A feud with Jimmy Page and Kenneth Anger
My votes in the year’s Sight & Sound best films poll were for:
- Quo Vadis Aida (discussed in part here and reviewed here
- Army of the Dead (discussed here)
- I Care A Lot
- The Banishing
- State Funeral
- A Glitch in the Matrix
- Mad God (discussed in part here and reviewed here)
- The Show (pictured above)
This year’s votes were requested even earlier than last year’s and the film at number one isn’t released until February 2022 before we even start talking about its rigid conservatism…but no point rehashing all of that again. Anyway my real answer is probably Titane.
Double-take of the year from Tom Burke in The Show, reacting to the sight of Alan Moore’s spectral mystic Moon-Man in the back garden by going full boggle.
Single-take of the century from the elderly lady in Radu Jude’s Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn who just wanders into shot and says Eat My Cnut without it being clear if she’s in the film or of the film or just a big fan of Radu Jude.
There might seem to be a lot of space between The Show and Bad Luck Banging and between Alan Moore and Radu Jude, although both of them are humanists who can’t quite lose faith with humanity no matter how crummy its individual specimens behave. Both films are deeply rooted in their own locations too, lungfuls of dust from Northampton and Bucharest evidently inhaled. The Show is miles out of step with current British film tendencies—fans of The Souvenir Part II will have to watch it with their eyes clamped open like Malcolm McDowell—and Bad Luck Banging’s initial flirt with ground-level naturalism in the age of Covid (including Mrs Cnut there, not to mention five minutes of hardcore porn) is only temporary since it becomes as mannered and calculated as a stage performance. The films hardly overlap at all, apart from both having something to say about the state of what you might in the circumstances call the Soft Left and saying it via the language of panto—which is to say they actually overlap.
An issue of that Chicago Film Society zine mentioned this time last year as a rare sighting of something that would be less rare if we were in a healthier position duly arrived at my door, its authenticity confirmed by a trip from Chicago via rowing boat taking 11 weeks. Infuriating Times #3 is sympatico and authentico, 48 pages of stapled scratchy mono noodling with something jammed into every bit of white space and some of the illustration line work bleached out to illegibility. It has several opaque projection-booth asides and obligatory not-funny funny bits, but also a 15-page article about late-2000s decline of film at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that I’m safely assuming you wouldn’t find anywhere else, cultural journalism naming a certain number of names in an unsigned essay presumably stewing for twelve years. The fact that Infuriating Times is in theory not the product of film critics at all but actual cinema staff, people affected by The Current War through the loss of employment rather than the loss of opportunities to swan around wearing a lanyard, and that it duly appeared not as something pretty on the Kindle Store but as scrap paper wrapped round the metaphorical brick, speaks for itself. This, as the old saying goes, is what they want.