PRINT December 2001


Susan Sontag


1. Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr) Tarr continues his magistral collaboration with Hungarian novelist László Krasznahorkai, who wrote Sátántangó as well as the source of this film, The Melancholy of Resistance (New Directions).

2. Southern Comfort (Kate Davis) You’ll never forget this documentary’s wise hero—he animates a brave community of the transgendered in the rural South—who is dying of ovarian cancer.

3. La Pianiste (Michael Haneke) Won the best-actor/actress prizes at Cannes but didn’t even make it into the New York Film Festival. Not Haneke’s best film, but Isabelle Huppert is stupendous.

4. Waking Life (Richard Linklater) Linklater’s Candide. A melancholy youth ambles almost wordlessly through deep America—rendered in dancy graphics—receiving counsel from a parade of uproariously soliloquizing, exquisitely goofy pundits.

5. Journey to the Sun (Yesim Ustaoglu, 1999; US release 2001) An important, unaffected film that takes you somewhere you don’t know (Turkey) and makes you feel and think—and care.

6. The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda) A thrilling subject, and Varda’s best film since Vagabond.

7. The River (Tsai Ming-liang, 1997; US release 2001) Nobody pictures despair—and silence—like this marvelous Taiwanese filmmaker, who uses the same actors, often the same apartment location, in film after film.

8. Last Resort (Pawel Pawlikowski) A superb British filmmaker, Pawlikowski is equally gifted in fiction (like this film, about the plight in bleakest England of a young Russian émigré and her son) and in documentary.

9. Moloch (Alexander Sokurov, 1999) The greatest contemporary Russian filmmaker explores a day in the life of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. (Never released here; I saw it this year in Paris, twice.) Ravishing, weird, insolent.

10. Intimacy (Patrice Chéreau) Worth seeing just for the performances. Mark Rylance may be the most gifted English-language actor of his generation.

Susan Sontag is a novelist, essayist, playwright, and filmmaker whose latest book, In America (Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux, 2000), won the National Book Critics Circle Award.