Seeing as after last issue I’ve been made aware that people actually read this thing, maybe I should be careful with what I write. We’ll see how that goes. The short and the long of it, short first: the editorial board top ten. Already an annual tradition, the methodology has been set out in years past, and as I don’t allot myself too much space for this note, presented without comment.
1. Liverpool (Lisandro Alonso) 2. Birdsong (Albert Serra) 3. Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt) 4. 24 City (Jia Zhangke) 5. RR (James Benning) 6. Our Beloved Month of August (Miguel Gomes) 7. Ballast (Lance Hammer) 8. L’itinéraire de Jean Bricaud (Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet) 9. Still Walking (Kore-eda Hirokazu) 10. The Headless Woman (Lucretia Martel)
Also receiving significant support: Gomorrah (Matteo Garrone); Hunger (Steve McQueen); JCVD (Mabrouk El Mechri); Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson); Role Models (David Wain); Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas).
Okay, a few comment—all solid films, for sure, all covered recently in this magazine, and almost all with North American theatrical distribution (which I write as the world is being bombarded by Watchmen), but hopefully we’ll have a better 2009.
The long of it: what should a film magazine look like today? That’s a question that requires a long answer, but one small step towards this is hypothesized with this issue, I think. (Posing questions is easier than providing answers.) And the gist of it comes, literally, in the long—meaning the length of the articles. If you cared to analyze it, I think you’d find that magazines similar to Cinema Scope have decreased the average length of their pieces. But as the shots get longer (see the above list; fine, another comment), our pieces have as well. Over the past few years we’ve attempted to present the occasional long interview or feature, but in this issue I’ve relinquished a lot of space to a few pieces, a statement that is both ideological and practical, for this moment in time. Maybe I’m a bit old-fashioned, but who wants to read long pieces on the internet? Not me—though, you might want to ask me how much I’m inclined to read film criticism at all. (And, showing a self divided, on cinema-scope.com you can find some longer versions of some pieces contained herein).
Arguments sometimes take a while to develop, so I’ve let some writers go on perhaps a bit too long for some tastes. This has necessitated moving some articles to the web site, such as the annual survey of the highlights of Canadian film, and also publishing less articles in total. Perhaps some people will miss, say, a general report on the Berlinale—though in the issue there are in-depth looks at some films that premiered there, and other such pieces will follow in future issues—and as editor I take full responsibility for all of this. I also take full responsibility for a slant in the articles here towards something like avant-garde film, or whatever you want to call it, and, in particular, such films that screened recently at major film festivals like Sundance, Rotterdam, and Berlin (such as Johan Grimonprez’s Double Take, and Sharon Lockhart’s Lunch Break). I do want to integrate more of this type of analysis into the magazine—where the parts all make up a distinctive whole—but, like all issues, what appears is also in some ways a function of what writers are interested in at any specific time. So everything I’ve just said here might be moot, but you’ll have to tune in next time to find out.