Being able to arrange movies from the past into theme based viewing schedules is the most rewarding thing that one can get out of the ever-broadening film libraries available to us today.
German elections of 2009 for example inspired me to look at some of Robert Altmans contributions to this topic (“Tanner ‘88”, “Secret Honor”), to the insightful Alexander Kluge documentary “Der Kandidat” as well as to the filmic version of Wolfgang Koeppens “Das Treibhaus”.
The rather moderate “Watchmen” kicked off a rather extended look at Cold War movies including a re-appreciation of “Dr. Strangelove”, yet another Kluge documentary “Krieg und Frieden”, “Our Man in Havana”, “Fail-Save”, as well as the rather underrated Hitchcock film “Topaz”. Revisiting “War Games” then lead to a more general approach in looking at quintessential 80s movies that I (out of whatever reasons) never saw. Most prominent entries were the wonderfully sleazy “Body Heat”, the king of sports movies “Hoosiers” and the pleasantly-naïve “Big Trouble in Little China”.
More director focused streams were dedicated to Christian Petzold, whom I discovered this year after seeing his excellent “Jerichow” as well as to the early works of Volker Schlöndorff, thanks to some wonderful DVD releases by Arthaus Video tied to the publishing of this autobiography.
Arthaus also made it possible to explore some of the lesser-known entries of the “Young German Cinema” like “Nordsee ist Mordsee” and Werner Herzogs first “Lebenszeichen”.
But out of all for me, the most unexpected theme of 2009 was Walt Disney and the Golden Age of Animation. Kindled by my interest in Pixar, I thought it would be worthwhile to explore some of John Lasseter major inspiration sources. Finding a man in Walt Disney unmatched in his mix of inventiveness and entrepreneurism being still a major influence on American entertainment culture today. Finding works like “Snow White” and “Pinocchio” that were so perfect and labor intensive that their formula was practically irreproducible in later decades.
Finally thanks got out to labels like Criterion, BFI and Masters of Cinema for continuously providing gems from the past that are a pleasure to explore and make the dullness of a large amount of the contemporary releases forgettable.
Not included in TheAuteurs database:
13) Krieg und Frieden (Documentary) (1982)
14) Der plötzliche Reichtum der armen Leute von Kombach (1971)
15) Die Schweizermacher (1978)