All of these films first screened theatrically in Chicago in the first half of 2019. I’ve linked to my original reviews where applicable and offer new thoughts on my favorite film of the year (which I haven’t written about elsewhere). Enjoy.
20. Hail Satan? (Lane, USA)
“With unfettered access to the leaders of the group’s various nationwide chapters, including charismatic church founder Lucien Greaves, director Penny Lane crafts a deceptively simple work of political commentary that ultimately sympathizes with the Satanists as a group of merry pranksters who see their movement as a counterbalance to the repressiveness of other organized religions.” My review at Time Out Chicago here.
19. The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Talbot, USA)
18. Infinite Football (Porumboiu, Romania)
17. Her Smell (Perry, USA)
16. 3 Faces (Panahi, Iran)
15. The Nightingale (Kent, Australia)
14. Asako I & II (Hamaguchi, Japan)
13. Saint Frances (Thompson, USA)
“This female-centric character study, which is shot through with compassion, insight and originality, speaks to our cultural moment in a way that other recent American movies do not.” My review for Time Out Chicago here.
12. The Wild Pear Tree (Ceylan, Turkey)
10. (tie) Hotel By the River/Grass (Hong, S. Korea)
9. Hale County This Morning, This Evening (Ross, USA)
8. Pasolini (Ferrara, Italy/USA) – Screens at the Siskel Center from 6/21-6/27.
7. Black Mother (Allah, USA/Jamaica)
“As in the films of Pedro Costa, (Khalik) Allah gives a voice to the voiceless while solidifying his own unique cinematic language.” My review at Time Out Chicago here.
6. CoinCoin and the Extra-Humans (Dumont, France)
5. The Souvenir (Hogg, UK)
4. Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Bi, China)
3. High Life (Denis, France/Germany)
2. The Image Book (Godard, France/Switzerland)
“In spite of what some of his detractors think, Godard still believes in the elemental power of cinema, which is why the mesmerizing IMAGE BOOK is a more accessible work than even many of its champions would have you believe.” My review at Cine-File Chicago here.
1. Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story (Scorsese, USA)
Martin Scorsese revisits one of Bob Dylan’s most celebrated tours, 1975’s Rolling Thunder Revue, repurposing footage from the Bard of Minnesota’s own wild, self-directed 1978 film Renaldo & Clara and turning it into a fantasia about, in poet Anne Waldman’s words, “America’s search for redemption” (most evident in the scenes involving Rubin “Hurricane” Carter and the Tuscarora Indian Reservation). An overwhelming sensorial and emotional experience and, for my money, Scorsese’s best film of the 21st century. Also, no offense, but if you felt “duped” by the (hilarious) fictional elements in this, you are an idiot.