By S.T. VanAirsdale
As per tradition, some of today's more upbeat movie news of note from around New York:
--As I think I've made abundantly clear this week, in a perfect world (or at least in my perfect world) we would have no annual best-of/Top-10 lists ranking the year in cinema. We wouldn't even have Michael Tully's mind-blowing feature from earlier this week, which wrings out the same conventional criteria (10 best, awards hopefuls, etc.) before getting into the real good stuff: Best Undistributed Films; Memorable Moments; "Underwhelming the First Time Around, Overwhelming the Second (and vice versa)"; Best Theatrical Experience (and Runners-Up); Best Non-2007 Films That I Discovered in a Theater in 2007; and my personal favorite, the "Bruno Dumont Award For Being the Most Bruno Dumontian." A great, thorough slow read for your drowsy Friday, this is the work of a guy who truly loves movies.
--Armond White returns for the second year of his Better Than List, which doesn't quite reach the oxygen-deprived heights of contrarianism he achieved in '06, but I mean that as a compliment. Take Armond's preference for The Bubble over Juno: "Israeli director Eytan Fox shames the tweeness of Amerindie formula. Using sex as a metaphor of global relations, he finds the heartbreaking commonality in political/ethnic tensions. It shames privileged, white feminist narcissism." And it gets better.
--Over at Film Threat, Phil Hall compiles the year's Best Unseen Films, including lost imports (Another Sky), contemporary docs (Plan 9 From Syracuse, Have You Heard From Johannesburg?), animated features (Flatland) and genre discoveries (Beef: You Are What You Eat). I'll add The Living Wake and Pool of Princesses to that list, for what it's worth. Catch them if you can.
--Baltimore Sun critic Michael Sragow's overwrought blurbs were originally short-listed for my Top 10 of Top 10s. Among the miasma of list abstractions inflating No Country For Old Men's moral dynamics, however, Sragow's 70-word capsule was uncommonly -- and quite brilliantly -- precise: "The Coen brothers, at their pinnacle, pinpoint when moral emptiness became part of the American atmosphere in the years after Vietnam. The movie works as a hair-trigger thriller for most of its running time, then dares to end as a dialectic between opposites: Tommy Lee Jones, the old-school sheriff who deplores the vacuum, and Javier Bardem the cold killer who exploits it with an evil integrity. (Both are splendid.)"
Posted at January 4, 2008 7:57 AM
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