70x70 - To celebrate Iain Sinclair's 70th birthday,
a season of 70 films that have appeared in his novels
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|By way of explanation
It was hard to resist Paul Smith of spoken-word label KING MOB’s offer of this birthday present, the opportunity to make my choice of 70 films. The project seemed entirely theoretical, at this point, like a fabulously extended Desert Island Discs. Or an imagined stack of pristine DVDs in unbroken cellophane wrappers. The reality was the requirement to compose notes for a catalogue-newsheet - and to turn out, here and there, over the next twelve months, gabbing away to justify my strange selections.
The moment was right. I’d almost reached my allotted biblical span, a life largely punctuated by films remembered and misremembered: time to front up. Face judgement.
How then to limit the choices? One per year didn’t really work. Great films arrived in clusters like buses stacked along the length of Hackney’s Narrow Way, Mare Street. I had no interest in trying – Sight and Sound fashion – to nominate lists of ‘best’, ‘favourite’, ‘most important’. When I began to sift the residue of biography, I found that there wasn’t much left beyond the books. Simple solution then: work back, title by title, calling on films referenced, good, bad, totally off the wall. After a basic skeleton was achieved, 80+ films on paper, I’d only reached Dining on Stones (2004). Paul felt that other eras should be represented. So I started again, with a number of site-specific pieces, and with home movies and abortive projects with which I’d been involved. Now the list was more explicitly sub-Proustian. I also treated myself to films I’d like to see, but which I had never tracked down. I revised again, off the cuff, as I composed the notes. To make them function more like a single novel of disconnected fragments. Read or view in any order. The entries compose a botched cubist portrait of author-as-viewer. Without giving away anything as crude as taste: there should be far more Buñuel, Hitchcock, Welles. There should be Bergman, Bresson, Renoir, Visconti, Pasolini, Anthony Mann, Samuel Fuller, David Lynch, Jonas Mekas, Jean-Pierre Melville, Dreyer, Murnau, Pabst, Patrick Keiller, Howard Hawks, John Ford, Monte Hellman, Abel Ferrara, Von Stroheim, Von Sternberg, Buster Keaton. More everything, in fact. But this is how it came out. So this is what it is.
Iain Sinclair, June 2013