Otesánek (Czech Republic, dir. Jan Švankmajer)
The 4-year millennial transition of 1998-2001 is, arguably, the richest period of the cinema’s history. That said, the fact that there are now more new releases and re-releases per year; spread across more festivals of all shapes and sizes, in more countries, and across the transborder realm of the internet argues strongly the case that the time and place in which a list like this can be read (and be part of a whole series chronicling a cinephile’s journey through the past and present) must be the richest period in cinema’s history. Never-the-less, regardless of my rose-tinted perspective on the period in which I graduated from early-life obsession to a religious level of film consumerism, that 4-year period was gargantuan in its crop of ground-breaking releases. With all these films at least in pre-production in 1999, the releases of 2000 owed much to the spirit of the all-or-nothing creative fire-sale that pervaded the tense and exciting build-up to the start of the new millennium. It is a period whose significance should not be dismissed as meaningless hype swirling around a once-in-a-thousand-year date on the calendar. That period meant a great deal at the time and it cannot be denied that it fell as a particularly convenient benchmark for distinguishing between the print/celluloid and digital ages of film and communication. The meaning heaped upon the exciting inconvenience of manually resetting the date on the video recorder was the product of an atmosphere that fueled one of the most unpredictable and eye-opening creative periods in the 20th Century.
As 1999’s finest releases had set the precedent for startling and intrepid films from a new generation of filmmakers and from former up-starts transitioning to world cinema’s establishment, 2000’s releases continued the trend of thrusting young directors into the spot-light with astonishing debuts, that would remain bench-marks to their credit even into the next decade (Christopher Nolan’s enduring goodwill for Momento immediately comes to mind).
The British and American industries were booming with plentiful funds for artists determined to find success with idiosyncratic works like Gangster No.1, Sexy Beast_, Requiem for a Dream and American Psycho
In Asia ,Hong Kongese, Korean and Japanese auteur films were building steam behind big domestic earnings and hails of applause from around the world. But 2000’s greatest territorial legacy goes to Latin america, where Amores Perros and Nueve Reinas kicked-off an international fad for Latin cinema, one which many hoped would last far into the future. Sadly, said fad faded into the background without much explanation after the massive success of City of God in 2002. Whatever became of the Latin fad is likely more the failure of marketers, distributors and the rapidly rising cost of cinema tickets (and the so rapturous-it-was-apocalyptic success of Amélie the following year).
Though it may seem like a cheap shot, I’m tempted to blame, in part, the celebrity directors, like Iñaritu and Cuáron, who rode their first home-made success north of the border, to Hollywood’s prestige zone. But to suggest that such figures needed to stay home to foster the international success of their native industries overlooks a) the artists’ personal goals and desires, b) the wealth of talent turning-out equally exciting films there at the same time, c) the gold-carrot/barbed-stick combo that Hollywood uses to keep subtitled cinema marginalized in the English-speaking territories, d) the financial concerns and conflicts of the distributors responsible for promoting these films, whose jobs are, surely, amongst the riskiest in the industry. So why mention such an infantile accusation in the first place? I like thinking in print from time to time. I also imagine that I’m not the first person to have made such spurious demands of my artistic idols. As was the case when Wayne Rooney left Everton, one can’t blame a talented individual for taking-up an offer to go play on a grander pitch for a bigger pay-check.
Amores Perros (Mexico, dir. Alejandro González Iñaritu)
2000 Watchlist: BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE – BEFORE NIGHT FALLS – BLACKBOARDS – THE CIRCLE – CODE UNKNOWN – CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON – CUBA FELZ – DANCER IN THE DARK – THE DAY I BECAME A WOMAN – THE HOUSE OF MIRTH – THE ISLE – LAST RESORT – ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF FORGIVENESS – PARTY 7 – SONGS FROM THE SECOND FLOOR – A TIME FOR DRUNKEN HORSES – TOGETHER – WATER DROPS ON BURNING ROCKS – YI YI
Gangster No.1 (UK, dir. Paul McGuigan)
Chaos (Japan, dir. Hideo Nakata)
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