December 15, 2005
As I mentioned in the comments a few posts down (and contrary to the advance planning I did back in June) I feel like throwing my critical faculties to the wind and foregoing a Best-Of list this year. Everyone else is making them, and I certainly enjoy reading them; but by and large, they're pretty much all full of the same cross section of entries. I don't want to follow the crowd in terms of the titles I choose, but I also don't want to ignore a lot of those films that I genuinely love, like Capote, which don't technically need my endorsement. Nor do I want to have to have to choose between, say, Jay Rosenblatt's heartbreaking 27-minute The Phantom Limb and Peter Jackson's heartbreaking, 187-minute King Kong, both of which I could easily call the best film of the year, both of which are as beautiful as they are completely different. Why confine them to categorization? I could tell you why, but, at the moment, I'd rather not.
I will, however, list a few of my favorite filmgoing experiences of the year. Experiences are definitively subjective - they are purely mine - and are therefore safe to order (chronologically):
- Seeing the new 70mm print of Tati's Playtime at Walter Reade. If I'd had more money and time, I'd have gone back a few more times to watch it from different seats in the theater.
- Going with Brad to see, from the front row, a new, restored print of The Battleship Potemkin with a live score by the Berlin Symphony Orchestra at 11:00 one February morning. Easily the greatest theatergoing experience of the year, if not my entire life. I'm afraid to ever see Potemkin again, because it won't live up to this one screening.
- Darting through the snow, slightly intoxicated, to catch the premiere of Sally Potter's Yes in Berlin. It may have been due to a unique mixture of alcohol and iambic pentameter, but sitting in the front row, staring up at this huge screen in a huge theater at an amazing film festival in a foreign country, I was convinced that this was one of the most outstanding films I'd ever seen. I wanted to hug Potter when she came up for Q&A afterwards. It's probably a good thing that I didn't.
- The second screening of Deadroom at SXSW. The one where it was packed and everyone loved it and we were all witty and lucid during the Q&A. Where everyone, including us, seemed genuinely happy to be there.
- Having trouble paying attention to the rest of The Animation Show after seeing David Russo's entry, Pan With Us.
- Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith. Need I say more?
- The press screening of Saraband. The first time I'd ever seen a Bergman film on the big screen, with the implicit knowledge that it would also be the last (in terms of new work). I didn't want it to end.
- Going to see Elizabethtown with Yen. Sometimes it's a lot of fun to really hate a movie in a good friend's company.
- The midnight show of The Nightmare Before Christmas. It wasn't so much the film that moved me; it was one of those nights where I realize how bound I am to the silver screen, how much the concept of the cinema, proper, matters to me. A great movie is a great movie; but the big screen places great films in a context that I, in my old fashioned ways, will never cease to amazed by the magic of.
- Just the other day, V For Vendetta, which, coming at the tail end of 24 hours of straight programming, still managed to shake an entire theater to its core.
This is probably an incomplete list. Most of the movies may be out, but the year ain't over yet.
Posted by David Lowery at December 15, 2005 12:40 AM
To be completely honest, I don't think not wanting to follow the crowd is a good enough reason for not publishing a list. If you've got a list, publish it. It's called sharing.
I'm just being a dick, of course. ;)
Posted by: Matt at December 15, 2005 2:08 AM
I truly, honestly, don't have one. I could think for two minutes and come up with one, of course, but I keep putting those two minutes towards other endeavours...
Posted by: Ghostboy at December 15, 2005 2:16 AM
David, was the Kong movie really 307 minutes long? Was that an early cut or something?
Posted by: girish at December 15, 2005 8:00 AM
Oops, I meant three hours and seven minutes!
Although, knowing Peter Jackson, I don't doubt there was an early cut closing in on the six hour mark....
Posted by: Ghostboy at December 15, 2005 8:11 AM
ahhh... the heady, alcohol-soaked nights in berlin..
i didn't know there was a 70mm print of playtime floating around. if i tell my wife she'll have a heart attack, that's her favorite film.
Posted by: brad at December 15, 2005 8:22 AM
oh, and what about the battleship potemkin in berlin? honourable mention? ;)
Posted by: brad at December 15, 2005 1:37 PM
I can't imagine anything better than seeing that Playtime print on the big screen--unless it was seeing a pristine print of Vertigo instead, which, of course, David did!
It pains me.
Posted by: Matt at December 15, 2005 2:55 PM
CRAP! I'm updating the list right now - Battleship Potemkin was so amazing that I must have forgotten about it. That was the best thing ever.
Playtime is a close second. It was really unbelievable. Almost like watching it on IMAX - and there's an idea someone needs to take advantage of!
Posted by: Ghostboy at December 15, 2005 3:01 PM
do you know if there's a website or any other info about the 70mm playtime print? jesus i'm dying to see it..i'm guessing it already showed here when it was making it's rounds but i was hoping maybe it would be back here again someday soon.. i can't find much info online anywhere other than it was shown all over the country recently :(
Posted by: brad at December 15, 2005 3:15 PM
I think that Criterion/Janus Films were behind the restoration - which is briefly outlined here - but beyond that, I don't know. I guess I'd just keep an eye on the repertoire screenings listed in the Times or the New Yorker.
Posted by: Ghostboy at December 15, 2005 4:38 PM
The new 70mm PLAYTIME print came through Chicago and I was able to see the film for the first time that way. Pretty incredible. Like looking through a window. Virtually no grain. I felt like I could walk into the film.
Posted by: Joe Swanberg at December 16, 2005 10:26 AM
"by and large, they're pretty much all full of the same cross section of entries."
I guaran-damn-tee mine won't be.
Though I probably wouldn't do one either if my employers didn't insist upon it.
Posted by: LYT at December 17, 2005 12:58 AM