Cinema 2006

Pub date December 26, 2006
SectionFilm FeaturesSectionFilm Review


Ever wonder why there’s an Automotive section in the newspaper every week … and perhaps consider that the Film section might also be driven by the same industry forces?

And so commercial cinema, dinosaurlike as it is, does continue to lumber along. ‘Tis built on the model of the automobile industry, and hey neighbor, why don’t you get yourself a moped (or an electric bike)?

For me, what’s most interesting in the motion picture arts and sciences is the move to molecularize — smaller, more intimate, even itinerant salons, installations, and interventions, bolstered not by (master-)narrative architectures of the cinema experience but by the satisfaction that the truly curious take in its dismantling, to analyze its history and process, and hell yeah, to repurpose its tropes for the contemporary moment.

Against this year’s model, this molecular filmwork acknowledges rather than erases what is resonant in film history, remediating the genre motifs as Menippean satire and inspired human-scale critical agency.

Speaking of scale, it was the six-inch-small twin girls named the Peanuts who paradoxically topped my list of ’06 epiphanies. While we were ensconced in the veritable bowels of the Artists’ Television Access basement for its life-saving fundraiser, David Cox’s nuanced, obsessively detailed three-hour deconstruction of kaiju — the Japanese rubber-monster idiom — demonstrated oh-so-marvelously how personal (and political) meaning can blossom from the Other-worldly visions of fantasy and exploitation film just like the aforementioned fairies, sprouting from the ferns of a lush jungle tableau. In Cox’s essay-cum-homage, here are dinosaurs (and giant moths, dragons, and smog monsters!) that we can use for allegory and imaginative play, not those that consume us in a vicious cycle of oil addiction and predatory foreign wars.

The Peanuts rhapsodize:

Mothra oh Mothra

The people have forgotten kindness

Their spirit falls to ruin

We shall pray for the people as we sing

This song of love

Craig Baldwin programs "Other Cinema" at the ATA and is the director of Spectres of the Spectrum, Sonic Outlaws, Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies under America, and other movies.


(1) Family Ties (Kim Tae-yong, South Korea)

(2) In Between Days (Kim So-yong, US/Canada/South Korea)

(3) Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, Mexico/Spain/US)

(4) The Science of Sleep (Michel Gondry, France/Italy)

(5) The Departed (Martin Scorsese, US)

(6) Volver (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain)

(7) Woman on the Beach (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea)

(8) Yureru (Miwa Nishikawa, Japan)

Bong Joon-ho is the director of The Host, Memories of Murder, and Barking Dogs Never Bite.


Au Bonheur des Dames (Julien Duvivier, France, 1930) at the SF Silent Film Festival on July 15.

The sauerkraut western Rancho Notorious (Fritz Lang, US, 1952).

Guy "King of the Q&A" Maddin presenting a program of his short films at the SF International Film Festival on April 25.

Rest in peace Shelley Winters, peerless in Larceny (George Sherman, US, 1948), at the Noir City Film Festival on Jan. 15.

Portrait #2: Trojan (Vanessa Renwick, US).

Sword of Doom (Kihachi Okamoto, Japan, 1966).

Not bad for a work-in-progress: Miranda July’s Things We Don’t Understand and Definitely Are Not Going to Talk About at SF Cinematheque on Oct. 23.

Stephen Colbert, White House Correspondents’ Dinner on April 29.

Il Posto (Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 1961).

Crispin Glover’s 1987 Late Night with David Letterman platform shoe karate kick demonstration, on YouTube.

Bryan Boyce is the director of America’s Biggest Dick, Rumsfeld Rules, and other movies.


Best walkies: Helen Mirren, black labs, and corgis, The Queen (Stephen Frears, UK/France/Italy)

Best 1/8th mighty Choctaw: John Michael Higgins, For Your Consideration (Christopher Guest, US)

Best German whore: Cate Blanchett, The Good German (Steven Soderbergh, US)

Best Russian whore: Vera Farmiga, Breaking and Entering (Anthony Minghella, UK/US)

Best ex-junkie whore: Amy Sedaris, Strangers with Candy (Paul Dinello, US)

Best bloodsucking: Stockard Channing, 3 Needles (Thom Fitzgerald, Canada)

Best unnecessary invention: 3-D glasses for real life, The Science of Sleep (Michel Gondry, France/Italy)

Best western: The Proposition (John Hillcoat, Australia/UK)

Best meltdown: Frances McDormand, Friends with Money (Nicole Holofcener, US)

Best performance by the artist formerly known as Marky Mark: Mark Wahlberg, The Departed (Martin Scorsese, US)

Worst performance by the artist formerly known as Marky Mark: Mark Wahlberg, Invincible (Ericson Core, US)

Worst meltdown: polar ice caps, An Inconvenient Truth (Davis Guggenheim, US)

Worst nudity: Ken Davitian, Borat (Larry Charles, US)

Worst role model for Britney Spears (excluding Paris Hilton): Rinko Kikuchi, Babel (Alejandro González Iñárritu, US/Mexico)

Worst date movie: United 93 (Paul Greenglass, US/UK/France)

Worst love interest for Tom Cruise since Katie Holmes: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mission: Impossible III (J.J. Abrams, US/Germany)

Worst stand-in for Margot Kidder: Kate Bosworth, Superman Returns (Bryan Singer, US/Australia)

Worst reason to become a vegetarian: Barnyard (Steve Oedekerk, US/Germany)

Worst emoter (someone give this man a lozenge): Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond (Edward Zwick, US)

Worst excuse for two upcoming sequels: Goal! The Dream Begins (Danny Cannon, US)

Michelle Devereaux is a Guardian contributing writer.


Here is my prediction for the coming year of film. I know I may sound like a new age mumbo-jumboist, but I sense a return to mysticism and spirituality. The age of nihilism is really just some shortchange bullshit. The postmodern, amoral, canned reality period has proved its point and has been nothing more than a carbuncle. What, then, is my prescription? The surreal, detached from reality, psychedelic, hallucinogenic, optimistic fantasy film. In the words of my dear friend Chad Peterson, "Fantasy intoxicates only the strong mind. It is horror and humor, the twin children of their mother imagination, which open a sea chest of all memories, hanging above the heart an anchor and above the plow a star." Fantasy embraces the nostalgia and hope that we’ve spent our angsty years repressing. When you think all hope is lost but then that Giorgio Moroder track starts, you just weep like a very small child.

Sarah Enid Hagey’s short films include The Great Unknown and Lovelorn Domestic.


(1) Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, US).

(2) The New World (Terrence Malick, US).

(3) L’Enfant (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Belgium/France). Be patient with this quiet cinematic poem — along with my first two picks, it will completely break your heart.

(4) Battlestar Galactica (created by Michael Rymer, US). I know, I know, it’s on the SciFi Channel. But seriously, this show is more thought-provoking than most feature films.

(5) A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, US). Creatively hypnotizing and terrifyingly relevant.

(6) The Departed (Martin Scorsese, US). Best performance of the year, easily: Marky Mark.

(7) District B13 (Pierre Morel, France). The Transporter + John Carpenter’s politics = sheer bliss.

(8) Mutual Appreciation (Andrew Bujalski, US). It’s embarrassing to connect so strongly to these awkward hipsters attempting to figure themselves out.

(9) Hostel (Eli Roth, US). How satisfying is it to watch a bunch of sexist, homophobic, xenophobic Americans get horrifically sliced and diced? Try multiple viewings.

(10) BloodRayne (Uwe Bol, US/Germany). Another supersleazy, terrifically pathetic video game adaptation by the master of contemporary B-movies.

* Though he hasn’t seen David Lynch’s Inland Empire yet.

Jesse Hawthorne Ficks teaches film history at the Academy of Art University and programs "Midnites for Maniacs" at the Castro Theatre.


(1) "The Tailenders," P.O.V. (Adele Horne, US)

(2) John and Jane (Ashim Ahluwalia, India)

(3) Portrait #2: Trojan (Vanessa Renwick, US)

(4) Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, US)

(5) Reporter Zero (Carrie Lozano, US)

(6) Rap Dreams (Kevin Epps, US)

(7) "Lampoons and Eye-tunes," an evening of Bryan Boyce’s short films at the ATA on Oct. 7

(8) Workingman’s Death (Michael Glawogger, Austria/Germany)

(9) "War-Gaming in the New World Order," presentation by film critic Ed Halter at the ATA on Oct. 21

(10) American Blackout (Ian Inaba, US)

Sam Green is the director of The Weather Underground and Lot 63, Grave C.


Bareback Twink Squat

Hole Sweet Hole

Dirt Pipe Milkshakes

I Dig ‘Em in Pigtails 2

Boob Exam Scam 3

CSI: Cum Swappers Incorporated

Gorgeous Chloroformed Women!

A Little Cumster in the Dumpster

What Happens Between My Tits Stays Between My Tits

Ass Jazz 2

Dennis Harvey is a Guardian contributing writer and a reviewer for Variety.


I resisted for a long while. Even as the rising tide of TiVo-wielding friends and coworkers lapped at my doorstep, I stiff-armed them with the dismissive battle cry "I don’t really watch TV." I’m not sure what happened in the past year, but the levee has broken. Big-time. I have no shame. I pimp Lost like no one’s business. I spread box sets of 24 like some modern-day Johnny Appleseed. The scales have fallen from my eyes: any given episode of South Park contains more hilarious and incisive satire than American cinema has offered in decades. Freaks and Geeks is the most painfully true window into adolescence since the glory days of John Hughes. And the new Battlestar Galactica (I swear to God) stands shoulder to shoulder with the best cinematic sci-fi of the past century. So drop your burdens by the coaxial river, all ye high-cultured unbelievers, and join us. The water’s fine.

Rian Johnson is the writer-director of Brick.


(1) The return of Big Edie and Little Edie, plus the Marble Faun (a.k.a. Jerry Torre), who accompanied the screenings of Grey Gardens (Albert and David Maysles, US, 1975) and The Beales of Grey Gardens (Albert and David Maysles, US) at the Castro on Nov. 22.

(2) The Up series: 49 Up (Michael Apted, UK) may not have been the most eventful chapter, but a new installment is always welcome.

(3) The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, France) at the Castro Theatre

(4) Scott Walker in the video for "Jesse" (Graham Wood, UK) plus various clips on YouTube.

(5) The Criterion Collection DVD of Young Mr. Lincoln (John Ford, US, 1939), a film that equals any of the director’s beloved westerns.

(6) The Wayward Cloud (Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan), SF International Film Fest screening at the Castro Theatre on April 23.

(7) The Host (Bong Joon-ho, South Korea), opening night SF Animation Festival screening at the SF Museum of Modern Art on Oct. 12.

(8) Brick (Rian Johnson, US).

(9) The Descent (Neil Marshall, UK).

(10) Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, US).

Jonathan L. Knapp is a Guardian contributing writer.


On Dec. 9 I saw John Ford’s The Searchers in the same theater where I had seen it for the first time when I was 15. It was a Saturday evening; 25 years ago, it had been a Thursday evening. Back then, I had never thought a western could be as moving as a Robert Bresson film.

This time the projectionist oddly forgot to put the VistaVision mask in the film projector, and I (and everybody else that was in the audience, even if nobody complained) saw a film "around" the film that continuously took me out of the tale of revenge happening below. Things that shouldn’t be seen, that usually remain hidden were revealed. I saw the lights, the microphones, the sets. I was outside the drama, but it was as if the film turned inside out in front of me.

How new can an old film be?

João Pedro Rodrigues is the director of Two Drifters and O Fantasma.


(1) I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan/France/Austria).

(2) Saw III (Darren Lynn Bousman, US).

(3) Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand/France/Austria).

(4) "The Dundies" and "A Benihana Christmas," The Office.

(5) Miami Vice (Michael Mann, US/Germany). Except for the lame part where they go to Cuba.

(6) Mutual Appreciation (Andrew Bujalski, US).

(7) The Departed (Martin Scorsese, US).

(8) Woman on the Beach (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea).

(9) United 93 (Paul Greengrass, US/UK/France).

(10) "A Time for Love" segment of Three Times (Hou Hsiao-hsien, France/Taiwan).

(11) Jackass Number Two (Jeff Tremaine, US).


Shadowboxer (Lee Daniels, US). What? Helen Mirren as a female assassin, Cuba Gooding Jr. as her lover, and lots of nudity and graphic sex? I am in awe of its stupidity.

Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine (Peter Tscherkassky, Austria).

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, Romania).

Same Day Nice Biscotts (Luther Price, US). Price takes 13 identical, abandoned 16mm film prints and turns them into one of the most emotionally wrenching shorts I’ve ever seen. Um, isn’t this illegal?

Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis (Mary Jordan, US).

The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael (Thomas Clay, UK). Offensive, mean, juvenile garbage, and I’ve never seen a more pissed-off audience reaction at the Rotterdam Film Festival — no small feat against the unshockable Dutch.

For Your Consideration (Christopher Guest, US).

Sitting alone in a decrepit theater watching a triple feature of generic "pink" films in Beppu, Japan, feeling boredom and pain so intensely that I began to travel through time and space.

"The Last Wild Tigers," 60 Minutes, Nov. 19.

Gravedancers (Mike Mendez, US). Delightful old-fashioned horror, from "After Dark Horrorfest: Eight Films to Die For."

"Evelyn Lin," sigh.

Joel Shepard is film and video curator at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.


(10) My pet is cute.

(9) To me, "experimental" means playing the same thing 412 times in a row. Crazy, huh?

(8) This old person is kind and sage. Listen to him/her. Or: these old people are kind and sage. Listen to them.

(7) Things are happening to these 10 people. Wait, they all know each other in different ways. Weird.

(6) Someone is following me. I know it because I can hear their echoey footsteps.

(5) I am a struggling writer/director/actor/painter/chef/mime/dancer/sculptor/other, and I smoke cigarettes, and I won’t compromise.

(4) There is a woman. She’s just like you and me, except that she is a prostitute/stripper — and she is so hot. Just watch her.

(4a) It’s hard out here for a pimp.

(3) Strange things keep happening to me. Additionally, I am somewhere where I don’t know where I am.

(2) God talks to me.

(1) You thought this was real? No way, this is a "mockumentary"!

Sean Uyehara is a programming associate at the San Francisco Film Society.


(1) The Boy from Mars, film installation by Philippe Parreno.

(2) Hamaca Paraguaya (Paz Encina, Argentina/Paraguay/Netherlands/Austria/France/Germany).

(3) Los Angeles–based Festival Management no longer works for the Bangkok International Film Festival.

(4) Woman on the Beach (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea).


(6) Quay Brothers — the Short Films 1979–2003 DVD (BFI).

(7) Tokyo Filmex.

(8) Nintendo Wii. It’s sort of new cinema.

(9) The Wave (Kumar Shahani, India, 1984).

(10) Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine (Peter Tscherkassky, Austria).

Apichatpong Weerasethakul is the director of Blissfully Yours, Tropical Malady, Syndromes and a Century, and other films.


For us, 2006 was the year of the entertainment lawyer. It’s not a year recognized by the Chinese calendar yet, probably because being born during the year of the entertainment lawyer would be the worst thing in the fucking world.

Our year in TV and film was made love to by the word vetting — the process by which people’s thoughts and ideas are raked over, much like hot hands raking over unsuspecting pubes. (Trust me on that one.) When lawyers start examining your phrases and intentions, existence enters another dimension. It’s beyond psychedelic; it’s an assault by litigious wizards on a naive concept of freedom of speech. No matter what your intentions are, they will be examined and altered to a level of incompetence that makes you embarrassed for even having parents who engaged in the intercourse that made you.

Lawyers make work for lawyers. No one is oblivious to this, but the times spent waiting for their responses are the golden moments or the reeking turds of life, depending on the situation.

In the case of a recent situation I was privy to, we waited in real time as lawyers in another city examined the use and placement of words in a sentence to such a horrific degree it was obscene. The problem is these guys and gals (I’m so open-minded I even realize women can be lawyers) are zingless word calculators. They have the comedic timing of a court stenographer reading back testimony. So when they finally rewrite something, it feels like you’re reading an autopsy report. They ruin everything with a fear of being sued that they use to make everyone paranoid so they can get as much money from your fear-induced wallet as they can.

TV Carnage’s videos include A Sore for Sighted Eyes and When Television Attacks.