PRINT December 2001


Ian Birnie


1. Va Savoir (Jacques Rivette) A luminous comedy of manners that follows six characters in search of an exit—from themselves, their lovers, and their routine. As satisfying as Lubitsch.

2. Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr) Innocence is destroyed in Tarr’s enigmatic and hypnotic survey of human weakness and cruelty, set in a desolate Hungarian village.

3. My Voyage to Italy (Martin Scorsese) Only a great director could turn four hours of clips—even from these masterpieces of Italian cinema—into a coherent, compelling drama addressing personal, cultural, and aesthetic concerns.

4. L’Emploi du temps/Time Out (Laurent Cantet) The year’s acutest psychological portrait is of an alienated French businessman who goes to abnormal lengths to appear normal.

5. Be My Star (Valeska Grisebach) This little Austrian jewel uses non-professionals from a Berlin neighborhood and nails both the yearning and the pain of a young teenage boy’s on-again, off-again relationship with his girlfriend.

6. La Ciénaga (Lucrecia Martel) By the end of this remarkable debut, fifteen or so characters from two large Argentine families have stopped their bickering and mischief just long enough to reveal a veritable paella of psychological and physical damage.

7. Together (Lukas Moodysson) A satirical look at ’70s commune dwellers in Sweden that’s refreshingly free of malice.

8. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch) A veteran Lynchaholic, I relished the fetishes, gargoyles, and doubles that tumbled into the garden court of this down-the-rabbit-hole “Hollywood” movie.

9. Moulin Rouge (Baz Luhrmann) What can I say? From the moment the CinemaScope curtain opened onto a 3-D Paris, I was hooked.

10. Dogtown and Z-Boys (Stacy Peralta) Style is everything in this former Z-Boy’s adrenaline-charged documentary tribute to the birth of vertical skateboarding.

Ian Burnie is director of the film department of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.