Always a pleasure to read your responses to my crappy lists. I'll try to respond to some of the great stuff you wrote.
Those two Ozu films make me happier than any other film on either of those lists. For that, they deserve to sit right at the top. I don't know if you'd rank them as highly, but I think you'd love them if you love Ozu.
(Speaking of Ozu, I watched AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON and of course loved it. If you need a write-up on that for your next list, I'll be happy to oblige.)
I've always found Bergman to be incredibly sincere in his approach to filmmaking. Many of his films are very serious and intellectual, but they never seem pretentious to me. I think they are far too personal or introspective to seem disingenuous. I don't know, maybe that's why he gets a pass, or maybe it's for something else entirely. Either way, I love him.
I had no idea that As the Sky Stared Down With Angry Clouds was based on THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. That's awesome! Great album, by the way.
About Sirk: I think the irony is important when considering the time his films were made. It does add an extra element that makes them much more than meets the eye. I appreciate this tremendously. The only point I was trying to get at with ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS is that I watched it without knowing anything about Sirk's irony and loved it as a critique of 50s conformity. I get the irony now (which does add to the film for sure), but it can also work without it and perhaps for that I tend to like it more than the other two I've seen. Still, I really like and admire WRITTEN ON THE WIND and IMITATION OF LIFE. Sirk was a great filmmaker.
And to expand on what I wrote about IMITATION OF LIFE: I've read that it was intended as pure irony, and that it completely mocks the sentiments and values it seems to extol. Nothing is to be taken seriously. That's what I meant by the irony of it. As for Sirk's mise-en-scene with the film, I think it is masterful. There's a strong emphasis on showing mirrors, reflections, ostentation, gaudy displays of wealth within the frame, all with the intent of criticizing surface appearances and shallow representations. In this way, I think the mise-en-scene services the film perhaps more than its plot because it critiques the mother's pursuit of fame and the racial injustice experienced by Sarah Jane. If the film is meant to be highly ironic, then it's all in the details.
I can understand not digging PICKPOCKET. But, it's only 76 minutes or so long, which is something I forgot to mention about why it's so great and why Bresson is so great. Love his efficiency.
I appreciate all you wrote about the AFI argument. I'm right there with you. I have an AFI desk reference book that I got at the age of 16 and used at the time to discover many classics films and directors I had never heard of. It was actually a huge gateway into film for me, so I'll always be thankful to the AFI for that, even if now I think that they woefully overlook so many great films for their lists. Still, if the AFI and films like the THE ARTIST have any influence in getting people even remotely interested in classic film, then it's a good thing. We don't have to consider the AFI an ultimate authority, and inversely we don't have to bash everything they praise.
RIDE LONESOME is on TCM April 11th. I've got it marked on my calender to watch and am looking forward to it. Would love to see THE HORSE SOLDIERS soon as well.
I haven't seen BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK. I don't think I could ever shun that film, as I fully expect it to be great. Do you or John have a copy to lend me?
Greatly looking forward to that '61 list. Thanks again for those responses!