Wexner Center's Media Arts Staff Favorite Films of 2007

Mon, Jan 14, 2008

Wexner Center's David Filipi (Film/Video Curator), Mike Olenick (Studio Editor), and Chris Stults (Film/Video Assistant Curator) offer up their favorite films that screened in Columbus during 2007. You're encouraged to share some of your favorite films, performances, moments or cinematic experiences in the comment field. We'd love to hear what made an impression on you this past year.

As added incentive to leave a comment, we have a poster of Todd Haynes' I'm Not There autographed by producer Christine Vachon that will be given away to a random respondent to this post. Be sure to leave a valid e-mail address so that we can contact you. (Your e-mail address will not be published or used for any other purpose. Winner will be selected at noon on Friday, January 18.)

David Filipi, Film/Video Curator:

Selected from films that played in Columbus during 2007.

1.  I’m Not There (Todd Haynes) (Top 3 Tied for #1)

Offside (Jafar Panahi)

Zodiac (David Fincher)

4. Into Great Silence (Philip Groning)

5. Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait (Douglas Gordon & Philppe Parreno)

6. Into the Wild (Sean Penn)

7. Our Daily Bread (Nikolaus Geyrhalter)

8. White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Steven Okazaki; HBO)

9. Manufactured Landscapes (Jennifer Baichwal)

10. Super Bad (Greg Mottola)

Special Mention:  I can’t remember the last time I walked out of a film but I couldn’t stand more than about 30 minutes of Robert Redford’s Lions for Lambs.  I asked for, and received, my money back.

Mike Olenick, Art & Technology Studio Editor:

My top 10 of 2007 (in alphabetical order):

The Aura (Fabián Belinsky)

Garden of Earthly Delights (Lech Majewski)

Our Daily Bread (Nikolaus Geyrhalter)

Pine Flat (Sharon Lockhart, screened at the Ann Arbor Film Festival)

Private Fears in Public Places (Alain Resnais)

Radiant City (Jim Brown and Gary Burns)

Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

Viva (Anna Biller, screened at the Chicago Underground Film Festival)

Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (Douglas Gordon & Philippe Parreno)

Zoo (Robinson Devor)

Miscellaneous Thoughts:

I’m waiting for Redacted, There Will Be Blood and My Winnipeg to make an appearance in Columbus, and perhaps also in my top 10.  While I was initially disappointed with Eastern Promises, the more I think about it, the more I like it, and I imagine that my opinion of it will change with repeat viewings.  Rehearsals for Retirement (Phil Solomon) was the best new short I've seen in years.

On the other side of the spectrum, Saw IV (Darren Lynn Bousman) was exponentially (and predictably) worse than its predecessors.  It also had one of the most bizarre and unexpected scene transitions I have ever seen in a film, and months later I cannot stop thinking about it.  The most fun I had in a theater with a bad movie was DOA: Dead or Alive -- it was completely inane and I loved every minute of it.

 

Chris Stults, Film/Video Assistant Curator

There has been much talk about how 2007 was a particularly great year for movies, and to be sure there were plenty of solid, entertaining films to be found at the multiplex. But many of the most acclaimed films just seemed a bit, well, empty at their core.

 I didn’t set out to create an obscurantist list but it seems like there’s less art than ever at the “art house” cinema. So only one of the striking and adventurous films below made an appearance in commercial theaters, at least locally.

In the interest of space, I’ll just link to an article by Salon editor Andrew O’Hehir. The first 6 or 7 paragraphs of his year-in-review column ably discuss the troubling homogeneity of critics top ten lists and the stifling notion of cinema that such lists endorse. However, I take exception with O’Hehir’s argument when he begins to talk about how he grades these lesser-known films on a curve. There is no need to make allowances for the films and videos on my list as I am certain that they are among the most powerful experiences that could found inside a movie theater in 2007. They’re also the works that open up the most new possibilities for cinema as an art form it heads into an unknown and uncertain future.

1. Rehearsals for Retirement (Phil Solomon)

In this short video that had its world premiere in our “Avant Gaming” program, veteran filmmaker Phil Solomon has created a radically unique work of art that results from the rare combination of an artist working naively in a new idiom with the underpinning of a gifted lifetime of artistry, continuity, sensitivity and deep knowledge. In this case, Phil Solomon threw the gangbangers from the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas vehicle and drove it straight to the melancholy, surrealistic heart of the universe. Note the hidden hearse in the title's first word. Coming out of the same place as Lou Reed's album, this video is so infused with magic and loss that it doesn't even seem to be created by a human – it doesn't feel like any film, video, videogame or anything else you've ever seen. It's a soul's suffering and yearning captured in pixels. It's the end of everything you love... but beauty will remain. Whether you like it or not. Whether you can bear it or not. [Look for this to screen again at the Wex in the fall along with other works that Solomon has subsequently created from the Grand Theft Auto games.]

2. Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

3. Unnamed Compliment (Bruce McClure)

If any film could eat you alive, it would be this one. This epic finale to Bruce McClure’s Wexner Center projection performance builds to an all-consuming crescendo of light and sound. On handwritten program notes that McClure distributed at another performance, he wrote in the margin: "There is never enough time before an execution." And McClure’s performance, especially by ending with the void of Untitled Compliment's maw, felt like an attempt to extend and retain a special type of vision before the petite mort of the house lights. It's an experience that can't be transmitted or recorded by any device other than being in that specific time and place. I tried to capture a moment of the event on my cameraphone and the circuitry all but overloaded. Whenever I try to play the video back, there's just a wail of distorted digitalia. The analogue 0s and 1s of McClure’s specially treated filmstrips bypass any sort of mediation and become pure experience.

4. The General Returns from One Place to Another (Michael Robinson)

Screened at the Wexner Center in May as part of a program organized by the TIE International Experimental Film Festival, this formally and emotionally stunning short film is just one of several beautiful, enigmatic new films by the young filmmaker Michael Robinson. Look for a full introduction to Robinson’s work in 2008 as we screen one of his recent videos in The Box throughout March and Robinson visits to present his films in April.

5. Garden of Earthly Delights (Lech Majewski)

6. Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako)

7. Offside (Jafar Panahi)

Because Offside is almost universally regarded as one of the best films of the year and was very warmly received by the audience at the Columbus International Children’s Film Festival, it’s almost embarrassing that the film didn’t receive a commercial release in Columbus.

8. Margot at the Wedding (Noah Baumbach)

9. The Boss of It All (Lars von Trier)

10. Private Fears in Public Places (Alain Resnais)

Special mentions: “Made in America”, The Sopranos (David Chase); Light Work Mood Disorder / He Walked Away (Jennifer Reeves)

Best studio films: The Bourne Ultimatum (Paul Greengrass), Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron), Sunshine (Danny Boyle)