I've been tagged by Adam at DVD Panache with another incarnation of the 12 movie meme. What originally started as this at Piper's Lazy Eye Theatre blog has completely morphed into something different courtesy of The Dancing Image.... and it's a doozy.
So, what are 12 films that I've never seen, desperately want to see, and virtually impossible to find. I had bits and pieces of movies lying around over the years, but combining them (and remembering them) was a whole different animal. I'm sure this list will change if I re-write it tomorrow, but as of right now, these are my 12 holy grail films, in no order:
1. A Brighter Summer Day- The one Edward Yang film that I have been able to see ("Yi Yi" in 2001) stands as a minor miracle, a film brimming with life and wonder. This 1991 film has never been released on home video in any form. With a run time of anywhere between 3 and 4 hours based on which source one references, "A Brighter Summer day" has only been shown in select repertory screenings. It's sad to say, but maybe with the passing of Yang at a young age last year, some of his works ("Majhong", " A Confucian Confusion" and "Taipei Story") will receive some type of exposure.
2. A Deadly Affair- As an earlier post expressed, I went a little obsessive over watching any and all Sidney Lumet films I could. With the exception of a handful that have never been released on VHS or DVD, the one that aggravates the most is his 1966 spy thriller entitled "A Deadly Affair". There are some region 2 copies floating around, but I don't feel like paying $35 plus. Here's hoping a recent retrospective at New York Film Forum will put pressure on certain distribution companies.
3. Los Angeles Plays Itself- Thom Anderson's paean to Los Angeles and its place in the movies will likely never get an official release due to its use of copyrighted film clips. It's still making the rounds for 1 or 2 showings in the city of angels, but its highly unlikely that Anderson's film (which he filmed for educational purposes for his California film studies classes) will ever see the light of day. I've been dying to see this thing since reading about it back in '05.
4. The Mattei Affair- Since watching some of Francesco Rosi's films late last year, I became immediately interested in his work. Part social commentary and heavy on Italian bureaucracy, his films are often sweeping examples of Italian life from the poor to the upper class, refusing to take a side and presenting a social problem from all angles. This film, charting the work, life and assassination of an industrial game-changer promises more of the same. Again, never released on any video format. For that matter, I'd love to see Rosi's other lost 70's films such as "Lucky Luciano" or "Illustrious Corpses".
5. Cold Water- As a staunch Olivier Assayas fan, it's a damn shame that none of his work before 1996's "Irma Vep" is available in this country. I read about this film and his other short works back in a mid-90's Film Comment article shortly after his international rise to stardom. Still yet to talk to anyone who's seen these films.
6. The Fixer- Another purely auteurist example- John Frankenheimer. I've managed to see all of his films except this one from '68 and the martial arts thriller called "The Challenge" in 1982. That movie is available on VHS (for over $50 on Ebay) but no sign of "The Fixer" which seems to follow Frankenheimer's early stage days as a film about a Jewish man kept in captivity for unjust reasons.
7. Last Night at the Alamo- This has been regarded as a regional legend for some time. Maverick Texas filmmaker Eagle Pennell wrote and directed it back in '82 at the end of a career burning out on drugs and alcohol. It's been widely cited as the film that kick started a whole generation of Texas filmmakers like Richard Linklater and Robert Rodriguez. Earlier this year, Pennell's 1979 film entitled "The Whole Shootin' Match" got a few revival screenings, so there's hope that other pieces of his work will surface.
8. The Outfit- If I wanted to spend at least $65 for a VHS copy I could, but other than that I missed my one chance to see this hard boiled 1973 film when it aired on TCM a few months back. No excuses. I fell asleep before it came on.
9. Slow Moves- Really just an excuse to decry the amount of Jon Jost that is available on video. Out of almost 15 films, only 2 are available in any format. One of the premier independent film godfathers, this 1977 film is just the beginning of his neglect. But, if anyone's interested, check out "The Bed You Sleep In" or "All the Vemeers In New York". His films are an acquired taste, but ones that pay dividends when in the right mood for his swaying music and textured images.
10. Mary- What the hell happened to Abel Ferrera? After 2001 and his film "R-Xmas", he's directed four films which have yet to see any distribution. Is it because he's making films in Europe and being financed by European studios? Still, the great word of mouth from film festival showings should be good enough to warrant a small release here, no? This 2003 film stars Juliet Binoche, Forest Whitaker, Heather Graham and Matthew Modine as a modern day version of Joseph and Mary (yes that Joseph and Mary).
11. Until the End of the World- This gets confusing. I have seen Wim Wenders' two and a half hour version of this dreamy sci-fi film (one of his very best) but there's also a four hour and five hour version out there. The four hour version played at a German film festival years ago and a reliable internet buddy (who was also a devotee of the film) once told me had seen the 5 hour version at a Florida film fest years ago. Regardless, there's a much larger cut of this film floating out there, and I'd love to get my hands on it.
12. Histories du Cinema- Jean Luc Godard's multi video essay has been weathered on the film festival circuit over the years, yet never received a formal release. So much of Godard's later work can easily be bogged down with pretentiousness, but he still manages to strike some beautiful moments. I'm betting this series would strike a lot of them.
So, the next five up include:
Dennis at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule
Evan at Club Parnassus
Caitlin at 1416 and Counting
The Kinetoscope Parlor
Bob at Eternal Sunshine of the Logical Mind