The Red Shoes

Everyone loves and hates lists. They reduce and compare movies that don’t deserve it, but they also celebrate greatness in a convenient, digestible form that can do a lot to encourage movie fans to discover new and old greats even better than long, drawn out columns can. Time Out has decided to do the mother of all lists and chose to do it by going all out. The publication sought out the opinions of 150 movie industry experts (ranging from acting, to directing, to producing, to criticism) to pick the 100 Best British Films.

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Upon discussion and deliberation between Landon Palmer and Adam Charles (the two primary authors of the Criterion Files column) it was decided that due to the column’s state of near infancy and a small number of articles to choose from they would not reflect upon each other’s incisive works throughout the year of what was considered, or what they felt to be, the articles each were either most impressed by from the other, or considered the most indicative of what the column represents – and instead opted to choose 10 releases of the Criterion company in 2010 they felt most noteworthy of attention.

Delving into each other’s works even if the output was extended to 26 articles each over the course of a full year to choose the favorites from would actually prove to be a much simpler task than what was done for this year’s Year in Review. Trying to narrow down a list of the most significant Criterion Collection releases of any given year to a list of 10 is like…well, trying to list the 10 best of anything of which everything deserves attention. So, take these not as a slight against any of the other releases by any means (please, see every film they include in the library because they’ve selected it for a reason), these just happen to be a consolidation of releases Landon and Adam considered either significant for the availability on home video, marked a trend of the company’s direction of material to include in the library, personal affections, or were simply just incredible works in presentation of the picture previously not able to be experienced from prior releases.

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It’s that time of the year again: that brief span of time in between Christmas and New Year’s when journalists, critics, and cultural commentators scramble to define an arbitrary block of time even before that block is over with. To speculate on what 2010 will be remembered for is purely that: speculation. But the lists, summaries, and editorials reflecting on the events, accomplishments, failures, and occurrences of 2010 no doubt shape future debate over what January 1-December 31, 2010 will be remembered for personally, nostalgically, and historically. How we refer to the present frames how it is represented in the future, even when contradictions arise over what events should be valued from a given year. In an effort to begin that framing process, what I offer here is not a critical list of great films, but one that points out dominant cultural conversations, shared trends, and intersecting topics (both implicit and explicit) that have occurred either between the films themselves or between films and other notable aspects of American social life in 2010. As this column attempts to establish week in and week out, movies never exist in a vacuum, but instead operate in active conversation with one another. Thus, a movie’s cultural context should never be ignored. So, without further adieu, here is my overview of the Top 10 topics, trends, and events of the year that have nothing to do with the 3D debate.

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Criterion Files

In regards to the somewhat subjective idea of influence as it pertains to any given element of cinema the list of filmmakers whose names you’ll hear is, for the most part with a few variables, the same. From the perspective of an outsider/spectator all we can ever truly ascertain about influence is little more than an educated assumption, unless heard straight from the horse’s mouth. One of the variables on a given list of names of influential filmmakers is the partnership of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. That is, unless, you’re talking directly to someone like Martin Scorsese.

A good deal of this is the difference in distinction between remaining part of the cultural conscious and having a fingerprint on modern filmmaking. Whether that fingerprint has been smudged and unrecognizable through dilution over time it’s still felt to those who are familiar. Those like Martin Scorsese, who may be the all-time champion of The Red Shoes having headed the painstaking digital restoration to make the film look as it currently does; which is nothing short of gorgeous. Why would he do that? Because it, along with other Powell films like Peeping Tom (also unlike most films of its time and closely resembling films of ours), mean that much to him as an artist and fan of film; and if he can make you feel the same then he’ll do what he can.

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