Jury of One, But I Need Your Help
This will look like compensatory activity for missing the Toronto Film Festival for the 32nd time in my life, or like a symptom of unrestrained anticipation for the Chicago International Film Festival lurking just around the corner. I am not going to deny trace elements of both, but what you're really seeing is an ingenious way to keep the site alive while mostly staying off the internet and seeing almost no movies. (Did you hear that? I just called myself ingenious.)
While I'm deep in the gnarled heart of my other major writing project, I have much less time than usual for renting or cinema-hopping, and I've had to impose a no-internet-after-noon rule, anyway, to protect my writing time. Composing a full review of anything is too distracting a project for the middle of a workday, but a tweet offers a perfect, Hershey Kiss-sized morsel of braincramp stimulus during those onslaughts of writer's block and crushing failure that I feel, you know, two or three times an hour. Plus, it's great practice at keeping concise. Plus plus, it reminds me that I do know more words than the five or six that I appear to use in every sentence of my book manuscript, including nonetheless, its evil twin nevertheless, however, and including.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I came to review 143 movies in the space of four days. After the last post, Cannes got jealous of Venice and decided its section needed upgrading, too. So now, Tweet-abetted upgrades have gone live for the Croisette vintages of 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. I've added Lido pages, too, for 2003 and 2004, in addition to all the years I already hit you with on Monday morning. I'm flabbergasted anew at how many movies Cannes manages to show every year, especially once you realize that the Critics' Week and Directors' Fortnight slates aren't even included in the yearly archives on the main festival page. I don't even have the energy to look into the sidebar screenings in Venice, though I'm sure there are plenty.
I'm also a bit embarrassed at how many of my personal Palme and Lion picks are U.S.-born, or at least anglophone. I don't think of myself as remotely parochial in my film tastes, but the proof is kind of in the pudding. In the last decade or so, my favorite Palme contenders from '98, '99, '01, '05, '06, and '08 were all American, and that's not counting the English-language Lars von Trier movies that I would have voted for in '00 and '03. Venice is no prettier: I'd have bought American in '04, '05, '07, and '08, though in the second case, it's for a film I gave a "B" to, so I blame Marco Müller. Okay, and myself, for never having caught up with Regular Lovers.
What the frak is going on, though? I remind myself that because of distribution patterns, this isn't a fair fight. Virtually every English-language movie in the main or the sidebar competitions at Venice or Cannes (or Berlin, for that matter) eventually shows up front-and-center at the arthouse, sometimes even at the mall. By contrast, you have to put yourself in the right place at the right time to see the other Competition films on the big screen, which is where I try to see as many things as possible, so it's not surprising I'm showing disproportionate favor toward the films to which I have disproportionate access. When three quarters of the international cinema that screens in the Critics' Week or Directors' Fortnight never even makes it to the States, your fantasy festival ballots wind up with a lot of Golden Bald Eagles and Palmes d'Red, White, and Blue.
But still! There are such things as DVDs. And since I've confessed at the bottom of each page which films I most regret as gaps in my viewing from each year's competitions, you have a perfect opportunity to help me build my private "queue," to be stored away in a lockbox until I finish this book and earn back some intimate time with my DVD player and TV. What are the very best films that lie ahead for me? And do you agree with Cal that, pound for pound, the Golden Lion winners of the past outclass the Palme d'Ors pretty handily? I know you're all busy looking for cheap breakfasts in Toronto, or waiting in line to tell Andrea Riseborough that You Knew Her When..., but take two minutes. Steer me right. Ask Andrea what she thinks.