The great Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu was born on December 12 1903 and died on the very same day in 1963. One of Mid Century Cinema’s favorites, we celebrate twelve-twelve as Ozu day.
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A milestone birthday celebration for Fritz Lang, who was born on December 5, 1890. Lang, a child of Vienna, would become one of the great directors of the thriving Weimar cinema that flowered in Germany during those tumultuous years between the end of the First World War and the Nazi seizure of power. Best known for the Sci-Fi dystopia Metropolis (1927), Lang also directed the silent classic Dr Mabuse: The Gambler (1922) and The Testament of Dr.
Finally, the fifth and last list of favorites—twenty-five films from the 1980s and 1990s. Again, and as always, it’s important to follow the Rules of the Game, but one reminder I will mention explicitly: only one director per list (and so any other films from that director which would have otherwise found a place on the list follow in italics). Wonderful films abound here—great films have always been made, and will always be made, even in the most dire of cultural settings.
A programming alert for followers of Mid Century Cinema: on the occasion of his eightieth birthday (!), I have written an appreciation of the films of Woody Allen for Bright Lights Film Journal, which can be read here.
So here they are, my top twenty-five from the seventies, (once again in order of domestic release date by country of origin). Obviously, this was the hardest list of all—looking back, it turns out this decade contributed TEN to my twenty-five greatest of all-time list; as always, those films noted by an asterisk.
Forging ahead with the “best of” lists . . .
Making lists is like watching movies by Ozu—once you start, it’s hard to stop.
What is your favorite movie? We are often asked that question here at Mid Century Cinema, and our stock response is to reject the question with a dismissive, even haughty wave of the hand. “Favorite”? “Best”? “The Greatest”? Just what are those words supposed to mean when talking about the movies? And to compare one to another? Impossible. Philistine! How can you even ask?
Worth seeking out is Francois Truffaut’s 1973 masterpiece Day for Night (La Nuit Americaine), just released in yet another characteristically marvelous special edition from the Criterion Collection. Day for Night is a movie that is in love with the movies—Roger Ebert called it “not only the best movie ever made about movies,” but also “a great entertainment.”