Has Slate, the online news magazine, really been around for nine years? I only got wind of "The Movie Club" last year, when several critics -- in the form of letters to one another -- batted back and forth the hot button issues of the movie year (last year "gay movies" was one of the topics). Several critics of my acquaintance and I passed around e-mails among ourselves furthering their discussions. If you love movies, it's the must-read item for January.

This year the debate is led by new Slate critic Dana Stevens, who started her duties just last summer. She invited Wesley Morris (the Boston Globe), Keith Phipps (The Onion A.V. Club) and Carina Chocano (the Los Angeles Times) to join in the discussions. Stevens starts out with a confession near and dear to my heart: she doesn't like war movies. At last someone has the guts to say so. (I secretly suspect that no one likes war movies, but no one wants to be portrayed as an anti-American commie terrorist, so everyone pretends otherwise.)

In her short tribute to Robert Altman, Stevens also poses -- but doesn't answer -- the question of who might be the director of the 2000s. Though I wasn't invited to Ms. Stevens' party, may I suggest, off the top of my head, Sofia Coppola, with her near-masterpiece Lost in Translation and the underrated, misunderstood pair The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette? The Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul may be an even better candidate; he made his feature debut in 2000 with the amazing non-fictional, fiction film Mysterious Object at Noon, and followed it with at least two more extraordinary films, Blissfully Yours and Tropical Malady. (Perhaps Clint Eastwood is a better candidate? Maybe I'm just grasping at straws here; maybe there isn't a "director of the 2000s" yet...)

In any case, Weerasethakul's Tropical Malady was the best gay film of 2005. Along those lines, Morris asks whether 2006 was actually gayer than 2005. We also have attacks against and defenses for Babel, Little Miss Sunshine and Borat, as well as many other fascinating topics. ...
categories Movies, Cinematical