“I would guess that Tokyo Story would be the perfect movie for the title “greatest film of all time”. It is my favorite from the top 20 of the Sign and Sound critics poll.”
I say Rules of the Game. Tokyo Story is obviously great, but it’s too ‘formalistic’ in my opinion. I think L’Avventura could be a contender despite it not being in the top 20 at the moment, but that one is probably too ‘art house-y’ to be “the greatest film of all time”. It seems the title “greatest film of all time” is reserved for films “without high brow pretensions” that only garnered intellectual respect many years subsequent to their initial release. Vertigo, Rules of the Game, Citizen Kane, and even Tokyo Story, in fact, all fall into this category. Thus, “art-house” films get shortchanged. Contempt or Persona will never be the “greatest film of all time”. They’re simply too divisive.
With that said, I’m currently convinced the ten greatest films of all time are as follows:
Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Being John Malkovich
Talk to Her
And the ten worst films of all time are as follows:
The 400 Blows
Rules of the Game
My Night at Maud’s
Nous Ne Vieillirons Pas Ensemble
Au Hasard Balthazar
“Tokyo Story is obviously great, but it’s too ‘formalistic’ in my opinion. I think L’Avventura could be a contender despite it not being in the top 20 at the moment, but that one is probably too ‘art house-y’…”
I reject the notion that Tokyo Story is too formalistic, but L’Avventura isn’t. Ozu was just as much a formal experimenter as Antonioni, probably more so.
Fair enough, but L’Avventura is ‘looser’ in a sense if you know what I mean.
I disagree.L’Avventura specifically works because it chokes you with its desperation, while Tokyo Story works because one feels the simple meaning(lessness) of talking to your neighbor on a hot sunny day. The structure opens up the looseness of the film’s focus.
I understand that and don’t disagree, but I’m referring more to Ozu’s ultra “minimalism” and “utilitarianism” as far as aesthetics are concerned. L’Avventura is a bit more “artistically indulgent” if you will, not that it’s a bad thing. I consider L’Avventura one of the very greatest films ever made. I personally doubt people would go for something so deliberately ‘minimal’ as their “greatest film of all time”. Just an opinion though.
I would actually say L’Avventura is incredibly stylistically rigid, as much so as Ozu. I mean, Ozu’s picture certainly has a much wider variety of shot lengths, and distances than Antonioni’s, even if Ozu’s is more rigid in shot selection, focal length and placement.
But my point was the rigidity in L’Avventura is to reinforce the rigidity in the film itself. The rigidity in Tokyo Story is actually meant to achieve the opposite, so I would argue it’s a looser feeling film. That disparity is actually why Edward Yang is often cited as a child of Antonioni, while Hou is a child of Ozu, even though their subject material probably should lead Yang to Ozu and Hou to Antonioni.
I’ll take L’Avventura over Tokyo Story any day of the week, but I’ve always been more attracted to that which is ‘artistically indulgent’ (Antonioni) as opposed to ‘minimalism’ (Ozu).