Sunday, May 14, 2006

Blogging isn't as easy as i thought, simply because it takes time and effort, but also because when a lot of things happen, it's hard to put into words. Today is Mother's Day, and i just called my mother. Sure, it's easy for me to get angry at some of her antics, but i do understand my mother, and i should explain that my mother was one of the middle children in this hideously large family (what were there? 16? 17? 18 children?). Her father seems to be like Kevin Federline: as one reporter said (upon the announcement of Britney Spears' seciond pregnancy), the guy seems to be able to just roll over and there's another pregnancy. It explains my uncle's hideous behavior as well: that desperate need for attention, for validation, that total self-interest. I understand my mother, but when she's involved in one of her "family" ventures, and it's happening right in front of me, it's hard to be "objective" and i revert to being a child and the various emotional wounds open up again.

The other day, Film Comment came in the mail, and i read Amy Taubin's article on Melville's "Army of Shadows". It's one of her best articles, i really mean that. I think the film is brilliant, i was astounded by it when i saw it during the Meville retrospective at MoMA.... when was that? But i was so astounded i saw it twice. But i also had some questions about it, in terms of the methodology. I agree with Amy that the film is related (in terms of style) directly to his gangster films, especially "Le Samourai" and "Le Cercle Rouge". In fact, the deliberate "distance" that the film maintains makes the film seem "shallow" in the sense that the film rarely assumes the appearance of interiority. Character motivation is at a minimum: that's part of what "star casting" is all about. When we see Lino Ventura, when we see Jean-Pierre Cassel, when we see Simone Signoret, the immediate iconography of their presence serves as the entire motivation. And so this was my question: is the deliberate surface (which relates this movie to genre filmmaking) enough? And (of course) my immediate thought was to reread Robbe-Grillet's "For a New Novel" as a rationale for the methodology of Melville in "Army of Shadows".

Going to the "Directing Bill Rice" memorial screening at Millennium on Friday was sad. A lot of people showed up, it was very well-attended, and i ran into a lot of people i know. Obviously, i went because i got an e.mail about the event from Yoshiko Chuma, and she was there, as well as Jacob Burkhardt (her husband), and there were two pieces by Jacob being screened. And Charlie Ahearn was there, and Beth B, and Charles Allcroft, and Carol Mullins, and Lola Pashalinski... Jim Neu was the emcee for the evening.... it made me miss the times when i would just run into these people, and when that period of the 1970s and 1980s when we'd always see each other....

In short: where is my community now? And who would it be?

That's why it's been hard to write. Because it is hard to express (in words) the sense of alienation that is now so much a part of the art world.

I forget what morning it was, but i called Brett on his cell-phone, and he was rushing to go to the airport. A last minute trip. And his plans to spend his birthday in Italy have changed.... but i was glad to see him the last time he was in NYC, and it was nice going to the Whitney Biennial with him. Which reminds me that i haven't been going to MoMA a lot lately. I went to almost all the press screenings for New Directors/New Films, but i just haven't gone otherwise... one reason may be because i didn't get a pass this year from the Film Department. Actually, that is the reason i haven't gone. Just before we moved, i donated my entire run of Image Forum, the Japanese film journal that Katsue Tomiyama published, to the Film Study Center. But i never got back one of those acknowledgement letters so i could use it for my taxes. And then i didn't get a complimentary pass this year. So i'm kind of avoiding MoMA, though i do want to see some of the films in the preservation series coming up. And i broke down and went to see the Barney Rossett program: Samuel Beckett's "Film", and then the outtakes (and no, it hasn't gotten better with age, what a misconceived project all around!), Genet's "Chant d'Amour" (still one of the most amazing films ever, even in a faded print), and James Fotopoulous's "The Hard-Boiled Egg" based on a scenario by Ionesco (amusing if overextended, but that's like a lot of Ionesco). But it made me feel very much as if i had been abandoned, having to go to a place where i feel unwanted.

Somehow this relates back to my mother.... so that's Mother's Day. Actually, Barry is coming in and we are all going to lunch, because it's Larry's and Barry's birthday. Or it was yesterday! But Barry had some things to do at Rutgers, so he couldn't make it yesterday, so we're doing the birthday today....


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