by Ryland Walker Knight
Phase one of the movie is done: I'm back in California. After a week without internet I'm glad to see the 'sphere still generating. Too much to read with all that's on my plate. There's a little light at the end of this beaucratical tunnel I'm in and I may, cross your fingers, get a loan to pay for my return to school. But it's still a wish and a prayer at this point so I'll have to keep you posted.
As for the movies: here it is, what I've been waiting for: the ultimate viewing list: Denis Lim's annual poll, now on indieWIRE. I gotta say, it's pretty heartening to see other critics put BLOCK PARTY on their lists. (I'm not alone after all, Steve!) Lim's end-all lists are always a great way to catch up on all the blind spots I've acrued this year (of the top ten I've seen two, of the top twenty I've seen five) what with my Canyon trip and constant pinballing across this wide country. The one I ache to take in is that big bad behemoth, David Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE. I've read so much already I've pieced together a rough cut in my head but I know that will only pale in comparison to the real deal. Really, how can I pretend to know what's in store? All I do know is that trailer did the trick and I feel like I need to see why Laura Dern's crying on the sidewalk, all fish-eyed blue.
The poll also brings to mind how to reconcile my end of the year recollections. I don't like a top ten list but I don't like falling back on an alphabetical list either. I guess I've just grown wary of value judgments in general this year. A star-rating feels inadequate and shorthand & a top ten list feels reductive and consumerist. But time constraints keep me from writing the multiple essays I'd like to finish addressing the movies I did see and grappled with this year so who knows what my contribution will be come January 1st.
All I know is it's been a revelatory year despite a lack of revelatory current releases: the Best movie I saw this year wasn't even made in 02006 (or 02005, as it may be) but 01969, Jean-Pierre Melville's ARMY OF SHADOWS. However, my favorite movie of 02006 remains BLOCK PARTY. How can I not rank the Melville above the Chappelle when I know the latter is flawed and nowhere near the essential classic of the former? I suppose it's a dilemma many critics encounter but let's face it: trivial quibbling. Best to simply write about why I liked both. Honestly, I didn't think I was "allowed" to include Melville's film in my list until I saw Ed Gonzalez & Nick Schager's Slant Magazine 2006: The Year In Film. So hey, all bets should be off. We'll just have to wait and see what I can dish out for a recap. For now, though, I gotta get wrapping -- and prepping, you know, my brain (& heart) for these days ahead.
Stay tuned. And happy holidays!
(Couldn't help it.)
(I fill out my ballot in the comments below.)