Thursday, January 21, 2010

Movies, Music in 2009 / 2000s . . . According to John Demetry

Tethering Post
by John Demetry

By far the best new movie I saw in '09, Julian Hernandez's Raging Sun, Raging Sky also rightfully owns the number 3 spot on the Best of ‘00s list. However, the film distribution-and-critical hegemony keeps the movie from reaching the audience it deserves. Hernandez seemingly recognizes his circumstance in the film-cult machine: the era's best new filmmaker relegated to the cinema's gay ghetto (currently his RSRS is available only for festival rentals). Yet, his work does not fit any "gay movie" conventions (lazy critics compare him to the early 1990s New Queer Cinema when Antonioni and Ophuls would be more apt). So in a subversive modernist twist--a relatively minor detail in the film's teeming nexus--Hernandez decorates a porn theater box office with promo stills from his own short Bramadero (an erotic meditation on death). Significantly: "bramadero" means "tethering post." Although restricted by film-cult hegemony (effectively: censorship), Hernandez's unabashed gay erotic content ties him to a deeper (resistance) gay/art legacy.

Let's break down the multivalent significance of the self-referential use of Bramadero stills in Raging Sun, Raging Sky:

1. Hernandez's frank treatment of sexuality addresses the Desire (sexual/spiritual) exploited by grindhouse cinema, while also recognizing that it provides a space for the social expression of Desire by members of a marginalized group
2. Hernandez does not see his films as "above" grindhouse movies, but as part of a particular, sub-cultural history of art-cinema distribution and exhibition
3. Hernandez highlights and subverts the ghetto-ized nature of his own films (relegated to specialty audiences, yet actually expansive in their treatment of the human condition)

It begs the question: To what tethering post is NYC's gaggle of gay film critics chained? (Raise your hand if you were at the lone NYC festival screening of Raging Sun, Raging Sky.)

The following lists one person's genuine appraisal of time spent at the movies and exploring the pop landscape. In the spirit of Hernandez's audacious proposition of the movie theater as the site where love is found (and compassion developed)--I give Raging Sun, Raging Sky its place on the decade list. Should the U.S. be blessed by its official release in 2010, it will rule that year and set the standard for the next decade as well.

(originally published by Senses of Cinema)


Ten Best Movies of 2009 (U.S. Releases Only)

1. This Is It (Kenny Ortega)
2. Everlasting Moments (Jan Troell)
3. Brothers (Jim Sheridan)
4. You, The Living (Roy Andersson)
5. Next Day Air (Benny Boom)
6. Bandslam (Todd Graff)
7. Of Time and the City (Terence Davies)
8. Gentlemen Broncos (Jared Hess)
9. The Blind Side (John Lee Hancock)
10. Revanche (Gotz Spielmann)

Ten Best Movies of 2000s
(one film per director)

1. A.I. - Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg, 2001)
2. Femme Fatale (Brian De Palma, 2002)
3. Raging Sun, Raging Sky (Julian Hernandez, 2009)
4. Together (Chen Kaige, 2003)
5. Hero (Zhang Yimou, 2004)
6. Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme, 2008)
7. The Witnesses (Andre Techine, 2008)
8. Vera Drake (Mike Leigh, 2004)
9. Kung Fu Hustle (Stephen Chow, 2005)
10. 2046 (Wong Kar-Wai, 2005)
10. Son frere (Patrice Chereau, 2004)


Ten Best Albums of 2009
(U.S. releases only)

1. Years of Refusal, Morrissey
2. Never Cry Another Tear, Bad Lieutenant
3. Yes, Pet Shop Boys
4. The Boy Who Knew Too Much, Mika
5. Mr. Lucky, Chris Isaak
6-8. The-Dream/Tricky Stewart Trilogy
(tie) Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, Mariah Carey
(tie) Love vs. Money, The-Dream
(tie) How To Be A Lady: Vol. 1, Electrik Red
9. The Latest, Cheap Trick
10. Shock Value II, Timbaland

Ten Best Singles of 2009
(U.S. releases only)

1. Did You See Me Coming?, Pet Shop Boys
2. Empire State of Mind, Jay-Z
3. Sink or Swim, Bad Lieutenant
4. Love etc., Pet Shop Boys
5. It Doesn't Often Snow At Christmas (Christmas EP), Pet Shop Boys
6. I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris, Morrissey
7. We Let Her Down, Chris Isaak
8. Beautiful People, Pet Shop Boys
9. Halo, Beyonce
10. The-Dream/Tricky Stewart Trilogy
(tie) Walkin' on the Moon, The-Dream
(tie) So Good, Electrik Red
(tie) I Want To Know What Love Is, Mariah Carey

25 Best Albums of the 00s
(one album per artist; U.S. releases only)

1. You Are the Quarry (2004), Morrissey
2. The Man Who (2000), Travis
3. Twisted Tenderness (2000), Electronic
4. Never Cry Another Tear (2009), Bad Lieutenant*
5. Yes (2009), Pet Shop Boys*
6. Waiting for the Sirens' Call (2005), New Order*
7. White Bread Black Beer (2006), Scritti Politti
8. Say You Will (2003), Fleetwood Mac
9. Frantic (2002), Bryan Ferry
10. Disco Volante (2000), Cinerama
11. 2 Worlds Collide (2004), David Morales
12. Lifeline (2004), Iris DeMent
13. Invincible (2001), Michael Jackson
14. The Best of Both Worlds (2002), R. Kelly & Jay-Z
15. FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006), Justin Timberlake
16. The Blueprint (2001), Jay-Z
17. Life in Cartoon Motion (2007), Mika
18. Gift of Screws (2008), Lindsey Buckingham
19. Timbaland Presents: Shock Value (2007), Timbaland
20. Tales From Turnpike House (2006), Saint Etienne
21. Magic (2007), Bruce Springsteen
22. Aaliyah (2001), Aaliyah
23. An Pierlé & White Velvet (2006), An Pierlé & White Velvet
24. Under Construction (2003), Missy Elliott
25. I Am... Sasha Fierce (2008), Beyoncé

*--4-6: currently that order is interchangeable: How would YOU rank them?!


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