If you can stomach yet another set of top ten lists – not to mention ones that appear terribly out-of-sync with the rest of the movie world (that’s New Zealand’s geographical isolation for you) – a handful of Lumičre’s regular film contributors present their year in film.

Tim Wong
Founding Editor, The Lumičre Reader

1. Three Times (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005)

2. Linda Linda Linda (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2005)
3. Innocence* (Lucile Hadzihalilovic, 2004)
4. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
5. Woman on the Beach (Hong Sang-soo)
6. The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach, 2005)
7. Capote (Bennett Miller, 2005)
8. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, 2005)
9. Who’s Camus Anyway? (Mitsuo Yanagimachi, 2005)
10. The New World/The Proposition (Terrence Malick/John Hillcoat, 2005)

In reconsidering this year’s festival highlights with the wasteland of theatrical releases, one nagging question remains: do all the best films have to be exotic, independent, or pretentiously small? In 2006, it certainly seemed that way. Whereas there may have been provision for the likes of War of the Worlds and Batman Begins to slither their way into critics’ top ten lists the year before, the big movies to emerge in the last twelve months have just as quickly evaporated from collective thought. Martin Scorsese’s Infernal Affairs remake departed from contention; Superman should’ve just stayed away; Borat I frankly couldn’t give a fuck about anymore. The year’s breakout documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, sure gave us the shits, but has the film really convinced those who saw it to convert to public transport, trade in that Landrover for a Prius, or cycle to and from work? If someone made a film about apathy, then we’d really be getting somewhere...

So what got the blood flowing? From the New Zealand International Film Festival were two films that encapsulated everything I love about the movies. Three Times, a triptych of yearning, resonate love affairs, recalled in spirit last year’s 2046, though ought to stand freely as a Hou Hsiao-hsien film in every other sense. Ensnaring his characters in the tentative promise of future, Hou sculpts the film’s trio of stories in long, sensual takes that capture ephemeral, one-in-a-million moments between Chang Chen and the impossibly gorgeous Shu Qi. Quiet euphoria there was offset by the rock-out elation of songstress Bae Doona and her all-girl band in Linda Linda Linda. Apart from being an out-and-out fan of Nobuhiro Yamashita’s sardonic, post-Jarmusch layabout cinema, this was a film that harnessed the comforts of genre, the deadpan of Japanese aesthetic, the positives of girlhood, and the hazy days of youth to perfection. It’s my under-the-radar favourite of the year.

If there was one truly great film to call upon, David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence out-smarted, out-crafted and out-provoked all other pretenders. Whereas it appeared in numerous top ten lists in 2005, far away in New Zealand, we’re forced to play catch-up on so many fall releases. Violence, along with Capote and The Squid and the Whale, all snuck into theatres in the New Year, and were the best American films I saw in 2006. After initial jubilation, Andrew Bujalski’s Mutual Appreciation fell out of selection; other festival-screened triumphs, namely The Death of Mr. Lazarescu and Who’s Camus Anyway?, lingered more intensely in the memory. In lieu of Hong Sang-soo’s Tale of Cinema (which showed in July, but made it into my 2005 year in review), his Woman on the Beach filled the void more than adequately as a more evolved and user-friendly breach of male narcissism.

Special mention goes to Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s Innocence, which was the closest I got to the experience of The Intruder from the previous year. It remains unreleased*, so thank the movie gods for DVD: Clean and The President’s Last Bang were another two strong off-shore imports I took in; Sejiun Suzuki’s Princess Raccoon remains an utter guilty pleasure; while Funeral Parade of Roses and Michael Haneke’s ‘Glaciation Trilogy’ were the two best DVD releases I came across that haven’t been available to English-speaking audiences until now. Last but not least, close relatives The New World and The Proposition jointly round out my ten. Brutal and beautiful, savage and serene, each bludgeoned the senses in their own earthy, eco-operatic way. The travesty of the year was that The New World, apart from a handful of festival dates, never made it into cinemas here. Though I shared a certain neutrality towards the film with other colleagues at the time, there comes a point when one has to admit: “It’s Terrence Malick, and I was seduced”. Don’t try and fight it.—TW

David Levinson
Senior Editor, The Lumičre Reader

1. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
2. Tale of Cinema (Hong Sang-soo, 2005)
3. United 93 (Paul Greengrass)
4. Bubble (Steven Soderbergh, 2005)
5. Who’s Camus Anyway? (Mitsuo Yanagimachi, 2005)
6. A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater)
7. Brick (Rian Johnson)
8. Borat (Larry Charles)
9. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, 2005)
10. Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (Michael Winterbottom, 2005)

Alexander Bisley
Associate Editor, The Lumičre Reader; Dominion Post Chief Film Critic

» 3-Iron (Kim Ki-duk, 2005)
» An Inconvienent Truth (Davis Guggenheim)
» Borat (Larry Charles)
» Capote (Bennett Miller, 2005)
» Good Night, and Good Luck (George Clooney, 2005)
» Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)
» Look Both Ways (Sarah Watt, 2005)
» Match Point (Woody Allen, 2005)
» Munich (Steven Spielberg, 2005)
» Syriana (Stephen Gaghan, 2005)
» Three Times (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005)

Brannavan Gnanalingam
Regular Film and Music Contributor, The Lumičre Reader

» An Inconvienent Truth (Davis Guggenheim)
» Borat (Larry Charles)
» Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)
» Capote (Bennett Miller, 2005)
» The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, 2005)
» Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)
» Kenny (Clayton Jacobson)
» The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005)
» The Science of Sleep (Michel Gondry)
» Three Times (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005)

Jacob Powell
Regular Film Contributor, The Lumičre Reader

This has been a mixed year of film viewing for me. On the one hand I have overdosed on festival fare and on the other I have barely entered a cinema for regular viewing more than once every month or so.

In the realm of DVD my small but burgeoning collection has almost doubled, and alongside that I have been wading through the collection of a friend who most would think has far too many! As he has been away over the summer I have taken on the task of babysitting and cataloguing the third of his collection which resides in Auckland – a mammoth task, though not one without its benefits (he has a good number of double-ups which I stand to inherit).

I have split my best of list into two again this year:

FIRST: Catch-up and quality trash viewing. This includes lesser known classics screened at the New Zealand International Film Festival, trash c/o the V 24 Hour Movie Marathon, and some recent DVD acquisitions including a rare Robert Bresson treasure which I missed at the Lido retrospective several years ago.

SECOND: Festival & Cinematic viewing of recent releases over 2006. These are pretty straight forward also including many from the New Zealand International Film Festival, but also some regular releases like Robert Sarkies’ harrowing account of the Aramoana tragedy of 1990, and one that screened at the Human Rights Film Festival chronicling the journey and death of a courageous Spanish lawyer turned self taught political journalist.

The lists are in alphabetical order as it is too hard to make choices about what is better when each film is so very different to the others.

Top 10 Catch-up Films & Trash:
» Army of Shadows (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1969)
» Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985)
» Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet, 1975)
» Lady Terminator (H. Tjut Djalil, 1988)
» Lizstomania (Ken Russell, 1975)
» Naked Childhood (Maurice Pialat, 1968)
» Stranger than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch, 1984)
» The Trial of Joan of Arc (Robert Bresson, 1962)
» Troll 2 (Claudio Fragasso, 1990)
» Van Gogh (Maurice Pialat, 1991)

Top 10 Festival & Cinematic:
» 12:08 East of Bucharest (Corneliu Porumboiu)
» The Aura (Fabián Bielinsky, 2005)
» Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005)
» The Death of Mr Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, 2005)
» Mutual Appreciation (Andrew Bujalski, 2005)
» On the Spot (Lluís Jené & Enric Miró, 2003)
» Out of the Blue (Robert Sarkies)
» The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005)
» Three Dollars (Robert Connolly, 2005)
» The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach)