The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Thursday, January 07, 2010
INSERT CHILDISH "69" JOKE HERE: So far I've reeled off my favorite films of
1999, 1989, and 1979. Time now for the year of Altamont, the Manson murders, and the inauguration of Richard Nixon.

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looked back at 1969, it gave its Best Picture award to Midnight Cowboy. I like that movie well enough, but it always seemed overpraised to me; it didn't find a home on my list.

1. The Wild Bunch
Directed by Sam Peckinpah
Written by Peckinpah and Walon Green, from a story by Green and Roy Sickner

Peckinpah's masterpiece.

2. Le Boucher
Written and directed by Claude Chabrol

The director's debt to Hitchcock was never a secret, but it's especially obvious here. Still, this is more than mere imitation. If Hitch himself had made this movie, we'd be calling it Chabrolian.

3. The Passion of Anna
Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman

"Has it ever occurred to you that the worse off people are, the less they complain? Finally, they're silent even if they're living creatures with nerves, eyes, and hands. Vast armies of victims and hangmen. The sun rises and falls, heavily."

4. The Honeymoon Killers
Written and directed by Leonard Kastle

Yes, it's a low-budget exploitation flick about serial killers. It's also a bleak, tense, extremely artful film.

5. Goyokin
Directed by Hideo Gosha
Written by Gosha and Kei Tasaka

The ronin vs. the state.

6. The Milky Way
Directed by Luis Buñuel
Written by Buñuel and Jean-Claude Carrière

The Contra Haereses of road movies.

7. Take the Money and Run
Directed by Woody Allen
Written by Allen and Mickey Rose

Between this and Zelig, Woody Allen has to be acknowledged as a master of the mockumentary.

8. Easy Rider
Directed by Dennis Hopper
Written by Hopper, Peter Fonda, and Terry Southern

A Woodstock-era update of "The Pardoner's Tale." I like Bill Kauffman's reading of the movie: "The only characters that are depicted as unqualifiably virtuous are the homesteading family, living on their own acreage, raising their own food, teaching their own young....The hippies and the small-town southerners gathered in the diner; the small farmers and the shaggy communards: they were on the same side." The bikers "blew it" because they sneered instead of understanding.

9. Army of Shadows
Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
Written by Melville, from a novel by Joseph Kessel

When it comes to films about the French resistance, this is Casablanca's cheerless cousin. There's no shortage of nobility here, but there is far more ruthlessness than romance.

10. Burn!
Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo
Written by Franco Solinas and Giorgio Arlorio

Very much a product of the '60s, this anti-imperialist saga is as soaked in the politics of the New Left as Easy Rider is drenched with the ambience of the counterculture. Marlon Brando is excellent as William Walker -- here transformed from a Tennessean filibuster to a British covert agent -- and Ennio Morricone contributes one of his finest scores.

Honorable mentions:

11. Z (Constantin Costa-Gavras)
12. La Femme Infidèle (Claude Chabrol)
13. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (George Roy Hill)
14. The Sun's Gonna Shine (Les Blank, Skip Gerson)
15. My Night at Maud's (Eric Rohmer)
16. That Cold Day in the Park (Robert Altman)
17. Invocation of My Demon Brother (Kenneth Anger)
18. The Adding Machine (Jerome Epstein)
19. The Cow (Dariush Mehrjui)
20. Bambi Meets Godzilla (Marv Newland)

Of the films of 1969 that I haven't seen, the one that interests me the most is Jacques Rivette's L'amour Fou.

posted by Jesse 3:08 PM
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