Tuesday, January 01, 2013

A month has passed. A lot has happened. It's already the new year: January 1, 2013. In terms of movies: this year, i was invited to participate in the Village Voice/LA weekly poll, the IndieWire poll, and the Film Comment poll. I've never participated in the Film Comment poll before. As usual, i tried to choose movies that i felt were definitely worthwhile but that might be overlooked in favor of more commercial fare. And i also tried to list each film only once, so if i chose a director/screenplay/performance i liked, that would not duplicate the films in my Top Ten. Anyway, my Top Ten were: 1) "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia"; 2) "Almayer's Folly"; 3) "5 Broken Cameras"; 4) "Abendland"; 5) "Keep the Lights On"; 6) "The Turin Horse"; 7) "The Kid With a Bike"; 8) "I Wish"; 9) "Ginger and Rosa"; 10) "United In Anger". My Best Documentary was "The Gatekeepers"; my Best Director was Kathyrn Bigelow for "Zero Dark Thirty"; my Best First Feature was "Beasts of the Southern Wild"; my Best Screenplay was "Goodbye, First Love" by Mia Hansen-Love; my Best Animated Feature was "Consuming Spirits".

This year, i had a great time at the BAM CinemaFest and the New York Film Festival. One film which i missed (it opened in February, during the time of my radiation therapy, and i was in no condition to go to screenings) was "Neighboring Sounds", which i hope to catch. That was a film recommended by many friends in terms of their Top Ten lists. Another film which i saw in 2012 but which was a 2011 release was "In the Family", but that film would have made my list if it weren't for that technicality. For those people (like Patrick Wang, who wrote, directed and produced "In the Family") who decide to self-distribute: try to get as much press as possible, and not just target the usual (print) media outlets. Yes, it wound up getting an excellent review in the New York Times in December of 2011, but there wasn't much coverage in IndieWire (and it's the kind of movie which, supposedly, IndieWire is set up to cover).

But the whole issue of theatrical release is starting to get very amorphous. There are so many platforms now, and, because of digital technology, there are so many "films" being made, that this idea of a standard commercial release is proving more and more elusive, especially for what used to be called "art" films. And all these polls want Best Undistributed, a category which is getting more and more difficult. The reason: if a film seems to have some merit, chances are it will eventually find some sort of distribution. For example: i tried to file one of my poll ballots on a Friday, but by Monday, i found out on IndieWire that three of the films i had listed as Undistributed had found distributors! Back to the drawing board, and so i listed a bunch of avantgarde films. Why not? Why shouldn't James Benning be given a theatrical run as much as (say) Paul Thomas Anderson or David O. Russell?

So much for that. But i'll be posting more on a regular basis, now that the whole holiday season has come and gone!


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