PRINT December 2014


Amy Taubin

Richard Linklater, Boyhood, 2014, 35 mm, color, sound, 160 minutes. Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke).

1 GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE (Jean-Luc Godard) The 3-D of past, present, and future; more intimate than spectacular, although the eyes boggle as well as the mind. As revolutionary as Breathless was fifty-four years ago.

2 BOYHOOD (Richard Linklater) A six-year-old actor (Ellar Coltrane) and his fictional alter ego grow up in concert in a film that took twelve years to make. Deceptively simple, truly visionary—a great American independent movie in the form of a time machine.

3 WHIPLASH (Damien Chazelle) Chazelle’s second feature never drags, never rushes. A kinetic evocation of performance anxiety, Whiplash is a tour-de-force synthesis of image and sound that also provokes moral questions about ambition and the desire for perfection.

4 DREAMS ARE COLDER THAN DEATH (Arthur Jafa) A lyrical essay on black history and black culture in which a non-essentialist counterpoint of perceptions and analyses, images and speech, is underscored by an insistent ostinato like all our hearts beating as one.

5 TALES OF THE GRIM SLEEPER (Nick Broomfield) Between 1985 and 2010, at least sixteen women—and, according to the filmmaker, likely dozens more—were murdered in South Central Los Angeles by a single serial killer. Broomfield, in investigating the crimes, reveals the shocking extent to which institutional racism allowed an entire neighborhood in one of the wealthiest cities in the world to be abandoned to drug addiction, while systemic misogyny, from within as well as without, allowed untold numbers of women to disappear without a trace.

Kornél Mundruczó, Fehér Isten (White God), 2014, digital video, color, sound, 119 minutes. Lili (Zsófia Psotta).

6 TIMBUKTU (Abderrahmane Sissako) Jihadists invade a village in northern Mali and impose their absurd, murderous version of Islamic law, stoning people to death for singing, dancing, and loving. Fragile images of the natural world and of domestic pleasures give way to a nightmare of destruction.

7 LEVEL FIVE (Chris Marker) In this restored 1996 meditation on history (the tragedy of Okinawa) and personal memory (the loss of a lover), a computer terminal is a portal to the past and future. The newly issued DVD allows you, like the film’s heroine, to explore, in solitude, the narrative’s mysterious routes and connections.

8 WHITE GOD (Kornél Mundruczó) The plight of the dogs, rounded up to be killed because they are not pure Hungarian breeds, is real; the metaphor, inescapable.

9 STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS (Sam Fleischner) Superstorm Sandy blew through this ingenious microbudget New York adventure story about an autistic thirteen-year-old from Rockaway Beach who gets lost on the subway.

10 THE KNICK (Steven Soderbergh) Auteurist serial television: dazzlingly cinematic, whip smart, and just trashy enough to be addictive.

Amy Taubin is a contributing editor of Film Comment and Sight & Sound and the author of Taxi Driver (BFI, 2000). This year, Taubin served on the selection committee for the New York Film Festival.