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21. The Father of My Children (Mia Hansen-Love)
The opening credits, like those of 127 Hours but far less insistent, present in their car-window-level Parisian street scenes a world teeming with human activity and possible connections: it's the world the film's first protagonist, Louis-do de Lencquesaing's narrow-margin producer, opts out of and the world to which his on-screen and real-life daughter Alice de Lencquesaing gains excited entry—parties, foreign films, even the act of ordering coffee fresh-seeming pleasures—until her own rueful exit, on her defeated mother's terms, and end credits playing over retreating views from the same window. A lovely little film about the very quick cycling of enthrallment and disillusionment.
22. Vincere (Marco Bellocchio)
Bellocchio sets out to prove a point about the seductive power of mass media, and proves it. Heartrace-paced period reenactments of seismic upheavals in pre-Fascist Italy are interrupted by even more breathless newsreel interludes and superimposed sloganeering. War! War! War! The excitement is contagious, and totally hot, climaxing (a bit early, it must be said), with the year's most audacious sequence: a sweaty, muscular, semi-illicit tryst celebrating the sexual prowess of the young Benito Mussolini.
23. Sweetgrass (Ilisa Barbash, Lucien Castaing-Taylor)
In a year where several poignant yet unsentimental portraits of life "off the map" served as reminders of worlds beyond glowing computer screens, this sheepherding documentary left a particularly deep impression with a patient, fully engrossing account of its last-of-their-kind subjects, still practicing traditional, mountain-traversing herding as the electronic age beckons to ease their burden.
Michael Joshua Rowin
24. Ne Change Rien (Pedro Costa)
In Costa's patient, minimally lit ode to Jeanne Ballibar's singing career, he distills the essence of an actress to light, shadow and voice. If Marlene Dietrich had directed her own music video, it'd look like this. Also includes the best constructing-a-song scenes since Godard's One Plus One.
25. Film Socialisme (Jean-Luc Godard)
Free access; world without borders: free trade of subject/object, shots as hyperlinks through collective visions. "If every sign refers to a sign"? Language first recorded with money, near Delos: economy of visions: the world as it might be only from the world as it's variably perceived: the circulation of waves only has sense in sound. Circulating vision, subconscious history of revolt: animals, women, movies (bartered images, commodities)--but revolt has no origin, requires opposition for its terms: No Comment is, of course, a comment, but itself with Janus vision on both the FBI and Godard's humility before the materials of the modern world.