Saturday, January 19, 2008

Film 2007: Bare facts on the great unseen

As a reply to friends who think I "see everything," I'll start with this list, of noteworthy 2007 theatrical releases I didn't see in the old year. Some of them got great reviews, some of them wound up on Top 10 lists, some of them perhaps inexplicably (am I hallucinating, or did not Vacancy, a suspense picture with the perennially underachieving Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale, get some love online and/or from Film Comment?) So, like, what happened? Why did you see the Fantastic Four sequel (more to come on that) or some other Hollywood slushpile while frittering away the opportunity to view the ordained-as-canonical Thai masterpiece Syndromes and a Century? Why so many French films unviewed? Do you have something against them, and Don Cheadle pictures, too? Too damn lazy to read subtitles? No Wayward Cloud on your horizon--and you call yourself a critic? And they let you come to Cineaste meetings?

The simplest answer is, "life"--there are only so many hours in a day to devote to this or that medium (and theater is definitely soaking up more of those slots) and if my path on a given week doesn't take me to this or that Manhattan screening room or theater to see this or that movie, well, so be it. It's not a cavalier attitude, just a nod to reality: Independent movies, in particular, move through the system like Drano through pipes, and if you can't get there in two or three weeks at the maximum you're obliged to wait for Netflix, cable, or pay-per-view (where a number of these films, happily, take up residence for months, even before they open commercially, in a recent wrinkle in distribution).

I resolve to do better this year (but I say that every year). In the meantime, you should applaud my candor and openness on this matter, and feel free to nudge ones you may have liked up my queue. I'll do my best to avoid naked romps in the fields in 2008 and chain myself to the Angelika, Landmark, and IFC theaters.

In alphabetical order:

Avenue Montaigne
The Boss of It All
Brand Upon the Brain!
Day Night Day Night
God Grew Tired of Us
Into Great Silence
Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten
Lady Chatterley (pictured)
The Page Turner
Paris je t'aime
Reign Over Me
The Situation
Stephanie Daley
Syndromes and a Century
Talk to Me
Ten Canoes
Terror's Advocate
The Wayward Cloud

Regarding Cineaste: They put me, the staff lowbrow, near the door, and close it behind me when the conversation veers from horror to Hou Hsiao-hsien.

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