Cinema 2006

Top 10s, rants, and raves


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.

Also in this section

  • Con and on

    Thrilling, stylish Highsmith adaptation 'The Two Faces of January'

  • Cel mates

    Mill Valley Film Festival screens vintage and innovative animated features

  • Bridgeworthy

    More Mill Valley Film Festival picks