The Last Estate

Jeanne Dielman vs MechaGodzilla – The Last Estate

Jeanne Dielman vs MechaGodzilla

The Sight and Sound 100 Greatest Films list was just released, and everyone is pissed.

I recently watched 37 Godzilla movies in 20 days.

By the end of this article, I will have linked the two.

Lightning Steve McQueen

The Sight and Sound list is built from polls given to ‘film people’ such as the guy that made Parasite, the desiccated corpse of Roger Ebert and Paul Thomas Anderson, who apparently put Cars 2 for all ten places and had to be physically restrained when he was told it was not acceptable. 

It was also given to Ti West, who had the temerity to pick 10 great movies and was rightly pilloried on Twitter.

The first place film this time around was the catchily titled Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels by Chantal Ackerman. Lots to be said about Ackerman, who killed herself aged 65 and was apparently intensely depressed for most of her life, but I’m not going to say it. Nor am I going to mention the film that much. I watched it. It’s very, very good. OK, I will mention it a little.

I also watched every Godzilla movie ever made. Some of those are very good too. But ultimately, which is better? Am I finishing this passage with a question then asking another as a section heading straight afterwards? 

Am I retarded or am I just overjoyed?

So sang awful pop-punk idiot Billie Joe Armstrong.

When I was young, I used to like reading car part catalogs. I’m talking ten, eleven. I loved them. For my birthday – for two or three years in a row – I asked my parents to just order me these catalogs. They were free, so my dad was fucking elated. This idiot just wants to look at tires! is what I imagine my dad said to my mom while wrapping up my ridiculous present the night before the big day. 

But I loved those catalogs. I slept with them. When I sat in bed and opened one, my stupid child-mind went places. Yeah it was just pictures of spoilers and bumpers but those spoilers and bumpers belonged to cars, and those cars belonged to people, and those people were fucking alive. They drove their cars along roads in my mind. I’d take the pages that fell out to school with me. I’d show them to my friends. They didn’t get it. They were reading Goosebumps and Terry Pratchett books. What a pile of nonsense.

I’m getting to my point by the way, just stay with me.

Space Godzilla, 23 Jingu Dori, 1080 Tokyo

I felt this childhood passion again while watching the Godzilla franchise. I think I know why. I spent 20 years of my adult life as a moderate-functioning alcoholic. I started drinking when I was 13 and didn’t stop until 3 years ago. So I never got dulled by life really, because I went to bed one night an autistic teenager obsessed with car parts and woke up in my late thirties with the same passion and most of the autism still intact. Inside me are two wolves and they both fucking LOVE life. The Godzilla movies were car catalogs to adult me. I sat with them in the evening. I enjoyed every single one, even the god awful Showa-era ones like Son of Godzilla which were made while Ishiro Honda was drunk. Incidentally Ishiro Honda ran a brothel/prison during the first world war. Women were abducted from their homes and forced to service the Japanese soldiers to keep morale up. But we don’t talk about that.

The enjoyment I got from the Godzilla films was much stronger than the enjoyment I got from Jeanne Dielman. If I am being totally honest, I watched it last night and it was a lot better than I thought. In fact, as I mentioned above, it’s really fucking good. So the panning I was going to give it is dulled somewhat. But it is a chore. It’s 200 minutes. Until the last 20, nothing happens. The film follows the day to day life of a regular housewife. It’s hypnotic. It’s beautifully framed. By the end, it’s intense and shocking. There’s a moment 2 hours in where Jeanne drops a shoe-brush on the kitchen floor. It’s preceded by such a lack of activity that it functions as a jump-scare. It’s not the last one either.

Sight & Sound 2022 ‘100 Fattest Hogs’

So they ask all these film people to vote for their favorite films. But here is the key. The sucker punch. They make the lists public. They show every single list and name every single person. So now we have an issue. Because whether we want to admit it or not, the vast majority of us are liars, and this is exacerbated if you feel the need to save face in Hollywood. A LOT of people voted for Jeanne Dielman and I will go out on a limb here and say, with a small degree of confidence, that not everyone had seen it before they did. If you work in an industry as incestuous as Hollywood, where every other meeting is like the final twenty minutes of Society, you have to keep up appearances. What I’m saying here isn’t revelatory. It’s the fucking truth. Tell these people that they need to pick their favorite films but with the caveat that everyone is going to know what you picked and you end up with Jeanne Dielman in first place. We lie to ourselves. We do it again and again because 21st Century society tells us we need to create – then impress – a group of people who will judge us on our tastes.

A Slight Return to Joy

When I tweeted out my own list of 10 films, I did so with an eye on what some people would think of me. I don’t think I’m alone in this. If I was going one step further, I could name the people whose opinion on my movie taste I care about. I won’t, because then I have to DM them all and ask them if they mind being in the article, but there’s probably about ten of them.

I see myself as a definite film guy. I have watched a lot of films. I usually watch three a day. Loads of foreign films. Long films. Short films. What I’m saying is you should respect me more because of this. My list is not hugely pretentious, but it does contain a couple of films I have only watched once or twice and might not watch again (Werckmeister Harmonies, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Throne of Blood). These are great movies but I enjoy them differently than, say, Aliens or Lost in Translation. Lost in Translation got knocked off the list in the end, but it’s probably the film I have seen most in my life. It’s deeply uncool to like Lost in Translation, even more so since lonely people on the internet decided they didn’t like Scarlet Johansson. It’s the antithesis of what Film Guys stand for. Small, quiet, achingly romantic. I enjoy it more than I enjoy Throne of Blood. 

But… it looks better doesn’t it? A Kurosawa on the list. 

Who is it there for? Why am I like this? People will think more of me! And really, isn’t that what it’s all about. And on top of that, I can enjoy things on different levels. Some films are just really fucking good. The Thing is really fucking good. Aliens is really fucking good. Other films are like collectible cards. Once you finish them you feel good, but it’s not always because you have enjoyed them. It’s because you have watched them and now don’t need to pretend anymore. I saw Jeanne Dielman. I’m a proper Film Guy now (in the eyes of who?!?).  I have no real need to impress anyone. I have a nice life. My dog looks great in knitwear. My TV is adequately sized, as is my penis. I’m fine. But I still want to let people know I appreciate Throne of Blood. 


Woody Allen voted for Lolita

What would my honest list look like? Well, actually it wouldn’t be that different. Here’s the one I tweeted out to my 900 followers who I apparently feel the need to lie to about my taste in cinema.

2001 A Space Odyssey

Mulholland Drive

Love Exposure


The Thing

Werckmeister Harmonies

A Field in England

Throne of Blood

My Neighbor Totoro


and here is my honest list. The one I don’t want anyone to see.


Sharknado 2

Sharknado 3

Sharknado 4

Sharknado 5


Shrek 2

Shrek 3

The Bee Movie

Lost in Translation

Lars von Trier had 0 entries into the Sight and Sound Top 100 Films

So let’s wrap this up. Why are people so upset about this list? 

Well, we’re all different and there are obviously many reasons. People hate that Jeanne Dielman was directed by a woman. That’s a biggie. People hate that it’s such a  pretentious list. People hate that now they might have to pretend to have seen another batch of movies. My main motivation for disliking the list is that there is an abject lack of joy. In people’s answers, which are warped by their need to appear intelligent in front of their peers. In people’s responses to the list, which are tedious and boring. In the films themselves – The Bee Movie didn’t even fucking place. But mostly it’s my own response to the list that I am most disappointed in. Because as soon as the list was revealed, I started trying to work out which films I could shoehorn onto my own list in order to gain the respect of people I will never meet. Because after my wonderful Godzilla binge, which was so enjoyable I bought a hat to celebrate, I lost that joy. I became dulled by my need to impress people. I became dulled by adult life. I put down the car catalog and picked up Houellebecq. And that, my friends, is a real lack of joy. 

Stuart Buck

Stuart Buck runs the Bear Creek Gazette and enjoys quantum physics, dogs and sitting.