortsevoy’s approach is the way he’s able to meld a virtuosic spirit with the most quotidian of subjects. It’s as if Orson Welles or Stanley Kubrick suddenly took on neorealism. The approach feels completely groundbreaking and new to me. And when I watch certain scenes—of course the birthing of the lamb is the first to come to mind—that approach is able to produce unprecedented effects and emotions.
Some people bemoan the death of cinema. But incredibly brave filmmakers like this will continue to open up new doors and directions. I, for one, continue to believe that the medium is still very young and that we are only starting to see all its great possibilities.
What moviemakers can learn: Choreography, preparation and planning. See what happens when these three elements meet courage and talent.
Other contenders for 2008: From this year, I really like Hirokazu Koreeda’s Still Walking, Olivier Assayas’ Summer Hours, Abel Ferrara’s Chelsea on the Rocks and Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s Lorna’s Silence. I love Megumi Sasaki’s Herb & Dorothy, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Tokyo Sonata and Claire Denis’ 35 Shots of Rum. And my closest runner-up is Gus Van Sant’s Milk.
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.