There Will Be Omissions


As has been noted here, 2007 was the best year in American cinema since 1999. It might be argued that this was one of the worst for foreign cinema, or rather the American distribution of foreign films, in some time. It looks like the first quarter of 2008, with proper releases of new films from Hou, Breillat, Chabrol, etc. might make up a new season of high-quality movies we'll forget about come December.

I must admit to my own personal inability to see many of the heralded films that came out this year. This list is embarrassingly incomprehensive and as such I have not numbered the films, nor would I consider them the ten best films of the year--rather, the ten films that most "captured my imagination," which I suppose is a definition of greatness. Short notes on my choices follow.

There Will Be Blood
Into the Wild
Atonement
I'm Not There
The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
Southland Tales/Darjeeling Ltd.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters
The Simpsons Movie
Colossal Youth
28 Weeks Later

"Why Organize? Problems and Promise in the Inner City" by Barack Obama (1990)

Many of you know that I am a supporter of Barack Obama. Back in the summer, I attended a 3-day community and campaign organizing seminar hosted by Obama for America. I also created and launched the successful "Obamakah" - a yarmulkeh emblazoned with Obama's logo - for Jewish supporters of his candidacy. The "Obamakah" was featured in international press outlets from the Washington Post to Ha'aretz, and we sold hundreds of them at cost to Jewish supporters of Obama all over the world.

Below is a 1990 article Obama wrote about his experiences as a community organizer in Chicago. It's pretty short and at times a bit boring, but in my opinion it demonstrates the experience and vision Obama is bringing to the Democratic party and why I continue to be a fervent supporter of his candidacy.

(This was forwarded to me in an email and as far as I know it did not have a place to sit on the web, so here it is - for your convenience - uploaded to Cosmodrome.)

After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois
(c) 1990 Illinois Issues, University of Illinois at Springfield
ISBN: 0-9620873-3-5
Chapter 4 (pp. 35-40) of After Alinsky

Illinois Issues

'We Are All Brad Renfro' - except this guy.

ABC 7 might want to check their sources.

Heidi Montag shows us what Kristeva meant by "The Abject"

From MAXIM: "Yeah, I'm working on an album, but it's not like with most pop artists, where they have a song sent to them that has nothing to do with their emotions or lives. It's all about me and my life. I'm taking my time to make sure it's a CLASSIC. I don't want to be the next pop person who's in and out. I want to be like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Stevie Wonder - all the greats."

THE ABJECT, abjection (Kristeva): Our reaction (horror, vomit) to a threatened breakdown in meaning caused by the loss of the distinction between subject and object or between self and other. The primary example is the corpse (which traumatically reminds us of our own materiality); however, other items can elicit the same reaction: the open wound, sewage, even a particularly immoral crime.

More evidence of a Ron Paul/Radiohead Conspiracy!

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from the comments section to a radiohead video on youtube:

Click here for The Theory.

Nine is fine.

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The fact that two respectable cinephiles - Eric and Jon - have positioned Ratatouille at the tops of their lists just goes to show you how 2007 will go down as one of the worst years for cinema in a pretty long time.

2007 has been scarred by esoterica-oriented critics gushing over their discovery of the mainstream, perhaps because they have been repulsed from the avant garde from this year's truly great film, "I'm Not There."

Ratatouille is, was, and forever will be diminished by the great mice of popular culture: Mickey, Maus, and Feivel from An American Tale.

In Ratatouille audiences were served a plotless and for the most part joyless parody of many illustrated or animated classics, and a diluted "persecuted pack" narrative. The irredeemable script avoided any sense of danger or risk to our protagonist. He had no depth. By comparison, the critic, whose arc from cold-blooded foodie to spirited restaurateur, was the only likeable and authentic character in the film.

Mission Aborted

Well, it didn't take long for Eric's mandate to fall apart. Though Jon is, of course, right that the number of films is arbitrary, I would still encourage people to submit lists capped at ten, if only because I think it's a good experiment. Here's mine...

1. I'm Not There
2. Death Proof
3. Lake of Fire
4. 4 Months 3 Weeks & 2 Days
5. There Will Be Blood
6. The Host
7. Eastern Promises
8. No Country for Old Men
9. Zodiac
10. Knocked Up

Already, I can tell you from this experiment that I was forced, at the last second, to switch Knocked Up and Away from Her on my list because I couldn't stand the idea not to see Knocked Up make the final cut. While I may ultimately feel that Away from Her is the closer-to-perfect film, Knocked Up has generated so much discussion for me this year, has gotten me slapped so many times, that it seems wrong not to elevate it.

Ten, Schmen!

Fellow Cinephiles!

I respectfully disagree that ten is the definitive number we should use in making our lists. Yes, listmaking is about many of the things mentioned in the previous post. But don't forget that it should also be fun! Dictating to colleagues how to express themselves just ain't my idea of fun. I thought that kind of rigid cinephile negativity died with Susan Sontag.

Another thing: listmaking in its own right is subjective, of course, so the number of films we put on our list—ten, fifteen, even forty (as Jonathan Rosenbaum did in both 2000 and 2002)—is also merely a subjective decision. In other words, the number we choose is ultimately arbitrary. But the content of our lists is anything but.

the radiohead - ron paul venn diagram

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just an observation:

Scratchy, Missing Reel Glory

To get us started, I present my list of the top 10 films of 2007, followed by a few words about some of my favorites.

1. There Will Be Blood
2. Ratatouille
3. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
4. No Country for Old Men
5. Grindhouse
6. The Lives of Others
7. Knocked Up
8. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
9. I’m Not There
10. No End in Sight

#1 –THERE WILL BE BLOOD is everything I love about the cinema. A work that is both extremely visceral and thought provoking. An exploration of the American themes of individualism, the frontier, capitalism, religion, and the relationship between capital and evangelical Christianity. It’s a picture where you watch a born filmmaker confidently take one bold step confidently after another, never tripping or falling, and harnessing the full genius of his collaborators, like Daniel-Day Lewis and composer Jonny Greenwood. There Will Be Blood is the year’s best picture.

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