The Movie Club

The Greatest Mexican Mennonite Film of 2008
Critic vs. critic.
Jan. 9 2009 4:32 PM

The Movie Club

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Dear all,

Jeanette, thanks for defending Revolutionary Road on the simple and irrefutable grounds that it moved you (and, not incidentally, for ending your last post with what may be the funniest Movie Club kicker of all time). Jessica, thanks for reminding us that sometimes it's not about "liking" and "not liking" movies but letting them happen to you and taking away what you can. (An example from my viewing experience this year would be Oliver Stone's W. The two hours of snarky catharsis it afforded had less to do with the film's inherent value than with its timeliness: What better way to end the awful comedy of the Bush presidency than with a blooper reel?) Lisa, thanks for giving a name to my personal fashion theme for the New Year: The next time you see me at a screening, you know I'll be decked out in "cunning schlumpwear"! And speaking of unfortunate fashion choices: Stephanie, thanks for calling bullshit on that abstract expressionist bloodstain on Kate Winslet's slip.

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As for Silent Light, Carlos Reygadas' eerily serene meditation on a love triangle in a community of Mennonites in Mexico: Jessica, thanks so much for tipping us off that it just started a run at Film Forum. (I've been too busy with Movie Club this week to follow what's happening at the actual movies!) That damn film's been eluding me for months. After a teensy run at a MoMa retrospective in September, it became virtually impossible to see: Not yet released on video, not back on screens until 2009. Eager to watch it before assembling my 10-best list in December (Manohla's rhapsodic review had me at "Carl Theodor Dreyer"), I finally ordered a copy, subtitled in French, from a shady-looking DVD dealer in Malaysia—only to find that after about 35 staggeringly lovely minutes, the image broke up into a tiled mosaic of pixels and froze there. Still, I can say with confidence that Silent Light is by far the greatest Mexican Mennonite film of 2008 that I've seen one-fifth of on a shitty Malaysian DVD. As soon as I say my goodbyes here, I'm off to watch Silent Light, finally, as it should be watched: in a big dark theater with a roomful of fellow acolytes. Here's hoping it's as marvelous as I expect and that 2009 brings many more movies worth scouring the globe for.

I promised Lisa not to get too after-you-my-dear-Alphonse in these framing posts. But I can't sign off without telling you all that of the three Slate Movie Clubs it's been my privilege to host so far, this has been my very favorite (and, given how much fun they've all been, that's praise indeed). I wish you all a wonderful year, both in the movies and out.

Your friend,
Dana

Jeannette Catsoulis writes about film for the New York Times, Reverse Shot, and Las Vegas CityLife. Lisa Schwarzbaum is a movie critic at Entertainment Weekly. Dana Stevens is Slate's movie critic. Jessica Winter is the film critic and senior editor at O, the Oprah MagazineStephanie Zacharek is a senior writer and film critic for Salon.

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