The pix that hix in the stix have to nix : Here in Ithaca, NY, lots of pictures do not open. Especially the ones with smaller distributors. And then, there's the fact that most "art cinema" patrons here favor English-language pictures to foreign fare. No surprise. Despite this I do pretty well, but every year I miss a few key films, ones that, taking my predilections into account, might've stood a chance of making my top ten had I seen them in time. I'll catch them all eventually, but for now, I'll quickly review them, sight unseen.

Saraband (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden) [v] [5]

Um, why is everybody yelling at everybody else? Also, is this a TV show? I really dig these post-IKEA interiors. Would this be any less taxing if I'd seen Scenes From a Marriage? Not really? Okay.

Or (My Treasure) (Keren Yedaya, Israel) [7]

I really appreciate the static camera set-ups and Yedaya's relentless visual rigor. It provides a feeling of entrapment, while at the same time offering the spectator a sense of temporal freedom, to observe without judgment. Also Ronit Elkabetz is so unbelievably hot.

The Best of Youth (Marco Tullio Giordana, Italy) [5]

Actually this is cheating because this film played in Ithaca but I couldn't get up the gumption to go. It has the sweep of the great naturalist historical novels but as it happens I hate those. Also I prefer not to have my feelings so shamelessly jerked around. All told, I will probably prefer Once You're Born.

Games of Love and Chance (L'Esquive) (Abdel Kechiche, France) [7]

Marivaux in the banlieue. Word. Boy, New Yorker Films really got this one around, didn't they? I mean, throw a rock and you'll hit a theatre where it played. (Hey, at least the screeners were plentiful!) Nevertheless, I'm certain this represents a major step forward from Blame It On Voltaire in Rio.

Shanghai Dreams (Wang Xiaoshuai, China) [7]

Sixth-Generation director Wang (Beijing Bicycle) provides a snapshot of China in transition as seen through the eyes of a young girl and her family. Also, Boney M. Sadly, I had to deal with the Toronto hotel staff instead of seeing this film, since they put me in the wrong room. I'm hoping I'll see it in commercial release in 2006. Ah, come on.

What Is It? (Crispin Hellion Glover, U.S. / Mars) [8]

This is obviously one of the signal cinematic achievements of this year, possibly the decade. It has images that will haunt me for years to come, if I ever get the chance to see it. I'd drive to Rochester to see this. Buffalo, even. Hell, I'll even sit though the slide show.