George Clooney's real performance of the year wasn't "Up in the Air." Plus: Jane Campion, "Star Trek" and madness!
A month or so ago, as critics' top-10 lists started trickling onto various Oscar-related blogs, I noticed that one list or another would be branded "idiosyncratic," and I started to wonder exactly what that meant. Is there a hypothetically perfect list, a list that follows some ideal template? Is the ideal list the one that's most in tune with the Zeitgeist? One that doesn't contain any foreign-language or otherwise "weird" films that the majority of the American populace hasn't seen? Considering that 2009 saw the theatrical release of some 600 movies — not that any critic comes close to seeing them all — isn't any list made by any individual human being going to be idiosyncratic in some way? The notion that there's an acceptable critical view, that certain movies must — or must not — appear on a list in order for any given critic to be taken seriously, flies in the face of what criticism is supposed to be. (Stephanie Zacherak, “Stephanie Zacherak’s best movies of 2009,” Salon, 27 Dec. 2009)
These are the voyages . . .
Strange this, teleporting in and out of so many worlds like you're a voyager from Quantum Leap. Don't you ever get the urge to pick one, and stay awhile? It'd be different if they were just different shades of the same fauna, but they are not that, are not they (are not not they?)?
Going zero, in 3D
On the subject of Star Trek and new decades, perhaps we'll allow ourselves a parallel universe this time around. The idea of going 2011, just defeats. Not even Rocky got past 8 or 9. So we'll go zero once again. The past will still be around, but he'll be like old Spock -- nice guy, still there, but not hanging around to be obtrusive. When we get to one, we'll decide if we'll let it roll on like we did last time, or if we'll figure out some other way to imagine life. Might it be zero all the time? Like some accumulating palimpsest? Or some ziggurat (but not the kind legions of virgins were sacrificed to)?
We could still see movies. But maybe this time they wouldn't be like the latest meal, or as near read and toss-away as a postcard (3 reviews a week, as if, in greatest truth, they really did nothing to you compared to the workaday), but experiences we live -- Avatars, even if the prose is sharp, and the acceleration muted. They already are that, but it would be exhilarating and genuinely universe-opening, if we could acknowledge it, and consider the implications.