It's maybe a strange accident all the films on this list are American (save one), but I doubt it. American flag tweet! Sorry, Rest of the World. In about one to five more years we should get our act back together, electoral-college-strangling-Ameri-scarily speaking. I guess all we can do until then is crank out adrenalin-packed escapism and say: 'World, why not disappear down the rabbit hole mit uns? Wir haben CBD!'
Argue about ART in cinema as art if thou wish but there's no reality anymore. There is no 'morality' to rail against, no church imposing enough to incite fascist riots at surrealist anti-papal movie screenings. All western institutions have long learned to incorporate their own critiques ("fight corporations with Coke!") as per Debord's concept of recuperation. Even homesickness has become an escapist fantasy. Kansas mud-mired Dorothy misses Oz so much she keeps hitting herself on the head to simulate a tornado, but with every visit, the Technicolor of Oz fades just a bit more to muddy red. Back in Kansas she finds her vision permanently blurred from all the concussions. It's called addiction, Dorothy! And one look at your Kansas reality and we can't quite blame you. Next time, ask old Huck if he has some corn mash back of the hog shed. Makes the sepia glow real pretty. Ain't Oz, but it's all right.
For me, the best films are those that embody archetypal mythic principles. Myth is the mirror shield with which we may behold Medusa. Straight-up, the gorgon offers only the wrong kind of stoning beheld directly. This factors into these choices: 2011's Melancholia is way too apt for repeat viewings. I cried during Tree of Life (also 2011) but I watched it in the theater mere minutes after I had taken shrooms, and got a call--in the theater before the show started--that my dad was dying, so the fact I had a spiritual experience disqualifies my judgement. After six viewings, I still am only halfway to appreciating Inherent Vice. Maybe I'd resonate differently with it if I lived in LA? It took me 20 viewings to appreciate Big Lebowski. What a ride that's been.
These picks of the decade aren't merely some laborious bourgeois corralling of international art films no one really wants to see, these are the films from this decade that vibrated my kundalini fibers with their astonishing Perseus shield mythic acumen. You may disagree with my selections, but what does it matter? This kind of decade is beyond mere time and passing, it's become like a marijuana plant, trimmed at the top to skunk it out: fertile but stunted, outward bound but trapped in the confines of its closet. We shall overcome.... again.... and again.
1. IT FOLLOWS
(2015) Dir. David Thomas Mitchell
(2015) Dir Denis Villeneuve
(2017) Directed by Darren Aronofsky
One of the trippiest, wildest, most insane biblical fables ever, it's also a perfect emblem of its #metoo / Greta and the Global Meltdown moment. On one level, it's about a pregnant woman seeking vengeance after her house is treated like astro-turf by that grinding, rending, overpopulating violent cleat-wearing mosh pit plague some call humanity, while her husband forgives them their trespasses. And as someone who has spent his fair share of really bad acid trips at his own over-crowded house parties, with people I don't know rummaging through my room (and me tongue stop-tied toot out kick them), I related. And the magic of Aronofsky comes with how we never really notice the moment a single night's poetry book release party with a handful of fans on the front lawn devolves into a full scale house-trashing riot, and then beyond, all in real time, as Jennifer Lawrence moves from room to room of her house, trying to prevent each new destructive urge in her uninvited guests. It's so familiar I began to feel that old tang on my tongue. I wanted to run to my room and lock the door before the seagulls could strip it dry in search of souvenirs to lick for possible holy lysergic residue. With Javier Bardem as the benign poet husband/god, always inviting in more and more of the great unwashed, rationalizing each new atrocity. It's beyond horrible, back into blissful, and farther into the abyss of religious allegorical truth than any other film since Dogville. It's weird, but it's not as sadistic or pretentious as some of Aronofsky's earlier work. It's the allegory we deserve, and Jennifer Lawrence--so terrible in her last few 'big' pictures (ala X-Men)--redeems herself in spades as her generation's golden wild child. (more)