Say hello to my little friend: On this site, I tend to eschew personal content. This is a film-related site, and in my reviews, readers will inevitably learn things about me, even though I don't really think my personality is the real issue. Yes, I am a (lapsed) academic. I am on the far-far-left of the political spectrum. I'm married, happily so. And my interest in modern art has historically outweighed my interest in literature, resulting, I think, in the fact that mise-en-scene and the plastics of the film image are more important to me than, say, plot or character. That much, Dear Reader, you probably know, without my having to spell it out.

And that's good. This isn't a blog.

So anyway, this year-end essay being a space where I've traditionally allowed myself a little bloggy leeway, I feel entitled to mention that, on 21 November, 2005, I became a father. My little girl, Nola, is adorable, loud, and pretty much brilliant. It's no surprise that I feel this way, I trust, nor will it come as a surprise to you that I've seen fewer films than I used to since 21 November, or that I've seen the ones I've seen on significantly fewer hours of sleep. (I almost nodded off during The New World. I forgot my caffeine pills. Shame on me, etc.)

What may come as a surprise -- it certainly has to me -- is that my film jones, far from seeming like a youthful triviality to be shunted aside in favor of the proper pursuits of adulthood, seems more significant than ever. Thing is, I am not much of a critic in the big scheme of things, and so I always have a shadow of irony hovering over this endeavor. That said, I take it seriously, and as silly as things like Top Ten lists may be (masculinist! collector-mentality! systematizing the magic of art! etc.), I see it as a small gesture to the future. What seemed important? Of course, this means a wide range of things, and there simply is no formula for this. What seemed to challenge our idea of what the medium could do? What was funny? What seemed well-hewn, almost sculptural in its craftsmanship? And for me, the most important of all -- in a culture I find sexist, racist, truly mean, needlessly violent, a culture that thrives on cheapening and commodifying human life and draining it of all residual dignity -- what seemed defiantly beautiful?

So now, I have yet another criterion. At some future date, what are some things I might want Nola to know existed?

(And, um, will that ever include Gaspar Noé?)