Michał Karzyński

Cinema is still art, isn't it?

There is a certain mode, a tendency in the American cinema with which we are all too familiar. All the films regardless of gender are supposed to have Great Actors, who don’t act; fine scripts in which everything is explicitly laid out; an emotional scene with high pitched violin music to make you cry and a happy ending. These movies I no longer can watch, they stopped having a meaning for me some time ago. Their predictable stories and superficial morals or dumb-witted humor make me feel disgusted, self-conscious and shamed.

There are exceptions to the rule however. Fine movies are still made, despite their apparent commercial failures. Those are the ones which make us think again, the ones which make us feel something new. They are the ones which people often refer to as ambitious, but I would venture to claim they are anything but. Ambition assumes a desire for distinction, wealth or fame. The directors making those movies are aware that they will most likely receive none of these. They will not attain wealth or fame, and the only distinction they may get is from the few people who still appreciate cinema as art.

I have hunted for these films in the past years and will attempt to make a list. This list shall contain only new films (from the past 5 years, say), which clearly went beyond the set schema of Hollywood and ventured into the unknown.

Let me start with films I have seen this year.

Solaris (Steven Soderbergh)
Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson)
About Schmidt (Alexander Payne)
Adaptation (Spike Jonze)
The Hours (Stephen Daldry)

Films, as any other art form, philosophy or school of thought, depict and map our mass-consciousness. The above movies are true to this ideal, and yet if you watch them you might notice that they all share a common characteristic. They all talk about people who are losing their sanity. Why this is, I do not know, but in a world, which is starting to look more and more orwelian, we should be aware of it.

Older films include:
Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky)

Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Titus (Julie Taymor)
American Beauty (Sam Mendes)
Cube (Vincenzo Natali, non-hollywood, independent and good!)

Meanwhile in Europe…
Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier )
All About My Mother (Pedro Almodovar)
Run Lola Run (Tom Tykwer)

This list shall be continued and updated whenever I rememer anything else. If you think that a film should appear on this list or if you think that something doesn’t deserve a nomination, then let me know and I will consider it.

Help me out… what other fine films were there?