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The invitation came to me one day not long ago as I was conducting some important networking tasks on my Facebook account — a filmmaker friend of mine was soliciting from me a “top ten” list of what I considered to be the most important Chinese language films of the past decade. In the official invitation that accompanied the message, the list, to be culled from the opinions of filmmakers, critics and scholars of Chinese cinema, seeks to promote Chinese cinema as “this remarkable decade draws to a close” [their quote].

Needless to say, I never formulated one. As as of this writing, I quite likely missed my colleague’s deadline for submitting a list. It’s not that I wasn’t interested — indeed, there have been plenty of works over the past ten years that would be worthy of anyone’s “top ten Chinese language films of the decade.” It’s just that the request arrived just as I was in the middle of viewing entries for this coming film festival season. On top of that, I’m in the middle of re-thinking the whole concept of “top this” and “most important that,” in preparation of issuing an altogether different kind of list in the coming months. For me, distilling a decade’s worth of experiences and happenings into an arbitrary list doesn’t seem to take into account the times in which we live, and how events of both the distant and recent past shape our perceptions of how we define them through ephemera such as movies, music or books.

More on that in a future diary posting…

Besides reviewing entries and pondering the collective personality of the body of works that will seek festival exposure and distribution this coming year, I took some much-needed time to watch some commercially-made studio product (read: yeah, yeah, I went to see that AVATAR movie and even paid the extra $3 for a pair of 3-D shades that I may not remember to bring along with me next March when ALICE IN WONDERLAND, starring Johnny Depp lands in theaters). I plan to watch more Oscar-bait in the near future, but I came away from my movie-watching with two salient observations:

1) That guy Roland Emmerich seems to find any kind of way to blow up the White House and downtown L.A. in any and all his movies. I guess he doesn’t like America too much. I also suppose I should relocate to South Africa before the year 2012…

2) I re-watched BEHIND ENEMY LINES, a 2001 film that came out right after the World Trade Center was leveled back in September 2001. It starred Owen Wilson; as for the plot, I’m sure you can look it up on IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes.com. That movie, and all the others like it that came out this past decade, re-inforced my observation that Hollywood movies about war are increasingly feeling like bad documentaries; and that when Jack Bauer grows up and stops working on the 24-hour clock, he’s gonna turn into Dick Cheney. The horror…

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