And a Belated Happy New Year

It's been a lethal combination of Ira-rush and the New York Jewish Film Festival that's kept me from posting lately. Oh, yeah, and some laziness. But mostly the first two. In a sense, I've been watching so many movies that I haven't had the time to write about them (well, except for money). For a look at the NYJFF, you can read this week's Jewish Week here. Next week's issue, which will be on-line on Thursday, will feature the second half of the festival and a very interesting Germany documentary, Verdict on Auschwitz, made from the 430 hours of audiotape of the 1963-5 trial in Frankfurt of 20 of the top Nazi perps from that death camp.

As for the Iras, as is our tradition, we will be holding our annual get-together late -- March 25 this year, the latest ever -- and rather ludicrously I won't post my 2006 ten-best list until then. (That's because I will still be catching the last strays right up to the evening itself.) But I can safely say this much: it has been an interesting year.

I won't bother you with a preliminary ten-best list, but if you haven't seen any of these titles by now, you really need to catch them (listed in the order I saw them):

Ten-best list quality: La Petite Jerusalem, Fateless, The Moustache, Le Petit Lieutenant, Heading South, L'Iceberg, L'Enfant, Free Zone, Clean, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Changing Times, The Bridesmaid, The Aura, Family Law, 51 Birch Street, Climates, 49 Up, "My Dad Is 100 Years Old," Bestiary: Five Short Films, The Case of the Grinning Cat, This Filthy World, Children of Men

Very good, but not quite : Three Times, A Cantor's Tale, 12 and Holding, The Beauty Academy of Kabul, Mardi Gras: Made in China, Keeping Up with the Steins, Mendy: A Question of Faith, Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, Paper Dolls, The Illusionist, The Queen, Commune, Shakespeare Behind Bars, 10 Items or Less, Flannel Pajamas, Bergman Island, Inside Man, A Prairie Home Companion, The Notorious Bettie Page, A Scanner Darkly

Distinguished by some achievement (might be a great performance or two, an outstanding script, etc.): Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, Cavite, Old Joy, Nathalie, Gabrielle, Time to Leave, Half Nelson, The Troubles We've Seen, The Devil's Miner

Unreleased, but keep watching the skies, er, ads: "Golub: Late Works are Catastrophes," Roots, Ce-Jour La, October 17, 1961, The Treatment, Belle Toujours, Triad Election

Any year in which Altman, Spike Lee and Mary Harron get onto my honorable mention list is already pretty surprising; people who know me are well aware that none of those three turn up at my desert-island movie house. And 23 films for my potential ten-best list (and I haven't even seen several other likely candidates) suggests a year in which good films outweighed the other kind. I don't know if this is a trend in the making. All I know is that the people who have been predicting the death of cinema are dead wrong.

Of course, for me the year isn't over, although the new one has already begun (ten films worth, including the NYJFF). I wouldn't change jobs with anyone -- okay, with Robinson Cano maybe -- but right now I can barely sort out what I've seen in the past three weeks.

And a quick PS: You'll immediately notice the new look of Cine-Journal. Hey, a new year means a new wardrobe. Same obnoxious opinions though (and damned proud of it).