TABLE OF CONTENTS

TOP TEN

Tod Lippy

Tod Lippy is an artist, designer, editor, writer, and curator based in Brooklyn. He is the creator of the nonprofit arts publication Esopus (2003–2018) and executive director of the Esopus Foundation.

  1. ALEXANDER KLUGE, DIE MACHT DER GEFÜHLE (THE POWER OF EMOTION, 1983)

    Kluge is the ultimate multihyphenate: lawyer, author, philosopher, academic, television producer, and filmmaker. For a period in the 1950s, he was even the legal counsel for the Institute for Social Research, the home of the Frankfurt School. I saw The Power of Emotion as a cinema-studies grad student in the late 1980s and was electrified by its masterful interweaving of documentary footage, archival material, and fictional narratives. It explores the fraught relationship between rationality and emotion—a particularly charged topic in postwar Germany. Kluge has a mordant wit and an unerring eye for detail: I’ll never forget a long stationary shot of an unoccupied living room in which a floor lamp suddenly turns off, seemingly of its own volition.

    *Alexander Kluge, _Die Macht der Gefühle_ (The Power of Emotion), 1983,* 35 mm, color and black-and-white, sound, 115 minutes. Lovers (Suzanne von Borsody and Paulus Manker). Alexander Kluge, Die Macht der Gefühle (The Power of Emotion), 1983, 35 mm, color and black-and-white, sound, 115 minutes. Lovers (Suzanne von Borsody and Paulus Manker).
  2. CHARLES BURNETT, TO SLEEP WITH ANGER (1990)

    Burnett has been making ground-breaking films since 1978’s Killer of Sheep, his extraordinary UCLA graduate thesis. Unfortunately, his third feature, To Sleep with Anger, never reached a wide audience. Danny Glover anchors the film with a career-best performance as Harry, a drifter whose unannounced visit to a family living in LA that he once knew “down South” threatens to unravel their deep but tenuous bonds. Burnett effortlessly melds suspense, drama, comedy, and African American folklore into an utterly original, profoundly universal cinematic language.

    *Charles Burnett, _To Sleep with Anger_, 1990,* 35 mm, color, sound, 102 minutes. Foreground: Harry Mention (Danny Glover). Charles Burnett, To Sleep with Anger, 1990, 35 mm, color, sound, 102 minutes. Foreground: Harry Mention (Danny Glover).
  3. HILARY LLOYD, CONSTRUCTORS, 1999

    I saw one of Lloyd’s first solo exhibitions at London’s Chisenhale Gallery in 1999. It comprised eight video monitors featuring different subjects: a young man slowly removing a red tank top; two women facing each other in a field, unraveling a giant ball of twine. Constructors examines the relationship between artist and subject in a particularly affecting way. For the piece, Lloyd visited construction sites and cajoled workers into performing acrobatic maneuvers, which she then filmed. These stunts often required the men to hold one another in intimate poses, which Lloyd challenged her subjects to maintain for as long as possible.

    *Hilary Lloyd, _Constructors_, 1999,* video, color, sound, indefinite duration. Hilary Lloyd, Constructors, 1999, video, color, sound, indefinite duration.
  4. PIER PAOLO PASOLINI, TEOREMA (1968)

    A stranger descends on a bourgeois Milanese family and proceeds to sleep with everyone in it. Then he leaves. The effect on each member of the family is seismic—the mother starts soliciting sex from strangers; the daughter passes into a catatonic state and is carted off to an asylum; the son becomes an artist who pisses on his work (his actions recalling the process via which Warhol created his “Oxidation” paintings); the father, a prominent industrialist, gives his factory to the workers and strips himself (literally) of all possessions; and the family’s maid becomes a saint who ultimately immolates herself. Pasolini’s intense examination of religion, class, politics, and sexuality presages the breathtaking nihilism of his final film, Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975).

    *Pier Paolo Pasolini, _Teorema_, 1968,* 35 mm, color, sound, 98 minutes. Pier Paolo Pasolini, Teorema, 1968, 35 mm, color, sound, 98 minutes.
  5. MARY ELLEN CARROLL, LATE, 2005

    Carroll’s art is consistently and relentlessly procacious, whether it involves destroying a house (Daringly Unbuilt, 2017) or surveilling the headquarters of the FBI (Federal, 2005). For Late, the artist crashed her father’s Buick Riviera into the steps of the Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde in Munich as her contribution to a group show there. A characteristic tweaking of the power dynamics between artists and institutions, Late also relates to other projects by Carroll, which reference the commercial appropriation of works by Fischli & Weiss and the Doors. How fitting that, when approached by a well-known indie band that wanted to use an image from the piece for an album cover, Carroll declined to grant them permission.

    *Mary Ellen Carroll, _Late_ (detail), 2005,* two gelatin silver prints, each 16 × 16". Mary Ellen Carroll, Late (detail), 2005, two gelatin silver prints, each 16 × 16".
  6. (SANDY) ALEX G, BEACH MUSIC (2015)

    Twenty-five-year-old (Sandy) Alex G—aka Alex Giannascoli—has been making music since he was in his teens. He had a major breakthrough last year with the justly acclaimed album Rocket. But I’m particularly partial to Beach Music. As with his other efforts, he played every instrument, sang, and recorded it all on his laptop with GarageBand. On “Station,” he sings, “If I could think harder / I’d see more than me.” In fact, he’s managed to do just that on this album, for which he’s created and fully inhabited a dizzying range of characters who embody his willingness to go wherever necessary to fix on a truth, however fleeting.

    *Still from (Sandy) Alex G’s 2015 video _Kicker_, directed by John Vizzone.* Still from (Sandy) Alex G’s 2015 video Kicker, directed by John Vizzone.
  7. TADAO ANDO’S CHICHU ART MUSEUM (2004)

    This concrete subterranean masterpiece, built into a hill on Naoshima Island in Japan’s Inland Sea, features only nine works, all permanent, by three artists. Areas have been designed for specific pieces: There’s a serene modern temple housing Walter De Maria’s Time/Timeless/No Time, 2004; two pristine containers for James Turrell’s Open Field, 2000, and Open Sky, 2004; and a gallery devoted to five Monet “Water Lilies.” For the last, visitors must remove their shoes and wear white slippers. The floor consists of tiny white marble tiles with no grout that blend seamlessly into the white-plastered walls. The room is illuminated solely by diffuse natural light. The effect is nearly psychedelic.

    *James Turrell, _Open Field_, 2000,* fluorescent light, neon tube, dimensions variable. Installation view, Chichu Art Museum, Naoshima, Japan, 2004. Photo: Fujitsuka Mitsumasa. James Turrell, Open Field, 2000, fluorescent light, neon tube, dimensions variable. Installation view, Chichu Art Museum, Naoshima, Japan, 2004. Photo: Fujitsuka Mitsumasa.
  8. STEVE REICH, MUSIC FOR 18 MUSICIANS (1974–76)

    The first time I saw Reich’s Minimalist masterpiece, in the late ’90s, I had a near-religious experience. The music itself—a rhythmic meditation on a cycle of eleven chords—is unquestionably powerful, but what moved me most was the intense cooperation among the musicians (in this case, Reich and his ensemble) onstage. For performers, the piece is a test of endurance and concentration; for the audience, it is a sublime testament to the rewards of collaboration.

  9. YUVAL NOAH HARARI

    This iconoclastic Israeli historian and philosopher is currently the closest thing the world has to a full-fledged public intellectual. In three hugely popular books—Sapiens (2011), Homo Deus (2015), and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018)—he uses his acute, irreverent intelligence to cast a raking light over the past, present, and future of humanity.

  10. CLAIRE DENIS, L’INTRUS (THE INTRUDER, 2004)

    Denis forces us beyond our preconceptions about what a film can and should do. While many have claimed the striking Beau Travail (1999) as her masterpiece, I am partial to L’intrus, based (very loosely) on French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy’s 2000 memoir about his heart transplant. To relate the “plot” would be to undermine the film’s deeply visceral and surreal power. But the scene that continues to thrill me most comes at the end, when a gap-toothed, ecstatic Béatrice Dalle, clad in animal skins, whip in hand, drives a sled drawn by huskies across a frozen landscape.

    *Claire Denis, _L’intrus_ (The Intruder), 2004,* 35 mm, color, sound, 130 minutes. Claire Denis, L’intrus (The Intruder), 2004, 35 mm, color, sound, 130 minutes.