PRINT December 2002

Film: Best of 2002

David Bordwell


*1. Far from Heaven (Todd Haynes) A luscious Sirk pastiche and a thoughtful revival of liberal melodrama.

2. Heaven (Tom Tykwer) Krzysztof Kieślowski’s last script suits Run Lola Run director Tykwer, romanticist of couples in flight. Giovanni Ribisi holds the screen with his eyes.

3. I’m Going Home (Manoel de Oliveira) This portrait of an aging actor has a Chekhovian tautness. Ideally seen with Oliveira’s affectionate tribute Oporto of My Childhood.

4. Japón (Carlos Reygadas) An intimate study, on scorched 16 mm, of a suicidal outsider and the hatreds tearing at a Mexican village.

5. My Life as McDull (Toe Yuen) This cartoon starts out cute—a pig and his mother eke out a living in Hong Kong—but ends as a melancholy reflection on failure.

6. Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov) What could have been a stunt—an eighty-plus-minute tracking shot through the Winter Palace—becomes deeply elegiac, gliding from mass spectacle to serenity.

7. Shaolin Soccer/Kung-Fu Soccer (Stephen Chow) Rowdy fun throughout, with CGI used to create live-action cartoons.

8. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki) After a girl’s parents turn into pigs, she enters a world of folk spirits. Animated in limpid, scary detail.

9. Take Care of My Cat (Jeong Jae-eun) Five working girls try to keep their high school friendship alive. Loose, heartfelt, and precise enough to characterize its heroines through their cell phone chimes.

10. Talk to Her (Pedro Almodóvar) Is Almodóvar the only director who cares about plot nowadays? Linking two couples by tragic accidents, he reinvents the medical melodrama (and throws in a bold silent-film pastiche).

*In alphabetical order

David Bordwell is Jacques Ledoux Professor of Film Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His most recent books are Planet Hong Kong: Popular Cinema and the Art of Entertainment (Harvard University Press, 2000) and, with Kristin Thompson, Film History: An Introduction (McGraw Hill, 1994).