Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Went to the Asian-American Film Festival screening of Risa Morimoto's "Wings of Defeat", found it to be quite engrossing and actually illuminating. Then rushed home to watch "A Majority of One", which i hadn't seen since... well, i know i saw it when i was a child and we went to see it at Radio City Music Hall (yes). Rosalind Russell as a Jewish matron from Eastern Parkway, and Alec Guinness as a Japanese businessman... had to look up the original Broadway cast, and (of course) Gertrude Berg played the Jewish matron on Broadway, but the casting of the Japanese businessman... on Broadway, it was Cedric Hardwicke, so Alec Guinness was a close approximation.

Got a press release from TLA, they're going to try to showcase six new releases in August, a potpourri of gay feature films from around the world. One of the films, though, is the documentary "Wrangler" about Jack Wrangler.

Been thinking about the differences between blogging and more "extended" forms of writing. Of course, a few months ago, there was the hysteria over the decline in print criticism: a lot of film critics were fired/retired/took buy-outs across the country. So there was the sudden spotlight on the blogosphere as the replacement. Only it isn't.

In the Columbia Magazine article about the digitizing of the libraries at Columbia University, there were repeated comments on how scholarship is changing because of the internet. But standards have been changing since the 1960s; the idea of "the canon" has been questioned so often that there is no canon left.

Feminists (of course) have always complained about the preponderance of male-dominated classics, yet this is another stupidity, because in the English literary tradition, Jane Austen, George Eliot, the Bronte sisters have always been regarded as great writers. If George Eliot (one of the greatest writers ever) doesn't define the great tradition, what is the great tradition? But that doesn't mean that all women writers are great.

I was shocked a while ago when there was the off-Broadway production of "The Sound and the Fury" and almost al the reviewers mentioned that the novel was an indecipherable morass (but that's only the first section of the novel...) and that they never bothered to read the novel, anyway. (Hilton Als was one of the only reviewers that i read who actually read the novel, but i would expect as much from Hilton.) It's gotten to the point where people are so proud to show off their ignorance! And that's also part of the blogosphere....

Which is already changing, because many people who were blogging also decided to curtail their writing activities.

And that brings me to the question i had during New Directors/New Films: what standards am i bringing to a film when i see it? The reason this question came up is that two movies i was very impressed by were "Momma's Man" by Azazel Jacobs and "Moving Midway" by Godfrey Chesire. But... in the case of Aza, i remember him as a baby, and i've been friends with his parents Ken and Flo Jacobs for decades. So when i see Flo in "Momma's Man", i have a very personal reaction, because (as an example) in the scene where she's cradling her grown-up son... i remember Flo when she was younger, and when Aza was a baby and she would carry him around. And "Moving Midway" exhibits Godfrey's sensibility with great precision: it shows you his intelligence, and his curiosity, and his humor. (What i loved was how unfazed Godfrey was about all the revelations of the various branches of his family tree.) And the hilarious moment when Godfrey is introduced at a family reunion of the black side of his family... i couldn't help it, my immediate thought was, it looks like the Pillsbury Doughboy in a vat of chocolate chips.

But now, so many films that i'm seeing are being made by people i know. Like "Wings of Defeat". And tonight i'm going to that talk at The Drawing Center with Tony Conrad and Jennifer Reeves. More people i know....


Blogger Michael in New York said...

I'm sure your standards for judging most movies are the same they've always been: did you enjoy it? Would you recommend it to a particular person (like say, a gay friend or your mother) and would you recommend it to any casual moviegoer or to a serious moviegoer and so on. You may express yourself differntly in a blog, on the phone, in print, on the radio etc but that's only natural. And it's even more natural that you'd express yourself differently when talking about a film made by someone you know. But surely MOST of the films you see aren't made by good friends. So that shouldn't constrain you too much and I'm sure if you were talking to me on the phone you wouldn't recommend a movie just because someone you knew made it.

6:44 PM


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