The Year in Film: Rest in pieces

Our monument to cinema in 2007
Colma: The Musical's H.P.
Mendoza and Richard Wong
Photo by Pat Mazzera

Good-bye, movies of 2007, we hardly knew you. Auteurs to ashes, digital to dust. (Oh, wait — Dust is the title and subject of the documentary I'm most hoping to see in 2008.) Because this year brought the last days of some beloved directors (including Ingmar Bergman, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Curtis Harrington), and because United States leaders and moviegoers have endorsed the American tradition of soldiering forward blindly into the future with no memory, it seems appropriate to render this year's film issue as a memorial.

The past 12 months brought a pair of great films specifically devoted to memorials, Heddy Honigmann's Forever and John Gianvito's Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind. Honigmann's sublime movie is largely set in the famed Paris cemetery Père-Lachaise, where the dead from many countries receive tributes from a world of visitors. Gianvito's feature pensively visits monuments to US activist heroes and events, finding most of them alone and ignored, some in a state of disrepair. The final moments of Gianvito's film rally hope, but the discrepancy between these two movies is telling.

This week's cover stars are Richard Wong and H.P. Mendoza, the director-producer and composer-star of Colma: The Musical. A musical that sings and dances through an amazing and oft-ignored Bay Area zone where the dead outnumber the living by a ratio of a thousand to one, Wong and Mendoza's movie sparks life from death instead of ignoring mortality. No surprise, then, that its life has been a long one. After more than a year of festival travels, Colma received a national theatrical release in 2007 — a truly rare feat for a no-budget film. It's just been released on DVD, so now the whole world can come to Colma. (Johnny Ray Huston)

The Year in Film 2007

Johnny Ray Huston's Top 12
A dozen keepers from 2007
By Johnny Ray Huston

Cinema 2007
Top 10s, rants, and raves from some of our favorites

Tonight we dine in hell
A look back at 2007, for better and mostly worse
By Cheryl Eddy

The other side of the mirror
The year the rock biopic swelled with self-awareness
By Max Goldberg

Cartooning the war
Transformers and 300 turn the conflict into comic book blockbusters
By Kimberly Chun

Things we lost in the theater
Score one for escapism, zero for political reality
By Dennis Harvey

Number nine -- with a bullet
At least the fourth-best article ever about the folly of top 10 lists
By Jason Shamai

Western promises
Back from pasture -- cinema's cowboys of 2007
By Jeffery M. Anderson

Beauty lies
A look beneath the surface splendor of 2007's most haunting documentaries
By Kevin Langson

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