Saturday, September 29, 2007

It's been a week since i've posted anything, all this week went to press screenings at the New York Film Festival; however, Tuesday was a killer. They had four screenings. Didn't feel i ahd the stamina for all four, so made a decision to see the final two: the Brazilian retrospective of "Cat Skin" (short) and "The Conspirators" by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, and Hou Hsiao-Hsien's "Flight of the Red Balloon".

However, Friday i didn't see anything, because my allergies were acting up so severely that my eyes were all puffed out and my lips were swollen. I could barely see, so i took an antihistamine and went back to bed... but when i woke up again, i was still feeling a little woozy, but about 12:45 i decided to leave to get to the 2 o'clock screening, but after waiting in the station for a while, i kept feeling hotter and hotter, and when the subway reached 59th Street, i got off and turned around and came back... and took a nap! So i missed "The Orphanage" (which is set for release; Picturehouse is the distributor) and "The Man From London" (which is the latest from Bela Tarr; i can't imagine that it won't show up somewhere in the near future).

But in addition to "the Conspirators" and "Flight of the Red Balloon", saw Carlos Reygadas's "Stellet Licht", the short "Death to the Tin Man" (starring - of all people - Sophie Holman, Bob and Elizabeth Murray's daughter!), Abel Ferrara's "Go Go Tales" (and yes, Asia Argento does tongue-kiss a dog, and Sylvia Miles's voice is the last thing you hear), Cristian Mungiu's "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" (another signature film in the Roumanian New Wave), Lee Chang-dong's "Secret Sunshine".

I also went to the press screening for the Anton Corbijn biopic of Ian Curtis, "Control". Which i thought was quite lovely.

On Friday, while i was trying to get my allergies under control, i watched "This Above All" on Fox Movie Channel (the first movie that Joan Fontaine did after her succesive triumphs in "Rebecca" and "Suspicion"). Later i watched Anthony Pellissier's "The Rocking Horse Winner", which really is quite extraordinary. I had seen the film once before, but all i really remembered was the stuff with the boy and the rocking h9orse. I didn't remember the stuff with the parents: a perfect encapsulation of the Lawrentian sexual battles.

Well, today there was the Ragamuffin Parade, the annual pre-Halloween Parade here in Bay Ridge. So that was fun.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Well, week two of the New York Film Festival press screenings will start... last week was so incredibly packed. Not just the NY Film Festival, but the IFP Market and Conference. A lot of movies seen, plus numerous encounters with people.

Some movies finally opened: one was Tata Amaral's "Antonia" which played as part of the Brazilian film series at MoMA. It's a "small" movie, but utterly delightful, and (like "Once" and "Colma") a "musical" which isn't some Broadway-bound contraption.

Two screeners arrived, and Larry and i watched them: TLA is releasing a "film" version of the off-off-Broadway hit "Naked Boys Singing!" and there is a "film" directed by Jeremy Kagan of the William Gibson one-woman show "Golda's Balcony" (starring Valerie Harper). After seeing what can be done with digital (a recent film like Jia Zhangke's "Still Life"), to come across these... it's not even a regression, it's simply confounding! I have no idea what audience there is for these pieces... rather obviously, these works were done as a rexcording of these performances....

But right now, the audience for these works would seem to be on television... but not theatrical.

But this week, seeing some of the projects that were in progress at the IFP Market, and attending some of the conference sessions, this whole issue of where to situate your work is crucial.

There's more (much more) to discuss with all this.

One thing: i did post my survey of Delphine Seyrig's work on the IMDB Classic Film Board. And now i want to complete the article i started about her.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A very crowded week, and actually am a bit exhausted right now. On Monday, Sept. 17, it was the start of the New York Film festival press screenings. Also the IFP Market and Conference swung into action. I'm still trying to process the Market, because it's a very difficult time now for the idea of independent theatrical releases, especially for documentary.

Films seen at the NY Film Festival: Julian Schnabel's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", Masayuki suo's "I Just Didn't Do It", Wes Anderson's "Hotel Chevalier" and "The Darjeeling Limited" (the short is the prelude to the feature), the short "Chinese Whispers" and Eric Rohmer's "The Romance of Astree and Celadon", Sidney Lumet's "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead", the short "Saturday's Shadow" and Claude Charbol's "A Girl Cut in Two", Robert Beaver's "Pitcher of Colored Light" and Peter Hutton's "At Sea", and Ira Sachs's "Married Life".

More later....

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Was knocked out this morning. Last night, had hives, very bad, all the stuff in the backyard now in bloom, agony for my allegeries, so i took an antihistamine... it really put me to sleep. Missed the first press screening of Marco Williams's "Banished".

Yesterday went to the preview for Ernie Gehr's "Panoramas of the Moving Image". The installation was absolutely exquisite. It's quite a charming show. Was happy to see Ernie. Small group at the preview, mostly people i knew: Amy Taubin, Tony Pipolo, Eileen Bowser...

What's sad is that this is really such a "general interest" show (it's great for kids), yet there doesn't seem to be the same amount of critical attention. Part of it is that the film attention right now is in Toronto. A lot of the critics who would have been at this preview (like Jim Hoberman) are in Toronto....

But the prehistory of cinema is really enjoyable. So much of it was devoted to what we would now consider animation: drawings which were then animated. So that should have a lot of appeal for children.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Right now, am watching a half hour program from the Rochester International Jazz Festival, featuring a vocalist named Karrin Allyson. (This is on PBS-Channel 13.) She's quite good, but i'm thinking of the fact that she's not a widely known name. And (in fact) i can't think of that many names in jazz at the moment. And so this begs the question: if there is no audience for something, should it continue? If jazz (which at one time defined popular music) has now become a coterie artform, does that invalidate it?

But that begs the question about any artform. This reminds me of the brouhaha which erupted on Carrie Rickey's blog ( when, after the AFI program of the AFI's 100 Greatest American Films, she mentioned the Top Ten, and asked her readers what their favorite gangster movie was, what their favorite musical was, etc. And she was pelted with responses, mostly from what i can only call boys, who screamed that how dare the AFI put a musical among the Top Ten! And the hysteria about musicals was so intense... if it weren't so pathetic it would be funny.

On his blog, Joe Baltake (who is straight) often wrotes about his favorite films, and he loves musicals (, and Joe and i began to try to provide some perspective about musicals: what they were, why they were popular, etc.

The boys who were so hysterical seemed to have no cognizance of any history. They seem to have no idea that there was "popular music" in other forms than rock-and-roll. And that what the musical (initially in its theatrical incarnation, and then in its movie incarnation once sound was introduced) represented was a vehicle for the popular music of the day. Songs were introduced in the musicals, and these songs became popular hits.

I really do feel that i should write more about musicals.... perhaps in a day or so.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

It's been a few days, have been doing a lot of e.mailing and messaging on several boards... very strange.

On Friday, went to a small dinner for Daisuke Miyao, who has written the recently published biography on Sessue Hayakawa; it was a lot of fun.

Today, the news came from Venice: Ang Lee's "Lust, Caution" has won the Golden Lion, a special jury award went to Todd's "I'm Not There", Cate Blanchett won the Best Actress (Cup Volpi) for "I'm Not There" and Brian De Palma won the Silver Lion as Best Director for "Redacted". The Toronto Film Festival is now in full swing, it opened with a new film by Jeremy Podewsa.

The season is starting... and i don't know if i'm excited or not.

However i did do something yesterday: i made it to the Jewish Museum to catch the Louise Nevelson retrospective before it ended, and i went to the Guggenheim for the small Richard Pousette-Dart exhibition. Very evocative shows, reminding me of what art could be during that period in NYC of the 1950s and 1960s.

Last night, TCM showed a number of films adapted from the work of Oscar Wilde. I'd never seen "An Ideal Husband" before. It was far from perfect... but it had a fascination. Paulette Goddard was vivacious and attractive, but she had no nuance, no shadings. Everything was just so much on the surface. Diana Wynyard was so lady-gracious in that horrible great-lady way that infected certain actresses... she seemed so smug and superior, initially she's very off-putting. Her performance does seem to warm up, but she is insufferable. Goddard is utterly superficial, and Wynyard is insufferable... but at least they're dressed by Cecil Beaton, and his color costumes (filmed in spectacular Technicolor) were enchanting. Of the women, the only one who was superb, who caught the sly wit of Wilde and added a real human dimension, was Glynis Johns. She is such a delightful comedienne! Of the men, Hugh Williams was handsome and stuffy, and Michael Wilding was quite charming. But C. Aubrey Smith is amazing! So it's very much a mixed bag, but it looks divine, and it had its points, and i'm glad i saw it.

On "On Stage", the NY1 weekly show about NY theater, there was the annual fall round-up show, where a bunch of critics get together to talk about what's coming up in the coming season. But one of the critics (i think it was Patrick Pachecho?) was talking about interviewing Claire Danes, who will be starring in the upcoming revival of "Pygmalion"... and she revealed that she had never heard of the play, or "My Fair Lady", or George Bernard Shaw. At first i thought, what is she, an idiot? Then i realized that she is simply someone who was raised in the last two decades, where the whole education system broke down, and the idea of the Anglo-American tradition was utterly eradicated. Perhaps Shakespeare would be impossible to miss... but Marlowe? Wilde? Shaw? Congreve? Sheridan?

Oh, well, let's not get into that....

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Have been researching the careers of Delphine Seyrig and Margaret Sullavan. Want to write something about both. Trolling the IMDB message boards, commenting on threads by a few online friends. Larry and i watched the "Murder She Wrote" marathon on the Hallmark Channel. Wondering where the old Hallmark Hall of Fame shows are. One i would give anything to see again after all these years: "Little Moon of Alban" starring Julie Harris, with Dirk Bogarde, Christopher Plummer and George Peppard in the cast.

Eugene Hernandez on indieWire reports from Telluride: Todd's "I'm Not There" is "exhilarating". On Thursday, ran into Irene Sosa, she told me that Barry Ellsworth and family have been in Paris for the last two years. Suddenly, i realized that i've been in Brooklyn for as long.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Haven't blogged in a few day, have been trying to think about "musicals", saw a few things, including the doc "The Rape of Europa" which should have been fascinating but wasn't. It started out with the story of the Altmanns's suit over the Klimt portraits... which was intriguing and seemed to be carefully researched. But then the film started to go all over the place, talking about the looting of art from various cities, the efforts right after the war to return the art found in various Nazi strongholds, etc. I can't even remember all the different tangents, which is how confusing the movie ultimately became. A pity, because there was a lot of care and research and time and effort and (yes) money poured into this documentary, but it's so sprawling and digressive that, even at 117 minutes, it seems way too long. I know people will say, yes, but it's long because there's so much material covered. Too much: a movie is not a book, which can be piked up and read at leisure, it's a temporal entity which must entice its time onto the viewer. And if it doesn't (and "The Rape of Europa" didn't), then it's an agony to sit through. "The Rape of Europa" wasn't quite an agony, but it was close.

Also saw Heddy Honingmann's "Forever" (with Anita Thacher's short "Lost/In Memoriam"). It's funny, "Forever" seems just as digressive as "The Rape of Europa" (the subject of "Forever" is the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris) but somehow, it's suffused with an affection for the many (different) people interviewed, and it was charming. And i was exhausted when i went to the screening: i stayed up watching something on television, and yet i was never bored by "Forever". I should say i've liked other films by Heddy Honingmann, such as "The Underground Orchestra".