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"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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The Unloved, Part 50: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and The Counselor

A few months ago I ran into Matt Zoller Seitz, our benevolent leader here at and still my hero after all these years. He asked what I'd be doing for the 50th Unloved. I hadn't thought about it. I thought four years was the milestone, but 'the 50th episode' has a nice ring to it. I can't imagine how I've done 50 of these things so far but … here we are. 

So, I did two films I've always wanted to do. I grew up believing "Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia" was one of the best films ever made because my dad loved it and watched it frequently. When I first saw "The Counselor," with my good friends Julian Lazare and Tucker Johnson, it never occurred to us for a second that we weren't watching a modern marvel, a beautiful fusion of two of our most revered artists. So this one's for Matt, my dad, Tucker, Julian, and myself. It's also for everyone who's ever stared into these twin abysses and seen themselves looking back. 


Half a hundred of these is enough to warrant a little reflection on what this column means to me. It's my way of communing with movies that mean a lot to me, my way of proselytizing for a strain of cinema I wish were more than a footnote in its evolution. The films I've talked about here, from "Heaven's Gate" to "Pola X" to "Knight of Cups," share a poetic modernist form, a belief that the way movies are typically made is not the end of the story. That films can be made a million different ways, each right as long as the audience feels something. That there are possibilities yet beyond what we see in theatres every week. And I hope I've convinced at least a few people that just because a film is met with scorn or derision, doesn't mean it's not worth discovering for yourself. 

There isn't really any such thing as mainstream cinema discourse anymore; it's sort of invented and reinvented with every conversation now. So, I recognize that the idea of finding unloved films in a heap of trash isn't the novelty it might have been before you could find 50 people on twitter who love what you do with equal fervor. But this series has led me to other cinephiles who love film as passionately as I do, who are willing to look a little crazy because they believe in something positive instead of something negative, who believe that films that most folks won't pay to see are still a cause worth investing in. 

I'll just close by saying that I still look forward to making these, and to finding out who my fellow travelers are, so to speak. This thing is very important to me, as are the relationships I've formed with everyone here at, with Brian and Nick and Matt and Chaz. To each of our contributors. To Odie and Godfrey, with whom I share NYFF coverage. To Susan and Nell and Sheila. To Steven Boone and Kevin Lee, who taught me how to do this thing I love so much through their example. Life doesn't ever really get easier, but this little corner of it is an unquestionably positive element in mine. Thanks for watching all these years. Here's to 50 more, if you can stand them. 

The Unloved - The Counselor & Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia from Scout Tafoya on Vimeo.


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