Céci n’est pas un cinéphile

verpool (Lisandro Alonso) 2008 Argentina/France/Netherlands/Germany/Spain 84 min

Postcard from Sunderland, by Neil Young

Dear Frances (Mike, Matt and Andrew),

Of all the people to kick off a debate on New Cinephilia, they somehow picked me. I turned 40 in March, and there’s so much of current and recent and classic cinema with which I’m unfamiliar – if I reeled off the list of prominent directors of whom I have never seen a single movie, you’d be understandably shocked and startled (details of how I’ve managed to miss out on these guys’ work can perhaps be saved for later in these exchanges, though my preference for, if possible, seeing films on the big-screen is one factor, my 15 years as a horse-racing official another). So, by most cinephile’s standards, I am most likely not eligible to achieve proper “cinephile status”.

Or am I? As cinephilia – and New Cinephilia – evidently demands an engagement with current trends in cinema, is it necessary to (a) know who’s in the New Cinephile Canon at any given time, and (b) have seen at least one movie by those directors generally accepted as lurking within the pantheon? (just to reassure anyone who reckons I’m little more than a multiplex-haunting cine-philistine, I am up to speed on the likes of Albert Serra, Lisandro Alonso, Apichatpong Weerasethakul Claire Denis, Jia Zhang-Ke and James Benning, though that isn’t to say I’m a cheerleading fan for all of their films.) Continue reading