I think both Alexei German's Hard To Be A God (above) and Abderrahamane Sisako's Timbuktu are masterpieces, but they're also films that demonstrate the necessary elasticity of the possibly overused term. German's film, decades in the making, insistently unpleasant if not harrowing, replete with narrative difficulty and sleeve-tugging if not wedgie-pulling subtext, a meticulous immersion into an awful created world that's a mirror of our own, feels very much like a magnum opus. Sisako's film, gorgeous, quietly virtuosic, telling a tragic and at times harrowing story but also graced with moments of quiet beauty and suffused with an abiding wisdom that it shares with a subdued but entirely righteous anger seems "merely" like a story Sisako wants to tell. How much these apprehensions/intuitions have to do with the fact that German's is a posthumous film and Sisako, at age 53, has many more movies to make, is of course an open question In the meantime, I review both films for RogerEbert.com at the links attached to the titles.
The German film's run at NYC's Anthology Film Archives is part of a substantial retrospective of the great director's work, including such wonders as 1971's Trial On The Road (further proof of my maxim that the Russians made the absolute best World War II films) and the harrowing, phantasmagoric 1998 Khrustalyov, My Car!, both of which I wrote a bit about here. I hope to write more on German (or Guerman) soon.