31 décembre 2008

2008: A Year in movies

The best films I saw for the first time in 2008, in rough order of preference.
[My official list of the Top 10 new releases of 2008, with accompanying commentary, is now up at The Auteurs]

Portrait d'une jeune fille de la fin des années 60 à Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1994)
Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945)
Je vous salue Sarajevo (Jean-Luc Godard, 1993)
City Lights (Charles Chaplin, 1931)
Le Fond de l'Air est Rouge (Chris Marker, 1977/1993)
Céline and Julie Go Boating (Jacques Rivette, 1974)
Andrei Rubylev (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1969)
Sarabande (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2008)
The Return to Work at the Wonder Factory (Jacques Willemont, 1968)
Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt, 2008)
Cocksucker Blues (Robert Frank, 1972)
In the City of Sylvia (José Luis Guerin, 2007)
Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
Monsieur Verdoux (Charles Chaplin, 1947)
Mes Petites amoureuses (Jean Eustache, 1974)
Ne Touchez pas la hache (Don’t Touch the Axe, Jacques Rivette, 2007)
Éloge de l'amour (Jean-Luc Godard, 2001)
The Passionate Friends (David Lean, 1949)
French Can Can (Jean Renoir, 1954)
WALL-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)
Sans Soleil (Chris Marker, 1983)
Big Trouble in Little China (John Carpenter, 1986)
Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) / Dancing (Matt Harding, 2008)
U.S. Go Home (Claire Denis, 1994)
Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind (John Gianvito, 2007)
Bush's War (Michael Kirk, 2008)
The Great Dictator (Charles Chaplin, 1940)
J'entends plus la guitare (Philippe Garrel, 1991)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel, 2007)
Still Life (Jia Zhang-Ke, 2006)
Une catastrophe (Jean-Luc Godard, 2008)
Woman on the Beach (Hong Sang-soo, 2006)
Day of Wrath (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1943)
Far From Vietnam (Jean-Luc Godard, Joris Ivens, William Klein, Claude Lelouch, Chris Marker, Alain Resnais and Agnes Varda, 1967)
Le Gai Savoir (Jean-Luc Godard, 1969)
The House is Black (Forough Farrokhzad, 1963)
Knocked Up (Judd Apatow, 2007)
The Avenging Conscience: or 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' (D. W. Griffith, 1914)
How Merrily I Shall Laugh. Daniele Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub and Their Film "Class Relations" (Manfred Blank, 1984)
Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007)
Not Reconciled or Only Violence Helps Where Violence Rules (Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1965)
Charlie Wilson's War (Mike Nichols, 2007)
Synechdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)
Ryan's Daughter (David Lean, 1970)
Music video for "Bright Tomorrow" by Fuck Buttons. (Andrew Hung, 2007)
Chrisopher Columbus, The Enigma (Manoel de Oliveira, 2007)
Too Early, Too Late (Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1981)
Class Relations (Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1984)
Un film comme les autres (Jean-Luc Godard, 1968)
Picnic on the Grass (Jean Renoir, 1960)
Ms. 45 (Abel Ferrara, 1981)
Report (Bruce Connor, 1967)
High School (Frederick Wiseman, 1968)
Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck, 2007)
A Movie (Bruce Connor, 1958)
"Aliens in a Spaceship" episode of television show Bones (2006)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Steven Spielberg, 2008)
The Bridegroom, the Comedienne and the Pimp (Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1968)
RR (James Benning, 2008)
Mary (Abel Ferrara, 2005)
Vagabond (Agnes Varda, 1985)
Great Expectations (David Lean, 1946)
Le Premier venu (Just Anybody, Jacques Doillon, 2008)
Breakaway (Bruce Connor, 1966)
Winter (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2008)
Stella Dallas (King Vidor, 1937)
The Dark Room (Marie-Christine Questerbert, 2000)
Hatari! (Howard Hawks, 1962)
A Politician's Love Story (D. W. Griffith, 1909)
The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
Le petit theatre de Jean Renoir (Jean Renoir, 1970)
Mother of Tears (Dario Argento, 2008)
Red Line 7000 (Howard Hawks, 1965)
Zidane, a 21st Century Portrait (Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno, 2006)

19 décembre 2008

Futures of Film in the Age of Digitally Infinite Reproduction (#1)

Roger Erik Tinch of CineVegas has a great post today on 'Distribution & Consumption in 2009.'

Here's a salient tidbit:

Short form content is online king

Duh, right? Then why are companies still trying to push for feature film distribution through widgets and the like? Who wants to watch a two hour movie on a 2-inch by 2-inch size player? Go to what’s this year’s success story, Hulu, and see what the top 20 viewed videos are. Most are between 10 - 20 minutes with a smattering of 44 minute episodes. The first feature film doesn’t show up until #27 with the THE FIFTH ELEMENT. The fact that a big Hollywood film on a popular video site that’s being shown for free can’t even break into the top 20 reveals a lot about our viewing habits.
(thanks to Harry for sending this along)

The feature film's market dominance was a historical contingency, a result of combining the facts of distribution and production with the facts of the market. We're often fooled by this dominance. This dominance covers the majority of cinema-time, but an eye-blink in human time. Human narrative forms long predate even the novel.

The future of cinema online is closest in format to advertiser-interrupted television. Think of any tv show - any show at all - and format it for air with advertisements, and you get neat little 8-minute segments, each with a narrative arc all its own. The relationship between segment and show is something like the relationship between one episode of Mad Men and the season in which it appears. What online content does is increase the importance of the miniature narrative arc.

One of the brilliances of The Da Vinci Code is the way in which it creates another cliffhanger on every third or forth page before breaking away to another portion of the narrative, changing perspectives or introducing new information. Dan Brown's chapters are perfectly suited to the reading format of the present age. A cinema of the future will need to embrace this format to be (financially) successful.

This comparison to The Da Vinci Code should not be mistaken for pessimism. This format of the future, this future of cinema, can also be thought of as a variation on the structure of Out 1.

05 décembre 2008

change one word

"Most of the world’s 'democracies' stay in power by implicitly or explicitly bribing a wide circle of social, economic, governmental, and military elite. This requires an ever growing pot of loot."

(slightly changed from the original)