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The Battle of Algiers

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The Battle of Algiers (Algeria/Italy, 1965, Gillo Pontecorvo). Restored print re-released in 35 mm and on DVD. This is so timely that it might as well have been made this year.

 

Bright Leaves (USA, 2004, Ross McElwee). A witty rumination on the narcotic properties of filmmaking and tobacco, and the relation of both to death.

 

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (USA, 2004, Michael Gondry). The high point of this combination of Jim Carrey as actor and Charlie Kaufman as writer is the childhood scene under the kitchen table. 

 

Fahrenheit 9/11 (USA, 2004, Michael Moore). Hastily topical and hardly timeless, but nonetheless a landmark for the events of 2004.

 

Final Solution (India, 2003, Rakesh Sharma). Documentary on the Gujarat riots and massacre of Muslims in 2002, screened at CMU and introduced by the filmmaker.

 

Gojira (Japan, 1954, Ishiro Honda). Restored and stripped of the American inserts, this film's silly reputation was belied by the gravity of its post-war nuclear anxieties and the near-documentary aesthetics in the scenes of destruction.

 

Kannathil Muthamittal/A Peck on the Cheek (India, 2002, Mani Ratnam). Screened at Pitt's "Entertainment and Anxiety" film festival, this is another example of Ratnam's capacity to translate war and mayhem into an engaging and thoughtful cinematic mix.

 

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (UK, 1965, Martin Ritt). My favorite example of a film that is the absolute equal of the book (John Le Carre's bleak Cold War thriller), this finally came out on DVD this year. It features Richard Burton at his best.

 

Watermelon Man (USA, 1970, Melvin Van Peebles). This comedy, about the antics of a racist white man (played by Godfrey Cambridge in whiteface) who inexplicably turns black one day, preceded Van Peebles' famous ­Baadasssss film by a year and was released on DVD this year.

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