It goes without saying, but I’ll say it any way—this issue of Cinema Scope is dedicated to Manny Farber, the most important film critic of the 20th century (and a damned good painter to boot, as witnessed by the cover and the back page). I could devote this space to writing about Farber’s influence on film critics in general and myself in specific, but after Farber’s death such pieces popped up immediately all over the web, and, as of writing, they’re still pouring out. Plus, they are being written by critics who knew Farber personally, as friends or former students. I only met him once, at the San Francisco Film Festival in 1999. I was there to interview Sean Penn, who, surprise, surprise, decided at the last minute that he wasn’t going to do any interviews. So I got Manny instead. There for a tribute of his own, Farber took the time to sit down and talk at length late in the evening to a young critic-in-training, when by all accounts I’m sure he’d rather have been elsewhere.
Though it was a meeting I will never forget (and wrote about in a very early issue of Cinema Scope—hardcore junkies, if you don’t have it in your collection already, hunt it down), I can’t presume to talk as meaningfully about Farber the person—or, really, Farber the writer—as people like, say, Jean-Pierre Gorin and Kent Jones. Both of these critics—who I am sure would be pleased to be called Farber acolytes—should be thanked profusely for taking the time soon after Farber’s passing to help arrange for the painting that you see on the cover. (Thanks also to JP for the piece that follows, which is as good a tribute as I can imagine.) It also goes without saying but I’ll say it any way, the same thanks—if not more—also goes out to Patricia Patterson, who was just as kind, present, and giving at that meeting-slash-interview in 1999.
So what follows is the best tribute that I can think of, namely a magazine of film criticism that’s pretty much like every other issue of Cinema Scope, and I’m not even going to venture guesses as to what Farber might have thought of some of the films discussed: you too should form your own opinions. Because it’s that time again, festival season in Canada, I will make my annual recommendation, though, of ten films that haven’t been covered in this or past issues of the magazine that will be screening somewhere on this continent in the next few months. I could also list films not to see, but that would be rude, and I don’t have enough space. Seriously folks, I think we’ve done a pretty good job previewing the films that will reach our shores, and I’m with you in hoping that there are further surprises to be discovered. No, I’m banking on it: otherwise, I’m in the wrong business.
Afterschool (Antonio Campos, US)
California Company Town (Lee Anne Schmitt, US)
Chouga (Darezhan Omirbaev, Kazakhstan/France)
Hunger (Steve McQueen, UK)
Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, Sweden)
Night and Day (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea)
Our Beloved Month of August (Miguel Gomes, Portugal)
Tony Manero (Pablo Larrain, Chile)
Tulpan (Sergey Dvortsevoy, Russia/Kazakhstan/Germany/Poland)
When It Was Blue (Jennifer Reeves, US/Iceland)