AROUND September every year, I begin to recognize the symptoms. My palms sweat. I’m nervous, irritable. Above all, I’m filled with a powerful premonition that I’ll soon be seeing more movies than I want to, and enjoying them less.
Yes, it’s festival time, but more than that, and as surely as Thanksgiving portends Christmas, it’s end-of-year time, time for valedictions, for spotting trends and bestowing honors. And what if one not only has no candidate for honors, but hasn’t even spotted a trend? Already, by autumn, the New York Film Festival and New York Times had fallen into line behind the proposition that this is the year of the young American director (a nice contrast, at least, to the proposition given some currency last year that, apart from The Godfather‘s unassailable hegemony, 1972 was the year of the Old Master, or Aging Professional, a notion jerry-built by roping together the year’s one great work, Bufiuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie with such misfortunes as Hitchcock’s Frenzy, Huston’s Fat City, Cukor’s Travels with My Aunt, and, scraping bottom, Billy Wilder’s Avanti!). Does one dare to risk being left behind?
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