Yesterday BBC Culture posted a list of the 100 best foreign-language films of all time, based on a poll of 209 snooty, stodgy critics. At once well chosen and at the same time rote and droopy. The majority of the 209 are probably composed of two overlapping groups — (a) dweebs and (b) crusty, know-it-all types who are beholden to standard group-default thinking as well as their own pasts, prejudices and peculiarities and blah, blah. Don’t expect me to drop to my knees when they pass by.
All you can really say is that 209 knowledgable but flawed people chose their personal foreign-language favorites because they don’t want their colleagues to think they don’t respect the classics or that they’re knee-jerk revisionists or in some way unseasoned or scholastically incorrect, so they played it safe.
Asghar Farhadi‘s A Separation is in 21st place, fine, but where the hell is Andrey Zvagintsev‘s Leviathan? Akira Kurosawa‘s Seven Samurai is #1, but I’ve never found it that wonderful. (I’ve always preferred John Sturges 1960 remake, to be honest. And I don’t care what anyone thinks of this preference either, and if they don’t like it they can blow me.) Jules Dassin‘s note-perfect Rififi is only the 91st most popular? Seems to me it deserves to be among the top 25 or 30. Godard’s Pierrot Le Fou made the list? I popped in the Bluray a couple of years ago and couldn’t get through it.
The 209 know what they know and believe what they believe, but they aren’t kings or princes or even poets. I’ll bet a good portion of them are underpaid and vaguely pissed off. I’ll bet they wear glasses and baggy pants, and have neck wattles and don’t work out that much. I’ll bet they always go to the discount section when they visit the local Barnes and Noble.