2005 Academic AwardsTime again for the annual Academic Awards for the most analyzable films of the year. This year, unlike last year, we have selected films that were neglected, sadly, by other award-giving institutions, despite the film's artistic excellence. And we have expanded the number of awards to include new categories. Nevertheless, like last year, all of this year's winners are invited to have a cup of green tea in Taipei.
Manderlay directed by Lars von Trier. Part 2 of his trilogy which began with Dogville and is improving.
This film continues to explore the hidden historical roots of that sickness named America. If you're not sure what that is, then this is why the film was made for you. Enjoy!
Best Foreign Picture
Mountain Patrol or, Keke Xili is a powerful drama based on a true story of Tibetan peasant defense of wild herds of antelope -- the sustainability of which their traditional livelihood depends. The self-organized patrol is life or death defense against poor Chinese poachers who come in with machine guns and slaughter everything standing. Most of the cast members were local Tibetan people. Original Chinese news reporter's expose in the 1990's led to the successful creation of a national park protected zone there more recently. The setting is not merely "background scenery", but rather a major aspect of the story, the cinematography, and the visceral feeling experienced in such a dangerous yet beautiful wilderness.
The Yes Men.
Witty pranks played by two political activists against the global corporate mentality. Unbelievably amazing results recorded cinÃ©ma vÃ©ritÃ©.
Low budget, DIY stuff here, released to alternative theaters slowly, so hard to catch. Now on DVD, in French & English here.
This documentary must be memorized.
Best Postmodern Existential Zen Comedy
I Heart Huckabees
Directed by David O. Russell. So far has won almost nothing. Perhaps the most unusual film of the year from America. Some rarely heard speeches against WASP middle-class hypocrisy, especially around the dinner table in the suburbs. But more to the point, an interesting synthesis of some postmod physics and Buddhism and "existential detectives". Plot pits a bohemian poet vs corporate executive for control over a natural area in town. The DVD version, by the way, also contains a wonderfully original talk show with Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin still in character as hosts, the original musician for the score, and the intellectual inspiration in person: the father of Uma Thurman, who is a professor of eastern religion in New York. Some very silly-serious stuff here.
A lot of supposedly middlebrow people out there wrote in to say that they didn't get it, so therefore it must be stupid nonsense. Think about that!
Best Remake for the Post-Cold War
The Manchurian Candidate
Directed by Jonathan Demme. This remake of the old Cold War thriller film is a wildly new and improved version, updated for our new era of corporate control over "democracy" and its endless wars on this wars on that wars on everything so long as behind the scene the capitalist keep the profits flowing in the Right direction. (Coming soon: "The War On Warming"-- you heard it here first). Presents an especially heartwarming slam of the oligarchy and the Cheney-ish Vice President. This film is a good illustration of how pop culture can be more radical than the high culture pablum spoonfed in academia.
Best First-Time Newcomer
Me & You & Everyone We Know
Directed by Miranda July. A quirky story filmed in Portland, Oregon. Incorporates video art inside the film about a young artist struggling for recognition and love -- and along the way a number of themes regarding desire, e.g., even between persons of different generations -- from very young to very old. Yet this intrinsically explosive subject is handled sweetly with gentle outcomes. Many viewers hated this film for its supposed "sex scene" which only demonstrates again how the average mind cannot distinguish between porn and art, yet rejects both. Make no mistake, this is art.