Saturday, July 07, 2007

What a week! The Fourth of July really cut into the week, because it made the week superfluous. Unless i missed something, i didn't have any screenings (but now i have to look at my e.mails and figure out the screenings in the coming weeks). As usual, a lot of films which are opening (in terms of foreign/independent releases) are films i've seen. One such film is "Dans Paris".

I told the kids at Asian Cinevision that i would come up with a short piece about Edward Yang... but instead of two days, it took me four days to write. It was going to be short, but then i read Manohla Dargis's obit in The New York Times on Monday, and i went ballistic. It made me so angry. I couldn't help it. The reason it made me angry was, it wasn't what she wrote, but at one point she quotes Pierre Rissient. And what Pierre Rissient said is so condescending and superior... it just made me furious. And what Manohla may not have realized (but Godfrey Chesire knew, and alluded to in his obit in The Village Voice) was that it was Pierre who was responsible, in that first decade of Edward's career (1984-1994), for the fact that the Cannes Film Festival refused to show his work. (Pierre decided that Hou Hsaio-Hsien was the one he wanted to promote.) So that would have been like asking Howard Hughes (who humiliated and fired Max Ophuls during Ophuls's Hollywood sojourn) what he thought about "La Ronde" or "Madame De..." I don't think he's the person to ask....

And i noticed that few (if any) Asians or Asian-Americans were asked to make a comment about Edward Yang. Anywhere! Not Norman Wang (Edward's widow asked Norman to be the spokesman, and to issue the press release announcing the death; after that, nobody talked to Norman), not Vivian Huang, not Danny Yung, none of the people who, in that first decade, did a lot to promote Yang in the West. Kevin Lee, in his AlsoLikeLife website, posted a very touching piece about what Edward Yang's work meant to him....

Anyway, that's done. So it should be up on the CineVue website once that's done (in time for the Asian-Ameriacn International Film Festival's opening).

On Thursday, TCM started its Randolph Scott "Star of the Month" fest; the first three films were three of the Westerns Scott did with Budd Boetticher: "Seven Men From Now", "Decision at Sundown" and "Comanche Station". I hadn't seen them in decades, and they looked so bright and clean... "Seven Men From Now" has been out on DVD for aboyt a year, but i hope the other six Boetticher Westerns are being readied, Boetticher's work really should be out on DVD. "Decision at Sundown" and "Comanche Station" were almost abstract in the way that the characters are set against the landscapes.

Larry and i watched "The White Countess" (another Netflix choice). Of course, i was curious to see the Redgrave sisters together... but it was a hopeless movie. It's the kind of movie where you're thinking, what were they thinking? Natasha Richardson is lovely, and her deep voice has echoes of her mother, but Ralph Fiennes is hopeless, he can't seem to find a chaarcter to play so he tries to float through. It's a film that needs to be done fast, with some style (as opposed to simply decor) and a dose of wit. But this was humorless, with heavy decoration, and it was slow. Really slow.

Watched "David and Lisa" on TCM this week; the awkwardness and the semi-amateurishness were very touching, because they were so much a part of "independent" filmmaking in the 1960s. But Keir Dullea and Janet Margolin were very good. Keir Dullea was someone who often gave terrific performances ("David and Lisa", "The Hoodlum Priest") but the thing that made him good (his ability to project the range of his character's damaged psyches) was what prevented him from being a star.


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