How about best movie moments, best directors, your best time at the cinema, etc.?
Great idea A! This has been a good year for me and I've watched more current films (thanks to the festival) than I usually get to do. I'll get down to the list later. But, here are some random thoughts on "best movie moments".
For me, the three most poignant and cinematically striking moments in 2006 come from I Don't Want To Sleep Alone - the floating mattress that concludes the film, the making out with ridiculous gasmasks and a more muted moment where the characters watch a Tamil song sequence on television. The three moments, together, constitute an insight into urban alienation in its different aspects - alienation from the other, from language, from a sense of place and location, from the global city, and ultimately from a lived reality.
Stylistically, another great moment comes from a virtually unknown Indonesian film called Opera Jawa by Garin Nugroho. The familiar story of Sita's abduction by Ravana from The Ramayana is transformed and choreographed into a dreamlike dance sequence. Accompanied by gamelan, the stylised confrontation happens in a kind of ring made up with dried tender coconut. I have no words to describe this moment. It has to be seen to be believed! What an eye Nugroho has for the performing/movement arts and its cinematic representation.
Bordering on the disgusting and the grotesque, Tatsushi Omori's Whispering of the Gods (somehow reminiscent of Bunuel's Viridiana) concludes with a blow job in a monastery's chicken pen, amidst cartloads of chicken @#%$. Very disturbing closure to a provocative film.
Abderrahmane Sissako's Bamako provided two moments that made me ponder about the critical power of cinema. An old man, called in as a witness for the prosecution sits through many days of arguments against and for the World Bank. He comes up to the witness box towards the end and delivers a heartwrenching appeal, part song, part chant, that works in two ways. It is an appeal that works against the grain of the serious discourse throughout the film. But, it also draws attention to how language has been one of the most powerful tools of colonisation, much more potent than brute force. A brief chant/song (as opposed to lengthy discursive attempts) shows how language fails as a tool to combat the neo-colonialism unleashed by the World Bank. If Africa has to articulate itself, it has to address the politics of language.
The second moment from Bamako, is the hilarious pseudo-Western sequence of an imagined film, Death in Timbutktu starring Danny Glover and Elia Suleiman, that the villagers watch on television. Completely absurd, the insertion of this clip is a strong, though tongue-in-cheek, critique of the colonisation of the African mind by First World entertainment like Hollywood. It also pointed to the largescale representational use of Africa as an exotic locale and a painted backdrop by both the First World entertainment and arthouse creative industries under the guise of being sensitive to its cultures. Since I'd seen "Winter's Journey" and "Sounds of Sand", I couldn't but agree. Managing to do much more, in the space of these two moments, than any well-compiled postcolonial theory reader, the chant and Death in Timbutktu are testimony to the power of cinema.