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By Mark Peranson
It’s all over the map again for Issue 30 (is it really Issue 30? how ever did that happen?), and by that I mean both geographically as well as polemically. Halfway through editing this issue, I thought that it might be a good idea to commission even more opinionated pieces and just change the magazine’s name to Polemics, but what follows will have to generate enough arguments until Issue 31 rolls around. And the topics are, as usual, quite broad, ranging from the future of film festivals, the past of Hollywood auteurism, to the films of Paul Verhoeven (come to think of it, I should have commissioned more pieces on Verhoeven, too).
Like, nobody ever said that watching Jacques Rivette films was a snap, so why should it be different when it comes to reading about them? B. Kite’s epic piece is but the first part in a look at Rivette, whose films are making their way across North America in a complete retrospective for the first time in history—counting the arrival of a subtitled Out 1. (And speaking of two parters, no eager readers, I haven’t forgot about the Colossal Youth interview—next issue, I swear—but I felt we should all take some time off the Pedro for one issue. As you will see, this memo apparently did not reach all of our correspondents.)
As far as polemics go, the second annual Cinema Scope top ten will likely cause a few heads to turn—the results surprised me a bit—though it shouldn’t shock the faithful. Again, this is not a poll, bit reflects the opinions of the editorial board (with the publisher and editor each getting a say), and consists of films that were first exhibited publicly at festivals or theatres in 2006.
1. Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
2. Black Book (Paul Verhoeven)
3. Colossal Youth (Pedro Costa)
4. A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater)
5. Borat: Cultural Leanings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Larry Charles)
6. Opera Jawa (Garin Nugroho)
7. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón)
8. The Host (Bong Joon-ho)
9. Inland Empire (David Lynch)
10. Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt)
A few notes on the top ten. To counter the charge that this magazine covers obscure art films, I will note that only one of the films (#6) is currently without a North American distributor, one is an action-packed war thriller, one is a monster movie, and one got nominated for best adapted screenplay at the recent Academy Awards. (Okay, so the film without a distributor is also the Indonesian opera.) To counter the charge that we only cover films far before their theatrical releases—though I should note that we did present the first look at the New Crowned Hope series, which brought us films #1 and #6 of the year (with additional support for Tsai Ming-liang’s I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone)—interviews with two directors on this list (Messers Verhoeven and Bong) appear in the following pages.
And as a final note, please check out cinema-scope.com for a special web extra, a handsome nod to the director responsible for #9—a film I suspect might have had more support if, say, it had screened in Canada—in the form of a recently translated Serge Daney review of The Elephant Man. If while you’re there you want to subscribe or buy some back issues, well, all the better. (And I’m serious about the special readers-only email offer…read the magazine closely and you’ll see what I mean.)