Friday, January 26, 2007

Recapping the Cinematic Year

In framing this introduction to my assessment on the year in movies, I'd like to address the now cliche observations that many critics apparently reflect upon at the end of each year. I find that negativity often pervades many top ten lists. Critics routinely provide commentaries about the sorry state of filmmaking seemingly unaware that they emulate (in the form of film criticism) the very faults for which they attack mainstream filmmaking. These commentaries rarely contribute much to the discussion of cinema and are highly selective in what they discuss. As Gilles Deleuze says (as anybody who has ever seen Andy Horbal's blog is aware), "the cinema is always as perfect as it can be."

Though I am fundamentally in opposition to upholding a test-like assessment of cinematic offerings in a given year, I find it relevant to point out particular films that I feel significantly contributed to the medium in some way. This is a broad characterization, but there is no way to fully encompass the capabilities that cinema posseses. Cinema creates meaning in various ways through the relationship of the image and the viewer. What transpires within that relationship is a limitless exploration of feeling through perception and interpretation of moving images, which is why I find it frustrating that so many critics bemoan about the death of cinema. Real analyists and lovers of cinema are instead quite aware that cinema is about endless possibility; it is a complex beast which can be engaged, perceived, and interpreted in an endless number of ways. Cinema is alive and well, and it will continue to be as these possibilities are continually analyzed, reconstructed, re-positioned, and made visible in new ways.

Upcoming is a short list of films that I think significantly contribute to the discussion of cinema. Since I haven't had much of a chance to review each film individually, it is somewhat unfair (not to mention daunting) to devote just one post to all of these films. If I were to do that, I would by limiting the extent to which I could write about each of these films. Therefore, each film will gets its own post, and the content of each post will vary. Some of these reviews will be short, others will be longer. But the element of each film I plan to discuss least is plot. I'm going to assume that readers have either seen the films under discussion or are familiar enough with them to know what each film is about topically. I will inevitably mention characters and plot elements, but I find detailed descriptions of such aspects to be moreorless pointless and very limiting.

The range of narrative and stylistic content of these films varies immensely because each film embodies different elements of the cinematic experience. The one unifying element of each of these movies is that they were all released (in the United States) in 2006. But another thing these films share in common is that - from my perspective - they all showcase the provocative nature of the art form we know as movies.

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