Saturday, July 08, 2006

Have wanted to comment on a number of things. The 4th of July happened; what was supposed to be a very uneventful day turned out to be quite jam-packed. But one thing: turns out that you can see the fireworks from the promenade out here.

Have been staying up, trying to finish writing. But the question of criticism remains. Too often, people exist in a realm of ignorance. Big example: the dearth of DVDs of Mizoguchi's films, has caused his reputation to slide. Yet growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, Mizoguchi was one of the two Japanese directors popularly known in the West (the other was Kurosawa). Last year, BAM had a (small) Mizoguchi retrospective; this summer, it'll be at Film Forum. Just because his films have become difficult to see (Criterion's DVD release of "Ugetsu" was one of the major events of last year) doesn't mean that his films weren't around in past decades.

John Rockwell reviews Yvonne Rainer's new book, a "memoir", "Feelings Are Facts".

Went to the press screening of "Fanfan la Tulipe" on Thursday; the last IFP meeting was cancelled. Have to talk to Jonathan Russo the next time, about my membership. The IFP meeting was moved to Monday, so that's when i'll have to talk to Jonathan.

Yesterday, there was the AAARI series, technical malfunctions. But a "lively" discussion. But got home in time to watch "Monk" and the premiere of "Psych". "Monk" presents an interesting case: whatever "chemistry" is, it's slowly seeped out of "Monk". The series really needed Bitty Schramm. Traylor Howard is good, but not quite eccentric enough. For the premiere episode, "Psych" was very funny. But whether or not the gimmick gets tiresome is another story.

Finally getting to watch the USC shorts. So far, nothing spectacular.

Larry is painting the hallway. I'm feeling disoriented. The mail came: the Keyspan bill. I still have to change my service provider for HIP.

The problem with the Internet is that so many people feel that the information is on the net, when a lot of information is not. Yet another problem is that the plethora of "paper" that happened with computers (making editing and publishing a lot easier) has caused a lot of libraries to dump material: they're inundated with paper, so it's easier to just dump things that no one is using. But the danger in that is that the same information is getting recycled. It's similar to the problems of "Full House" the new exhibit of the "permanent collection" at the Whitney. All of the work from the 1890s through the 1930s has (mostly) been put away, and the works on exhibit have the same liturgy of the rise of American art sine World War II, with Abstract Expressionism leading to Pop and Minimalism, etc. But there are no revelations, nothing of the sort that happened recently when the Grey Art Gallery had its Lee Mullican show: there was a real discovery, of an artist and a type of imagery previously overlooked or ignored. Even the Eva Hesse show at the Jewish Museum and the Drawing Center had that kind of revelation. But the Whitney show is too tame.

There are some very interesting things on the Internet, and the whole e.mail phenomenon is amazing. The sort of instant messaging that takes place, and the myspace phenomenon, and the blogs. But too often it's circular, and the it's discouraging, because people seem to want to wallow in their ignorance.

It's like the various message boards... film noir is a good example. Film noir is a French term (obviously) and it came about when French film critics were confronted with a number of American movies all at once, which they had not been able to see because of World War II. They noticed similarities between these movies, and came up with "film noir" as a way of describing the style and the "mood" of those movies. The movies were: "The Maltsese Falcon", "Double Indemnity", "The Big Sleep", "Laura", "The Postman Always Rings Twice"; by the time "Gilda", "The Killers" and "Woman in the Window" came to France, it was obvious that there was a common "style" which was being defined. But this style was... it wasn't as if there were a pre-existent style and these films were trying to fit into it, it was that the idea of the style was extrapolated from the films. The reason i bring this up is that i've read so many people who've decided that (as an example) "Laura" is not "film noir", but how can a film which defined the style suddenly not be part of the style?

Politically, this situation is dire: it's like a lull before... i hate to think. It's like every other day, there's another urgent e.mail from various groups, talking about how Bush is trying to dismantle the government. The man is blatantly breaking laws, and there's no real voice to oppose him. It's like the Democrats feel whipped, and the centrist Republicans are afraid of being called unpatriotic. And the Iraq War is just dragging on; North Korea just called a bluff with its missiles.

When Bush's poll numbers are really low, you'll notice how he pulls out some "terrorist attack" which was thwarted. And it happened again. Except it's curious: right after cutting any emergency funding for NYC from FEMA, they find that NYC was (again) a target.

Film Comment had some interesting articles. A lot of coverage from Cannes.

Watching "Steamboat Round the Bend" on Fox Movie Channel: as i thought, there are "glitches" so i know what to expect of the restored DVD.


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