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 87: Table of contents

    Alexandre Koberidze, Dasha Nekrasova,Radu Jude, Amalia Ulman, Monte Hellman, TV or not TV, Eberhard and Phyllis Kronhausen, Azor, New Order, Siberia More →

  • Remembering Women: Claudia von Alemann’s Blind Spot

    Cherchez la femme, they say. It sounds nice, but what this expression actually means is that woman is the root of all (male) problems, always to blame. Claudia von Alemann’s extraordinary Blind Spot (Die Reise nach Lyon, 1980), recently restored by the Deutsche Kinemathek in cooperation with the Institut Lumière, is a rare film that puts the pursuit of a woman at its heart—not so that she can be punished, not so that a man’s troubles can be explained, but so that her achievements might be rescued from oblivion and might, in the process, change another woman’s life. More →

  • Common Sense Connoisseur: The Critical Legacy of Bertrand Tavernier

    The two most cherished film books in the pile on my bedside table are in a language my command of which is rudimentary at best. But since both Jacques Lourcelles’ Dictionnaire du Cinéma – Les Films as well as Jean-Pierre Coursodon and Bertrand Tavernier’s 50 ans de cinéma américain have never been translated from French into either English or German, I gladly make do, filling the gaps with a mixture of autodidactic guesswork and occasional dictionary consultation, which for all its drawbacks has proved to be a viable method. More →

  • “I prefer, where truth is important, to write fiction:” On Radu Jude

    In the name of the popular, delighting in reduction and obviousness, a boring assertion: the common ground of every film movement christened a “new wave” over the last 70 years has tended toward revision, a self-conscious desire to provide a true image of the people in opposition to the distorted picture given by whatever relevant iterations of official culture. The banality of this claim can be measured by the volume of cant and platitude produced in support of it, often by the artists themselves. There is, I hope, little need to rehearse these arguments regarding realism, myth, and so on. Who today can help but squirm when faced with the phrase “true image of the people?” More →

  • Siberia (Abel Ferrara, Italy/Germany/Mexico/Greece/UK)

    Abel Ferrara is a changed man. While the evidence suggests that this is very good news for Ferrara himself and his immediate family, it could result in a minor schism in the manner in which his films are received. For most of his career Ferrara has been the subject of a Romantic cult that glorified his legendarily self-destructive behaviour, and often read this (literal) lawlessness as an integral part of his renegade creative vision. More →