PRINT December 2005

FILM: Best of 2005

Isaac Julien


1 BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (ANG LEE) A cowboy movie with a twist, Lee’s tour de force is even better than the short story it’s based on. Queer cinema has finally grown up and become a truly mainstream affair.

2 DARWIN’S NIGHTMARE (HUBERT SAUPER) An anti-globalization documentary shot like a horror film set in an Africa where “cannibal” fish with enormous teeth are traded for guns on planes flown by Russians. Frantz Fanon would have loved this homage to the wretched of the earth.

3 LAST DAYS (GUS VAN SANT) Art cinema and moving-image art came another step closer together with this fragmented narrative that deconstructs cinematic time.

4 INCONSOLABLE MEMORIES (STAN DOUGLAS) This clever reworking of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s Memories of Underdevelopment pays homage to the 1968 Cuban film classic, recasting its protagonists as contemporary characters in a political allegory that retains its sense of mystery.

5 MOOLAADÉ (OUSMANE SEMBENE) The father of African cinema remains impressive in this most persuasive exposé of female circumcision. Nothing short of a masterpiece.

6 BROKEN FLOWERS (JIM JARMUSCH) Jim is back with a laid-back, classic Jarmusch mood piece. Cool direction elicited a superbly understated performance from Bill Murray and a neat cameo by Tilda Swinton (in a black wig, no less).

7 INNOCENCE (LUCILE HADZIHALILOVIC) In this strange and wonderful fairy tale about prepubescent girls coming of age, a water fountain grows into what could only be described as a towering cum shot!

8 NON-SPECIFIC THREAT (WILLIE DOHERTY) A high point of the 51st Venice Biennale, Doherty’s compelling video literally revolves around a bald young white man chanting a hymn about the internal alienation of the (northern Irish) psyche.

9 FRAMMENTI ELLETRICI 1-2-3-4 (ELECTRIC FRAGMENTS 1-2-3-4) (YERVANT GIANIKIAN AND ANGELA RICCI LUCCHI) Playing off one another on four screens at once, these forgotten fragments of archival footage, slowed down hypnotically and tinted red, orange, blue, and green, choreograph enchanting encounters between European and “Other” personal histories.

10 THREE TIMES (HOU HSIAO-HSIEN) With Hou’s focus on filmic duration, mise-en-scène becomes everything, leaving narrative in the lurch.

London-based artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien’s installation True North is currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami.