Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Excellent Article from The Guardian on the Great Unseen Films of 2006

This is an excellent summation of the current state of film criticism:
Around this time of year, after every critic on Earth has offered their best film lists, comes the season of awards. We get the Golden Globes, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Producers' Guild, the Baftas. Finally we have the spectacle of the Academy Awards next month.

But are the films that dominate these awards really the best films of the year? Perhaps they are among the best of the mainstream, English-language commercial cinema, but none of them advances the language of film, attempts to challenge accepted aesthetic norms, nor can any of them be considered what used to be called "art cinema". The conquest of the world market requires the lowest common denominator.

I look in vain among the official favourites for the big awards for some of the titles which I consider among the best films of last year: Bruno Dumont's Flanders, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Syndromes and a Century, Pedro Costa's Colossal Youth, Gyorgy Palfi's Taxidermia, Gustave de Kervern and Benoit Delepine's Avida and Boris Khlebnikov's Free Floating. None of them are even likely to receive a release in this country.

Obviously, I live on a different planet (not Planet Hollywood) where films are considered an art form equal to the other arts. Because of its populist image, accessibility and commercial exploitation, film is still thought to have no right to the status of "high art".

The problem is that, due to the overweening influence of Hollywood-led mainstream cinema, newspapers and magazines are forced to give it predominance, and film critics have to review every piece of commercial trash that Hollywood, though not exclusively, throws up into their laps every week. Pulp fiction is seldom reviewed on the book pages while pulp pictures dominate the film pages.

Click here to read the full article.

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