Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It has been two weeks since i've even tried to blog, and, yes, there have been a lot of movies seen. But also, a lot of events (though all film-related).

Most of the events were part of NewFest, and it was the 20th Anniversary. Saw a few movies this year, including Jacques Nolot's "Before I Forget", Ferzan Ospetak's "Saturn in Opposition" and the closing night film, Tom Gustafson's "Were the World Mine". There was a rather low-keyed atmosphere to most of the recptions, but going to the screenings provided more of a kick. Didn't attend the panels.

On TCM, there have been two series, one called "Race and Hollywood: Asian Images in Film", the other the Star-of-the-Month Sophia Loren. The selection of films (the programmer is Peter Feng) for the Asian series has been good, but i've seen all the films. Supplementing the series were two silent Chinese films starring Ryu Lingyu ("The Peach Girl" and "The Goddess") and Ozu's 1942 masterpiece, "There Was a Father". It's fascinating. I love the fact that the Loren series has included some of her Italian films, such as "Too Bad She's Bad" (utterly charming, and she's sensational) and "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow". It's the fact that TCM is allowing the definition of "classic" to include foreign films; in fact, this weekend, the movie selected for "The Essentials" is Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai". To me, this is one of the most interesting developments which has happened because of Time Warner's corporate decision to separate TCM from the Time Warner film archives. TCM no longer has free access to the archival holdings from MGM, RKO and Warner Brothers, so there are now opportunities to make leasing agreements with other studios. And this has brought about a far more wide-ranging attitude towards programming. There are now deals with MCA (which has the holdings for Universal and for Paramount) and Sony (which has the Columbia archives). That's why some of the films in the Asian series ("Walk Like a Dragon" and "Daughter of Shanghai" and "Shanghai Express", which were Paramount films; "The Crimson Kimono", which was a Columbia Pictures release) were able to be included.

Last night, did a talk with Coleen Fitzgibbon at Light Industry. It was fun, but what was amazing was that there was a full house. Of course, there were a lot of old friends: the Ahearns (Charlie and John), Becky Howland, Liza Bear... Tom Otterness was there with their daughter Kelly. When i saw Kelly, i was in shock: i haven't seen her since she was eight or nine. But what was fun was trying to explain the context: Coleen was part of the generation of experimental filmmakers who were extending the principles of what P. Adams Sitney called "structural filmmaking" (also called materialist film, sometimes conceptual filmmaking). So it was explaing to the younger audience that time (the mid-1970s) and what young filmmakers were thinking. (I'd seen all of Coleen's films before, but interestingly enough, the first film she showed, which was a 12 minute film involving the task of cleaning a sink, did have conceptual similarities to Chantal's "Jeanne Dielman", and, of course, Chantal herself had been in New York City in the late 1960s, where she tried to start making structural films; her insight was to join structural filmmaking to the overt teleology of narrative. Coleen immediately mentioned the similarities to "Jeanne Dielman" when her movie started.)

Just watched "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" on HBO. Very engrossing.

Anyway, have to get going; tonight, am seeing the documentary "Trumbo", which i really want to see; read Norma Barzman's "The Red and the Blacklist" two weeks ago, which i found utterly beguiling and amusing. The situation of the blacklist wasn't amusing, but Norma and Ben Barzman's adventures while "in exile" in Europe certainly were colorful.

One article which proved thought-provoking was Nicholas Carr's article on the effects of the internet on writing, scholarship, etc. The title on the cover of the Atlantic Monthly, "Is Google Making Us Stoopid?" was very funny.

Anyway, Anne Thompson's blog has included a lot of discussion about how film criticism is evolving (or devolving). Is blogging different from print forms of criticism? But while i try to think about that, i do think that George Robinson's recent writing (discussing some of the films in the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, etc.) has been very energetic and insightful. So here's the link:


Blogger Michael in New York said...

Glad you liked the Roman Polanski documentary. I thought it was really good too but since it was directed by a friend (see, it happens to me, too!) glad to hear you agree. How bizarre is it that people saw the film and somehow drew the conclusion that the filmmaker somehow downplayed the rape or thought it was no big deal? Personally, I found out it was more of a rape than I'd imagined.

7:02 PM


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