Zero Hour, in any case, is sometime in the evening of the 31st. Call it anal retentalism if I'm a little late.
A few lists that I’ve read (one, in particular, that Bill pointed me to at a particularly ridiculous film site), are comprised entirely of films that have only gotten play on the festival circuit or, as I like to say, on the side of a camel, projected by the grace of match-light and crank. (The comment on one? “I like your choices, despite the pair of American narratives” – referring to Miranda July’s Me, You, and Everyone We Know and Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale.) It’s the kind of airless stunt that defines “elitism” to me, not as a celebration of and indulgence in good taste, but as a means by which to squeeze all the joy out of going to the movies by making it a pursuit based in large part on classism and intellectual bigotry. You have Ebert on the one side, saying that a piece of shit is at least a great piece of shit, and then you have a certain faction on the other side that says anything made by an American with a story is a piece of shit. It’s the kind of person that fights too long and hard about Stan Brackhage never acknowledging that at the end of the day, avant-garde is, 99% of the time, more interesting as a theory than ever in practice. Talk to me about ninety-minutes of mushroom-prints deposited directly on film and I’m game – show it to me and my eyes roll up into the back of my head as my stomach tries to jump up and throttle my brain in self-defense.
I don’t know if these guys are kidding. But you have to wonder.
The White Diamond is exceptional – the kind of thing that you’d call a return to form for Herzog meaning that it’s good in a way that’s so predictable that it doesn’t feel bracing. That is, if you think that genius can ever be off the cuff. I’m comfortable saying that it’s nigh indispensable viewing, but even so, I felt like the wires were showing too often in this tale of a man obsessed about building a lightweight airship to explore the rainforest canopy in search of herbal remedies and undiscovered species of both flora and fauna. Seems a colleague of his had died ten years previous in a similar experimental flight (something he retells in a haunting passage), lending the quest that air of Herzogian mania – and along the way, our favorite Bavarian madman finds a couple of supporting characters (especially a dude named Marc Antony Yahp who could be the most relaxed man on the planet) that delight with their eccentricity. When the lights go out, though, it’s Herzog eternally as the craziest guy in the film which makes his work at odds with Errol Morris in that one crucial element. Herzog is the inmate, Morris the asylum. I’m glad I saw it – I still like Grizzly Man better.
Spider Forest is an a-linear genre exercise that sort of reminds of Jacob’s Ladder and Memento, but points more to a South Korean tendency to flavor all of their films with a core humanity and genius-level of intuition about what it’s like to be in and out of love. Graphic violence, graphic sex, gorgeous cinematography, and a central conceit so simple that it would seem trite if I told it to you – it all boils down, like Jeong Jun-Hwan’s Save the Green Planet! did except with a lot of children in a montage on a street, to one scene between two children in the titular forest. Spider Forest is a David Lynch picture with the “Freud” turned down a few notches (despite the image of spider’s webs and the unconscious) – an exploration of the captured image, of television tabloid journalism, and of how to make a film out-of-time and space with heart and its share of lawless moments. It also has one of the year’s best single moments in a conversation between two kids, lost in the winter at night, and only one of their breaths is misting. Only this film industry at this time could make a sickle to the nose, business end first, the centerpiece of a heartbreaking tableau morte.
But anyway – eggnog all around, and out with it folks – best of 2005s, and the bottom, too. Overlooked films, underrated ones, too. Also curious to hear your favorite performances. Me - I'll keep mostly mum until next Saturday (or thereabouts, he says cryptically as though anyone gives a shit) but will enjoy reading guesses as to FFC's compilations. Just to keep score, there are 32 films in contention for mine. (Hint: one of them is not The Family Stone.)
I’ve already written the introduction so no fear of contamination when I ask you also to articulate what you see as the trends: macro and micro, in film this year. Also, comments solicited on the usefulness of lists including only films you’ve never heard of before and will never get to see versus films everyone’s heard of and would have to be blind in a dirt hole in Nepal to not see in some form or another in the next year.
With The Captain and Chad-E the first two winners of the FFC caption contest – we embark on version 3.0 this week with this little beauty. Good luck.