A fucking dissertation on Sight & Sound

Saturday January 30th 2010


I cannot say this enough: I fucking love Sight & Sound. This month’s issue (30 Key Films of the Last Decade) is another smash and every time I pick it up it reminds me what a load of old shit this blog is.

I’ve never really understood why it’s considered snobbish. They consistently manage to review every single film released anywhere within the UK (and many that aren’t) and give almost equal precedence to films from every corner of the globe. In the same issue, you’ll get fully coherent and considered reviews of both Min-dung-san and The Squeakquel. Surely that’s 100 times less snobbish than completely ignoring any films that are produced without the involvement of Shia LaBoeuf.

Their 30 films of the noughties are further evidence that they’ll probably be one of the few movie magazines to remain relevant in the age of the blogosphere. I doubt HeyUGuys were counting Russian Ark, United Red Army and Uzak among their end-of-decade-favs. Content-wise, Empire and Total Film are essentially printed movie blogs, so in an era when /Film is being updated 20 to 30 times a day, why wait a month and pay £3.99 for movie news that’ll be outdated by the time you read it?

Sight & Sound is also the only British film magazine that isn’t constantly falling over itself to congratulate the British film industry. Only 2003’s Touching the Void gains entry to the best-of-decade list, although they sensibly cite Sexy Beast, Hunger and Last Resort as choices that ‘nearly made it’. Instead, almost a dozen countries are represented in their 30 picks, and when they do select from the American mainstream (The Bourne Ultimatum and Adaptation both make the list) such choices are carefully reasoned, not pointless ‘look how subversive we are’ surprises like The Guardian including Team America: World Police.

In the future, I’d like to think that Ultra Culture could aim to be more diverse. Maybe we should start by widening our definition of world cinema to include more than just the 3 or 4 Cannes hits that Peter Bradshaw gives the thumbs up to. Looking at Sight & Sound‘s list, I’ve only seen 9 out of 30:

Adaptation (dir. Spike Jonze)
Battle in Heaven (dir. Carlos Reygadas)
The Beat That My Heart Skipped (dir. Jacques Audiard)
The Bourne Ultimatum (dir. Paul Greengrass)
Colossal Youth (dir. Pedro Costa)
The Death of Mister Lazarescu (dir. Cristi Puiu)
In Praise of Love (dir. Jean-Luc Godard)
The Five Obstructions (dir. Lars Von Trier / Jørgen Leth)
The Gleaners & I (dir. Agnès Varda)
Caché (dir. Michael Haneke)
INLAND EMPIRE (dir. David Lynch)
In the Mood for Love (dir. Wong Kar-wai)
Memories of Murder (dir. Bong Joon-ho)
The Holy Girl (dir. Lucrecia Martel)
Yi Yi (dir. Edward Yang)
Platform (dir. Jia Zhang-ke)
Russian Ark (dir. Aleksandr Sokurov)
The Son (dir. The Dardenne Brothers)
Spirited Away (dir. Hayao Miyazaki)
Talk to Her (dir. Pedro Almodóvar)
10 (dir. Abbas Kiarostami)
There Will Be Blood (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)
35 Rhums (dir. Claire Denis)
Touching the Void (dir. Kevin Macdonald)
Tropical Malady (dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
United Red Army (dir. Kōji Wakamatsu)
Uzak (dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Waiting for Happiness (dir. Abderrahmane Sissako)
Werckmeister Harmonies (dir. Béla Tarr)
Workingman’s Death (dir. Michael Glawogger)

Apologies for being presumptuous, but you probably haven’t seen many more than that yourself. Anyway, I’ve got a plan. If anyone from Artificial Eye is reading this, how would you feel about sending me your entire back catalogue to watch and review? I hereby promise that I would watch it in its entirety. Holla at me.

Sorry about the anti-brevity of this post. Send in the cloons.