PRINT December 2006


Jonathan Romney


1 Climates (Nuri Bilge Ceylan) A tender, painful, scabrously witty account of separation, especially discomforting as it stars the director and his wife. High-definition photography provides a pitiless scrutiny of faces and landscapes alike.

2 Les Signes (Eugène Green) At thirty minutes, this vignette about a missing fisherman is a marvel of suggestive concision: a parable of perception that’s as close as cinema comes to a Mallarmé sonnet.

3 The Family Friend (Paolo Sorrentino) Part farce, part Jacobean drama, this tale of provincial Italian lowlife is a fireworks display of formal invention: After the Zen-like chic of The Consequences of Love (2004), Sorrentino recasts himself as a punk Fellini.

4 Sehnsucht (Valeska Grisebach) Minor-key cinema par excellence, this sensitive treatment of a mundane theme—a small-town love triangle—achieves a Flaubertian complexity.

5 The Departed (Martin Scorsese) Scorsese lets his hair down at last: a brisk, boisterously cynical cops-and-robbers movie that crackles with lapidary invective.

6 Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola) Uneven, precious, a wallow in sumptuous vacancy? Coppola’s costume folly may be all of these, yet it’s also an affecting, melancholic exploration of the inside of a gilded bubble. Ophüls for shopaholic youth.

7 Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro) A dazzlingly risky undertaking: Tolkienesque whimsy embedded in the brutal reality of Fascist Spain. Anything but a children’s fi lm.

8 It’s Winter (Rafi Pitts) Swaggering malcontent arrives in small town, causes trouble, romances widow, meets his just deserts: the nearest Iranian cinema comes to a Jim Thompson thriller.

9 Gardens in Autumn (Otar Iosseliani) A rambling satirical frieze of folly, political power, and the call of the dolce vita, from the veteran Georgian provocateur.

10 Colossal Youth (Pedro Costa) The militantly uncompromising Portuguese director composes a stylized, ferociously austere essay on people and architecture, with a visual style seemingly etched in charcoal and chalk.

Jonathan Romney is a film critic for the Independent On Sunday and a contributing editor of Sight & Sound.