Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December Questions

December brings to mind images of snowfall, kitschy Christmas lights, tree lighting ceremonies in cities all over the world, mascots of reindeer and Santa Claus, scary fat men with beards, merchandise, glittering merchandise, wrapped merchandise…and a batch of watchable films. This is, typically speaking the time of year when all the serious films come out, and so The Collector will be taking films a little more seriously than we already do this month. This will be the month of reviews, so expect almost nothing but.
The state of cinema as we find it by this holiday season is a highly confused one. I am not talking about movies being bad. Most movies, according to most filmgoers, have always been bad. I mean confused in that we have never been more uncertain how valuable films are right now. This is because many films barely look like films; is Avatar even a movie? Is Saw 3D? Is Harry Potter? To my mind, no; these are interactive spectacles, not films. They are the Choose Your Own Adventure of interactive media. On the other hand, that which is film; Winter’s Bone, Enter the Void, Boxing Gym, Catfish. These are interesting films, but do they provide a clear alternative to these anti-cinema technical spectacles? Again, I don’t think so, because several of them (Enter the Void, Catfish) are only barely movies, communicating a world where gadgets and alternate realities dominate us, just as they dominate the movies themselves. So Enter the Void is a film built on explosions of color and the floating, ghostly motion of a spirit. Catfish is built on casual narcissism and the creepy digital grain of Facebook. Both these films are boldly experimental, but in their conceptions, even they verge close to interactive art rather than film. Enter the Void at times feels like a demented videogame while Catfish feels like…well, Facebook and digital cameras. Both exemplify directors trying to find a way to bend the formulas of Internet and videogame imagery (loosely speaking) in to cinema. It’s fascinating to watch but how far is it, really, from wearing plastic 3-D glasses?
So to my mind, only films such as Winter’s Bone, Boxing Gym and a few others really provide a cling of formal cinema this year. But I hold out hope for this month. And so we roll in to the end of the year, the first full year of existence for this lonely blog...