Dear members of the academy:

I know there is little time left before you vote, but I recently saw something that certainly would qualify for honors if only enough voters could see it. I refer to Wha?, the debut film from a transgendered Tuvan director named Mr. Mxypltk, who currently resides in the Cotswolds in Lower Slaughter after attending film school in Tanganyika.

Wha? is about a dyslexic ventriloquist who is kidnapped by rabid followers of Walter Benjamin, and it is unlike any movie I have ever seen — or not seen, for that matter. I saw it at a private screening in L.A. during the last week of December, at a secured location I am duty-bound not to reveal. But since it did play locally, I have encouraged the filmmakers to have screeners sent to all academy members by midnight tonight.

I realize that its eight-hour running time may prove an obstacle to some, but since almost two of those hours are blank leader — an extended homage, apparently, to the closing frames of Bresson’s Journal d'un curé de campagne — there is ample time for bathroom breaks.

This film could change the face of cinema. I know it changed mine.

Sincerely, Peter Rainer

Peter Rainer is the film critic for The Christian Science Monitor and a past contributor to New Times L.A., where he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for criticism.

LA Weekly