Guest Essay by Zade Constantine
Film provides a vast canon to explore, retroactively, trends and ideologies. The distinct relationship between society and film is suited for scholars of history and those who understand the dense social, political and economic landscapes that surround a particularly creative time for film. So specific and noteworthy are chunks of American cinema that we can pinpoint beyond decades, specific years of importance. 1976, for instance, harbors films like Network, Rocky, Taxi Driver, and All The President’s Men. These films lend importance, not only to American culture as a whole, but to American cinema. Works are identifiable as seminal films and their influence apparent in narrative and aesthetic years following.
The question becomes how the hell to decipher what 2012 has offered. The process of understanding or simply trying to pick your favorite films of the past year begins with an act of relearning. Film on celluloid is dead; denounced by mostly all. No longer viable, practical, economically feasible for theaters. Begrudgingly or willingly, many have accepted this as a rule going forward for American cinema. That undefinable characteristic that distinguished a work either as a film or as a movie no longer exists. “Films no longer exist” was a realization that took years to process leading up to 2012. The journey of acceptance marked by key points along the way. Marvel at the digital splendor that is Avatar. Navigate the perilous waters of raising ticket prices and 3D to discover gems (Hugo) and traps (films converted to 3D after they are completed).