The Best Films of the Decade
Oh, how I love to point out faults and omissions in "best of" lists (for example, the Best of the Decade poll includes, eesh, Gus Van Sant's Gerry and pretty much ignores commercial cinema). But instead of going off on a whiny tangent, I keep reminding myself about the dozens of great movies screening in these upcoming programs, many rarely ever seen in theatres.
Over sixty curators, historians, archivists, and programmers voted on The Best Of The Decade: An Alternative View titles (January 21 - February 23). And by the looks of this list, it's no doubt a bunch of folks spend most of their time touring film festivals and writing about film.
The selections include art-house favourites like Almod贸var's Talk to Her, Mungiu's 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love, Mulholland Drive, Russian Ark, Cach茅, and so on. Plus, a few (token?) Canadian titles, Cronenberg's A History of Violence and Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg and The Heart of the World. (Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner also made the cut, but will not be screened). Check out the full list here.
I have to admit that when the The Best Of The Decade rundown was first announced sometime in November, I didn't recognize about a third of the titles. Neither did my most serious movie buff friends. The press release praised Thailand's Apichatpong Weerasethakul and China's Jia Zhang-ke -- and I hadn't seen any of their films?!?
That said, between the familiar works there are certainly hidden gems to discover. I cozied up with Jia Zhang-ke over the holidays, starting with his 2004 film The World (Jan 23). It's a loose set of relationship stories within a group of young Beijingers working at World Park, a tacky, international landmark replica theme-park in the city's suburbs. And set within view of the Three Gorges Dam, Jia's 2006 film Still Life (Jan 23, 27) follows a man and a woman, each searching for their spouses. The backdrop is key in both films, significant settings for stories that touch on contemporary Chinese culture and globalization. Jia Zhang-ke will be in attendance to introduce these films, plus a third, Platform.
Also on at the TIFF Cinematheque this season, Canada's Top Ten (January 14 - 21) is an annual showcase of homegrown talent. I for one think this is an excellent initiative. Best bets from 2009 are Xavier Dolan's acclaimed and multi-awarded I Killed My Mother (Jan 14) and Denis Villeneuve's Polytechnique (Jan 20) which, respectively, picked up the emerging artist and best Canadian feature honours at the Toronto Film Critics Association's awards gala a couple of days ago.
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