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The News: All-Positive Friday -- List Edition!

Beef: You Are What You Eat, one of Film Threat's choices for Best Unseen Films of 2007

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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