It's been an exceptionally Godardian year, even if my
favorite release of the year is a 40-year-old JLG romance requiem not enough
critics saw, and which absolutely no one but me considered a viable 2009
list-maker in any case. I walk away stuffed and satisfied (even though I did
not see Haneke's "The White Ribbon" in time), thanks largely in part
to a handful of obsessive global filmmakers, Quentin Tarantino, and the persistent
idea that commercial animation can be interesting, metaphorically loaded and
uniquely textured, and not just a cash-hungry showbiz monstrosity.
Once again I've asked my esteemed colleagues
here at "The Phoenix" to contribute their best and worst lists for the year and
they have generously responded. Here's the first installment:
1. The Hurt Locker
2. A Serious Man
5. (500) Days of Summer
Since I posted that last item on filmmaker Jafar Panahi's status
in Iran, the shit there has started to hit the fan. Protests over
the weekend have erupted with thousands of demonstrators, violent clashes with
the police, and at least ten dead. Once again, Iran's
filmmakers are active informing the world of what's going on, with the great
director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, who has found refuge in Paris, posted an item on
his website reporting the apparent assassination of the nephew of opposition
leader Mir Hussein Moussavi.
Back in September at the Montreal Film Festival I had the privilege of interviewing the great Iranian director, Jafar Panahi ("The Circle," "Crimson Gold," "Offside"), who was the president of the international jury . He was outspoken about his support for the the anti-government movement seeking a fair election, and with the intensifying government crackdown on such dissenters I have since been monitoring the internet for any news on his situation.
Every year at this time countless awards go out to human
beings for their accomplishments in movies. But what about the animals, whose
contributions are sometimes the only thing that make a film worth watching? The
"Where's Whitey?" Award is my small attempt to compensate for this injustice.
For those who need to be reminded, the name of the award
refers to Kim Tae-kyun's "Crossing," a South Korean film I saw at the Palm
Springs Film Festival.
When it comes to budget or box office there is no contest. Kathryn Bigelow could probably make 20 "The Hurt Locker"s for what it cost James Cameron to make one "Avatar" and "Avatar" has taken in domestically for its first weekend about six times what "The Hurt Locker" has grossed during its entire release.
A cult favorite director finally releases a long awaited cutting edge f/x extravaganza sci-fi/fantasy with a huge budget featuring a giant blue guy as the hero. James Cameron and "Avatar?" Perhaps, but that's also a description of Zack Snyder's "Watchmen," released earlier this year. And if things turn out the same way for Cameron as they did for Snyder than he's got a lot to worry about.
The Boston Society of Film Critics has made its choices for 2009 and I found two results particularly noteworthy. The first is the tie for Best Ensemble Acting. I know our group has been criticized for ties before but this one has even got me scratching my head: "Precious" and "Star Trek?" Now there's a twinbill for you.
I know nobody really gives a rat's ass except other film critics, and even other criticsroll their eyes when I suggest that this signifies the inevitable decline of cinemas if not civilzation itself, but the axe has fallen on more of our colleagues. The "USA Today"'s Mike Clark and the "Las Vegas Weekly"'s Josh Bell -- according to "The Salt Lake City Tribune"'s Sean P.
As if feteing Jonathan Demme with the Coolidge Award was not enough, the Theatre will also be hosting yours truly as the guest speaker for their Talk Cinema series. They will be screening an as yet unseen (except by me!) film after which I will delight and regale you with my scintillating insights followed by your own illuminating comments and engrossing discussion.
The Coolidge Corner Theater will award its seventh annual COOLIDGE AWARD to Academy Award-winning filmmaker JONATHAN DEMME, who will accept the honor during a two-day celebration on March 1 and 2, 2010. The Coolidge will also screen a selection of Demme's work in February.
From the press release:
The Coolidge Corner Theatre announces internationally acclaimed director Jonathan Demme as the recipient of the 2010 Coolidge Award, to be celebrated March 1-2.