Monday, January 19, 2009

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; tomorrow is the inauguration of Barack Obama as president. Sometimes the national symbolism gets a bit thick. But the networks are going beserk with Obama-mania. But after this inauguration hype, what? The nation is in a crisis, and what can a new administration do?

A lot of the people i know are at the Sundance Film Festival; it's interesting to get conflicting reports. When is the Berlin Film Festival? I thought it was always in February.

I've been thinking of the movies i've seen since December, and trying to figure out what values i bring when i judge a movie. I was particularly aware of this when i was watching Doris Dorrie's "Cherry Blossoms" and Ole Bornedal's "Just Another Love Story".

Over the last few days, i've been checking out movies on HBO or Showtime; usually, i just stick to TCM. I just finished watching an Autralian movie, "December Boys", which stars Daniel Radcliffe. Over the weekend, i finally got to see Mira Nair's "The Namesake", plus another movie with Kal Penn, "Dancing in Twilight".

Right now, i'm watching "The Human Comedy"; i've seen it countless times, but it's interesting to realize how popular culture feeds on itself. The scenes playing now are the ones where the sister (Donna Reed) and her best friend are walking in the rain and come across three soldiers (played by Barry Nelson, Don DeFore, and Robert Mitchum) and they spend the evening together: stopping by the telegraph office, going to the movies. Obviously, this was the prototype for the scenes in "Since You Went Away" (made a year later) where Jennifer Jones and Robert Walker wind up hanging out with a sailor on leave (Guy Madison).

This is actually relevant to "Cherry Blossoms", because Doris Dorrie uses Ozu's "Tokyo Story" as her template, and there are times when certain scenes seem arbitrary, because they seem to have been inserted so that there will be a direct correspondence to Ozu's film.

"Cherry Blossoms" is a very good film, surprisingly affecting at times, yet there remains the spectre of another work, where the development (plot, themes, etc.) was organic, and in "Cherry Blossoms", much of the development seems jerryrigged to fit the outlines of "Tokyo Story".

But (as in the case of "The Human Comedy" and "Since You Went Away") hasn't that always been the case, the inclusion of a sequence which worked before into another work?


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