Bringing Out the Dead

Into the first year of the millennium, the vastness of the twenty-first century lying before us, and the cinema is well and truly alive. If there is one film that emerges as a clear favourite across the 2000 lists in this issue it is Claire Denis’ Beau Travail. A film with a singular form that goes beyond traditional narrative to find its rhythm in choreographed bodies, pure emotion and fragments of memory. Film in 2000 saw the American Independent scene take a new turn with David Gordon Greene’s George Washington, the continuing prevalence of Iranian cinema on the festival circuit (Kiarostami’s The Wind Will Carry Us, Pahani’s The Circle) and a small wave of samurai films: Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Oshima’s Gohatto, Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog: the Way of the Samurai and even Charlie’s Angels. And perhaps it was Jarmusch’s meditation on the relation between the ancient past and the present, and the enlightenment of text, that haunted me the most. Another film to play out, in its own truly innovative way, the relation between a remote past and the digital present was The Wind Will Carry Us which worked by isolating every single element (voices, conversations, actions, atmospheric sound) and rearranging them carefully, sparingly, ultimately confirming its belief in the natural order of things.

2000 also saw the wonderful rise of populist cinema: Erin Brockovich, American Movie and the Farrelly brothers’ riotous Me Myself and Irene, ingeniously subverting everything in its path. With equal rigour, 2000 also became the time for the musical film, a point which Mark Peranson makes in this issue’s collection of lists, evident in films like In the Mood for Love, Platform and also Beau Travail. The most controversial contribution here being Dancer in the Dark, which is already making history with the extreme, oppositional reactions it is provoking. There was room for the classical beauty and charm of Lynch’s The Straight Story and Eastwood’s Space Cowboys in 2000 and for Scorsese’s truly dark and haunting view of the modern world subsumed by addiction, vice, loneliness, and mutilation – quite literally a human hell – that left one man searching desperately for the touch of God, in Bringing out the Dead.

Judging from the 2000 lists in this issue, international film festivals, Cinémathèques, SBS-Television (for Australians), DVD and local exhibitors with a progressive agenda play an instrumental role in one’s yearly film intake. Not only are such outlets the necessary gateways into the riches of world cinema and film history they also balance the multiplexes and boutique art-house cinemas that so dominate the film landscape in any country.

Apart from the sizeable focus on world and Australian cinema in 2000 in this issue, there is an excellent section on Eastern European cinema that features among other gems a wonderful interview with legendary Dusan Makavejev and an overview of the independent film scene in war-torn Serbia by Boris Trbic. Other topics covered in the issue include Italian cinema, philosophy in film, Jean Eustache, DVD releases, current releases and festivals.

A big thankyou to everyone who contributed in one form or another to this issue, including all the writers, and helpers Ben Zipper and Mairead Phillips.

And finally, a big 2000 thankyou to the Senses of Cinema Godfather, Adrian Martin.

We hope you continue reading Senses of Cinema, which celebrates its first year birthday this month!

And here’s to film in 2001!

Fiona A Villella

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