2 JAMES BALDWIN. ANOTHER COUNTRY (1962) A tragic novel full of unparalleled empathy for the modern human experience and our failure to communicate--much less love--beyond the limits of our fear, Baldwin's take on Greenwich Village circa 1948 reaches for the heart of the American psyche, circling and exploding the taboos that threaten us no less today.
3 LUCIEN CASTAING-TAYLOR AND VERENA PARAVEL. LEVIATHAN (2012) A product of Harvard's Sensory Ethnography Lab, Leviathan is an anarchic documentary about the life of a commercial fishing vessel integrating images and sounds with brutal precision, this film eclipses the standard terms of its genre to offer us a new kind of "pure cinema." Giving no didactic cues, Castaing-Taylor and Paravel invite us to get lost, only to keep us tethered to this world--requiring that we share responsibility for the horrors that play out on-screen. As the filmmakers forged through more than 250 hours of footage, they discovered that their dozen or so cameras (several more were lost at sea) had miraculously captured the likenesses of phantoms from the deep. A selection of this material (titled Canst Thou Draw Out Leviathan with a (Hook?) screened in extreme slow motion in a former West German crematorium as part of this year's Berlinale film festival.
4 JAMES AGEE AND WALKER EVANS. LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN (1941) In 1936, James Agee and Walker Evans were sent on assignment to document rural lite in the American South and the positive effects of FDR's New Deal. -Ulm famous result--containing Forty-three photographs by Evans followed by some five hundred pages of Agee's prose--offers an exhaustive portrait of three tenant-farmer families and represented the birth of a new form of journalism. Rejecting the creative, artistic, or reportorial voice they were likely expected to assume, and wary of the limits of memory, subjectivity, and representation, Agee and Evans set out to evince a near-scientific objectivity. Agee wrote that he had aimed to tell "everything possible as accurately as possible: and to invent nothing," his perspective perfectly in sync with the clarity of Evans's austere, respectful gaze.
5 ANTHOLOGY FILM ARCHIVES, NEW YORK In 1998, I dropped out of New York University and placed my film education in the hands of this storied East Village institution. Founded in 1969 by Stan Brakhage, Jerome Hill, Peter Kubeika, Jonas Mekas, and P. Adams Sitney, Anthology has for more than four decades featured an annual cycle of "Essential Cinema," which, from Robert Bresson's Une Femme douce (1969) to Paul Sharits's S:TREAM:S:S:ECTION:S:ECTION:S:S:ECTIONED (1971), represents as fine a film canon as, you will ever find.
6 SUPER BOWL XLVII. NEW ORLEANS (2013) With the collective self-esteem of my native Baltimore on the line, theories abounded as to which forces might have caused the second-half outage that threatened a Ravens victory. Was it an oligarch with access to the power grid and a vested interest in a 49ers win? The ghosts of this battered host city and of the New Orleans residents who took refuge in the Saints' stadium following Katrina? Or maybe it was just the sheer wattage of Beyond? When the lights came back on, the game was decided by the tactical maneuvering of two generals who remained brothers after the war. Afterward, all of Baltimore was electrified, glowing purple as the city took to the streets.
7 CO LA, MOODY COUP (SOFTWARE RECORDING CO., 2013) This month, Baltimore musician and producer Matt Papich drops his sophomore release as Co La. Employing what he calls "style-gripping"--a process in which Papich mines a spectrum of sources for tones and beats, then re-creates them through original field recordings in his kitchen studio--he generates a sound that is immersive, uncanny, and truly homegrown. This new species of tech-no owes a debt to the cut-ups of Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs. But Papich's process is decidedly contemporary, one born of conditions he describes as the "hegemony of delete."
8 LIZZIE BORDEN, BORN IN FLAMES (1983) Positing a future state in which women, ten years after the Social-Democratic War of Liberation, face an oppressive patriarchy of a familiar and very present kind, Borden asks the question, Can cultural values embedded in real life and propelled by the media be reversed through nonviolent means? Punk-rock, lo-fi, political, and pragmatic, the resulting film perfectly amalgamates the vision of Laura Mulvey with that of Jean-Luc Godard.
9 BRENDAN FOWLER A true antielitist more invested in process than in product, Fowler makes objects that are nonetheless as beautiful as they_are stimulating. His show last fall at A Palazzo in Brescia, Italy, for example, tripped out viewers with its room full of upright production flats hung with frames containing frames sutured to images of walls carrying more frames. Fowler's art and music are the fallout from his practice of perpetual sublation.
10 ELEM KLIMOV, COME AND SEE (1985) The horror perpetrated by the Nazis against Belarus in World War His seen and heard through the eyes and ears of adolescent Flyora. In this Soviet production., the subjective and the surreal combine through mise-en-scene and sound design, to constitute what is arguably the most effective anti-war movie ever made.
Matthew Porterfield is a filmmaker living and working in Baltimore. He participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art's 2012 Biennial with Putty Hill (2010), which was recently acquired, along with his first feature, Hamilton (2006), by New York's Museum of Modern Art.
His new film, I Used to Be Darker, premiered at Sundance and will be released this fall by Strand.
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|Title Annotation:||TOP TEN|
|Date:||May 1, 2013|
|Previous Article:||Against the wall.|