Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Even though i'm in Berlin, the end-of-the-year film critics awards and polls have proven to be endlessly entertaining. Right off the bat, i have to make a point: i don't believe in consensus as a critical value. That is just... wrong! A critical perspective should be one where one's own aesthetic values are allowed to determine one's judgements. It used to be called "taste".

The reason i participate in these polls (i am included in the Village Voice/LA Weekly poll, and the IndieWire poll) is that i feel that my perspective (which is one which focuses on "alternative" film) should be represented, and i take a stand to include those films, either international or national, which find limited release because they're independent/experimental/whatever. I do not care if everyone else is flipping over James Cameron's "Avatar"; that's not my concern (and i'm not invited to be part of that juggernaut anyway). If there are people with similar interests in the "margins" as opposed to simply the commercial mainstream, fine. (James Quandt and J. Hoberman are two who usually find some overlap with my choices.) But i'm not here to provide another vote in a generalized consensus; quite the opposite.

And this brings me to the question: why has the poll taken on such significance? What happened to the individual critical voice?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009; Berlin remains a very grey city. But on Monday, i did get my Village Voice/LA Weekly ballot handed in, and i realized that it was quite a good year, especially for women directors. Not that every film made by a woman that was released in 2009 was some sort of masterpiece, but the fact that there were so many was impressive. Just off the top of my head: Agnes Varda's "Les Plages d'Agnes", Lone Scherfig's "An Education", Jane Campion's "Bright Star", Claire Denis's "35 Shots of Rum", So Yung Kim's "Treeless Mountain", Doris Dorrie's "Cherry Blossoms", Kathyrn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker", Lucrecia Martel's "The Headless Woman", Naoko Ogigami's "Megane", Ursula Meier's "Home", Rebecca Miller's "The Private Life of Pippa Lee", Katherine Dieckmann's "Motherhood", Mira Nair's "Amelia", Monika Treut's "Ghosted", Nancy Meyer's "It's Complicated" and Marie-Helen Cousineau & Madeline Piujuq Ivalu's "Before Tomorrow." Plus Anthology Film Archives had the programs of films by Erika Beckmann, Su Friedrich, Abigail Child and Peggy Awesh, as well as the retrospective of Ulrike Ottinger. I'm impressed, but i guess nobody else is.