Hi y’all. I’m late to the party as I was on deadline all day, but have been keeping close tabs on the Convo from afar, and just wiggling to jump in. I’m thrilled to be included in this discussion with four of the best of what I consider real film bloggers, graphomaniacal culture mavens whose cinephilia – nay, cinephagia – puts my own modest and infrequently-updated efforts to shame. To judge by your sites, you seem to keep up with everything, see everything, blog everything – and for free! In so doing, you’ve definitely put Baby in the corner – I’ve probably kept up with movies less in 2004 than any year in the past decade, just because I’ve had to do so much TV-watching for my job.
I’ll leave behind the methodological question of film blogging vs. film criticism for now – to me, having a website was always just a way to be able to talk about movies for longer than any of my friends would let me. As for “snake-hipped wordslingers” (assuming that epithet does refer to bloggers and not, as I supposed, young professional critics), I’m going to choose to take it as a compliment that anyone, by any stretch of the imagination, would refer to me as “snake-hipped.” And “word-slinger?” Hell yeah, motherfuckers! You better duck, ‘cause here come some words right now:
Everyone talks about what a great year for movies this was, but it had its share of disappointments as well: for me, some might include The Dreamers,The Manchurian Candidate, The Terminal, The Stepford Wives, We Don’t Live Here Anymore, The Life Aquatic, Closer, Collateral. And those are just movies one might have reasonably expected to be good. There were also the obvious, foreordained dogs like Alexander, Troy (please, someone tell me Hollywood hasn’t gone on a classical-epic jag),The Alamo (insert remember-the-Alamo joke here), The Village, and Van Helsing. (I haven’t seen the last two, but I’ll take everyone in the universe’s word for it: they blew.)
I think what this really was a great year for – record-breakingly great – was talking about movies. David’s right, it was the Year of Arguing Dangerously. As crudely broad-brushed and depressing as many of the debates about politics, and movies, and politics-through-movies often became, it was somehow galvanizing that they were happening at all. Remember that period in early spring, when everyone was talking about The Passion? (After I saw it, I went out with a group of ten people, who shouted each other down over spaghetti for hours.) And then in summer, everyone was talking about Michael Moore (usually in loud voices, ignoring their interlocuters, their margarita sloshing over the sides of their glass.) And of course, in the fall, it was the election, finding its way into every conversation, every metaphor, every meal. It’s like the Chinese curse about living in interesting times – that was 2004.
I’m not usually much of a list-maker, but since they’re wonderful for stirring up the blood, here’s a quickly assembled one, in alphabetical order, and with apologies to all the probably-fabulous movies I haven’t seen:
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Goodbye, Dragon Inn
Los Angeles Plays Itself
Touching the Void
The Weeping Meadow
As readers of my site know, I’m also very fond of I ♥ Huckabees, but I wouldn’t put it on a ten-best list because I think it’s too much of an acquired taste. In other words, I wouldn’t know how to persuade anyone to like it; I just do. Haven’t yet seen The Aviator or Million Dollar Baby – I may actually rush out and do so before the Conversation is up, just to be able to opine on these 800-lb, Oscar-seeking gorillas.
Now, Filmbrain, honey, let’s talk about your list:The Brown Bunny as #11 film of the year? A choice this audacious puts the burden of proof on you. To me, this film was Gallo’s Folly, a murky, visually uninteresting ripoff of Two-Lane Blacktop, with all the wrong casting (I know Warren Oates, and Mr. Gallo, you’re no Warren Oates) and none of the wit. (Though I did love Chloe Sevigny’s outfit at the end, for the brief span of time in which she had it on.) And Closer as #7? Wait – are you one of those Natalie Portman guys, whose knees go buttery every time she pees pink lemonade? (If so, you’d be in good company: Anthony Lane says, “Her beauty is by now so extreme that its sole purpose is the feeding of obsession.”) What did you think of Garden State?
In closing, and just to keep the conversation lively, I’m going to throw out some of the hot-button film titles of the year, like a kid shouting swear words at the table just to get a reaction: The Dreamers. Dogville. Passion of the Christ. Fahrenheit 9/11. I ♥ Huckabees. Discuss.
(Now that I’m ready to post, I see that the Conversation has bi- or trifurcated into all sorts of interesting digressions: Television? The auteur theory? I’m on it. But first let me get this post in edgewise.)