Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day, the first of September, and it has been a very trying period. I'm glad August is over!

Well, August marks the ten-year anniversary of the death of Kenny White. As the time passes, i find myself thinking about him and missing him. As if to commemorate the occasion, last Thursday, i received a Facebook friend request: Michael Hummel (who has been in Hawaii for a while); we last heard from him either just before or just after we moved, and at that time he told us he was in Hawaii, but that was it. I wrote to him, but never heard back. And now this.

On his Facebook page, Michael included an album of photos, and Larry looked at them and said, he doesn't look the same. Well: how could he? When we knew him, he was a teenager: he's almost 40 now. And there's an album of some of his paintings. How long has it been since he started painting, i have no idea. Years ago, he wanted to be an actor, or to work in the theater in some way. But now he's painting.

The other day, when i was watching the Claude Miller film "A Secret", i thought of the fact that George Robinson has a focus for his criticism: writing for Jewish Week, he has a clear idea of his audience, and he also knows the perspective which his readers will bring. And (at the moment) there are quite a few films around which have some connection to Jewish life. Even something like Azazel Jacobs's "Momma's Man" and certainly something like Claude Miller's "A Secret".

(I should add that "Momma's Man" prompted some of the most sensitive reviews in recent memory: Jim Hoberman's review can be found at and George Robinson's can be found at and certainly Stanley Kauffmann in The New Republic convention special issue of September 10, 2008 actually writes with great insight about "Momma's Man".)

And it made me think what are the specific values that i have to bring when i look at something.

But on Thursday, i was so thrown by having Michael get in touch with me that i felt like staying in bed. And i couldn't go out, so i missed press screenings of "Gomorrah" and "Treeless Mountain". I hope to catch "Treeless Mountain" at another time, because i do think So Yong Kim is really very talented, and i found "In Between Days" one of the best independent films of the last few years.

Bill E. Jones came to do his presentation at Light Industry: he stayed for a week, it was a tight squeeze this time, because before, when he would stay, we had the second floor free, but since the end of June, we've rented it out. His presentation of Fred Halsted's "Sex Garage" and "L.A. Plays Itself" was successful: there was a packed audience, and there was a lively discussion afterwards.

Bill had a funny comment on "In Between Days": he thought it was filmed in Toronto, but it wasn't, a lot of it was filmed in those "outer borough" neighborhoods in New York City where the Asian community has moved to (parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx). Correction: parts of "In Between Days" were filmed in Toronto, this from interviews with So Yong Kim, who has been interviewed because of the Toronto Film Festival screening of "Treeless Mountain".

I did catch "The Passionate Friends", and i'm looking forward to "Breaking the Sound Barrier": these are among the restored David Lean films that the BFI has on tour. The series will play Film Forum at the end of the month, but right now, there are press screenings. I found "The Passionate Friends" to be very well done, and the attempts at visual style were charming, but it was a rather bloodless movie. But that's ok. I'm looking forward to seeing "Breaking the Sound Barrier": it was one of my father's favorite movies (he thought Ralph Richardson was the greatest actor).


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