Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The first two days of press screenings at the Tribeca Film Festival. The first day (Friday), saw restored prints of Mikhail Kalatozov's "The Letter That Was Never Sent", Grigori Chukhrai's "The Forty-First", and Gerard Blain's "The Pelican". The Soviet films are (visually) amazing, with some of the most spectacular cinematography ever. Gerard Blain's film was elliptical, reserved and quite strong. But it was shown digitally, and that seemed to flatten out the visual quality. This is going to be a real problem, as restoration happens in different ways.

Yesterday (Monday), saw two recent Russian films, "Two In One" and "Playing the Victim", and Jia Zhang-ke's "Still Life". "Two In One", Kira Murtova's film, was perplexing. It seemed to run on and on, and it was antic in a rather mirthless way, and it was confounding, because it didn't seem to hold together, it simply scattered into bits and pieces which became more and more desperately flakey. "Playing the Victim", directed by Kirill Serebrennikov with a script by the Presneyakov Brothers, was a black comedy that was a little low-keyed, but showed invention and some spark. There were some startlingly funny scenes, like the one where the boy wants his girlfriend to strangle him, and she figures he wants to try erotic asphyxiation, and begins to masturbate him while tighten the scarf around his neck... and then his mother walks in!

"Still Life" was a marvellous film, unhurried and sad, as it depicts two people "displaced" because of the changes in China right now. Industries are being upended, people are scrambling to find a place in the rapidly changing environment (the "Metaphor" is the Three Gorge Dam, which is a hydraulic power plant which has been used to flooded whole areas, making the residents of those areas utterly displaced).

I'll try to see some more today....

However, our neighbor is filling in his backyard! This could be a real disaster for us, because it would mean that we would be one of the only houses on our street with a backyard, and when it rains, we would get flooded. So we might have to fill in our backyard, which would be horrible. Once people cement over their yards, the yards that are left get all the water, and it would cause constant flooding in our basement.

What to do?

Boris Yeltsin died. David Halberstam died. Historic passings.

Sanjaya was the one with the lowest score on last week's "American Idol" and he's been making the rounds on talk shows.

Vanessa Redgrave was on "The View".... she seems (now) to have gotten more frail....


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