PRINT December 2015


Amy Taubin

Chantal Akerman, No Home Movie, 2015, digital video, color, sound, 115 minutes.

1 NO HOME MOVIE (Chantal Akerman) Akerman’s final movie is her most intimate, and her most expressive in its counterpoint of sound and image. In this no-holds-barred depiction of mother-daughter symbiosis, the agony of inevitable separation is projected onto the arid landscape of Israel.

2 THE KNICK, SEASON 2 (Steven Soderbergh) The dialogue is still clunky, but the dramatic ironies, the resonance of then and now, and the electric intelligence of Soderbergh’s directing make for an immersive pop-cinema experience.

3 THE ASSASSIN (Hou Hsiao-hsien) The mists of time drift through forests and palaces in this exquisite rendering of a Tang-dynasty tale of a woman who slits throats most expeditiously until she can’t stomach it anymore.

4 “LUMINOUS INTIMACY: THE CINEMA OF NATHANIEL DORSKY AND JEROME HILER” (Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York) If there were any doubts about the need to keep 16-mm technology alive, this retrospective of two of the greatest living filmmakers should have laid them to rest.

5 EXPERIMENTER (Michael Almereyda) Almereyda’s most fully realized movie is fittingly experimental in form, since its subject, the social scientist Stanley Milgram, devised the “obedience study,” an experiment whose results angered academia and the public at large. The film is, more surprisingly, an old-fashioned moral tale and a celebration of marriage.

Laura Israel, Don’t Blink: Robert Frank, 2015, digital video, color and black-and-white, sound, 82 minutes.

6 AMY (Asif Kapadia) This calamitous documentary biography of Amy Winehouse moves at a ferocious pace from her teenage singing debut to her death at the age of twenty-seven. The raw emotional charge comes from Winehouse herself—that voice, those lyrics, her music.

7 MY GOLDEN DAYS (Arnaud Desplechin) The filmmaker’s alter-ego may never understand anything about the women he failed to love because they terrified him, but by throwing out the 180-degree rule Desplechin makes every sequence of a familiar story feel like nothing you’ve experienced before.

8 DON’T BLINK: ROBERT FRANK (Laura Israel) An illuminating biopic of the game-changing photographer/filmmaker, made by his longtime moving-image archivist and editor, clearly with the full cooperation and enjoyment of its irascible subject.

9 CAROL (Todd Haynes) An exquisitely restrained depiction of mad lesbian love in the time of the closet, adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel. The collaboration between Haynes, cinematographer Edward Lachman, and actors Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara brings out the best in all of them.

10 MISTRESS AMERICA (Noah Baumbach) A romp, a screwball, a marriage of sight gags and punch lines, another bittersweet vehicle for the irrepressibly klutzy Greta Gerwig.

A contributing editor of Artforum and the author of Taxi Driver (BFI, 2000), Amy Taubin served on the selection committee for this year’s New York Film Festival.