The Corona Diaries: “Backlog” is just another word for great films you can still look forward to

It’s been a while since we posted one of these. In the meantime, 2020 is history, but 2021 is aiming to show its elder that it can be just as much of a pest. (As someone said: 2021 is shaping up to be the mutated version of 2020.) Will the vaccine help? Perhaps, at least I hope so, but for now we’re left to wait and see. While we were lucky in Switzerland that cinemas were open for half the year, they’ve now been closed since October, and the day on which they can open again seems to be moving further and further into the distance. In the spring of 2020, Mege posted this photo of one of the local cinemas:

Back then, this seemed like an optimistic act of defiance. These days, when I pass the building, it still says the same, but that “Coming soon” sounds like a feeble act of denial.

I miss cinemas. That’s not the only thing I miss, but I miss sinking into a comfy chair, the light dimming, and all the sights and sounds of cinema more than anything else. I’m privileged in that this is the thing I miss most, certainly, but well… we want what we want, and I want the cinema in more than one way. That’s also why I didn’t do a look back at the damn fine cups of culture of 2020 – it feels like that particular cup was half-full at best.

Mind you, while it may not feel like it, there have been more new films in 2020 than I was fully aware of, and more good new films at that. In recent years I’ve greatly enjoyed the videos that IndieWire critic David Ehrlich has put together to look back at the best films of recent years, and his 2020 video is no exception. Ehrlich is an accomplished editor and great at using music and juxtaposition to intrigue and excite, in just a few seconds. His video has reminded me of many good films I’ve actually seen last year, but more than anything else, watching it I’m made aware of so many interesting films that I’ve simply not had the opportunity to see. Chances are I’ll never see most of them at an actual cinema – but while the cinematic experience will always remain special to me, a good film has the power to transport me into a different world.

2020 wasn’t a good year. 2021 hasn’t started well. Movie theatres are bleeding everywhere. But cinema? Cinema isn’t going anywhere. It may change. Heck, it may mutate. But it’ll always be there to infect our imaginations, and that’s the kind of infection I’ll gladly seek out again and again. I am already looking forward to David Ehrlich’s 25 best films of 2021.

P.S.: Of the films Ehrlich lists, I’ve seen Ema by the Chilean director Pablo Larrain and liked it a lot, as well as Steve McQueen’s Lovers Rock and I’m Thinking of Ending Thingswhich I was torn on, but it has stayed with me. Which leaves me with… oh, more than twenty films I’ve yet to watch from his Top 25! I think I can live with that kind of to-do list.

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