Saturday, December 11, 2010

2010: I Reckon

Nah, I'm nowhere near having a top ten list for the year done. This might be the first year that I wait until sometime late next year before I post any sort of list.

The "year in review" critical reckoning has begun, though, as Brandon pointed out to me. The House Next Door and MUBI Notebook are both beginning to link to major critic lists.

Now is a good time to clarify my stubborn adoption of a very specific approach to what falls in and out of a given year. Basically, I follow Ed Gonzalez' approach to older films. If IMDB lists it as a certain year, then that's the year it belongs to. IMDB is generally very accurate about film premiere information.

Gonzalez himself has changed his criteria for dating a film for all of his post-2000 lists. He adopts the prevalent custom of reckoning a film's date by its American theatrical release. The popular practice usually requires a film to have played in at least NY or LA for a week in order to qualify. This is the Academy's practice and the popular critical one.

Now, to someone living in the Binghamton area, this is as arbitrary and stupid as anything else. Whether a film played in LA or NY or Cannes or Toronto, they are all completely inaccessible to me until they are released on DVD (or increasingly via streaming) or if they show up at Cornell or at one of our local "arthouses." Should I date a film's release year based on when the film shows up in Binghamton? Then, I'd have to treat most films as if they didn't exist at all.

I saw a beautiful print of Pandora and the Flying Dutchman projected theatrically at Cornell Cinema last year. It may be my favorite film that I saw theatrically in 2009. Should I have placed it as #1 on my 2009 list? Why does a film like Limits of Control, which I had to watch on DVD, rank high on my list while an actual cinematic experience gets kicked off to the side? Well, because we make rules about this sort of thing. Nothing used to irritate me in this regard more than Rosenbaum doing something like listing M as one of his favorite films of the 90s (I can't find this now, but I know he's guilty of it).

I've used the common popular system the past couple of years, but I'm done with it now. I prefer not to be Americentric in my dating. I prefer to date a film as belonging to the actual year that it first showed up somewhere, anywhere in the world.

Of course, no matter how one dates a film, it's still completely ridiculous to do something like arbitrarily separate a film released in December 09 from a film released in January 10 as if it belonged to an entirely different realm and category. Still, we're geeks and this is what we do. There is an undeniable pleasure to it all.

I haven't watched a movie (or anything else for that matter) in a week now. Is there something wrong with me? Should I check with my physician? Actually, I'm half-watching Labyrinth with the girls right now. And tonight I'm going to see You Were Never Lovelier with some guys from work.

I'm hoping to get another 1929 post up soon. Woman in the Moon remains unwatched. I'm starting to wonder if it will stay on the shelf indefinitely. There are so many great films waiting, but I've got to get through this one first. Again, what's wrong with me? When did watching a Fritz Lang film become a chore? I'll get it watched soon and post our updated 1929 Top 6 lists.

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