Nothing to do with music, but, hey. Who can add to the list?
1. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007) Romania – Directed by Cristian Mungiu – Young woman helps friend get abortion in 1980s Romania and discovers the truth of the old saying that no good deed goes unpunished. Not a single wrong note in this tale of friendship abused.
2. Pan’s Labyrinth (2007) Spain – Directed by Guillermo del Toro – Imaginative young girl retreats into a fantasy world in order to deal with the horrors of the Spanish Civil War and a brutal facist stepfather. Magical and heartbreaking.
3. Talk to Her (2002) Spain – Directed by Pedro Almodovar – Love in the time of coma. Almodovar’s bequiling combination of humor, perversion and human nature testify again to the power of love to save and destroy.
4. Venus (2007) England – Directed by Roger Mitchell – Peter O’Toole’s swan song as an aging actor and lothario who finds a final, unlikely muse. Acting students will be watching this one a hundred years from now and marveling at how easy he made it look.
5. No Country for Old Men (2007) U.S. – Coen Brothers – Nobody making movies in America today is better at delivering a combination of high art and pulp entertainment. A nailbiter from beginning to end from filmmakers who know that words matter.
6. A Serious Man (2009) U.S. Coen Brothers – A shaggy dog tale about Jewish dybbuks and family curses that shows what the Coens do when they obviously don’t care if a story has commercial prospects or not. This one doesn’t but it is unlike anything you’ve ever seen and will have future filmmakers scratching their heads for a very long time.
7. The Son (2003) Belgium – Dardenne Brothers – What would you do if the teenager who killed your baby years earlier (and doesn’t recognize you) turned up in your shop looking for an apprenticeship after getting out of jail? The truth is, you don’t know, and it is a tribute to the skill and integrity of Europe’s spiritual heirs to Robert Bresson and the Italian realists that they offer no easy answers.
8. The Secret in their Eyes (2009) Spain Argentina – Juan José Campanella – Retired prosecutor revisits haunting old case and discovers that there is sometimes justice in this imperfect world.
9. The Lives of Others (2006) Germany – Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck – Stasi agent goes soft on spied upon actress and boy friend with deadly consequences.
10. Lost in Translation (2003) U.S. – Sofia Coppola – Loneliness and alienation in a Tokyo hotel. A few implasibilities in the writing but for anyone who has been there and done that, the mood is right on. Not to mention the opening shot of Scarlett Johansson’s butt.
11. The Barbarian Invasions (2003) French-Canadian – Denys Arcand – The characters from Arcand’s 1986 The Decline of the American Empire have gotten older and one of them is dying. An enchanting fairytale about a son who gives his father the gift of the perfect death.