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There’s an art to making the ultimate best-of list, especially if the purpose of the list is to show everyone just how cultured, thoughtful and intelligent you are. Take, for instance, New Yorker critic Richard Brody’s list of the top ten films between 2000 and 2010; a perfect blend of canon-sculpting, contrarianism and obscurantism. There’s a Godard film, of course (Eloge de l’amour); there’s an array of foreign-language films nobody’s seen; there’s a token nod to mainstream cinema (Knocked Up); there’s a film so truly average its inclusion could only be Brody subtly trolling his readers (The Darjeeling Limited). Because this is the Pretentious Issue, we are honoured to follow in such esteemed footsteps as Brody’s.
These days—unless you are a critic for the New Yorker, in which case you get a pass—compiling lists is a perilous business. Fear of comparisons to Buzzfeed listicles aside, our so-called postmodernism requires writers not just to be self-aware: they need to be self-aware of their self-awareness, and so on in an endless recursive loop of caveats, acknowledgement of biases. There is a plethora of reasons for this, some of them sound. Here’s one that isn’t: every writer secretly fears readers bandying the word “pretentious” about. Using the p-word as a criticism—and often employing it incorrectly—is reductive, a knee-jerk tool to stifle to productive conversation.
Now, we have no idea where we’re going with this; to be perfectly honest, we’re just writing a paragraph each and swapping seats (it’s Sam here, hi). We were going to write a list of the best films of this half-decade; then we were going to write a list of the ten best things, full stop. Realising we would then have to start including things like “oxygen” and “gravity”, we got got stumped, watched some Survivor (bye Dan!), and each palmed off the responsibility for deciding what this editorial was even about by ending the paragraph and switching seats. Over to you, Philip.
Bye Dan indeed! That postal worker just got returned to sender :^) I don’t really have a direction either, outside of punishing wordplay, but I think it’s fitting that this editorial was written while watching an episode of Survivor so good it felt like an orgasm. There’s no shame in liking Survivor, or Keeping Up With The Kardashians, or anything else people (wrongly) tell you is low-brow trash. By the same token, there’s no shame in thinking Under The Skin is the best movie of the half-decade (I hope), or being able to wax lyrical about Proust or whatever. If you’re genuine you’ve nothing to fear. Like what you like and be damned. Showing a love interest a list of your top five films won’t get you laid (although if they sit through a stupefying dull movie they abhor for you, you know you’re going places) or earn you respect. It might encourage people to check stuff out and be grounds for a mean yarn. Fuck ulterior motives. Saaam?
Good work Philip. I think we’ve got enough words to fill the page now. Bye folks!
Sam and Philip’s combined list of the top five films of the last half-decade because we decided we wanted to do that anyway:
Under the Skin (Philip’s)
Jodorowsky’s Dune (Sam’s)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Philip’s)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (Sam’s)