COLUMNS

  • Paul Thomas Anderson

    “GEEK LOVE” WOULD BE the perfect title for Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film, were it not already taken by Katherine Dunn’s 1989 carny novel. Instead, the young writer-director settled for Punch-Drunk Love to describe his “$25 million Adam Sandler art-house movie,” a conscious attempt to rein in his epic, ensemble-cast instincts and have a puckish go at the moribund romantic-comedy genre. Punch-Drunk’s high/low high jinks are immediately apparent, pairing Hollywood’s lowbrow cash cow Sandler with Lars von Trier alumna Emily Watson and mingling a nonprofessional supporting cast with the artiest

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  • Jacques Le Narcissiste

    WE CULTURE-ISTAS KNOW Derrida is the Madonna of thought. He’s antiphallogocentric and a total diva. Undeniably powerful, he’s either revered or deplored as the author of cultural relativism, rampant textuality, and undecidability. The notoriously close reader is still dashing at seventy-two, with a dark but surprisingly soft gaze, eagle-ish features, and a mildly poufy white coif: a silver fox. Spinning his web (yes, folks, that’s three animal metaphors!) of defamiliarization that readers find seductive or annoying, or both, his discourse is riddled with paradox: He fights to improvise “but

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  • Matthew Higgs on 24 Hour Party People

    IF YOU GREW UP in the North West of England in the late ’70s it was hard to avoid Tony Wilson, by day an anchor for the local television news, by night the host of So It Goes, one of the few television programs, anywhere, to both embrace and actively promote the emerging punk scene. Equal parts Dan Rather, Malcolm McLaren, and Oscar Wilde (at least in terms of his immodesty and penchant for foppish attire), Wilson had a vision: to see rain-sodden Manchester reborn in the manner of Renaissance Florence. Early to seize on punk’s potential, Wilson (along with his friend Alan Erasmus, graphic designer

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  • Noblesse Obliged: Geoffrey O’Brien on Eric Rohmer

    THAT ERIC ROHMER, NOW EIGHTY-TWO, should embark on a technically innovative film set during the French Revolution underscores the quiet experimentalism of his filmmaking, an experimentalism sometimes indistinguishable from a return to the earliest cinematic sources. Anyone might have adapted the 1801 memoirs of British aristocrat Grace Dalrymple Elliott, with their account of her troubled friendship with her former lover the duke of Orléans—she a fervent monarchist, he a radicalized aristocrat—and the dangers she experienced during the Revolution; the story, with its succession of escapes and

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  • Sundance Film Festival

    LOW-KEY AND REAL. That was how most people described Sundance 2002. The crowds were smaller, the streets less clogged, the movie and party buzz down to a hum. War and recession set a more sober tone, and post-September 11 Sundance felt less like a Hollywood ski weekend than, of all things, a serious, socially responsible, artistically ambitious film festival. Fittingly, documentaries blossomed in this climate, emerging from the nonfiction-film ghetto to be discussed with as much excitement as the “quirky” indie features of festivals past.

    How to Draw a Bunny, Andrew Moore and John Walter's

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  • Rhonda Lieberman on Todd Solondz

    WALTER BENJAMIN SAID it’s the winners whose histories are told, but Todd Solondz’s latest film proves it’s the losers. In two parts (“Fiction” and “Non-Fiction”), Storytelling—which premiered at Cannes last May and just opened in New York and Los Angeles—shows people ruined by the very stories they hope will redeem them.

    Like The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcolm’s classic study of the self-interested swap meet implicit in all narrative exchanges, Storytelling explores how we tell our story to console or vindicate ourselves—only to see it used for entirely different purposes. Easy to

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  • Mike Figgis’s Battle of Orgreave

    JUNE 17, 2001. In a muddy field in the north of England near a giant slag heap, British film director Mike Figgis is engulfed in a crowd of picketers who are slugging it out with massed ranks of bobbies in full riot gear. As the protesters hurl themselves against a wall of Plexiglas shields, only to be driven back by mounted police brandishing batons, Figgis dodges missiles and blows and keeps on filming. The conflict shifts to the nearby village of Orgreave, and the intrepid auteur is still there in the thick of it, clutching his Steadicam. The acclaimed director of 1995’s Oscar-winning Leaving

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  • Susan Sontag

    SUSAN SONTAG

    1. Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr) Tarr continues his magistral collaboration with Hungarian novelist László Krasznahorkai, who wrote Sátántangó as well as the source of this film, The Melancholy of Resistance (New Directions).

    2. Southern Comfort (Kate Davis) You’ll never forget this documentary’s wise hero—he animates a brave community of the transgendered in the rural South—who is dying of ovarian cancer.

    3. La Pianiste (Michael Haneke) Won the best-actor/actress prizes at Cannes but didn’t even make it into the New York Film Festival. Not Haneke’s best film, but Isabelle Huppert

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  • Guy Maddin

    GUY MADDIN

    1. Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff) This movie harpoons me! The director of Crumb adopts Daniel Clowes’s comic book, limning out the hopelessly trapped characters making do in hopeless times—without being mean-spirited. Exquisite agony!

    2. The Blue Bird (Maurice Tourneur) OK, this silent came out in 1918, but it screened around this year (and it’s on VHS, from Grapevine Video). Maeterlinck’s children’s play is as cruel and strange as anything by Hans Christian Andersen. Happily full of beautiful early homages to Méliès.

    3. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg) The year’s longest

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  • Kent Jones

    KENT JONES

    1. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson) Some saw repetition and inflation, but I found Anderson’s comic epic about a family of eccentric genuises, set in a romantically reconfigured Manhattan, every bit as surprising and inventive as Bottle Rocket and Rushmore.

    2. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch) Probably the best movie ever made about Hollywood.

    3. Waking Life (Richard Linklater) A dizzying, oddly moving metaphysical inquiry, a sort of oneiric first cousin to Slacker.

    4. Loin (André Téchiné) A gorgeous tapestry of emotional, sexual, and cultural crosscurrents in modern Tangier.

    5. Jung (

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  • John Waters

    JOHN WATERS

    1. Bully (Larry Clark) My favorite movie of the year: a dirty true-crime sexploitation picture that dares to be art. Larry Clark invents the “crotch-cam” shot and inspires the most outraged New York Times review of the season.

    2. Faithless (Liv Ullmann) Liv Ullmann channels Ingmar Bergman. See it on acid.

    3. L.I.E. (Michael Cuesta) A feel-good child molester with a hard-on of gold befriends a confused Long Island teen and his Gacy-bait sidekick.

    4. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch) Lipstick lesbians never had this much celluloid fun.

    5. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (Kevin Smith) GLAAD was

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  • Ian Birnie

    IAN BIRNIE

    1. Va Savoir (Jacques Rivette) A luminous comedy of manners that follows six characters in search of an exit—from themselves, their lovers, and their routine. As satisfying as Lubitsch.

    2. Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr) Innocence is destroyed in Tarr’s enigmatic and hypnotic survey of human weakness and cruelty, set in a desolate Hungarian village.

    3. My Voyage to Italy (Martin Scorsese) Only a great director could turn four hours of clips—even from these masterpieces of Italian cinema—into a coherent, compelling drama addressing personal, cultural, and aesthetic concerns.

    4. L’Emploi

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