PRINT December 1999

Susan Sontag

1. The Second Circle (Aleksandr Sokurov, 1990) There’s no director active today whose films I admire as much. The Days of Eclipse (1988) is, I think, his greatest film.

2. Close Up (Abbas Kiarostami, 1990) Iranian cinema has been the great revelation of the last decade. Close Up is my (and, I’ve heard, Kiarostami’s) favorite of his films.

3. The Stone (Aleksandr Sokurov, 1992) Chekhov’s ghost features in this film meditation about a night at Yalta’s Chekhov Museum.

4. Naked (Mike Leigh, 1993) I’ve been a Mike Leigh fan since 1977’s Abigail’s Party (as good as Molière). Naked is, I suppose, his deepest film.

5. The Puppetmaster (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1993) Set in the ’30s and ’40s. The Taiwanese director is just as marvelous as everyone says.

6. Sátántangó (Béla Tarr, 1994) Devastating, enthralling for every minute of its seven hours. I’d be glad to see it every year for the rest of my life.

7. Lamerica (Gianni Amelio, 1994) Epic, “realistic,” true—a great, moral film, and perhaps the saddest film I’ve ever seen.

8. Joan the Maid (Jacques Rivette, 1994) A masterpiece. Rivette, alone among the great filmmakers of his generation, has not changed or lowered his sights. Sandrine Bonnaire isn’t Falconetti, but she is Joan of Arc.

9. Through the Olive Trees (Abbas Kiarostami, 1994) Brilliantly made, irresistibly touching.

10. Goodbye South, Goodbye (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1996) Hoodlum-losers in the new Taiwan. As amazing as his stately, subtle, beautiful Flowers of Shanghai (1998), set in the 1880s.