By Mark Peranson

Let’s call this one “Notes Towards an Editor’s Note.” I know that some of you think I’m funny like a clown and I’m here to amuse you, so I hate to disappoint those fair readers looking for the usual belly laugh or two in this quarterly missive. But to be totally honest I’m so out of it from watching movies that most of you will never hear of (for good reason) that I can barely string a few paragraphs together. (Kid you not, I fell asleep in the middle of writing this. In fact, I’m still asleep.) Hell, I’ve barely read most of the articles in this magazine, let alone seen the hot, hot films of the cold season, whether they are streaming in actual cinemas, home cinemas, laptops, whatever. I’m sure they are all super great, at least that is what the internet tells me. 

I can say that Uncut Gems comes close; after all, I wouldn’t go so far as to give away the prized cover position to just about anything, and I did happen to find a few free hours at TIFF one evening to enter Sandman and emerge relatively entertained. Some good jokes in there too. But in its nature an uncut gem is lacking in typical standards of perfection, so who am I to complain? Go Raptors?

What else is going on? Apparently Trump is still president, though by the time you read this on paper he’ll probably have been at least impeached by the House, which is to say that I anticipate an extremely long delay for print copies to get out into the world, and I’m sorry about that in advance. (Meanwhile, I read that he arranged for a private screening of Joker in the White House; he probably found it funny.) I gather there has been a fair bit of discussion out there in the ether regarding something about best films and the last ten years, but I swore to myself a few hours ago that I wouldn’t spend too much time writing about lists at this point, let alone making one. 

Maybe, just maybe, if I’m in the mood we will do something out of the ordinary to commemorate the momentous turning over of Pope Gregory’s calendar from one year to another in the next issue, though that’s still up in the air—but no poll, you’ve got my total, 100% guarantee on that. (I’d rather publish monthly than do another poll, a prospect that might excite some of you but would lead to my early grave.) Trust me, that whole poll thing is way too much work, numerous other outlets and organizations with full-time staff are doing a fine enough job of it, and the variances in rankings between high-and-low decision makers doesn’t interest me all that much. 

What does? Good question. Well, besides sleep, I just unpacked and sorted a bunch of DVDs, none of which I’ve cracked open for the last few years. I’d love to have the time to watch some of those more-than-ten-year-old films for pleasure (or be able to see the restoration of Queen of Diamonds in a cinema if it’s playing near me). I liked listening to the Rolling Thunder box set more than watching the documentary, performance scenes notwithstanding. The last season of Silicon Valley was pretty good, especially the first two episodes directed by Mike Judge. And, yeah, I guess Twin Peaks: The Return is awesome, and cinema, but I believe we’ve already been there and done that. So have a happy new decade. 

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From the Magazine

  • Issue 84 Table of Contents

    INTERVIEWS *The Act of Living: GianfrancThe Act of Living: Gianfranco Rosi on Notturnoo Rosi on Notturno By Mark Peranson*Reconstructing Violence: Nicolás Pereda on Fauna By More →

  • The Act of Living: Gianfranco Rosi on Notturno

    “The night scares me so much,” confesses a courageous Yazidi pre-teen girl to a therapist, remembering the period when she and her younger sister were captured by ISIS. Anyone who was seen crying would be killed, they were told; it turned out to be a vacant threat, but the sisters were still beaten, and now they are attempting to exorcise their memories by drawing pictures of them. Does it help? We never find out. More →

  • Reconstructing Violence: Nicolás Pereda on Fauna

    There’s a point in nearly every Nicolás Pereda film when the narrative is either reoriented or upended in some way. In the past this has occurred through bifurcations in story structure or via ruptures along a given film’s docufiction fault line. Pereda’s ninth feature, Fauna, extends this tradition, though its means of execution and conceptual ramifications represent something new for the 38-year-old Mexican-Canadian filmmaker. More →

  • I Lost It at the Movies: Charlie Kaufman’s Antkind and I’m Thinking of Ending Things

    “It’s all planned, but it isn’t thought out,” wrote Pauline Kael in her review of A Woman Under the Influence (1974), a nifty bit of critical jiu-jitsu turning John Cassavetes’ much-theorized—and, during Kael’s reign at The New Yorker, much-derided—technique of spontaneous improvisation within a dramatic framework against him. More →

  • Open Ticket: The Long, Strange Trip of Ulrike Ottinger

    One of the most surprising things about Ulrike Ottinger’s new documentary Paris Calligrammes is how accessible it is. Some cinephiles may be familiar with Ottinger based on an 11-year period of mostly fictional productions that were adjacent to the New German Cinema but, for various reasons, were never entirely subsumed within that rubric. Others are quite possibly more aware of her later work in documentary, in particular her commitment to a radical form of experimental ethnographic cinema. More →