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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

BAMcinématek’s Best of 2015

Once again, the BAMcinématek staff indulges in its annual bout of list-making. And there's much to love: 2015 was an embarrassment of riches, both in the wealth of stellar new releases (several of which played on our screens) and the city's endless font of repertory discoveries. Here's the cream of our crop:

OUT 1: Noli me Tangere, Jacques Rivette

Gabriele Caroti, Director

OUT 1: Noli me Tangere (Jacques Rivette)
Our Little Sister (Hirokazu Koreeda)
Tangerine (Sean Baker)
45 Years (Andrew Haigh)
Son of Saul (Laszlo Nemes)
The Americans (Joe Weisberg)
Anomalisa (Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson)
Chevalier (Athena Rachel Tsangari)
Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhangke)

Everything and More, Rachel Rose

Andrew Chan, Marketing Manager

The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
That Hou and his genius DP Mark Lee Ping-bin deliver the most heart-stopping images seen on a screen this year comes as no surprise. More extraordinary is how they've breathed new life into one of the oldest genres in Chinese cinema by imbuing it with a luxurious, slow-burning lyricism even King Hu might have envied, in the process laying bare the shallowness of every arthouse wuxia wannabe from Zhang Yimou to Wong Kar-wai.

Experimenter (Michael Almereyda)
The best thing I saw at Sundance was this masterful biopic, which achieves its richness of tone by matching a deceptively fleet-footed meta structure with a palpable anguish (and compassion) in the face of human cruelty and fallibility. Also, substantial screen time for Winona Ryder is something to celebrate.

Everything and More (Rachel Rose)
Anyone who uses the wordless gospel melismas of Aretha Franklin as the aural correlative to the free-flowing mysteries of the universe has got my attention on lock.

Magic Mike XXL (Gregory Jacobs)
At least two scenes that count among the most transcendent dance numbers in film history (not kidding), plus Jada Pinkett Smith demonstrating why she is one of Hollywood's most inexplicably untapped treasures.

In Jackson Heights (Frederick Wiseman)
Counting (Jem Cohen)
Jauja (Lisandro Alonso)
Phoenix (Christian Petzold)
The Iron Ministry (J.P. Sniadecki)
Appropriate Behavior (Desiree Akhavan)

Office, Johnnie To
Nellie Killian, Programmer

45 Years (Andrew Haigh)
Arabian Nights (Miguel Gomes)
The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Bridge of Spies (Steven Spielberg)
Carol (Todd Haynes)
Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas)
The Forbidden Room (Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson)
Heart of a Dog (Laurie Anderson)
In Jackson Heights (Frederick Wiseman)
Magic Mike XXL (Gregory Jacobs)
Office (Johnnie To)
Phoenix (Christian Petzold)
The Princess of France (Matias Pineiro)
Taxi (Jafar Panahi)
Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako)

Best film experience of 2015: The Nitrate Picture Show

Special mention: Nathan for You

Two moving youtubes:

Clouds of Sils Maria, Olivier Assayas
Maureen Masters, Publicity Manager

New Releases
(What can I say? I love strong, female leads)
Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas)
Carol (Todd Haynes)
Krisha (Trey Edward Shults)
Iris (Albert Maysles)
The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland)

Repertory Film
Ingrid Bergman (BAMcinématek and MOMA)

Fun Home, Broadway
Lulu, The MET

Picasso sculpture at MOMA

Hard to Be a God, Aleksei German

David Reilly, Programmer

Top Ten 2015 theatrical releases, in alphabetical order (and excluding films selected for BAMcinemaFest – impossible to pick favorites among them!):

45 Years (Andrew Haigh)
Buzzard (Joel Potrykus)
Carol (Todd Haynes)
Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas)
Eden (Mia Hansen-Love)
Hard to Be A God (Aleksei German)
In Jackson Heights (Frederick Wiseman)
Phoenix (Christian Petzold)
Son of Saul (Laszlo Nemes)
Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako)

Space Is the Place, John Coney
Hannah Thomas, Publicity and Marketing Associate

In rough chronological order:

Space Is the Place: Afrofuturism on Film (BAMcinématek)
It Follows (David Robert Mitchell)
Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
Magic Mike XXL (Gregory Jacobs)
A Touch of Zen at NYFF (King Hu)
Wolf’s Chalet in Bohemian Delirium: Czech Horror at Spectacle (Vera Chytilova)
Illusions in Behind the Mask: Bamboozled in Focus at BAMcinématek (Julie Dash)
Creed (Ryan Coogler)
Marvel’s Jessica Jones (Melissa Rosenberg)

Shaun the Sheep, Mark Burton & Richard Starzak

Jesse Trussell, Program Coordinator

My favorite new releases of 2015, each paired with a rep discovery I made this year.

Arabian Nights (Miguel Gomes) & Lightning Over Braddock (Tony Buba, BAMcinématek)
Maximalist exercises in what you can wring from cinema, these tragic-comic fictionalized documentaries were the most thrilling things I saw in 2015.

Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako) & Bless Their Little Hearts (Billy Woodbury, BAMcinématek)
Intensely painful and strikingly beautiful worlds of families driven apart by forces big and small.

Carol (Todd Haynes) & No Down Payment (Martin Ritt, BAMcinématek)
Empathetic depictions of the emotional violence caused by 20th century American culture.

Magic Mike XXL (Gregory Jacobs) & At Long Last Love (Peter Bogdanovich, BAMcinématek)
Exercises in physical charisma; or: who knew that Burt Reynolds could dance (sorta)?

Horse Money (Pedro Costa) & Je tu il elle (Chantal Akerman, MOMA)
Crafting fiction from portraiture.

Phoenix (Christian Petzold) & OUT 1: Noli me Tangere (Jacques Rivette, BAMcinématek)
Performance and how our stories are our lives.

Beloved Sisters (Domink Graf) & Hearts of the World (DW Griffith, Film Forum)
Melodrama told with velocity.

Ricki and the Flash (Jonathan Demme) & Wanda (Barbara Loden, Anthology)
The struggle for agency in a world that wants to deny it to you.

Creed (Ryan Coogler) & Police (Maurice Pialat, MOMI)
How to shift the gravity of a film with a single declaration (about what constitutes love, naturally).

The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien) & The Three Musketeers (Paul WS Anderson, BAMcinématek)
Delineation of space as theme, and Milla Jovovich would be perfect addition to the Hou repertory company.

Eden (Mia Hansen-Love) & Tree of Knowledge (Nils Malmros, Film Society of Lincoln Center)
What does it mean to get older?

In Jackson Heights (Fredrick Wiseman) & Seventeen (Joel DeMott & Jeff Kreines, BAMcinématek)
Radical works about the collective nature of American life.

Shaun the Sheep (Mark Burton, Richard Starzak)
“Pure cinema,” as they say. The 85 most pleasurable minutes I spent in a theater this year.

Channing Tatum serving heat and vice and everything nice in Magic Mike: XXL.
BAMcinématek's next series, Heat & Vice: The Films of Michael Mann, comes to BAM Feb 5—16.

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