Thursday, December 21, 2006

A brief missive amidst this mess

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.

stuck inside

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.)


  1. I'm not even close to coming up with a 2006 list yet. Maybe I'll get something together by Oscartime, but as of now I haven't seen half the films I wanted to this year. Going to see Curse Of The Golden Flower on Sunday, but after that, I don't know when I'll be able to see anything. Regardless, Still Life is the film doesn't even have a distributer yet, and any list made without having seen it is premature (I hope).

    I want to see Children Of Men, if only because Lubezki so dominated Lim's Cinematography category. Groupthink or is it really that good? Three Times and Miami Vice are tops for me right now (if you consider the Hou film to be 2005).

    There's no doubt though about the best film I saw in a theatre in 2006. (Oh, and though it would make a great double feature with Office Space, I was just pointing out the similarity between two scenes in them (cabinet destruction vs. printer destruction).

    Anyway, good luck with the financial aid. With you two gone, we had to watch Rosemary's Baby instead of Seven Samurai. Thanks a lot.

  2. I didn't mention CHILDREN OF MEN but it's definitely my number two movie, if not number one, depending on my mood. I've been waiting for it for what feels like forever: I think its release date has been pushed back three times (heh) now. THREE TIMES is also up there...

    Yeah, I'd have to agree that you simply can't fuck with SATANTANGO. And I knew what you meant but I thought it was a great idea nonetheless because both movies are about being trapped by society.

    ROSEMARY'S BABY is a good midnight movie but SEVEN SAMURAI is so much fucking better. (Cribbing Steve Malklmus all the time...)

    Hope your holidays are good, dude.

  3. Oh hell, if I had a ballot it'd look like this right now:

    Best Film

    1. Dave Chappelle's BLOCK PARTY
    2. VOLVER
    10. INSIDE MAN

    Best Performance

    1. Penelope Cruz, VOLVER
    2. Daniel Craig, CASINO ROYALE
    3. ensemble, JACKASS: NUMBER TWO
    4. Leonardo DiCaprio, THE DEPARTED
    5. Sacha Baron Cohen, BORAT

    Best Supporting Performance

    1. Vera Farmiga, THE DEPARTED
    3. Mark Whalberg, THE DEPARTED
    4. Carmen Maura, VOLVER
    5. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE:III

    Best Director

    Michael Mann, MIAMI VICE

    Best Screenplay

    Pedro Almodovar, VOLVER

    Best First Film


    Best Documentary


    Best Cinematography

    Dion Bebe, MIAMI VICE

    wanna join in?

  4. Idiot alert: Where's TRISTRAM SHANDY in all this?