The best thing about lists is that they inspire other lists--they get readers thinking about their own priorities, preferences, and, above all, pleasures. The list that Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott, of the Times, issued the other day, "The 25 Best Films of the 21st Century So Far," got me going at once. Their decision to publish it now, in 2017, rather than toward the end of a year that's a multiple of five or ten, has a pleasantly and even poetically arbitrary ring to it, but it also reflects the haphazardly ordered way in which people's--or, at least, critics'--habits tend to fall. In isolation, a list is trivial; in the context of an ongoing discussion (and thanks to Twitter, where critics now have the privilege of being literally engaged in discussion with readers), it's an image, a snapshot, or a thin cross-section of responses--a testament to the strength of emotion that a batch of films elicits, a wink and a nod to readers that certain films are worth watching, rewatching, and remembering. What's called a list of the best films here is actually an offering of my favorite ones; they're films that I've watched and rewatched, and ones that I'm impatient to watch again.
After filmmakers behind the "Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them" sequel chose to continue working with Johnny Depp despite the abuse allegations made against him by his then-wife Amber Heard, there was a public outcry from fans. One voice that had remained silent, though, was the star of the original "Harry Potter" films, Daniel Radcliffe, until now.
The core of modern filmmaking is directors filming themselves, whether it's Jerry Lewis or Spike Lee or Wendell B. Harris, Jr., Elaine May or John Cassavetes or Jacques Tati, Woody Allen or Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Joe Swanberg or Lena Dunham or, of course, Orson Welles. All of these directors tend toward making themselves into characters who fit alongside the other actors in fictions that, even when they are based on situations from the directors' own lives, push them outside their own circumstances and voices. Yet there's a shadow movie looming alongside these fictional films--of directors themselves stepping outside of character to speak their own thoughts, in their own names--and that virtual movie is the one that's realized in interviews, in directors discussing, in print or onscreen, the substance and background of their art. With the proliferation of Web sites devoted, in whole or in part, to movies, interviews with directors today occupy an ever-growing portion of film culture. Last year alone saw enthusiastic releases of feature-film documentaries about Brian De Palma, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Sidney Lumet, in which the directors are interviewed at length about their careers.
I was eagerly anticipating the new show "The Girlfriend Experience," which premièred on Starz last Sunday, because its thirteen twenty-five-minute episodes are co-written by the filmmakers Amy Seimetz and Lodge Kerrigan, who also divided up the direction of the episodes. I consider Seimetz one of the best independent filmmakers of the day (on the basis of her one feature, "Sun Don't Shine"); Kerrigan, though not one of the best filmmakers of the time, is certainly distinctive and ambitious. The series, as is well known, is about Christine Reade, a law student in Chicago who becomes a prostitute and, at the same time, begins a potentially career-making internship at a major law firm. I've watched all thirteen episodes and am sorry to report that the format of the series gets the better of both filmmakers and submerges their originality in the relentless and impersonal norms of serial television. Here's an example: early in the first episode (directed by Seimetz), Christine (Riley Keough) goes out for a drink with her law-school classmate Avery (Kate Lyn Sheil).
Artificial intelligence will begin to play a more vital role in areas such as virtual reality and gaming, agreed several speakers Sunday at the National Association of Broadcasters Show's Future of Cinema Summit. "We have been talking about using AI in gaming, but it's more a simulated intelligence. If the player does something that's not in the list [of actions, it won't properly respond]," said Kevin Bolen, immersive and interactive audio designer at Skywalker Sound. "I think the next generation is an artificial character that responds and interacts appropriately based on what the player does. This will give us a chance to create interesting experiences."